No. War is a social, cultural construct invented (and revised over time) by men to suit their purposes. (BTW, more civilians than soldiers die in modern wars.) Wars are addictive to certain societies with deep trauma or with embedded ideals of Exceptionalism + Religion. (Sadly, organized religion has contributed to war.) I subscribe to the "Lysistrata" view of how to stop wars -- women simply stop having sex with their men until the war stops.
James Taylor Ranney
I have just finished a book called "Securing Lasting Peace." Needless to say, my answer to your Q is in the affirmative. I have traced the origins of my basic idea back to British legal philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Also, over time, it has been adopted or proposed by no less than five American presidents--Ulysses S. Grant, TR, Wm Howard Taft, Ike, and JFK. And, it is virtually unknown in modern discourse, for the past fifty years. I can send you a two-page synopsis and/or the whole book. Just email me at email@example.com. Tel: 215-849-9165 (avail. for interview).
The radio broadcast from the Brian Lehrer Show asks listeners the question “is war inevitable”. Most of the people who had called to respond had answered yes. I believe war is inevitable because there will always be people who do not agree with each other. In the beginning they may try to sort out their differences and work out a solution, and this would only happen if the opposing person was not strong willed, but continuing a relationship where beliefs or ideas are not compatible, whether it is for business or political reasons, will in the end result in resentment or hatred. It does not matter how large or small the group of people who oppose the idea are, as long as there is a passionate resentment towards the idea, there will be opposition. The more forceful the idea the more the opposition will be against it. In extreme cases innocent people will be harmed or killed in order to present to the public that they do not agree or they want the public to agree with them. In a society where people want to remain equal in the eye of the public but be left alone to their own ideals and belief it would be impossible for everyone to comingle and become truly equal in thought and belief.
Until I listened to John Horgan, I assumed war was part of our nature. However, now I wonder if it is instead part of a greater distribution system. He mentions war first appeared in Mesopotamia. Perhaps prior, we had skirmishes amongst houses, but until humanity expanded war was not a functional option. Simply strategically impossible to search out the unknown for the sole purpose of battle. Similar to the assumption that life on other planets are peaceful. Well, maybe, until we want their resources or they want ours. That can extend to influence and control. Where will we determine their planetary influence ends and ours begins?
In summation, I have come to think that John Horgan has a valid point. War is not in our genes. But perhaps it is a distribution system that we have too easily adopted. It so seamlessly has a circular relationship with our genetic predisposition to paranoia. Perhaps it is difficult if not impossible to roll it back once those characteristics take hold in a civilization.
Yes, war is inevitable. War is just a waste of time and money. Why can't they settle their differences !
Like Howard Zinn has said, we need to understand the immorality and inhumanity of war. We need to understand that war causes many more problems that it solves. That it prevents us from working together to solve the very real problems of our world such as pollution, homelessness and hunger. War is a very poor solution that marginalizes and hurts mostly innocent civilians and children.
So what can we do to put an end to war? We need to bring up our children to share with everyone and to be noncompetitive. For our compassionate loving nature to develop we need to acknowledge that we are mammals and as infants, we need the undivided loving attention from competetant mothers and unlimited breastfeeding for at least 2 years. We need to implement what the most peaceful societies on earth have done. What I have shared are some of the practices of these societies. We need really seriously look at what is known about peaceful societies of the past and present and implement their practices.
I have a dream...and I believe peace is totally possible.
On this July 4 as we celebrate the “bombs bursting in air,” I listened to the re-broadcast of the last “End of War” show (at the Greene Space) and read Brian’s Guardian US essay. I love the essay and am very grateful to the BLS for taking on this topic.
But while I applauded Horgan and Kucinish, some of the comments at the NY event and most of those from the Guardian site filled me with dismay. So many people are not only pessimistic about ending war but actively defend its continued usefulness.
Violence is the central obstacle to the progress of human civilization. If we can’t solve it, we can’t move forward. Those who don’t believe we have made progress from barbarism – despite the persistence of slavery, injustice, and venality of all kinds and despite the fact that not all places in the world have progressed at the same rate – should read a bit about life for average and poor people in the middle ages or ancient Rome.
Not all violence is the same, but when violence permeates culture, war is inevitable because it is permissible and it is taught. That is a central premise. We learn to hate and fear, we learn to fight with sticks and guns and bombs, we learn to attack people who are different or threatening. Teach peace and it becomes possible.
