Monday, 19 September 2011

Welcome to the World's Biggest Arms Fair

 Oh wait guys, it's alright, it turns out that we've all been overreacting about the arms trade, and that selling weapons actually promotes peace:

A representative from Pakistan's exhibit, Major Ali Asghar Mushtaq, says his country is here selling weapons to help bring about a more peaceful world.

"The aim of Pakistan's army is that everything manufactured and sold should not be for killing and terror activities," he says. "It should bring peace on the whole world, not wars." Does he really believe manufacturing arms en masse will help bring about peace? "It's obvious," he says. "Once one country and the other country both have weapons, no one is going to use the weapons against each other. So there will be more stability.  

The chances are, if you're over five years old you might have spotted a little flaw in that argument. Nevertheless, arms traders and those who profit from them continue to delue themselves that what they are doing is not only necessary, but good. Take a look at this video, where a journalist from Amnesty International informs an employee of RBS that they are investing in the companies that make cluster bombs.

"How do you think you get paid your benefits or whatever? Your university or your healthcare. How do you think the banks make money?"

Is this the only way that banks can make money? Surely that's a flawed system. If the only way our banks can make money is by investing in a trade that relies on killing off people, then why are we still supporting them? I know I may sound like an idealist, but I believe that it is possible to invest in ethical causes to generate the income necessary for the welfare state, and to support people through university (which sadly looks like it's a thing of the past, but is completely necessary for a country that wants to make any steps toward progress). Why must we rely on wars in other countries to support our banks? That means that banks and businesses in this country will always have a vested interest in promoting conflict abroad, or else their business will run out.


Seneca said that he who profits by a crime commits it. That means that if I put my money in a bank that invests in the arms trade, I am profiting from the arms trade, I am gaining from the deaths of others and I am complicit in that crime. I don't want that to be my only option. I want to be able have the choice to invest ethically (ethically here means 'something that does not involve hurting or killing others). I just don't know what to do about it. The whole thing is so entrenched and corrupt and so big. How can you hold a bank or a company to account when others don't agree that people's lives should come first, and that instead, they 'have a duty to their shareholders'?

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