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The world miltary topic got me thinking that we haven't really talked much about war in ED, which is odd. I haven't brought up a topic in here for ages (it's been pretty slim all round actually) so how about this:
Is war human nature?
I don't think it is. Sometimes you have to go to war for self-defence, so in some cases the defender must fight (unless they are suicidal) but the agressor always has the option of not attacking in the first place. People can choose not to fight, we ALWAYS have the choice.
I don't believe that humans are aggressive and greedy by nature or instinct or anything like that, and in fact I think people who spread this fallacy are the very cause of war and should be severely punished. Saying we are a violent species gives people an excuse to be violent. They think "oh we can't help it, it's human nature." Quite frankly I think that's bollocks, and evil bollocks to boot.
Virtually everything about humans is learnt I reckon, and I think children could easily be taught that war is evil and never justified. We could easily make it taboo so that anyone who suggested it was shunned by everyone else. All we would have to do is exercise some discipline and brainwash our kids into hating violence the same way we (hopefully) teach them to hate prejudice, slavery and torture.
For example, in the past it was assumed by everyone that women were inferior to men. One day after alot of hard work from pioneering feminists, society as a whole woke up to the idea that this was absurd. Everyone always knew this was a lie, it was obvious to every married man (if he was honest with himself) that his wife was no stupider than he, but society made people blind to the truth. Of course change is a slow process, but nowadays if a man says that women (or black people or whatever) are inherently inferior he is regarded at best as a kook. To each successive generation of children it is more and more obvious that the equality of the sexes is self evident. Eventually it will be so obvious that to question it will elicit disgust and fear and anyone who does so will be considered insane.
What I think is that we could do the same with war. It's not natural and could be overcome, and must be if we are to truly call ourselves civilized. I mean some cultures teach cannibalism and marry adults with children, you can't say that's human nature, though it seems so to the people who come from those culture. I think war is the same sort of thing.
It would take a while, but eventually we should get to the stage where anyone who suggests war as the solution to a problem is regarded with horror as an evil pervert. Perhaps it's already begun, and the fact that I can concieve of war being an unnatural perversion of human society rather than being an integral part of human nature means that war is doomed. I hope so.
What does everyone think of my wierd idea? In order for it to work properly we need globalization, but that seems pretty much inevitable anyway based on the current capitalistic model of world economics. Cultures are becoming more and more interchangeable, albeit slowly.
Last edited by Kahoolin; February 3rd, 2006 at 03:26.
Why are we playing wargames?
I don't know, but I have an idea..
The human psyche, particularly the male one, is the product of thousands of years of cultural evolution, but it's still, fundamentally, the same animal it was millions of years ago. We're a hierachical social creature, and males have a tendancy to be stronger than females. Consequentially, we have a great deal of neurological programming related to that subject.. Stronger males are more attractive, because stronger males can defend their mates, and produce stronger children. We all want our genetics to survive to the next generation. That is, ultimately, our purpose on this earth.. Consequentially, we need to prove ourselves bigger, stronger and tougher than our rivals, and to demonstrate that we can protect a family. To this end, we fight.
And we've kept fighting for thousands and thousands of years. Driven, always, by the same urge, to demonstrate to the world that we're big, and strong and worthwhile as mates. Instead of individuals, we've externalised our combat into ideas about groups and nationhood.. But the instinct is the same. We're protecting our females, because otherwise that other male, the one we're fighting, is going to make babies with them and pass on his genetics. We don't want that.. We want our babies there instead.
Now we've become very, very good at fighting. It's bought out the best in us, and led to some of the crowning achievements of our society (Remember the stone age? You're living in the Atomic Age, because someone wanted to build a bigger bomb.) The trouble is, we're too good at it now. War, which was always our favourite 'testing ground', is too dangerous for us (I mean real war, the kind in which millions of people die.) Hence, we find other ways to externalize our urges. We make computer games, and strategy games, to act out our fantasies in our heads. Or we play sports, or better still, become sports hooligans. Some of us even turn to crime and create gangs and violent identities for ourselves in an effort to recreate what we've lost.
So yeah, we're the male of the species. We've served our purpose, kept the race alive throughout the difficult moments. But now we can't do that any more.. So we'll sit around, watch the football, play some half life 2 or some warhammer, and imagine deep in our minds that we're still big strong soldiers, instead of unfortunate creatures with a load of obsolete instincts which modern society doesn't want us to indulge.
