Saturday, 4 October 2014

IS WAR INEVITABLE? A Historical Perspective

Introduction: Human Nature and War
The topic of war is one that politicians and scholars in different fields have studied throughout history. Needless to say, the topic is far too complex for any one academic discipline to explain without taking into account every perspective from the petty profiteering of weapons salesmen to the ideologue adventurist who sees war as a glorifying task.  An entire encyclopedia can be devoted to the topic of wars throughout history and it would hardly scratch the surface of its multiple facets. I chose the title to analyze this topic because of the inspiring exchange of views between Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein struggling to understand why human beings engage in organized mass destruction. Like Freud and Einstein, the world in the interwar era was fascinated by the tragic reality of the first global war and the prospect of another one.

Even today, anything to do with war – from large defense contractors to motion pictures and video games - is big business and controversial because it involves everything from fiscal policy to how diplomatic conflicts may be resolved. Clearly, there are those who advocate armed conflict because they profit, while others believe in war for ideological reasons. No matter where we look around the world, we are faced with small to larger conflicts that concern people about the eruption of another global war. The hyperbolic rhetoric on the part of anti-Russian elements in the West has led some to beat the drums of a third world war for which Putin would be responsible.  Just the thought ot another global war both scares and fascinates people.

What does this say about the fascination of people with the ultimate form of mass destruction?  Philosophers, priests and poets have all dealt with the topic and how it is a reflection of who we are as a species. In modern times, psychologists and varieties of social scientists have made their contributions, as have celebrated writers like Leo Tolstoy and Ernest Hemmingway.  For novelists to be devoting so much work to this topic, it reveals that war goes to the heart of our societal structures and how they shape the nature of human beings that in turn shape those structures. In short, the idea that free will is at work may be more in doubt than people realize.  

In the second half of the 19th century, rear Admiral S. B. Luce argued that “war is one of the great agencies by which human progress is affected.” Against the background of the US Civil War, Luce who was the founder of Naval War College believed that was in general solves political, economic and social problems. No doubt, the Civil War solved the issue of a divided nation that had to choose between the agrarian slave-based economy of the south or the industrial-commercial mobile labor based north that was interested in national economic integration and competition with Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution.  The price was 600,000 casualties and it cannot be argued even by the most loyal southerner that the social and racial issue was solved, although the political and economic ones were.  Furthermore, does the legacy of the US Civil War justify S. B. Luce’s arguments and those who agree to this day regarding military solutions for political, economic and social problems confronting society?

Perhaps there is something fascinating about war, given that Hollywood has devoted billions of dollars producing war films depicting nothing less than the worst in human nature, yet, managing to romanticize and honor it as though to tell the audience that mass destruction is just another aspect of life. After all, if human are innately aggressive like other animals. War makes perfect sense.   Of course we are not so sure what other species regards mass destruction as an honorable enterprise and takes pride at it, deriving a sense of power as though it is a godly trait to kill people for no reason other than the government said “they are the enemy”.  Some psychologists blame not the soldiers doing the killing, but the personality disorders in the leaders. After all, it could not possibly be the fault of the Nazi soldier carrying out atrocious acts in WWII, but it was all Hitler and the blame stops there and goes no father.

Thinkers embracing pessimistic assumptions about human nature – Machiavelli, Hobbes, for example – conclude that human beings are capable of just about any atrocity the mind can conceive. Therefore, aggression in human nature finds expression in all forms including war that some believe is “natural”.  Life itself is a struggle, according to Thomas Hobbes who lived during the bloody English Civil War (1642- 1650) witnessed the destruction of his country owing to a war based on political, religious, and socioeconomic differences that failed to find consensus until the Glorious Revolution of 1689. Hobbes saw war as an innate or instinctive human trait, perhaps because of the Biblical original sin and fall from grace – Adam and Eve committed sin against their own creator. Living a generation after Hobbes, John Locke, father of Western Liberalism, insisted that war is an aberration of the human condition while harmony is the norm. Locke’s view influenced the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, though it hardly put an end to war driven by concrete political and economic interests.

Ancient Beliefs about War: Classical Greece, Rome, India and China
Wars – organized and institutionalized conflict under the aegis of the state - began with the dawn of civilization when the earliest tribal invaders known as Sumerians took over the lower Mesopotamian region, an area that has endured thousands of wars in the last five thousand years and remains in turmoil to this day.  Unlike modern day politicians making pretenses about the causes of war, ancient Sumerians were honest about why they engaged in conflict with other tribes and city-states; the goal was to capture trade routes, loot them, secure slaves for labor, and impose hegemony upon them.

