#29 Dismantling the War Machine (January 2013)
WAR IS OBSOLETE
Is it not time for our species---inheritors and caretakers of this wondrous planet---to renounce the waste of resources and lives taken from us by war?
Increasing evidence indicates that humans in the deep past, our ancient forbearers, excelled at cooperation. [for insights on the origins of human cooperation see book review of Mothers and Others: on the Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by anthropologist Sarah Hrdy.] This capability allowed us to invade and conquer every habitable landscape on the planet. We shared in caring for each other: for our group, for our young, and for others in times of illness or need.
Growing evidence also suggests that with regard to using deadly violence, we preferred to get along. That whenever our numbers seriously outpaced our resources, we split up and sought out new territory rather than fight to the death.
Homo sapiens' Option Number 1 for dealing with major conflicts over resources---dispersal, fueled by an aversion to war---can be thought of as a key pressure responsible for driving us to occupy the entire globe.
Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly 200,000 years. It was at the Agricultural Revolution, only about 10,000 years ago, that we settled down big time. In the filmed lecture, "No More War: the Human Potential for Peace", evolutionary biologist Judith Hand uses the work of anthropologist Douglas Fry to make the case that war was invented late in our evolutionary story. That war is a sad, unintended consequence---along with social hierarchies, subordination of women, and slavery---of settling down. By ceasing our nomadic way of life we created a profoundly new environment for ourselves, and our responses to living in that new, settled environment were not all good ones.
Other responses we made led to other results. Among these, we now control staggering and dangerous powers. We are sculpting the planet itself---changing the land physically, altering the numbers and kinds of other life forms, even shifting the weather.
Most awesomely, beyond the wildest imaginations of all generations before us, we have taken our first steps off-planet. We begin to reach for the stars. Destiny calls. What kind of destiny shall we create? War is not a genetically built-in trait, inescapable and inevitable. It is a recent cultural invention/habit/meme. We can tolerating it, or dump it, along with other things that have become obsolete, into the dustbin of history. For suggestions how to accomplish that goal see "To Abolish War" and "Shaping the Future.
Dismantling the War Machine
To accomplish the eradication of war, a critical mass of global citizens must come to share the following beliefs.
So the next question becomes, how do we dismantle the war machine?
Something history and logic make evident is that we cannot use violence. We cannot kill our way to liberation from war. Consider World War I. If this war taught us nothing else, World War I---the "War to End All Wars"---brought that truth home with brutal clarity.
What options, then, do we have for undoing the mentality and operational machinery of the beast?
Here we are indebted to nonviolent social transformers of our recent past who used the strategy and tactics of nonviolence to mobilize critical masses of people to dismantle specific evils. Inspiring visionaries like:
"It is useless to proceed along this path, one cannot prepare for war and expect peace. There is no compromise possible between preparation for war, on the one hand, and preparation of a world society based on law and order on the other."
A Good Book
Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control by Medea Benjamin.
See book review here
A Good Movie
Lord of War. Starring Nicholas Cage. Arms dealer confronts the immorality of war and the machine that supports it.
A Future Without War
Believe in it.
Work for it.
And we will achieve it.
These three quick links are to Dr. Hand's core articles on paradigm shift:
To Abolish War
Shaping the Future
Paradigm Shift: Swift and Enduring
How Long Ending War Would Take
Why Women Are the Key to Security
The Nine Cornerstones
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