According to written records, at least till the treaty of Westphalia, peace was an exception. That is, as long as warlike spirits, as with the Samurai, prevailed. A famous fragment of Heraclitus says: "War is the father of all; some he makes free, others slaves." But gunpowder leveled all, high and low. The departure of warlike spirits was replaced by the terror of the French Revolution. That aspect lead to Napoleonic wars. It was only then that a REAL distinction between war and peace was explicitly made and shown. The most powerful and clear expression can be found in the etchings of Goya on the horrors of war. Incidentally, Tolstoy raised that phase of Napoleonic war into a clearcut distinction between war and peace, though close to 100 years had elapsed. Like Goya's etchings, E Munck's 'Scream' anticipated the effects of a real warfare and that too, like Goya was meant to effect others about the sheer terror and brutality of war. Yet the idea if peace had not really taken hold at large.
This appeared during WW I, when under nationalistic flags, all shades of political opinion marched to the front to defend fatherland/motherland. The few brave ones who opposed the war were imprisoned and later, just after the war were assassinated by the army brass. I am referring to the Spartakus group. In post-revolutionary RUSSIA, THE SLOGAN, PEACE, TURNED OUT TO BE A HOAX. Immediately after the revolution Russia entered into another vicious phase of both domestic and foreign conflict. SO NONE OF THAT slogan - peace - DAWNED UPON THE SO-CALLED GOLDEN SUNRISE OF SOCIALISM.
After the experience of WW I, FORCES OF PEACE [NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH PACIFISM], under the leadership of the likes of B Russell began to campaign for peace. This, however, did not make any difference upon those who mattered. Wilson's league of Nations, perhaps the first modern draft to emphasize peace was soon forgotten. Due to extremely heavy valorization on matters of winning and defeat, fascist parties emerged propagating brutality, violence, killings and mass murders.Their first attempt was the German bombing of Guernica, later immortalized by Piccaso's painting, but in the immediate process of history it was not the painting that won the day; Hitler's buddy Franco surely did.
I do not consider Nazis as real war making party. On a mob like collective scale they would turn out to be unimaginably violent, since they had nothing to lose but gain from robbing Jewish businesses. Fascists are basically cowards and they are too far away from real warlike valor. Their wars always operates in collective Panzer-cum-blitz operation. Their adversaries, though few in numbers as we get to know now, were brave and they fought tooth and nail. Stalingrad is a classical example.
After WW II United Nations was formed with a view to avoid wars in the future. By now we know what a failure U N has been.
There is an innate desire for aggression within humanity, don't forget that humans too have the animal parts. Raptillian brains are ruling the roost in important places. The danger arises when humans forget that they are animals too. But over and above, humanity is unique because it is a knowledge producing community. It was discovered by A Keostler, post-double helix discovery, that there is an odd, unpaired gene among humans, which is the source of useless wars for the sake of wars, since now there are hardly any winners or losers. Koestler thought that chemistry and molecular biology had the potential to resolve war making by humans. The hippie generation was really into peace in the most aesthetic manner since they too thought that chemism has the answer. But now,all that hope is scuttled by the war in drugs, as though drugs are living entities.
[Ed Note: we have been unable to confirm that there is an odd unpaired gene that gives rise to war. Genes can exist in two or more pairs, and their effects can be additive. We believe it is likely that there are genes for aggression and/or dominance that lead to violence for a given environment or nurturing. But the scientific evidence implicating specific genes is not at all firm. The Stanford Prison Experiment implies that, if such genes exist, then most of us harbor them. The scientific issue is a bit clouded: Where is the control group and how does one correct for nurturing? Our belief that there are in fact "genes for violence" rests on three features: 1) the continuity of several behavior traits, beyond mere violence, among humans and numerous animals, 2) instinctive behaviors, such as herding, parenting, are almost certainly genetic in origin, and 3) the fact that evolution predicts just those results. If there are common conditions where fierceness increases probabilities of survival, then genes giving rise to fierceness are more likely to survive. The same is true of the herding instinct. This combination fits neatly with the Authoritarian Personality which is at once aggressive and submissive and prone to violence. The sociopathic personality may be a genetic combination that maximizes the instinct for aggression while minimizing herding, and possibly parenting, instincts.]
Posted by robdesnos on Monday, June 04, 2007.