May 5, 2008 Leave a comment
The phrase "Merchants of Death" takes center stage in the movie Iron Man, which is a spectacular exposé of a subject that dominates the American economic landscape but about which Americans have very little knowledge. The phrase and the movie deal with the odd juxtaposition of capitalism and war as found in the weapons industry. Here we have innovations and efficiency of the type we associate with the private commercial sector but serving ends that are the very opposite of capitalism. The industry serves war, not peace, depends on coercion, not human volition, and profits from destruction, not creation.…
The existence of such an industry scandalized Americans in the interwar period, and there was one treatise that led the way in helping to foment the outrage. In fact, it was a bestselling book in 1934 with the title Merchants of Death. This book is not a typical left-wing style attacks on commerce as the essence of war. In fact, it argues the opposite:
“The arms industry did not create the war system.
On the contrary, the war system created the arms industry.”