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56338Re: [evol-psych] Warfare as suicide

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  • Peter Webster
    Aug 7 7:16 AM
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      Here'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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