February 20, 2010
Our Great National Pastime

As we live in what is at present the most heavily armed and warlike society on earth, the following symptomatology might be of interest. It is from The Acquisitive Society, by British historian R.H. Tawney, writing in 1920.

Since then, setting World War II aside for the sake of brevity, we have made war, at various levels and in various ways, in Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, South and North Korea, South and North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, the Congo, Colombia, Kuwait, Iraq, Haiti, the Philippines, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, El Salvador, Sudan, Somalia, the Soviet Union, China, the former Yugoslavia, Indonesia and Angola. No doubt I have forgotten a few; there have been so many.

Militarism is the characteristic, not of an army, but of a society. Its essence is not any particular quality or scale of military preparation, but a state of mind, which, in its concentration on one particular element of social life, ends finally by exalting it until it becomes the arbiter of all the rest. The purpose for which military forces exist is forgotten. They are thought to stand by their own right and to need no justification. Instead of being regarded as an instrument which is necessary in an imperfect world, they are elevated into an object of superstitious veneration, as though the world would be a poor, insipid place without them, so that political institutions and social arrangements and intellect and morality and religion are crushed into a mold made to fit one activity, which in a sane society is a subordinate activity, like the police or the maintenance of prisons or the cleansing of sewers, but which in a militarist state is a kind of mystical epitome of society itself.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 20, 2010 05:21 PM
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Sadly, it usually takes the kind of a lesson Germany and Japan got to change that way of thinking.

Posted by: Jolly Roger on February 22, 2010 4:23 PM

The Soviet Union? Isn't that pushing it a little? The U2 was just a reconnaissance flight.

Posted by: Duff Orben on February 23, 2010 11:52 AM
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