George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984, describes a hyper-Churchillian nation-state so powerful, it could adopt pure peace technology. Instead, it devotes itself to never-ending global warfare. At random intervals, it joins with or attacks its continental equivalents overseas. In this way, it ruins the prosperity and the discipline of its disinformed proletariat.
Post-Orwell weapon mentors have convinced us that the best way to safeguard human rights is to keep the government as clumsy and slow as possible. According to them, the more efficient the government, the less justice, peace and liberty can be expected. Another advantage (unstated, of course) of such a stupid government is that it cannot stop weapon managers from carrying out their criminal schemes.
This is the 1984 Syndrome, enshrined in weapon mythology. Actually, this myth promotes crypto-fascism (fascism that won’t acknowledge itself). Narrow-minded governments get themselves into jams, then stupidly try to extract themselves by heaping terror on top of its abuse.
We could steer clear of this treacherous shoal by establishing efficient local Administrations overseen by the best possible World Government.
According to weapon religion, God reigns from his storm cloud on high without debate except among selected hierarchs and not really them either (Job). Similarly, in pyramidal weapon hierarchies, commands descend without appeal from pre-eminent info elites to the bottomed-out proletariat.
In a weapon state, responsibility, debate and creativity are rare privileges reserved only for a trusted few. Weapon hierarchs find aid, comfort and advancement in arbitrary promotion criteria, departmental clannishness and clan-style pecking orders. Popular review of controversial topics is forbidden. Weapon managers rely on by-the-book solutions — no matter how lame they may prove to be. Regardless of real-time rights and wrongs, problems are dealt with by fiat based on irrelevant traditions and misinterpretations of past precedent.
This is the only way the cockroach brain of weapon mentality knows how to run the elephant’s body entrusted to it.
The syntax of weapon government usually begins with “Always” and “Never” followed by more or less arbitrary imperatives and volumes of ingenious punishments for having disobeyed them. That of peace would be “What would work best to promote peace in this particular situation?” followed by a selection of best options and results expected.
Weapon hierarchies are built-in redundant when it comes to personnel selection. They accept life-and-death decisions (even bad ones) without serious debate despite the high-stress, high-mortality environment and information chaos of combat.
For example, in Queen Victoria’s day, families of the nobility could openly purchase officer commissions. The more money they tendered, the more prestigious the unit their candidate could sign up for, regardless of merit. Thanks for this reminder, Paul Lackman.
Nowadays, not only are officer candidate postings up for grabs by the richest families, but so is the Presidency of the United States and most of the positions of responsibility below it. Good luck with that world-class weapon leadership, thus completely incompetent at peace.
Weapon hierarchies promote authoriphiles who submit to superiors and bully inferiors; they marginalize authoriphobes who challenge bad management and empower their subordinates. Competence and job skills are at best secondary considerations for new candidates. No criminal genius goes unrewarded in a weapon civilization. Peace civilization would shield the innocent from them and exclude them from the elite; it would replace them with others more empathic.
Another sorry tendency trips up the best weapon managers. Sooner or later, their weapon policies will corner them in unintended consequences. Trying to get around the worst of them, they will treat each evil symptomatically, as if it had occurred in a vacuum. “Today, let’s discuss child abuse; tomorrow, local hunger. Next week, we’ll tackle traffic congestion; and next fiscal year, perhaps, corruption.” Every baby step toward progress gets entangled in the social contradictions that swarm around it.
Leadership grows from respect that can be based on admiration or fear. Terror is the final arbiter in weapon hierarchies where bad leaders flourish through sham competition adjudicated from above with little concern for the needs of the led. Mid-level weapon managers boast of rewards they acquire at the expense of the led. They must seize more riches to insulate themselves and their dependents from the worst consequences of their despotism. That padding is never thick enough. Their misrule forces them to rely on tyranny, crass materialism, incoherence and hypocrisy as substitutes for valid ethics. When good ethics become superfluous, greed flourishes without compunction. Hierarchical leaders wind up shattering bonds – social, emotional, economic and informational – that would bind them more closely to the led. Each severed link reduces their ability (and willingness) to lead in a righteous manner.
“In proportion as the chiefs become detached from the mass, they show themselves more and more inclined, when gaps in their own ranks have to be filled, to effect this, not by way of popular election, but by cooptation, and also to increase their own effectives wherever possible, by creating new posts upon their own initiative. There arises in leaders a tendency to isolate themselves, to form a sort of cartel, and to surround themselves, as it were, with a wall, within which they will admit only those who are of their own way of thinking. Instead of allowing their successors to be appointed by the choice of the rank and file, the leaders do all in their power to choose these successors themselves, and to fill up gaps in their own ranks directly or indirectly by the exercise of their own volition.” Robert Michels, “Political Parties, 1911”, taken from Princeton Readings in Political Thought, p. 526
Primal societies tended to separate their peace and warfare decision-makers. They chose two leaders and two or more separate councils – blessed with different talents and sensibilities – to handle those clashing responsibilities. Often, a complex, clannish and shifting network of wise women, revered elders and shamans controlled the peaceful aspects of society. Young hotheads and grizzled veterans only did so during rare days of battle.
Peace leaders relied on open debate, consensus, voluntarism and cooperation. Those leaders and those they led shared rewards, values and available information freely. In short, they gossiped shamelessly. Gifted leaders recruited, challenged and replaced one another in a steady stream that spat out the incompetent and the wicked. If they overvalued the perks gained at the expense of the led, they lost respect for their authority and sacrificed any claim to it. Their power-base deflated like the red balloon.
No such selection process remains in weapons hierarchies where incompetents and sleazebags rule without hindrance — indeed, come to dominate society through the cumulative selection and replacement of like-minded malefactors whole company they prize. Communications tail off into pompous speeches, massive campaign contributions, empty promises and capricious expectations.
Peace hierarchies would promote playful creativity in peaceful settings under token time constraints. Ideally suited to produce real, cooperative wealth under stable conditions, they can’t cope with the time-slaved rigors of warfare — much less the cutthroat, zero-sum competition of weapon management between its inevitable wars.
Popular aspirations must take precedence over hierarchic perks. Leadership must find its reward in its noble conduct, self-sacrifice and merit. If those who are led do not expect this kind of leadership by long tradition, if instead they have been pistol-whipped into blind obedience to terror and arbitrary decision-making, then peace mentality must implode. Everyone must be carefully retrained in peace.
A society may suffer from poverty yet thrive under peace leadership; its neighbor may be aswim in riches yet pauperize and lobotomize itself at the command of its corrupt weapon managers.
The best alternative would be a longstanding peace culture based on tradition, whose leadership benefited from great wealth shared equally. The worst must be ours today, when interchangeable weapon managers hoard wealth and power at the expense of an overwhelming but overwhelmed majority while wielding the most firepower and pledging nothing in return but upcoming misery.