Chapter XVIII

CAUSES OF WAR


The great wars are the children of the political state. The state sometimes needs the instruments of war, the possibilities of war, and sometimes war itself to consolidate and unify the people in their subservience to the state. The interests of property at certain junctures of economic circumstance look to the state to involve itself in war to solve otherwise insoluble problems. These problems reside in the field of business where profits and power are to be won. Thus the political institution, the state, serves economic ends when implemented by its motive force, the government. Economic pressures upon the state engender war. But economic conditions alone do not cause war. There are contributing factors which combine with the economic causation.

The cause of war can be found in lack of intelligence on the part of that prominent element in society, the leadership which makes war and which has the power to prevent war. Intelligence is the faculty to learn and to understand, to be possessed of sagacity, to have information, and to use these qualities for the good of the element concerned. Absence of understanding of the nature of war, deficiency of sagacity, and inadequate information upon the costs and consequences of war among military, political and business leaders make war possible. Given adequate understanding, sagacity, and knowledge, and war becomes impossible. War is a two sided affair. Lack of intelligence on one or both sides is its cause. War does not occur between two sides possessed of adequate intelligence. Lack of intelligence is displayed in the determination to attack, in the determination to defend, or in both.

War does not spring full-grown from the loins of Mars. It is made by men who by purpose or accident are in positions of leadership and influence. If these people are immature in their capacity to think, if they are possessed of cupidity, desire for power, hatred, fear of others, superstitions, revenge, and exaggerated notions of their own virtues and those of their country, they easily become promoters of war. War promoters often belong to the stand-pat variety of personality. They believe in the superiority of the conditions that gave them their positions of influence and affluence; and they want to fight, or rather have others fight, to maintain the good old days. The normally matured adult not only knows that change is coming but he believes in promoting change, molding it, and moving it in the right direction. He is called radical and bad names by the stand-pat reactionary. But this so-called radical will often be found standing for peace and promoting it while the reactionary promotes war. A dangerous element in society are the nice people who would prevent change when its time has come. They lack capacity to cooperate with the inevitable. These people were in power and lost the peace after the two World Wars. They were able to restore the conditions that existed before the Wars and which made the Wars. Each War ended in victory for the causes of the War, when the times were crying for change.

Reactionary programs on the part of governments naturally stimulate radical or counter-reaction. The United Nations after their victory over the Axis Powers in 1945, in dealing with the conquered countries showed favors to fascists, nazis, and militarists who had instigated World War II. In Germany, many supporters of the nazi regime were placed in office and Italian fascists were shown preferment. The unpatriotic in those countries who had fought fascism and had suffered imprisonment were often ignored in the reorganization at the hands of the United Nations. As a result of favors shown fascists and nazis, communists became spokesmen for the opposition. People who were for democracy were joined by the communists; and the movement against reaction took on a communist coloring. This was notoriously so in Greece, Italy, Germany, and France. Riots and strikes led by communists expressed the revolt against reaction. Had the United Nations shown more sympathy for the Germans, Italians, Greeks, and French who had helped oppose fascism and win the war, these demonstrations might not have occurred. Too much sympathy with fascists and too much fear of democracy have contributed enormously to the European disorder following World War II and developed the conditions that make for another war.

The reactionaries of Japan, China, and Korea were supported by the United States. Thus the most unreliable and treacherous elements, the forces opposed to democracy, were placated while the people who had struggled for democracy were flouted. In the East the United States made itself unpopular in the very countries it fought to liberate from Japanese oppression by subsidizing war lords and fascistic governments. This is supposed to be for the sake of opposing communism. When a movement for democracy attracts to itself those elements of a country who have sacrificed everything for democracy, and when this movement attracts also the communists as a minority element, this communist infiltration scarcely justified the United States in casting its lot with foes of democracy as had been the case in China. Taking sides with the bad element to defeat the good element, mixed with another bad element, defeats peace. It is better to side with and help the democratic forces and keep them separated from the communists.

The solution of this problem was always difficult. In these countries, many of the officials who had administered the country and who were the most capable, happened to be fascists and nazis. There was a dearth of administrative ability among the few democrats who had opposed their government and gone to prison camps. Theoretically these are the people whom the victorious governments should have called upon and placed in office, but they were in general inadequate. Here are peace problems.

War has immediate causes and remote causes. The immediate causes are called "incidents," the little occurrences which seem to justify attack and which are built out of the remote causes. The remote causes are fundamental. Here we must come to grips with the nature of war.

