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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fendrin View Post
    [*]There will be no cause for war, as all people's needs will be met. As such the last remaining call for adventurers will be exploring the wilderness.
    More wars have been fought because someone wanted something than because someone needed something. Or, possibly more accurate, it's a perceived need rather than an actual need.

    I'd even venture to say the boredom caused by having needs met might result in more war rather than less. But then I'm a cynic...reading history did that to me. :)
    Quote Originally Posted by fendrin View Post
    Can you give any examples?
    There are several, but I'll use the same one you did...the crusades. They weren't about religion or even expansion, they were about power - the pope's power over European monarchs. The church needed to control military fervor and expansionism in order to maintain and extend political control over a fractious group of monarchs. Sending the monarchs' warriors (or better yet, the monarchs themselves) across the Mediterranean took troops, money, and resources away from Europe...usually by putting them in the Church's pockets at least temporarily.
    Keeping in mind that the desire for wealth is am extension of the desire for food: wealth guarantees food for yourself and your descendants. Create Food and Water eliminates that.
    Let's accept your premise for the sake of discussion. How much is enough? When do you have enough for your descendants? Possibly when there aren't any others to compete with them...

    Even the value of art becomes irrelevant because the artist isn't under any pressure to sell to the highest bidder, as they will never be a 'starving artist'.
    This isn't really related to whether there are reasons for war other than need, but art is valued on aesthetics and rarity. If there's only one beautiful whatzit, that whatzit wii have value.

    Even religious wars typically are actually about food. For instance, the crusades were caused by overpopulation in Europe.
    Err, see above. Beside, the crusades were a net loss for Europe. The crusader kingdoms were never self sufficient.

    More to the point, what evidence do you have? The last 11th century famine listed in Wikipedia was 29 years before the first crusades. If Europeans hadn't had spare food resources they couldn't have fielded and supported an army.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    While many wars are fought over economics, hardly any of them start because of poverty.

    Think about it. If you're so poor you need something just to survive, what are the odds that you can beat someone who already owns it in a fight? On the individual level that works well enough- a poor man may mug a rich man and steal a small fraction of his money. But in a contest between nations, which is usually decided by things like the number of soldiers you can afford and the size of guns you can build, it doesn't work very well. If I can't afford food, how am I going to feed soldiers? I can rely on them finding food in enemy territory, but if they have to 'forage' in enemy territory that territory will be devastated by my army's looting. Fat chance I'll make much money off it after that.

    If I can afford food, why am I invading someone for food?

    The same goes for other resources (including ones clerics can't create easily in D&D, like wood and metal). A nation too poor to get enough of those resources to sustain its civilian economy won't be able to afford an army strong enough to beat a nation that can get those resources. If they had the wealth to build an army to take the resources they'd have the wealth to simply purchase them.

    Now, a strong nation may attack a weak one in hopes of stealing its resources (or as a counterstrike against the weak nation's provocations funded by those resources). A strong nation might fight a border war with another strong nation over a small fraction of that nation's resources. But really big conflicts are hardly ever about economics when you look at the causes that actually get people to make a conscious decision to fight.

    Look at the World Wars. All the major combatants were large industrial nations- poor nations that might plausibly attack someone to steal resources or to profit from tribute couldn't afford to play a leading role in the war.

    The only nations that entered the World Wars because it was in danger of running out of resources even in theory was Japan. And look what happened to them. They ended up having to fight a big war against the US and Britain because they needed to secure a supply of resources... that they had only risked losing in the first place because they were fighting another big war in China... to secure a supply of resources. Fighting to gain the resources you need to keep fighting to gain resources is a losing game, much like killing people to keep people from noticing you are killing people. And then the dirigible is in flames, everybody is dead, and you lose your hat. Which has to be a bad thing.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Wars are fought for all kinds of stupid reasons *oil* but I think that if there were nobody in need of life's basic necessities, it certainly would reduce war and conflict in general. And I most definately think that desperate people cause more conflict than bored ones.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Think about it. If you're so poor you need something just to survive, what are the odds that you can beat someone who already owns it in a fight? On the individual level that works well enough- a poor man may mug a rich man and steal a small fraction of his money. But in a contest between nations, which is usually decided by things like the number of soldiers you can afford and the size of guns you can build, it doesn't work very well. If I can't afford food, how am I going to feed soldiers? I can rely on them finding food in enemy territory, but if they have to 'forage' in enemy territory that territory will be devastated by my army's looting. Fat chance I'll make much money off it after that.

    If I can afford food, why am I invading someone for food?
    I justified this in one setting by having the following situation;

    Nation A had a population that was growing exponentially, but limited arible land. They had enough food for now, but not later.

    Nation B's lush river delta looks pretty delicious, being just a few miles across the border.

    Nation A invades Nation B.

    And... if you've ever played Sid Mier's Civilizations, you know the drill about fighting for resources...

    You better have an overwhelming advantage in manpower if you want to maintain a fight with someone who has an advantage in techno/resource power.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    "The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the same mould…. The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbour causes a war betwixt princes." - Michel Eyquem, seigneur de Montaigne

    People are always going to find reasons to conquer their hated enemies and envied rivals. This still holds true in DnD land, where high level casters can run everything amok, especially if they have the element of surprise.

    Hell, I can see rich monarchs desperately hiring adventuring parties as a sort of arms race, and then the whole thing finally exploding into a WWI-esque high level character death parade.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Want, Need, and Politics. Imagine citystate 'A' finds an Adamantium mine somewhere inbetween them and citystate 'B'. They try and secretly hire miners and mount up a military expedition to claim and defend this multi-million gold discovery (Want). Citystate 'B' ends up getting intelligence about this and moves in before army 'A' can get there. When expedition 'A' gets there, 'B' has already secured the area and begun operations. Any option that 'A' takes which do not get some claim to the mine either through force or politics will be negative for the individual leader (Need & Politics).

    If he backs down to save the lives of his troops then another potental leader can curry favor from the populace stating he is weak, or the people might get the idea that they don't need to pay as much because he will back down.

    If he sends wave after wave of envoys to citystate 'B' to attempt at a fair compromise, he might waste time and get nothing.

    But, if he has the military might and/or skill, he can take the mine and put 'A' and 'B' into a war-like situation that could get out of control. What started out as a Want became a Need and Political situation after he failed to secure the mine.


    I remember playing age of empires 2 alot with friends and many drawn out conflicts started hastily like this. Only insert stone, gold, or sheep in place of Adamantium.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Not much time to respond, so this will be brief.

    The European nations at the time were feudalist. Landowners would have to choose how to distribute their lands between their heirs. Feudalism only functions if a land owner owns enough arable land to support himself, his family, his serfs, etc.

    As the plots of land approached that minimum effective size, more and more heirs were being pushed to take up professions that would either support them or allow them to procure lands of their own. Specifically, the priesthood and soldiering (a.k.a. knighthood).

