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caldrail

War is good, war is bad

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But according to the line of reasoning expressed above - having an adversary keeps one on ones toes and reinvigorates one's cultures - then constant wars with the implacable Sassanids and endless waves of Germanic war bands should have prevented Rome from degenerating, at least in a moral and cultural light, which it didn't. The culture of the Late Empire was anything but inspiring.

The degeneration of Rome occurs for a number of reasons. Foreign influence for instance. Although foreigners were quick to adopt roman customs if they wanted social acceptance (and people generally do) they also introduced their own slant on things to the extent that influential people deliberately adopted foreign customs and manners in the search of individualism (a factor in increased prosperity) and relative sophistication. There is also a decline in standards over time. Civic duty in republican times was considered important, but by the late empire it was undesirable - an obstruction to getting on wit things considered more important. The wealth of earlier times had been frittered away, spent on spices, silks, animals, and riotous living, not to mention a legion or two. We see the emperors of the later empire adopting an oriental stance (ie - the Dominate) to impress their subjects with their magnificence, which suggests the magnificence was not by that time something considered normal. So instead of the display of wealth in a secondary sense (lifestyle, property, generosity) it had become importat to impress people directly, with opulence in their face. This indicates a change in social strucutre thats very important. The leaders of the roman world no longer had the sort of respect that they once commanded from their ublic, and resorted to displays of exclusivity, to effectively distance themselves from their public, and therefore the all-important client-patron relationship upon which roman society functioned had been weakened. The bonds of loyalty and obligation were not being reinforced by the great and good, becoming ever more dependent on symbolic representation. Given that the empire had to pay for its armed forces, which in itself had become unreliable and open to bribery, almost a necessity for imperial longevity, the increasing pay scales to ensure military loyalty shouldn't be suprising. But that wealth had to come from somewhere, and that meant tax. Higher taxes to support the military and the displays of opulence at Rome had weakened the bond with the rural population, who no longer saw the roman legions as a desirable career choice and who went to some lengths to avoid it in the late empire. Indeed, the ruaral population of the late empire was beginning to find ways to avoid the onerous taxation they had to suffer. So, although the pressures of external competition should have in theory brought the roman world together and provided that regenerating factor, it was out-balanced by the diminishing sources of finance, diminishment of roman culture, and the dimiminshment of roman military readiness. The romans were victims of 'victory disease', and at the height of their empire, the pax Imperium, remained essentially an inward-looking state bound by a haughty disregard for alien societies and concern for their own lifestyles. True, there were campaigns conducted in later times, but these were more often 'security' issues rather than simple conquest, the idea being to protect roman terrritory against incursion rather than to extend it. Trajans conquest of Parthia was more to do with trade issues and preventing Parthian incursion than any grandiose motive, and even he was sensible enough to withdraw when the impossibility of securing these new territories became obvious. To do so would have required more legions - who was going to pay for those? Where were the troops to come from? In the late empire, its apparent that the romans increasingly used foreign tribes as mercenaries to provide security and military capability rather than the time-honoured legions, who were themsleves (as Vegetius hints at) not the legions they once were. peace had made the roman army lazy, its structure had been changed to compensate for the weakened conditions following the civil wars that brought Constantine to power. The roman administration had become bloated with inefficient bureacracy. Where once Augustus was able to rule an entire empire comfortably, Diocletian was forced to subdivide his authority to provide a more local control, only to fall prey to the usual roman ambition for power in his successors which did nothing to reinforce imperial authority beyond the capitals. Whereas in the earlier republic the nation was smaller, focused, intensely proud of its defiant republicnism and military virtue, the later empire was bloated, inefficient, over-extended, and had lost that sense of community. That I think is the most important factor. For national competition to have a positive regnerating effect, it requires a community with a sense of purpose. The dilution of latin culture and breakdown of social bonds that once made the empire a force to reckoned with and even a desirable entity to be part of was to become exactly what the romans had originally sneered at, a weak 'effeminate' oriental potentate, but one dependent on foreigners for its own security and ultimately those same foreigners were the ones who exploited that weakness to gain their own prosperity from an empire unable to prevent it.

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I sincerely wanted to read, digest, and respectfully respond to your point.

 

But the HUGE paragraph gave my eyes fits. I'm sorry.

 

So I'll just let my last previous statement stand as my final say in the matter.

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I sincerely wanted to read, digest, and respectfully respond to your point.

