Ruthless Criticism

“Domestic Peace": Mobilisation of the Nation

[Chapter VIII of The Free World Wants War! by Karl Held and Theo Ebel (Resultate Verlag: Munich, 1986)]

“Without domestic peace there is no international peace!” – this is the principle on which domestic policy is based ... To put this into effect, politicians do not merely rely on their citizens' insight. Democratic control is the order of the day. The population's opinions are asked for and corrected; doubts which are voiced about the preparation for war are not refuted, but instead excluded from the realm of free opinion and prohibited, if necessary. The only thing every citizen is allowed and supposed to worry about is “social peace.” Without a solid team backing up their politicians at home, the nation is lacking the freedom of action it needs today more than ever against the enemy outside. This is how the democratic mobilization for the Third World War is progressing.


Ever since they made their double-track decision, NATO's leaders have declared peace to be their foremost task, and war to be the main danger they must attend to before anything else. This has given rise to concern among citizens who are frightened by their nation's “ability to secure peace” with their vast armament, and who demonstrate their longing for peace to politicians whose peace-keeping achievements they doubt. This longing is permitted and desired, but there is a snag to it. The peace the politicians are after cannot be secured merely by “good intentions” and the Sermon on the Mount. This would be “unworldly idealism.” And when people, from the point of view of such “good will,” accuse politicians of failing to show proper concern for peace, this engagement from below is even rejected as being “self-righteous moralism.” A minority who have doubts are attempting to impose their own conscience on the nation – something only politicians are entitled to do. For they have no doubts.

When hundreds of people cry that they are afraid, politicians tend to take care of this by replying “So am I!” This makes clear in whose hands the shared concern of the nation lies. Citizens are permitted to indulge in private suffering over the world. But political responsibility demands more than just noble convictions. The decision-makers' conscience dictates “practical success!” and that is why their “ethics of responsibility” is exactly right. Its field of activity is the power of the state; and this sets the real criteria for the citizens' conscience: “Rash retreat to one's conscience jeopardizes the cultural achievement of the state monopoly on force” (as one politician put it). A citizen must prove that his desire for peace is of the right kind by professing that solely the politicians are in charge and by accepting violence as an instrument of their politics.

“The pacifist attitude is what made Auschwitz possible” – this is how conservatives make the same point. Indifferent to historical truth and credibility, such people deny the antagonism between the pacifist longing for peace and the imperialist calculations of a man like Chamberlain with his “appeasement policy” in order to propagate one message: any pragmatic treatment of communist “totalitarianism” is a sign of weakness and is out of the question for their governments.

The really important peace movement is thus the armed forces; and whoever has his doubts will be told two things. In connection with military parades, of all things, which are protected by military policemen against all protest, he is told that the armed forces also protect his right to protest against them! And if this argument still fails to convince him, he is obviously an enemy of freedom and peace. Whether seduced or not, he is part of “Moscow's fifth column.” The question “Who benefits from the peace movement?” is intended to make it clear that disagreeable criticism must be based on a loathsome intention: “Better red than dead!” No matter how constructive the peace movement is with their nationalistic alternative proposals on how to secure peace; no matter how faithfully their protests are “against the Soviets as well”; no matter how much they agree with the critics in the Eastern camp in denouncing the “unfreedom” there – it is no use. As long as the peace movement doubts the principle that NATO armament secures peace – the more the better! .. they will be accused of national unreliability, according to the maxim “Whoever is not for us is against us!” They will inevitably be suspected of being a bunch of traitors to their country and declared either to be the useful idiots for the enemy without or simply to be the enemy within, according to whatever is opportune.


Logically enough, the state confronts the peace movement with the question as to their stand on violence – not because these people prevent the government's armament measures, or even obstruct them effectively, but because the state actually considers every moral doubt people have about their national leaders' unconditional will to arm to be a coercion of the state and therefore violence. “There is no right of resistance when it comes to a decision on modernization which has gone through parliament!” Whatever war preparations politicians dictate to the people, they are lawful and must not be suspected of being violent; anyone who does not readily see this is a violent element and an avowed enemy of the state who lawfully deserves to be subjected to any of the state's instruments of violence.

Politicians like to raise the question, “What attitude do you peaceniks have towards domestic peace?”, thereby alluding to the fact that the NATO critics do them the favor of identifying their own peacefulness with international peace – as if their peacefulness, which is exactly what the state demands of them (for instance, by “asking” this “question”!), were comparable to states abandoning their antagonistic interests. Peaceful citizens are the very condition for the state's freedom of action! This is why politicians are brazen enough to cite fear of war as an argument for leaving them alone to go on preparing for it. And the more eagerly the peace movement comply with this demand, the more radically it is raised and the peace movement condemned: “Non-violent resistance is violence.” “Civil disobedience is criminal.”

