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As protests swell over our sale of arms to the brutish generals of Burma/Myanmar, what is the morality of Israel’s weapons industry?

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This is a segment from The ā€œA Pall to Armsā€ Edition.

One comment on “A Pall to Arms

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    Institutional imperatives take on lives of their own. Whatever impetus the outside world had in generating them, their maintenance is more an internal matter, for the whole idea anyway is to prevent external disaster. When arguing against an outcome one often does not want that outcome to appear as proof–one does not want the space shuttle to blow up to show an error in design was made. Physics, though, has mini-experiments everywhere; one can avoid disasters through failures only a few notice. Such is much harder in social science, certainly at the macro level of national security, and that is where the arms industry sits.

    In such cases institutions take on policing roles akin to purging blasphemy as a threat against society and existence; to speak against God once was the greatest existential threat imaginable, both micro for exposed souls and macro for society and State. This policing technique and fear is still with us, I think, now focused on national security, holding the same participatory necessity and threatened exclusion (who will not say they are a patriot?). But money is to be made in large institutions, so policing blasphemy against national security can be used to insulate aggrandizement; in fact, it must be so over time. As David Hume noted, that which can be abused eventually will be abused. In evolutionary parlance, social cheaters will appear given sufficient opportunity.

    Overlaying external morality can have the effect of dampening such aggrandizement. The moral banner is raised to argue for a better future national security, but it stays because of coalitions against specific aggrandizement, birthed to bring specific people down. God needs to be made more holy for Its own sake, and that can necessitate changing Its representatives. If successful, this morality becomes a new institutional imperative, more an internal than external matter, employing the same mechanisms as that which it fought. Sociality is tethered to the world, but it is a long tether, quite capable of tying us up until we drown.

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