The war s between Athens and Sparta – Peloponnesian Wars – created a pacifist trend as revealed in the works of Thucydides (Peloponnesian Wars), Aristophanes (Lysistrata, 411),  and Euripides (Trojan Women, 415 BC) all critical of militarism and from the perspective of the victims rather than the conquerors.  Plato and his pupil Aristotle argued that war was an integral part of state structure, a concept that Alexander the Great put into practice by ruling through perpetual warfare. 

The concept of honor and duty in war was introduced by the Hindu faith and later by the ancient Greeks. In the Homeric epics – Trojan War - war becomes a virtue, while the ancient Spartans, themselves invaders of the indigenous population of southern Greece, linked warfare to the highest noble aspect of human nature and the greatest pursuit for humanity. By the fifth century B.C., Athens under a democratic city-state discovers that war can be justified in the name of freedom and democracy – as Athenian historian Thucydides describes in “The Melian Dialogue”. The Athenian historian exposed the hypocrisy of Athens that wanted democracy and freedom for itself but would deny it to other city-states and engage them in war to reduce them into satellites. The double standard Thucydides describes of Athens became an issue in 20th century United States.

The concept of war for the sake of freedom and democracy became popular with the US from the Woodrow Wilson presidency (under missionary diplomacy) until the present when every military and covert intervention that the US has undertaken is nothing less than a crusade to “save the people invaded and placed under some type of hegemonic control”.  Free of illusions that the invader was benevolent and well-intentioned, the people on the receiving end of aggression never accepted the rhetoric of freedom and democracy, while the citizens of the invading nation were much more generous with their government’s justifications of war.

To explain why human beings kill each other in organized conflicts sanctioned by the state, philosophers and scholars of various disciplines argued that it is inevitable to have organized conflict between societies because it is a reflection of innate aggressive traits in human nature, and symptomatic of military, political, economic and social conditions that reflect antagonism rather than harmony and coexistence.  Plato, Aristotle, Roman and Christian thinkers accepted the view of war as necessary, even acceptable, as did the Hindus in India.  In China, however, the status of the soldier was lowly, equated with that of a dog, despite the fact that China also has a long history of organized conflict and internal colonization, just like Russia – Eurasia.

Closer to the Spartan worldview on war, the Roman intellectuals and politicians identified war with civic duty, and the soldier is a symbol of reverence rather than a necessary evil as some Chinese intellectuals saw it. Death in the battlefield was a virtue, rather than a dreaded reality. Despite an ideology of war that the political social and military elites used to justify it, the fundamental causes and goals were no different for Rome than they were for Sumer and Athens. As was the case in Athens, there were pacifists in Rome. Philosophers of Stoicism, a cosmopolitan school of thought reflecting the cultural structure of Rome, contended that all humanity is one.  Therefore, war is unacceptable because it destruction of humanity. However, this was in the early stages of Stoicism. Once Stoicism became the official school of thought for the Roman Empire, war became acceptable.

Dating back five thousand years, Hinduism does not object to armed conflict if it is carried out in the name of protecting property and people from evil and injustice. Hinduism as well as Buddhism as an offshoot after the 6th century BC adamantly oppose war for the purpose oppressing people and causing violence against them. More so with Buddhism, non-violence is essential for spiritual transcendence and salvation possible only through meditation and wisdom.  

Like most religions, Hinduism condemns war on moral grounds but also insist it is a matter of honor and duty, while cowardice is infamy. Throughout their history, Hindus carried out wars despite the taming influence of some pacifist voices against it. In a conversation regarding the morality of war between Ajuna and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu “Bible”), the following passages reveal the contradictions.  “I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in battle, nor can I desire any subsequent victory…I would consider it better for the sons of Dhrtarastra to kill me than to fight with them. … Consider your specific duty, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting for religious principles. If however, you do not fight this religious war, you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.”

While Hinduism like all religions respects all life, this does not mean that the followers and especially the leaders who espouse religious doctrines and a body of ethics rooted in pacifism follow such a path. On the contrary, religion is invariably used to justify mass violence. A power-rooted if not crusader mentality takes precedence in those who rule because the ethics of pacifism entails weakness, if not manipulation or some type of subjugation by the strong. The great warrior king Ashoka (269-232 BC) is a good example in ancient Indian history as one of the bloodiest rulers who in embracing Buddhism realized that there is no glory, victory or justice in war.

