IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Reasons for doing something that you shouldn’t be doing

I have written (more than once probably) about how for centuries humanity has believed that we are naturally aggressive and acquisitive, and that this explains violent conflict.   However, while many still believe this, today we are coming to realize that there is nothing inherent or instinctive about this behavior.  It is culturally imprinted, and that is, thankfully, amenable to change–though such change is not easy nor necessarily realizable over the short run.

Anyway, I am beginning to think that if violent conflict persists and is as frequent as it is in our day, we have to conclude that somebody (individuals and groups) derive some benefits from keeping it going, and not that it is just the way we are.   It could and can be stopped.  So, I reasoned what might those benefits be.  Here is an initial list that I will probably come back to at some point.

1.  It is relatively easy for leaders to consolidate their position by focusing their followers on a struggle against an external other.

2.  Getting control of the state through violence means that  you also get control of the state’s resources (such as they are) and that you can, at least for some time, use them as you see fit.

3.  A leader has a personal grudge against another leader.  This may predate the violence, or may arise in the course of violence.  Of course, once in place this dynamic becomes self-perpetuating:  he hits me so I hit him, etc…

4.  Arms makers and suppliers make huge profits from violent conflict and are willing to “share” those with the leadership that buys their weapons (ie kickbacks)

5.  The military becomes either a government within the government, or the government itself.  To justify not moving toward democracy a state of emergency associated with a conflict is often a good excuse.

In other words, when you see violent conflict you need to ask “Qui bono”  (which means, I think “who benefits” and not “Who is U2’s lead singer 🙂 )

As always, the underlying dynamics have to be brought to light, and the myth of the horrible external other who has to be eliminated has to be exposed for what it is:  a “trick” so that somebody, somewhere can profit (one way or another) from the horrors of war.

IGbarb says:  “Enough is enough, already!”


October 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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