War is so compelling even pacifists pay money to be entertained by it
April 16, 2015 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Sebastian Junger Knows Why Young Men Go to War “I think this is probably the first society in history that actively discourages an intelligent conversation about what manhood should require of men”
posted by Michele in California (60 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Junger and War Nerd should cowrite a book.
posted by ocschwar at 6:30 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


He points to behavioral studies of chimpanzees. “[Male chimps] are more aggressive. They will dominate rival troops of chimpanzees and take over their territory. They’ll kill the adult males, and take over the females and take over the territory. Exact coordinated aggression clearly serves them really well.”

“It’s a left-wing version of the Christian right rejecting the theory of evolution,” he says. “I mean the far left is also now rejecting the theory of evolution, which is just insane.”


Monkeys also fling their shit at each other but somehow through millions of years of evolution we've managed to (mostly) restrain that apparently hard wired reflex. Hopefully with a few thousand years more of societal evolution war will suffer the same fate.
posted by Talez at 6:30 PM on April 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


It seems optimistic to assume we've got a few thousand more years to, uh, monkey around.
posted by uosuaq at 6:41 PM on April 16, 2015


Yeah, we're just about as related to chimps as bonobos, who are famously chill. Chimps and bonobos are more closely related to each other than they are to us and they are already pretty different from each other in social behavior.

And we're not descended from either of them! We've had millions of years of evolution since our last common ancestor.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:43 PM on April 16, 2015 [43 favorites]


Ctrl+F

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posted by I-baLL at 6:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


He points to behavioral studies of chimpanzees

Why do we always have to aspire to be chimpanzees? Why can we not learn lessons from the bonobos?
posted by Nevin at 6:49 PM on April 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Also,

"“The whole society is fascinated by war,” Junger says. He tells me about giving lectures across the country. He’ll stop in the middle of his talk and ask people to raise their hands if they’re against war.

“Everyone raises their hands,” he notes. “And then I’ll say, ‘But who here has paid $12 to be entertained by a Hollywood war movie?’ Just about everyone raises their hand.”
"

So war movies mean that we're all fascinated by actual war? I don't think most people actually want to experience actual war. Just like because we play fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat doesn't mean we want to get beaten up or go around beating people. Some do obviously but most don't.
posted by I-baLL at 6:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Human history, up to and including today, sounds way more chimp than bonobo.
posted by uosuaq at 6:51 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


This article read as a defensive attack of strawmen feminists and academics. I think he's asking a fair question: what is the fascination with war, and what does it mean for manhood? However, I don't think the answer is necessarily that war is hard-wired into humans and thus the only clear manhood ritual. Junger seems to make the assumption that "manhood" is a sacred concept, and that war is thus a completion of ritual that adds clarity to the men who fight in the war.

However, he doesn't take that a step further and ask if these men feel more like men, or any less adrift after fighting. I'm sure he has the answers, but his hypothesis feels reactionary; "Lemme tell you how it really is, man." It's a dense reading of society's response to war, and doesn't question whether our response is drawn from social cues that could be reversed or at least examined.

It's too bad, because War is a fantastic book written in a way that's sympathetic to the soldiers without lauding them as heroes. It shows soldiers as vulnerable people proud to do their job, a job that matters (maybe not in a global or moral sense, but lives depend on their every action), but is confusing regardless.
posted by Turkey Glue at 6:52 PM on April 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


“The male response to war is an evolutionary adaptation that clearly works for our species.”

This at least is sort of true, because the male response to war is actually running away. It takes a lot of effort to prohibit that. Measures like years-long training, numbing to violence or threats to kill all deserters spring to mind.
posted by Ashenmote at 6:55 PM on April 16, 2015 [48 favorites]


actively discourages an intelligent conversation about what manhood should require of men

That is the exact opposite of what is actually happening.
posted by mhoye at 6:55 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


"Human history, up to and including today, sounds way more chimp than bonobo."

Human history, up to and including today, is nothing like chimp or bonobo. It's human. Can we please stop saying "because species of animal x does something that means humans are wired the exact same way!" because, no, it doesn't work like that.
posted by I-baLL at 6:57 PM on April 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


I think the one really fascinated by war here is Junger. And to that, I quote Sherman:

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


I believe societies (not just young men) go to war because War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:02 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


He’ll stop in the middle of his talk and ask people to raise their hands if they’re against war.