Pacifism was an underlying pacifist trend among all religions, but most pronounced about the oneness of humanity so characteristic of Indian religions can be found in Guru Nanak (1469-1534), the first Sikh Guru who wrote a hymn regarding the sacredness of life and peace.

‘No one is my enemy
No one is a foreigner
With all I am at peace
God within us renders us
Incapable of hate and prejudice.’

The importance of non-violence and the equality of all humans is a belief that decries war while promoting the spiritual reverence of humans and their creativity that wars obviously destroy. If human beings are special because of their creative potential, then war is their enemy.  

Some scholars contend that China’s history is not militaristic, like that of the West. However, China had its share of wars, especially from the 10th to the 13th century, an era that coincides with the zenith of Arab civilization. Wars also characterize Chinese history during the Ming dynasty from the mid-14th to the mid-17th century, an era when Europe experiences its Commercial Revolution and expands outward in search of colonies. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu outlines various aspects of warfare that influenced the Chinese from ancient times to the present. China’s wars focused on its internal politics and internal colonization similar to Russia, and mostly of defensive mode against Japan and the West. This is unlike the West where the object was to take trade routes and conquer colonies.

The Han Dynasty (206BC-220 AD) may be pointed to as an exceptionally enlightened, but it lived and declined by the sword as the Roman Empire. China’s history is one of wars, especially from the 10th to the 13th century, an era that coincides with the zenith of Arab civilization. Wars also characterize Chinese history during the Ming dynasty from the mid-14th to the mid-17th century, an era when Europe experiences its Commercial Revolution and expands outward in search of colonies. 

Living in China five centuries before Christ, Confucius provided a moral guide for institutional and individual practices. A moral guide that has prevailed in much of East Asia for twenty five centuries, the system Confucius laid down has had far reaching influence in East Asia for the past 25 centuries. Unlike Christ, Mohammad and the Buddha, Confucius did not focus on afterlife. It is believed he stated that he would only worry about the “next world”, only after figuring out the proper way to live in this one.  More interested in social relations and maintaining order in society without overturning the status quo, he believed that war has no place in society if everyone just follows their proper role – clearly an optimistic way of thinking. If there is war, then Confucianism has failed.

Confucianism has shaped a certain perception of Chinese security strategy, symbolized by the defensive, nonaggressive Great Wall. Many believe China is antimilitary and reluctant to use force against its enemies. It practices pacifism and refrains from expanding its boundaries, even when nationally strong. They adopted defensive strategies when their country was weak and pursued expansive goals, such as territorial acquisition, enemy destruction, and total military victory, when their country was strong. Despite the dominance of an antimilitarist Confucian culture, warfare was not uncommon in the bulk of Chinese history. Grounding his research in primary Chinese sources, Wang outlines a politics of power that are crucial to understanding China's strategies today, especially its policy of "peaceful development," which, he argues, the nation has adopted mainly because of its military, economic, and technological weakness in relation to the United States.

Ancient Rome and Medieval Christianity
The Roman militarist ideal, also found in other ancient societies, becomes an important legacy of Western Civilization passed on through Christianity. The history of Rome was roughly 1000 years of war with interval of peace, a history that left a legacy on the Barbarians who inherited Rome’s militarist legacy and passed it on to European Christendom.  Like Stoicism in its early stage, Christianity was pacifist and more non-violent than any humanist philosophy. However, in its institutional stage, Christianity advances numerous justifications for war, adding God into the equation, making it war a holy affair instead of a secular one as it really is. St. Augustine, a Platonist, was the first Christian theologian to advance arguments in favor of war, arguing that defense necessarily entailed going to war.

St. Thomas Aquinas, an Aristotelian, argued that peace is preferable, but war is necessary to defend the integrity of the realm. Between Augustine writing during the Fall of Rome in the 5th century, and Aquinas writing in the late Middle Ages, St. Gregory of Tours and Einhard, both representing Barbarian Christendom, argued that war was moral only if carried out in defense of the faith and its institutions, but immoral for any other reason.  Religious institutional interests transcend any other consideration, including individual life. Therefore, killing Barbarian pagans who refuse to yield to Christianity is moral, whereas harming Christians or church property in the course of war is immoral. This was the birth of Christian ‘exceptionalism’ that would lead to Christian imperialism and it would be used as the doctrine to justify the crusades from the 11th to the 13th century. 

