An answer for John Waldmann
Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Mon, 7 Nov 1994 18:53:54 -0800
question; what's the payoff. One answer would be that if we can identify
the most basic level of warfare, it's point of invention, we have the best
chance of identifying it's causal mechanisms.
It is my feeling that warfare's roots lie in the same place as the roots
of racism (so fervently debated on this list). Mike Lieber first mentioned
Gregory Bateson's theory of learning. I believe we are both in agreement
that the base attitudes that allow for warfare and for racism are picked up
through a process Bateson refers to as Learning II. Individuals may be
completely unaware of the source of these ideas and attitudes, they merely
experience them. Those people actually conducting war are very much aware
of these ideas and attitudes and in fact manipulate them.
I suggest that the attitudes responsible for warfare in it's most primitive
form are the very same responsible for warfare today. Because of the added
complexity of today's warfare and political structures, they may be much more
difficult to identify. This is my justification for trying to determine
warfare's most basic nature, when it first occurred and the social structures
Rather than become entrapped in "over-definition or reductionism" I am of
the opinion that defining "war" as a "legal term of very narrow application"
makes it virtually useless for analysis of societal conflict. Consider that
the U.S.'s "military exercise" in Viet Nam was not a declared war. I have
always considered that as absurd.
Taking a legalistic approach may be necessary for diplomats. It's
appropriateness to Mr Waldmann's studies would depend upon his scope
of "peacekeeping" activities. I remain dubious of the effectiveness of
diplomatic efforts in regards to root causes, not because I think diplomatic
efforts are useless (I don't) but because an effective diplomat must remain
tactful. I doubt tact allows one to deal with the issues of Learning II
categories. Those ideas are very often the warp and woof of people's self
conceptions. To challenge them is rarely considered being tactful. Diplomats
deal with political "realities" or categories. These categories are of a
higher logical type than the categories we need to study to get at root
By the way, my use of the term "ratified" or "sanction" implies the
"formalized legal system" Mr Waldmann spoke of.
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