Humanitys Ancient & Passionate Love Affair With War
January-February 1989By Christopher Derrick
Christopher Derrick is an English writer published widely on both sides of the Atlantic. Copyright 1989 Christopher Derrick.
Let us imagine somebody who proposes to write about sex. Hes very well informed. But somewhere along the line, he has picked up the curious idea that human beings dislike sexual activity and only engage in it occasionally and with reluctance: they wouldnt engage in it at all (he supposes) if there was some other way of acquiring a dear little baby. Given that rather basic delusion, his observations on the subject are bound to seem like ethereal fantasies, ill-related to any sort of reality.
Nobody makes that mistake in fact: humanitys extreme fondness for sexual activity whether normal or in some deviant version is far too well known. Thats where various moral questions get their urgency.
But an exactly comparable mistake or should we call it a pretense? pervades practically all discussion of war. We all talk as though we hated it, simply and without qualification: we even do so when were actually embarking upon some war from the highest motives, of course. We are men of peace, we never wanted this war! It was those bastards on the other side who made peace impossible! So it is invariably said when any war begins, on both sides and quite often with precisely equal implausibility.
Its never much more than a half-truth. However reluctant we may be to admit it, we love war. Its one of humanitys most ancient and passionate love affairs. Thats why there has always been so much of it. Peaceful alternatives were always there, but they werent desired so passionately.
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