 

But the HUGE paragraph gave my eyes fits. I'm sorry.

 

So I'll just let my last previous statement stand as my final say in the matter.

Salve, U. We agree.

 

Personally, I considered the idea of constant warfare as a pre-requisite for a healthy civilization (?) not only as objectively untenable, but as extremely dangerous as well; a potential excuse for any kind of warhawks, to say the least.

 

Current evidence on the human costs at all levels of any military conflict simply confirms us that war must always be regarded as the last, last, last resource.

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But it depends on the nature of warfare. The romans in their earliest days fought raiding actions, a sustainable form of conflict that many primitive societies (and some modern ones) still persist with.

 

Its easy to forget the romans didn't fight wars quite the way we do. The industrialised total warfare of modern times did not occur, and most people simply got on with their lives as if nothing was happening unless an army came over the hill. This was true even in the most advanced and professional format of the roman legions.

 

Military cobnflict is endemic. As a result of human social behaviour, not to mention animal instinct, two herds dislike having to share the same resources, thus one attempts to oust the other. Our modern warfare is derived from that natural premis. As a moral concern perhaps war should be regarded as a last resort - but then morality is relative. Hitler was furious with Russia for attacking Finland (because Finland supplied vital raw material) but that hardly stopped him from expanding into europe and claiming he had a right to do so (lebensraum) did it?

 

Regarding my epic previous post, I apologise but I was in a hurry - you can sort of tell can't you? Anyhow, the synopsis is that competition is 'beneficial' to a society though it requires a society working as a whole. A fragmented society, such as the late empire where various disparate groups were sheltering under a roman umbrella and not really taking part in the roman whole, does not progress under competition, but simply fragments further.

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Salve, Amici.

Maybe we should shift some of this argument to the Gallipoli thread.

 

Raiding actions (stealing for living instead of working) will always be sustainable, at least as long as you're in the winning side.

If you want to begin a war, you will always find morality relative.

War doesn't require a society acting as a whole; you can just kill the opposition. Examples are myriad.

The un-industrialized total warfare comes at least from the Assyrians; their far less effective killing methods simply meant it took them longer to utterly annihilate their enemies. I think we don't need to quote the overwhelming evidence of such fact on the Roman side.

Its easy to forget the sound argumentation of Dr LH Keeley in his War before Civilization (recently quoted on a related thread) and many other scholars. Keeley's argumentation is entirely based on quite hard archaeological and social evidence; we require at least equally hard facts to contest it.

There's simply no real animal parallel for human warfare, not even among the ant colonies, much less in herds

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but then morality is relative. Hitler was furious with Russia for attacking Finland (because Finland supplied vital raw material) but that hardly stopped him from expanding into europe and claiming he had a right to do so (lebensraum) did it?

..We, the US and the rest of the League of Nations were also furious with Russia for attacking Finland. It was one of the great moral dilemmas of WW2 that Finland - a parliamentary democracy - had no choice but to side with Hitler, and we had no choice but to declare war on Finland in support of the military dictatorship of the Soviets. Morality is indeed relative - we sided with the fascist entity which was further away from us than the Third Reich, declaring war on a harmless democracy to cement the alliance. However, barely a shot was fired against the Finns by the allies, and little aid given to the Soviets against Finland - at least in the Winter War.* An indication that perhaps morality was very 'relative' indeed vis-a-vis this dilemma. I would be interested if anyone wider read than me could give an ancient example in which war was waged against a friend in order to preserve a treaty with a nastier ally.

 

* I believe Finland's ill - advised 'Continuation War' gained far less sympathy - but the allies treatment of the Finns was still very permissive.

Edited by Northern Neil

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Raiding actions (stealing for living instead of working) will always be sustainable, at least as long as you're in the winning side.

You're assuming the objective of the raid was to steal, though I agree it usually is. It might also be to destroy or to kill. The iron age brits built a vast network of hillforts (there's four or five in my local area) for the purpose of defending themselves against such violence, since these places were inevitably located near the resources the people lived off and were therefore desirable locations for attack. Since the british at this time weren't able to mount sustained warfare, raiding, however violent, was the only means of achieving their ends.

 

If you want to begin a war, you will always find morality relative.

Actually, if you want to start a war morality doesn't come into it.

 

War doesn't require a society acting as a whole; you can just kill the opposition. Examples are myriad.

Not quite correct. In the ancient world, war was often all or nothing in its result. If you failed to defend your homes and family, there was always a possibility your civilisation was over, homes and farms destroyed, populations led away in chains. War is fought on a scale of objective, and victory measured by that. You might simply want to enforce your reputation, or capture a single objective, or simply wipe out the tribe next door for having different shaped noses. Take your pick. However, the industrialisation of modern warfare has required the whole-scale enlistment of the population for the war effort which is something the ancients could never dream of.

 

The un-industrialized total warfare comes at least from the Assyrians; their far less effective killing methods simply meant it took them longer to utterly annihilate their enemies.

No. Cruelty and violence are deeply imbedded in the human psyche, and its an observable feature of human behaviour that we enjoy inflicting harm on others when the situation makes this socially acceptable. Humans derive a sense of power from their ability to inflict harm. With the assyrians, we see a leader and his society amenable to 'total' war. They were not an influence on later cultures in that respect since there was no direct cukltural inheritance, it was merely the mindset of the time and this mindset re-emerges occaisionally.

 

I think we don't need to quote the overwhelming evidence of such fact on the Roman side.

Strong, expansive culture, with ambitious leadership. Can't argue there, although I do note the senate had Galba hauled in front them for a prosecution after he conned the lusitanii of their freedom, not to mention putting thousands to death after they volunteered for cease-fire and disarmament.

 

There's simply no real animal parallel for human warfare, not even among the ant colonies, much less in herds' competition; the Natural Selection is Darwin, not Nietzsche.

Oh? The border patrols and battles fought between rival chimpanzee tribes mean nothing? Sorry, but the parallel is staring you in the face.

 

Only the most fanatical Nazi could have considered the German victory at 1940 as the biological "survival of the fittest".

I'm not a nazi. Come on A, open your eyes. Human behaviour is not artificial or manufactured. Its based on instinctual behaviour that all animals share. Its screamingly obvious if you look up from your books and gaze out the window for a while.

 

BTW, the III Reich and the Soviet Union were de facto allies at 1939-1940 (first Soviet-Finnish War); the F

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In the ancient world, war was often all or nothing in its result. If you failed to defend your homes and family, there was always a possibility your civilisation was over, homes and farms destroyed, populations led away in chains...

However, the industrialisation of modern warfare has required the whole-scale enlistment of the population for the war effort which is something the ancients could never dream of.

First asseveration applies to modern warfare too. The second definitively applies to the ancient; no society has ever dreamed of reaching the enlistment level of the medieval Mongols.

 

No. Cruelty and violence are deeply imbedded in the human psyche, and its an observable feature of human behaviour that we enjoy inflicting harm on others when the situation makes this socially acceptable. Humans derive a sense of power from their ability to inflict harm.

Not every human is a sadist; you would be surprised.

In any case, international conflicts have always been much more than mere sadism, even from the Mongols or the III Reich.

 

Strong, expansive culture, with ambitious leadership. Can't argue there, although I do note the senate had Galba hauled in front them for a prosecution after he conned the lusitanii of their freedom, not to mention putting thousands to death after they volunteered for cease-fire and disarmament.

We finally get to a classical quotation.

Oh, and all that was simply political opportunism from L. Scribonius Libo and MP Cato Major, analogous to the consternation of MP Cato Minor for the Germanic tribes raided by Caesar on the other side of the Rhine.

Six years after being acquitted, Servius Sulpicius Galba served as Consul.

 

I'm not a nazi. Come on A, open your eyes. Human behaviour is not artificial or manufactured. Its based on instinctual behaviour that all animals share. Its screamingly obvious if you look up from your books and gaze out the window for a while.

I'm absolutely sure you're no Nazi; when I quoted the III Reich victory over France as an example of the "survival of the fittest", I never thought you share such opinion.

Even from the Neolithic, international politics have been based in much more than just personal instincts.

Only closing my eyes and remaining within romantic epic sagas would I be able to show any enthusiasm for war per se, as modern free press and technological media make us painfully easy to constantly gaze out of our windows and check on the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

 

BTW, the III Reich and the Soviet Union were de facto allies at 1939-1940 (first Soviet-Finnish War); the F

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No. Cruelty and violence are deeply imbedded in the human psyche, and its an observable feature of human behaviour that we enjoy inflicting harm on others when the situation makes this socially acceptable. Humans derive a sense of power from their ability to inflict harm.

Not every human is a sadist; you would be surprised.

