Governments, Technology, and the Rise of the Warfare State

With every advance in technology also comes a regression, of sorts. When the Agricultural Revolution brought immense change to the world, axes and spears were invented to protect property. As civilizations and populations grew over the years, the gun was eventually invented. And when world superpowers, full of precious ‘cargo’ to protect, scoffed at diplomacy the arms race began. Great technological progress has brought the world to one of two options: 1. the power to create, and 2. the power to destroy. Despite all good intentions, the power to destroy continues to live on.

American society has been and always will be changing. Certain values, notions, and ideals are quite firmly ingrained in the American psyche, and they are far from being completely erased (individualism, republican democracy, and “capitalism”). These are abstract things, however. Ideas are not easily replaced, as they typically need a philosophical revolution to do so. Concrete, tangible things, on the other hand, are constantly being added and taken from American society. Ford’s Model T, “The Lawrence Welk Show,” the 8-track tape, and Levi Jeans were, and still are, emblematic of American society. However, their heyday was over long ago. The Hummer is the new Model T, American Idol the new “Lawrence Welk Show,” the iPod the new 8-track tape, and a flashy $200 pair of jeans the new pair of Levi’s. All of this seems and is a great step forward.  Things became available to the masses and no longer just the elite. And they worked much better, too. All of this progress masked a tragic phenomenon: the progression of weapons technology and the regression of human interaction. 

As automobiles were being built en masse in their infancy, the atomic bomb was being quietly researched and manufactured. After all, why should weapons be forbidden from adhering to the same old consumer mantra, “Bigger, better, faster!” A bigger, better, and faster weapon was needed to protect bigger, better, and faster things. Spears and lances, bows and arrows, and guns and ammo were no longer seen as capable of defending things. Missiles and bombs seemed like the only answer. So just as the assembly line was capable of producing radios for the millions in America, the engineering lab was capable of systematically destroying hundreds of thousands of people in Japan. Unfortunately, this was exactly what happened.

War, with the rapid progression of technology, became much less personable and “real,” just as communication has with the advent of cell phones and social networking websites.  The human costs of war are hardly ever seen anymore, even by soldiers. A man sitting in Washington, DC is capable of attacking a village in Waziristan. He will never have to leave his air conditioned office to experience the intense heat of the Middle East, nor will he have to see the countless dead and maimed who suffered from his attack. Because of technology, the human element is gone. Consequences are sanitized and seen through rose-colored glasses. Advances in weapons technology and the substitution of a screen for human interaction is what perpetuates this gross and seemingly endless injustice called “war.”

For now, it seems like weapons will only continue to get bigger, better, and faster. The reason for this insatiable appetite of bombs, missiles, and guns is quite simply because of governments. Only governments feel the need to wage pointless wars based on lies, to conquest foreign lands to plunder their resources, and to simply “boost morale.” Only until the greatest injustice of all time, government, is abolished will this excessive hunger for weapons end. The power to destroy will still remain an option, but it will never match the power to create. 

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