Why Is War Inevitable

Ian R Thorpe
11 February, 2013

Some say if women ruled the world there would be peace. Bouddica, Queen
of The Iceni might disagree.

I recently entered a comment thread under a post that asked "Does War Have To
Be Inevitable" on a Liberal blog. I should have known better of course, on a liberal
blog people who think for themselves and express opinions of their own rather than
parroting the usual knee jerk response prescribed by the academic - political elite are
about as welcome as a fart in a space capsule.
The person who posted the question was merely reproducing the transcript of an
interview and began like this:

In "The End of War", veteran science journalist John Horgan applies the
scientific method to reach a unique conclusion: biologically speaking, we are
just as likely to be peaceful as we are to be violent. So what keeps humans
bound by a seemingly never-ending cycle of ... ?"
Read full article (it's very boring but I have to offer the link)
In the interview Horgan reveals himself as a pompous windbag who never uses
one word when a hundred will do. He also repeats many "progressive liberal" dogmas
as if he has learned them by rote. The scientific method? In the end he says very
little, in fact his whole case can be summed up as "War can become a thing of the
past if everybody in the world will just change their consciousness." Here is his final
paragraph:
"I mention somewhere in the book and would like this to be discussed among
progressive activists: What should your priorities be? You know, do you work on
environmental issues, against global warming? Against poverty and world hunger?
Do you work on the advancement of women's rights? I mean all those are worthy
causes. But I actually think that in terms of leverage, of focusing on one thing that
can then have a cascade of other positive effects, focusing on militarism and war
should be the priority. Because if we can really reduce the militarism of this country,
really cut back on our military budget, get rid of nuclear weapons and create a more
rational international policy, then I think that a lot of these other things will be much
easier to address. Environmental issues, economic injustice issues, female inequality,
all those sorts of things. "
The conclusion then is unbelievably naive as are all those hippy dippy sacred
cows that include the notion, either implied or spelled out, "If only everybody would
just ..."

It's a pipe dream and few people will have much trouble guessing what the pipe these
people suck on is filled with.
Is war inevitable, given the human condition? What causes human agression? For
Socrates, according to Plato, it comes from innate tendencies present in all of us but
nurtured in the wrong way.
So must we think then that war is inevitable and perpetual peace a utopian
pipedream? This subject has been the centre of debates about international relations
for centuries. Do those of us who take a realist's view submit to being accused of
relishing and glorifying war and being vilified for being right? And do those who
claim war can be abolished have any rational arguments to support their case or are
they as full of crap as the guy above? Can we really abolish conflict if everybody
would just join hands and sing Kumbaya? Are there people out there so detached
from reality they thinks solutions to eternal problems are that simple? When I raised
these points in the thread I mentioned I was subjected to hate attacks from peace
loving hippies that would have made a neo Nazi thug look quite reasonable.
Political theorists, constructivists and social scientists have given us some
insights, but we see the issue more clearly if we concentrate on the great debate
between Utopianism and Realism and of course we should first equip ourselves with
an understanding of human nature.

Singing Kumbaya

But before we even do that we ought to be aware of how profound the folly of
those airy idealists who believe war can be abolished "if only everybody would just
…"
Here's a snippet from an article by Alice L Mayer
Einstein’s letter contained a statement that I kept reading over and over throughout
the course of the day. He wrote, “Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so
as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness? Here I am
thinking by no means only of the so-called uncultured masses. Experience proves that
it is rather the so-called ‘intelligentsia’ that is most apt to yield to these disastrous
collective suggestions, since the intellectual has no direct contact with life in the raw
but encounters it in its easiest, synthetic form – upon the printed page.”
Read full article
It is worth noting that the article can be found on a website called changing our
consciousness. I am entirely comfortable with the idea that individuals can change
their consciousness, some individuals at least, we must not forget the old joke that
goes ...
Q:"How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Only one but first the lightbulb must want
to change.
For an individual to change their consciousness is
relatively simple once the mind is set on doing so.
To abolish war however would require everybody
in the world to change their consciousness, to set The genius of the lamp
aside self interest and start living for the wider
community and that is a very different matter. And on top of that everybody would
have to change to the same thing, a collectivist (or perhaps atns nest) mentality. An
old management maxim says "Managing people is like herding cats." The difficult
part of abolishing war is getting everybody to want to do it so much they will give up
freedom and individualism.
Sheeple are the most easy people to manage but the least likely to change their
consciousness. They rely on the feeling of security that comes from being part of the
crowd thus they are easily manipulated by media campaigns orchestrated by
charismatic leaders and extremist political groups. Again there is a problem of
comprehension for hippy thinkers here. For no good reason they have managed to go
through life without ever gaining any understand of the phrase "If voting changed
anything, they'd abolish it."
Realist assumptions about humans, from Hobbes to Spinoza to Machiavelli share
one common trait: that humans are by nature bad, that human nature is base.
According to Spinoza, people are led not by precepts of pure reason but by their
passions. He was right as recent scientific research has shown, we are animals and
while we have a veneer of reason and objectivity, emotions play a bigger part in our
decision making. Emotion leads to irrationality, to selfishness, fear and panic, mob
mentality (don't ever pay any attention to talk of the wisdom of the crowd, mobs are
mindless) and the raw aggression that draws men and nations into conflict.
In Politics Among Nations Hans Morganthau says "it is man's 'ineradicable' lust
for power that results in frictions and wars among states." If man's nature is the
primary cause of war, does it imply war could only be abolished through the
enlightenment of man? And if so how? There has been talk in the meetings of the
G20 nations of global government and the creation of a common culture but at what
price could that be attempted? And who is fit to arbitrate as to what is good
consciousness and what is bad.
Orwell and Huxley took different views of
this, Orwell's brutal tyranny embraced the idea
that "Freedom is slavery, war is peace, Ignorance
is strength," while the regime that controlled
Huxley's Brave New World was a suffocatingly
matriarchal Nanny State that nurtured her
subjects from cradle to grave and demanded in
return only absolute, unthinking obedience.
Power, the most addictive and potent drug of
all then is what motivates those who rise to
War Is Peace, 1984 - George Orwell
leadership. Now we are getting somewhere in
our effort to understand the impulse to war. Morganthau nails it with that phrase
about ineradicable lust for power. Voter don't vote for war, the masses don't clamour
for war unless they are manipulated into doing so by an elite. And the elite, being
educated and steeped in a sense of supereiority that eliteism breeds, are not going to
be manipulated by fools and dreamers. If anything threatens their grip on power they
will start beating the war drum and use fear and panic to whip the masses into line.
The technique is as old as civilisation itself.
But we have to face it, if we let the weak, wussy singer of Kumbaya, the hippy
dippy dreamers with their notions of love and peace and everybody caring and
sharing in a world where everything is free coutesy of big government, what chance
would our societies have when a bunch of bastards from a less privileged part of the
world decided they wanted what we had and were determined to take it?
Unlike realists, idealists believe in the optimistic definition of man being
naturally good. Conflicts and war break out because of a few malicious or misguided
people. Peace would prevail were a superior authority able to seek out such renegades
and reform them in the etiquettes of politically correct conduct, a kind of cuddly
Maoism.

