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The Motivation for War

During human evolution organised violence increased the possibility that particular groups survived when conditions were difficult. Violence may have had an adaptive value by allowing access to food and territory, as well as offsetting threats from other humans. During human evolution violence, social co-operation at individual and group levels were crucial for survival.

The duality of man comes to the fore, humans are both destructive and aggressive, co-operative and emphatic. There is no scientific evidence for mankind being genetically programmed for war. Humans fight when necessary, tending to accept collective violence, particularly from men, a tendency to dehumanise others particularly those who pose a threat. Human psychology has developed in response to collaborative living and competition for survival ensuring humans are both co-operative and confrontational. A conditional response can stimulate violence or stimulate sociability or co-operation. Humans tended to be hierarchical societies headed by warrior elites,with men acting as the perpetrators of violence. Mankind's history is dominated by men in pursuit of individual power and glory, hubristic individuals such as Napoleon, Hitler and Putin stimulated by unhindered narcissism had an insatiable appetite for glory.

A small violent elite with unlimited power and wealth, a significant middle class benefiting from this system and the majority poor and dispossessed who support this hierarchy ensuring endless mankind's wars bringing us to the brink of destruction.

Conformism, the fact that humans eagerly follow others; the tendency to follow religious ways of thinking and tribalism, our loyalty to groups. Humans conform, believe and belong, could theses tendencies be harnessed to allow humans to flourish? Humans, have innate regard for religion and see the hand of God everywhere.

Our innate morality is rooted in co-operation; helping family members; loyal to the group; courageous; reciprocate favours; defer to superiors,; share fairly and respect other people's property. Theses trends benefit survival and reproduction. History shows us that organised religion can either promote or undermine our innate morality. The world's major religions Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Confucianism emerged in opposition to the rule of violent leaders who co-opted injustice and inequality. Of course, moralising religions were co-opted by empires to justify violence tyranny and injustice. Religion now upholds both violence and inequality, continuing to the present day.

The broad sweep of human history is marked by extreme violence. Today, Sudan, Libya, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq are marked by revolution, illegal invasions, interference and 'bombing for their own good' leading to c.75 million refugees on the move.

Source: Irish Times June 2024


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