23
Opinions Sat, 8 Aug 2015

Nkrumahism, The Can Of Worms I Opened – War And Capitalism

Wars are won in temples before they are ever fought. This is one of the most quoted words of Sun Tzu, a Chinese sage, in his ‘The Art of War’. It is one of the ultimate distillations of human thoughts. And it was written about five hundred years before Jesus Christ preached his sermon on the mount – love your enemies – do good to those who persecute you and the meek shall inherit the earth etc. What does this say about the history of war? It is clear that war was part of the human condition to the extent that a philosopher devoted his thought processes, energy and time to write a thesis on the subject long before Hippocrates wrote his medical treatise, which to me is much more important to the wellbeing of humanity than a treatise on war.

I lived through the war, wrote Thucydides in his account of the Peloponnesian War, and I can assure you it was not a pleasant experience. The Iliad, reputed to have been written by Homer, is believed to be one of the oldest of European literature, and it is about war. The Jewish Wars, as catalogued in detail by Josephus, was written about 4 centuries after Thucydides, which gives us horrible narrative of siege war – suckling mothers eating their own babies. Carl von Clausewitz, 1780-1831, the German war theorist, wrote, ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means.’ And according to Derek Walcot in his ‘The Bounty’, ‘history is boredom interrupted by war.’ Immanuel Kant wrote in his essay ‘Perpetual Peace’, in 1795, ‘our rulers have no money to spend on public education.’ And he continued that, ‘because all their resources are already placed to the account of the next war.’ This was written by a 71 year old philosopher after careful observation of the world around him nineteen years after the publication of the book that will usher in capitalism – The Wealth of Nations.

I am not going to ask you a silly question; I will tell you why the Great Wall of China was built. Though this is condescending; I have to for the sake of sanity. The first of its kind were built as early as the 7th century BC. This was 2,500 years before capitalism as we know it came into existence. It was built primarily to stop invasion and to help defend the Chinese realm. I have built you a walled city according to the book of Jeremiah. Were the walls of Jerusalem built for the beauty of it, or to protect it against the aggression of neighbouring states? This was supposed to have happened during the life of Jeremiah who lived during the time of Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BC. As a result of the ubiquitous building of city walls to protect city citizens from invading armies, the Romans became experts in the construction of siege ramparts to breach city walls at the height of their power.

In ancient times, especially in the Fertile Crescent, super powers like the Assyrians will siege a city and when the walls are breached they slaughter men and women wholesale. Those that were left often were sold into slavery. The people from whose religion spawned the two great monotheistic world religions were not even spared. For example, the Jews experienced repeated devastation at the hands of the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans. Some of them were captured vividly in their holy text. One of the greatest was the desolation brought on by Nebuchadnezzar, which saw their temple destroyed and all their elites captured and carried into captivity. The effects on the psychic of the Jews were enormous. The humiliation of their captivity, the bitterness of their subjugation and the strong resolve that Jerusalem should never be forgotten was immortalised in one of the most poignant pieces of poetry in the Bible – Psalm 137.

I bet you are asking the question what has war got to do with Nkrumahism. Of course, I wouldn’t waste my precious time to write this if not because of Mr Kwarteng unbridled need to paint capitalism as evil by trying to associate capitalism with violence and war. The book that gave birth to capitalism, as we know it, is ‘The Wealth of Nations’, and it was published in 1776. It coincided with the birth of America. Wealth of Nations promotes trade among nations. Why would anyone wage war against a country that it trades with? It doesn’t happen. For example, if you depend on your trading partner for your hospital equipments will you bomb those factories that produce them. I will like Mr Kwarteng to cite me one example where capitalist democracies have fought each other. They don’t because they trade among themselves. It is only dictatorships like that of his dear uncle Nkrumah who wage war to get what they can’t produce from within.

