Sunday, November 15, 2009

"War is a Racket"

When I was in Marine Corps boot camp, back in 1979, we had classes in Marine Corps history. One of the Marines often mentioned was Major General Smedley Butler. During his 34 year career with the Corps, General Butler was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the French National Order of Merit, the Marine Corps Brevet Medal, Seven campaign medals, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, and TWO Medals of Honor.

What was not mentioned however, was that General Butler, after his retirement, became an outspoken critic of war, especially the wars that he had served in.

In 1935 his book, "War is a Racket" was first published. A section of the book that is often quoted is:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

General Butler was a patriot who loved his country, but opposed the interventionism that he had been a party to during his service. He was against men being sacrificed in the interests of big business instead of the interests of the country. He was a frequent spokesman for the American League Against War and Fascism.

While I do not agree with everything that General Butler wrote, specifically his statements that we should not concern ourselves with what is going on in other countries, I do respect his stand against war on principle.

Too often wars are waged in the interests of the few, while the many suffer the consequences.

As a Freemason who believes in the brotherhood of humanity, I find the thought of killing others repugnant. Unless it is absolutely necessary in self-defense, I could not support unleashing such misery on my fellow creatures. War, in my opinion, should always be a last resort.

I would recommend reading his book, which is available free online at the following link:

Monday, November 2, 2009

American Freemasonry Revisited

I posted a comment today regarding a previous post about the innovations in American Freemasonry. Since it ran rather long, I thought that I would use it as a regular post as well.

I happen to be in a Liberal Jurisdiction, but even Masonry as practiced by the UGLE is very different from American Freemasonry.

I think that English Masonry has more in common, in terms of practice, with the Grand Lodge of France, and even the Grand Orient of France, than with most American Jurisdictions.

I have not researched enough of the history to determine how all of these innovations arose.

While all Grand Lodges are independent and can practice Masonry with some differences, (as long as the Landmarks are not violated), it troubles me how much American Masonry has diverged from the practice of Masonry in Europe, (England, Scotland, Ireland included), and most of the world.

A big problem, in my view, is the plethora of so-called Masonic bodies that have arisen here.

These include: The Shriners, The Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, National Sojourners, Order of the Eastern Star, Order of the Amaranth, White Shrine of Jerusalem, Royal Order of Jesters, Rainbow Girls, Sciots, High Twelve, Jobs Daughters, Daughters of the Nile, De Molay, ad infinitum.

Obviously, in the minds of some Masons, Freemasonry was "lacking" something, or was not what they were really looking for in the first place.

Freemasonry, in my opinion, is complete in itself. Concordant bodies, such as the AASR, the York Rite, AMD, etc., are fine, as they simply elaborate the teachings of Freemasonry that are taught in the craft lodge. They offer parallel, rather than "higher" degrees of Freemasonry.

Maybe what many of these people were looking for was not Freemasonry. They should have joined the Odd-Fellows or Moose. They could find a "play-ground" in some other organization.

Another big problem in American Masonry has been to turn it frequently into a charity.

Freemasons are taught to be charitable in their lives, but the Order itself is not a charitable institution.

It is an organization that exists for fellowship, mutual aid, and personal growth. Freemasons work on improving themselves and, in the process, improve the society in which they live.

In European, or European concept lodges, business attire is the standard, philosophical papers are presented by members, discussions are held on Masonic topics, and minimum periods between degrees are up to a year.

Masonic education is not optional, but is a requirement, and the meetings are proceeded, or followed, by a meal, or refreshments, known as an Agape, or Festive Board.

Many U.S. lodge meetings consist of a "business meeting" to discuss the light bill, and the food consists of spaghetti on a paper plate, or hot dogs.

Why would men like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Benito Juarez, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Mozart, Winston Churchill, Salvadore Allende, Augusto Sandino, Franklin Roosevelt, Simon Bolivar, Andrew Jackson, Jose de San Martin, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, or Voltaire have wasted their time with an organization like that?

In the United States it has become all too often a social club and a charity, one, that it appears leaves so much to be desired that its members devote more of their time to the "fun" clubs associated (wrongly) with the Grand Lodges then to the work of the craft lodge. However, since Masonry is usually not being practiced in the lodge, it is hard to blame them.

You simply won't find this in the rest of the world, at least not to this degree.

November 2, 2009 7:45 PM