Economy of death




The recently announced plans by the federal government to increase military exports and industry must be read as the latest step toward a militarised Australian economy.

This has already been demonstrated in the choice to build submarines, buy air fighters, host military bases and exercises, and to participate in Middle East warfare.

There is real danger here because militarised economies develop their own momentum toward war-making.

The carnage of the past century served to confirm this view.

In his 1985 book Blood and Iron: Breath of Life or Weapons of Death (1985) renowned Australian physicist, educator and science communicator Dr Peter Mason documented how powerful interests, particularly the Krupp steelmakers, fuelled the armaments industry in both Britain and Germany leading to the millions dead in the First World War.

This confirms German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s observation that those who manufacture weapons are preparing to fight the next war.

Blithely, politicians say we need have no concerns, because military armaments would only be sold to countries who share Australia’s high ethical standards. How absurd is this?

There can be no reassurance that limits will be placed on military plans and weapons.

The nations that fought the First World War were self-confessed Christian nations. And their enemies were, of course, only to be killed in the name of higher religious and ethical standards!

Sadly, this rationale is regularly repeated, as in the shock and awe of Iraq and the subsequent war in the Middle East.

In our highly militarised world we must find a path away from economies which continue the manufacture of death.

Lures, such as advertisements for the Army Reserve, and promises of skills for young people in the military forces, do not help.

But they do serve to remind us of the world wars of the past century, and the acts of terror exercised daily, which demand that we persuade all governments, industry and young people alike, to give up our dangerous attachment to war preparation.

Instead of binding our economy to military production and offering employment in military activities to our young, why not develop an Australian economy that is truly productive, committed imaginatively to peace?

Furthermore, as followers of Jesus do we have any other choice than to be peacemakers?

As a result of the participation over the past few years, I have drafted the following declaration that I hope people will find useful as they continue to work as peacemakers:

On this centenary of the ‘war to end all wars’ we gather to lament the profound cost of war and to attend to Jesus Christ’s call to peace.

On this day, as those called by Jesus Christ, we declare that we refuse to take up weapons in the practice of war. We will not kill any other human being.

We call upon our fellow Australians, who commemorate the cost of war on this ANZAC day, to cease to prepare for war by the production and use of weapons.

Called by Jesus Christ to be a maker of peace, I therefore sign this declaration.

I declare a conscientious objection to any military service. I join with all creatures, human and other living beings, to seek to live by the prophetic vision of peace for all.


Wes Campbell is a retired Uniting Church minister, theologian and painter in oils and acrylics. His artworks will be featured in Transfiguration: An Exhibition, which will be staged in the Phee Broadway Theatre in Castlemaine from 4 February to 28 March.

Transfiguration: An Exhibition is a response to a key Christian narrative traditionally observed on the 6th of August, as Transfiguration. The 6th of August, 1945, is also remembered as the date of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima.

The double focus of this exhibition brings together the brutal death of Jesus in his confrontation with powers that oppress and destroy, and his ‘light’ that has the power to transform life. The paintings depict both the suffering world and life-giving light.


Image: imcomkorea/flickr

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