cuddly Maoism Not so cuddly Maoism

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "Were half the power that fills the
world with terror, were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, given to
redeem the human mind from error, there was no need of arsenals or forts." As with
all the glib solutions to problems that perpetually trouble humankind, it is much
easier to say it than to make it happen. Ah well, as someone more famous than me
once said, poets are fools and dreamers.
Based on the logic of education, several approaches within the behavioural
sciences have attempted to address the problems of wars and their causes in
international politics. According to psychologists like James Miller, Allport and
Cohen, these all assumed that improved social adjustment of individuals would
decrease feelings of frustration and insecurity thus reducing the likelihood of war.
Similarly, increased understanding amongst the people of the world meant increased
peace. This has become the basis of the global government, global nation solution
first proposed in the hippy dippy songs of the 1960s. Lovely idea but it is just not
going to happen.
We in the developed world
might think of war in terms of
global or multi - national conflicts
like World Wars One and Two or
localised bloodbaths like Korea or
Vietnam but really war starts much
smaller, tribal conflicts of which
there are many currently going on
in African despite all the money
Gang war on the streets of London
the west has pumped into that
continent, the kind of low level war or terror campaign the IRA waged against Britain
from the 1960s to 1990s or the Basque separatists have conducted in Spain, turf wars
between street gangs. Get down to this level and we see why war is inevitable.
James Millar remarked that ignorance of the desires, aims and characteristics of
other people leads to fear and is consequently one of the primary causes of
aggression. Does a better understanding someone else's culture translate to increased
levels of peace? Can familiarity with a culture or religious tradition reduce envy and
mistrust? Gaining a clearer picture of how communist societies worked did not bring
the Cold War to a halt not did communism, for all its inclusive, egalitarian, touchy -
feely ideology create the utopian society it promised. Even nations with close cultural
affinities have gone to wars in the past, Britain and France have more in common
than citizens of each care to admit and yet for almost a thousand years were at war at
least once every century. This pattern is repeated throughout the history of Western
Europe since the fall of Rome's western empire. Realists argue this is so because the
assumption about human nature is fixed. It is a given constant. No amount of
idealistic notions about education, establishing a common culture and the peace
bringing effects of everybody joining hands and singing Kumbiya being able to
change consciosness a is going to change this fact. War is inevitable.
Idealists argue that if war was inevitable, why were there long periodst among the
natives of peace? As I said above, war is more than global conflict. In the period
known as the Pax Romana the Roman Emire was always involved in putting down
uprisings, quelling unrest and defending the borders of the empire. A hundred miles
north of where I live the Scots spent almost 400 years snapping like bad tempered
little terriers at the Imperial ankles. The same applied in the shorter period dubbed the
Pax Britannica, British naval power many have prevented major conflicts but the
Empire was always busy defending it's interests with military force.

Appeasement World War 2 style: UK Prime Appeasement War on terror style: UK
Minister Chamberlain accepts Hitler's demands Prime Minister Tony Blair moves in for the
and proclaims 'peace in our time. We all know what big kiss with tyrant Muammar Gaddafi
happened next.

The Pax Americana has given war a different face. It is no longer practical for
vast armies to confront each other on the field of battle. Modern military technology
can reach deep into the heart of an enemy's homeland. This would suggest even
bloodier wars that ever but the certainty of mutually assured destruction in such a war
dictates other ways are found to fight for supremacy. Major powers sponsor terrorist
groups, guerilla armies, dissidents and malcontents covertly back by rival
governments conduct wars by proxy against unpopular or hostile regimes and
technological warfare in cyberspace threatens to bring to a halt the national
economies of developed nations that have foolishly put all their eggs in one basdket
by making themselves dependent on a single, deeply flawed technology.
Appeasement, the foreign policy of caving in to the demands of hostile powers is
no more likely to bring peace now than it was in 1939 when the fools and dreamers
deluded themselves that Adolf Hitler was a reasonable man. War is not just
inevitable, aided and abetted by the dippy hippys who think we can all be persuaded
to don diaphanous kaftans made from tie dyed cheesecloth and build a brave new,
conflict free world, it is evolving from a dinosaur into a sophisticated, supernatural
shapeshifter that will envelope everything within its aura.

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