12 July 2009

Tatja Grimm

Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio:
It was the verdict of ancient writers that men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and that the same effects result from both of these passions. For whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another.

It is possible this is no longer the case. I have mentioned before that Unrestricted Warfare by
Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui is an excellent book which I have never finished reading. It argues, or mentions, that the 1991 Iraq war was the first and last of its kind, and that the world is fundamentally different than it was before regarding people's support for wars. Maybe this is because of nuclear weapons.

It brings to mind many things. Is conflict really so unavoidable? If it is, then it is because of selfishness or ambitiousness of those around you. What you allow them to do, or what you seek to achieve is largely defined by the social environment of what you see as possible and what you see as reasonable to have as a goal, whether this is because other people have the same or whether they have a different attitude towards what you or they should be able to achieve. Our reactions toward what other people attempt to do is only because of what we have decided or what other people have decided for us. Conflict is not unavoidable, but occurs because we feel it should. This may be a morally acceptable decision as it relates to the benefit of others around us and even our own benefit; but this may not prevent it from becoming a selfish decision. The only way it is not, to keep being good even as you grow weary with it, is to be the warrior.

Most are not. Some cultures are aware of this requirement more than others. Some cultures present death as hypothetically being a positive thing, and in that way are able to embrace conflict while not denying its nature. This is more of a social stance as this presentation of strength is mostly of a rhetorical nature; whereas viewing the accepting attitude towards death as... what it is... derives from a more individual stance that does not depend, or thrive on the benefit of other people to be expressed.

The second thing it brings to mind is that if nuclear weapons really have softened the aggressive characteristics of society, then the aggressive mindset that is attracted to war might only exist in simpler and less deadly environments. Comparing the warring factions of ages past, they are very different from the current one of global trade and media saturation. A game, then can derive its legitimacy and its reality from the fact that it does not take place in the present.

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