Apr 8, 2010

"THEN, SIR, WE WILL GIVE THEM THE BAYONET!"



An 87-word introduction
I would like today to address the absurdity and blind uselessness of that human practice called war. I know it is a way too usual topic, but even though I think I can say something new about it, it must be pointed out that repeating something that is true has nothing to do with the concept of "platitude" and with all the awful nuances that this term evokes. There is nothing wrong in risking to bore people with principles if these are aknowledged in theory but forgotten in practice. 


Positives of war. No kidding
First off, the positives of war. There are no positives in war. That's because a war can be deemed as necessary only when it can prevent a war of larger scale from happening. And you know that one war is better than another by considering the craziness of the political leader or group you are fighting against, and the distorsions of the ideas fueling their actions. Maybe it is not entirely accurate, but that's just the difficulty of justifying war. Maybe an example can better illustrate the point: if the "pacifist" wings had stepped off during the rise of Hitler destructive power in the Thirties, when he was allowed by the political inertia of England and France to expand in Austria and Czechoslovakia, we wouldn't have had a second world war and the Holocaust. If a war is good only insofar as it serves the purpose of avoiding war, then it stands to reason that war as a concept cannot be intrinsically good. It's the principle of the vaccine: a little weakened dose of a viral agent can prevent the illness related to that agent, but that is a far cry from being able to claim that the virus in question is a good thing. 


Negatives ahoy!
Now, on to the negatives of war, and in this respect there is a little more to say. I will limit my analysis to two - less obvious - questions:

1) war per se is useless. Japan has succeeded in becoming the second most powerful country in the world, shortly after the end of the second world conflict. The same can be said for Germany related to Europe. War isn't even justifiable by its most declared purpose: to define a position of dominance for the winning nation.
2) the recurrence of warfare proves stupidity to be an indelible trait of the human species as a whole, and in that it's every single time a mortal blow to the ideas of progress and human superiority over the other creatures. Imagine gorillas pounding the muscles of its chest to impress the enemy beast who invades their territory, and you are not far from imagining sovereign states doing the arms race.


"Nature does not make jumps"
If the theory of evolution is true, then humanity is doomed. Why is that? "Natura non facit saltus" (latin for "nature does not make jumps"), wrote Leibniz, and the model of modern man nature presents us with doesn't leave much hope for the representation of us as angels in a possible future. And if it's evident that the concept of evolution has to be understood as mere progress in technical rationality, supervised by that "Genius of the species" (Schopenhauer) whose concern is the proliferation of the species over the survival of the individual, then the only forecastable fate is the self-destruction of mankind. Indeed, one thing the evolution didn't equip us with, is the possibility to conceive the destiny of the individual as foundation of the destiny of the species. What man won't ever be capable of, is to determine the line beyond which the killing of (groups of) individuals becomes the killing of the species. How can man possibly acquire that skill before it's too late? Maybe the process of auto-termination has already begun without us even realizing it. Maybe it was the technology applied to mass-extermination in the Nazi's concentration camps. Indeed, it doesn't have to happen via smart bomb.

Apparently, the Genius' craft, nowhere close to God's omniscient power, couldn't allow him to factor in human morality, or, to say it properly, the lack thereof.


"Michelangelesque man slayed by a napalm bomb"

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