War is evil; it destroys societies, and I don’t have to tell anybody this. Anyone who is unable to come to this conclusion, without any fear of offending any of my readers, is a lunatic. For those who have been sanitised from war and the effects of war get a good book on Roman history and you will understand why I have to write this. War destroys many a soldiers’ psychic and the scars of war can be traumatic. I will be happy if my readers can get access to Dalton Trumbo’s novel ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ to understand what war can do to a man. After that you search on the net for some of the poems of Wilfred Owen, and my favourite war poem by Alan Seeger: I Have a Rendezvous with Death.

Regardless, even a debatable pacifist like Jean Jacques Rousseau, reading the epitaph of the 300 Spartans who died during the battle of Thermopylae ‘Stranger! Go tell the Spartans we died here’ found it noble. War is so much seen as noble to the extent that Islamic fanatics have appropriated it to their cause. For them, the ultimate martyrdom is to die on a battlefield. Just take a trip to any war cemetery in Europe, America or Asia and you will be surprised about the pristine nature it is kept. According to the author of a book I read years back that I have lost track, he reasoned that if an alien visited earth he might conclude that the best way to die is in War. In our own backyard how many wars were fought between the Fantis, Ashantis, Denkyiras, Kwahus and the rest? I bet they are also wars of capitalism. Before the white man set foot on the American continent the Red Indian used to fight among themselves like we did in our small part of the world before the arrival of the Europeans.

From the above it is obvious that war is part of the unfortunate wretched human condition, which it erupts when there is no cooperation. And the only economic system that is able to guarantee human cooperation is capitalism. The prime motive of capitalism is about profit; though loss is also part of it some idiots refuse to acknowledge that fact. Where in the world did anyone ever see factories germinating under bombardment or trade flourishing on a battlefield? Do profits grow on rubbles? If you come to understand this then any sane person should know that a capitalist will not promote war, but those leftist bureaucrats in whom I consider as fifth columns in capitalist democracies who promote wars. For me, at this juncture, I consider Mr Kwarteng as insane to be peddling such nonsense as capitalism being responsible for wars together with his lunatic Naomi Klein. Of course, it is no shock that Mr Kwarteng will associate war with capitalism, because that is what Hitler expressly made it clear in Mein Kampf and many of his countless speeches when he became chancellor that it is the fault of international financiers. Now, if you are a Jew living in the European main land where your residence status is at the whim of the ruler do you deny that same ruler who comes to you to help him finance his war, especially when your default job is finance?

I can assure my readers that it is the fear of thermonuclear war, which has spared the world of any major war after the WWII. Any such happenstance will leave nothing, but a charred earth. Those who survive it will revert back to a Stone Age savage-like existence. The only real lingering fear is the threat of those mad religious fundamental fanatics who believe in a final deity induced conflagration. There is no doubt that they wouldn’t hesitate to expedite the process if they should have access to a Nuclear Bomb. Therefore, for any academic to associate wars with capitalism is as ignorant as a new born baby. And I believe the degree of his ignorance can only be measured in light years. I think I have been able to prove that war has been part of human existence, at least, for the recorded part of human history. I will leave the rest of our past to conjecture. Mr Kwarteng can only come to that incredible conclusion unless he has been studying some Martian history. What he wrote is for ignorant people like Professor Sakyi and his ilk who are fascinated by the sewer that Mr Kwarteng pours from the clattering of his keyboard.

War destroys economic activities especially in these modern times when wars are not about conquest to extort and pillage the conquered. If humanity is stupid enough to kill themselves there is always going to be a capitalist somewhere who will provide the accessories to help them expedite the process. A capitalist will not indulge in a war, but don’t make the mistake when you start your wars the enterprise spirit of capitalism will rise to the occasion to provide what brings in the profit. They are not the cause of the war; they existed because of the war. Mr Kwarteng will have to think; he shouldn’t use his brain like a child who sees only one side of the argument. The military industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower was worried about in his 1961 farewell speech was due to the direct threat of communism. Communism turned the Russians into insane bunch of people. The Americans who helped them to defeat the threat to their mortal existence – the Nazis – were not even given the pass. Live and let us live is not part of their mantra; they wanted to bury America as Khrushchev once openly declared. Thank you for your time and look forward to the concluding part.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr

London

baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk
Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina