Although war is 'used' as an instrument of national and social policy, the fact that a society is organized for any degree of readiness for war supersedes its political and economic structure. War itself is the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire. It is the system which has governed most human societies of record, as it is today. War is not, as is widely assumed, primarily an instrument of policy utilized by nations to extend or defend their expressed political values or their economic interests. On the contrary, it is itself the principal basis of organization on which all modern societies are constructed.
THE NONMILITARY FUNCTIONS OF WAR:
Economic Function: War has provided both ancient and modern societies with a dependable system for stabilizing and controlling national economies. No alternate method of control has yet been tested in a complex modern economy that has shown itself remotely comparable in scope or effectiveness.
The "wastefulness" of war production is exercised entirely outside the framework of the economy of supply and demand. As such, it provides the only critically large segment of the total economy that is subject to complete and arbitrary central control.
Substitute institutions proposed for consideration as replacement for economic function of war: (a) A comprehensive social-welfare program, directed toward maximum improvement of general conditions of human life. (b) A giant open-end space research program, aimed at unreachable targets. (c) A permanent, ritualized, ultra-elaborate disarmament inspection system, and variants of such a system.
Political: The permanent possibility of war is the foundation for stable government; it supplies the basis for general acceptance of political authority. It has enabled societies to maintain necessary class distinctions, and it has ensured the subordination of the citizen to the state, by virtue of the residual war powers inherent in the concept of nationhood. No modern political ruling group has successfully controlled its constituency after failing to sustain the continuing credibility of an external threat of war.
Since it is historically axiomatic that the existence of any form of weaponry insures its use, we have used the word 'peace' as virtually synonymous with disarmament. By the same token, 'war' is virtually synonymous with nationhood. The elimination of war implies the inevitable elimination of national sovereignty and the traditional nation-state.
Substitute Institutions: (a) an omnipresent, virtually omnipotent international police force. (b) An established and recognized extraterrestrial menace. (c) Massive global environmental pollution. (d) Fictitious alternate enemies.
Sociological: War, through the medium of military institutions, has uniquely served societies, throughout the course of known history, as an indispensable controller of dangerous social dissidence and destructive antisocial tendencies...the war system has provided the machinery through which the motivational forces governing human behavior have been translated into binding social allegiance. It has thus ensured the degree of social cohesion necessary to the viability of nations.
Substitute Institutions: Control Function: (a) Programs generally derived from the Peace Corps model. (b) A modern, sophisticated form of slavery. Motivational function: (a) Intensified environmental pollution. (b) New religions or other mythologies. (c) Socially oriented blood games. (d) Combination forms.
Ecological: War has been the principal evolutionary device for maintaining a satisfactory ecological balance between gross human population and supplies available for its survival. It is unique to the human species.
Substitute Institutions: A comprehensive program of applied eugenics.
Cultural and Scientific: War-orientation has determined the basic standards of value in the creative arts, and has provided the fundamental motivational source of scientific and technological progress.
Among primitive peoples, the war dance is the most important art form. Elsewhere, literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture that has won lasting acceptance has invariably dealt with a theme of war, expressly or implicitly, and has expressed the centricity of war to society. The war in question may be national conflict, as in Shakespeare plays, Beethoven's music, or Goya's paintings, or it may be reflected in the form of religious, social, or moral struggle, as in the work of Dante, Rembrandt, and Bach. Art that cannot be classified as war-oriented is usually described as 'sterile', 'decadent,' and so on...It is also instructive to note that the character of a society's culture has borne a close relationship to its war-making potential, in the context of its times. It is no accident that the current 'cultural explosion' in the United States is taking place during an era marked by an unusually rapid advance in weaponry.
Substitute Institutions: Cultural: No replacement institution offered. Scientific: The secondary requirements of the space research, social welfare, and/or eugenics programs.
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