On war


Bear with me a little more. We are still on Tolstoi and we will be talking about his ideas or what he quotes for the next 2 weeks at least.

First he quotes Maupassant, and I will extract a part of the passage. He, Maupassant, writes

“War!… The fighting!… The murdering!… The slaughter of men!… And to-day, with all our wisdom, civilization, with the advancement of science, the degree of philosophy to which the human spirit has attained, we have schools where the art of murder, of aiming with deadly accuracy and killing large numbers of men at a distance, is actually taught, killing poor, harmless devils who have families to support, killing them without even the pretext of the law.

It is stupefying that the people do not rise up in arms against the governments. What difference is there between monarchies and republics? It is stupefying that society does not revolt as a unit at the very sound of the word war.

“Alas! we shall never be free from oppression of the hateful, hideous customs, the criminal prejudices, and the ferocious impulses of our barbarous ancestors, for we are beasts; and beasts we shall remain, moved by our instincts and susceptible of no improvement.

and then the views of Emile Zola on war

“I look upon war as a fatal necessity which seems to us indispensable because of its close connection with human nature and all creation. Would that it might be postponed as long as possible! Nevertheless a time will come when we shall be forced to fight. At this moment I am regarding the subject from the universal standpoint, and am not hinting at our unfriendly relations with Germany, which are but a trifling incident in the world’s history. I affirm that war is useful and necessary, since it is one of the conditions of human existence. The fighting instinct is to be found not only among the different tribes and peoples, but in domestic and private life as well. It is one of the chief elements of progress, and every advancing step taken by mankind up to the present time has been accompanied by bloodshed.

“Men have talked, and still do talk, of disarmament; and yet disarmament is utterly impossible, for even though it were possible, we should be compelled to renounce it. It is only an armed nation that can be powerful and great. I believe that a general disarmament would be followed by a moral degradation, assuming the form of a widespread effeminacy which would impede the progress of humanity. Warlike nations have always been vigorous. The military art has contributed to the development of other arts. History shows us this. In Athens and Rome, for instance, commerce, industry, and literature reached their highest development when these cities ruled the world by the force of arms. And nearer to our own time we found an example in the reign of Louis XIV. The wars of the great king, so far from impeding the advance of arts and sciences, seemed rather to promote and to favor their progress.”

Is the cause of peace so lost? Should those advocates of pacifism shut it and get something worthwhile, like selling ammunition, to do?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

43 thoughts on “On war

  1. tildeb says:

    This excellent video demonstrating by graphics what we’re actually talking about when wondering about the state of peace vs war is worthwhile because if, like me, you assume peace is fleeting, you can now better grasp just of peaceful the world as a singular entity has been in our lives (do we really understand how historically peaceful the world really is?). This allows us to better understand why pacifism itself is not a ‘solution’ to war when compared to how the world really works: peace can be achieved as a byproduct of an equal willingness to maintain mutual interests.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. renudepride says:

    The insatiable greed of the human species will forever condemn us to suffer the trials of war. Humanity refuses to accept and embrace the concepts of patience, tolerance and understanding so it is doomed to endure the follies of war and the price of believing the falsehoods of the corrupt and deceitful leaderships who promote such untruths. The sad reality is that we all know the difference between right and wrong but we fail/neglect to hold ourselves accountable as each one of us refuses to acknowledge that the rules are applicable to ourselves as well as everyone else.

    Good post, my Kenyan brother! You must have had a very relaxing weekend as you have the energy to present such a complex idea on a Monday morning! Naked hugs!

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Do you want to go war with your neighbor or Canadians or Mexicans? I don’t think so. The general population I guess don’t want war. The governments force you to pay tax to keep the armies to put you in check should you and others have ideas to oppose it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • renudepride says:

        True. But the governments are elected by the people. Until they are better informed and served, there will be war. Naked hugs, my friend!

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        • makagutu says:

          The people have been convinced without the government they are lost, they can’t do otherwise and so they pay taxes to help keep the military in place which exists in turn to ensure they tow the line

          Liked by 1 person

          • tildeb says:

            But isn’t it the nature of people to congregate into groups, to offer and seek group leadership? You make it sound as if this is imposed from above rather than built from below, that people are being fooled into this model and then extrapolate that there is some great hoax being perpetrated by ‘government’ to create a military to keep the hoax going.

            I think you have it backwards and then but applied conspiracy thinking to support your assumption about the role of the military.

