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Social and Psychological Preparation for War*

Jules Henry

War is fought by social groups. Social groups exist in a mobilized and unmobilized condition. For the conduct of everyday affairs social groups are integrated, tied together, by processes which, ranging from the simple exchange of commodities and services of tribal peoples, to the interlocking corporations, fiscal obligations and controls and industrygovernment relations in modern states, provide continuity and dependability. Mobilized, such groups are prepared for extra effort, for an output greater than the requirements of everyday life. In time of war latent capabilities for action are actualized, with the aid of the society's capacity for love, hate and anxiety.

DEFINING THE ENEMY. The 'enemy', however, is, himself, an aspect or mode of the dialectics of the organization of the society. In the tribal world, for example, where, as compared with the modern world, each society is relatively selfcontained, the 'enemy' is usually outside the social system.1

In the modern world, however, the enemy is, by definition, and by dialectic necessity, a part, but also not a part, of the 'friendly' social configuration that acts against it in war. In modern states the 'enemy' is linked to one's own social system by trade, by various cultural ties, by diplomatic relations, and so on, as well as by destructive chains of impulses and activities. The initial bellicose step of 'breaking relations' testifies to this ambiguity. The requirement in modern warfare that the enemy usually be part of the social system of the contending countries and, at the same time, not part, is one of the social inventions of modern civilization, for if one goes back to ancient histories one perceives that ancient wars were often, though not always, fought against enemies not part of one's social system. The enemies of ancient Greece and Rome were often mere objects of their imperial arrogance and rapine, having no previous social relations with Greece and Rome. Thus one of the 'achievements' of the modern world is to incorporate war directly into the social system, while defining the enemy as outside it. The net consequence of this, for the United States, has been sundry Marshall Plans, foreign aid programmes, economic development plans for South-east Asia, and the like. These programmes recognize the essentially internal nature of modern war and modern enemies. The post-war 'compassion' of the modern 'victor', which recognizes the basic unity of the world social system, and therefore dresses the enemy's wounds, is at 180 degrees from those ancient wars, in which the defeated enemy was put to the sword, enslaved, or condemned to tribute. This modern 'compassion' is partly a consequence of interlocking international corporations, partly an expression of the need to use one's former enemies against one's former friends. America's use of Japan - particularly of Okinawa - as a staging area and source of supply for the war in Vietnam, and her support of German claims and hopes against the Soviet Union, are cases in point.

A basic fact of modern warfare, then, is that it occurs within a mutually dependent world political economy and that all victories are therefore defeats for the people - for they have borne the burden of death and, through taxation, must bear the economic burden of compassion - and victories for the vanquished, for they often see their economies beautifully reconstructed. Japan is an excellent case in point.2 Nowadays Japanese capital competes with American almost everywhere in the world, Japan is almost as deeply involved as the United States in Canada, and Japan has heavy investments in Alaska. Indeed, Japan's economic fate is so closely linked to that of the United States that on 9 February 1967, when rumours of peace in Vietnam broke out, prices for 225 selected stocks on the Tokyo market dropped an average of 42.12 points, the worst setback since 19 July 1963.3

To continue with the example of Japan, business and technological know-how combined with low wages have given Japan such economic power that U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia is aimed as much at monopolizing that market against Japanese penetration as against Chinese. The Vietnam war is indirectly a war against Japan, who is part of our social system, and whom, at the same time, the U. S. is using in order to further her ends in Asia.

Not all wars are shooting wars or even cold ones. For years the United States has been fighting a kind of cold war with France, and England is a kind of casualty of that war. France's (largely unsuccessful) efforts to keep American capital out, its determination to build its own computer industry and nuclear capability, its efforts to diminish American gold paramountcy and its objection to Britain's entrance into the Common Market are all expressions, in part, of fear of United States' economic power.

