I’m currently working on a story that focuses on the politics of war in a hyperliberal society where its members are expected to promote democratic values (be fair to all, fit in, cooperate). Whoever doesn’t conform (acts out, be combative and aggro) loses popularity points and is scorned/scapegoated. This society reinforces its values (harmony, cooperation) through overt and covert means (performances, entertainment, the appearances of the esteemed and respected) but in doing so it hides the reality of constant strife, conflict, and increasing competition in politics and art.
In a hyperliberal society, battles are waged between those on the same side. Some seem to play well with others by appearing friendly and agreeable but subvert others and use the group to sanction their own agenda. Others are even more shrewd (passive aggressive behavior, guilt trips). This dynamic of conflict lies everywhere, even within families and relationships.
Personally, I’m a realist about war, in which I think ethics (moral concepts such as justice) has no place. In this link on a major character, I mention that conflict is where problems are solved and differences are resolved. I wanted to point out how war should not be perceived as some alien wholly foreign to modern society. One can detect the trends in society in war (unconventional and dirty strategies, i.e., guerrilla warfare, terrorism).
Neither is war some barbaric relic of the violent past of humankind, a roadblock of progress, for there will always be aggressive people in society. The values of civilization will not progress if people allowed the sneaky and the strong to take advantage of them. Even the great nonviolence advocate Gandhi wasn’t a pacifist for the sake of pacifism. His sole goal in his later years was the emancipation of India from British rule. In order for nonviolence to work, it had to correctly apply to the circumstances. Therefore it is but a strategy of war, not a fundamental doctrine.
War is not some male deviant behavior or the pursuit of the elite, for that would only perpetuate ignorance and maintain the power of the elite and repressive institutions. In the early days of civilization, war and strategy was the business of a very small group of elites. Soldiers were not trained (not exactly a good idea to arm them with practical knowledge that could eventually bite those in power on the ass), and neither were the indigenous folk in the colonies of Europe.
I hope to indirectly teach readers through my graphic novel the virtues of rational warfare where the anarchist is a rational mastermind after the mold of the great generals of history (Alexander the Great, Hannibal of Carthage, Genghis Khan) and the great strategists (Sun-Tzu, Clausewitz, etc).
Against war it can be said: it makes the victor stupid, the defeated malicious. In favor of war: through producing these two effects in barbarizes and therefore makes more natural; it is the winter or hibernation time of culture, mankind emerges from it stronger for good and evil – Fritz
Without war human beings stagnate in comfort and affluence and lose the capacity for great thoughts and feelings, they become cynical and subside into barbarism. – Dostoyevsky
If knowledge is merely the formal guise of power, and this power is that which makes right “right” then war must be politics by other means (von Clausewitz)
If you interpret this blog entry to be claiming that war includes all types of conflict, then that is not my intent. It would be a poor argument when one term has become so universal and its contrary loses all meaning. Let me explain why war is not necessarily identical to conflict. Life is thoroughly soaked with hostility, and conflict is inescapable. Peace is but an ideal, an impossible one. So, rather than hope that the upcoming clashes can be avoided, it is better to prepare for their inevitability. The more skilled political players know how to avoid from fighting others directly, they disarm them and turn them into allies. Kindness, generosity, and charm are strategies that take the fight out of others.
Everyday someone is trying to persuade you about something () or nudge you in a certain direction, bend you to their will, sell you their product, advocate a just case, charm your pants off, etc., etc. The world is a constant shifting playing field where the name of the game is power, and the players’ outfit barely disguise their aggression.
Moreover, Piaget the psychologist pointed to conflict as the most important part of mental development in the child. They learn how to adapt to the world in their struggles with parents, other children, other adults, and they invent strategies to make their lives better.
As for war, following Clausewitz, by “continuation of politics by other means” I mean all countries are goal-oriented (well-being, prosperity, security) and they pursue such goals in politics. Now, when an external force, another country or internal force endangers their goals, then war is the natural outcome. It is not only the victory of a battle or the conquest of land. It is the pursuit of policy that cannot be brought about without force.