Sunday, 8 April 2018

Sane, Honorable Men

Raven is unable to explain to Elfavy why sane, honorable men kill each other. But that is odd, is it not?

Influenced by Aldous Huxley, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Quakerism, I used to be "pacifist." Now I recognize that many people with military careers are both sane and honorable - although what seems sane in one society may not be so in another.

Military conflicts occur because conflicts of interest exist and are compounded by misunderstandings. Decades ago, my mother read a serious daily newspaper and also watched the television news every day yet was consistently misinformed. When an employer dismissed workers who joined a union, she thought that this was the union bullying the employer. She said that she sympathized with the workers who did not want to join the union. When, having heard a striker speak, I informed her that the strikers wanted the right to join the union but did not want to force anyone else to join it, she then asked what the dispute was about!

With such disinformation, misunderstanding and bitter, entrenched conflicts circulating in general consciousness, it is hardly surprising that governments resort to violence to resolve their disagreements.

The Gwydiona who do not understand wars do not understand themselves. The Eloi fear the Dark Nights when, we learn, the Morlocks come to the surface. The Gwydiona should fear Bale Time when their own Night Face surfaces but, for the rest of the year, they cover it with talk of "God." Wells' Time Traveler and Anderson's space travelers must look below the surface of seemingly paradisal societies.

8 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I would have included, besides conflicts of interests and misunderstandings, people holding ideas and beliefs opposing ideas/beliefs held by others as another cause for conflict and war. The commands in the Koran exhorting Muslims to wage war on all non Muslims who refuse to submit to Islamic rule is merely one example of that kind of conflict.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I think that economic conflicts underlie ideological conflicts. Thus, Crusaders were motivated by the prospect of material gains from military conquests. People with different beliefs can coexist peacefully and have done historically.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But it was precisely because the Muslim example is so clear an example of the idea I proposed above that it was the reason I chose it. There was no NEED for Mohammed to have made it a divinely imposed duty on all Muslims to wage war on non-Muslims. And it doesn't matter if many, even most Muslims, are not so fanatical. The latent threat remains, ready to be acted on, when circumstances (or merely the mood) allows it.

I only need to cite one example of conflict caused by or for non-economic reasons, or the reasons you listed. And Poul Anderson has expressed similar views in many of his stories. Ideas and beliefs MATTERS.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I will check into whether the Muslim conquests can be explained in economic terms. I would be surprised if the economic aspect were entirely absent.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of course Mohammed and his successors the Caliphs coveted the wealth to be gained from conquest and spread a lot of it among their followers. But it wasn't NECESSARY, per se, merely for spreading Islam. Which again brings me back to my view there were non-economic reasons for the jihads.

I think the best books about Islam in recent times are the ones written by Bernard Lewis. I have his ISLAM AND THE WEST. Andrew McCarthy's THE GRAND JIHAD, also comes to mind because of its focus on current jihadist movements.

I've also read Harry Austryn Wolfson's massive THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE KALAM, an erudite examination of early Muslim theology and philosophy.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Note that the Arabian tribes had always coveted the wealth of the Byzantine and Persian empires; it was the ideological impetus of Islam that actually made it possible for them to take it.

They'd always had ambitions that way, but the early Caliphate let them put aside their tribal divisions and engage in unified action -- something always very difficult for them.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Exactly! It was Mohammed's conquest of the Arab tribes and giving them a unifying ideology called Islam (with the Koran's commands to wage war on non-Muslims) which finally enabled the Arabs to begin their own conquests under the early caliphs.

It was a great pity the Eastern Roman Empire and Sassanian Persia had exhausted each other during the long war following the usurpation of Phocas in 602. Absent that war I think they could have easily fended off the Arabs and perhaps discredit and destroy Islam.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
So, without the economic motive, Islam would have been unable to motivate conquests? In fact, without that material motive, an ideology justifying war might not have been formulated?
Paul.