“In all these ways, the new historical psychology and psychological history – they may finally come to be brothers – can gradually free themselves from two intellectual polarities which have all too frequently dominated both historical and psychological work: first, the lingering Newtonian legacy of the closed, mechanistic world of absolute cause-and-effect relationships; and second, the intellectually nihilistic rejection of all general principles or causative elements. It will instead evolve a stress upon patterns and constellations whose cause-and-effect relationships are the intricate transactions of elements always in process.” Robert Jay Lifton, History and Human Survival: Essays on the Young and Old, Survivors and the Dead, Peace and War, and on Contemporary Psychohistory, Random House, Inc., New York, Random House of Canada, Limited, Toronto, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1970, pp. 296-298. [His italics].
The painful truth? For thousands of years, human culture has undergone a Darwinian selection to refine weapon mentality. If ancient societies ever matured into prototype peace technologies – or merely held back their weapons obsession for a while – nearby weapon hordes overran them.
Human history can be resumed in this manner.
1. The gradual perfection of social and material tool kits required by the weapon mentality of the day and its technology.
2. The discharge of this optimized technology in a climax holocaust limited only by the means available (like a pistol going off while being cleaned).
3. A Dark Age allowing humanity to recover from this paroxysm.
4. Then return to Step 1.
When it went off, the binary explosive of weapon Christianity and Roman weapon technology triggered a European Dark Age for the next thousand years. Much the same fate befell China, Persia, Southeast Asia and Islam if during other intervals and from which they may just be emerging.
These reciprocating implosions of peace have bred an unconscious contempt for it in each of us and especially in our info elites. They have restricted peace technology to the limit of the info proletariat’s endurance, with our placid acquiescence. This rust-through of peace triggered the next paroxysm. The next one, nurtured by all of us through this historical process, promises a planetary Dark Age even more durable and perhaps permanent.
Books were very rare and fragile things before tough, cheap paper and printing presses made them commonplace along with mass literacy. Millennial cults (venerating a chosen text like the Bible for a thousand years or longer) required basic schools and libraries along with a small, carefully educated priesthood to run them. These priests required safekeeping from armed hordes more concerned with loot than learning. Sooner or later, those hordes cut down the guards and breached the gates; after which, surviving priests had to persuade them not to suppress the unique text — that preserving it would lessen their terror and help to satisfy their greed.
In Plough, Sword and Book: The Structure of Human History, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1989, Collins Harvill, London, 1988, pp. 94-99, Ernest Gellner postulates that a literary class can prevail over a warrior one by determining the legitimacy of warring factions. From foremost leadership to lowliest ranker, warriors have gauged their potential for long-term success on how many of their fellows recognize their organization and join it. A literate priesthood or bureaucracy can document that legitimacy and thus become the moral arbiter of warrior bands.
Our millennial texts have been the chosen reading of a long line of pirates and murderers. A hundred generations of more and more prominent weapon mentors have rewritten sacred texts and distorted holy doctrine to satisfy the conflicting demands of weapon mentality.
If a peace society produced nothing but pacifists, it would become rich and creative, grateful to God, exuberant, argumentative, law-reliant — and extremely vulnerable to military aggression. Weapon societies are good at nothing but hostilities; they fear their warrior god(s) (the “Lord of Hosts” in King James, which is actually the “God of Armies” in Hebrew) and claim their religion or ideology is the only Truth.
Sorry, folks. God exists everywhere and in everything, including multiplicity and non-existence. The God of every religion provides an equally valid and equally inadequate description. There’s no stepping out to take a smoke break from God; neither is there a specific God “superior” to the rest. What an absurd, typically human prejudice! Especially when it’s based on multi-thousand-year homicide and terror.
Such a warrior society loses the capacity to feed and care for itself without plundering less warlike neighbors for slaves, rations, laws, technology and other peace assets. Longer-lived societies must balance peace and weapon content yet favor weapon management as a defense against the next comer.
Since long ago, the most useful peace texts and findings disappeared during some frenzied auto da fe (autodafay, “act of faith,” inquisitorial pyre). Selflessly, endlessly, isolated peace mentors have preached their own destruction (and that of their culture) at the hands of itchy-fingered battle elites either at home or from abroad.