“Everyone raises their hands,” he notes. “And then I’ll say, ‘But who here has paid $12 to be entertained by a Hollywood war movie?’ Just about everyone raises their hand.”


I thought I was against zombies and vampires, too, but Sebastian Junger has set me straight.

Restrepo was really good, though.
posted by escabeche at 7:04 PM on April 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


War is failure. I wish we could just be honest with ourselves and call it that.

I declare failure.
Let's go to failure.
Failure is a force that gives us meaning.

Humans fail a lot.
posted by philip-random at 7:06 PM on April 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Evolutionary psychology is more closely related to phrenology than we are to chimpanzees.
posted by gehenna_lion at 7:20 PM on April 16, 2015 [29 favorites]


War is failure. I wish we could just be honest with ourselves and call it that.

Sherman again, about "war is failure":

Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late. All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives.

Sherman deserves to be known more in history. Complete lack of bullshit in him.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:30 PM on April 16, 2015 [37 favorites]


"Manhood" is only meaningful if you divide humanity into two strict gender identities. Which I no longer do. It means nothing without an opposite, which again, only works if you divide humanity into "men" and "not men". Which seems to cause us a lot of problems, as a society, suggesting that this is not the best approach.
posted by emjaybee at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


“And then I’ll say, ‘But who here has paid $12 to be entertained by a Hollywood war movie?’ Just about everyone raises their hand.”"

It sounds stupid, but I can't really watch any movies anymore that have violence in them. That includes LotR and Star Wars.
posted by Nevin at 7:58 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dunno, whenever I hear about how aggression is some baseline, primary stance for our variety of primate I kinda want to just be all Samuel Johnson, and just point at the skyline. "I refute it thus."

(Given the repeatedly demonstrated proclivity to sheer boneheadedness of the human animal, the existence of civilization would seem to put some pretty heavy weight on the "basically cooperative" side of the scale.)
posted by PMdixon at 8:03 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "Sherman deserves to be known more in history. Complete lack of bullshit in him."

Hear, hear! He pretty much wrote to the people of Georgia, you can have peace or you can have war. They chose war, and he obliged. Of note is the rather small loss of life during the March to the Sea, vs property damage; his intention was to break the warmaking ability of the rebels, not obliterate them.
posted by notsnot at 8:06 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


the bit about the chimpanzees reminds me of one of my favorite radiolab pieces ever, about how a troop of baboons in kenya(? iirc) suffered a culling of its alpha males after they ate some contaminated meat. the culture of the troop shifted to center around cooperation in the absence of the top males constantly challenging each other for status, and even taught their culture to new males who joined the group from that point on by reaching out to them quickly after they joined, instead of what traditionally happens -- the young males that join from the outside are typically ignored or picked on until they manage to establish some kind of rank within the order of the troop. some primatologist pooh-poohs it at the end as too small of an instance but it's a really interesting story -- and if baboons can manage to surmount the supposedly innate violence that comes with being male by not perpetuating it then hey maybe we can too i dunno
posted by p3on at 8:16 PM on April 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


There are plenty of men who serve as models for a non-violent yet whole masculinity.
posted by No Robots at 8:28 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sherman deserves to be known more in history.

I feel like he and Marcus Aurelius would have a great time hanging out together.
posted by echo target at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


My very strong reflex to revere Sherman for his conduct in the Civil War is always tempered by his shitty record with American Indians. He's a guy whose life would look a lot better if he'd gone into seclusion in 1866.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 8:51 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yet, somehow -- having refused to voluntarily sign up to kill on command for some abstract entity or purpose -- I manage to look in the mirror every day and think, "there is a man." Thanks dad.
posted by klanawa at 8:55 PM on April 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


"Hey, we need to structure our complex 21st century global civilization - can someone doublecheck how chimps and pre agrarian societies did it?"
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:43 PM on April 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Sherman deserves to be known more in history. Complete lack of bullshit in him.

I don't know... the whole letter sounds like 90% bullshit justification for bringing down the hammer on the South during the reconstruction. If Lincoln had survived to prevent that US politics might be a little simpler today.
posted by fivebells at 9:47 PM on April 16, 2015


Why can we not learn lessons from the bonobos?

