Reason and intelligence lead thoughtful people to reach the same conclusions when those conclusions seem most obvious, and that’s a shame. We intellectual sorts daily nod and smile at one another, agreeing on many momentous topics of discussion, differing on only the tiniest of distinctions. Too many discussions terminate with these knee-jerk conclusions, really, and one of these universally agreed-upon topics happens to be the matter of war.
War, says the sage scholar, is a base, savage, corrupt, unworthy use of our time and resources. War, he spits, defiles our dignity and pollutes our minds, denounces our integrity and poisons our innocence. War, he decries, is hell.
However, this perspective does not lend itself to a round, fair judgment of martial practices. War is too ancient a human institution to be flippantly dismissed out-of-hand. We owe too much of our bounteous, idyllic lifestyle to war for such a hasty expulsion of it. War is too human to be deemed inhumane.
War, the heart of so much civilization, cannot be immoral, unjust, or depraved. War is not loathsome, nor is it an abomination. War is not iniquity.
War, in fact — is a really, really good time.
I. War Brings People Together
“[The most awesomest party ever] grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
— Mao Tse-Tung
Nothing thrills the soul like a good explosion, except maybe a good explosion with body parts flying out of it. Rather than blowing people up solo, though, one can make the minutest bang a resounding ka-boom! by inviting one’s friends and neighbors along. An armed skirmish inspires conviviality, and any reason to hold a shin-dig is a good one.
Many Southern Californians live in apathy of their neighbors, ignorant of their neighbors’ names, ignorant of their neighbors’ proclivities, ignorant of their neighbors altogether except for the kind of car they drive and which households make the most noise. We repeatedly prove ourselves too proud to love, too haughty to give a heartfelt hug when we need it most. Drop a few cluster bombs on the local strip mall, though, and people cling to one another like infant monkeys.
Never mind the block party; Mrs. Dilweed’s acclaimed potato salad isn’t going to make any friends. It’s suppression fire from a machine gun nest at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac that softens the hardest of hearts. Until cowering in a muddy shell crater with them, one never knows one’s true brothers and sisters. Camaraderie springs from warmth, and the root word of warmth is war (little known fact). This is why most ordnance produces heat, flame and conflagration, and why even cold bullets, once in merry flight, are called fire.
Don’t stay out in the cold. Choose warmth. Choose war.
II. War Inspires Art
“The object of war is not to [party hard] for your country but to make the other bastard [party hard] for his.”
— General George S. Patton, Jr.
What pastoral oils graced canvases during Earth’s peaceful centuries? What poetry dripped honeylike from the tongues of minstrels during the Great Pacific Period? What music resounded through the halls of humanity during the Time of Tranquility?
Aha! But there were never any such occasions, of course. Do not be silly.
All great art is the result of a vicious, mindless, self-consuming, bullet-tossing, bomb-fumbling world hell-bent on blending hell into every fine thing produced by man. Without the bang of guns, there would be no onomatopœia. Without the need for camouflage, there would be no paint. Without the need for morale, there would be no music, no comedy, no burlesque.
Without war, the Beatles would have been a boy band. Without war, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls would have been about schoolchildren dismissed for summer. Without war, Leutze’s painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, boot at the prow, would have featured that great general having his shoes shined.
No art exists but that which came from the fertile, menstruating womb of war. What possible inspiration could there, otherwise, be? God (big G)? Please. We have a Sistine Chapel already, thank you.
III. War Improves the Humans-to-Resources Ratio
“The death of one man is [smart shopping]. The death of millions is a [hot deal].”
— Josef Stalin, comment to Churchill at Potsdam, 1945
Limited resources! cry the teachers of social studies. Limited resources! cry the pundits of the mass media. Limited resources! cry the politicians of every country throughout time. All these persons devoutly believe to have spotted the obvious reason for war, when all along they’ve had it backwards. War is not a battle over limited resources. War is the simple solution by which humanity divides limited resources amongst fewer peoples.
What difference does it make if seventy percent of all the oil in the world exists in the Middle East and North Africa, if there are so few people in said world that they couldn’t possibly consume it all in seventy-seven generations? War isn’t a contest of tug-o’-war with natural resources as the prize. War is a game of musical chairs which begins with someone left standing, and ends with everyone seated comfortably.