    The former led to a rise in the power (and sustinence needs) of the Church. The problem with the latter is that all of the arable land in Europe was already claimed, and the European monarchs really didn't want to go to war with each other again, especially seeing the Pope forbade it. Rock, meet hard place. The growing internal strife and no release mechanism was eroding the local power base.

    Add to that destabilized situation the pressures of an expanding Turkey, which was causing difficulty for Christian pilgrims trying to get to the Holy Lands. That was 'the straw that broke the camel's back' as it were, and provided a great justification for sending all those extra heirs out to 'die honorably for God' as the worst case and capture lands and become rich as the best case.

    So it all comes back to the fact that only so much food can be grown. Now take the case where Create Food and Water is freely available. No overpopulation problems, or at least not until you have millions of people living in one small area, like in modern cities. Even then, you have spells to remove disease, so that solves the other main problem of overpopulation. Suddenly, the only issue is actual physical space. Well, between magic and engineering, that problem is solved too. You end up with huge sprawling metropolises with gigantic skyscrapers... sounds like Sharn, actually.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tequila Sunrise View Post
    Wars are fought for all kinds of stupid reasons *oil*
    Is oil such a stupid reason to fight a war? And if so, why?

    I mean, if we accept as that many wars are fought over who has the resources they need to live, why should we be shocked to discover that people fight over the resources they need to live comfortably?

    In a civilization that relies heavily on oil products, the supply of oil is actually important. Not as important as food- but as long as the oil keeps coming, the food supply is almost totally secure. So in a real sense a nation that gets in a fight over oil or diamonds is doing the same thing that a hypothetical nation that gets in a fight over cropland is.

    but I think that if there were nobody in need of life's basic necessities, it certainly would reduce war and conflict in general.
    It would reduce conflicts on the small scale (men and clans fighting each other), certainly. But would it change things on the large scale?

    Remember, the most destructive wars in the history of our planet were fought between nations that could provide all their people with life's basic necessities. Any tiny minority who did not have those necessities in those nations were a fringe group that had no influence on policy.

    Nobody entered the World Wars because they were seriously afraid their nation was going to starve. Anyone who had to entertain such a fear wouldn't have been able to afford to fight the war in the first place.

    And I most definately think that desperate people cause more conflict than bored ones.
    Yes, but desperate about what? People don't decide to go fight a war because they are bored. Fighting wars is hard work if you want to do it properly, and you have to make a lot of people do things they don't want to do. It's not something you do for pleasure. Individual acts of random violence may be fun for a certain kind of person, but actual warfare is not. Warfare is one of the most complicated things people do, and it's very hard work to get it organized well enough that you can expect to beat a competent opponent at it.

    So all wars are going to happen because someone fears something. However, for the reasons I've already gone into the threat of starvation is not usually one of those fears. Nations that can't afford to feed themselves have much more urgent problems than trying to redraw the borders (such as bread riots in the streets of the capital). What do nations going to war usually fear?

    Sometimes they fear the loss of some valuable resource other than the ones they need for day to day survival (Japan invading Indonesia for the rubber and oil). That's the one case that closely resembles "war fought because people lack necessities." And you'll notice that nations that go to war because they fear the loss of some valuable resource tend to lose. If they aren't strong enough to get the resource some other way, they probably aren't strong enough to fight people who control it. If they are strong enough to get the resource some other way, they won't be desperate enough to keep fighting against serious opposition.

    So why else might a nation fight a war? Sometimes they fight a war because they feel their security is threatened- not their prosperity. Fighting for prosperity is tricky, because it's hard to convince a man to risk death for the sake of someone else's standard of living. But there are all sorts of ways to convince people to fight for the safety of their friends and families, if you can convince them that there's a security threat.

    When you look at most really big wars, wars that happen on a scale larger than that of raiding back and forth across the border, you usually find security concerns. Some wars get fought over prosperity, but even then you usually have to be able to tie prosperity in with security in the mind of the people who will have to do the fighting.

    And a "Pastors and Painters" society that conjures food for everyone out of thin air doesn't do anything to guarantee security, except that having clerics around makes you more likely to win a fight. So people will still fight because they expect the other guy to jump them, or because they've been insulted, or because they're convinced their people need more space to expand into.

    They won't fight wars over food supplies, but hardly anybody actually does that anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paragon Badger View Post
    I justified this in one setting by having the following situation;

    Nation A had a population that was growing exponentially, but limited arible land. They had enough food for now, but not later.

    Nation B's lush river delta looks pretty delicious, being just a few miles across the border.

    Nation A invades Nation B.
    That doesn't happen very often though. It's an easy scenario to construct, because it's very simple. Essentially, A wants something, B has it, so A grabs it. But take a step back. Why aren't individual merchants in Nation A buying food from Nation B? Why is Nation A's population growing so fast anyway? Exponential population growth is a recent development, a product of modern economies and technology. And in modern societies with advanced technology, the difference between nations that can afford to import food and nations who can't gets really steep. As in, one side can afford tanks and fighter jets and the other can't.

    You didn't see that kind of population boom in pre-industrial societies, except in places where the local environment could support rapid population growth. Like that river delta. You'd expect the population boom to happen in Nation B's river delta, not in Nation A. In which case it's more likely that B will invade A (as the ancient Egyptians tended to invade Canaan, Libya, and Nubia) than the other way around. The guys who have enough food to feed their population easily can afford to wage wars all the time. The guys who don't can't afford to invade and annex territories.

    Now, that doesn't mean you won't get groups of warriors from the hungry nation who decide to break into the well-fed nation and try to take over the country. But if that happens, they will become a new government of that country, rather than trying to tack the new (better fed, richer, and probably more powerful) country onto their own (hungry, poorer, and weaker) country.

    Invading a rich river delta kingdom for food doesn't work nearly as well as threatening to invade them if they don't ship you food, or as well as trading with them for food, or even as well as buckling down and trying to build your own farming system to feed your people. The river delta kingdom will kick your butt unless they're practically falling apart already.

    And... if you've ever played Sid Mier's Civilizations, you know the drill about fighting for resources...

    You better have an overwhelming advantage in manpower if you want to maintain a fight with someone who has an advantage in techno/resource power.
    Yes. And even then you tend to lose.

    Also, the Civilization series has problems modeling real history, because it's hard to trade for essential strategic resources, because the power of a nation is almost exactly proportionate to the amount of land they control, and because the 'ruler' of these civilizations is actually an immortal godlike viewpoint instead of a real person who has to deal with the fact that they're going to die in 10 to 50 years. Therefore, it makes a lot more sense to send your armies to capture enemy cities in Civilization for profit (that you probably won't collect for about a century) than it does in real life.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    As said above: Want, Need and Politics

    In a high magic society with create food and water etc. need is reduced, but there is want, like the Adamantium mine example.

    There is also politics. Not just just the interplay of kingdom v. kingdom and alliances and such, but war as a means of population control.