            I see people gravitating to group memberships of all kinds – and seeking to advance the welfare of that group – beginning with the family and extending outwards into what we call ‘politics’. I see nothing nefarious in this tendency because people are social animals and do organize into stratified levels within those groups. I also think the quality and capabilities of various ‘leaders’ waxes and wanes. It is the specialization of establishing order and cohesion of the group for functioning that produces a level of enforcers and so it is really important to include checks and balances on all leadership offices, including rule enforcement like the police and military, to avoid power imbalances. And this process – for it is a process and not a state of being – is always under tension, always being tested, always a legitimate concern for the body politic. And so we create rules around how we do this and this includes a means to uphold them.

            To vilify any branch of group membership like those who are tasked to uphold the rules I think is extraordinarily naive and incredibly dangerous to the welfare of the body politic. Where there is a vacuum of enforcement, we always find a niche for sociopaths to thrive, and a kind of mob rule taking place, which is the necessary condition for the emergence of a strongman that offers ‘peace’ amidst the graft and corruption and self-interest to which mob leaders seem without exception to be susceptible and try to sustain for their own interests.. The way around this is to have an institutionalized enforcement branch that also has their own fixed rules to the exercise of their power and enforced by institutionalized checks and balances. This includes the police and military. To change the system of rule enforcement for each country, for each body politic, means having to change the institutionalized framework in which these stratified group members must operate. And that’s a political issue.

            If people did as you suggested and walked away from all rule enforcement Institutions, you would not gain peace. You would gain tyranny. You would invite the vacuum, invite the strongman, invite exactly that which you are trying to get rid of. That’s why I think it is backwards thinking.

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          • makagutu says:

            It is interesting you bring up conspiracy theories. No, that, luckily is not my trade. It is true it is the nature of humans to organize themselves into groups. All military organizations has always been first for external aggression then to maintain the governments. Every time there is a revolution, the leaders have been replaced by worse leaders.
            The police exist not necessarily to protect you from your neighbor. The order you talk of being maintained is one of abuse, where you pay to have some losers decide how to spend your money and wherever they are motivated to, draft you into the military to help solve quarrels you have no idea how they came about

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          • tildeb says:

            The Tolstoy quote refers to a time and place where serfdom was the system, an ownership of people by heredity (this form of heredity was what Jefferson argued against and expressed in the famous and widely misunderstood phrase, “All men are created equal.”. To change the use of such human chattel did not come about by people refusing to be drafted into the military; it came about by an institutional change in political authority. This, too, was necessarily a military event.

            If you want peace, then this will come about not by vilifying the military but advocating institutional change to rectify the checks and balances of power that favour some form of privilege… privilege often exacerbated by the use of force and violence to uphold it. The military when used this way is a symptom and not a cause. To fix the cause means going after its source and not applying band-aid solutions to this one symptom.

            Here in Canada, the volunteer military under oath to the Crown is the primary institution that guarantees the protection from privilege of the Constitution. From the Constitution comes the various legislatures, which makes laws subject to Crown review in a separate House from the People’s House. In turn, The Crown must respect our version of the Bill of Rights concerning the rights and freedoms of each citizen (who form the military). It is from this Charter that comes the respect for the rule of law. It is from the rule of law that comes the courts and its officers including the police. Each part, each governing institution, is beholden to the next, which offers a means to have checks and balances on any one part of it. The Crown, for example, can say, “No” to the formation of a duly elected government, and this will be backed by the military. But there is a time limit the Crown must adhere to and a civilian government must be formed from then grouping of other duly elected representatives. So it may appear certain institutions have power but always these powers are constrained by other institutions. And supreme is the Crown but only by means of the civilian military that supports the Constitution!

            To walk away from the military institution and follow Tolstoy’s advice is to break the chain of legitimate political authority – an authority predicated on Peace, Order, and Good Governance. In other words you can’t have peace, order, and good governance without directly supporting one’s fellow citizens in the institutional form called the military. In Canada’s case, the military is the Good Guy. They are the guarantors of our rights and freedoms… and they are us.

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          • makagutu says:

            Are you suggesting we no longer have military schools? Or which part of the quote have you a problem with?
            Tolstoy wrote years after those words of Jefferson had been spoken and I don’t think his assessment of the state of the world then was way off.
            The tribes had a standing army or whatever they called mainly for aggression. The colonial administration set up police force mainly to protect the occupying settlers. You have not shown anywhere in your argument that the military is not used to keep the governments in place and one of the main reasons you would not try to overthrow the government is fear of the armed forces.
            You have been fed the line, like in 1984 where war is peace, that the military are the guarantors of our freedoms.

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          • renudepride says:

            The ignorant masses! 🙂

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      • basenjibrian says:

        Wandering human bands which were the most egalitarian and least state-ridden social structure in history still engaged in horrific bouts of violence.

        I think the American population at least is a bloodthirsty one that loves war. We always have. I imagine there are many Trumpalos eager to go to war against the “invading” dusky Mexican Hordes. On the frontier in Texas and Arizona, there are self-appointed volunteer militias that have formed to do just that.

