[extropy-chat] Back to Causes of War

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Apr 27 17:08:45 UTC 2007

Keith writes

>>How is the point made that modern European nations any time in the 20th
>>century faced economic deprivation?
> It's not absolute deprivation but *relative* that trips the detectors.

Okay, then you have to make the case that the *relative* deprivation was
greater around 1940 (or 1914 or June, 1950), and so on, than at other
times.  Actually, prosperity *usually* leads to greater inequality (and, true,
envy of those who are better off).  My remark applies to both people and

> classic example were a bucket of warm water feels cold to one hand and hot to the other when left and right hands have been 
> presoaked in cold and hot water.

We've all experienced this.

> Even more significant (or so I think) is *anticipation* of bleak conditions.  My case for this is the logic of gene selection.  It 
> would pay genes for the warriors to kill neighbors *before* they were gaunt and weak from hunger.

Yes, that is so. And yes, some of the causes of WWI are related to this:

Unlike the late 1930's, the Germans were filled with foreboding (first chapter,
Paul Johnson's "Modern Times: From the twenties to the eighties"), brought
upon by an irrational fear of the slavs. I don't know if the common people
were so afflicted, but the philosophers and perhaps the government leaders
were. The "doom and gloom" philosophical school had won out.   And by
1914 the English were very apprehensive of being overtaken by Germany,
and were led to their making certain moves that made the outbreak of war more
likely (though the actual beginnings, of course, can scarcely be laid at their door).

>>In what ways did resource scarcity
>>contribute to WWI, WWII, the Korean War, or Vietnam?  Things were
>>booming in Germany before both WWI and WWII, and no one else was
>>much pinched either.
> "At the time of Hitler's release [from jail], the political situation in Germany had calmed and the economy had improved, which 
> hampered Hitler's opportunities for agitation."

Jeez.  That was in the early 20s!  By the late thirties economies had begun to
recover from the depression, especially in Germany. The people were buoyed
with optimism, and the hoi polloi believed that Hitler and the Nazis were the
best thing that ever happened.  The wikipedia link on Hitler you mentioned says

              On April 1, 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment
              at Landsberg Prison. Hitler received favoured treatment from the
              guards and had much fan mail from admirers.[18] He was pardoned
              and released from jail in December 1924, after serving only nine
              months of his sentence, or just over a year if time on remand is included.[18]

In an earlier post, you said that the Hitler invasion of the Soviet Union did not go
against your scheme for the reason that a war was already in progress.  But there
was *utterly* no reason whatsoever that made any sense to invade Russia; not
militarily, not economically, nothing.  (Well, yes, if the Germans conquered Russia
then they'd have their own oil; but Stalin was acting like Hitler's stooge in the real
war that was going on.)  The invasion of the Soviet Union was one man's crazy idea.

> "The political turning point for Hitler came when the Great Depression hit Germany in 1930."
> snip
> "Brüning's measure of budget consolidation and financial austerity brought little economic improvement and was extremely 
> unpopular. Under these circumstances, Hitler appealed to the bulk of German farmers, war veterans and the middle-class who had 
> been hard-hit by both the inflation of the 1920s and the unemployment of the Depression."

That's how he came to power, yes.  But the cause of the European WWII
is pretty simple (as compared to WWI):  one small German party sought the
total conquest of Europe or perhaps the world.  When Hitler and Stalin took
Poland, they didn't really think that England and France would declare war---
all this is much more particular than generalizations about relative privation,
birth rates, and so on.  And it is particulars like these afford the true, actual


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list