Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Democracy, realpolitik and war

The future of humanity is secure. Image source

Yesterday, I ended a post on the causes of war with the statement:
... if reason for hope [of preventing war] remains, perhaps that hope depends on the spread of Einstein's contempt and loathing for those who delight in the violent exercise of power.
This feeble sentiment was added, I suppose, to soften the bleakness of the statement that preceded it:
Einstein's political incoherence [on the prevention of war] signified a fundamental clarity of vision: [for humanity] there is no way forward.
By way of excuse for my lapse into wishful thinking, I can offer only the fact of my Quaker upbringing.

But the notion that the people's will could somehow trump the dictates of real politik is absurd. If every democratic state eschewed violence, it would only encourage the aggression of all the others.

And, in any case, few states are controlled to a significant degree by public opinion. On the contrary, it is state-controlled education, police enforced political correctness and state or corporate controlled media that determine public opinion. From that we must conclude that war will remain, as it has always been, an instrument of state power. But though war, in the era of weapons of mass destruction threatens the destruction of civilization, humanity may yet survive. As Einstein put it:
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
So there we are, a comforting thought to end a discussion about war: humanity may survive nuclear Armageddon -- to fight another day with sticks and stones.

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