It is clear, therefore, that in preparation for modern war an interdependent world political economy has within it sufficient conflicts of interest to make all nations potential enemies to all others. One of the 'evolutionary achievements' of modern culture has been to make the idea that 'anybody can be my enemy at any time' acceptable. A consequence of the definition of the enemy as part of one's own social system is a psychological predisposition to accept almost any nation at all as inimical when the government chooses to so define it.

The absolute division of the world into communist and non-communist nations multiplies the probability of enemies. Here we must ask, who divides the world into communist and non-communist? and the answer is, of course, those who stand to gain by it. Obviously John Doe did not make the division; and obviously the example of Western Europe in 1967 suggests that the perception of that division as rigidly constituting the essence of the modern world is not universal. Though it is true that the countries of Eastern Europe are roughly 'communist', they have different forms of it, and Yugoslavia could hardly be called communist at all. Meanwhile, however, the perception of these nations by others varies also, so that though Americans see them all as inimical, Europeans perceive them less nightmarishly. The point at issue is that the social organization of the world has no essence. The delusion that is made to appear as essence is manufactured by those who stand to gain by it and it is burned into the minds of the population by the media, which are, of course, controlled by the same people. This delusion then takes on the character of a true perception of the world, seeming as absolute to the average man as the difference between red and green.

In the United States the world is simplistically perceived by most people as made up of communist and 'free' nations, and all the former are perceived as enemy - as the enemies of 'freedom'. This simplistic definition of the world, however, is not accepted by much of Western Europe and the United Kingdom. The definition is thus a parochial American one, based on the interests of those who foster it. If the French do not perceive the world as Americans do, it is because French interests have nothing to gain by it but much to lose. The condition of West Germany, meanwhile, is absurd because, on the one hand, corporate interests there have everything to gain by forgetting the 'communist-Free world' definition, while on the other, no West German government could risk American pressure or a victory of the extreme right by seeming to cancel the old feud with the Soviet Union. American interests can only be furthered by German hankerings after old borders, for they help maintain the USSR in a state of expensive alert.

NO OPTIONS. The present situation in the Near East makes it clear that the organization of the world offers mankind limited options. When we consider that shalom, peace, is the word with which ordinary Israelis greet one another, that they are a people who know, better than most, what war means and that only through toil and peace have they been able to create a home, their war with the Arab states seems a contradiction. Yet the configuration of the world society, of which they are part, and the fact that the world system defined them as another enemy within, drove them to war. The social structure of the modern world has so limited the possibilities of existence that even emerging nations from which we might expect some new ideas, some new salvation, are forced into the old ways of predator and prey. North Vietnam and the Congo are further examples of emerging nations forced into an old pattern. The present world political economy leaves mankind almost no room to exploit or to think about new ways of political existence. This means that under the present system man has no choice but to make war upon himself.

The social preparation for modern war therefore involves the following steps: (1) Establishment of a world system in which betrayal, conspiracy and entrapment are so commonplace that at any moment whoever is within the friendly system may be defined as outside of it; so commonplace, indeed, that people accept it without thinking. (2) Manipulation of that system in the interests of particular classes or groups who stand to gain by particular definitions. (3) The manipulation, the moulding of the perceptual capacities of the people by these groups through their control of the mass media. (4) The establishment of a world-wide social system which strictly limits choice. In this context Charles de Gaulle's efforts to free France of American economic entanglements represent not only an effort to be free of the United States as such, but also an effort to be free of limiting options ; to be free to seek new solutions to the problems of a hampering social system ; and in this context English economic entanglement with the United States illustrates the impossibility of ever arriving at new solutions to one's problems as long as one is committed to a powerful ally who sees only the old, and limited, possibilities. The same holds within the group of states allied to the USSR. I hope I am making myself clear. All social systems have been set up in such a way as to limit options. Whether it be a primitive tribe where a man must marry his mother's brother's daughter and cultivate his land with the help of his clan brothers only; whether it be the members of the old British Commonwealth, trading largely with those within the sterling area; or whether it be the United States Government trying to stop the sale by other nations of so-called strategic materials to the 'communist' nations, every society, throughout history, has buttressed its internal structure and mobilized against outsiders by limiting choice. Fundamentally, primordially, free choice has been viewed as inimical to any social system. Arguments about free choice, therefore, have been absurd when they have not been hypocritical.