To glorify God the Papacy and Christendom, many thousands of European knights rushed to “save the Holy land”, a place dripping with blood for more than a thousand years.  Of course, the real goal of the crusaders was to capture trade routes of the Near East, the Arab gold trade and set up colonies at the core of Muslim territories, not far from Byzantium.  Crusader thinking about trade, gold and hegemony finding expression in religious wars would ultimately shape European thinking about wars of colonization in the 15th, 16th and 17th century.

A significant consequence of religious wars between Christians and Muslims – the Crusades -  was not just the wars of colonialism by Portugal and Spain in the late 15th and early 16th century, but northwest Europe and Russia. Northwest Europe’s colonial exploits through warfare are well documented, as they launched a new era in North-South, East-West divisions of the planet, along with racism thinly veiled behind the cloak of Christianity and Western civilization. Russia too began wars against Muslim-dominated Ottoman Empire, and just like its European counterparts, Russia under Catherine the Great in the 18th century (Enlightenment) passed laws legally discriminating against minorities, including Jews. In other words, wars against distant lands and non-Christian religions had reverberations back home where war became both a catalyst for national unity and conformity to the regime, as well as a pretext for the domestic elites to consolidate power and isolate minorities deemed a threat to the status quo.

War from the Reformation to the Present
Were there any voices of reason and pacifism amid such strong institutional tides of war from the Iberian to Eurasia? In 1510, Dutch theologian Disiderius Erasmus published ANTI-POLEMUS, or the PLEA OF REASON, RELIGION, AND HUMANITY AGAINST WAR. Arguing that war was antithetical to human nature because people are not born with an innate proclivity to destroy, Erasmus believed that humans wish to love and serve their fellow man. A Christian humanist, Erasmus represented a minority view, considering that German theologian Martin Luther had no problem with war as long as it was not carried out by the Church or against Christians. Luther made an exception to this golden rule during the German Peasants War in the mid-1520s when the church joined the nobility to crush rebels inspired by Thomas Muntzer, a Reformation theologian who believed that spiritual egalitarianism Luther preached ought to have political, economic and social applications here on earth.   

Inspired by Muntzer and viewing the Peasant’s War as the first mass revolution in Europe, Marx and Engels argued that war s an instrument of the elites trying to exert control over the masses at home and abroad. According to Marxist thought, war is symptomatic of the class system in which the socioeconomic elites control the state and determine policy to advance their interests against the working class that does the actual fighting, killing and dying in war. A few decades after Marx and Engels, V.I. Lenin (Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism) argued that war is inevitable owing to the global struggle for markets between the hegemonic nation-states. This thinking makes sense if one considers that Lenin was a product of the Age of New Imperialism (1870-1914) that witnessed a series of regional conflicts ultimately leading to the First World War.

If we accept that WWI led to WWII, then 19th century wars of Imperialism were the genesis of 20th century global wars. The Marxist-Leninist war theory includes social, economic, political and cultural factors, rather than isolating causes of war on human nature or environment as determining factors. As followers of the rationalist tradition that assumes human nature is prone to harmony rather than conflict, the Marxist school of thought dismisses the psychological factors that it sees as products of societal conditioning and symptomatic of the uneven conditions between social classes.    

In contrast to Marxist theory on war, there were 19th and 20th century thinkers mesmerized by war, depicting it as a mythological transcendent experience. Most of these thinkers came from the German militarist tradition that celebrates the warrior-hero as much in myth and folklore as in politics given that German unification came not as a result of diplomacy and  compromise , but war against Austria first and then France as a catalyst to rallying support behind Otto von Bismarck’s Prussian foreign policy. In The Will to Power and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, F. Nietzsche indicates that war is the essence of human nature that allows humans to transcend the mediocrity of Christian pacifist morality.

Nietzsche the existentialist thinker was focusing on the individual and the pursuit of the individual transcending experience through the kind of exercise of power. According to Nietzsche, this ideal existed among the pre-Socratics – for example, we read in Heraclitus that: One must know that war is common and justice is strife, and that all things happen by strife and necessity.  War is father of all and king of all: some he shows as gods, others as men; some he makes slaves, others free.  This kind of realism (ethical realism) in the world of the constant becoming, Heraclitus demonstrates that the essence of being is change and that does not come harmoniously because even harmony is the result of opposing forces coexisting.  Heraclitus did not advocate war any more than Nietzsche, regardless of how the German philosopher’s views were twisted by the militarist racist Nazi regime.

