Consumption, Militarism and Environmental Destruction
American imperial militarism is a direct result of an economy based upon the
illusion of ever increasing growth – particularly in consumption. Exponential
economic growth must eventually lead to resource overuse and the collapse of
the planet's life support systems of clean air, water, soil, and biodiversity.
Ecological collapse leads to greater levels of war, poverty and social strife as
well. In an extremely insightful editorial piece, noted ecologist David Suzuki
traces the implications of the consumer society. He notes that two-thirds of
over-developed country's economies are built on consumption, tracing the
historical roots and effects of societies and economies based upon consumption
as a way of life.
“The American economy's ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer
goods… Consumer goods aren't created by the economy out of nothing. They
come from the Earth, and when they are used up, they will be returned to the
Earth as garbage and toxic waste… what we consume has direct effects on
The endless quest for increased consumer satisfaction that underpins modern
economies is detrimental to environmental sustainability, is spiritually lacking
and enables militarism by the affluent. “Ultimately, it goes beyond pleasure or
status… the idea of more, ever-increasing wealth, has become the center of
our identity and our security, and we are caught up by it as the addict is by his
drugs.” America and the rest of the over-developed World is addicted to oil,
timber, minerals and other resources; and will stop at nothing – including pre-
emptive war – to satisfy their addiction.
“Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social, and spiritual
consequences. It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that
underlie our lifestyles.” The human family's future depends upon consuming
less, living frugally, favoring quality over quantity, and finding meaning in more
than having more things. This does not mean returning to a pre-modern era –
it means living a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, where the needs of ourselves
and others are met. Most studies indicate the World's population could live
sustainably at a standard of living of the average European.
Failure to moderate consumption patterns will 1) lead to a state of “perma-
war” – pre-emptive resource grabs – whereby the affluent take what they need
from the weak and impoverished, 2) ecological overshoot and collapse whereby
much of the Earth will be uninhabitable, 3) increased personal alienation and
spiritual anguish as materialism fails to provide meaningful lives, 4) and make
impossible a future of sustainable, just and equitable lifestyles for the human family.
The impending “pre-emptive” invasion of the Middle East by the United States is
immoral and illegal. Issues that are a matter of international justice and should
be handled by international institutions are instead handled in a militaristic,
unilateral and imperial manner. Win, lose or draw; no good can come from the
precedent of unprovoked invasion under questionable justification. No War for
Oil. Both Bush and Hussein are dangerous, illegitimate leaders that should be
deposed. I urge them both to resign and go into exile – or face responsibility
for their war crimes.