The American Economy

I turn now to an analysis of the organization of the American economy: In order to show how readily it can be mobilized for anything at all.

In order that any social system be mobilized for war, which means mobilization for maximum effort, it must have forms of structure - institutions - which can swiftly be brought together and integrated into a war system when necessary. While it might appear 'only natural' that America should have been able to produce the implements of war that made victory over the Axis possible, the astonishing and rapid organization of that productive capability was not accomplished easily, nor was it accomplished just before or during World War II. The latent possibility for such organization existed long before World War II and the consolidation process was hastened by the immense insecurity of the Great Depression. 'The modern centralized, militarized, and welfare-directed state'4 is the result of a complex internal evolution taking several decades. I shall trace the pattern.

CONCENTRATION AND SIZE. The ability of any social unit to wage war or, indeed, to exercise power in any way is a function of its size, of the resources it controls, and of its organization. In this connexion we have to understand something of the dimensions of the larger American corporations. In 1962 the four largest automobile manufacturers accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the automobile sales in the United States; the two largest steel companies for 30 per cent of the sales and the ten largest oil companies accounted for more than 85 per cent of the petroleum refining and related industry sales. Twenty-eight of the largest industrial and commercial companies accounted for almost a quarter of the sales of the manufacturing companies in the United States.5

The United States Steel Corporation, which in 1965 produced one quarter of the total steel output of the United States,6 is an integrated corporation, which owns and operates not only numerous steel producing and fabricating plants, but also iron and coal mines, limestone quarries, railways, docks, cargo vessels and loading ships. Through several score plants in the United States it manufactures thousands of products, ranging from cold rolled steel to prefabricated housing, cement, ordinance, atomic energy products, components and launching facilities for nuclear missiles, armour plate, etc., etc., etc.7 The size of the corporation, however, is not measured only by the plants directly connected with it, but includes also its seventeen subsidiaries through which it controls raw materials, railroads and other transportation facilities in Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Africa, and the Bahama Islands. Through its management and board of directors the influence of U.S. Steel, meanwhile, extends far beyond its plants and subsidiaries. In 1962 its eighteen directors accounted for eightyfive management interlocks with other companies, over which these directors might be expected to exercise influence, and these interlocks included twenty banks and financial institutions, ten insurance companies and fiftyfour industrial-commercial corporations. Thus Mr C. H. Bell, for example, was also a director of General Mills, Inc., the Winton Lumber Company, and the Northern Pacific Railway; and Mr J. B. Black sat on the board of directors of FMC corporation, Del Monte Properties Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern Pacific Company, Shell Oil, Pacific Gas Transmission Company, Alberta Natural Gas Company, and the Alberta and Southern Gas Company Limited.8

The Dow Chemical Company,9 manufacturer extraordinary of napalm and explosives, operates several dozen plants in the United States, but through subsidiaries and through part ownership it controls or is deeply involved in other scores of manufacturing operations and corporations in the United Kingdom (Dow Chemical International Ltd), Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, India and Spain. Through its affiliation with Schlumberger Ltd, Dow substantially controls plants in France, Germany, Spain, Spanish Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Venezuela, Trinidad, Bolivia and Argentina. Other operations substantially controlled by Dow are in Japan (Asahi-Dow Ltd) and Ecuador. Literally the sun never sets on Dow! Thus through sheer size, through subsidiaries, through ownership of stock in other corporations and through management interlocks, the large American corporations control much of the productive capability of the planet. In 1951, 135 American corporations owned nearly a fourth of the manufacturing volume of the world.10 This says nothing about how much is controlled, how much is a sphere of interest, that is not owned outright.

The presence of hundreds of corporations, which, in their day-to-day operations, can, through their social organization, call upon such an immensely ramifying network of productive power, provides the United States with a vast war potential.

