03 September 2007

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Before the copyright lawyers start sending out letters, let me move on to a related but less lyrical line of thought.

Why are there wars? Not this one or that one, but in general? I think that in quite abstract terms we can say this: there is a primordial mammalian instinct to distinguish between "us" and "them," between "our pack" and "those packs."

Wars are the result of the competition of organized packs in a world of limited resources. Not "money," by the way, which is just a medium. Resources: petroleum, access to fresh water, navigational paths through salt water, land (both as soil and as living space) and so forth.

Wars are, then, all caused by two facts: the limits on resources, and the pack-oriented way through which we instinctively address that. They aren't caused by religion, although religion can help articulate either the views of the advocates of a war or the views of the war's resistors. Nor are they caused by "money." Not only is money a medium of exchange, rather than ever being the actual resource at issue ... money implies commerce, and that can produce a level of cross-border activity and co-operation that can over time tame the temptation for the packs to fight.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.