Thursday, 21 April 2016

More War II

See More War.

Pournelle and Stirling quote:

"Further, war, which is simply the subjection of all life and property to one momentary aim, is morally vastly superior to the mere violent egoism of the individual; it develops power in the service of a supreme general idea and under a discipline which nevertheless permits supreme heroic virtue to unfold. Indeed, war alone grants to mankind the magnificent spectacle of a general submission to a general aim.
"-Jakob Burkhardt, Reflections on History."
-Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling, The Prince (New York, 2002), p. 986.

Burkhardt fails to mention either that war is violent or that other momentary aims, general ideas, disciplines and general aims are possible. He mentions violence only in relation to the individual whose capacity for violence is much lower than that of the state. I think that it is a mistake to see individuals primarily in terms of egoism. If that were so, then no society would ever have been formed. Some societies encourage egoism whereas others are more cooperative but, without some cooperation, there would be no society. "...war alone..."? No.

Falkenberg's Legion has a much less elevated view of war:

"Armed force was a blunt instrument in politics, liable to do more harm than good unless aimed with extreme precision. At best, it bought time and space for the political leaders to repair the political mistakes that had left no choice but violence in the first place." (pp. 981-982)

That is worth analyzing:

a blunt instrument;
liable to do more harm than good;
requiring extreme precision;
at best buying time;
resulting from mistakes.

But that makes it sound as if we can get rid of war! Indeed, it is now unthinkable that Germany and France would settle their differences by going to war because Europe has been organized on a different basis. Can this be extended to the planet?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with Falkenberg's Legion bleakly realistic view of war. I'm still reading Steele's ARKWRIGHT, but in the Preface or Introduction he wrote for SEVEN CONFLICTS Poul Anderson gave us his own view of war. And I recall him saying that it was sometimes a necessary evil.

And I am not in the least convinced it will be impossible for France or Germany to again fight each other. In fact, the longer the failed European "Union" lasts, the more likely it will be for wars to break out. The EU is PREVENTING member nations from handling their problems more successfully. Let that drag on long enough and war WILL break out.

Nor do I see anything like, say, Anderson's Solar Commonwealth arising any time soon. In fact, the Ythrian "editor" of THE EARTHBOOK OF STORMGATE that the origins of the Commonwealth were terrible.


S.M. Stirling said...

It's unthinkable -for now-. History is a very big place.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I think you mean the rise of something like Anderson's Solar Commonwealth is unthinkable at this point in history? I agree!

It's plain that some attempts at a "union," like the European Union, has failed. Frankly, the sooner it is jettisoned, the better for the UK and Europe.