    Since at least WW2, war as a method of social control has been used. Through perpetual states of war, almost anything can be justified by the leadership of such a nation.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    WAR! Hoo, yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

    Musical interlude aside, allow me to advance this statement:

    Nobody knows why people fight wars.

    I'm serious. You can get people into long arguments over whether the Crusades were about culture, or a counter attack against Turkish infractions against Byzantium, combined with a Moorish presence in the Iberian peninsula, or if it was about expansion, or religion, or any combinations of these things. Just like how people argue about what caused the civil war. Slaves, or states rights? Who's to say?

    Likewise, there will be significant debate on the purpose of modern conflicts. The reason one goes to war is quite political; unjust wars find themselves dressed in the trappings of justified conflicts, while war opponents will say that the war they are opposed to is unjustly motivated, and accuse the conflict of being one of those aforementioned unjust wars in just war clothings. And some people oppose the idea of just war, for a little icing on the "We have no concrete facts or evidence on this subject matter, just a load of arguing" cake.

    For a little caramel filling, (because I like caramel, so nyeh) remember this: While people are arguing over the "cause" of a war, the reality could be that all of the "causes" were factors in the decision to go to war, and then you get into debates about which one of these stimuli was most prominent.

    To sum up:

    "Why are we fighting?"

    "To win the war."

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    WAR! Hoo, yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

    Musical interlude aside, allow me to advance this statement:

    Nobody knows why people fight wars.
    No.

    A war never starts out of nothing.

    To start a war you need a lot of organization. You need to get your warriors, you need to get comanders to lead those troops, you need to scout the enemy, you need to get comunications, transports, payments, you need to assure supplies, you need to prepare against enemy counter attacks, what to do wherever you win or lose...

    All of this takes a LOT of time, resources and organization.

    Hitler for example spent several years preparing Germany for WWII after he rose to power.

    It's a lot of effort. And people are naturally lazy. So if a war happens, it means a group of people worked a lot to get all the necessary things ready for the war to happen.

    In 99% of the wars, the reasons for the attacking force are actually very simple:

    "They have something we want. They don't want to give us those things by nonviolent means like talks or comerce or intimidation. So we'll go there and take what we want by force."


    It doesn't take a genious to figure this. It's basically bullying, in a much much bigger scale. And instead of the lunch money, you're stealing natural resources like mines, land and slaves. You can NEVER have too many resources.

    Every other reason for the attack is an excuse to hide this. Well, politics almost never tell the whole truth about anything, why would they do this about wars?

    Of course, if you're in the receiving end of a war, then you're fighting to defend yourself.

    People are stubborn. Even if the enemy is stronger , faster and smarter they'll try to resist and fight back to the bitter end.

    Actually, nobody ever started a war against a clearly stronger country as far as I can remember. You only attack if you have good chances of defeating the enemy.

    The weaker country's only hope of winning is wearing down the attacker untill it concludes the "prey" is not worth the effort it's taking to capture.

    The best example of this would be the vietanm war. US forces killed a lot of vietnam soldiers, much more than they were losing. But more vietnam soldiers would come with hate on their hearths to fight the "invaders", killing more US soldiers and destroying very expensive equipment. The US ended up retreating because they understood that even if they could win that war, they wouldn't gain anything from it.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    No.

    A war never starts out of nothing.
    Did I say that? No. I said nobody knows why wars start and why warfare is. I never said that they were without cause; I said that cause cannot be determined or defined.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    It's a lot of effort. And people are naturally lazy. So if a war happens, it means a group of people worked a lot to get all the necessary things ready for the war to happen.
    BS. Mankind cannot be called lazy in any sense of the word, having reshaped the earth in the blink of an eye. "People", lazy? Laughable, both because people is a vague and undefined, and because mankind's productivity is self evident. We build things on an unprecedented scale.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    In 99% of the wars, the reasons for the attacking force are actually very simple:

    "They have something we want. They don't want to give us those things by nonviolent means like talks or comerce or intimidation. So we'll go there and take what we want by force."


    It doesn't take a genious to figure this. It's basically bullying, in a much much bigger scale. And instead of the lunch money, you're stealing natural resources like mines, land and slaves. You can NEVER have too many resources.
    Sez you. And someone else will say that war has nothing to do with resources and everything to do with culture; foreign cultures are scary. People who think different form us are scary. We need to make everyone conform to our culture and our standards. Our group mentality rejects anyone and anything outside of our comfort zone.

    And then someone else will come up with a different reason, like "Wars are the natural outlet for man's violent urges. If the world was ruled by less testosterone driven individuals, we would have fewer wars."

    At the end of the day, nobody can prove anything. What was more important to Hitler, living space, German prestige, racial purity, or the Teutonic crusade against the Slavs? Did the Empire of Japan's manifest destiny of Pacific rule spring from a need for resources, or did they need resources to fulfill their manifest destiny?

    In the end, we don't know. There are too many factors, too many variables, too much that is unknown, and lies in the hearts of dead men. Nationalism? Greed? Who's to say?

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    No.

    A war never starts out of nothing.

    To start a war you need ... a LOT of time, resources and organization.

    It's a lot of effort. And people are naturally lazy. So if a war happens, it means a group of people worked a lot to get all the necessary things ready for the war to happen.

    In 99% of the wars, the reasons for the attacking force are actually very simple:

    "They have something we want. They don't want to give us those things by nonviolent means like talks or comerce or intimidation. So we'll go there and take what we want by force."


    It doesn't take a genious to figure this. It's basically bullying, in a much much bigger scale. And instead of the lunch money, you're stealing natural resources like mines, land and slaves. You can NEVER have too many resources.
    Sort of.

    Thing is, the thing that the attacker starts fighting over isn't always tangible. They may be fighting to get an apology, or at least they may start fighting because they demanded an apology and didn't get it. Or they may be fighting because they are convinced their opponent will attack them.

    Wars fought with the specific intent of capturing resources have one of three possible forms:

    -War waged by the stronger against the weaker (Iraq invading Kuwait for oil, Athens trying to expand its influence in Thrace for gold, silver, and timber). These wars are usually short unless an outside power steps in, and the aggressor usually wins. In this case, the aggressor is almost always a powerful nation that has plenty of resources and just happens to want more, while the defender is a weak nation that either has resources disproportionate to its size (Kuwait) or a region with no central political control to fend off the attacker (Classical Thrace)

    -War waged by the weaker against the stronger (Scotland raiding into England in the late Middle Ages and early gunpowder era, Japan attacking Britain and the US as part of its drive to secure resources in the Pacific). This doesn't happen very often, because poor people are usually smart enough to know that they aren't likely to fight rich people nation against nation and win. In pre-industrial societies, the "war" usually takes the form of a bunch of small groups raiding enemy territory to steal what they can. This is what the orcs and goblins are trying to do in most D&D settings.