INTEREST GROUPS. The internal organization of the companies themselves, plus their interlocks, does not of itself constitute the social organization of American corporate power. These great masses of capital are further organized in what has been called 'interest groups'.11 The interest group is a group of corporate interests which, through interlocking directorates, mutual stock ownership, financial support, auditing and legal activities and membership in the same trade organizations, come to pursue common financial goals. If various companies share board members and own one another's stocks and bonds; if, further, certain financial institutions assume the burden of underwriting (financial responsibility) and disposing of stock flotations for certain corporations, while others consistently render legal and auditing services to all, we have a common financial interest and, therefore, a common-interest group. The Structure of the American Economy lists eight such groups: (1) The Morgan-First National, (2) Rockefeller, (3) Kuhn, Loeb, (4) Mellon, (5) Chicago, (6) Du Pont, (7) Cleveland, (8) Boston.

I present an abbreviated account of one such group, the Morgan-First National, as it stood on the last date for which we have adequate information. The Structure of the American Economy states that

This group is for the most part based upon partial control by one or the other, or, more commonly, by both of the financial institutions (i.e J.P. Morgan & Company and The First National Bank) after which the group is named. This partial control is based upon long-standing financial relations and the very great prestige attaching to the Morgan and First National firms ...

When that passage was written, the group included thirteen industrial corporations, thirteen public utilities corporations, six railway systems and three banks besides Morgan and First National. In 1939 their total assets were more than thirty billion dollars.

But this is not the end of this pyramiding of power, for the ;interrelationships among the interest groups themselves result in further concentrations and integration. Thus there are close relations, through interlocking directorates, underwriting, mutual stock ownership and so on, between Morgan-First National and Mellon; between Morgan-First National and Chicago; between Kuhn, Loeb and Cleveland, and so on. Altogether, from the eight basic interest groups there emerge eleven overlaps. At the end of their analysis of interest groups, the authors of The Structure of the American Economy ask the following questions, which they do not answer:

What is the significance of the existence of more or less closely integrated interest groups for the pricing process? What are its implications for the relation between economic and political activity? How and to what extent do the views of leaders in the economic sphere make themselves felt in the life of the community?

These questions were not put by Marxists, for the committee that prepared the study was made up of six members of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's cabinet and four experts highly placed in American government and business. At any rate, it is clear that this is an organization 'in being', which, once mobilized by government, can exert irresistible power for war - or for peace. It has never been mobilized for peace.

The structure of corporate controls in the American economy has been set forth. What is still missing, what still remains to be elucidated is what makes it possible for government to use this organization for its own purposes when necessary; or, rather, for them to use each other.


1The Indian tribes of eastern South America constitute an outstanding exception to this generalization. For one example see Jungle People, Random House, Vintage Books, 1965 (first published in 1941).

2Japan's gross national product in the 1960s is many times what it was before World War II. See Newsweek: Economic Almanac 1964 and Japan: Statistical Yearbook 1965.

3N.Y. Times, 2 October 1967.

4These are the words of Thomas C. Cochran in his book The Business System, Harvard University Press, 1960, p. vii. Dr Cochran is professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania.

5P. 115 of 'Interlocks in Corporate Management', a Staff Report on the Antitrust Subcommittee (Subcommittee Report No. 5) of the Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives, 12 March 1965.

6Moody's Manual 1966, p. 2230.

7Moody's Manual 1966, pp. 2229—32.

8'Interlocks . . .', pp. 126-8.

9Moody's Manual 1966, pp. 2804-5.

10 'The Measurement of Industrial Concentration' by M. A. Adelman, in The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. XXX, No. z, 1951. Quoted in A. A. Berle Jr., The 20th Century Capitalist Revolution, Harcourt Brace (Harvest Books), I954.

11In The Structure of the American Economy, US Government Printing Office, 1939. While some of the data in this great book are out of date, the main features of the analysis remain substantially correct.

"Social and Psychological Preparation for War"
by Jules Henry
Originally published in The Dialectics of Liberation (Penguin, 1968)

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