I'll pass on the rampant incest and paedophilia, though, if that's ok.
posted by Segundus at 10:23 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


If the YPJ is any indication, war seems to bond women as much as it bonds men.
posted by wuwei at 10:28 PM on April 16, 2015


Mediocre journalist thinks his work gives him an insight in the human condition, woefully misunderstands everything, suffers from the columnist version of engineer's disease, film at eleven.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:33 PM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I don't know... the whole letter sounds like 90% bullshit justification for bringing down the hammer on the South during the reconstruction.

The letter was written in 1863; the war still had long to go.

The letter was intended as a type of psychological warfare -- Sherman knew it would be published widely, and he was basically saying, I'm coming to fuck your shit up, so for your own good, please go quietly, or else. Check out the penultimate paragraph -- "... to the persistent secessionists ... death is mercy, the quicker, the better."

If Lincoln had survived to prevent that US politics might be a little simpler today.

Yes, and Andrew Johnson is regarded by many as the worst president ever, Bush II notwithstanding.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:36 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


War is so compelling even pacifists pay money to be entertained by it... My sister is a complete and utter feminist and pacifist. She doesn’t see the irony...I think people would have a more honest, realistic relationship to the important topic of war if they could actually acknowledge that part of themselves that responds to it positively.

Is the "irony" this purports to demonstrate supposed to be meta-ironic or something? Non-murderers consume thousands of books and movies yearly about murder; twice as many women watch SVU as men; black americans have been known to be interested in slave narratives; non-zombie-envying non-zombies seem to like zombie movies; etc. It's good to be reminded just how stupid the other side is sometimes.
posted by chortly at 10:44 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


They tell you to be concerned about manhood.

They are telling you to be afraid that you will have lost out, that you will be less, that you should fight to retain or gain.

They are telling you to fight for an abstract social construct they cannot define.

They tell you to be concerned for your manhood, because they need you afraid.

Adults, regardless of gender, don't scare that easily, and they think for themselves.

And this schtick is how they have sold cigarettes and razors and alcohol and clothes and cars and guns and politicians and war forever.
posted by dglynn at 11:17 PM on April 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


There were many mistakes made during Reconstruction. Being too harsh wasn't one of them.
posted by persona au gratin at 11:36 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is an interesting companion to the just-previous FPP about mercenaries.
posted by katya.lysander at 12:18 AM on April 17, 2015


actively discourages an intelligent conversation about what manhood should require of men

Well, judging by the quality of the comments here, he's bang on.

The right has always maintained that one of the drawbacks of introducing contraception and permitting sex before marriage was that young women, and as a consequence young me, would delay starting a family, which of course is a significant part of the traditional route to adulthood. So perhaps these questions about what it is to be a man are, as so many things are, a product of the general emancipation of women in the 20th century? Because before then you were either trying to get a woman, or looking after the babies that resulting, so there was no time to sit around having existential crises. Without such a spur to growing-up, and the manliness that comes from having dependents, young men do perhaps turn to the armed forces, for good or for ill.

But I'm both more cynical and hopeful that this doesn't reflect a generalised problem - I'm not sure there is a crisis in masculinity and young men. Young men (and women) generally prove perfectly able to avoid such angst with the help of video games, porn, TV, hobbies, and the endless melodrama of relationships and sex. The suicide rate is pretty flat, and violence is down. Perhaps it's not so much "young men need a ritualised way into adulthood, and soldiering shows us that" as "some young men need a ritualised way into adulthood, and soldiering serves them well, great!"
posted by alasdair at 1:34 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


... what about all the literature that explains that war is hell ("All is quiet on the western front", etc) - written by people who had actually experienced war?
posted by Termite at 3:34 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


*sigh* ok.

here is the deal. Modern war, the vast majority of modern war, is a hell of a lot more complex then 'hey lets fight'. It is a logistical, organizational, political and public relations vendor just as much (if not more so) as a people shooting at one another endeavor.
A _LOT_ of the warfare our way past ancestors engaged in prior to ~4000BC was a loosely held together individualistic endeavor. Which is not saying it wasn't deadly or 'nice', if it was at all like H&G socities we have studied in the recent past it is quite possible in small scale cultures what passed for war may have killed more people per capita, but also it is likely there was little shame in not participating in it, or running away in the midst of it, and mostly (not always) bloodshed was limited to actual combatants.

