Aldous Huxley spoke of a utopianism as we evolved into a type of post-human; our immutable human nature changing as the genetic re-write and reproductive revolution matures heralding an closure on the Darwin era. In the meanwhile, history has shown that we do a competent service in acting out variations on dramas, acting on the cues scripted by our stubborn DNA. But, before we can step into Huxley’s garden of earthly delights we are still stuck at a fork in the trail to Eden. Romanticism tends to believe that war and sex are the hard-wired realities of human nature and which fan out and color all our experiences.War and sex are psychic gratifications; and inherent love of war and conquest with political considerations holding a subordinate role.
Van Creveld might deny the existence of a “war gland” or “aggressive gene,” but he asserts that given a choice, “men might very well give up women before they give up war.” And while Keegan detours into the brain’s “seat of aggression,” he concludes that, “half of human nature – the female half – is in any case highly ambivalent about war-making.” Are wars merely a matter of sex and psychology – or are they waged purposefully by rational men and women? Read More:http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/CaleReview.htm
The great analyst Carl von Clausewitz came to the conclusion that war was driven by politics and not the irrational and insane inner urges of man.As an officer, he was dumbstruck by the speed, mobility and mass of revolutionary warfare. The old strategies rigid maneuvering were pointless when faced with an enemy armies inspired and imbued with the war fever heavily dosed with patriotic and revolutionary fervor, the citizen soldier ennobled beyond the typical mercenary, could carry out new strategies involving initiative, concentration and the element of surprise.
Clausewitz was forced to ask himself the fundamental question, of “what is war?” The answer was that these new European wars, in a context of political and social change, were not a entity in itself, but a series of actions which were shaped by politics; war being nothing other than “the continuation of policy by other means.” In other words,every war is the product of deliberate, calculated decision and never conducted without political purpose. Men are not killing themselves because they are of a given culture or national background. Instead, it is because they are the instruments of reasoned and deliberate political policy.
It is normal that between Goya and Otto Dix, the latter would be hung with the twentieth-century belief, mistaken, that war is guided by the inhuman and the insane and not a rational human activity. Unlike the revolutionary struggles of past conflict to overthrow despotic, entrenched old regimes,the warfare of Dix’s time had zero on the positive scale about it.Instead of the liberation of oppressed nations, Dix’s experience was about putting millions into the field of battle for selfish and greedy interests among advanced nations with an eye to subjugating weaker states in a form of economic competition which was the central reason for the cycle of colonialism, militarism and consumerism that reverberates today, not counting the human tragedy of the slaughter.
For us, war is certainly inhuman and pathological.
importantly, the appeal of this theory of war as something fundamental to human nature, is the excuse it gives to military brass and politicians who have been complicit in this deception. So, the belief that war is beyond human comprehension and control is false. The idea that war can be sold to the public as an unstoppable technological vortex of violence and mass destruction is to excuse the responsible.
—The unstoppable-technology theories have the practical effect of denigrating politics, and absolving those responsible from blame. Wars do not start by themselves: they start because external political interests decide war is expedient to the powers that be. As the conservative British military historian Michael Howard rightly notes, “However inchoate or disreputable the motives for war may be, its initiation is almost by definition a deliberate and carefully considered act and its conduct…a matter of very precise central control. If history shows any record of accidental wars, I have yet to find them” —Read More:http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/CaleReview.htm
The loss of rational principle in war also enables the military thinkers to present war – at least the wars of which they disapprove – as the activity of crazies governed by deep-seated atavistic impulses. This is especially true since the end of the political divide of East and West that used to suggest at least a semblance of ideological differences. Today, wars are invariably seen in anthropological terms. Conflicts which have been spawned by Great Power realpolitik are redefined as wars caused by ancient tribal and ethnic animosities. Culture, not politics, is taken to be the well-spring of militarism.
The anthropologisation of conflict was an intermittent feature of the past century. In War Machine, Daniel Pick notes that the 1870 Franco-Prussian War gave rise to extensive debates about the raw, virile Teutons and cultured, effete French . Throughout the Second World War, the Japanese and Germans were accused of militaristic instincts inculcated by generations of Junkers and Samurai – if not through harsh toilet training. Today, though, the backdrop of cultural typecasting that used to run alongside the political explanations of conflict has become the whole case for war, as the Rwandans and the Serbs are accused of imbibing hatred with their mothers’ milk. Read More:http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/CaleReview.htm
Donald Kuspit:Goya also mutes the hard fact of death by suggesting that it is a consequence of war rather than a human inevitability, as Dix does. Death is an “experience” everyone will have: no one is exempt from joining the dance of death. It is what Dix’s conga line of prostitutes perform: death is built into their grotesque bodies. It is also responsible for the strange (and estranging) ungainliness of the bodies of the respectable bourgeois — professors and doctors as well as businessmen and art dealers he portrays. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp