Friday, December 20, 2013

The mechanism of war: the components


Previous section: The mechanism of war: Introduction

War is a complex phenomenon. Because it is a complex phenomenon, we need to define and describe its basic components. Each of these basic components has a specific function. While it is possible to split each of the components into more sub-components, we need to note only three main categories in order to understand the functioning of the mechanism of war. I call these categories (1) producers, (2) politicians and (3) marginal types. Each of them is defined by its most important motivating or driving force (i.e., its objective).

The producers are generally the largest category. This category consists of people that many of us refer to as "ordinary" people. Those are people like my neighbor, who is a mechanic, my cousin, who is a truck driver, my friend, a baker, and of course, my wife, who helps people with substance abuse problems. The producers are people who build their lives and identities around their families and their property. They produce goods and services needed by other members of society. This means that the producers are not only the "ordinary" people. The producers also include scientists, artists, athletes and other people who focus on production and voluntary exchange of goods and services for the sake of building up their property and improving the lives of their families.

The producers don’t like conflict. For them, conflict is a waste of valuable time and resources that could be used for improving one’s household. A producer avoids trivial conflicts. Larger conflicts pose a risk of losing one’s family and property. A producer would engage in a conflict only when he thinks that not-engaging in this conflict would have disastrous consequences for his family and property.

Politicians are a numerically smaller category than the producers, although sometimes their number may increase enormously. A politician’s life purpose and the primary motivating force is to rule other people. Some politicians believe that this is their ultimate moral duty. They believe that, without them, people would get lost in the uncharted area of misery and immorality. Such politicians usually emerge at the top of the political pyramid of power in society. Those less "creative" and less guided by the idea of themselves as the saviors of society, reach middle and lower positions in the pyramid of power.

Regardless of the underlying motives, all politicians have one thing in common--they want to rule. The stronger their power is, the more fulfilled and rewarded they feel. Since the power of any politician is based on how many people strongly believe that he is the one who should rule them, a politician is focused on convincing people that he is that right one. He is focused on convincing people that the best thing for them is to channel their life energy in the way he advises them.

When it comes to conflicts, a politician likes conflict if it could be used to strengthen his rule--to persuade other people that he is just the right leader they need. Thus, unlike the producers, for politicians, conflict is not something to be avoided. For politicians, conflict is only one way to come to the realization of their life goals. Moreover, a politician's argument for why he should be in power even in peace time is based on the theory that the producers need him to discourage potential aggressors through diplomacy and through building up the military base of the country. So, for politicians, conflict is life.

The third category of parts in the mechanism of war are the marginal types. As the name suggests, these are the people who are on the sidelines of society. Marginal types are the least productive members of society. Since they are unproductive, they often don’t like to engage in production activities, so they indulge in intrigue, deceit, and petty crime. They are not skilled enough for larger crimes. That’s the politicians’ “job”.

The marginal types usually don’t start a family, and if they do start one, these families are often dysfunctional and quickly fall apart because of the nature of the marginal types. They don't know how, or simply don't want to, create harmonious, productive relationships with other people.

Marginal types are generally unfulfilled people. They are either not sufficiently productive or they lack other preferences that are necessary for them to become producers. At the same time, they are not sophisticated enough to become politicians. They would like to be noticed, recognized and respected by other people, but they simply do not have the capacity to gain that respect the "right" way.

For a marginal type, conflict does not have a large cost because his life is in such a condition that he has nothing to lose. He either has no family or that family is in the state of disintegration, and his property is negligible because of his unproductivity or it is on shaky grounds because of his criminal lifestyle. Moreover, conflict is one of the ways in which a marginal type may try to be noticed by other people and to gain their respect. You will often hear a marginal type boasting about being on bad terms with someone. That’s a form of self-affirmation. Being on bad terms with someone shows that you matter; you can't be ignored. So, just as for politicians, conflict is of particular importance for the marginal types as a way of achieving their life goals.

Of course, like any description of a complex mechanism, this division into three basic groups of people that make up the components of the mechanism of war has in itself elements of generalization. One could define subgroups within each of these three groups, and each subgroup could be divided into sub-subgroups and so on. Also, one could describe a gradation (i.e., gradual transition from one group to another) where some individuals have the elements of two or all three groups. But, in the same way that a description of the molecular composition of the piston, crankshaft and the cylinder in a petrol engine does not substantially contribute to the explanation of how this engine operates, further detailing in this case contributes little to better elucidating the mechanism of war. So, I'll stop at this level of detail and go on to describe the interconnectedness of the basic three components of the mechanism.

Next section: The mechanism of war: Starting the hell's engine

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