    In modern times, in the unlikely event that someone tries to seize resources from a stronger opponent they rely on a stunning attack that will convince the enemy to surrender before their greater strength comes into play. This doesn't work very often.

    -Attack by equal against equal. This hardly ever happens. Wars between equals are rarely fought primarily over resources, because both sides know that the other can do them enough harm to make the resources more expensive than they're worth.

    So if we see a war between equals, it's probably not all about economic resources. The winner might end up richer than the loser, but that's a side effect and not a primary cause.



    Actually, nobody ever started a war against a clearly stronger country as far as I can remember. You only attack if you have good chances of defeating the enemy.
    Sometimes you start a war because you foolishly underestimated you enemy. I mean, everyone who starts a war voluntarily thinks they can win. A lot of them turn out to be wrong, especially once you exclude the cases where it's totally obvious that the attacker will win (Iraq deciding to invade Kuwait in 1990).

    The US ended up retreating [from Vietnam] because they understood that even if they could win that war, they wouldn't gain anything from it.
    But the US never really expect to get anything material from Vietnam in the first place. The US didn't up and decide to invade Vietnam to steal their resources. It was sort of sucked in through a combination of political factors that convinced it to keep escalating and taking a heavier role in the country.

    So I think Vietnam is an excellent example of how wars are often fought over non-material causes. I mean, in theory you can trace all non-material causes back to economics. But you can trace economics back to the laws of physics, too. That doesn't mean economics is all about applied physics, or that wars are all about economics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    BS. Mankind cannot be called lazy in any sense of the word, having reshaped the earth in the blink of an eye. "People", lazy? Laughable, both because people is a vague and undefined, and because mankind's productivity is self evident. We build things on an unprecedented scale.
    I don't think you understand what he's talking about.

    People aren't "lazy" in the sense that they never do anything. But they are definitely "lazy" in the sense that they don't naturally do huge coordinated things without someone trying to make them do it.

    People don't spontaneously organize themselves into groups larger than an extended family without leaders trying to make it happen, because it isn't in our instincts to form masses of thousands or millions working towards a concerted goal. Sure, we do it, but not because it is an instinct for us to do so. And in that sense humans are lazy. They won't organize something like the Normandy Landings for fun, because it's too bloody hard to do it unless you have a good reason.

    That's the key point- people don't fight wars for fun or to end their own boredom. An individual or small group of individuals might go a-Viking and fight for those reasons, but you never get nation-on-nation wars fought for those reason. Fighting a war is hard work, and people need a motive to do hard work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    I don't think you understand what he's talking about.

    People aren't "lazy" in the sense that they never do anything. But they are definitely "lazy" in the sense that they don't naturally do huge coordinated things without someone trying to make them do it.
    Humans are naturally social animals and form group structures with leaders. It could be argued that unorganized humans are unnatural, and that the structured form allowing huge, coordinated efforts is the natural state of humanity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    People don't spontaneously organize themselves into groups larger than an extended family without leaders trying to make it happen, because it isn't in our instincts to form masses of thousands or millions working towards a concerted goal. Sure, we do it, but not because it is an instinct for us to do so.
    I think it is. After all, almost all the world is owned by national governments, which I feel are an extension and evolution of familial groups. Familial groups expand, join with and absorb other familial groups, and form on their own. Human beings are social creatures and naturally bond into familial groups. Social contract theory is something I've never agreed with.

    In the event that familial structure was somehow removed or destroyed, new ones would form naturally.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    That's the key point- people don't fight wars for fun or to end their own boredom. An individual or small group of individuals might go a-Viking and fight for those reasons, but you never get nation-on-nation wars fought for those reason. Fighting a war is hard work, and people need a motive to do hard work.
    Like I told the other gentleman, I never said there was no motive or cause. I said that said motive or cause was indeterminable.

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    Not that it matters but I vote Kasrkin as having the best arguments.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Ok, let's put things this way.

    1-Humans normally don't like killing other humans, especially if said humans never bothered each other.

    2-You've got a country/empire/kingdom under your control, including trained soldiers, weapons, alas all material things you need to start a war.

    3-If you got yourself such power and resources, you're certainly a very ambitious person, and ambitious persons always want more power and resources.

    4-Your neighbour has a lot of power and resources, but you think you're smarter and stronger than him so you could probably take it by force.

    5-BUT you can't just send your soldiers to go and take all those juicy resources whitout an excuse. After all, if you attack a country "just" to steal their resources, your own people may realize you're a greedy bastard and abandon you. After all despite all your atempts a significant part of your army is composed by people with basic ethics like "killing other people to take their stuff is bad".

    6-So, you tell them a few lies. You tell your loyal troops that(choose one or more):
    a)Your neighbours are bloodthirsty monsters wich at any moment may attack us and take our stuff and kill us. So better to attack them and take their stuff and kill them first!

    b)Your neighbours have heretical ideas like worshiping other god! They are totally diferent from us, they must be purged! Don't forget to get all their treasures in the way back!

    c) Your neighbours have somehow insulted the pride of our nation! Let's teach those bastards a lesson by attacking them and taking all their valuable stuff!

    7-So, now that your troops believe that your neighbours is the devil in person and eats babies for breackfast they'll surely fight a lot better, and also there is a smaller possibility of desertions and your troops will be more willing to fight to the death.

    8-Attack and take their juicy stuff.


    Culture, religion, politics, those are all excuses. Soldiers are human beings, and human beings need motivation. They need to believe the enemy deserves to be killed whitout mercy or they won't fight at their best.

    Now they may be some more causes than resource aquisition. Commerce rights would be a recent one Every time the US wins a war in a country, is one more country wich will pay the US lots of money to rebuild their cities and buy their products. Now this is a little more indirect that stealing directly, but the end is the same. US win war, US get lots of money in their pockets.

    Guess what is paying the reconstruction of Iraq made by all those american bombs? Yeap, you got it, Iraquian oil. They breack our stuff apart but we are the ones who pay the bill. Simple coincidence?

    Also, why bother oficially conquering the land when you can install a puppet government wich will do as you say? This way you look like the savior who killed the evil dicator whitout wanting any reward, and still basically control the country from behind the scenes.

    However, if what you meant was that we simple mortals will never know what the big guys in power truly had in mind when they started the war, I have to agree with you. They never let out the whole truth.
    Last edited by Oslecamo; 2008-03-18 at 05:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Mr. Oslecamo, you seem to think that greed is the highest and strongest of human urges. In fact, your views are apparently, if I interpret them correctly, reminiscent of several individuals I know of, defined by their cynical outlooks and absolute mistrust of authority or positions of great power.

    I fully believe that individuals have, do, and will hold culture, spirituality, codes and creeds, politics, religion, and their fellow man above a desire for material possessions. I believe that these individuals enter positions of power and maintain their priorities. And I believe that these individuals lead their followers to war, justly. I do not believe that all of the leadership positions in the world are filled with greedy dogs, which may be a hyperbole of your position, but I fear may not be that far off.