Historians have but a scant, carefully censored inventory of ancient records to go by. The best documented of ancient literatures had a destruction rate greater than 99%: the Roman, Greek and Chinese, for example. Less than one work in ten survived from less than one in ten authors. There remain only a few odds and ends, scrawls of uncertain provenance, ancient laments of forgotten authors and vanished masterpieces, marginal mention of great libraries wiped out along with ancient civilizations (see Burning Libraries (BC)), apocryphal collections from cities great and small reduced to dust, ash and submarine silt.
It is interesting to note that the oral history of a primal society stood a better chance of surviving suppression by militarily superior, literate societies. It would have been easier to destroy a rare text collection and murder a narrow, literate urban minority, than to silence the recitation of epic myths by tribal grandparents, aunts and uncles to rapt children gathered around humble hearths scattered across the countryside. In the end, weapon mentality disposed of all of them.
On a blank, hypothetical world map, the space-time geometry of ancient warfare could be registered as a shifting rash of small, red spots (pointillism) representing isolated crimes, raids and tribal skirmishes where the density of intertribal competition forced such confrontations.
The geometry of global massacre grew thicker and more intricate thereafter. From the dawn of metallurgy until the Industrial Revolution, these blemishes wove themselves into red ribbons of death: the march routes, siege works and battle lines of armies (in a linear geometry). Flowing death zones throbbed by land and sea from the 1700’s Enlightenment through the World (sic) Wars (in intermittent planes). Modern Air-Land battle can eat its way across entire subcontinents (in a spherical plane). Meanwhile, the initial irritation thickens and swells as universal crime; the chicken pox mutates into smallpox.
Historically instantaneous, near-certain fatality – planetary omnicide – could result from a nuclear/scalar/biochemical disaster (in a hollow sphere).
If we allow our weapon technologies to fester much longer, clouds of weaponized robot insects could chase our few survivors into the depths of caverns, a carefully brewed nanoplague could boil down the biosphere down to its component organic molecules, or a sun rendered nova could constitute the ultimate stage of man-made cataclysm (in a solid sphere of annihilation).
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has studied the adrenal-fueled, intimidate-fight-flee-or-freeze reflexes that allow us to cope with the anxieties and exertions of mortal crises. In return, they demand a few days’ rest to vent nightmares, verbalize stresses and restore mental equilibrium.
Unlike cliché war movies during which one weakling cracks and the other martial actors carry on with grim determination, almost all veterans take on a blank, “thousand-meter” stare after a month or more of sustained combat. A certain percentage of battle elite holdouts (his 2%, my 4%; even though half of mine may have turned deserter) turn out to be immune to combat stress, they are aggressive sociopaths to begin with.
After a month or two of total combat, its psychic and trauma casualties would reduce a conventional military unit into a rabble cowering around its shot-up and supersaturated medical unit, actively raided by lunatic commandos. Recall the grinning conscript POWs during Saddam Hussein’s defeat.
Sounding the alarm, Professor Gabriel concluded that new drugs are being (have been?) developed that would separate a soldier’s cognitive awareness from its emotional seat while sparing his sensory coordination, alertness and sleep cycles. Combatants on this type of drug would become well-coordinated and alert versions of a car driver taking Valium: racing down the highway at 120 miles an hour, rationally aware of the danger but cut off from it emotionally. In short, artificially induced psychopaths.
Historical research has revealed that many combatants on both sides of the Second (sic) World War were issued primitive stimulant drugs of this kind. Blitzkrieg was actually Methkrieg; Hitler was a meth head as were many of his soldiers.
This kind of drug will skyrocket combat lethality, war crimes and the thorny problems of veteran reintegration. After its predictable spillover into underworld drug markets, our world would assume the same cold-blooded criminality as that on TV dramas.
Unlike real life where crime and brutality lurk in the shadows while peaceful normalcy prevails, that attitude would come to dominate our existence the same way it has managed to in the media and in war. Unless we criminalize warfare soon, weapon technology threatens to chase us waving a bloody knife (or radioactive or biowar pixie dust) into our living rooms.
There is a direct correlation between military terror and child abuse. The more warlike the people, the worse their children are treated. Musashi, Shi Huang Ti, Alexander, Romulus and Remus, Genghis Khan, Shaka Zulu, Frederick the Great, Stalin, Hitler ... all these “great” warlords grew up as abused children.
Imagine the hells common children must have endured if their Princes were so afflicted. Picture the horrors today’s infants must endure, the tender offspring of history’s deadliest weapon states.
