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Recognizing Why the Military Industrial Complex Exists. . .

Updated on June 28, 2011

To Create, To Build, To Compete. . .

There is much talk of why the military industrial complex exists in its current form. Ranging from corporate interests, political interests, money, resources, and blood lust, the subject matter is the cause of much debate. However, there is little talk of why the average citizen seems to have a sentimental attachment or interest in the said industry. Many of us are simply subconsciously addicted to the "war economy." We may even find the whole concept fascinating or an interesting guilty pleasure. I admit I'm guilty of much the same. If the day is boring, there's nothing like a military conspiracy or a neat-o piece military technology to rekindle my interest. Does that make me a psychotic maniac? Or is there an understandable affection within the darkness of this militarized world?

The Hunger to Create. . .

Let's face it, there is much creativity involved in the military industrial complex. It fits mankind's hunger and desire to create. In both Canada and America, we live in a land where the people simply don't value conventional creativity. Those who are naturally creative, and technologically savvy, can't help but to awe at all the elegant aviation designs witnessed in the military industrial complex. We're caught in a trance at the breathtaking scene of ingenuity and discovery. An artist, while perhaps consciously voicing his displeasure of how creativity is being wickedly used, cannot help but to subconsciously be dazzled over the only economy left in both America and Canada where he can be creative.

You can tell a lot about a nation by how it treats it's artists. And sadly, here in both Canada and America, we treat our artists like collective dirt. In America, only 3% of the population purchases any art. We mock our artists, calling them any label we can think of from "starving artists," to "communists," to "hippies," etc. The overall population, perhaps through jealousy, seemingly takes pleasure in seeing art destroyed in our society and artists suffering. Like a pile of jackals, they laugh together at the very idea of artists being poor and a failure, in some inept way to propel their own self confidence as they deal with their own inferiority complexes, all because their desk job is too boring.

At this point, our often young and disenfranchised creative (and technologically savvy) male is struggling to find a place in this world. . . At this moment in life, he's most likely both consciously and subconsciously beating himself up because he's only average at best in mathematics. He wants to do art, but at the same time, he doesn't want to do art. Why do something not valued by society? So he thumbs his nose down into the hardcore mathematics, thinking through sheer tenacity he can somehow overcome his biological "artsyness." Reality soon befalls him: nature always beats nurture. You simply can't turn the right brained artist into a left brained corporate calculator, no matter how much you deny your very nature by doing nothing but math, and leaving your art completely behind. The artist can't leave you, and the mathematician can't become you. You're still struggling with mathematics despite doing mathematics ten hours everyday. Then comes a moment when your mind innocently slips and you start to doodle some landscape. Your frustrated math tutor says the following, "wow, I didn't know you could draw so well, I never see you draw." Indeed, I never drew for up to six months until that point. During that same six months, I did nothing but math, math, with a pinch of science, and more maths. I shrug my shoulders in disgust, how is it I can still be a great artist, despite being out of practice for six months, yet still struggle with mathematics?

At this point, your heart and mind is consumed with rage. You look up glaringly at the sky with the eyes of hopelessness. "Why God, why, did you have to make me a bleeping artisan in Westernized society?! Is this some form of punishment?" Of course, you never get a straight answer to that question. After failing yet another math exam, you bow your head in shame, realizing a life in the daft "service industry" of low wages and customers treating you like a dog animal is all that's left for you. . .

You take the crappy day job in the service industry, and find yourself wishing you were struggling with mathematical algorithms again. Is there anything more soul killing for a creative person? The service industry, a world where you're told how to talk, walk, what to say, etc. and cancel out your mind in the name of being a human drone with the mission statement to get a smiling disposition from the customer. The customer who owns you, and you're very much their slave, where they (the customer) can pretty much do anything emotionally they want with you without consequences.

Then you get your peanut gallery commentary from your well meaning, but misguided friends. . . "I still think you should get back into art," she says, "I understand it's competitive, but you're very good." Competitive? Art? Today? Don't make me laugh! The competition in the market right now is so weak it's ridiculous. Don't believe me? Take a look of a painting done back in the 1700's compared to the "modern art" we see today. Whose the better painter? The 1700's had artists of greater talent because there was simply more competition. There was more competition why exactly? Because art was valued back in the 1700's; that isn't the case today. The market isn't competitive, it's bare. When you have a guy telling me he can't afford to pay two dollars for a copy of a poem he likes, yet no more than five minutes later he buys a seven dollar McBurger that's a danger to his health both mentally and physically, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what exactly Western society values and doesn't value. . .