    I believe ambition does not equate to greed. And I do not believe that "ambitious persons always want more power and resources." Ambition has its limits.

    I find no other way to finish other than to state that we seem to have very different perceptions about ambition and power positions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    I fully believe that individuals have, do, and will hold culture, spirituality, codes and creeds, politics, religion, and their fellow man above a desire for material possessions. I believe that these individuals enter positions of power and maintain their priorities. And I believe that these individuals lead their followers to war, justly. I do not believe that all of the leadership positions in the world are filled with greedy dogs, which may be a hyperbole of your position, but I fear may not be that far off.

    I believe ambition does not equate to greed. And I do not believe that "ambitious persons always want more power and resources." Ambition has its limits.
    Been away from the boards for a month... lots happenin' here, which is a good thing.

    I can understand your viewpoint, but I suspect that you feel this way because you would not be a pig-in-the-mud if in a position of power. Commendable that.

    Some do not seek leadership roles like you've said, like Ghandi, and those are the people who do not start wars. With some exceptions, those who seek leadership roles do so because they like the control, not because the job needs to be done. I can't recall which one of the 'Founding Fathers' wrote: "A good man may seek to rule. The problem is he seeks to rule." (may be paraphrasing - going from memory here)

    There is a difference between ambition to be the best mechanic, and the ambition to own every mechanic shop in the State. One is driven to be the best person at his job, the other is driven to have control. The former will likely open his own shop and be content with his business. The latter will move on to own shops in other States, because the 100 he owns in this State aren't enough. He can't get enough. Think of it as a kind of addiction. With control over so many shops, he can start dictating prices and manipulating the market. If someone undercuts his prices, the takeover begins. Competition bad. It hurts profits, and you can't control it.

    When the attempted takover of the good man's business takes place, locals may rally to his plight, and he becomes the 'leader' of a resistance. So now we have two 'leaders' on opposing sides, both with ambition, but who is the cause of the situation? The man who owns the single shop? Of course, it's the multi-hundred owner, the 'greedy' one.

    The only just war is a defensive one.

    "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." - 1 Timothy 6:10

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Wars are never started by poor countries. That's because poor countries can't afford it. Wars are started by rich countries, or middling countries, who have fallen on hard times.

    What happens is this: Country has troubles. Government is unsure what to do, people demand action. Government declares war to unite the people under the flag of the government, then government falls because it's trying to fight a war it can't afford.

    Other times, wars just happen. see WWI. No real reason for it occurring. It just happened. Damn you Franz Ferdinand and an intricate web of secret alliances!
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    I fully believe that individuals have, do, and will hold culture, spirituality, codes and creeds, politics, religion, and their fellow man above a desire for material possessions. I believe that these individuals enter positions of power and maintain their priorities. And I believe that these individuals lead their followers to war, justly. I do not believe that all of the leadership positions in the world are filled with greedy dogs, which may be a hyperbole of your position, but I fear may not be that far off.
    If that's what you believe, then please explain why do developed countries waste OBSCENE amounts of money DEVELOPING new weapons. I'm not talking about buying new weapons or keeping the old ones working. I'm talking about making even deadlier, faster, bigger range, wider area, killing tools.

    This is, all the developed countries are at peace with each other, sort off. Why do they spend so much money in developing new weapons? All our oficial "enemies" are ages behind us in warfare technology. We have laser and satelite guided missiles that cost as much as a school using the latest tech and they build bombs from scratch with everyday stuff.

    But noooo. Even if we have people dying out of sickness in the streets, students going mad and shooting machine guns in their own schools and several diseases spreading everywhere, by all means, the military budget shall always be bigger than the health or educational budgets. Sometimes bigger than they both combined.

    Was for this we elected our leaders? So they would spend our hardworck building bigger and deadlier war engines?

    For those leaders, killing other people is more important than taking care of their own people. They don't care about religion or social beliefs, because I think I never met any religion or social belief wich stated you should sacrifice your people's needs so you could inflict pain and destruction upon others.

    Maybe there are some leaders wich aren't like that. But guess what? Those countries aren't currently in war with anyone, their citizens have excellent quality life, and they don't appear on the newspaper because they don't have big problems, since their governmets are actually honest and take care for their people.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Oslecamo, while you have a point, discussion of politics is expressly forbidden, and I worry that you're getting too close to that.

    You may wish to consider rephrasing, but then you may feel you've done nothing wrong. It's up to you.
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    Mr. SimperingToad:

    Welcome back. It's always good to see another mind in the Playground.

    It is true that greedy people seek more of what they crave, and this can lead them to positions of power. I feel this trend might be greater in the later half of the century, in the US, at least, due to political apathy on the common man's part. I don't want to say any more than that for fear of violating the board's policy, but I'll just end this point with that I believe firmly that certain good individuals seek power specifically to do good for the society as a whole. I feel this has occurred throughout history and still occurs this day, although it may have lessened somewhat. It is still present, however.

    As to just wars- well, read the quote in my sig. Sums up my position nicely.

    Mr. Oslecamo:

    We are drifting dangerously close to violating board policy. I'll try to answer you without breaking it, however.

    The reasons are... complex. Even in the modern day, it can be argued that nations exist of similar technological level that could very possibly become hostile very rapidly. The world is no longer united as it was during the Cold War. And during the Cold War, the reason for the focus on defense was apparent.

    I'd also like to note that recent trends seem to indicate that even our multi-billion dollar militaries are not as dominating as we thought, and that we need every dollar purchased to get advantages over foes who have no qualms about using dirty tactics.

    Whether preventive wars or wars of liberations are just and effective is a point of significant debate. We are unlikely to alter each other's point of view on this subject. In addition, it could be argued that by wielding unprecedented military firepower, modern nations can limit the threat of conventional total war to its civilian populations.

    There is also a school of thought that advocates that government should not be a welfare institution, that it should not or can't effectively provide aid or correct social, economic, and health ails. It's a point of debate were we are unlikely to change each others views.
    Last edited by Neon Knight; 2008-03-18 at 08:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    If that's what you believe, then please explain why do developed countries waste OBSCENE amounts of money DEVELOPING new weapons. I'm not talking about buying new weapons or keeping the old ones working. I'm talking about making even deadlier, faster, bigger range, wider area, killing tools.
    Would you please calm down and take a breath? This is getting political, and it sounds like you're starting to think with your righteous indignation. Which is never a reliable way of finding truth.

    The reason technologically advanced countries keep trying to invent bigger and niftier weapons is that they're all afraid of having to fight a war in a condition of technological equality. Right now, most of the really prosperous, technologically advanced countries can't field very large armies equipped with their flashy weapons. In democracies, there aren't enough volunteers. In dictatorships, the ability to manufacture and maintain advanced weapons is limited.

