Monday, May 08, 2006

Cosmic War I

I’m very pressed for time this morning and undoubtedly don’t have enough time to say what I wanted to say. Once again, the idea occurred to me on a whim, after leaving a comment on American Digest in response to Van der Leun's piece about the left’s meltdown upon hearing George Bush refer to the war on terror as ”World War III”.

Remember the other day, I made reference to Bion’s idea about “attacks on linking,” in which the individual dismantles the thinking process so as to be unable to recognize truth? The left’s reaction to the President’s statement is a fine example. In order to not perceive the simple truth that we are in a world war--if for no other reason than our enemies are in a global war with us--the mind must unconsciously “attack” any evidence that leads to that conclusion. Thus, it may look like President Bush is being attacked, but he is incidental to the deeper process of attacking and dismantling a reality that the left does not wish to see.

Anyway, in response to the piece, I impulsively typed the comment, “I realize that it's not fashionable to say so, but it's actually the denouement of Cosmic War I.” That is, we divide history into this or that war, but if we truly stand back and take a “martian’s eye view” of the situation, and try to look at history from without rather than within, we can see that this is so. In reality, human history has been just one long battle.

There are two ways of looking at this, one way rather pessimistic, the other way more optimistic. The pessimistic view is that there is something innate--perhaps even genetic--that makes human beings love war. There is this romantic notion that deep down human beings are gentle and peace-loving noble savages, but I presented some of the latest research in my book explaining how this is not the case. Rather, primitive groups were actually much more violent than we are. It’s just that the violence took place on such a small scale, that it’s not as noticeable.

In his book Constant Battles, archaeologist Steven LeBlanc noted that the “cruel and ugly” truth is that in traditional societies an average of twenty-five percent of the men died from warfare. Anthropologist Lawrence Keeley, in his War Before Civilization, noted that “Whenever modern humans appear on the scene, definitive evidence of homicidal violence becomes more common.... If anything, peace was a scarcer commodity... than for the average citizen of a civilized state.”

Indeed, LeBlanc writes that the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages would have been 1400 times that of modern Britain and about 70 times that of the United States in 1980. Although roughly 100 million people died from all war-related causes in the twentieth century, Keeley estimated that this figure is twenty times smaller than the losses that might have resulted if the world’s population were still organized into bands, tribes and chiefdoms.

Keep that last figure in mind in considering the nature of World War III---or what I believe is Cosmic War I. At the moment, our enemies are limited to killing only as many as they can. But what if they were only limited by how many they wanted to kill? I think you get Keeley’s point. The primitives with whom we are at war are limited only by the means, not the will. We, on the other hand, are not limited by our means, but by our will. If any of you read that gruesome story this weekend about the beheaded Iraqi journalist, it is hard to imagine that our enemies would repeat this infinitely evil act upon millions and millions of people if only they could. And yet, they would--to you, your children, anyone they could get their hands on

Because of “attacks on linking,” we are not even allowed to think about the possibility of using nukes against Iran, because that would be "too cruel." But should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, I imagine the only thing that might stop them from using them is that they would not be cruel enough.

Well, I’m really running short of time. What I really wanted to discuss was the nature of Cosmic War I, but I see that Van der Leun has beat me to the punch anyway. His wonderful essay this morning, Clear History, touches on many of the themes I might have if I had had the time. He captures the pan-historical sweep of the war we are engaged in, whereas I barely have time to spiel-check what I’ve just spieled.

One more thing--I mentioned that there is an "optimistic" way of looking at the cosmic war we are engaged in. Van der Leun implicitly touches on this, but unfortunatley I am flat out of time, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

*****

Good thing it's only a hammer.

12 Comments:

Blogger ELC said...

On the other hand, there is the argument that we're now in World War IV (WW III having been the Cold War).

5/08/2006 07:56:00 AM  
Anonymous JohnR said...

Mr. Gurdjieff said we can never eliminate war - because we are too infatuated with the excitement of it.

I remember feeling a surge of energy rise in my spine when we started bombing Iraq in the first Gulf war. Oh those B-24's! Then I felt guilt about it, but only for a little while.

5/08/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous vanderleun said...

Well, I AM reading your book so perhaps there is some sort of mind-meld going on.

5/08/2006 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Spomer said...

B-24s? First Gulf War? Ummm... prob'ly not.

Although between Bob and Gerard, I guess the theme is "history" today, right? Why not a bit of overlap? The B-24 was as feared and respected in its day as our front-line aircraft are today.

/ex USAF

5/08/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

There's Clearing History and then there's De-Fanging History. Maybe the latter is a subset of the former.

It's alarming how many kids today seem to view Hitler not as the standard bearer for genocidal murder but as a kind of cool guy in an "evil" sort of way - something like a pro wrestler who goes by the name of "The Teuton".

5/08/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Mr. Vanderleun (if you're checking) I just finished reading "Clear History". That was breathtaking. I have it bookmarked right next to Bill Whittle's "Sanctuary".

