[extropy-chat] Civilization and War

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Dec 3 03:43:10 UTC 2006

I had written

> For those short-sighted individualists who embrace Crocker's
> Rules, human psychology is very subtle, and I'm very happy to
> remain on good personal terms with very nice and fully civilized
> and courteous people like [Jeff Davis]! 

and in a really great---but very interesting---non sequitur Al writes

> Okay, Lee, but civilization still remains a veneer, and women
> civilize men

Very true. A review of what happened in the 19th century gold-mining
camps after a few months fully vindicates this old observation. People
who had been fully inculcated in civilized habits slowly reverted to the
law of the jungle.

> -- that is to say they ATTEMPT to civilize men. 

No; they really do civilize men, at least the sense of helping men
introduce a lot of order into society.  And I should add that this
historical generality perhaps does not apply except in the West
and except in the last two hundred years.

> The convention of a man being a Real Man and not a 'girlie man'
> still exists in large part. Given this, war makes sense; peace does
> not make sense.

Not so!  War no longer makes sense between healthy normal
nations because it destroys everyone's wealth.  That's the real
reason that Germany and France, or France and England, are
never warring with each other any more. In the old days,
especially before the 1500s, one of the easier ways for a prince
to secure more wealth was to seize his neighbor's.  People found
in the 19th and 20th centuries that war made even the winner poorer.

> Did this war surprise you?

Eh?  You mean that Saddam attacked Kuwait, or that the U.N.
threatened him with invasion if he didn't stop ignoring their
countless resolutions?  No.  These highly disfunctional states
pose a definite menace to civilization, and the civilized powers
ought to take them out.

> Not me, the intensity of the insurgency in Iraq was (is) a shock,

That it is!   I never expected that sans jungles and infiltration routes
it would be possible.  But C4 and the willingness to target civilians,
coupled with a "Mr. Nice Guy" approach by the U.S. has made it

> but not the continued existence of war. No way.

Can you provide me an instance where two democracies ever went
to war?  For years I thought that there was one: the war of 1812.
But it turns out that at the time only 3% of English people had the
vote and could influence politicians.  I still need a counter-example.


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