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Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Sunday, 05 February 2012


By Jim Jordal

" Shall the throne of wickedness have fellowship with you, Which brings about mischief by statute?"

Psalm 94:20, WEB

" Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who write oppressive decrees;  to deprive the needy from justice, and to rob the poor among my people of their rights, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!"

Isaiah 10:1-2, WEB

Military representatives often use the term collateral damage to unemotionally describe the incidental loss of civilians and infrastructure during military activities. The implication is of course that the losses arose from unintended consequences incurred in pursuit of some higher goal like saving democracy or deposing dictators. Achieving the higher goal always takes precedence over civilian losses.

The public usually accepts these higher goals if they are stated accurately and have some direct importance to the society. An example is the widespread acceptance of the World War Two goal of defeating totalitarianism. Transparency of both goal and consequent action is necessary for public acceptance. The alternative is of course to simply lie to the public about the necessity of the goal and the losses involved in its implementation. That is what happened in Viet Nam and is now happening in the Middle East.

The unstated intent of these higher goals really is the preservation of whatever domination system is waging the warfare. Look what we did during the 1970s in Central America when we put down supposedly Communist insurgents who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. We destroyed entire villages and thousands of innocent families in the name of saving them from Communism, when in reality it was their resources we were attempting to preserve for ourselves. We justified all this as collateral damage done in pursuit of a higher goal—halting the spread of Communism.

One characteristic of oppressive domination systems is that they develop a specialized "in-house" language to deny or deflect responsibility for their egregious behaviors. Phrases like "I had to do it," or "We were ordered to do it," or "It was unavoidable," or "Look what would have happened if we hadn’t done it" characterize this sort of language. In other words, the end justifies the means.

Politicians, corporate flacks, and financiers also use the concept of collateral damage, although they couch it in different terms. Today the feared enemy is Socialism, and the higher goal is to save the American people from the ravages of this dreaded system. So anyone—workers, seniors, children, indigents, victims of chronic illnesses—who is damaged by this undeclared war is sacrificed as an unfortunate, but necessary sufferer of collateral damage.

Listen to the industrialists and financiers explain away the millions of unemployed and homeless people plunged into poverty by flawed economic and political decisions they had no control over. "We had to build our new factories in foreign countries where the market is," they say. "We had to export millions of jobs because we needed to make more profit to satisfy our shareholders," says another. And the worst: "Our only duty, in fact our legal fiduciary responsibility is to make a profit by combining the factors of production—including labor and resources--in the cheapest possible manner. Nothing else matters!"

Do you hear the specialized language of denial and justification? "We had to do it!" "We had no other choice." "We were mandated by law to do it." "It’s the American way." "We had to protect ourselves from creeping socialism." What you don’t usually hear is the truth that in reality nothing else matters, not adults or children or the earth or justice or decency, only profits.

So the poor and unemployed are treated as collateral damage incidentally done in pursuit of the higher goals of economic growth and profits. But the public is beginning to understand the falsity and perils of this facetious, cruel argument. The Recession of 2008 is not going away. The unemployment rate remains high. Foreclosures continue. Mega-banks remain virtually unregulated. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And the power brokers continue to claim that this suffering is unfortunate but somehow necessary in the pursuit of growth and future prosperity.

When will someone in authority say, "Baloney! I know what the arguments are. They’re wrong and evil and we’re not going to follow them. I’m going to do what’s right for the people and the earth, not for the wealthy and their massive corporations—period?"