A population that undergoes worsening military stress throws off more and more abused children whose tragic gestations and pathetic childhoods set them up for the next paroxysm of perpetual world war. Famine- and terror-induced orphans from prior wars staffed many secret police agencies and grew up to become fanatical guardians of a merciless State; a point made by George Orwell in Animal Farm. Cambodia, Aids-riddled Africa and entire nations elsewhere fester in like manner, as we sit here at ease discussing it serenely. Child soldiers have saddened and terrorized us since time began.
Like suicidal imbeciles, we are breeding the next generation of desperate terrorists bent on destroying the world. If we had taken care of them and nurtured them properly as innocent children, we could have secured a much more auspicious harvest than their grapes of wrath.
A brief decade from now, the means to plague entire cities and nations will replace the puny AK-47s and suicide bombs they brandish these days. They will be more than willing and fully equipped to do so, thanks to our oh-so-clever weapon technologies and fashionable apathy: the outcome of our weapon indoctrination.
Military academies and English Public Schools (private boarding schools in no way limited to England) mass-produce weapon technicians. Harry Potter fantasies aside, Public Schools on the British pattern offer a slavish, authoritarian environment. Emerging from them, cunning battle elites may obtain crude but certified training that opens many doors to power.
First year (Plebe) cadets at West Point were interviewed about their politics. Four years later, the handful of cadets that had called themselves liberal (in old, progressive sense) had disappeared: extra-familial hyper-discipline at work.
Republican administrations may send the military into harm’s way for no reason or a dishonest one, abuse and disregard them scandalously once they come home. Democrats may secure veterans’ honorable return home and administer to their needs thereafter. Most of the military will remain staunchly Republican in any case.
Note that the most ardent defenders of Capitalism are career military who practice a pure form of Communism in the ranks, complete with universal health care, strict promotion by merit instead of by inheritance, subsidized or free housing, clothing and food. The laissez-faire capitalism they adore would fail utterly in their fish bowl environment. Also noteworthy, the military brass are the first practitioners of coordinated Capitalism in a totalitarian collectivist state on the verge of collapse.
Political extremism and perhaps even conservatism may reflect human stresses endured during childhood, adolescence and even past lives (see the reactionary as ex-carnivore). Over generations, criminality and militarism have reinforced each other through the systematic abuse of children. Psychic repression during pubescence may be most telling, as well as the social advantages of taller stature.
The Japanese are famous for the tender solicitude with which they nurture their infants, the calculated ferocity of adolescent competition and the command-controlled brutality of their armies in the field. Yet that abuse was always directed from above. During some wars like the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the Boxer Rebellion, Japanese soldiers were renowned for their self-control and discipline; likewise, no doubt, in modern Iraq and Afghanistan. During others, they went berserk without provocation and committed acts of barbarity under orders, which their opponents found disgraceful.
Charismatic imperialists were usually humans of excellent character, burdened, however, with very thorny childhoods.
The better most children are treated, the more peaceful, anti-violent and cooperative their grownup societies become (perhaps to the point of anti-competitive mediocrity), and the faster their psyches crumble when confronted by “civilized” warfare. The main weakness of primal (so-called “primitive”) societies is the routine affection with which they raise their young. Such tender youths don’t stand a chance against bands of ruthless strangers systematically abused as children, who select the most abusive among them as leaders (see the heroes of the Spanish conquest of South America).
Only after several tribal generations have been abused and massacred in this manner, only then will ex-primal tribes begin to mistreat their own children from a desperate, subconscious need for collective security. Unheard-of spouse and child abuse, organized crime and intoxication emerge, as will a steady stream of cold-blooded super-warriors.
The tribal heart PeaceWorld has been ripped out. Implant a new one and let it grow back!
Lax childcare satisfies a wholesale requirement for military killers. During the pressure-cooker socialization of school and boot camp, children fortunate enough to be well raised get “reeducated” by young bullies and petty adult tyrants. Taught to imitate the worst role models, kids spin off into arrogance, ignorance and aggression. Some of the brightest young ones nurse this abuse into adulthood and achieve incredible wealth and power by fair means or foul. The leftover settles for petty delinquency, jail and/or the military.
Occasionally, pre-historic population densities swelled beyond sustainable limits, especially on the plains of Central Asia, seat of the most warlike tribes in history. Population controls (notably infanticide and protracted nursing), as well as limitless new lands (a ready escape hatch for wise underdogs) kept most primal populations below population densities so irritating they triggered genocide. If not, family-based, semi-static tribes confronted equivalent adversaries. Under those aberrant circumstances, elaborate battlefield rituals evolved to limit martial violence. Primal battlefields offered bored bucks (whether Celtic, African, Native American or any other, the same logic applied) a symbolic stage upon which to dramatize their manly heroism and martial arts.