Why do we go to war? In no particular order: 1) power and territory, that is, imperialism; 2) economics, that is, access to and profits from resources like water and oil and profits directly from war itself, like weapons and equipment sales; 3) revenge, that is, to avenge a perceived insult or defeat; and 4) social oppression and tyranny.
What justifications are we sold? Lies and propaganda about threats or losses, dehumanization and scapegoating of others, myths of national and personal glory and riches.
It all comes down to whether we believe human beings can learn. I believe it was Dennis Kucinich who said you have to believe in the human capacity for social evolution.
I do. We learned to wage war, and we can unlearn it. We can change how we think and how we act. That is what is so extraordinary about human beings. We can make choices about how to shape our culture. We do not just travel round and round the same course. We are, as Isaiah Berlin pointed out in “The Crooked Timber of Humanity,” perfectible and, despite cultural, nationalist, and tribal allegiances, “we inhabit one common moral world.”
Sooner or later, if we do not blow up the planet, we will have to agree that it cannot include war.
No, war does not have to be inevitable. I agree with Horgan that war is not an innate biological function, rather an invention. My belief, that war is a social invention, is based upon the array of unpleasant emotions associated with the competition for human needs on a planet with finite resources. But as Horgan and Steven Pinker and others have noted, as our civilization evolves, we have become enlightened to ways in which we can organize our society so that competition need not involve lethal human interaction. As our civilization grows more enlightened to methods of peaceful organization and institutionalization war will continue to decline.
When enough people realize that violence is not the route to peace, on a personal level as well as a political level, then we will have reached the tipping point. and that time is coming, i do believe.
Wars are unavoidable.
So 40% of New Yorkers (?) think that war is avoidable.
Hmmm, cretinism is one of the reasons wars start. It's time to leave this place and run, run, run - without wondering whether it's air or water.
I haven't heard anyone talk about how war benefits us. Many comments present a choice between war and peace. I think that's false.
Would the citizens of the United States support abolishing war if it meant higher fuel prices? I don't think so.
I do not think we will abolish war. At the end of the day, "I" care more about my life and my pocketbook than some nameless, faceless soul in a country I've never visited.
Wars won't end until we hold our leaders accountable for their actions at a world court level. There should be consequences for poor decisions at the top. Misguided leaders (such as what we've experienced under the Bush Administration) should be tried and penalized for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
War is highly profitable for some people. When it is impossible to profit from it, it will cease.
Today's responses to the "question" seem anecdotal to me; i.e. love for your children, fighting in a war, etc..
War is inevitable for a simple reason which is that..
Mankind does not change. People may
change, but mankind as a whole does not.
War has to be considered within the entire human paradigm of threat diminishment and eradication. Currently, we identify a threat and then create an entity who's stated objective or apparent function is to diminish or eradicate that threat. The problem is that all biological entities have as their primary concern survival and flourishment so that any entity created to diminish or eradicate a threat will contravene their primary concern as they suceed in acheiving their stated objective or apparent function of diminishing or eradicating a threat in that they will diminish or eradicate their own need to exist in direct ratio to their success in diminishing or eradicating the threat. Conversely, they will satisfy their primary concern of survival and flourishment in direct ratio to their failure to acheive their stated objective or apparent function in that as they fail in their stated objective or apparent function and the threat expands and flourishes then their need to exist will also expand and flourish. This dynamic is profoundly exacerbated if the entity is for-profit.
No, war is not inevitable.
The Rust Family
We just listened to your conversation with Professor Horgan. We think that people can stop war. We can start now, but the whole process will take a long time. But boy would it be worth it.
Connor (age 8), Liam (also age 8) and Colin (their Dad)
Conflict yes, War as we have experienced it in the past 4 to 5 thousand years, no. In particular, as more women become political leaders.
War is not inevitable, but the end of war is highly improbable. We domesticated primates are not really very intelligent as a group. Imagine how stupid we all are individually and how we have to learn everything the hard way, and yet we are the ones who are thinking about this when most of us aren't. I can't imagine whether our planet can survive what we will have to go through as a species before we pull together for our own survival.
I suggest changing the minimum recruitment age to 45, since I find that the biblical paradigm of "the sacrifice of Isaac", the sacrifice of our young, has been dominating our collective imagination for far too long. Sending the young to battle became another form of entertainment, a sports event, evidenced e.g. on how easy was beating the drums of war on the recent Iran debacle.
Mature adults in charge of the decision making to war, should be ready to bear the consequences on their skin, and the costs associated with leaving a carrier and household on hold.