The engine of our war machine is powered by the military industrial complex, the for-profit weapons manufacturers who rely on war and destruction to keep capital flowing. Agents supporting these industries infiltrate elected and private governmental agencies alike, always attempting to sway perspectives toward the want of more devastation, more death. When the military hits a capacity of equipment, they are directed to sell the excess to municipal and state police departments so that they might free up inventory to purchase more.
The United States perpetually generates propaganda framing our need for the military industrial complex in the context of safety, both for ourselves and our international allies. Yet it is apparent that it is the rest of the world that requires safety from the US. The US controls approximately 750 military bases in at least eighty countries worldwide and spends more on its military than the next ten countries combined.61 Immediately after exiting a twenty-year war founded on a lie, the US Congress voted to approve a 768-billion-dollar pentagon budget—the largest in the nation’s history. Consider also the corporation that benefits from resources claimed or “opened” to trade.
Entire military branches are used to secure resources for private companies whose lobbying efforts pushed for the wars to begin in the first place. The manufacturer seeking access to rubber trees, an energy company seeking to control oil fields in a foreign land, or a weapons manufacturer needing to sell billions of new missiles to meet annual projections all prioritize dollars over human life. There is also the fact that the weapons we sell to our allies often end up in the hands of our “enemies” through corruption, theft, and abandonment.62,63 We should also consider private mercenary corporations, who are unbound to established laws of engagement and more akin to well-armed pirates than soldiers.
One potential barrier to transitioning the legal classification of weapons manufacturers is their deep integration with the military. There is also the revolving door of employment between the military and weapons manufacturers,64 as many inhabiting high-ranking military positions end their service in order to leverage their connections within the military and government to sell weapons. The military industrial complex is a vast and nebulous network of people willing to bring about death and destruction for their personal profits, empowered by our laws and lack of coherent value systems. It is an institution incompatible with our journey toward self-actualization in the age of crisis. Corporate interests have played active roles in influencing military conquests throughout history. We must sever this connection to transcend the age of crisis.
The most direct path toward reshaping the military industry is to reclassify these products as public goods. It is a shared issue for individuals everywhere, but especially for citizens of the United States, as we are the most significant culprits. The suggestion to socialize American weapons manufacturers is supported by the US Constitution. It is both within our rights and our collective best interest to recognize the civilian power over this decision moving forward. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution lays the foundation for the argument to enforce public control over our national production of weapons of war. It states that Congress shall have power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” In addition, one of the primary purposes of the US government is to defend our people.
Although it’s easy to forget within the crisis of elected misrepresentation, Congress is supposed to act on behalf of the people, not their corporate donors. Further regulating the manufacture and sale of weapons of war, such as missiles, fighter jets, tanks, assault weapons, robotic soldiers, and others, is within our present legal power. Removing the profit motive from these industry verticals is a form of regulation that can be imposed on transactions occurring internally here in the United States and internationally. Congress is already involved with national action relating to the sale and export of weapons. It’s required by law that the president notify Congress when they desire to sell arms to another country. The House and Senate then decide whether to approve the measure. If Congress rejects the request, the president can veto the rejection, which would then require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to override the veto.
In exploring alternatives, we recognize the existing powers we are granted by law in controlling military manufacturers and sales. At the same time, we cannot overlook that the entirety of Congress is captured, consistently voting for and supporting the ever-expanding military budget despite knowledge of bloat, misuse, and mismanagement of funds. Even the most “progressive” representatives are quick to vote yes or abstain from voting on military expansion. Whether they succumb to cowardice to improve reelection chances or are ignorant of the depravity of expansive war in the age of crisis, it is unlikely that we can count on elected officials within the US government to ever stop our imperialism.
Similar to the DAOs and corporate modules we explored earlier, our process of establishing weapons as a public good would be the enactment of a new set of laws of property and contract pertaining specifically to weapons. The laws we develop might begin by identifying specific objects and organizations that would face an immediate transition to this new model. Any laws we create would be designed to allow updates and expansion with low resistance as weapons technologies advance in the future. Implementing this shifting classification could take the form of a series of bills, each addressing aspects of laws that would have to change to create a spin-off vertical. For example, we could define a new class of corporate structure for weapons manufacturers in one bill and then pass another requiring reclassification for existing companies through corporate modules. As public goods, we could also incorporate public input on the manufacturer, sale, and development of weapons. Weapons technologies serve the public by pushing the boundaries of technological progress in several verticals, but this is not a justification for their use or mass production.
Incorporating public consensus mechanisms would serve as perpetual deterrents for those seeking to approve and acquire weapons for conquest. We can imagine the weapons industry existing primarily as experimental research and development vertical, testing and cataloging for the sake of exploration, and never mass-manufacturing or exchanging goods for profit. They would operate under strict production protocols, transparent and belonging to the global public. This vertical of research spawns innovation in various directions, all of which will fall under public domain. It could exist under the umbrella of the larger civic core. The use of weapons of war and military action should be hard-coded to require democratic consensus among the citizens. Given that the United States has established global military supremacy, it must lead the charge in global disarmament. This is an impossible task within a system defined and directed by for-profit weapons manufacturers.
There are moral and temporal arguments for the abolishment of weapons in their entirety. Morally we understand weapons to be instruments of harm. Our embrace of relation as a core value is a rejection of self and community harm. There is also always the opportunity for misuse, even within our reshaping of the relationship between weapons manufacturing and human progress. Our inhabiting a time experience with weapons attracts us to their use; they are part of us. Still, there is no alternative. We can’t uninvent weapons, and the US public shares a general disinterest in voluntary disarmament. Moral arguments against weapons are useful thought exercises to shape ideals but are meaningless in the context of our available options. Weapons exist and are not going anywhere. People will continue to experiment and innovate with their designs and functions. Restructuring the vertical to eliminate profiteering, maximize transparency, and remove the power of a select few to dictate death and destruction is the ideal option within the immediate present.
Consider the US global military order. Transcending the crisis requires that we question the vision and motives leading to its ultimate end, but that would be in vain—there is no end game. It’s all about perpetual war. The United States military pollutes more than most countries.65 It is the cancer that drives us toward the crisis of extinction while our people starve and lack access to basic dignities. Some might claim that if the US were to stop manufacturing weapons, other nations would. However, this argument exists within a context that makes it invalid through its root assumption. All other nations presently operate within the military dominion of the United States. Removing the grasp of profiteering weapons manufacturers from the neck of global humanity is a project that would be well-accepted by present and future leadership around the globe. The majority have much to win from global disarmament, to free themselves from the fear of devastation for choosing an alternative way of life from that offered by the American Empire. Consider also cyber-espionage, technological theft, and other forms of non-militarized attacks that the US and other nations face. These acts of aggression should also be considered within the context of the established global empire. Until the United States is willing to reimagine its role, there is no hope of convincing others. Fortunately, the reorganization of the military industry brings opportunities for empowering global cooperation and collaboration.
Self-actualization in the age of crisis is our individual and collective choice to inhabit a more transcendent human time experience. This is incompatible with a profit-driven military industry, a form of organization not able to align with the single truth and the relational universe. Self-actualizers therefore refuse participation within these organizations and commit to their deconstruction. We seek to develop a global movement toward a bigger humanity. In doing so, we must reject some of our most deeply held dogmas regarding the purpose and intention of the US military.