When you hit rock bottom; that interesting job offer by the military suddenly becomes more attractive. Between the mindless service industry jobs; and clients who refuse to pay for art (even despite numerous comments how they love my work) if you go the entrepreneurial route, a chance to use at least some creativity and interesting technology to make a living becomes appealing. Your ethical qualms that your creativity will be used for destruction slowly start to vacate when your stomach growls. You're hungry; you check your wallet and find twenty dollars. You have zero in your bank account, and payday from the McJob is still three days away, so you stay hungry and keep the twenty dollars for a rainy day. Wait, isn't it already raining? Alright, a day of thunder and a tornado. At this present moment you accept the job with the military industrial complex. And so yet another military industrialized complex young male is born; this is truly why the military industrial complex exists. . .

You soon discover that believe it or not, the talented artists of our time are often in the military. I guess this explains why the paint jobs and designs on military vehicles, ships and aircraft put civilian artists to shame.

The Satisfaction in Building. . .

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved to build things. When I was five, it was sand castle forts that were taller than me. When I was eight, it was a tree house. When I was eleven, it was a science fair experiment/simulation of an entire city getting washed away in erosion due to a levee dam failing (my first sign that I had the ability to pick up future trends?). At fourteen, it was a mortar made of cardboard with a potato as a projectile. You get the picture. . .

Oh dear, my right brain, I can't make it depart me. I love to make things, build things, and create things. While applauded as a child; my lack of anal analytical ability and rote memorization made me impossible in High School. Test taking was the name of the game; and I'm a lousy player.

For the kids who can't master the left brained test and thus can't get into college; yet love to assemble things together, the military industrial complex unfortunately satisfies their appeal of a deeply seeded human passion: the desire to build and construct. All of the technology present in the military, the ingenuity, the devices, etc. There’s so much to build, so much to maintain, and so much to operate. Sadly, this can seem like a playground to the many of us who love to play with gadgets; that sometimes we can forget what it's actually used for. . .

The Desire to Compete. . .

The reality is people love to compete. Let's face it, we're addicted to competition. Humans love to compete in sports, in board games, in video games, in the classroom, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it! Healthy and fair competition is a good thing. I love competition. I love to win, and love to challenge myself when I lose.

Unfortunately, war is the most unhealthy and unfair competition around. Very rarely are the two sides evenly matched, and the loser dies, but it does still supply our passion as humans to compete none the less.

So there you have it; that's why mankind is addicted to the military industrial complex and to war. War supplies our three greatest passions: to create, to build, and to compete (by blowing up the other guy's sand castle). War also provides humanity's forth greatest passion: to have sex and to reproduce, because let's face it, according to history people have a lot of sex after the war is finished. So wars cause us to create, build, compete and reproduce. There's human evolution right there all summed up in a single sentence. Many scholars are arriving to the same conclusions: that war is necessary for human progress and evolution. However, is that so? Remember, correlation isn't always causation. . .

Is War Necessary for Progress and Evolution?

Today's Military Industrial Complex Fills a Void. . .

The military complex of today is merely filling in a necessary human void. The economics of capitalism has long abandoned its artists, artisans, engineers and scientists across both Canada and the United States. The private sector has simply outsourced the ability to eke out a living in these fields due to "globalization." There's nothing we can hope to do, which allows us to compete with the Chinese or Indians in these fields. The Chinese and Indians are numerous; and can live comfortably on adjusted currency of only a few USD per hour. As I outlined in many of my articles, jobs in the intellectual fields such as art and science are highly vulnerable to outsourcing because they make use of universal languages. Globalization is a game were the rules are so heavily stacked against the Canadian or American worker; that you would be better off tip-toeing your way around it rather than facing the beast directly.

The military industrial complex serves such a purpose. It represents a bypass to the rules of globalization. A government run complex generates revenue from taxes, and thus doesn't have to compete downwards in the quest for cheaper and cheaper prices. It's a completely different economy with a completely different set of rules. It's this unorthodox war economy, not subjugated to the rules of capitalist globalization, that keeps the scientists, technologists, engineers, etc. employed. If the military industrial complex were to be dismantled tomorrow, we would face millions upon millions of unemployed people.

There was a time private industry supplied employment for the nation's men who demonstrated the following traits I have outlined in this article. Now, with the extinction of industry, the military industrial complex is all they have left.

Anti-Globalization is Anti-War

I believe that simply desiring, advocating, and protesting for a world without war isn't enough. A person who wishes to see a world without war succeed must have the wisdom to realize that such a world has to be manifested. That is to say, it isn't enough to be anti-war, you must advocate for an environment that makes being anti-war a real possibility. It's a lot like gardening, you must tend to soil beds, water the plants, pluck the weeds, etc.; in order for a healthy plant to grow.

