6.22.2005

"people die in war"

Kyle sent this excellent piece by Anthony Gregory, at the Lew Rockwell site.

Gregory calls out the hypocrisy that demands a pound of flesh - anybody's flesh - in retribution for American lives, while "foreign" lives are shrugged off as expendable.
Before long in any discussion with an apologist for the warfare state one will hear this simple rejoinder to all talk of the devastation, calamity, and bloodshed wrought by the latest military intervention: "Well, yes, people die in war."

It is spoken as though it should shut off all concern for the innocent life expended in war's barbaric cruelty. The mere fact that "people die in war" is supposed to make us all realize that we have been utterly unrealistic and juvenile in denouncing or even mentioning the deaths in war. The proponents of war speak as though all costs in human life have already been stipulated and thoroughly considered, and it would be a waste of time for us ever to mention the dead again. Indeed, only a childish mind would have brought it up in the first place. We all know that people die in war.
It's very good, well worth your time. In closing, Gregory reminds us, "People die in war. They are killed. The greater peace that is promised never comes, the greater freedom guaranteed is never delivered..." Read more here.

4 comments:

deang said...

Such an incisive article. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. It almost seems that, to the people mouthing the "people die in war, y'know; war isn't pretty, y'know; war is hell, y'know" types of dismissals, to such people war is like an inevitable weather pattern, as if it happens beyond human control the way a thunderstorm does. I've gotten a rise out of a few such people by pointing out that war, with its mass slaughter and destruction, is always the result of the conscious decisions of a small group of humans and is not inevitable, unalterable, or unstoppable, not least because those who initiated it could easily decide to stop it at any point. It would also not be beyond the realm of the possible for people in the US to decide to end genocidal weapons research programs in universities and the like.

Anonymous said...

L-girl on iPAQ:

So, so true. I just started this book "Origins Reconsidered" by Richard Leakey (see "what i'm reading" below, I can't link to it w/ my handheld). In the introduction Leakey says that some anthropologists once claimed to have found "evidence" of early humans' propensity for violence and conflict, and how that news was eagerly embraced - because it lets us off the hook. War is on our genes, we can't help it.

BUT the supposed fossil evidence was misinterpreted. Leakey found much more evidence for cooperation among early humans (highly necessary for survival). And that to seek to understand war without a cultural and material context is a false construct.

People love to believe bad behavior (war, torture, abuse, etc) is inevitable, but there are always choices.

Lone Primate said...

In the introduction Leakey says that some anthropologists once claimed to have found "evidence" of early humans' propensity for violence and conflict, and how that news was eagerly embraced - because it lets us off the hook. War is on our genes, we can't help it.

I remember Robert Ardrey had a bent for this sort of interpretation in the 60s (which I read in the 80s); it was parroted in popular culture by such folks as Gene Roddenberry, who seemed to find some appeal in the idea of humanity as a slobbering Mr. Hyde that managed (most of the time) to pull itself upright to Dr. Jeckyl status, but still swaggered around boasting about being a badass. Given the nature of the time... everyone was expecting WW III to break out any week... I guess it was a convenient interpretation. As you say, it let us off the hook. Oh, we're going to blow ourselves back to the Stone Age? Que sera, sera; we were there before... we'll tough it out and struggle back. When you look back on it now, it's sobering just how accepting people were of the idea we were all basically doomed. Ironically, it was the vision of things like Star Trek and the space race that I think gave people something idealistic to shoot for. It probably helped make a difference in our outlook... and the way we interpret fossil evidence today. :)

L-girl said...

Excellent analysis, LP.

I have zero patience for most evolutionary-genetic explanations. They are generally only hypotheses based on scant information and massive generalization. Social context? What's that? We're all just human, right? Bah.

The serious paleontologists and archeologists like Leakey will readily admit the limits of interpretation. But the pop equivalents urging us to get back to our "true nature" - which they conveniently define - drive me nuts.