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Listening to the Buddha: how greed, ill-will and delusion are poisoning our institutions, Part 2 of 3

January 18, 2016

If terrorism is the war of the poor and disempowered, then war is the terrorism of the rich.


This article, written by David R. Loy, first appeared in Open Democracy on May 12, 2014

Click to read Part 1 of Listening to the Buddha.

In short, our economic system has its own built-in motivations based on greed.

It’s the same with ill-will. One example of ill-will at work is the punitive legal system of the USA, which incarcerates vast numbers of people, mostly those on low incomes and people of color. White-collar criminals rarely end up in prison, at least for very long.

An even more forceful example is our obsession with military spending and the weaponization of security. Measured by the power of its armed forces and the resources that are devoted to them, the United States is the most militarized society in world history. Each year in the USA, as much money is lavished on the armed forces as in the next six or seven largest economies combined. In 2011, US military spending was over $718 billion. The need to “defend ourselves” apparently requires well over 700 military installations overseas, and more than 900 at home.

No wonder there’s so little money left over for education, health and social services.

To justify that colossal expense, the military needs an enemy. The end of the Cold War removed the traditional enemy of the USA, but the “war on terror” replaced it with another. This is already by far the longest war in US history, and it may never come to an end. Using drones to assassinate suspected terrorists, along with anyone else who happens to be nearby, ensures that a dependable supply of angry people are produced who have good reason to hate the USA. If terrorism is the war of the poor and disempowered, then war is the terrorism of the rich.

Click to read Part 3 of Listening to the Buddha.

Image: Auschwitz/Birkenau Ash Pond, by Johanna Sindelar, used with her permission.
Featured Image: Arya Magga, by saamiblog, CC BY 2.0, from

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