You see, the dark scholars have it wrong, war isn't necessary for human evolution. There's nothing that war supplies that couldn't be supplied through other means. Unfortunately, the garden bed that's globalization prevents us from moving forward.

If we could put a stop to globalization; and bring industry back here, the men of this nation would put their passions to create, build, and compete in the name of production, rather than in the name of destruction. War isn't necessary for human evolution, there's no reason why the free market can't provide the same level of innovation, but it involves a change in mindset. That change in mindset involves achieving greatness rather than cheapness. I say we close down the cheapness trap door. We're simply better off without globalization concepts. Throughout history, globalization has never worked. As I explained in my article, Globalization in a World Order, globalization isn't an environment conductive to peace. The inter-dependency and entanglements of nations creates causes for war as nations lose their independence. Nations, who have their entire industrial complex outsourced, must immediately replace it with a sickening military industrial complex, if they hope to not lose any of their scientific and technological advancement. When put together, increased nation inter-dependency and nations losing entire industries that must be replaced by a military industry; that's potentially a rather toxic mix. Do you truly believe peace can be conceived with such a chemical alignment?

We must put an end to globalization, in order to bring industry back; and thus hand people an alternative to the military industrial complex. To be anti-globalization is to be anti-war.

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Pretty long author comments could make a separate Hub. The military recently got pinched (sequestered) and the Afghanistan draw down will inspire more attention by everyone to ISIL. Meanwhile the Taliban, Al Queda, the Mafia, and big capital profiteers will continue to challenge us to do right with our might.

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

      "I can't understand what you think you're entitled to. Should artists be subsidized by taxpayer dollars? If so, how many of them? Can I declare myself an artist and live off the government dole?"

      Before you play yet another extreme right-wing card, I have news for you, a lot of the industries your accountant gets employment from are most likely already heavily subsidized by tax payer dollars.

      If you want us to return to a society of the "petit bourgeoisie," where it's pure capitalism and we're all our own bakers, blacksmiths, artists, etc. I have no problem with that philosophy, but what I do have a problem with is the attitude and expectations that only artists should play by these harsh rules of the free market.

      Even if we were to remove the government completely from the picture, there's government like centralized power in big banking. I could hypothetically take out a banking loan to start business running a restaurant, because the argument is that's practical. I couldn't do the same with art.

      Because I can take out a huge loan to run a restaurant, I can hire people to do stuff I'm not exactly thrilled about, such as marketing. This way I can focus on my restaurant. As an artist, who doesn't have such options available to me in the world of cultural high finance, I'm forced into having to do 10 jobs at once to run my art enterprise. I thusly have to work two to three times harder than anyone else. This also takes time away from doing art.

      The day the accountant is forced to become a marketer, salesman, CEO, investor, web design specialist, etc. in order to secure a job as an accountant; will be the day I'll believe we're in an egalitarian world of pure capitalism and libertarianism.

      Better question to ask: Why should only artists be subjugated to the harsh rules of pure capitalism, while everyone else can use high centralized power such as government and banking?

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


      I took a risk and wanted to address the hidden cultural and emotional aspects of the military. I could go on and on about the historical and political events. From WWII and what I call the emergence of the "Holocaust industry/education," to the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin wall, to the "New American Century" of today, etc.

      The fact of the matter is there is more than enough material on that subject matter that can be found ad nausea. Not to dismiss the politics, as the situation is very real and needs to be addressed, but I wanted to be original.

      Military art/industrial/tech culture isn't strictly an American misadventure. In fact it isn't strictly a nationalistic adventure. I'm Canadian, from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The military has a lot of influence here, and I would go on to say that military culture has shaped our economy ever since the city's founding. Here in Halifax, we have what I call this prideful "Maritime Naval tradition."

      If the Canadian military were to be cut by 10%, we would certainly feel it. Not only in all the jobs provided by the military, but also in what I call the "civilian cultural support" sector as well. We have entire industries in art, museums, tourism, and education dedicated to the military and its numerous themes. A 10% cut in the military could very easily correspond with a 10% decline in the following industries. Unemployment would subsequently increase by 10% across the entire city. That would be devastating.

      And for the record, Lockheed Martin has recently set up shop here. I used to pass by their vast defense contracting enterprise every day I went to work. This is no coincidence, Lockheed Martin, being a clever corporate business like any other, deliberately seeks out towns and cities that would be culturally accepting of their line of business. . .

      Military art/culture is very much a reality often overlooked by the people. You're correct in your assertion that it kept the sinking ship that was the Soviet Union running for up to thirty years longer than it probably should have; and that the same life support is now being employed in America.