More important German thinkers than Nietzsche contributing to German, European and US militaristic psychology were Heinrich von Treitschke, Friedrich von Bernhardi and Karl von Clausewitz, the latter in the group by far the most celebrated among Western politicians, military analysts and fans of warfare.  A rationalist and realist coming out of the Age of Reason, Clausewitz argued that "War is the continuation of Politik (policy) by other means".

 We could assume that there is a sense of stark realism here because indeed where diplomacy ends war may indeed start because it is but an instrument of policy in the hands of those conducting diplomacy to achieve a certain goal. While this is a view that hard realists may accept as unavoidable, some could argued against his view that the interplay between national character and military functions defines the nation in the modern world. This Prussian militaristic view would leave a far reaching mark on Prussia and later Germany and it would define its history until the end of WWII.

 A contemporary of Bismarck and witness to the “Blood and Iron” route that Germany followed, Treitschke argued that if the duty of the state is to maintain relations with other states, than the bounds of the state are not confined to the sovereign territory. Ignoring the right of national sovereignty and right to exist under self-determination that war obviously upsets, he argued that armed conflict is a manifestation of a great society.   This kind of nationalism (the individual must submit to the duties of the state) as expressed in the age of Social Darwinism (blatant racism) and European colonialism in Africa and Asia represents the euphoria that Treitschke projected in his work and the spirit of nationalists.

Not too far from such views, Bernhardi was also a product of Prussian militarism, best known for his book, Deutschland und der Nächste Krieg. He argued that war is merely a function by which civilized nation-states express their true greatness. In fact, he had no regard for international treaties and believed that there was “divinity” in armed conflict between nations.  This view is not so far from that of Luce and other militarists during the Age of Imperialism when Europeans realized that enormous economic, political, and military benefits of imperialist expansion that made northwest Europe the center of global power. The flipside of this was the wars of imperialism led to the Great War in 1914 and this marked the beginning of Europe’s global decline in the first half of the 20th century.

Late 20th century existentialist thinkers have argued that war is a destructive human tendency, for it provides the illusion of meaning, honor and greatness, a transcending experience of the individual who identifies with the nation-state that is presumably eternal while the individual is finite. For existentialists, engaging in war where the object is to destroy other people and their property, presumably to conquer them and their territory, affords the individual militarist with numerous illusions that provide a sense of satisfaction for the self.

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt deals with war as a perverse force that affords meaning to an otherwise alienating life in a world of nihilism. Existentialist interpretations of war as something that can be fulfilling against the background of mass politics and mass alienation is something to contemplate, although by no means should one fall into the trap of assuming that human beings are not conditioned into accepting war as natural like the weather.  Although the individual believes her/his free will is at work when deciding on supporting or opposing war, the value system, social, ideological and political conditioning account for peoples’ support or opposition of war. As a method of resolving conflict instead of resorting to political solutions, war appeals to those whose brain is neurologically prone to fear, while those skeptical about war are more risk oriented.

The irony of many militarists is that they insist war is necessary to bring about peace. Equally absurd, the argument of those in favor of conventional war governments carry out and which result in massive destruction oppose unconventional war (guerrilla war, revolutionary war, separatist, ethnic or religious war) that results in random killings and random destruction of property on a very small scale in comparison with conventional war. This is not to suggest that unconventional war is acceptable in comparison with conventional war, although there must be a distinction between revolutionary struggle to bring about social change and all other types of unconventional war.  The issue is one of scale, one of purpose, and one of using the pretext of the small unconventional armed conflict to justify the larger conventional one.

Ten Points on the Benefits and Detriments of War
1.       War can be a god-like experience because killing other people that the soldier has never met and has no motive other than ideological, entails constructing animosity inside the human mind that fills the void with a sense of high purpose.    

2.       War is the ultimate sense of adventure to feel like an animal hunted down and at the same time a hunter doing the hunting against the other to be killed. This reveals a sense of self-hatred and self-destruction as well as a sense of daring or trying to defy death thus testing finiteness of life.

3.        War affords the illusion that by killing the other under legal cover the individual transcends

4.       Killing en masse indiscriminately, while enjoying legal cover under the legitimacy of the state at the individual and societal level, killing indiscriminately en masse affords the illusion of spiritual cleansing, removing evil and restoring good as though life is a myth of Barbarian tribes - Beowulf.

5.       No matter what naïve pacifist claim, war stimulates economic activity because it places pressure on demand for everything from military hardware to food.  Therefore, war serves the higher goal of society. Of course the price paid for carrying out war is that innocent people are killed, injured, and displaced, invariably women and children. Moreover, is war the solution every time the economy contracts?

