Chapter XVI

THE CONSTANT WAR


The international conflict called war is the expansion across international borders of a constant warfare that goes on among individuals. Individuals in the prevalent price and profit system compete against one another for customer, prospect, client, subscriber, patient, and parishioner. Salesmanship and advertising are subjects taught in the schools. In the struggle for the profits of business, if one gets the customer another loses the customer. That means losing the profit to be made by selling to the customer.

Colleges and universities have schools of business. Separate business schools abound. Some are great institutions. In courses on salesmanship, young men sit in classes and learn how to get the customer away from somebody else. Questions that are not asked are: If I get the customer will it be to his advantage? Will it deprive my competitor of a profit that he needs for the support of his family? Shall I be able to do as well by the customer as my competitor would? It seems something of an anomaly that students in the same class are taught how to make the sale, and in so doing become antagonists against one another. Suppose each has been taught the same method in the same school and each applies his learning to the same customer. Suppose that each knows all the tricks and each brings to bear the same skills upon the case, would there not be danger of neutralizing one another and the result be zero? This is the case in advertising. In a town in Ohio, two competing oil companies each carried a full page advertisement in the local paper proclaiming the superiority of its oil. The fact was that trucks of each company got their oil from the same common tank. Customers of each got the same oil--and customers paid for the advertising.

In medical practice in some countries the fee-for-service method prevails. If one doctor gets the patient, the other doctor does not. Doctors, like undertakers, sit and wait for calamity to strike a human being. Their prosperity depends upon the amount of calamity. Their economic happiness is in proportion to the public's physical unhappiness. The cooperative method in medicine provides hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and apothecaries supported and controlled by the patients and prospective patients. Doctors are paid a fixed salary. They need not wish for disease afflicting people. They are better off and have more leisure when the patients are well. In the more progressive cooperatives, the doctors are held responsible for the health of the members. Prevention of disease is their main responsibility. In the most advanced cooperative groups, the pay of doctors and nurses is increased as they succeed in reducing the amount of morbidity and mortality. By the cooperative method the economic competitive struggle is taken out of medicine, and competition for excellence put in its place.

Hostility in the capitalistic competitive struggle is reduced by the methods of price agreements, combines, trusts, and cartels. Price fixing removes a source of conflict but does not cure it. The same quest for the customer goes on. The trust and combine unite a number of competing businesses into one, and thus remove competition. The cartel unites businesses across international lines. These devices to prevent competition could lower prices; but their purpose is to lower costs, produce scarcity, and to increase prices when such increase is compatible with increase of profits. In some situations trusts compete with trusts. The cartel represents the last degree of elimination of competition in profit business. This reduction of costs by combination could have advantage for the consumer. Sometimes it does. On the whole it operates to his disadvantage in promoting scarcity and raising prices.

From the standpoint of the people, the trust and cartel are objectionable because they are more difficult competitors of cooperative organization than is the isolated small business. Great combines have on occasion united forces and concentrated upon destruction of a single cooperative competitor. Hope of cooperative business in this connection lies in the international cooperative combine.

The important fact is that competitive profit business produces hostilities among individuals. This is increased by nationalism and the chauvinism that leads to race hatreds. Text books for the young engender a sense of patriotic superiority. People who think they are superior are the people who think other nationalities are inferior. Disrespect leads to hatred when sufficient cause is invoked. Race hatred goes on among individuals and adds to the animosities created by economic competition. Thus business competition, patriotism, chauvinistic nationalism, conflicting religions, and race hatreds constitute the constant warfare that characterizes times of peace. When these conflicts cross international lines war is promoted.

There is also a constant warfare between the freedom of the individual and the coercive power of political government. Back of this is hunger for privilege to be gotten through agencies of the state. The struggle of the state to subject the individual to its uses and hunger of the individual to preserve his individualism are constantly in evidence. It is a growing warfare, having among its causative factors the economic struggle for profits and power.

A Secret Service agent in the United States testified in 1948 that: "Less than three years after the abolition of the nazi horror camps, there are today more men, women, and children in political prisons and concentration camps than at any time in human history. A careful survey just completed reveals that there may be as many as fifteen million people in prison camps the world over. The vast majority of people detained in them are innocent by any standard of criminal law. Their only crime is opposition to a ruling clique of men. These prisoners are not all in Russia. The above figures are from seventeen different countries, including North and South America." These are evidences of warfare that goes on outside the fields of battle.

Just now we witness communism arrayed against the rest of mankind. Here is a constant warfare in the ideological field. As a result the rest of mankind is compelled to unite to protect itself from the stealthy encroachments of this force. Had it not been for the atomic bomb in the hands of the western powers the rest of Europe probably after 1947 would have been coerced under communist control. Russia in promoting this constant warfare to bring other countries under its sway is succeeding in uniting the other countries outside of Russia. No end to this warfare can be seen. Friendship with the Russian people would be possible but for the fact that they are not free to cultivate friendship. They are controlled by a hierarchy of communist officials who do not want friendship with the rest of the world. Such friendship would mean that Russians could visit other countries and other people could visit Russia. If this were possible as it is in other lands the world would have access to the hidden facts of Russian life and Russians would visit other countries and learn that their communist leaders and teachers had deceived them about conditions elsewhere. This would mean the overthrow of the prevailing class; accordingly friendship with the rest of the world is what the rulers of Russia can not face. The hope is that this immature nation will in time come into its own by the collapse of its autocracy. People in bondage need not despair; such bondage in the course of time has always fallen away.

The cooperative method removes the economic competitive struggle among individuals, creates a better feeling of brotherhood among men, breaks down interracial barriers, opposes the expanding powers of political government, and thus makes its contribution to the prevention of the constant war in business and in ideologies. There can be no political peace without economic peace. Political peace and economic warfare are incompatible, for economic war leads to political war. Business hostilities produce intergovernmental hostilities. Elimination of business hostilities is the peculiar feature of the cooperative way. Elimination of the great cause of war is the peculiar result of cooperation.


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.