Whether we should be allowed to indulge them is an issue for another discussion, perhaps. But yeah, I think they're there.
Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; February 3rd, 2006 at 05:37.
Thanks for that well written post. I WAS actually trying to bring up the question of whether or not we should be allowed to indulge them, and my opinion is a resounding no, as I have said above. I think indulging in war is a deplorable wallowing in our baser instincts, and blaming our nature for war is a hideous excuse. Proxies such as wargames and sports are on the other hand desirable. I want acting on the urge to be considered evil, not having the urge. That would just cause more problems.Originally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis
Just because we have a genetically in-built desire to do something doesn't mean we should do it, that is inhuman. The power of humanity is that we can become aware of when our desiresare manipulating us and choose to ignore them. Humans can learn to control their flight or fight response, through for example military training. We can control our urge to eat meat. Males control their urges to grab at attractive females and try to mate with them. Many things are in our power, and I think one of them is controlling our urge to fight.
If we agree that it is possible to control this urge to conflict, then obviousy the only course of action is to do so. To do otherwise is to be a monster, like a rapist or a child molestor. It is the idea that it's impossible to control our "instincts" that justifies war, but that argument is clearly poor as I have just pointed out with the above examples. I don't think conflict is an irresistable need. IMHO it's merely a desire we have due to our evolution.
Societies in the past have allowed this desire for conflict full reign, but I think it's time we grew out of it. What I am arguing is that to be aggressive should be regarded as NEVER justified. Ever. No matter what. And while it may be inevitable that some perverts will continue to be aggressive on an individual level, it is not inevitable that groups behave this way.
Last edited by Kahoolin; February 3rd, 2006 at 06:10.
But I disagree.. Not with the vast majority of what you're saying, but that we're not inclined towards war by nature. As far as I'm concerned, it's what we were built for, it's the fundamental reason for our existence, and while this doesn't mean we can't control it, you can't simply remove that reason without serious side effects.
I think there are only a few things which, ultimately, do motivate humans at all. You could ask yourself why we bothered to come this far, to expand across the entire world, and to achieve the miraculous achievements we have. After all, the people who made those achievements are mostly rotting away underground now. One day, regardless of what we achieve, we'll be doing the same.
What could motivate us in light of this?
I think, ultimately, we have a very simple biological imperative, which is to reproduce and grow. Prolonging our existence is good too, but it can be overidden in favour of reproduction, as history has demonstrated many times. To reproduce, we must fight, therefore, we fight.
The trouble is that, in conflict with this deep internal drive, we're also intelligent beings. As you say, we have (or think we have) some measure of control over ourselves. But I don't think some things can ever be controlled.. Beneath our exterior, we'll still be animals, motivated and driven by a very primitive set of instincts. As you say, we can modulate them, for example, by not clubbing people over the head and dragging their wives or girlfriends back to our cave by their hair, but that doesn't mean we don't have the drive to do that, we just express it differently.
So I don't think the answer is in creating a pathological aversion to violence (brave new world style.) Even if you could do that, I think it would merely create a deeply dysfunctional being, totally unable to deal with its inner urges, and utterly useless to the species. The question is, can a way be found to accomodate these drives safely, within the boundries of what society allows. I think the answer is yes, and we've already begun.. We make violent movies, violent games, pornography and so forth so that we can direct our drives away from society, in a way which causes less harm to everyone.
It's healthy, natural and should be encouraged, I think. The male psyche doesn't need to be caged, neither would it be helpful to do so, it merely needs to find a way to accomodate itself into modern society. I have no doubt, eventually, it will. Beings who are secure in their capacity to compete no longer have the need to do so, and consequentially, the inbuilt urge towards violence is abated.
As for stopping war altogether, I don't think it's possible short of an 'Equilibrium' style homogenization and 'peace through power' approach, which is probably no more desirable. But as war becomes more dangerous, I think it will naturally become rarer for us.. as we learn to invest our drives and emotions elsewhere. If our reproduction is secure, after all, there's no need to saccrifice our lives for it.
The other option, perhaps, is a radical feminist one.. Asking ourselves why the hell we need to make babies in the first place? Who cares about the species, or what happens after we die. We're individuals, and we're perfectly able to saccrifice the entire race to ourselves.
Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; February 3rd, 2006 at 21:42.
ok so i had this idea a week ago, on a business idea that i could probably make some money off of.
basically it's this, i employ people who are on the verge of committing suicide and i sell them out to various organizations that are in need of vessels to delivery suicide bombings. just a wasted resource being turned into a supply for something very in-demand these days.
i mean they plan on killing themselves anyways, might as well add in the intentions of a third party as well as a means in which to kill yourself... and possibly a few to many others who for all we know are just as miserable as you are, and your death could help shape the practices of society...
it's a fool-proof business plan.
My belief is that war, and indeed all human conflict comes from fear. And fear comes from the natural instinct for survival.
The best way I can think to illustrate this point is this....
They're talking a lot about the world's oil reserves running out, so let's imagine that this has happened. Farming equipment, trucks and planes for transport would all stop working. In other words, very soon there would be no food at your local supermarket, no food at fast food restaurants, no food at fruit shops or butchers. There would suddenly be more people than there is food to support, and certainly nothing resembling arable land nearby if you live in a city like myself.
So in this scenario, how long do you honestly think it would be before people started breaking into eachothers houses and killing eachother for food? I can tell you it wouldn't be bloody long. People wouldn't just sit in their houses and starve, peaceful suburban streets would become warzones as people fight over the few remaining resources in order to satisfy their natural instinct to survive.
So in answer to the question... Yes I believe it is not only human nature, but a law of nature itself that once a species has become so overpopulated that it cannot support itself, that its numbers will dwindle through starvation and infighting until it once again is at a size than can be supported by its immediate habitat.
I also believe that war is a direct result of this. We can already tell subconsciously that there are more people on the surrounding land than there ought to be. So we feel this overpowering need to take other land and resources. To quell this fear of being left without enough of the basics to survive.
This is also why I believe that America's war in Iraq is mostly to do with oil and very little to do with terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.... but that's a discussion for another thread.
"You challenge me knowing that I am Xiahou Dun!?"
i think history points to the answer to this question being a big fat yes, unfortunately. As long as humans have had 'society' and a way of recording events there is evidence of war. Civilisations from vastly disparate backgrounds out of touch with each other developed warrior castes. I think what is interesting from a human perspective is that we feel a need to ritualise war, through tradition and pagentry- something that still goes on today.
In the natural world lots of species (particularly primates) fight 'wars' over territory, resources, breeding etc. So i think it is certainly natural, but that isnt meant to be an excuse- its natural to crap on the floor but most of us dont do it. Our species have apparently evolved to such a level that we can actually leave the earth and travel in space, surely we should be able to overcome our primal urges and think of better solutions than killing each other? maybe...
PLAN CLAN MAN!!
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man- S. Johnson
The problem is that you're viewing war as an end. It's not. War, as all conflict, is a means to an end. So your question should be "Is is human nature to consider war a valid means?"
And yes, it is. Largely because of the male programming toward physical contest, but also because of the female urge for defense. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but a natural way to have a safe nation is to have a powerful nation. Both primal human urges guide us toward expansion of territory.
In addition, a large number of wars are retalitory. Think of Operation: Desert Storm. The conflict was started by a mentally unbalanced person going to extremes (war) to achieve a goal (oil). The United States responded with force to stop him and keep peace. Despite what others may tell you, the US does in fact operate as a peacekeeping force and the concept is generally effective.
So is war a natural reaction to certain stimuli? Yes. It remains a valid means of protecting the stauts quo and unbalanced individuals will always go to extremes on whatever scale. So yes. War is a natural part of the human psyche, and it's not just the testosterone.
Quote for probably forever 'cause it rocks:
"Slaughter them, men, and bring me their hats."
Interesting thread. Now, I have done a bit of reasearch on this one, (I opened my mouth at the wrong time during a military lecture). The results I came up with have been hinted at here, but, no one has out right said it. Humanity is not built for war, it is built for REPRODUCTION. Now, that being said, if you want to reproduce, you want the best mate, even if they aren't yours. This leads to fighting over a mate. So, you have the best mate(pluralise as needed), well, now, you have so many progeny that you need more space. Now, you're fighting for land. Look at this, now you need more resources. See the cycle. It all started with reproduction and base urges. For the most part we are past this, BUT, there always seems to be some short squinty guy with a bad mustache or some taller chubby guy with a bad beret. Some day, we may get to the point where these guys aren't being listened to and aren't able to start wars, but, we're not there yet.
A little pain never hurt anyone - Larry