A One Percenter Puts Over $200 Million into the Peace Movement
I'll tell you who did this below. First read part his rather unusual letter:
"I have transferred to you as trustees $231 million in bonds, the revenue of which is to be administered by you to hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization. Although we no longer eat our fellow men nor torture prisoners, nor sack cities killing their inhabitants, we still kill each other in war like barbarians. Only wild beasts are excusable for doing that in this, the Twenty First Century of the Christian era, for the crime of war is inherent, since it decides not in favor of the right, but always of the strong. The nation is criminal which refuses arbitration and drives its adversary to a tribunal which knows nothing of righteous judgment. . . .
"I hope the trustees will begin by pressing forward upon this line, testing it thoroughly and doubting not.
"The judge who presides over a cause in which he is interested dies in infamy if discovered. The citizen who constitutes himself a judge in his own cause as against his fellow-citizen, and presumes to attack him, is a law-breaker and as such disgraced. So should a nation be held as disgraced which insists upon sitting in judgment in its own cause in case of an international dispute. . . .
"Lines of future action cannot be wisely laid down. Many may have to be tried, and having full confidence in my trustees, I leave them the widest discretion as to the measures and policy they shall from time to time adopt, only premising that the one end they shall keep unceasingly in view until it is attained is the speedy abolition of international war between so-called civilized nations.
"When civilized nations enter into such treaties as named, and war is discarded as disgraceful to civilized men, as personal war (duelling) and man selling and buying (slavery) have been discarded . . . the trustees will please then consider what is the next most degrading remaining evil or evils whose banishment -- or what new elevating element or elements if introduced or fostered, or both combined -- would most advance the progress, elevation and happiness of humanity, and so on from century to century without end, my Trustees of each age shall determine how they can best aid humanity in its upward march to higher and higher stages of development unceasingly. . . ."
You may have guessed the trick here. I've edited this letter slightly. I've changed the century. I've omitted references to President Taft. I've rewritten "man" as "humanity." This letter is 102 years old, having been written by Andrew Carnegie in 1910. I changed his $10 million into $231 million to keep up with inflation. Little did he know that we would bring back torture and the sacking of cities. Little did he imagine that we would find corrupt judges perfectly acceptable. And -- to our credit, this time -- little did he imagine that we would come to question the distinction between civilized and barbarian nations, and the hypocrisy that would propose the banning of war among white people.
But most of all, little did Carnegie imagine that we would give up. His Endowment for Peace, and many other groups, some of them even more generously funded, pushed for peace right up through the Second World War. In 1928, in fact, they created what Carnegie was after, a treaty among the wealthy nations of the world banning war. It's still on the books and on the U.S. State Department's website. War has been illegal since 1928. That story is told here: http://davidswanson.org/outlawry
But by 1942 and up through today the movement to rid us of our greatest evil has been radically diminished. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace still exists, although as a peace activist I've never had any contact with it, and its website makes clear that it has added all sorts of other projects to its agenda prior to, rather than after, abolishing war.
Could a one percenter invest in a serious peace movement now, before it's too late? Of course they could. They dump vastly greater sums into election campaigns every couple of years, with the outcome guaranteed to be this war-supporting candidate or that war-supporting candidate.
We've lost the will to peace, and -- equally fundamentally -- we've lost the capacity to shame our robber barons into giving a little bit back.