There is a certain irony in modern war in that except for the most intense (think Russia in WWII) circumstances, we seem to kill a smaller % of our populations in war nowadays, and our cultures are a hell of a lot more robust (it is really really hard to kill everyone in a society nowadays), BUT we are also very very good at killing LOTS of people at once. So the overall total of people killed is much higher and there is increasingly little compunction against killing civilians in just about any context.

Modern war as 'war' is an idea sold to people, it 'makes a man out of you' only in the sense it give young men (and women soon) something to do with their lives and provides structure and a belief system. But as far as actual 'fighting the war', yeah, ecept for pulling the trigger, it's much more old (mostly men) sitting around making policy, convincing the population that it's a good thing, making sure supplies get to the troops, and a million other "glamorous" details... not really good "warrior caste" copy to disseminate when convincing folks to sign up to have their lives run for them.
posted by edgeways at 4:29 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Rites of passage is a thing. Not talking much about them in modern society is a thing, too. Is the military one vector towards adulthood? Absolutely, and not because "Bang Bang, you're dead." If one reviews the skills and discipline required of very young people who are serving in the military, there might be more thoughtful and nuanced consideration about how the service nudges people towards growing up.

Many kids, myself included, joined and served at such a young age that our views regarding geopolitics, death and dying, and killing others were muddled mental constructs--and partly even a fantasized view of the world. Those of us who did grow up a bit during our service carry that burden for the rest of their lives. So, perhaps instead of childishly chastising them, or adopting a sanctimonious faux-morality, offer a practical helping hand. And thank your lucky stars you don't wake up at night with the cold sweats.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:29 AM on April 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


What was the point he was trying to make about his feminist sister's kids re-enacting the Battle of Hastings -- something that happened a thousand years ago -- with cardboard swords and shields?

I'm sure he must have had a point, but I'm damned if I could figure out what the hell it was. Feminists love wars too? Children have an innate urge to kill? Monkey see, Monkey do? People who live at the sites of great historical events like to celebrate their local history?

Junger and War Nerd should cowrite a book.

Or they could just get a room and fuck the testosterone away....
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:52 AM on April 17, 2015


Why can we not learn lessons from the bonobos?

So you're saying we haven't? How, then, do you account for the proportion of global storaqge and bandwidth devoted to the distribution of porn?
posted by flabdablet at 5:18 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


War is boring.

I mean, there are flashes that are exciting, but whether it's a war in ancient Babylon or medieval France or modern Afghanistan, war is mostly armed boredom, punctuated by relatively brief periods of adrenaline-fueled terror. Soldiers spend most of their time getting somewhere, setting up camp, or standing around rather than killing people.

Consider that up until World War II, only 15-25% of the people who states armed with rifles actually shot them at the enemy. Others fired into the air, or ran around looking for people to help, or just tried to look busy and not get shot. After that war, advanced industrialized countries actually started drilling their soldiers so they'd all fire on the enemy. Most people have a strong block against intentionally killing another human being.

Modern war is particularly unnatural. Consider that in World War I, the constant heavy shelling made a tremendous amount of noise. That actually traumatized people, and created the first cases of PTSD. (It also killed a lot of people, which is quite exceptional, because up until that point most people who died in war actually had died of diseases or infections and not getting blown up.) Actually being in a situation where you don't know when a bomb is going to go off and possibly kill you is a kind of stress that people are not wired to handle. That's horrible, but it's still mostly boring.

It's not an accident that they make young men into soldiers at age 18. It's a period when the neural pathways are particularly plastic, and as a result those men are very impressionable. (This is why news reports don't describe suicide methods; young men of around this age are prone to being copycats.) War hijacks this period and uses it to put young men in dangerous situations that they'd never wander into voluntarily.

Not to mention that, because of aerial bombing, modern warfare is horrible to civilians. That was an innovation of World War II: sure, cities had been sacked before, but in modern war they're obliterated from thousands of feet up. Imagine if that could happen to where you are right now; that's horrifying.

Modern war is horrible, unnatural and boring. Even if fighting is some kind of instinct, which I don't think it is for the majority of human beings, that wouldn't translate in any meaningful way to war. And people who can't tell the difference between the two, shouldn't be talking about war.
posted by graymouser at 5:49 AM on April 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


What have the generals accomplished?
What they know
is less than what we’ve learned.

A sword’s a stinking thing
a wise man will use
as seldom as he can.