Every human death brings humanity closer to feeding itself. The practice of warfare puts palatable provisions on everyone’s plate.
IV. War Spurs Science
“You can’t say that civilization don’t advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way [that is consistent with the scientific method].”
– Will Rogers
Dehydrated foods, microwave technology, and countless other advances sprang from the American war machine, yet detractors still picket and march and gripe and whine, saying, “Make love, not war!” and, “Draft beer, not people!” as though these pithy proverbs were the pinnacle of wit and political consciousness. These naysayers have conviction — one can tell by the limitless cash they spend on verbose bumper stickers for their hybrid automobiles, verbose little slogans such as, “Why do people bomb people who bomb people to show that bombing people is wrong?” and “It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to construct a bomber” — but their hypocrisy outshines their passion every time they stir water into their Carnation Instant Breakfast (™) or nuke their breakfast burritos for thirty seconds on High.
War motivates our sharpest knives and brightest bulbs to design ever-more-efficient blenders in which to purée people, without which the interminable process of old-fashioned battle would positively bore the soldiers to death. Who wants a war without robotic drone fighter planes firing laser-guided ordnance while threading the needle through phased-array radar sites? Nobody, that’s who. Night vision goggles with infrared target-acquisition-sharing capability! Electromagnetic silent supersonic Gauss rifles! Nuclear submarines playing hide n’ seek beneath polar ice caps, with bionic remote-controlled spy sharks to follow them!
Let’s face it, war makes a technological wonderland out of an otherwise unremarkable world, and though it may seem somewhat more destructive, we’d all probably die of boredom without it, anyway.
V. War Brings the Rich and Poor Together
“When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who [benefit greatly].”
– Jean-Paul Sartre
Of the many struggles plaguing mankind, class warfare remains one of the most deleterious. The working class has always been exploited by people with money and power, and has always outnumbered its rich slave-owners by a ratio too imbalanced to ignore. In 2006, the top one percent of the population of the United States owned more than twenty percent of the wealth. This is the same as if the rich had stolen every single possession from nineteen percent of American citizens, not to mention everything these unfortunate nineteen percent are currently earning, and everything they will earn until the day they fall over and die — until the statistic changes again, that is.
What to do for this social sickness? Depose the rich and give their stuff to the poor, á la Robin Hood? That only works in movies. Once again we find that war, that old internecine pastime, is the answer.
The problem is not economic disparity. The crisis is that aristocrats are an alarmingly endangered species, their numbers falling faster than those of the black rhino, the giant panda, or the beluga sturgeon. In order to save this grievously assailed caste, the opposing herd must be thinned. What better use for the poor, than war? War is not only useful for inciting art, science, conservation, and brotherly love; it’s also humanity’s best method of lessening the huddled masses of impoverished paupers to match the dwindling and endangered populations of aristocrats.
Eat your heart out, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
VI. War Spurs Philosophy
“We make war that we may live in [wine-induced philosophical contemplation].”
Humanity once needed to laze in order to store up energy for the hunt. Now that our prey comes to us through drive-thru take-out windows, we no longer require such lazing, but shaking the habit has proven too difficult for most of us and as a result, we’re lazy.
Philosophers are no different, and in fact often constitute the laziest portion of society (armchairs redounding). For this indolence the fault falls but partially on them, however. Having explained away the meaning of life with eighteen answers to choose from (and this before even touching upon world religions) philosophers peaked rather young, and the resulting malaise keeps them from coming up with new material for our amusement on a regular basis, lazy bastards that they are.
With the threat and promise of war, though, philosophers and thinkers from every corner of the globe clamber over one another to pose their perspectives to the world. War is detestable! say some, and War is inevitable! say others, and War is glorious! say still more, all of them having worked out valid, logical reasoning to support their point of view.
Without war, whatever would we do for philosophy? Where would we find our bathroom reading? Like it or not, the world has war to thank for the musings of Confucius, Gandhi, Lao Tze, Kant, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rest of the simpering peaceniks.
No war, no philosophy.
VII. War Holds Religions Accountable
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world [see eye-to-eye].”
– Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi
Perhaps most importantly, war keeps the world’s major religions on their toes. Any religious leader can jaw non-stop about how one ought to live one’s life, but when hundreds of weeping mothers pour in on Sunday begging for a divine promise to bring their sons home from war unscathed, even the most wretched charlatan must turn his gaze inward and ask himself, “Do I really know what the hell I’m talking about? Do I really think there’s an ultimate source of love and wisdom and fairness who could let a war like this happen, simply because people are born imperfect and grow up stupid enough to fire projectiles at each other?”
Mark 13:7 says that wars must happen. Judaism and Islam have been hurling grenades at one another for centuries. Hinduism even has a goddess, Kali, dedicated to destruction, and Taoism doesn’t really care one way or the other. It should surprise no one, therefore, that most of the people recruiting for war, speaking in favor of war, and doing the actual killing practice religion. War benefits religions by holding them accountable, and by accomplishing the following:
War eliminates the fighters from religious congregations, leaving only the lovers.
War forces religious leaders to answer in detail the most treacherous, and imperative, mysteries of life.
War allows believers to emphasize their belief in heaven by martyring themselves, an otherwise impossible task in the modern era.
“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ is not an argument against atheism — it’s an argument against foxholes,” says James Morrow. Indeed, nobody wants a godless heathen in the trenches defending America. What would that say about us here at home?
VIII. War Destroys Warfarers
“We have to face the fact that either we are going to die together or live together and if we are going to live together then we are going to have to [die together anyway].”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
Having covered all the aforementioned benefits of war, it remains to note that even if war could be disparaged (not bloody likely) enemies of this most honorable practice would have nothing to fear, because war primarily destroys warfarers. Collateral damages aside, and the odd woman-and-child combination notwithstanding, most victims of war who die with bullets in their chests die also with guns in their hands.
War, then, is a cancer-eating cancer. Who can fear an innocuous thing like that?
IX. War Expedites Evolution
“Violence is the last refuge of the [guy who should have tried violence sooner].”
— Isaac Asimov
The human race has war to thank for much of its enduring success and happiness, but natural selection continues. Having developed foresight, as well as a prototypical reasoning faculty, humans owe it to themselves to help speed evolution along, rather than sluggishly floating through stages of development like flotsam on a wave.
Since evolution depends on the deaths of as many would-be parents as possible, war hurries genetic development exponentially. Millions of heroic, conscientious warmongers with an earnest desire to kill opt out of parenthood, and thereby hurry the filtration process. In addition to these purposeful patriots, millions eject themselves from the gene pool by enlisting under dubious pretenses also, including (though fortunately not limited to) the overemotional, the desperate, the directionless, the uneducated, the unassuming, the weak-willed, and the easily-convinced. With all these excellent specimens volunteering their progeny for oblivion, homo sapien version 2.0 might just be released millions of years ahead of schedule.
One never knows which genetic mutation will prove most useful to the next line of humans, but one thing is certain: war finds those beneficial mutations quickly — much faster than waiting for rest homes to empty does.
With so much to thank war for, how can we continue to castigate this most-precious of traditions? There’s so little the world can agree on! And yet, everyone admires the silent nobility of a rusted, burned-out tank half-hidden in tall, green grass. Everybody can appreciate the natural beauty of an antiquated minefield, the subtle majesty of barbed wire silhouetted against the sunrise, its coils spiraling along the horizon like glittering ivy.
Why must we as a civilized people rebel against our most fundamental natures? Let us enjoin our destinies hand-in-hand, staring boldly, proudly down the rifled barrels of our mutual obliteration. Let us not come to regard our beatific invasions as clumsy mistakes, but as the measured, artful strokes of a virtuoso violinist crafting a concerto.
There’s nothing sick or evil about death. Death, so-called, does not even truly exist except as the briefest juncture between shapes of life, a nurturing moment in the infinite infancy of existence. Let us not stay the hand of the reaper, but take up our plows and sow our seeds in preparation for Death’s gentle harvest.
We did not invent war. We are war.
So stand down the picket signs and snatch up the weaponry, salute the Commander In-Chief and strut stolidly to doom. Our splendor and sublimity await!
With Much Love and Many Rockets,