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Justice

Reflections on The Business of War: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Military-Industrial Complex

In combining biblical, historical, theological, and ethical analyses of “the business of war,” the authors invite us to better understand it as a new moral problem that demands a new, faithful response.

The Political Theology Network is pleased to present the following roundtable on a timely and illuminating new volume from Wipf and Stock, The Business of War: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Military-Industrial Complex.

Book Summary: The Business of War incisively interrogates the development and contemporary implications of the military-industrial complex. It exposes the moral dangers of life in neoliberal economies dependent upon war-making for their growth and brings the Christian tradition’s abundance of resources into conversation with this phenomenon. In doing so, the authors invite us to rethink the moral possibilities of Christian life in the present day with an eye toward faithful resistance to “the business of war” and its influence in every aspect of our lives. In combining biblical, historical, theological, and ethical analyses of “the business of war,” the authors invite us to better understand it as a new moral problem that demands a new, faithful response.

The pieces featured in this symposium reflect this invitation to better understanding. Three authors, James McCarty, Christina McRorie, and Bradley Burroughs, will offer reflections on their research and contributions to the volume,  followed by responses from Keun-Joo Christine Pae, Eli McCarthy, and Brian Powers. Given the ever-increasing polarization of our political sphere, the kind of historical, moral, and critical perspectives articulated throughout this conversation are much-needed. We thank our contributors for this thought-provoking set of essays, and we hope you enjoy.

Symposium Essays

Christian Ethics and the “Problems” of Business and War

Above all, the Christian tradition urges us to reject the application of war metaphors to the market, as if it were a bloody realm of unavoidable tragedy and exclusively self-focused interest. It is not—or should not be—and the temptation to accept economic “tragedy” is really just the temptation to fail to love God and the neighbor, theologically speaking.

Justice and the Use of Private Military and Security Contractors

Transforming war into a capitalist imperative, the expanded use of PMSCs makes it more difficult to place democratic checks upon military power, commodifies war in a fashion that obscures its tragedy and misery, and threatens to further constrict the role of justice in determining military engagements.

Transformative Justice is Resistance to the Military-Industrial Complex

By working to abolish policing and prisons as we know them today, prison and police abolitionists are engaging in the kind of activism that can resist and dismantle these interconnected evils at the same time. In other words, transformative justice and prison abolition are ways to resist the military-industrial complex.

Response: The Business of War, the Labor of War

A full-scale war might spectacularly display the deaths and violence that immediately bring people’s attention. However, an excessive profit-driven business may also kill as many people as war does, while in many cases, these deaths are invisible.

Response: The Inversion of U.S. Society’s Militarism

A transformative justice approach with restorative mechanisms works to break this logic of de-humanization and build more humanizing social processes. Accountability, as distinct from punishment, is about better understanding the harm, growing in empathy, acknowledging responsibility, and moving in the direction of changing harmful behavior.

Coming

Response: Frameworks of Meaning, Identity and Resistance

The language of the imago dei has the capacity, in my view, to subvert the legal and ethical justifications for war, and focus dialogue and conversations on the ways in which killing, tragically, allows us to glimpse the diminishment of our own humanity in the death of another.

Coming