Li Po (705 – 762)
posted by talking leaf at 5:55 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I liked Jünger better the first time. Remakes are never as impressive as the original.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:56 AM on April 17, 2015


I would be delighted to see fewer people trying to grow up to become properly manly or womanly and more actual adults in the world.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:03 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


My opinion is that young people join the military as a default maneuver because their other choices are poor. The quest for adventure is copy for the recruitment brochures, but nearly everybody is inculcated with the idea that we want to get ahead. Very few can get into Harvard, but almost anybody can get into the army or the navy.
posted by bukvich at 6:49 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


In one of her books LeGuin writes about how we can only reason in a circle when it comes to war. Why do we wage war? Because we are warlike. How do we know we are warlike? Because we wage war.

If we want "rites of passage" we can always create them. Right now, I would posit that "getting your own place" is one that many young adults share. Marriage and having kids can also function that way for some people.

But also: Deciding what career to pursue. Paying your own bills/supporting yourself and others. The first death of a loved one. Realizing that you are now your parents' caretaker. Accepting your own mortality. Mentoring a younger person. All of these are rites of passage, too.

It's not as though becoming an adult is an instant process. We grow into who we are gradually.

If the real fear is "some people will never grow up, never take responsibility for themselves," well, that's their choice, too. No ceremony is going to stop them from doing that if it's what they want to do.

I think this is one of those overblown conservative fears about how, deep down, most people will choose to live lives of depravity and waste if you let them have freedom.

Because I think most people want to grow up and run their own lives and not remain in childlike dependency on others. They don't have to be forced into it with bloody rituals.
posted by emjaybee at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Why do we wage war? Because we are warlike. How do we know we are warlike? Because we wage war. "

"We" is weird. We don't wage war. When was the last time you waged war? I'm guessing it was never. When did I last wage war? I'm pretty sure that was never as well. When did a soldier in an army last wage war? I'm guessing never as well. They may have fought in a war but they didn't start it.

People in power tends to wage wars. And those wars are used to either overthrow a government or to take over or use up the other side's financial resources. In fact, it seems that wars tend to end when one side has been hit harder either financially or with a loss of life so bad that people start to rebel. Regular people don't wage war. We aren't warlike. Except for Gwar.
posted by I-baLL at 8:16 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I know I've never waged war.

Except that time with the Fire Ants.

And that was a huge mistake.

So I don't wage wars at all, anymore.
posted by Tevin at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the entirety of Parks and Recreation (well, at least the first six seasons) is a sustained meditation on maturity and what modern-day adulthood looks like. And the only campaigns there are political.
posted by thecaddy at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


And those wars are used to either overthrow a government or to take over or use up the other side's financial resources. In fact, it seems that wars tend to end when one side has been hit harder either financially or with a loss of life so bad that people start to rebel.

This gets back to my failure point. Whatever "positive" end a war may achieve, there will always have been a better, more humane, easier, more economical way to achieve it. People say, well how would you stop Hitler then? Well, start twenty years earlier with serious rethink of the Treaty of Versailles, and while you're at it, take your heroes like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh to task for lionizing the bastard. And so on. You don't stop a war the week before it starts, you commit to the process years, decades, generations in advance. War is the biggest failure we humans perpetrate because it takes so long to get everything so horribly, completely wrong.
posted by philip-random at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


From what I have read about bonobos: Mother-son sexual pairings are the only ones that are forbidden and adolescent females leave the tribe and go join other tribes. This prevents in-breeding and removes the opportunity for a young female to mate with her father (or an uncle). I guess that leaves potential pairings with siblings for possible incest, but the females tend to space their offspring by a few years (about 4 or 5?) because they are basically single parents (granted, there is community support for mothers, but no pair bonding).

As someone noted above, humans seem unique and are fundamentally unlike either chimps or bonobos. From what I have read recent-ish, the degree to which we pair bond and value monogamy is pretty unusual and at least some primatologists see a connection between that long standing behavior and male sexual traits.

As someone alluded above, I think it is legitimate to suggest that we can choose to channel hormones into either conflict or into sex. I have long privately thought that there appears to be some correlation between cultures that are very strict and uptight about valuing virginity before marriage and those with a lot of violent conflict. One of the problems here is that encouraging sex potentially promotes reproduction in a way that can lead to problems at both the individual level and the societal level whereas war can curb population growth.

