Evils of Capitalism Exposed in Catch-22
"That's some catch, that Catch-22" (47). Some catch indeed, for Catch-22 "is the best there is" (47). A strange paradox preventing men from being grounded under any circumstances, Catch-22 eventually evolves into a justification for doing virtually anything. After all, it "says [anyone] can do anything [that] we can't stop them from doing" (416). A less obviously stated, but equally powerful, validation for one's actions is the guarantee of profit. "It [is] odd how many wrongs leaving money [seems] to right" (418), for the promise or presence of some form of profit, rights even the wrongs warranted by Catch-22. Milo Minderbinder takes full advantage of this powerful reasoning and uses it extremely well. Yet, rather than using it to right wrongs, Milo uses it to justify his own dastardly deeds. Therefore, throughout Catch-22, Milo's capitalistic greed leads him to be an emblem evil.
Milo spends most of his time in the army traveling Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in search of the best deal. With the use of "donated army equipment" (239) he buys and sells various items in order to make the highest profit. Rather than fly missions, Milo seeks to make money, capitalizing on his time abroad. After all, Milo "didn't start this war...[he's] just trying to put it on a businesslike basis" (262). This attitude leads Milo to begin a syndicate, one in which "everybody has a share" (238-239). This proposed arrangement keeps everyone at ease, so much so it leads to general sloth. Because "everybody [has] a share, ...men [get] fat and [move] about tamely with toothpicks in their greasy lips" (259). One by one, the men succumb to the charms of plenty as well as to their internal greed. Some, like Colonel Cathcart, are willing to give up America's beliefs for the existence of the syndicate. This is shown through the donation of planes "decorated with flamboyant squadron emblems illustrating such laudable ideals as Courage, Might, Justice, Truth, Liberty, Love, Honor and Patriotism" (259) to help the propagation of the business venture. These emblems, however, are soon covered "with a double coat of flat white and replaced in garish purple with the stenciled name M & M ENTERPRISES, FINE FRUITS AND PRODUCE" (259). Thus, the bruise that is capitalism rests upon a façade of new-age mammonism while replacing genuine American ideals.
The novel proceeds to show that this free enterprise doesn't simply overtake America, but that it also corrupts and destroys it. To protect his syndicate, or, rather, to protect his potential to make more money, Milo lands two contracts with the Germans, both to bomb his own men. The victims of these attacks aren't of concern, however, as they are dispensable and, like the dead man in Yossarian's tent, so miniscule that they are faceless, without voice, name, or identity. Since the "tremendous profit" (266) is enough to "reimburse the government for all the destroyed people...