No, I wouldn't. But the reality of warfare is that it brings out the best and worst in people, or have you never watched the evening news? As for sadism, the willingness to mete out physical pain to others is a human trait - sorry, it just is. Its an observable phenomenon that people become nasty in regimes that support that behaviour. Its an agressive form of bullying. Anyone who has the mentality to bully others is also psychology capable of torturing them if they believe it serves their purpose. Thats a facet of psychology that has been studied and I've seen it in everyday life. That said, the instinct to bully others is not necessarily sadism is it? Its animal instinct. By bullying others you become a dominant herd member. Chimpanzees bully each other too - thats a matter of record. And before you ask, there have been chimpanzee serial killers, thugs, rapists - all the vices we associate with humanity but prefer to sweep under the carpet. Those traits have always been there in human beings - even in ancient times.

 

I'm not a nazi. Come on A, open your eyes. Human behaviour is not artificial or manufactured. Its based on instinctual behaviour that all animals share. Its screamingly obvious if you look up from your books and gaze out the window for a while.

I'm absolutely sure you're no Nazi; when I quoted the III Reich victory over France as an example of the "survival of the fittest", I never thought you share such opinion.

Even from the Neolithic, international politics have been based in much more than just personal instincts.

Only closing my eyes and remaining within romantic epic sagas would I be able to show any enthusiasm for war per se, as modern free press and technological media make us painfully easy to constantly gaze out of our windows and check on the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

Thats only your personal view of it. talk to young men - you'll find their only too keen to earn their spurs on the front line- despite the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

 

You're obviously mixing dates; you're quoting facts that happened more than a year after the end of the first Soviet-Finnish War.

No, I'm quoting what happened.

 

Personally, I think most of those nations and men would agree with us; most of them fight because they have no other alternative, for many obvious reasons.

But of course, we will always find rogues and criminals that wouldn't agree with law enforcement; that doesn't mean we will have to let them do their will. The smallpox parallel stands.

No - it doesn't. You make no allowance whatsoever for patriotic sentiment - and please don't insult my intelligence by trying to tell me that my grandfather, who signed up underage like a great many others for his chance to do his bit for king and country, was a rogue or criminal. The smallpox parallel is nonsense.

 

As Ursus rightly explained it, peace is evidently required for the optimal development of any civilization.

Rome did not grow on peaceful development. It grew on competitive and aggressive policies.

 

I'm as enthusiast for the use of violence as the next people or animal when it's required.

You said something different earlier.

 

War must be always regarded as the last, last, last resource because we will always be at risk of being attacked; no dilemma at all.

Don't you get it? Has it not sunk in yet? Your own personal view about the priority of war means diddly squat. The world revolves around conflict because human beings squabble. We're not a peaceful species and never will be. But conflict can have beneficial effects. The rate of progress in technology was extraordinary due to the incessant conflict and sabre rattling of the last century. Please don't try to tell me it didn't. The only reason - and I mean the only reason we landed on the moon was because of the prpaganda value to the US against its soviet rivals. In WW2 aircraft went - in five short years - from hardly more than simple biplanes to swept wing jets on the point of breaking the sound barrier. Please don't quote the arrival of the monoplane either - that resulted from the increasing belligerence of the nazi regime, or competition.

 

Hand over your cash.

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No, I wouldn't. But the reality of warfare is that it brings out the best and worst in people, or have you never watched the evening news? As for sadism, the willingness to mete out physical pain to others is a human trait - sorry, it just is. Its an observable phenomenon that people become nasty in regimes that support that behaviour. Its an agressive form of bullying. Anyone who has the mentality to bully others is also psychology capable of torturing them if they believe it serves their purpose. Thats a facet of psychology that has been studied and I've seen it in everyday life. That said, the instinct to bully others is not necessarily sadism is it? Its animal instinct. By bullying others you become a dominant herd member. Chimpanzees bully each other too - thats a matter of record. And before you ask, there have been chimpanzee serial killers, thugs, rapists - all the vices we associate with humanity but prefer to sweep under the carpet. Those traits have always been there in human beings - even in ancient times.

If you may quote your actual sources on animal and human psychology beyond the evening news and your everyday life experience, I would gladly try my best to check them, as they are clearly completely different from any text on those issues I'm aware of.

Additionally, some of those sources may explain the connection between the sadism/ bullying behaviour and the origin of war, because I simply can't find it.