6.       War can serve as a vehicle of bringing down authoritarian or tyrannical regimes and thus deliver greater political openness and social justice in society. War can also serve to bring to power less democratic or even tyrannical regimes that play with the nationalist sentiments of the masses who identify with the sanctity of the nation-state.

7.       Minorities and workers traditionally outside the institutional mainstream can be integrated because of the emergency situation of war. But does society need to endure the horrors of war in order to integrate into the mainstream women, minorities, and workers? Is the price of greater social justice more wars which is itself a grave injustice and impacts minorities and workers as the first casualties?

8.       War stimulates new technologies that initially have military applications but eventually benefit the civilian sector. No doubt this is true, but it assumes human beings can be creative only in time of war. Nothing prevents the public and private sectors from engaging in research and development to serve the civilian economy in the absence of armed conflict. Furthermore, the new science and technology coming out of war situations are invariably intended to destroy and do not necessarily have civilian applications. I can see how nuclear weapons and nuclear energy are related, how bio-warfare and research bio-medical research are also related, but defense spending is a dead-end parasitic cycle, while there can easily be direct spending for science and technology projects intended solely for the civilian market.

9.       Peace organizations such as the League of Nations after WWI and the United Nations arise from wars, as do other peace-oriented organizations that governments and civilian groups support. Furthermore, international aid organizations also emerge or existing ones are strengthened.  Are wars necessary to create international organizations whose goal is to prevent war, and do such organizations actually prevent war or are they mere window dressing and a pretext for politicians that at least they tried the multilateral diplomatic route before engaging in unilateral and/or multilateral military action. 
10.   After a war, there is a rise of social consciousness about the horrors of wars, corporate profiteering, and the need for political solutions to problems without resorting to militarism. This is certainly true after all wars from ancient time s to the present, but memories fade quickly and the advocates of war propagate to start conflict because there is no other way.

Pacifism is always at a distinct disadvantage because people automatically associated it with “weakness”, while fear of the demonized enemy leads them more readily to accept the military solution. Between the end of the Second World War and 2010, the number of people killed directly in combat or as a result of war conditions is about half of WWII. This is an astonishing figure for a world that claims to enjoy peace, while in reality it is immersed in conflict. Even more amazing, many in the US and NATO want higher defense budgets as they speak of an impending power struggle for global hegemony between the West and Asia at some point in the 21st century. 

On Historicism and War
 Regarding the issue of what we know as "the fallacy of historicism", especially as it pertains to the question I raised in my article about the inevitability of war.

Historicism is a topic that Karl Popper developed in "The Poverty of Historicism". This was mainly as a critique of Hegelian philosophy of history, and of Marxian historical determinism, although Popper included Plato along with the two modern German philosophers as the greatest enemies of liberty. You have to judge for yourselves here why Popper the darling of neo-conservatives in the 1980s wanted no trace of any philosophy embracing the "collective" good vs. the individual.

Even if one does not embrace the philosophical argument of historical determinism and dialectical materialism and Hegelian historicism, and even if one accepts the Lockean epistemology of Empiricism and rationalism with its emphasis on individualism as does Popper, this does not preclude the logical conclusion derived from empirical evidence that wars are inevitable for the near future (next two decades), given the realities of today's global power structure, and the foreign policy direction of the key players at the regional and global levels.

For example, is there any doubt whatever, that of current US foreign policy and the outcries of many militarists (Republicans and some Democrats) that greater spending on defense, tougher policy toward all "potential enemies" and greater reliance on unilateralism? The big winner of the US MID-TERM election is DoD, and the trend will be to become more interventionist and rely more on military solutions, This sends the a strong message to the rest ofthe world to militarize and to resort to US-style military solutions. Israel will have no problem with this policy, and neither would Turkey and Russia, in an overt fashion, while others will follow in more indirect manner.

This analysis is not based on Hegelian or Marxian historicism but on the realities of current policy trends. In addition, there is the ever present pressure from the defense industries but also from militarists of various types from ideologues to opportunists. I regret to inform the group that there will most definitely be more wars, but let us hope a larger one as many are hoping, using Putin as the latest pretext for their own adventuristic dreams of glory, is avoided.

Longer-term, it is not as easy to predict where the human race is headed, and here is where the fallacy of historicism that attacks teleological views both of Hegel and Marx may have some validity. My guess is that wars will always be with the human race as long as there are elites because elites are behind wars, and I have to agree with Sartre that there will always be elites.

1 comment:

Jr said...

Curious: Where does Judaism fit in this discussion?