Saturday, January 27, 2007

War And Politics: Social Twins

"War is nothing but the continuation of politics by other means."
- Carl von Clausewitz, 19th century Prussian military thinker

Some may argue that "by other means" disqualifies or devalues the whole message of the quote.
Others may say that war is but a continuation of business by other means. Those countries that begin wars or that support insurgents or revolutionaries in another country always have their own financial interests at heart somewhere along the way.

War is life. It's the way life is in all forms of biological existence that we know, be they plant or animal. What is different about the human form of war is not just that we kill for reasons other than for food (a few other animals do that), but that we do so in highly organized and socially powerful groups with detailed planning. Socially powerful meaning in ways that influence human enemies most effectively.

However, war is our way of showing that we have not progressed far beyond what our prehuman ancestors, the way our genetically close primate relatives are today. It is the most primitive way of conducting the affairs of large societies.

War is our way of demonstrating that we have failed to advance as civilizations. We have the potential to make advancements beyond the primitive, but we keep falling back to the ways of our forebears. Our prehuman, small-brained ancestors.

Why do we allow this to happen to us? Because we pay most attention to those who claim that "others" are a great threat to us and least attention to those who want to adopt friendships with the others to trade and socialize for our mutual benefit. In most cases, the claim that the others are threatening us is false.

We are still, most of us, simple creatures whose natural tendency is to look to others for instruction and for protection. Like the apes. We follow the apparently most powerful and the loudest among us.

We will know when we have risen above our natural instincts when we see war and violence as activites of simpler, more primitive animals. We have the brain to do it. We need to use that brain to demonstrate that we are more advanced than apes.

You can do your part. Pass the word.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to help us advance the process of civilization one small step at a time.
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