Whether any particular actions of the peace movement are violent or non-violent thus no longer depends on how the demonstrators behave, but is at the discretion of the state control bodies and their police. The state proves its case by letting them have it. In case of doubt, the stool pigeons on duty provide the opportunities. And in order to ensure that the state prejudice is properly executed, demonstration laws make participation in protest a pretty calculable risk: your health, your reputation, your finances and your profession are at stake. The constitutional state's total claim that he who is innocent has nothing to fear makes it clear that every demonstration per se is subject to the suspicion that it is unlawful. The freedom of speech the armed forces protect can just not be had unless you are actively committed to them and their boss.


For the “silent majority,” whom the politicians feel sure of even without police action, the conventional criteria for good democratic conduct are also being developed further.

As a voter, the citizen is allowed to use his vote to provide the ladies and gentlemen of his choice with the unlimited authorization to use power. Up to the election he is required to consent to the politicians' freedom to fulfill only those claims which they make on themselves. After the election the only promise which is made and kept is that there are new rulers who can proceed to devote themselves to the “imperatives” of politics, unmolested by any objections, no matter how responsible these maybe. And this means sacrifices for the people: there is no money for social hammock-owners but for the best missiles to be had, and business is given everything it needs for its investment interests. Whatever the elected politicians decide becomes a task for those affected – total democracy!

As a political individual, the citizen has the oneness of the diversity of opinions spelled out to him. The oppositional parties and the public uphold the view that Western armament should and must force the Russians to make concessions which must not be thoughtlessly gambled away. This challenges the government to say that anyone who wants to deprive the free world of even one missile is a commie friend and “Moscow's fifth column.” The opposition then replies that the government is putting an end to “domestic peace” with this “polemic”: evidently, the opposition itself is equally keen on having a united national community in these prewar times. The voter potential gets to choose freely between these alternatives.

As a subject, the citizen is faced with politicians whose only desire is to be leaders of their nation. No matter how severe the measures they administer to the people are, they announce them with an optimistic grin. The confidence they derive from their office they even want to radiate to their people as well. Citizens have rarely been treated by their rulers to so many compliments and so much encouragement to be optimistic as nowadays, when their rulers are decreeing one sacrifice after the other. Every outrageous demand is proof of how lucky those affected are to have such leaders. And these leaders thank the people for this by endlessly harping on the “difficulties” the unlimited exercise of their power causes them.

But even as citizens who put up with everything, the inhabitants of Western democracies can be sure of constant discontent and mistrust on the part of their masters. For politicians are certain there will be exceptions. Is there not still too much sectarianism in society? Are there not still uncontrolled nooks which ought to be sounded out by an opinion poll? Would it not be a good idea to improve the present records by introducing a computerized identity card and giving citizens a label suitable for tracing criminals?

As a worker, you are allowed to regard it as one big luxury that capitalist business is willing to use you. After all, no matter how lousy the money is, you still have a job, and business promises to save it by declaring more and more exploiting material to be unprofitable and redundant. There is therefore only one way of looking at the wages a worker has to live on: are they not too high? People's gratitude for being allowed to work at all increasingly proves to be an adequate substitute for proper pay. The unions do not even object. Labor service is once again inspired by service in the field, so that recruits are sometimes sworn in in factory halls – people are even allowed to stop working longer than five minutes to watch.

As an unemployed person, you are made to realize that you have no right to be kept by the state, being a useless element of the national community. But this does not by any means discharge you from the nation. The fact that you are no longer promised anything – not even that you might be used again in the future – must not make you think you can stand aloof from your nation. You are forbidden to “disturb” the “social peace” with your concerns; instead, you must dutifully dispel your adversaries' suspicion that your unemployment has made you stop being a good citizen, just because they have declared your existence to be superfluous. The state still knows some national tasks you can prove your usefulness in, just the way God and nature created you.

As a child-bearing woman, you are supposed to bring honor upon yourself by raising the nation's new generation, and this lofty task is incompatible with material bribes in the form of maternity pay.

As a foreigner, you are no longer needed but can nevertheless do the natives a good turn by giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their national sentiments: “Foreigners get out!” As an illicit worker earning a bit (on the side), and as a person seeking asylum wanting to scrape along on welfare as an “economic refugee,” you are allowed to have a parasite's guilty conscience, if you are tolerated in the country at all. The others benefit from being allowed to grumble about parasites with a clear conscience under the lead of the government.

As a member of the free world, you can be filled with pride and have friends all over the world. You are allowed to like them terribly. Especially the friendship with “our American brothers” is a matter close to all NATO citizens' hearts – and no misunderstandings arise as to the meaning of the friendship ceremonies. They are not aimed at the values in common but at the means for enforcing them. This fraternization takes place in the form of weapon displays, Open House in Yankee barracks and NATO maneuvers.

For some time now, Western politics has been demanding a readiness to serve otherwise required only of soldiers in wartime. If someone is so consistent in declaring even the most modest demands to be null and void and the decreed sacrifices to be the seal of quality for responsible politics, he is deliberately implementing prewar politics. If someone so resolutely goes about ensuring domestic security, he wants to be backed up by a united people so he can lead it into battle against the enemy.