        Is it the fault of the Congolese “government” that 2-3 million people died in Congo? Even without a strong government, the Congolese people and their neighbors certainly seemed willing to form militias, corporate security patrols, drug gangs, tribal armies, criminal gangs, and just plain bandits to create one of the most violent and bloody histories of recent Africa. It is still going on!

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        • makagutu says:

          I alluded to militias in one response to tildeb. Humans have always done violence to one another without a doubt. The question we are posing is whether there is possibility of universal peace?

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  3. Violet says:

    Sadly, I think disarmament and peace will never happen in this world…ultimately it’s survival of the fittest/strongest/most adaptable for all creatures on this earth. Though the religious say jeebus will bring peace when he comes again, he’ll only achieve it by throwing the majority of us in hell….now there’s a solution, burn your enemies for eternity. So much for the lion lying down with the lamb. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      I don’t see disarmament working any time. No government would want its citizens thinking they can remove it at any time

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      • basenjibrian says:

        I am repeating myself, but it is not only or primarily an issue of “governments”. Humans were extremely violent before formal states existed. Some sociologists argue that a state-ridden society is overall less violent than the libertarian/anarchist paradise we seem to be yearning for here.

        Just like I don’t really blame “religion” for anything necessarily. Religion is not some outside force acting on humanity. It is generated by human societies and influences us from within.

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        • makagutu says:

          You are allowed to repeat yourself here.
          It may be true that states, because they have monopoly on violence, are more peaceful than small bands

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  4. “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” INGSOC
    “I encourage you all to go shopping more.” G. W. Bush
    Mwahahaha👾👽🖖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. basenjibrian says:

    http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Ordo_Rosarius_Equilibrio:A_Man_Without_War_Is_A_Man_Without_Peace

    Disturbing Swedish dark folk band which I follow avidly despite my standard “effeminate” liberal belief system.

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  6. shelldigger says:

    The line by Jack Nicholson in the Mars Attacks movie (I love that movie) popped into my head.

    “Why can’t we all just get along?” The Martians promptly shrank him with a shrink ray thingy and stepped on him.

    There is a lesson there somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tildeb says:

    … and then ask ourselves, “If the world is more peaceful today, what role – positive or negative – has the military played in this trend?”

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    • makagutu says:

      Negative
      Governments are spending so much on military complexes instead of health or education.
      There is only a semblance of peace. Hostilities are only checked because there are fools left and right ready to die on the behest of their commanders

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      • tildeb says:

        Doesn’t it require at least a ‘semblance of peace’ to build and maintain the infrastructure for healthcare facilities and education? Or do you have greater trust is local gangs? Perhaps local gangs wouldn’t be a problem because en mass they would turn to creating farming co-ops once the military was disbanded and the weapons turned into ploughshares.

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        • makagutu says:

          It is not an either the government or local gangs. This is to pretend those in government are there because they are virtuous men and women, something you’d not accept.

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          • basenjibrian says:

            But human beings are a mix of virtuous and selfish. I agree with tileb with important caveats: States enable horrible things. A local gang could never have created a Manhattan Project and bombed Nagasaki.

            Still…on the whole, state societies are more peaceful societies than the anarchist dream prominent in this thread. Look at levels of violence in pre-modern tribal societies????

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          • basenjibrian says:

            In looking at this comment again, I think I need to more vigorously disagree. In many cases during modern times, it IS either the government or local gangs. Now, government incompetence can create the conditions where local gangs thrive (BRAZIL!) but collapse of the State and its armies does not lead to peace. Especially given the reality that there are always outside governments who will meddle. The Congo, for example. The infighting is exacerbated by interference from Rwanda and Uganda and probable Western intelligence services.

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    • basenjibrian says:

      tildeb:

      You should start blogging again (enjoyed the essay on ISIS)

      Like

  8. Really enjoying your Tolstoy series!
    Despite the sentiments shared here, I do agree with Emile- war is always inevitable. We might not need it, just as we might not need hate, or greed, but it’s there, it’s part of the human condition. You might take away our governments, cities, currencies, even borders, but people will still fight- they’ll quibble and kill each other…come together in groups and terrorize other people. The solution would be to take away that part of us, a part of most of us at least, that thrives on strife and inflicting pain upon others.
    The rule of law was basically set upon the terms of mutual benefits; of protecting ourselves from each other. And may be yes the same people we tried to protect ourselves from used federal power to acquire bigger guns and hurt even more people…it’s all part of the human condition, Makagutu.
    I don’t know if I’m making any sense here though 🙂 but I guess my point is this: we fight because we’re humans, and war is what humans do.

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  9. This is a topic that is near to my heart…Best wishes! Exactly where arre youyr conttact details though?

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