January 07, 2008


This would be an interesting topic to research, but El Cabrero is willing to bet that most people who are active in the anti-war/"peace and justice" movement have little or no interest in the history of warfare and strategy, mostly because they think war is bad.

I suspect that this neglect isn't contributing a whole lot to their effectiveness.

I would agree that war is bad. It's one of many nasty things in human history, along with poverty, massive inequality, exploitation, domination, oppression, etc. Economic disparities alone cause many more deaths today than armed conflict (at a ratio of around 180:1, according to one estimate I found in the 1990s). But I don't think ignoring things one doesn't like is the best way to deal with them.

Can you imagine what the fields of medicine or public health would look like if people refused to study injuries and diseases because they were "bad?"

I think it's bad when people's houses burn down, which is why I'm glad that all firefighters have to study at least a little about the science of fire. Car wrecks are bad, which is why I'm glad EMTs, rescue services, and fire departments study first aid and auto extrication.

For that matter, even the most peaceful efforts to promote social change often involve dealing with opposition and power, both one's own and that of the opponent. Power is defined by sociologists as the ability to make something happen or keep it from happening even in the face of opposition. Any chance of improving things (victory) requires intelligent decision making (strategy).

In fact, a whole lot of the universe and the biosphere consists of things colliding with each other and if people want to make things better and more peaceful, I think we need to recognize that right off the bat.

I am reminded of a couple sayings of Jesus along this line. In Luke (16:8), he said "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." This, by the way, inspired the title of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's classic The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. In Matthew (10:16), he advised his followers to "be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

Musings such as these will be the theme of this week's Goat Rope. Tune in again if you want to get in touch with your inner reptile.

STUCK RECORD. As signs of a recession increase, a rational economic policy would involve some kind of stimulus that would help people who are struggling the most. But, as this NY Times editorial notes, for the Bush administration, the correct answer to any question is tax cuts. It seems to escape their notice that if cutting taxes for the rich was the road to the promised land, we'd have gotten there a while back.

WHO'S COUNTING? The Drum Major Institute, that's who. Here's their 2007 Injustice Index.

ICED OUT. From Sunday's Gazette-Mail, here's an item about a WV scientist's first hand evidence of global warming. The vested interests that run WV think denial is the answer, but I don't think that will help them much in the long run either.

WORD TRAVELS. Here's a review of a book about mountaintop removal in WV all the way from the LA Times.



Jay said...

Should we use Sun Tzu's "Art of War" as a guideline for the Peace Movement?!? :)

El Cabrero said...

We could probably do worse. I'm sort of moving in that direction and should get to old Sun by Wednesday.


Bob said...

The vested interests that run WV think denial is the answer

For an example of how the vested interests here thinks of ecological issues, watch the talking bug commercial that Walker Machinery is currently running in support of the mining industry. It's all a big joke to them.

Mr. Bug said...

Hey! Stop making fun of me! I like living on the valley fill!

bob said...

and here I thought that was a female bug

El Cabrero said...

Maybe the bug is a little sexually ambiguous. Not that there's anything wrong with that.