War

 


 

[1840]  Alexis de Tocqueville,  De la Démocratie en Amérique, vol. II, Flammarion, Paris, 1981

-  "La guerre ne livre pas toujours les peuples démocratiques au gouvernement militaire; mais elle ne peut manquer d'accroître immensément, chez ces peuples, les attribution du gouvernement civil; elle centralise presque forcément dans les mains de celui-ci la direction de tous les hommes et l'usage de toutes les choses. Si elle ne conduit pas tout à coup au despotisme par la violence, elle y amène doucement par les habitudes.
Tous ceux qui cherchent à détruire la liberté dans le sein d'un nation démocratique doivent savoir que le plus sûr et le plus court moyen d'y parvenir est la guerre. C'est là le premier axiome de la science." (p. 330)

-  "C'est donc principalement dans la guerre que les peuples sentent le désir et souvent le besoin d'augmenter les prérogatives du pouvoir central. Tous les génies guerriers aiment la centralisation, qui accroît leur forces, et tous les génies centralisateurs aiment la guerre, qui oblige les nations à resserrer dans les mains de l'Etat tous les pouvoirs." (pp. 366-367)

 

[1897]  Piotr Kropotkin,  The State [L'Etat - Son rôle historique], Freedom Press, London, 1987

-  "State is synonymous with war. Wars devastated Europe and managed to finish off the towns which the State had not directly destroyed." (pp. 42-43)

 

[1919]  Randolph Bourne,  The State, Resistance Press, New York, 1919

-  "War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate co-operation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense."

" ... in general, the nation in war-time attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values, culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war."

-  "The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner towards a rival group has meant, throughout all history - war."

-  "Joining as it does to these very vigorous tendencies of the individual - the pleasure in power and the pleasure in obedience - this gregarious impulse becomes irresistible in society. War stimulates it to the highest possible degree, sending the influences of its mysterious herd-current with its inflations of power and obedience to the farthest reaches of the society, to every individual and little group that can possibly be affected. And it is these impulses which the State - the organization of the entire herd, the entire collectivity - is founded on and makes use of."

-  "There is, of course, in the feeling towards the State, a large element of pure filial mysticism. The sense of insecurity, the desire for protection, sends one's desire back to the father and mother, with whom is associated the earliest feeling of protection. It is not for nothing that one's State is still thought of as Fatherland or Motherland, that one's relations towards it is conceived in terms of family affection. The war has shown that nowhere under the shock of danger have these primitive childlike attitudes failed to assert themselves again."

-  "A people at war have become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them, imposes his mild but necessary rule upon them and in whom they lose their responsibility and anxieties."

 

[1937]  Emilio Lussu,  Un anno sull'Altipiano, Einaudi, Torino, 1978

-  "Io mi difendo bevendo. Altrimenti, sarei già al manicomio. Contro le scelleratezze del mondo, un uomo onesto si difende bevendo. È da oltre un anno che io faccio la guerra, un po' su tutti i fronti, e finora non ho visto in faccia un solo austriaco. Eppure ci uccidiamo a vicenda, tutti i giorni. Uccidersi senza conoscersi, senza neppure vedersi!  È orribile!  È per questo che ci ubriachiamo tutti, da una parte e dall'altra." (p. 37)

-  "Si dice che il tenente Santini ha lasciato un testamento. - L'ho sentito anch'io - Anch'io - E che dice il testamento? Era sposato il tenente? - Ma che sposato! Il testamento diceva : Raccomando ai miei cari soldati di spararli [i comandanti] tutti, appena possono farlo senza loro pericolo; tutti, senza eccezione." (p. 96)

 

[1945]  Bertrand de Jouvenel,  On Power : its nature and the history of its growth (Du pouvoir : histoire naturelle de sa croissance), Liberty Press, Indianapolis, 1993

-  "... the extension of Power, which means its ability to control even more completely a nation's activities, is responsible for the extension of war." (p. 10)

-  "... to him who contemplates the unfolding of the ages war presents itself as an activity of states which pertains to their essence." (p. 150)

-  "We see that, as every advance of Power is useful for war, so war is useful for the advance of Power." (p. 157)

-  "Armaments are merely an expression of Power. They grow because Power grows. And yet those parties are loudest in demanding their limitation which, with unperceived inconsequence, are the most ardent supporters of Power's expansion!" (p. 158)

 

[1948]  George Orwell,  Nineteen Eighty-Four, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1999

-  "The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." (pp.198-199)

-  "War ... not only accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society." (p. 200)

-  "It does not matter whether the war is actually happening .... All that is needed is that a state of war should exist." (p. 200)

-  "The war, therefore ... is merely an imposture." "But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs." (p. 207)