For example, counting coup – being the first to tap an enemy – brought greater honor than killing anyone. Harming non-combatants brought disgrace. The ritual suicide of non-combatants became the subject of epic mythology (whether among Amerindian tribes or Roman victors — Massada). The first death or mutilation drew ritual combat to a close.
Since television did not exist to let them wallow in shadistic brutality, they sometimes tortured prisoners as an indoor sport. Time and again, they passed prisoners of war through initiations of brutal hazing and adopted the most stoical survivors into the tribe to make up for its losses. Genocide was rarely invoked except in extreme cases of overpopulation and resource depletion. A conspiracy of wise women, shamans and druids was responsible for ending this kind of conflict. Nowadays, no one is authorized to do so.
We consider genocide a sad necessity. In order to field the most battalions, our societies boost birth rates well beyond overpopulation redlines and industrial production beyond good ecological sense. Higher body counts among foreigners turn out to be a mythical boon, (men, women and children, killed interchangeably). The economic collapse of some foreign country just seems to reduce the tally of global pollution, at least temporarily.
Counting coup has become irrelevant and martial individualism is forbidden in military training … yet still highlighted in mass entertainment.
Today’s omerta (code of silence) holds equal sway in public and private discourse. Careless parents and school guardians teach children a basic lesson: Learn to live without protections from above. Your tormentor is not necessarily your worst problem, but the next higher level of authority, which is just as likely to punish the victim as the aggressor because it places its convenience above justice. This sorry habit, too, hatches from the disinfo politics of weapon mentality.
No one is held accountable, rewards for wrongdoers exceed their punishment and everyone winds up worsening the damage or ignoring it. We pay for this public indifference with a flood of “unconfirmed” massacres, unacknowledged disasters and unintended consequences for which no-one among the profiteers is responsible.
Once the Routine of Evil dishonors the law (by confirming the corruption and/or incompetence of orthodox sources of control), personal “respect and honor” take over, shifting us one step further from harmony and justice. Civilized people find no social grace in the champions of such “respect and honor”. On the contrary, we reject them. After all, their “high status” feeds on raw terror induced by bloody acts of revenge.
There is just such a scene in the movie, Red Dawn. A gulaged and broken father sends his son off to fight the oppressor: “This is why I was so hard on you! It is too late for me now. But you, go out and avenge me!” Very dramatic and common for mankind. The heroes of this movie could just as well have been black Africans, Orientals, or Muslims from South Asia or the Middle East; and the bad guys, Western corporate mercenary aggressors. That would have been more convincing.
The only excuse? “Inflict harm on them there so it won’t be inflicted on us at home.” Even though, of course, it happens at home all the time at the hands of neighbors if not foreigners.
The weapon dynamic remains unchanged. Now-dominant armies evolved because their soldiers were defeated and then adapted to their defeat and overcame it. Defeated nations will develop “victorious” armies in the future. Strategic victory and defeat are no more permanent or morally significant than the reverse sides of the fat coin I just spun across my desk.
Initially unthinkable, then scandalous, then discouraged, then merely unfashionable; public bullying, lynch mobs, gang warfare and clan feuds turn into “honored” institutions. Multiplied and thereby trivialized, casualties assume the function of scorecard; scars born and the number of people hurt sum up a man’s worth. For millennia, we’ve managed to do little else. Organized evil turns into a gold rush. This pattern has held true over and over in ancient China, in Medieval Europe, in ante-bellum South Carolina and in contemporary ghettos. Race, income and other prejudices (that we obsess over) are secondary if not irrelevant. The only necessities are overpopulation, sub-employment, abused children and a vacuum of legitimate political authority.
Any deviation from this norm reduces the number of willing killers a society may call upon in times of war. What results from this cutback is military devastation. Traumatized survivors then resume the abusive pattern. This pattern of abuse – abuse relaxed – assault – abuse resumed, renders considerations of moralistic right and wrong irrelevant especially when they are posed out of context.
It is only on PeaceWorld that we could hope to foster moral values a little more valid because less paradoxical. Unfortunately, morally bankrupt authorities (and the savage proto-elites that challenge them) reject peace management. Legitimate or revolutionary, weapon mentors invoke routine weapon myths to justify their customary abuses.