Right now, I'm struggling (again)with one of my own personal demons- the deadly sin of Anger. I mentioned last night that I put the damper on a gaggle of moonbats over at our toy geek BBS. I am taking the expected amount of heat for it, complete with the obligatory faux outrage over perceived "racist, and homophobic" content elsewhere on the board. That flamethrower button is looking better and better to me. Good thing I keep the key in the other room.

There seems to be a lot of apocalyptic thinking going on. I can't escape a sense of foreboding, a sense of a call, a sense of a vast chosing and aligning of sides. The little tempest on the BBS is an apt, if annoying microcosm of what seems at play on the planetary and even cosmic scale of things. Three factions at odds: those would destroy us, those who see, and those who do not see. Not very long ago I would have been all to happy to roll up my sleeves and get into a full on pissin' match with these guys. (Witness some of my early exchanges right here at One Cosmos.) I'm older, wiser, and smarter than they are. I could kick some serious butt. Now I realize that I cannot reach these people. And I don't want to try. I don't want to refute their specious arguments, address their faux outrage, or even listen to what they might have to say. We are speaking in different languages, and there is no translator.

Maybe I'm being unnecesssarily grim. A while back I read a brief but very telling comment over at LGF: What are the chances that the koran is actually the final revelation of God? None. That settles it. We win.

Will:
re:Hitler. What is dangerous is that the current crop of moonbats see hitleresque motives and behavior everywhere but where they actually exist. The islamists say, "Kill all the Jews" on a daily basis. But it's Bush who is their new Hitler. Like I said- those who see, and those who do not see.

JWM

5/08/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There HAVE been periods in the last millenium where warfare has suspended; they mostly involve the contestants running out of ammunition.
ed in texas

5/08/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Anony -

yeah, "peace" as it is known is just taking time to reload.

5/08/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

JWM -

I agree, of course. I just see the Bush-is-Hitler impugning as example of an inability to recognize evil (and obviously good) for what it is. And it reveals a striking ignorance of history. I sometimes think that the current younger generations might be the first in history to have no clear idea of the history that gave birth to it.

I was pretty much a miserable high school student, at least up to senior year - all I was interested in was playing the guitar and whatever was hip. But by the time I graduated, I knew when the Civil War had occurred, I knew what it had been about and who the central figures were, I knew when WW1 and 2 had occurred, I knew what the Allied and Axis powers were, etc.

There are a good many college students today who evidently would be clueless re knowledge of such history. And high school students, forget it. As Bob pointed out, we live in an age where there is access as never before to such things as history, yet there are so many distractions nowadays, not too many are availing themselves of it.

5/08/2006 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

The whole "intoxication" theme at the beginning is probably key. The Nietzschean Dionysius/Apollo distinction, I think. Anyway, those two seem to me like the pillars of Kabbalah, that the symptom of evil consists of the collapse into either side of the question.

To my ear, modern Transnational Progressivism (as John Fonte has named the direction of the Leftism we are talking about), even where it has a rationalistic surface, is in Dionysian service to the will to power, ultimately relishing [I'm on a limb here] aetheric substances via the deaths that utopian tyranny incurs; as well as the denial of death in power's better situation for food and sex (ecstatic appetites in themselves).

I suppose it's subjective, but listening to the headlong abandon of Marx' formulation of ideas of social evolution, inexorable, as unsusceptible to creative variation, as Newton's laws of motion -- the ecstacy of the vision of the state withering away fed from the moldering bones of the bourgeoisie and counter-revolutionaries. Love and death, love of death.

And can't you almost feel the sobering-up when you shift to the Judaeo-Christian purposeful arrow of time from seductions like Eliade's Myth of the Eternal Return?

"Intoxication" is a touchstone. Look for it when you're not sure about something. It requires a shift because the criterion is counter-intuitive to one's enjoyment of enthusiastic prospects. I think especially the Orthodox Church in its pastoral relationship to adherents is very cautious about premature ecstacy. Especially in a society with near-infinite multiplication of images, history at best becomes a costume party, the mix-and-match eternal now-you-see-it. A sort of Impermanence Doctrine without use or reason. In the next post you call it "the ravages of immediacy."

BTW:
the soul is a mysterious point of potential freedom in space

[fans self vigorously...]

5/10/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Oops, intoxication...
I thought I was commenting on Salvolution History.

5/10/2006 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Nicole Petrosky said...

I'm taking a seminar on Religion and Violence at Youngstown State University with Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, and I am presenting chapter 8 from the book Terror in the Mind of God which deals with Cosmic War. I was doing some online research to supplement my presentation when I stumbled across you. You ROCK! You have dedicated your life to finding the answers to all of those swirling questions dancing around in my head. I am going out tonight to buy your book! Thanks for blogging and being online. I am happy to have found you...even if it was y accident! :) ~Nicole Petrosky

10/04/2006 12:23:00 PM  

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