 

[1950]  Alex Comfort, Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State. A criminological approach to the problem of power, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1950

-  "War is the condition in which centralized government finds itself more fully in control, more secure in its authority, and most readily able to command undisputed public allegiance." (p. 43)

-  "War is by far the most important type of group-delinquency in contemporary societies." "It has come to fulfil the definition which a French cartoonist attributed to the Prussian military catechism : What is peace? Peace is the period of preparation for war." (p. 48)

-  "War is the only surviving national activity in which the opportunity to shine is combined with a full indulgence for aggressive behaviour and a pressing invitation to the individual to participate." (p. 49)

-  "It is essentially the socially maladjusted civilian who is happiest in wartime - his problems are shelved, the difficulties of his personal relationships are superseded : the criminal can redeem himself by enlisting his delinquency on the popular side : the paranoiac is at grips with an enemy whom other beside himself recognize and revile. The adjusted individual finds his entire life disorganized, his family brokenup, his liberty curtailed and his protests regarded as treasonable. War is essentially the playground of the psychopath in society." (pp. 50-51)

 

[1964]  Vance Packard,  The Naked Society, Lomgmans, London, 1964

-  "The fact that the United States has been involved in four hot wars during this century and in a prolonged cold war for most of the last two decades is responsible for the continual introduction of new surveillance techniques and social controls. What is disturbing however, is that the government rarely relinquishes such wartime techniques and controls when the shooting ends." (p. 20)

 

[1964]  Tristram Coffin,  The Armed Society. Militarism in modern America, Penguin Books, Baltimore, Maryland

- "Charles Wilson, General Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense, said: 'I have said to a number of my friends that one of the serious things about this defense business is that so many Americans are getting a vested interest in it; properties, business, jobs, employment, votes, opportunities for promotion and advancement, bigger salaries for scientists and all that.'
A few figures explain what Wilson was talking about. In the President's budget for fiscal 1964, as Senator J. William Fulbright explained in a newsletter to his Arkansas constituents, 77.9 billion dollars, or 78 percent, was for military preparedness, to maintain international security, and to meet our debts from past wars. Over 55 billion dollars was earmarked for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, 2.7 billion dollars for foreign aid (more than half, about 65 per cent, is for military assistance), 4.2 billion dollars for space activities, which are largely inspired by military interests, 5.5 billion dollars for veterans' benefits and more than 10 billion dollars for interest on the public debt, which was largely created during World War II and the Korean War." (p. 21)

 

[1967]  Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1967

-  "... the existence of a society as a political 'nation' requires as part of its definition an attitude of relationship toward other 'nations'. This is what we usually call a foreign policy. But a nation's foreign policy can have no substance if it lacks the means of enforcing its attitude toward other nations. It can do this in a credible manner only if it implies the threat of maximum political organization for this purpose - which is to say that it is organized to some degree for war. War, then, as we have defined it to include all national activities that recognize the possibility of armed conflict, is itself the defining element of any nation's existence vis-à-vis any other nation. 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 inevitably elimination of national sovereignty and the traditional nation-state." (pp. 70-71)

-  "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." (p. 111)

 

[1983]  Eugène Enriquez,  De la Horde à l'État. Essai de psychanalyse du lien social, Gallimard, Paris, 1983

-  "En prolongeant la pensée de Freud il est permis de dire que l'État (cristallisation dans des institutions stables du lien groupal) ne peut naître, se développer, se fortifier que par la guerre (la guerre est consubstantielle à l'État, pensait déjà Hegel): c'est pourquoi l'existence d'un État pacifique est impossible." (p. 125)

-  "Métamorphosé en symbole de la patrie, l'État résume, dans son énorme machine, le corps social menacé continuellement de dislocation par la vie mouvante de la société civile. Un nouveau sacré trascendant est né, pour lequel aucun sacrifice ne sera exagéré puisqu'il pourra demander à tous ses membres de participer aux holocaustes géants que constituent les guerres modernes." "La guerre totale est une invention des États modernes." (p. 319)

 

[1999]  Martin van Creveld,  The Rise and Decline of the State, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

-  "Between 1914 and 1918 the number of those who wore German uniform exceeded 13 million. Of these, approximately 2 million lost their lives. The total number of dead is estimated at about 10 million, not counting perhaps as many who died of war related diseases." (p. 253)
-  "Among the inventions were land and sea mines, produced and sown in the millions by all the belligerent states. Then there were hundred of thousands of miles of barbed wire - to say nothing of that World War I specialty never before or since used on a similar scale, i.e., poison gas." (p. 253)

-  "Between 1939 and 1945 somewhere between 40 and 60 million people were killed with the aid of conventional arms." (p. 257)