War profiteering  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A war profiteer is any person or organization that profits from warfare or by selling weapons and other goods to parties at war. The term has strong negative connotations. General profiteering may also occur in peace time. One example of war profiteers were the "shoddy" millionaires who allegedly sold recycled wool and cardboard shoes to soldiers during the American Civil War.


In popular culture

The term 'war profiteer' evokes two stereotypes in popular culture: the rich businessman who sells weapons to governments, and the semi-criminal black marketeer who sells goods to ordinary citizens. In English-speaking countries this is particularly associated with Britain during World War II. The image of the 'businessman profiteer' carries the implication of influence and power used to actively cause wars for personal gain, rather than merely passively profit from them. In the aftermath of World War I, such profiteers were widely asserted to have existed by both the Left, and the Right.

Fictional character Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder in the novel Catch-22 has been called "perhaps the best known of all fictional profiteers" in American literature.

The surname of the character 'Daddy Warbucks' in Little Orphan Annie carries an obvious implication. This character is interesting for being an example of the stereotype of a war profiteer applied to a 'good guy'.

The Tintin adventure The Broken Ear features an arms dealer called Basil Bazarov who sells arms to both sides in a war. He is a recognisable example of this 'type', and specifically based on Basil Zaharoff.

The character of Joe Walker in the sitcom Dad's Army is an example of the second stereotype of a war profiteer while the character Rick Pym in the novel A Perfect Spy is a more psychologically complex example.

Bertolt Brecht wrote the play Mother Courage and Her Children as a didactic indictment of war profiteering.

In the 1985 film Clue, Colonel Mustard was a war profiteer who sold stolen radio components on the black market.

The film The Third Man features a war profiteer named Harry Lime, who steals penicillin from military hospitals and sells it on the black market.

The film Lord of War is a fictional story based on the war profiteer named Viktor Bout, who illegally sold post-Soviet arms to Liberia and other nations in conflict.

The Suicide Machines released their 2005 album, entitled War Profiteering Is Killing Us All.

In the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Professor Moriarty acquires shares in many military supply companies and plots to instigate a world war and make a fortune.

The song "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan is about war profiteering and the Military-industrial complex.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "War profiteering" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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