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I'm absolutely sure you're no Nazi; when I quoted the III Reich victory over France as an example of the "survival of the fittest", I never thought you share such opinion.

Even from the Neolithic, international politics have been based in much more than just personal instincts.

Only closing my eyes and remaining within romantic epic sagas would I be able to show any enthusiasm for war per se, as modern free press and technological media make us painfully easy to constantly gaze out of our windows and check on the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

Thats only your personal view of it. talk to young men - you'll find their only too keen to earn their spurs on the front line- despite the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

Thank you for assuming you're younger than me; the screamingly obvious consequences of war seem to be not so obvious to you.

 

I wonder if you really personally know some disabled veterans and civilian casualties from both sides of a conflict. I do, and many quite young people too. But I don't think that's required for understanding the screamingly obvious consequences of war.

 

Personal risk is not the only screamingly obvious consequence of war; the utter destruction and suffering of innocent people entirely like us and our beloved ones is another, even if it is not depicted in romantic epic sagas. So please excuse me if I'm not especially impressed by the keen disposition of combatants of any age.

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Personally, I think most of those nations and men would agree with us; most of them fight because they have no other alternative, for many obvious reasons.

But of course, we will always find rogues and criminals that wouldn't agree with law enforcement; that doesn't mean we will have to let them do their will. The smallpox parallel stands.

No - it doesn't. You make no allowance whatsoever for patriotic sentiment - and please don't insult my intelligence by trying to tell me that my grandfather, who signed up underage like a great many others for his chance to do his bit for king and country, was a rogue or criminal. The smallpox parallel is nonsense.

I can't speak for your grandfather; as far as I'm aware, most soldiers fight because there's no other choice (ie, their homeland survival is at risk) and not for the mere pleasure of killing.

 

If you can't unsderstand the smallpox parallel... then what else did you previously personally agree with me?

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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As Ursus rightly explained it, peace is evidently required for the optimal development of any civilization.

Rome did not grow on peaceful development. It grew on competitive and aggressive policies.

I think Ursus explained the issue far better than I would be able to.

 

I'm as enthusiast for the use of violence as the next people or animal when it's required.

You said something different earlier.

I don't think so; but if you make the specific quotation, we will be able to check if you actually convinced me.

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War must be always regarded as the last, last, last resource because we will always be at risk of being attacked; no dilemma at all.

Don't you get it? Has it not sunk in yet?

I sincerely hope it's crystal clear by now that my answer is definitively no.

(But of course, a quick check on your actual sources or evidence may completely change that).

I think human warfare is not a expression of the Darwinian "survival of the fittest".

I think personal human instincts are not the main mechanisms that explain human warfare.

I don't think constant warfare per se is required for the health of any civilization or country.

I don't think that the combat experience is required for the personal development of any man (or woman).

I don't think patriotism is synonymous of belligerence.

I don't think the dire consequences of war might be justifiable by any other reason than as the ultimate survival resource.

And I'm positively sure war is mot required for any other quoted beneficial effect.

 

Your own personal view about the priority of war means diddly squat. The world revolves around conflict because human beings squabble. We're not a peaceful species and never will be. But conflict can have beneficial effects. The rate of progress in technology was extraordinary due to the incessant conflict and sabre rattling of the last century. Please don't try to tell me it didn't. The only reason - and I mean the only reason we landed on the moon was because of the prpaganda value to the US against its soviet rivals. In WW2 aircraft went - in five short years - from hardly more than simple biplanes to swept wing jets on the point of breaking the sound barrier. Please don't quote the arrival of the monoplane either - that resulted from the increasing belligerence of the nazi regime, or competition.

War doesn't create science; it's just an obvious stimulus for those scientific investigations with military applications (and it is, conversely, a deterrent for the other). In plain words, you would just require more time under peace conditions for getting most of the quoted advances.

 

Anyway, I can't really expect anyone to seriously justify the killing of more or less 72,000,000 people plus additional human injury and material destruction for the indisputable scientific advance of WWII; in fact, I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea that nowadays knowledge on hepatitis histopathology was largely based on in vivo studies in Nazi concentration camps by Mengele wannabes.

 

That was certainly not the opinion of the Edinger Institute in Post-War Germany: they removed from continued scientific use the extraordinary neuropathological collection of Dr. Julius Hallervorden and Dr. Hugo Spatz (both of them were outstanding investigators and notorious convicted Nazi war criminals) for ethical concerns regarding its origins.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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