Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rant: The #ArmyRun

Today, my social media streams are brimming with support and excitement for Ottawa's Army Run, a race day fundraiser for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. Given the title of this post, you should surmise this post will in no way resemble those musings.

I start with credit where credit's due. There are two elements of the Army Run I like: fitness promotion and the integration of traumatized and wounded soldiers into mainstream culture. End praise here.

The political economic reality of the Army Run articulates the event as a shining example of neo-conservative politics in Canada. The Army run achieves two neo-conservative goals: the militarization of culture and the privatization of veteran's care.

If Canadians think veterans and their families have a right to care, then the government should assume the responsibility of providing consistent quality services. Instead, millions are cut from Veteran's Affairs, and charities are tasked with the care services required by the veterans and families who have given the most. Charities are structurally incapable of offering services as efficiently as a government agency; their resources must be partially diverted to perpetual fundraising. The Army Run is both a consequence and celebration of the privatization of veterans' services.

Blatantly, the Army Run also celebrates militarism. That we live in a world that requires armed forces and embraces the cultural production of violence for "our own security" is a tragedy. I am not saying that it's realistic not to have armed forces, but I think it's not reaching too far to ask for consensus on moving beyond the need for armed forces someday.

If the project of human existence is to proceed indefinitely, global resources need to be curbed away from the production of violence toward the development of sustainable social and physical infrastructures.To achieve this end, the knowledge system that permits military violence to punctuate history must be meaningfully challenged. The Army Run suggests that cultural pride in our military can substitute duty for our veterans' post-service care, and I couldn't disagree more.




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