This subject is not an unsolved mystery. It is misunderstood. The religious are prone to hold that war is made by wicked men. But war is made by good men. They are bad to the enemy. Read w hat the British said about the bad George Washington and about the perverse Abraham Lincoln. War makers become permanently bad when they are defeated. Good men win wars. The winning of war makes them good. Hitler was good to 60 million Germans and many other people until his fall. He was worshipped and paid reverence beyond ordinary goodness. He believed he was acting in the interest of the German people and that their victory would be for the betterment of the whole world. He was a pious man animated by a great moral urge, and ready to give his life for the cause. But he was lacking in intelligence. Genghis Khan, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon and the rest were animated by motives in the interest of their people. But their intelligence was not adequate to enable them to see things whole. They were good while they were victorious. To make men better will not remove a cause of war, until better is given a different meaning.

We have seen in the chapter on "Profit Capitalism" that the business of the world is carried on largely, not for the purpose of supplying needs but for the purpose of getting the difference between cost and selling price. The market place is the altar where men worship. Exaltation of its profits makes for war. Commerce with its profit purpose is a basic causative factor. The present economic struggle, which sets individual against individual and nation against nation, creates a fighting world in which people live in a flame of animosities and contentions. In the chapter on "The Constant War," it has been seen how this great war goes on all the time. Its promotion is to be seen in schools of business, in the advertising industry, in methods of salesmanship, in discord between employers and employees, in tariffs, and in the many devices that express the urge of individuals and of nations to get ahead of, to get the better of, and to outstrip others in acquisitiveness. Others who are outstripped become the hindmost who fall prey to the devil who takes them.

The prevalent economic system has performed its service, has run its course, and is declining. Its decline in the course of time means disorganization, business failures, unemployment, and inability of consumers to get things they need. Insecurity, joblessness, and loss of capital set men adrift, create restlessness, detachment, and discontent. Men lose their moorings. They are ready to enter the army. They are ripe for conscription. They welcome adventure. They want something new and different.

When business is stable, when employment is secure, when capital is safe, then war is not wanted. It is almost impossible. Modern war springs from social discontents, injustices, and inequalities between individuals and between nations, as well as from the quest for profits.

Peace conferences organized and promoted by governments have proved inept. One great question is not asked at these conferences: How might international commerce be made friendly instead of competitive? This is the important international question. It is not asked by peace commissions created by political governments because these governments are agencies of profit-seeking business. They have been willing to discuss affairs only from the standpoint of profit business. Their duty has been to keep profit business going. Such peace conferences were really not in the interest of peace but of business. Therefore they did not arrive at peace, because profit business is the great war. And peace can not be attained by agencies bent upon keeping the great war going.

This should be plain to the simplest mind. Since most people make their living and have their wants supplied by the prevalent business methods, their prejudices and supposed self-interest prevent them from seeing the way to peace. Diplomats and politicians close their minds to it. Militarists and those who enjoy the profits of armament purveying and war-making do not want a peace-promoting economy.

The price and profit system dominates commerce. Dangers in this system are so great that in emergencies it has to be eliminated to a considerable degree or the situation is not met. In war the government has to take over many industries and control and regulate all. If this were not done, the hunger for profits would wreck the enterprise. Generals work for a salary instead of being paid on a per capita basis for their killings--that would make war even more horrible and expensive.

Wars were once for the sake of pillage and plunder. The idea still prevails that small peacetime stealing is wicked, but big stealing when hallowed by wholesale murder is glorious. That is what thousands of statues in stone and bronze in many lands proclaim. For hundreds of years wars were promoted by the religious--Christians against Mohammedans, and Catholics against Protestants. With the exception of the religious cults of India, people no longer fight for religion. Wars now are under pretext of defense or promotion of some great cause.

Since profit business sets tradesman against tradesman, where commerce becomes international the hostilities are carried across international borders. The selling class, thwarted as to markets at home, look for foreign trade. To obstruct the trade of foreign competitors, tariffs which decrease their exportation are employed. Bilateral agreements whereby two nations show special consideration to each other create animosity on the part of other nations, and tariffs showing special privileges to favored nations for some special consideration in return add complications to international commerce and promote antagonism with nations excluded from such agreements. This all adds to the intrigues of international diplomacy, secrecy, and suspicion among nations. Removal of tariffs by the International Trade Organization inaugurated by the United States is a step toward elimination of these causes of hostility.