From everything I have read, one of the real causes of war is scarcity of resources. When there just isn't enough to go around, people fight over what little there is. They are trying to get their share, but, also, if there are too few resources and some folks die in the process of sorting out distribution, then there is more to go around. If people are going to die anyway, say from starvation, it makes more sense for them to die trying to get their share then to just sit down and accept starvation.

In that sense, yes, war is a kind of failure. It occurs because humans as a whole have failed to adequately provide for the needs of all and are often failing to even recognize that as a serious issue that urgently needs to be resolved, that needs to be made a high priority. Because we now have such a large human population and such large, complex social structures, it can be really hard for anyone to see the cause and effect relationships, much less how to solve them. Knowing that some subset of people is not getting their needs met doesn't readily tell us what needs to happen to fix that in a healthy fashion. There are lots of ways to try to help that have unexpected and unintended negative consequences.

My father was career military and so was my ex husband. I think military culture has a lot to offer the world in terms of shaping people who are responsible, who understand when and why big sacrifices should be made and so on. I think we dismiss the value of military culture at our own peril. I am fond of sayings like "A man of peace must be strong." I think it is foolish to think that other nations will be nice to us if we just disarm. I don't think that works at all. But I do agree we should try a lot harder to find solutions to the problems that war grows out of and that it typically has been long in the coming.

Thank you for all the great comments.
posted by Michele in California at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


>Why can we not learn lessons from the bonobos?

I'll pass on the rampant incest and paedophilia, though, if that's ok.


You're getting confused between reality and the idealized, fictitious bonobo construct of evolutionary psychology.
posted by Nevin at 12:27 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Why do we wage war? Because we are warlike. How do we know we are warlike? Because we wage war. "

It could also be because "researchers" who are creating these hypotheses are warlike themselves and cannot see things any other way. See Napoleon Chagnon.
posted by Nevin at 12:30 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


oh yeah, that asshole ...

He claims that Chagnon interfered massively with the lives of the Yanomami in all sorts of ways. He claims that the films he made about them were particularly intrusive and many of the scenes in them were staged to show off the Yanomami as both fierce and primitive. The warfare which he highlighted as characteristic of Yanomami culture resulted more often than not from their battles over the trade goods that Chagnon distributed. His behavior in the field was insensitive and often deliberately so, as when he bribed or pressured children or other susceptible Yanomami to give him information on taboo topics. In sum, Tierney indicts the harmful effects of Chagnon's activities among the Yanomami, together with his portrayal of them as warlike savages and the competition between Chagnon and other filmmakers and TV crews to bring back footage of just contacted primitives.
posted by philip-random at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Junger raises some interesting questions. Human warfare is a complex thing.
posted by ovvl at 6:31 PM on April 17, 2015


Meh. He's way, way too gender-essentialist. I'm not sure I disagree with the essential thesis of soldiering as a way of giving meaning to one's life, but to couch it in terms of "manhood" is pretty dated. The Greatest Generation wants its gender roles back, and I'd just as soon let them have 'em.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:12 PM on April 17, 2015


Regarding the all female militias of the YPJ
In an era in which female policy makers feed unjust wars in third world countries by pleading to “save the poor oppressed women,” along with racist, chauvinist groups that seem to believe to contribute to the cause of Middle Eastern women through sensationalist egocentric actions they consider as radical, and in which extreme individualism and consumerism are propagated as emancipation and empowerment, the struggling women in Kobanê contributed to rearticulating radical feminism by refusing to comply with the premises of the global patriarchal capitalist nation-state order, by reclaiming legitimate self-defense, dissociating the monopoly of power from the state, and by fighting a brutal force not on behalf of imperialists, but in order to create their own terms of liberation.

From inside Kobanê, YPJ fighter Amara Cudî tells me via internet: “Once again, the Kurds appeared on history’s stage. But this time with a system of self-defense and self-governance, especially for women, who may now, after millennia, write their own history for the first time. It is our philosophical views that made us women conscious of the fact that we can only live by resisting. If we cannot defend and liberate ourselves, we cannot defend or liberate others. Our revolution goes far beyond this war. In order to succeed is, it vital to know what you fight for.”
Link
Maybe they should just talk it out with the forces of patriarchy. You know, because that would be more constructive.
posted by wuwei at 9:24 PM on April 18, 2015


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