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The United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth keeps announcing that it is peace-loving. But is that completely so? I do not think we should deceive ourselves. So let us put some questions: What other nation in the history of the world has sent 10,000,000 men across three thousand miles of ocean to fight? We did it during the recent World War. Most of these men, when questioned by news correspondents, could not tell what they were fighting about. They fought because it was the prevailing mode. There is a certain "cussedness" in the American male make-up. In the language of psychology it is known as aggressiveness. It is what prevents harmonious cooperative societies, such as envisioned by socialists, from succeeding. Max Eastman dwells upon this trait at length in the conclusion of his book "Reflections on the Failure of Socialism' (see p. 101 et seq).* But there is much more to it than aggressiveness. And make no mistake, the Russians are of similar ilk to the Americans. If either one of them had been peace-loving during the last war they would have malingered or deserted as the Italians did. The Italians would not even defend their native soll. Their country was over-run and ransacked. I hold that the Italians are at least more peaceloving than the Americans or the Russians.
And why should the Americans be peace-loving? After all, they "never had it so good" as they did during the last World War. Every one had a job. Every one at home was well paid. There was plenty left of the high standard of living.** The men who went to fight escaped from humdrum jobs and dowdy wives to don, uniforms and become heroes. Not only were we materially well off, but we were well off spiritually. Morale was high. There was not the snidery of peacetime. We were all working together in a mighty cause, gangsters and poets shoulder to shoulder. Every one of us, men and women alike, doing something important. This is the supreme basis of individual self respect and obtaining the respect of others. War gives uniforms, panoply, marshall music, deeds of daring-do, magnificence, sacrifice, inspiration to poets. It tests men to their utmost. Makes them outdo themselves. This men's spirits crave. Furthermore, the glamour grows in retrospect.
There are many advantages to war (See Essay against War by W.C.M.). Advances in the treatment of disease, technological progress, stimulation of literature and art. These are the serendipity of war and some maintain these beneficial side effects outweigh the damage done.
After all, too, we Americans were brought up on resounding exhortations "The end of worldly life awaits us all. Let him who may,, gain honor 'ere death.' Thus spoke the Viking Boowelf long ago, oft quoted to this day. - "Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, 'This is my own, my native
Also see "Frustration and Aggression" by Dollard Doole Miller,
** The production of civilian goods actually increased during the war years in the United States (see "The Affluent Society' by John K. Galbraith).
Later in the advanced intellectual atmosphere of Latin which made it more impressive -- "Dulcet et decorumst pro patria mori".* And the Vergillian "Arma virumque cano
One of our great supreme court justices declares, "that faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly-accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use". In view of the contemporary hostile spirit between nations suggesting that millions of our youth will be called out to defend the rest of us should we urge that such martial and resounding sentiments be extracted from their education without replacing the sentiments with something? What follows should give a hint on this. Remember always that mankind's decisions are more often based on emotional than rational appeal.
Mr. Justice Holmes, who is the judge quoted above, bemoaned in his Memorial Day address of 1895 that "war is out of fashion". Little did he dream of the superb holocausts to come. There are probably fewer men and women today who would admit that they saw merit in war, but there are still millions who favor it, at least subconsciously. They agree with the General,** the great psychologist, William James, quotes, in his significant essay, "A Moral Equivalent to War". Said the General, "Wars 'horrors' are a cheap price to pay for the only alternative to a world of clerks and teachers, of co-education and Zo-ophily, of consumers leagues and associated charities, of industrialism unlimited, and feminism unabashed. Fie upon such a cattleyard of a planet!"*** James was inclined to sympathize with the General's disdain, at least to the extent of stating that "the marshal virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command must still remain the rock on which states are built". But you may well raise the question with C.E.M. Joad In "The New World Order" written when England was under attack in 1940, whether war is not the price we pay for having national states.
Courage, too, may be an outworn virtue. Think of how we must pander to it (See "Courage, a Liability" by W.C.N.). Even the desire for thrill. Sir George Thompson, Physicist, notes that "Wars are caused more than generally admitted by boredom, by the desire unexpressed, but for that reason all the stronger, to escape from a dull routine into an exciting adventure" (The Foreseeable Future, p. 148).
Please note this is part of the Humanities our peace-loving educators impart to their students. Which raises the questions: Are they peace-loving? Do they know what they are about? Should we spend any more money on education until the educators know what they are doing? (See essays on Education by W.C.M.) The fantastic General Homer Lea.
*** Cp. "A Visit to a Small Planet".
James concludes that Man must have the discipline which is required of him in war. Must he have something more?
We shall have more to say to this later. But for the nonce, let us estimate that at least a quarter of the American people like war.* Why should not Americans be warlike? Considering our education and our experience in war. After all, possibly 4,000,000 of us suffered during the last World War -- out of 160,000,000. That is a small fraction and Death has sealed the lips of most of the sufferers.
So the American people are preparing for another war. The irony is that we are expending vast energies and a goodly portion of our national substance preparing for a war we shall never fight while we are losing the war in which we are now engaged. Our leaders are beginning to suspect this. It is the Psychological War that is spreading over us like a dark and oppressive pall, bedevilling the soaring spirit of mankind. You see war, like many phases of life, such as disease and recreation, is becoming less a material matter and more a concern of the mind or spirit, or as some say, psychological. On the consumption of our national substance one can ask what would we do with it if we were not putting billions of dollars into military hardware? We are urged to spend it on education and health, but would we?** Or would we spend it on high living, alcohol, and coiffeurs? This is a timely question because increased national production is being urged currently. Possibly we are destined to spend the millions and billions on military hardware until we understand where it is to be spent to better advantage.
