[lit-ideas] Re: Psychological Interpretation of War (PEACE REVIEW)

  • From: Eric Yost <NYCEric@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 15:22:46 -0500

The "love of warfare" revolves around our attachment to and
willingness to die for sacred ideals.


K's argument depends upon the proposition above. It strikes me as highly 
debatable. It ignores evolutionary arguments (Koestler) and group 
psychology arguments (Reich).

And here's another way to look at it.

War and wartime offer people more ideological coherence than peace and 
peacetime--war simplifies the stress of ambiguity.

The social manufacture of coherence is as problematic as it is 
imperative. Coherence seems to depend on at least two antagonistic 
factors--the capacity of a citizen to integrate a large amount of 
ambiguous information and values, and the capacity to ignore things that 
don't fit into the social construction.

For example, just after 9/11 I foolishly argued that the attack would 
put an end to irony as our governing social trope. Later I learned that 
many people had made the same argument--the return to a new "classical" 
and unironic stance.

Why was I welcoming the end of irony? Simplicity for one thing--putting 
the spotlight on national defense always takes the floodlight off 
national failings and mistakes. The motive wasn't to demonstrate love 
but to lower the stress of manufacturing coherence.

It took Bush's cynical manipulation of 9/11 and subsequent gross 
blunders to make me realize I was wrong. There was no simplification, no 
reduction of stress--just even more challenges to the construction of 


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