      I would like to end this message by analyzing a certain movie that's been over hyped: James Cameron's Avatar. There is a lot of political and religious rhetoric surrounding this movie, but what people are overlooking is a hidden veiled message by Cameron. The movie is about a grand comparison and conflict between two separate factions. One faction is a military art/tech society; the other is an ecological art/tech society.

      I will go on to say that with or without the military, humanity most likely would have still invented the Internet and aviation, but if it were strictly a civilian innovation first, and came to use much later by the military, such technology might look and feel vastly much different compared to what we see today.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "I could say I was one of the lucky few to "make it" in art, in the sense I could actually make a living off of it at one time, although a modest one, but I didn't sign up to be a salesman."

      I can't understand what you think you're entitled to. Should artists be subsidized by taxpayer dollars? If so, how many of them? Can I declare myself an artist and live off the government dole?

    • CHRIS57 profile image


      7 years ago from Northern Germany

      I looked at the headline of your aricle and expected hard boiled political analytics and commentary. What a pleasant surpise to find a more cultural approach.

      I am fully with you on your first thoughts on creativity, building and competition. What rises my curiosity is that military is stepping in as mentor for the "art" of technology.

      With full respect, that is only a perspective of how things are going in the US. Compare it to the rest of the world and you will find that creativity, productivity, technology is very well possible without the military complex, at least without dominance of the military complex.

      Why is that so? From here on it gets political. I think the large influence of the military side of industry goes back to cold war times. In those times it was not limited to the US, the Soviet Union had their share on miltary and finally went broke.

      The US also lived over their means but managed to stay alive longer. The most interesting part of history is what happened after the eastern block perished. It is worth some investigation to find out how the Halliburtons and Lockheed Martins managed to take initiative in those times. During cold war no particular steps had to be taken by the military industrial complex, political situation worked for itself. After the end of the cold war with no immediate need to maintain military strength, the military complex had to pursue direct influence on US political leaders. And they did, succeeding in having high level officals on they payroll (Cheney, Rumsfeld just to name a few).

      Well, i got carried away on the political track but then to me technological advancements and grown man´s playground are not necessarily linked to military.

      Thank´s for your hub, enjoyed reading very much. Some of what you write could apply to my personal business life, sentiments and experience.

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

      We'll agree to disagree then, the "best" artist is always the best salesman or saleswoman. The same could be said for any career, but at least being a great accountant can somewhat compensate for your lack of salesmanship. The accountant, while having to spend a lot of time selling himself/herself to get a job, wouldn't have to spend most of his/her time marketing rather than accounting once he/she has the job.

      People from the outside looking in truly have no idea, an artist has to spend 80% of his/her time marketing and would be lucky to get 20% of his/her time on art if he/she wants to make it financially.

      Anyways, that's the reason why I'm done with art. If I wanted to be a salesperson, there are other much more lucrative industries to get into using that profession.

      I could say I was one of the lucky few to "make it" in art, in the sense I could actually make a living off of it at one time, although a modest one, but I didn't sign up to be a salesman.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "The accountant can always get work strictly being just an accountant."

      If that accountant is capable enough, yes. And, if the artist is good enough, he/she can get work strictly just being an artist. Witness the success of iTunes artists wrote the songs and are compensated for them. You may think it's trashy, but artists wrote it, artists photographed the album covers and artists designed the clothing worn by the performers, who are also artists.

      The market is obviously not dead, it's just doesn't work for you. Learn some new art and begin competing with the other artists. Every industry works that way: art is nothing special. The art industry is not above the competitive fray.

      You have to earn respect at any job you do. Anointing yourself an 'artist' does not bring with immediate respect from anyone: ask an accountant.

    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


      I believe it's more cultural in nature than simply the like or dislike of an artist and the pieces he/she makes. If it came strictly down to consumer choice, I would find that acceptable; but rarely is that the case. There's a deeply seated cultural expectation that art should only be appreciated, nothing more, nobody should have to pay for it.

      Now you could blame this on my lack of marketing skills rather than ability, but ask yourself; does the accountant have to be the accountant and marketing executive at the same time? The accountant can always get work strictly being just an accountant.

      And I've had many jobs before, including one of the two you mentioned. I was poor, but I certainly wasn't starving. I received a hell of a lot more respect having one of those jobs as well, despite the fact I wasn't exactly good at it.

      Trust me, the art market is dead, our souls are getting as fat and ugly as our bodies. Have you listened to the music of today? It's trashy.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      "You can tell a lot about a nation by how it treats it's artists."

      In my United States anyone has the freedom to be artistic and anyone else has the freedom to patronize or ignore other people's art.

      We have 'starving middle managers' and 'starving accountants' as well, but fortunately they are not romanticized and programmed into the collective guilt.


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