As it is, the military program will not accomplish the defense of the United States at all, because an entirely different kind of defense is required (See "Speculation on the National Defense Program" by W.C.M., August 10, 1957). The Military are engaged in nothing less than a vast scientific research program -- and its principal result - hold on to your hat is not to fight a war but to launch the human race into Outer Space! It is an open question whether this is constitutional and whether it makes any sense, except (See "A Glimpse into the Far Future" by W.C.M.).
But let us approach this from another direction. It should be inferred, from what has preceded, that doing away with war is not enough. Mere lack of war is not an attractive prospect, at least to the male human. Ah, it would be if we were coldly rational. But it
It is grossly maligning the steelmakers
to call them "merchants
of death" accusing them of getting an unwilling people into combat. The people must be willing. Nor do totalitarians and dictators get an unwilling people to fight witness Mussolini's attempt to make the Italians martial.
** But see "The Affluent Society" by John K. Galbraith who has ideas of improving the "public sectors, not realizing that the public sector is those things which people do not think enough of to pay for.
has been said that even the most rational of us makes more decisions on an emotional basis than we would ever admit, and Goethe has said "Der Gefuhl ist alles." If this were not so then the Rule of World Law, as proposed by the lawyers, would have been taken up long ago. Those peaceful men, our religious leaders, also miscalculated the human spirit and emotions. They cannot constrict the audacious and energetic psyche of mankind, especially the urge of youth to bold exploits unless you wish to make them 11ly-livered by some injection. Pause before you try this because there could be a need for this audacity in the ventures destined for Man's future.
No consideration of Man's aggressiveness would be complete unless the matter of food was mentioned. Physically we are what we eat. There is interplay between the physical and the mental. It is contended by some that a change in diet would eliminate human aggressiveness. What would happen if Americans became bland vegetarians to a man? Lack of protein (meat) in human diet is said to be unhealthy.
What would happen if the climate of the United States should change to a torpid one where it was just too much work to fight?
What would happen if the social psychologists should apply their skills and change the mental climate, for example brain washing? Is this what is about to happen? But let us continue and see the strange and wonderful ways which are about to be pursued.
As William James so clearly pointed out, the human psyche craves what war has to offer -- or a moral (psychological) equivalent thereof. In his day there were only such pale stimulants as rivalry in the sports arena to assuage the competitive and courageous spirit. This was not tremendous enough, dangerous enough, vital, all-embracing, profound, universal enough to capture the very souls of men who desire to dedicate themselves, to be absorbed, yes, to nobly sacrifice, to give their very lives. To be sure this may be deemed madness, but there it is. Turning this lethal mania away from war is made easier if the prospective war turns out to be not the magnificent finale of atomic annihilation, but rather if it has any physical aspect at all a huge and fatal epidemic germ warfare about which little grandeur is possible. (See the short story "The Last Two" by Robert Murphy, "Saturday Evening Post", September 10, 1960).
But more important, we have now, for the first time in the history of confused mixed-up humanity a true and satisfying equivalent to war the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th Centuries tamped down the fires of War to some degree, but now it is the high adventure into Space! Sir George Thomson declares, "Space travel will come fairly soon and, if so, it will provide an outlet for communal effort, like climbing Mount Everest, but on an enormously larger scale, both as to the number of people involved and the time the effort will last. (One hundred thousand people will live in the Moon Shot City of Texas alone.) It will give young men (and young men's craving must be met) the feeling that they are engaged in something unique, worthy of their efforts, demanding self-sacrifice
(self immolation) and calling to danger, bringing out to the full the joy of fellowship in a cause. ("The Foreseeable Future" by Sir George Thomson.)
This call to high adventure can be kept within limits so that only those who wish to engage in it are involved. The property or lives of those who are not concerned need not be affected. There is, of course, the question of whether these latter should pay the taxes for such a mighty undertaking. This is a matter of national policy to be thoroughly discussed in a democracy. To be sure, free and unlimited energy will eventually reduce the costs.
In this adventure into Space, the two most warlike powers in the world, the United States and the Soviet Union are happily vying in relentless competition. There is a great desire by the Chinese to get in on the adventure.* If they can be safely allowed to do so, there racial paranoia would melt away. (Cp. C. W. Yost) I predict that as the powers contend in this new and absorbing field, war will be relegated into the limbo of the past. We can anticipate furthermore, that the rivalry between the powers will melt into cooperation as they see the task assumes such colossal proportions that it demands the surplus energies of all Mankind.
So all of you who do not want war should press for this high adventure. Then your hopes and prayers will be sustained. But in God's name and for Humanity's sake, make certain that the remedy is not worse than the malady; that those who have a compulsion to glory and self-destruction confine the destruction to themselves, that instinctive sadism is dealt with, that the multifarious other compulsions, instincts, manias, psychoses of the human race causing war and catastrophe are eliminated, diverted, or satisfied, thus banishing one of the dread Four Horsemen forever and forever!
For the Lord works in fearful and mysterious ways His wonders to perform.
Revised January 20, 1961 2nd Revision May 17, 1962
Mention of the Chinese brings up the population excess. This is a concomitant cause of war, which requires separate treatment, of course. I presume that having vast reserves of population could be very useful in this cold-blooded expansion into the limitless void.