    So no one wants to risk going into a war and finding out that the country they're fighting has surface to air missiles that are way better than their fighter jets, or computers that can read all their fancy communications systems. Which means an endless arms race. Even if they're not worried about having to fight a technologically advanced opponent directly, most of them still have to worry about countries that buy all their tanks and guns and planes from technologically advanced opponents.

    And at any rate this doesn't really have anything to do with the question of whether countries try to conquer other countries for resources. That doesn't work very well in the modern era; it's a good way to lose a lot of money and end up looking like an idiot.

    But noooo. Even if we have people dying out of sickness in the streets, students going mad and shooting machine guns in their own schools and several diseases spreading everywhere, by all means, the military budget shall always be bigger than the health or educational budgets. Sometimes bigger than they both combined.
    I question the relevance of this observation. You may be right, but other than being an expression of righteous indignation that doesn't prove much of anything, and it certainly help us understand why wars get fought.

    Maybe there are some leaders wich aren't like that. But guess what? Those countries aren't currently in war with anyone, their citizens have excellent quality life, and they don't appear on the newspaper because they don't have big problems, since their governmets are actually honest and take care for their people.
    Eh... I'd say that's a big leap of faith. To assume that leaders who lack ambition are automatically good rulers is not justified by experience. For that matter, many good rulers are ambitious. It's not a one way street between "evil bastards who spend money on guns" and "really nice guys who spend money on fixing all of society's ills and always succeed just because they're so nice and spending so much money."


    Quote Originally Posted by Oslecamo View Post
    Ok, let's put things this way.

    1-Humans normally don't like killing other humans, especially if said humans never bothered each other.
    You'd be amazed. Look at the Vikings.

    Some societies just have a habit of engaging in low level warfare all the time. You could even make a case that this is the default of human existence- each tribal group will tend to try to ambush and kill members of rival groups that cross their path. There are a number of places where tribal groups exist that this sort of thing happens all the time when population densities reach a critical threshold, because the only system they have for resolving conflicts is to be related to each other. If someone isn't your relative, those people won't see any reason why you shouldn't try to kill them.

    Of course, that restricts the culture to a very low level of social organization, so you don't see large-scale wars waged by people who don't have some kind of taboo against killing strangers (such as most of the other soldiers in their own army) In that, you're right.

    5-BUT you can't just send your soldiers to go and take all those juicy resources whitout an excuse. After all, if you attack a country "just" to steal their resources, your own people may realize you're a greedy bastard and abandon you. After all despite all your atempts a significant part of your army is composed by people with basic ethics like "killing other people to take their stuff is bad".
    Actually, for most of history the soldiers in your army were quite likely to be totally OK with this idea. After all, a lot of them could hope to do very well by participating in a successful conquest, and bringing back enough loot to keep their family financially secure for years to come.

    It's only recently that cultural prohibitions against robbing people got expanded far enough that people started thinking they should apply even to people in other countries.

    If anything, it's much easier to get an army to loot and to occupy territory than it is to get them to kill. This is why disorganized and undisciplined troops do a lot of looting.

    Culture, religion, politics, those are all excuses. Soldiers are human beings, and human beings need motivation. They need to believe the enemy deserves to be killed whitout mercy or they won't fight at their best.
    Unless they're mercenaries. Which sometimes they are. Or unless they're loyal enough to their immediate superiors and to their comrades that they, y'know, obey orders and fight because they have jolly well been ordered to fight.

    Now they may be some more causes than resource aquisition. Commerce rights would be a recent one Every time the US wins a war in a country, is one more country wich will pay the US lots of money to rebuild their cities and buy their products. Now this is a little more indirect that stealing directly, but the end is the same. US win war, US get lots of money in their pockets.

    Guess what is paying the reconstruction of Iraq made by all those american bombs? Yeap, you got it, Iraquian oil. They breack our stuff apart but we are the ones who pay the bill. Simple coincidence?
    I don't want to get into a political discussion, but the reason this hasn't actually worked to make the US richer is important:

    Invading countries purely for resources doesn't work well. It costs a lot to control the country, especially now that nationalism is a strong force. And since most of a modern nation's riches are tied up in its infrastructure, a war that destroys the infrastructure destroys the riches, leaving you with nothing of value to conquer. And that goes for Iraq, too; the US is not richer for invading Iraq because it has spent more on the army it keeps there than it can hope to get back from oil revenue.

    To invade a country purely for resources, you have to be way stronger than they are, so much that they can't even manage to annoy you for long because you'll stomp them flat. And it's hard to be that much stronger than your enemy when the enemy can use guerilla tactics- guerilla tactics grant extra strength to a weaker opponent, making it hard to overcome them totally.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyMolo View Post
    Wars are never started by poor countries. That's because poor countries can't afford it. Wars are started by rich countries, or middling countries, who have fallen on hard times.
    Well, it's not quite that simple. Poor nations will often start wars with other poor nations (Uganda may invade Tanzania). Poor nations get into internal civil wars, often started by some poor sub-nation within the poor nation, all the time.

    But poor nations hardly ever start wars with rich nations, because that's suicide. And since most of the big wars in history are the ones the rich nations got involved in, we don't hear about all the wars that got started by poor nations.

    Other times, wars just happen. see WWI. No real reason for it occurring. It just happened. Damn you Franz Ferdinand and an intricate web of secret alliances!
    Well, there were a lot of reasons for that war to happen, and it wasn't really Franz Ferdinand's fault anyway. I mean, the war started because there were several very large powers in Europe operating in very cramped conditions. As long as they danced around each other carefully there was enough room for everyone to breathe. But as soon as the Serbs did something to make one of the Great Powers really mad (like assassinating the heir of their head of state), things fell apart. The Austro-Hungarians had very good reasons to start making threats and demands of Serbia, but those threats shook up the unstable equilibrium of European power politics.

    Frankly, those nations had all kinds of reasons to fight each other; you could practically take your pick. The assassination of the archduke Ferdinand was just the thing that happened to set off a fire in a room that was already soaked with gasoline and oxygen and full of careless people with matches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    Humans are naturally social animals and form group structures with leaders. It could be argued that unorganized humans are unnatural, and that the structured form allowing huge, coordinated efforts is the natural state of humanity.
    We're naturally social animals who form groups of 150 or less. This is why we lived in hunter-gatherer bands for so long, and still do in some areas.

    Much larger groups are a very recent development, and the tricks for keeping those groups stable have only been learned over the past several millenia. They are not part of our instincts.

    And indeed, until the rise of industrialized civilizations in the past 200 years or so, even most "nations" consisted largely of social groups of no more than a few hundred- who had a ruler who was himself part of another social group (the local gentry), which might in turn be ruled by someone else part of a still higher social group (the king's court). Feudalism, remember? Arguably, most governments are simply mechanisms for running a large society without forcing any individual to know more than a hundred or so people.