Exports are made necessary by production above domestic capacity to consume; also by the inability of domestic consumers to buy back what they, as workers, have produced. The struggle for foreign markets has become fierce. Everything is done by governments at the behest of traders to increase foreign sales. A system of foreign consulates is built up, shipping is subsidized, and other devices adopted. Foreign consuls help each country in its export business in competition with other countries. Navies are required to protect the trade. These promote international rivalries. Two nations vying with each other for the mastery of the seas for the sake of foreign trade are headed toward war.

Where there is least contact between governments and most contact between peoples, there is least of the thing we call diplomacy and most of nonpolitical business relationships. A century ago private business relations had not developed to the point of great international business rivalries that characterized the period preceding World War I. During the present century the great export and import business has passed the point of friendly commerce. It is true that international trade does create international friendship. People in the same line of business, buying and selling to one another to the advantage of each, do become friends. This brings foreigners into the office, home, and country club, and on a small scale promotes international good will. But not so wonderfully good, for over against this nice party is another similar grouping, drinking cocktails over plans to get business away from the first group. Each such pleasant party of international congeniality represents diplomats in the international business arena, conspiring to get advantage over other pleasant groups. The fact that animosities are bred by happy people does not mean that they aim to make others happy. Multitudes of these pleasant conspiracies, ultimately influence embassies and governments and make their contribution to war-breeding influences. In cooperative commerce no one is trying to get the customer away from some one else.

Along with the prevalent methods of international commerce colonies are developed or acquired by military conquest to provide customers, taxpayers, and soldiers. And every so often when one generation has died off and another crop of soldiers is available the settling of commercial disputes and the opening of markets are attempted by war.

Sources of raw materials to be sought in other countries lead to hostilities. When the international petroleum cartel subsidized with fabulous wealth the ruler of an Eastern nation for the privilege of exploiting its oil resources, nations denied access to this oil were antagonized and a commercial venture became a cause of war. Then follow the pipe lines, price discriminations, bickering, and intrigues to add fire to the fuel.

The economic cause of war acts largely through political agencies. It is found not only in the international competitive struggle for business but in the possibilities of profit to be made out of war. Take profit out of war and war is struck a serious blow. In commercial countries, such as the United States, business men will fight to the last ditch to have profits left in war. They fight for war and make their killing when they get war. Fortunes to be made in selling weapons and explosives to belligerent nations stimulate preparedness and prolong wars. The international armament trust, which was exposed in the Senate of the United States during World War I, consists of great combines which create hostility between nations to promote war for the sake of profits to be won. Increase of millionaires in the United States produced by each of its wars bears testimony to the commercial uses of war. The profligacy of army and navy in spending the people's money, the opportunities for favoritism and graft which this extravagance offers, conduce toward an approval or at least appreciation of war by the money-minded. The scandals connected with each war are too much for publicity. For commercial profit reasons, war is made popular. It is decorated with ideology. Commercial nations usually fight wars in the interest of the wealth of the big businesses that want wars. "War is an aggravated form of trade competition." It is "an inevitable concomitant of trade expansion." Brooks Adams, the historian, wrote: "No race ever held the main trade routes save at the price of blood."

Vessels in profit commerce, with cargoes for sale, setting out across the ocean, may be looked upon as freighted with rivalries. Profit-seeking commerce of the seven seas sows the seeds of the harvest of corpses.

War can be caused by animosity of nations that have not against nations that have. The United States has 16 acres to each inhabitant; Germany has 1.8 acres; Japan has 1.3 acres. If the United States contained the two billion population of the whole world it would be as closely inhabited as Japan. Crowded nations envy the roomy nations and covet their room. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was something more than conquest. Behind it was the urge of the crowded, of the discontented, for change, for something different. Whatever came, it could not be made worse. The Japanese people supported the Japanese war, as the German people supported Hitler's war.

Fear is a major causative factor. At the time of this writing, the foreign policy of international political diplomacy is based on fear. Each country is afraid of the other. Fear prompts the frightened to become frightful--the terrified to become terrible. Fear of other nations' armies causes building up of armament. Fear of commercial competition calls for military measures to check the competition. Fear of unemployment, of poverty, and of sickness are causes of war. Any device that reduces fear is an agent of peace. Hatred is the child of fear.

Other contributing war factors reside in racial hatreds. Back of these hatreds are animosities engendered by former wars. Historic unfriendliness has been kept alive for hundreds of years in traditions of hatred. They grow not only from former wars but from competition for markets. The Arabs and the Jews in Palestine were stimulated by the British government into animosities against one another, and everything possible was done to prevent them settling down and developing stabilized industries to supply their needs. If they should become self-sufficient they would not need to import fabricated goods from the powerful commercial nations. Industry in India and China was planfully discouraged for a hundred years. Differences in races, their likes and dislikes, their different religions, and folk superstitions cause unfriendly attitudes.