Human freedom is inalienable. Everyone is born, lives and dies in freedom’s cool shade. Not because it has been written into some constitution, not because some government enjoyed a rare good mood this decade, or even because some Prism proclaimed, “Look at me! I’m a freedom fighter!” Humans are whatever they wish to be. They never “earn” their freedom, they are born with it — even though a few misguided power-addicts may traffic the illusion of freedom to satisfy some secondary craving for security, authority, money, drugs, “belonging”, etc.
Immortal freedom doesn’t emerge from its hiding place until the fighting stops. Anyone who claims to dole out of freedom, monopolize it or defend it militarily – like some horde of gold – enslaves himself and anyone who listens to him. Battle elites hide their predatory tendencies behind such paradoxical weapon myths.
Every time this insight has emerged, weapon managers have done their damnedest to obliterate it, like baiting and squashing a pesky bug. Abusing with morbid consistency some combination of bread and clubs, bribery and terror, they’ve aggravated social stress. Once this stress ratchets up to unendurable levels, long-suffering proletarians turn to proto-elites to germinate a new political membrane to shield them from alienating authority.
Weapon leaders tend to push back hard. Proletarian revolt is usually hesitant; crushing it appears to sharpen state power. History demonstrates, however, that “internal security troops” rot out; they become scavenging bullies worthless in actual combat. Thank God, or we’d all have wound up in heaps of corpses stacked in concentration camps by now.
By its very shaky nature, authoritarian cruelty contains the seeds of its own destruction. Just as solid ice, if it were not miraculously less dense than liquid water (most other compounds are denser when solid), would fill in the cold, dark hollows permanently instead of forming on the surface and melting away under the sun’s rays.
Allowed free reign, Wimps orchestrate international bullying at gunpoint, civil wars and political repression, a strategic mishmash that rots out entire nations. As it stands, international gangsters prowl this planet unchecked (like the corporation Xe: now the private Commando Brigade of Monsanto!). Armed to the teeth thanks to our taxes and exempt from effectual prosecution, they’ve mastered all the dance steps of prodigal brutality.
Only the trio of a one-world government, its court and a universal militia could defend us against them. At last! Those criminals would be officially declared pariahs. Every hand would be turned against them and their sponsors whether they called themselves corporate, religious, ethnic, private or governmental. We could create new jobs for them on PeaceWorld, just as dramatic and dangerous but a lot less detrimental.
In a weapon technology, info proletarians turn into individual isolates engulfed in economic phantasms that surpass their understanding and control. The slightest mischance slings us through threadbare social safety nets into unemployment, homelessness, squalor and crime. WeaponWorld shreds ageless extended family structures and thousand-year habits of homegrown subsistence. It sunders meaningful relationships between individuals and their friends, family and peers — even “belonging” to the land itself. It rejects firmly held beliefs and turns us into credophobes too anxious to believe in anything beyond the corporate norm.
Families are fractured into bare “nuclear” minimums — then even lower into single parenthood, bastardy, institutional fosterage, runaway homelessness and roguish isolation. Almost all the nations and tribes to which we should owe natural allegiance are forbidden. Alone, helpless and cast adrift in a hostile world, info proletarians abandon their traditions, culture, autonomy, faith and hope.
These sacrifices satisfy corporate magnates, agro-monopolists, vicious absentee landlords and showboat, megabuck project managers who gobble up private freeholds to satisfy their insatiable portfolio demands. The only tribe on Earth that remains legal is the global one of the rich.
Any interest rate above 5% is usury that must induce unnecessary suffering in someone — however well hidden. International and local bureaucrats compound this tragedy in return for a steady paycheck. Meanwhile, slums and prisons, cemeteries and deserts mushroom across the planet.
All of this would be formally prohibited on PeaceWorld. Managers of that sort would be replaced by worthy public servants.
If individual isolates can be ensnared in unjust laws, so much better for the powers that be! Each new injustice grants weapon managers another hold over their lives. Once our personal despair and self-loathing are complete, we become useful cogs in the war machine. We mistrust everyone and everything except our own weapon managers and their life-and-death manipulations. Even if we realize that they are hopeless creeps and, in rare cases, that we’ve become too scared to believe in anything else, we go along with their scams anyway.
Learner peace technicians will challenge these assumptions and reverse them. With full public approval, they will sponsor economic interdependence, mutual interests, common politics, reverence for the intimacies of extended family and the gentle despotism of communal livelihood. They will cocoon everyone in a complex web of personal obligation and reward; encourage personal self-expression, public health and withdrawal from misery.
