Photo courtesy of The New Republic

One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and the purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypothesis which increasingly and monopolistically respected (and) become hypnotic definitions of dictations.” (Herbert Marcuse)

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.” (Albert Einstein)    

In the 1960s universities and colleges in US became the epicentre of anti-war protests against indiscriminate US bombing and destruction in Vietnam and Cambodia and those protests soon spread to higher education institutions in other parts of the world. They marked a turning point in the history of that imperial war.

That protest movement was born at a time when modern gadgets of communication technology such as hand phones and social media platforms were not in vogue. There was no online teaching and learning at that time and students had to attend classes in person to listen to lectures and participate in tutorial discussions. That meant university and college campuses were crowded with students and teachers almost daily, and co-curricular activities such as music concerts, dramas, public lectures and student debates kept campus life lively.

With the invasion of technology into teaching and learning, direct and personal contact between students and teachers, among teachers and students themselves had declined considerably, which had taken its toll on student presence inside campuses. That was why even after three months of Israeli horror in Gaza and in spite of floods of eye witness reports from independent sources on the extent of Israeli killings and destruction, all of which was relayed almost hourly through different social media platforms, the silence of the universities was stunning and noted with disappointment.

While street protests were increasing in capital cities university participation remained a missing dimension. Now, after nine months they are out in the field. Columbia, Texas, Yale, Georgetown and Princeton universities to name a few have become theatres of an anti-war movement. University protests are adding a new momentum to the growing demand for immediate cease fire and withdrawal of IDF from Gaza. Those protestors are exposing the hypocrisy of the Biden administration and universities’ complicity in financing Netanyahu’s sadistic ethnic cleansing campaign. Senator Bernard Sanders has eloquently exposed before US legislators the moral bankruptcy of their support to Israel.  He had dared to speak truth in front of power. But there is a far more fundamental issue than the Gaza War that underlines campus anti-war demonstrations.

It was in 1961 President Eisenhower in his final address to the nation warned Americans of the growing power of US Military-Industrial Complex (MIC). What he forgot to mention in that address was that US corporate finance capitalism was fast turning into Military Corporate Finance Capitalism (MCFC). War brings profit to armaments producers, armaments merchants, their financiers and research institutions. For example, in 2023, global expenditure on military reached a staggering $2,400 billion and is now reported to have crossed $3 trillion.

Universities in US, UK and other Western countries invest heavily in arms manufacturing companies and in Yale University last year undergraduates staged a walk out calling for divesting university investment in Lockheed Martin, a leading arms manufacturer. Today, Eisenhower’s MIC has added one more arm to it and has become the Military-Industrial-Educational Complex (MIEC). University student communities are aware of this killer complex and its hold on the US government.

The same is true in UK. According to the UK organisation Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), between 2013 and 2020 British universities had received 189,970,044 pounds for research on military weapons. Not only universities but also leading commercial banks and their financial subsidiaries are an essential part of this killing industry. MCFC is profiting from the war in Gaza. President Joe Biden’s re-election chances are heavily tied to his support to Israel. That is why Biden administration is reported to be threatening even the International Court of Justice (ICC) to prevent it from issuing arrest warrants to bring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his military leaders for trial.

Although the immediate focus of the anti-war movement is Gaza and Palestinians, there is also another war going on for more than a year without an end but with equal ferocity and destruction in Ukraine. While Russia in Ukraine confronts the combined might of NATO, Palestinians are massacred by the miliary colossus of Israel, financed and weaponised by US government and its arms manufacturers. Unlike the war in Ukraine, which is a contest for domination the one in Gaza is a war between a liberation force and an oppressive coloniser who wants to cleanse Gaza and the West Bank of its indigenous inhabitants. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, which began in 1948 with the complicity of treacherous Britian and assisted by the duplicity of UN, is now continuing with greater venom and zeal with blessings from the US and its Western auxiliaries.

But the economic impact of the two wars with another undeclared war on climate change is felt far beyond their immediate theatres of action. It is not only Palestinians and Ukrainians who are getting killed, maimed, impoverished and starved but also, according to one estimate, a total of 287 million people in 59 countries facing starvation through food insecurity partly because of fall in production due to adverse climatic changes and partly because of supply constraints created by the two wars.

As a result, rising cost of living through supply shortages and supply-push inflationary pressure are slowing down economic growth worldwide. Central Banks are fighting a losing battle to bring down this inflationary pressure and economic growth is slowing down globally. This is why the eruption in US universities not only exposes US connivance with Netanyahu’s sadistic military adventure and ethnic cleansing but also highlights a fundamental crisis in the militarised world order infested with geostrategic tensions.

Military capitalism has created a global bazaar for deadly weapons. These weapons are made available not only to guardians of the state but also to non-state actors. As far as the manufacturers of these weapons and their financiers are concerned it doesn’t matter who buys them and for what purpose; what matters is the profit accruing to the captains of the industry. Leading universities and research institutions that are in need of funds to survive are caught up in this deadly military-finance-education nexus. Hence the return of McCarthyism to university campuses. Outside the university scene however and on a broader level, how could anyone expect peace with justice from a world order manufactured by military capitalism and protected by its international institutions like the UN and its agencies? Even the ICC is reported to be kowtowing to threats from US over manoeuvres to issue arrest warrants on Netanyahu and his military leaders but at the same time news is leaking that Israel and US are exerting pressure on UN to include Hamas among the world’s terrorist outfits.

Will the sacrifice of more than 30,000 innocent lives of which over 70 percent were women and children, the planned obliteration of every facility that made human existence possible in Gaza and the eviction of more than a million Palestinians from their homeland, all of which are still continuing, raise humanity’s conscience to call for an end to a world order built by corporate military capitalism and supervised by the US and its Western auxiliaries?