Is war mankind's answer to survival, progress, or the pursuit of power? In primitive societies, war was accepted as the norm. Members of the society were aware that they were under a constant threat. War and warlike acts were a part of the understood interaction with other societies and cultures. Peace was merely an interlude between times of conflict. Tribal societies accepted the notion of war as inevitable, imminent, as regular in life (CAPCO 7)[1]. War was a means of defense, revenge, and acquisition of resources, releasing aggressive, frustration, grief, or defending life.

Battle of Chattanooga IIICredit: Artist Unknown; Uploaded by

War has been a dominant feature of human history. Its key is that war and aggression tend to perpetuate themselves. The idea that "power can be stopped only by power," makes it necessary then for a society's survival to be capable of responding with an equal or greater force to protect its interests (CAPCO 32)[1]. Under the philosophy of Schmookler's Parable of the Tribes, if a society "develops a culture to a certain point of freedom from natural limits," it will be capable of aggressive behavior. If this society "needs for its members to be primed for collective aggressiveness that inherent capacity for aggressiveness will be brought out, encouraged to hyper-develop (CAPCO 42)[1]." Under these two conditions the Parable philosophy states that this society's social evolution will compel it towards "power maximization with all its destructiveness (CAPCO 42)[1]."

Henry Hallan, as restated in John Keegan's book The Face of Battle, proposes that "everything admirable to the Victorian world, Greek wisdom, Roman virtue, Saxon bravery, Norman centralism, Christian faith in a specifically Protestant form, English liberty, and French democracy had each been saved from extinction by some brilliant military exploits, of course this is assuming the military exploits are from war or warlike actions (Keegan 57)[2]. War has served as a means to an end. War and warlike actions have served as tools for good and bad. C. Eagleton presents the position that "war performs functions which are essential in any human society." However Eagleton further states, that "no more stupid, brutal, wasteful or unfair method could ever have been imagined for such purpose, but this does not alter the situation."


But is power the real driving force or is there something behind even this creation? In The Parable of the Tribe, the pursuit of power is seen as unrelenting and undeniable by the participants in a civilized society. He further makes a statement I truly agree with, "No one is free to choose peace, but anyone can impose upon all the necessity for power." However, it is not power or the imposing of power that is the driving force within a society, nor is it unique to civilized societies.

Power, security, and economics have a value to us; whether its value is the resources we gain or the control we hold over another society. War then becomes a result of our efforts to acquire a valued something such as security, survivability, power, influence, for some self-actualization, and for the rest, actualization of the society. Value is the seed that pushes individuals and societies to pursue power. The decided value is the driving force that convinces individuals to take action to gain or secure what they need to survive or go beyond their actual needs. This value is its own driving force that goes one step beyond the needs established in Maslow's Hierarchy.

The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme
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This is one of my favorite Keegan books. It

Final Word

War and aggression are humanities tools of control and acquisition. Initially, the driving force was survival and security. However, as societies developed and began to exercise choice and establish value for their desires, options were needed to accomplish and attain those desired ends. The use of aggression against its own kind became a viable choice made by mankind. War and acts of war occur around the globe each year. The concept of a long standing or even short term global peace is only a dream. War appears to continue to be a tool that mankind will not easily give up despite the negative image it portrays. War and warfare have proven useful and effective. Until we find a more efficient way to gain those valued items, resources, security, and concessions we so desire to meet our so called needs, we as a species will continue to war. When what we value no longer requires death and destruction to gain, we can change our course.

The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution
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