The problem has been how to coordinate government’s clumsy means of control with the lowest-common-denominator capacities of the masses. The old solution was to swat gnats with sledgehammers that could never be heavy enough (nowadays the NSA). A new one would make governmental control microscopically delicate and personal comprehension as expansive as possible. This relationship would evolve from the whip-crack of unworkably forced obedience, into enlightened cooperation much less problematic and more productive.
In defiance of five thousand years of cultural history, these kinship groups will take self-conscious steps to promote peace and forbid war. Admission into them will be cheap or free and departure easy.
In a Learner future, most sociopaths won’t suffer enough neglect and ostracism to act out their aggression. Imbued with the fundamentals of peace, our societies will leave far fewer sociopaths untreated and withdraw the cleverest among them from positions of authority.
Sexual predators will be identified and treated long before get to corrupt the next batch of helpless youngsters. Power-mad sociopaths will be cozened with therapeutic theatrics, taught the value of selflessness and drugged if necessary into serene complacency. Most diseased individuals of this kind will be identified early (preferably at birth) and carefully nurtured for the rest of their life. Thus will they cease to threaten us so frequently and with such monstrous effect.
Such therapies will become the topic of passion of gifted Learners of psychiatry. Once stoicism, televised passivity and social invisibility stop being normalized – if only because our clumsy communities cannot handle anything more complicated – psychoshamanic seekers will develop drugs, therapies and novel religious rituals to reconnect emotionally sick people with their feelings. At that point, what remains of violence will become a public health problem: a regrettable epidemic to be addressed one-on-one and institution-into-instrument.
We could reduce the worst effects of human violence in one generation. The sins of our fathers may have been revisited upon us unto the seventy-seventh generation but the promise of redemption through love is ours to fulfill today. It is a sacred obligation we neglect at our peril. Learners will buy off, monitor and predict most acts of violence both personal and collective. They will mitigate the worst consequences of crime whenever, wherever and no matter how it evades their control.
We will learn to do things better.
The following quotation includes another weapon myth and its clarification.
“Our Western vision of society — as a Hobbesian [author’s note: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan] contract, consciously entered into primarily to ensure harmony, offers no way of explaining the existence of family bonds, of lifelong friendships, of the sense of cultural membership afforded by shared language, and a thousand other precious things. Indeed, it totally misses and even denies the deepest requirement that characterizes our species – the need for social identity. Hobbes’ notion that without society, humans would be at each other’s throats in a grand free-for-all is totally right, but for completely the wrong reasons. He assumed that isolated human beings “in a state of nature” would naturally destroy one another because their supposedly innate competitive drives would lead them to do so. What Hobbes failed to realize – and many still do today – is that humans evolved with a desire to belong, not to compete. Biologically, we are obligatory social animals, wholly dependent on a supportive social structure; and it is in the absence of such a support system that destructive, ‘inhuman’ behaviors occur.” Mary E. Clark, “Meaningful Social Bonding as a Human Need,” in Conflict: Human Needs Theory, John Burton, ed., Macmillan, Ltd., London, 1990, p. 40. (Italics mine).
I will take that argument one step further. Our destructive behaviors do not emerge so much from absent support systems, but under the dominion of weapon mentality that encourages sociopathic behavior in everyone.
Compare the count of Olympic competitors each year with the number of spectators and employees impassioned by this yearly spectacle. Most soldiers do not return to the firing line because they want to murder the enemy but because they love their brothers in arms and want to face death and worse shoulder to shoulder with them. Almost everywhere, with almost everyone, cooperation trumps competition.
If monsters emerge when our social conventions begin to fray, more angels may take their place once we redouble our social bonds.
The Hobbesian cartoon of humans as calculating beasts at war with one another only shows up once we abandon the nurturing habits and cultural accommodations that our sanity requires. Hobbes’ obscene pantomime occurred to him during the Enclosure Movement when British info elites ejected peasants from the countryside and cast them into urban hells so as to provide Queen Victoria eventually with cheap riflemen, seamen, whores and industrial laborers.
We subscribe to the same fallacies, wreak equivalent havoc worldwide, suffer similar failures … and wonder (very briefly) what went wrong?
Instead, we should build up a Learner Commonwealth and put all this misery behind us. With a bit of luck and a lot of determination, we could turn this thing around in a single generation.