    What I'm trying to get at is that humans "naturally" tend to organize themselves into small insular communities that get by as best they can. Villages, hunter/gatherer tribes, the residents of a few floors of an apartment building, sure. But we don't naturally organize into massive bureaucracies. Someone has to construct those bureaucracies to meet a perceived need, and they have to have some powerful tools to convince everyone else to go along with it.

    The past two centuries have seen a massive rise of these kinds of societies with big institutions, but that's a historical eyeblink. If it were 'natural' for humans to form large empires and bureaucracies there wouldn't be any hunter gatherers or village cultures.

    Also, keep in mind that in many places a "nation state" is still organized in large part on feudal, village, or clan lines.

    I think it is. After all, almost all the world is owned by national governments, which I feel are an extension and evolution of familial groups. Familial groups expand, join with and absorb other familial groups, and form on their own. Human beings are social creatures and naturally bond into familial groups.
    Yeah, but familial groups fission once they reach the point where the family gets big enough that not all the people in it know each other. That's why your government is not like part of your own family- your government controls millions of people, and no family that large could possibly hold itself together as a coherent institution without ending up as impersonal as a government.

    All I'm trying to say is that for every really big project (as in, involving thousands or millions of people, like a major ground war) there is some specific group of leaders who have a strong reason to organize the project, because the project won't organize itself.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Mr. Dervag-

    You obviously have a superior knowledge of the formation of society, especially compared to my feeble probings and musings. The core of my idea was that nations seem to exhibit the tendency to exclude and deride foreigners in a similar manner to clan feuds.

    I can't debate any further with you on the subject until I've educated myself. About the only thing I can tentatively say is that perhaps the lack of large organization in early society is due to competing tribes and a general lower population, combined with the need to spend most of the time either in labor intensive hunting, gathering, and later on farming. My idea was that familiar groups are nations on a small scale, with the head of state being the head of the family, and thus in most cultures the father.

    But I freely admit that you seem to be better read about the subject than I am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fendrin View Post
    The European nations at the time were feudalist. Landowners would have to choose how to distribute their lands between their heirs. Feudalism only functions if a land owner owns enough arable land to support himself, his family, his serfs, etc.
    Actually 'primogeniture' was law or custom in most European kingdoms. It's why second & third sons went into the priesthood or the military.

    As the plots of land approached that minimum effective size, more and more heirs were being pushed to take up professions that would either support them or allow them to procure lands of their own. Specifically, the priesthood and soldiering (a.k.a. knighthood).
    The central estates were entailed - tied to the title. So there wasn't as much splitting of property as you imply. Primogeniture laws fostered a culture of service among the nobility. Service to either church or state. To some extent, this lasted well into the 19th century.

    The former led to a rise in the power (and sustinence needs) of the Church.
    I would say "led to a rising ambition for power" rather than a need for sustenance. The Catholic Church has been rich for a long time.
    The problem with the latter is that all of the arable land in Europe was already claimed,
    Claimed by monarchs, yes. Under plow? Used for growing or providing sustenance? No.[/quote] and the European monarchs really didn't want to go to war with each other again, especially seeing the Pope forbade it. Rock, meet hard place. The growing internal strife and no release mechanism was eroding the local power base.[/quote]The monarchs did want to extend their power, even to the extent of warring against each other. That is partially what the Crusades were initiated for...to keep them from fighting each other. Of course it didn't take too long for crusades to be called on European soil, giving the Church's blessing and support to one side or another. It's power politics, Machiavelli style.

    Add to that destabilized situation the pressures of an expanding Turkey, which was causing difficulty for Christian pilgrims trying to get to the Holy Lands. That was 'the straw that broke the camel's back' as it were, and provided a great justification for sending all those extra heirs out to 'die honorably for God' as the worst case and capture lands and become rich as the best case.
    How was anything the Byzantine Empire may have done a pretext for buying passage through the empire to conquer lands beyond it? And, if difficulty reaching the holy lands was a reason, how is that a "need"? It sounds more like a pretext. The Byzantine Empire ruled what is Turkey today and the Crusader States wouldn't have lasted as long as they did without Byzantine support...as spotty and occasional as the support was at times. The fourth crusade did sack Constantinople, but it was done against the Pope's wishes. Even so, Byzantium didn't fall for well over 100 years after the ninth crusade.

    So it all comes back to the fact that only so much food can be grown. Now take the case where Create Food and Water is freely available. No overpopulation problems, or at least not until you have millions of people living in one small area, like in modern cities. Even then, you have spells to remove disease, so that solves the other main problem of overpopulation. Suddenly, the only issue is actual physical space. Well, between magic and engineering, that problem is solved too. You end up with huge sprawling metropolises with gigantic skyscrapers... sounds like Sharn, actually.
    You still haven't shown evidence for any of this. It's a sad commentary on humanity, but we produce a Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan for every Ghandi.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasrkin View Post
    Mr. Dervag-

    You obviously have a superior knowledge of the formation of society, especially compared to my feeble probings and musings. The core of my idea was that nations seem to exhibit the tendency to exclude and deride foreigners in a similar manner to clan feuds.

    I can't debate any further with you on the subject until I've educated myself. About the only thing I can tentatively say is that perhaps the lack of large organization in early society is due to competing tribes and a general lower population, combined with the need to spend most of the time either in labor intensive hunting, gathering, and later on farming. My idea was that familiar groups are nations on a small scale, with the head of state being the head of the family, and thus in most cultures the father.

    But I freely admit that you seem to be better read about the subject than I am.
    The gap isn't that big.

    I recommend Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and maybe also Collapse by the same author (particularly the section on Easter Island).

    Diamond has decades of experience interacting with the highlanders of New Guinea, one of the last remaining authentic tribal societies on Earth that still lives roughly as they did before contact with technological society (no getting marginalized out of existence). That will give you one side of the story. For the other side of the story, read this. It's written as something of a joke, but the basic idea at its core is well established as Dunbar's number. Basically, what it comes down to is that human beings don't have enough memory capacity to visualize an infinite number of people as people at once. So we tend to think of strangers as one-dimensional caricatures instead.

    That puts a limit on the size of groups human beings can form in which every person is a unique and special person to every other person. Once the group gets large enough (probably somewhere between 50 and 200, depending on the individual), a person in the group doesn't think of every person in it as unique. Some of them are just part of a 'faceless mass.'

    When enough of the possible person-on-person relationships in a group are between strangers (people who aren't in each other's list of "real people"), you have a problem. Because these people aren't personally attached to each other, and if the group is large enough they may not even be worried about encountering this person again. This happens to us all the time in modern society, but the only reason we can have a modern society is that we've invented systems for resolving conflict between strangers.