Patriotism is the handmaiden of Mars. It is nurtured by the reactionary element which loves the status quo and hates change. Semantically the real patriot is the citizen who works to make his country better: and that means change. He does not want to keep it as it is and was. He is castigated with bad names by the conservative patriot who favors war to keep things as they are. The slogans of patriotism are emblazoned on the banners of war-makers.

Militarism and military preparedness make for war. Soldiers and guns are the instruments of war, and the more a nation has of them the surer it is to engage in war. A strong United States may be safe from attack, it may not want to attack any other nation; but a strong United States will make itself the ally of another nation that wants to go to war, and will be led into war when there would have been no war had there not been a strong United States. Military strength forges war.

Preparation for war is the beginning of war. We prepare to protect ourselves from the other fellow. He is the wicked fellow. In thus preparing ourselves we become, in his eyes, the other fellow. We become the wicked fellow. Each needs to control himself.

In the world today nobody can be sure that he will not be killed by a bomb, but everybody can be sure that he does not kill somebody else with a bomb.

Let each see to it that he takes not in hand the instruments that kill, but adjusts relationships to other people with the instruments of the mind--with justice, truth, charity, and compassion. Then there will be no other fellow to fear or to hate.

War makes war. Quintus Curtius wrote of Alexander two thousand years ago: "Your wars are the children of your victories." World War I with its Treaty of Versailles which imposed intolerable conditions upon the Germans was a cause of World War II. Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, promoted by the United States, was the war that continued into World War II in the Pacific. World War II caused the civil war in China and Greece and set in motion a multitude of wars in embryo. World War II started because the nations of the world had no program for peace; there was not only no international control of economic causes of war but each nation was espousing dangerous economic practices.

The cause of World War II goes back beyond Hitler, War I, and trade hostilities between Great Britain and Germany. It was to a degree in response to general world-wide need of social and economic change. Prevalent methods had become outmoded. The world was ready and wanting change of methods because of dissatisfaction with the old. Restlessness, in a world of dissatisfied people and nations, engenders war.

Among the conditions that send governments into wars are the discontents which governments can not allay. Disparity between wages and cost of living and the imminence of economic collapse are reasons for war. Governments upon the horns of the dilemma of discontent solve their political problem by taking their country into war. Propaganda assures the result once decision for war is made. Government spending brings the appearance of prosperity. The great moral cause which war, no matter how wicked, always claims to represent, unites the people behind the government. War is the consummate political boon in times of political discontent.

We shall know that these causes of war are being overcome when the nations that control atomic energy are ready to part with their secrets and place them with an Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations. When such nations bend every energy to build up and perfect the United Nations and its Atomic Energy Commission we shall know the world is on the way to peace. When a nation which possesses some great prize is willing to share it with other nations, united in a world alliance of nations, as a scientist who has made a great discovery shares it with other scientists, the light of peace will be seen illuminating a dark world. Efforts have been made to take atomic power out of the field of neutrality and place it instead in the hands of the military and of business. Success of these efforts could spell only calamity. War-making and profits would rule.

In all this struggle, the cooperative way of business introduces a different motive and method. It begins with the individual and engages him in an economic system which has service as its purpose. Not to get something from somebody else, but to unite individuals to help one another get what they need is its object. In the community, it tends to unite people in mutual aid, and to create friendliness and harmony. Nationally, it tends to unite their societies and businesses, not to compete with one another but to help one another, to place their united resources at the service of each, to be zealous for the success of every other cooperative society. And internationally, cooperation does the same thing. Here resides its power for peace. Hope of a peaceful world depends upon international cooperation. By this I do not mean international fine words, ideals, nor theory. In this book is meant a definite, specific, and tried method of carrying on international business. It is already in operation in a warring world. It can be expanded into the predominant method in a peaceful world.

The cooperative method of business reduces the amount of hostility among individuals and promotes friendship. For the same reason, international cooperation has the same effect across international borders. Friendly commerce is represented by cooperative commerce where no one is trying to get the customer away from some one else.

Only as international commerce is on a cooperative basis is it lifted out of the danger zone. This requires that local cooperative business be developed to make international cooperation possible. Removal of the competitive business struggle begins by creating a better state of friendship among neighbors, which by this cooperative method expands into better friendship between nations


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.