56338Re: [evol-psych] Warfare as suicide
- Aug 7, 2007Here's another way to think of warfare: mutual sacrifice of children.
Erich Fromm writes,
"Another error against which I want to caution is to ignore the
spiritual and religious meaning and motivation of actually
destructive and cruel acts. Let us consider one drastic example, the
sacrifice of children, as it was practiced in Canaan at the time of
the Hebrew conquest and in Carthage down to its destruction by the
Romans, in the third century B.C. Were these parents motivated by the
destructive and cruel passion to kill their own children? Surely this
is very unlikely. The story of Abraham's attempt to sacrifice Isaac,
a story meant to speak against sacrifice of children, movingly
emphasizes Abraham's love for Isaac; nevertheless Abraham does not
waver in his decision to kill his son. Quite obviously we deal here
with a religious motivation which is stronger than even the love for
the child. The man in such a culture is completely devoted to his
religious system, and he is not cruel, even though he appears so to a
person outside this system.
"It may help to see this point if we think of a modern phenomenon
which can be compared with child sacrifice, that of war. Take the
first World War. A mixture of economic interests, ambition, and
vanity on the part of the leaders, and a good deal of stupid
blundering on all sides brought about the war. But once it had broken
out (or even a little bit earlier), it became a "religious"
phenomenon. The state, the nation, national honor, became the idols,
and both sides voluntarily sacrificed their children to these idols.
A large percentage of the young men of the British and of the German
upper classes which are responsible for the war were wiped out in the
early days of the fighting. Surely they were loved by their parents.
Yet, especially for those who were most deeply imbued with the
traditional concepts, their love did not make them hesitate in
sending their children to death, nor did the young ones who were
going to die have any hesitation. The fact that, in the case of child
sacrifice, the father kills the child directly while, in the case of
war, both sides have an arrangement to kill each other's children
makes little difference. In the case of war, those who are
responsible for it know what is going to happen, yet the power of the
idols is greater than the power of love for their children."
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness pp205-206 (1972)
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