John McMurtry Phd, FRSC

Opening Address, Science for Peace Forum and Teach-In, University of Toronto, December 9, 2001

I have been asked to speak on the topic "Why Is There A War in Afghanistan?" I could focus on the innumerable suspicious circumstances of this latest U.S. aerial war on a poverty-stricken country - its typical overriding of international law, its strategic fit with U.S. corporate designs for foreign oil resources, and the U.S. past strategic support of the very Enemy said to be targeted - like Noriega, Saddam, and Milosevic in the past.1 But instead I am going to situate this latest U.S.-led war on a third-world region within a much wider global process. I am going to consider "America's New War" as the latest expression of a much deeper and wider terrorist campaign of an emergent totalitarian pattern of instituting world corporate rule with no limit of occupation or accountability beyond itself. Unhappily, it is not easy to see Canada's foreign policy role in all this as anything other than obedient subjugation to this transnational corporate agenda at every senior level of decision-making.

The Unseen Terrorist Pattern The gravest problem with corporate market fundamentalism is that it is decoupled from society's life conditions. It is, in fact, incapable of recognizing any value to anything except corporate "value adding" which, it is assumed, should regulate all peoples and conditions of life on earth for "efficiency" and "maximum growth". To this point, there has been no outside margin to this total doctrine's demands, or government subservience to them. Since the commitments of a society to safeguard the lives of its members and to ensure they are able to express themselves as human is the measure of its civilization, this global corporate program is not merely uncivilized. It is, beneath recognition, terrorist in its meaning. For if we recognize the real meaning of "terrorism" - to instil in innocent people fear for their life security to coerce their compliance to an armed faction's demands we see its pattern increasingly at work across world life organization. Under the financial dictates of the corporate market backed by rising extremes of armed force, citizens everywhere are subjected to a low-intensity campaign of destabilization and fear that leaves no aspect of their lives secure.2 Even in Canada, one of the world's most well-off societies, the silent terror grows. Its vast water heritage is so in peril that people unprecedentedly die from for its pollution, while our governments sign its future away to U.S.-engineered trade-and-investment dictates. The minds of our young are so shackled by a culture of violence and demands to buy that their capacity to think is stunted, while their public education is increasingly structured as a marketing site to reproduce students as compliant servo-mechanisms. The rule of law is cumulatively overridden by transnational trade edicts to subjugate all that exists for corporate profit. Riot squads club and gas unarmed opponents, and civil liberties are stripped by Orwellian "security" machinations.

Always the threat is against life and life means to comprehend compliance to corporate demands. Our country's national symbol for the hemisphere, healthcare for all, is degraded and privatized for profit as citizens are deprived of family physicians by the hundreds of thousands (30,000 in my own small city). Corporate motor commodities and schemes now so lay waste to Canada's land, water and public ways that it may be unsafe to breathe the air, walk freely, or count on a forest or aquatic habitat being there in a year. The vocation of serving fellow human and planetary life by one's daily service of work, our humanity itself, is slashed in every life function. Always the command is to turn money into more money for corporate investors, or "not survive".

The pattern cannot be plausibly denied once it is exposed. There are two major forms of attack on peoples' means of life to coerce them to conform to global financial and corporate demands. The first is to defund societies' non-profit social infrastructures everywhere until peoples have no choice but to privatize their management for profit. The second front of attack is more directly violent - to wage one financial and military war after another on the poorest peoples of the world to control their states and expropriate their regional resources. Both these wars on humanity are driven by a fanatic fundamentalism - to produce ever more money for those with most money, with no limit, regulation or higher goal permitted to "obstruct" these transnational money sequences.

The shape of this Beast's ever grosser lines dwarfs the monster beheld by St. John of the Apocalypse, or the boundless greed of Duryodhana told by the Mahabharatta. We live under an increasingly global reign of terror, but our disconnection from the meaning is its triumph. Instead we are made to believe that the terror comes from pre-industrial fanatics in poor countries.