A response to “War, the health of the State” (see post below)

David Davis

I wish to promote a comment up to being a main post as I think what follows should add to discussion about what human societies are like, what they have been like for millennia before, and what could happen if socialism gets its way. You all know how fixated I am about the deliberate and focussed nature of the forces of neo-precapitalist-barbarianism: and that I say that the bastards truly really want to return the entirety of Homo sapiens to not just a faux-pastoralist state but to a pre-pastoralist one. Provided that there are stilla couple of million helots to farm for girls, to do backbreaking work, and to be kept firmly out of the enclosed areas and the food-table.

Here’s what Ian B said about the last thing we published:-

Ian B | 14 March, 2012 at 9:16 am |


Make no mistake about it: War is killing on a mass scale, in service to and for the benefit of the state, and that’s all it is. It’s not a natural human activity.

This is basically not true. I’ve just been reading Azar Gat’s “War In Human Civilisation” and I would recommend it. War is as old as mankind; it has taken different forms, but “killing on a mass scale” is very natural indeed. It was not invented by “the State”.

I think this is a major problem libertarians have. I’ve noticed this a few times, even from greats like Rothbard; the tendency to assign a Rousseuesque state of nature to early man, and then The State comes along and ruins it all. Believing things like this is as ahistoric as the ideologies of any of our foes. It simply is not true.

The violent male death rate in primitive, “pre State” societies is at a minimum 20% and frequently higher. That is a level that States have not even achieved in appalling mass slaughters like the world wars. States actually reduced violence, whether we like it or not. They did it for selfish reasons. But they did, nonetheless. This figure includes death by war and death by (intratribal) feud, but in primitive societies they are much the same, except one is killing “them” and one is killing “us”.

Primitive war consists of two basic forms; the most murderous is the “raid”. All the guys get together, sneak up on another tribe’s village during the night, and attack at dawn when surprise is maximal. The intention is to kill as many males as possible, and steal the women for wives. Also, any carryable goods, animals perhaps, etc. The other form is the ritual war. This is less murderous. The two tribes stand a safe distance apart, shout at each other, wave their willies and throw spears. Very few get killed. THis is the thing that develops into modern war; combining the “battlefield” idea of the latter with the murderous intent of the former. Taking an example of proto-civilisation formation we were around to witness as moderns ourselves (our own is in ancient times), the Zulu nation simply swapped from raiding to a standing army with short stabbing spears instead of long throwing spears, thus to massacre unsuspecting tribes turning up for a ritual willy-waving competition.

Thomas, we have been slaughtering each other for personal gain- the destruction of “them” to benefit “us”- since the Old Stone Age. It is not an invention of modern states. The prehistoric record reveals heaps of scalped skulls, collected as trophies.

The desire for it has to be inculcated in soldiers. They must be thoroughly indoctrinated, and “the enemy” — soldier and civilian alike — must be thoroughly dehumanized in order to move them to their “duty.”

The harsh reality is that the desire to kill is part of our nature. It is not a false consciousness. Every savage tribe we have encountered- called “savages” in less politically correct times precisely because of their astonishing savagery compared to effete moderns first meeting them- has considered it both normal and desirable to think of every other tribe as an alien, less than human “them” who it is quite reasonable to kill. Humans dehumanise each other as a matter of nature, not as an invention of the State. It is not pleasurable for libertarians to face up to this, but the State has done much of the damping this down as an instinct- for selfish reasons, to allow mass societies to exist- which led ultimately to us having modern morals.

The world of the tribe is the world of “us” and “them”, and of frequent killing. That’s just the way it is. Hobbes got closer than Rousseau.

7 responses to “A response to “War, the health of the State” (see post below)

  1. David,

    Thanks for running my piece, and Ian’s response. Not many blogs promote the better comments to posts of their own. More should.

  2. We might be doing it more often from now on, Thomas. Too many good comments get left in the thread and gradually disappear under the ever-building sediment. Also we like your stuff and hope you’ll write more for us to show here.

  3. Geoffrey Blainey’s “The Causes of War” looks at 276 wars and concludes that wars begin when nations disagree about their relative strength, and end when the fighting nations agree on each others’ relative strength. The LA published a review in “Free Life.”


  4. I also heard somewhere that modern wars begin when one side misreads the other’s intentions. Perhaps that is part of what Tony is referring to?

  5. Wars are always fought over the ‘terms’ for peace

  6. concludes that wars begin when nations disagree about their relative strength,

    That doesn’t seem to me to be so much “cause” as “opportunity”. It’s like saying “people buy products when they can afford them”. That is true, but it doesn’t explain why they chose the particular product to buy. Likewise, explaining that nations go to war when they think they can win doesn’t really explain why they wanted the war in the first place.

  7. It seems to me that democratic and/or populist politicians have brought us to the era of total war.. I am just finishing a book (available free on the internet) by Capt. Russell Grenfell RN, “Unconditional Hatred – German War Guilt and the Future of Europe”. It covers the run up to both wars and their disasters. He compares the generous peace offered by aristocratic allied governments to defeated France after 1815 with the Versailles treaty, enforced by democracies and the accompanying sentiments of Hang the Kaiser” and “Squeeze Germany till the pips squeak”.
    Towards the end of the book he writes “As we have seen,the primary consideration in deciding to make war should be whether or not the country’s vital interests require its participation. On this basis, Britain should have kept out of both world wars, as she had successfully kept out of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, her vital interests being involved neither in 1914 nor 1939. Indeed, Sir Edward Grey’s 1914 object of preventing Britain being hated, despised and so on, was about as poor a reason for taking this country into war as could be imagined. There was, of course, the last minute episode of the German invasion of Belgium, which gave the British government a good rallying cry for a war on which it had already decided for other reasons. Lowes Dickinson quotes British press articles of 1887, thought to be officially inspired at a time when France & Germany were cloes to war and Britain was more friendly with Germany than France, arguing that Britain’s duty under the Belgian guarantee required her only to ensure that Belgian territory was left intact after a war.”

    It’s an interesting book – although I don’t agree with all the author’s conclusions . He died in the mid Fifties and was an enthusiast for European political union.