    So there's a fundamental difference between families and small tribes of, say, 50-100 people on the one hand and larger groupings (extended clans, city-states, and nation-states on) on the other. Humans naturally form one kind, but not the other. You can see this in the fact that we only started forming big groups in the last several thousand years whereas we've been forming families and tribes for even longer than there have been humans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raum View Post
    How was anything the Byzantine Empire may have done a pretext for buying passage through the empire to conquer lands beyond it? And, if difficulty reaching the holy lands was a reason, how is that a "need"? It sounds more like a pretext. The Byzantine Empire ruled what is Turkey today and the Crusader States wouldn't have lasted as long as they did without Byzantine support...as spotty and occasional as the support was at times. The fourth crusade did sack Constantinople, but it was done against the Pope's wishes. Even so, Byzantium didn't fall for well over 100 years after the ninth crusade.
    No, not the Byzantines. The actual Turks. Who, at this point in their history, were a lot like the Huns of 500 years earlier or the Mongols of 200 years later, only slightly less effective at conquering the known world.

    The Arab caliphate called them in as mercenaries some time in the 800s or 900s. By the late 1000s their leaders were starting to push into the Middle East. They'd already taken de facto control of the Caliphate, and in 1071 they hit the Byzantines a big whack at a place called Manzikert.

    The Byzantines and the Arabs were relatively cosmopolitan and respectful of pilgrims. The Turks, on the other hand, saw no particular reason not to raid trains of pilgrims and were at war with the Byzantines on a semi-regular basis.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    No, not the Byzantines. The actual Turks. Who, at this point in their history, were a lot like the Huns of 500 years earlier or the Mongols of 200 years later, only slightly less effective at conquering the known world.

    The Arab caliphate called them in as mercenaries some time in the 800s or 900s. By the late 1000s their leaders were starting to push into the Middle East. They'd already taken de facto control of the Caliphate, and in 1071 they hit the Byzantines a big whack at a place called Manzikert.

    The Byzantines and the Arabs were relatively cosmopolitan and respectful of pilgrims. The Turks, on the other hand, saw no particular reason not to raid trains of pilgrims and were at war with the Byzantines on a semi-regular basis.
    Uh, yeah, that's what I meant. I was thinking 'the lands controlled and occupied by the Turks', and Turkey popped out. Silly me. Turkey didn't exist as such back then.

    On a separate note about the crusades: Although religious/cultural persecution was a major pretext for the war, it was not as major as we tend to think. For instance, Saladin, arguably the most famous of the sultans that fought against the crusaders, was highly regarded in Europe for his chivalry. He was in fact held by some to be more virtuous than some of the European monarchs of the time. Dante even included him as one of the Virtuous Pagans in his Inferno.

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Oh yes. Let us simplify everything down to one cause, because reality isn't complicated at all. No sir. We couldn't have a type of event that can be caused by a whole dozen simple causes all at the same time, or in different patterns, or sometimes just by themselves, oh no indeed.

    /sarcasm

    One problem I see in many of the arguments already raised is the simplistic assumption that the only kind of want/desire can be for more resources. If that were the case, then, yes, infinite and free resources would create a lack of need and a lack of want, and we wouldn't have war.

    But that's not the case. We are forgetting that not all people, not all rulers, not all humans want nothing more than to get along fine with their fellows. Some people--quite a large proportion of them, in fact--want something indefinable, something that is not a resource, and that would exist no matter how many resources there were: POWER. The desire for more power, or for power over a particular group of people, is one of the major causes of war across history. Moreover, this desire for power is often not at all connected to resource availability.

    Some warmakers do want power, in order to get resources. Some warmakers just want or need access to resources. But often, they want power for the sake of power, and resources are but the means to get that power. By "power for the sake of power" I am talking not about power over land, or power over resources, but power over people. This category of warmakers includes people who want power over themselves (freedom-fighters), people who want power over certain groups of other people, and people who just want power over lots of other people.

    Many of the world's greatest wars have been, in point of fact, about power, not resources. World War I was caused by power rivalries--France wanted to gain power over Germany to punish Germany for past defeats; Germany wanted to gain power over Britain, to control the seas, and to maintain power over Russia; Russia wanted to gain power over Germany; Britain wanted to maintain its naval power over Germany...et cetera.

    Regardless of the resources--food, water, minerals, adamantium--there will be people who desire power over other people. Just as there will be societies/states/nations that desire power over other societies/states/nations. Often, that power is expressed in resources (I have power over you, so you will give me your shiny things), but if resources are unlimited, or otherwise not an issue, that power will be expressed in other ways (I have power, so you will: convert to my religion, perform various unpleasant services for me, attack my enemies for me, vote for my side, wear the demeaning hats that I have designed, etcetera).

    Of course, power isn't the only cause of warfare. Sometimes the power over other people is a means to the end of making the other society wear your demeaning hats. Sometimes the warmaker likes both the power and the hat-wearing-enforcement. Sometimes, the warmaker wants the power to stand up and say "no, I will no longer wear your demeaning hats, I have my own hats that I am going to wear!" Sometimes the warmaker likes the power, and also likes the shiny things. Sometimes the warmaker just enjoys fighting.

    War is simply inter-personal conflict writ large upon society. The same concerns, albeit on a vaster scale, motivate societies to go to war, and make them decide to stop fighting. Just as humans will still have rivalries and competitions and hatreds if there's no shortage of food--witness cliques in a suburban high school, feuds in celebrity society, cheating spouses, religious proselytizing, or any of a thousand other examples of humans disagreeing with each other--so too will nations, kingdoms, empires and societies still have rivalries, still go to war against eachother, still dominate weaker members of their society or weaker neighbors. So too will the weak and oppressed long for the defeat and disempowerment of the powerful. So too will the stubborn resist the direction of the mighty, even if it is to their material benefit.

    War will not go away for a lack of hunger, or for a lack of need for material resources. War will only go away when human conflict goes away, which will be only when humans have gone away. War is part of who we are as a species. Just as nothing can make humans in general forswear competition, nothing will make humanity forswear warfare.
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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Winterking, eventually power will consolidate in the hands of those who control the resources (it always does).

    Give me one example where those in power did not control the resources and those with the resources did not have power.

    There are only two reasons (biologically speaking) to desire power: to produce more offspring and to protect your offspring. Both require resources. You can't produce offspring if you starve to death, and providing for offspring is part of protecting them...

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    Default Re: Causes of war, desire or need?

    Quote Originally Posted by fendrin View Post
    Winterking, eventually power will consolidate in the hands of those who control the resources (it always does).

    Give me one example where those in power did not control the resources and those with the resources did not have power.
    Oh, don't get me wrong. Power and resources do go very well together. It is hard to have power without resources, and if you have resources without power, someone with power will likely take the resources from you.

    However, the discussion is about the origin of war or of conflict, and my point is that not all conflict is about resources. Of course, resources have to be involved--the use/consumption of resources is how conflicts tend to be conducted, after all, whether the resources be gold or iron or coal or men.


    There are only two reasons (biologically speaking) to desire power: to produce more offspring and to protect your offspring. Both require resources. You can't produce offspring if you starve to death, and providing for offspring is part of protecting them...
    Ah, but that is part of your problem. There are more than just biological reasons for our actions. And not all human actions have logical reasons. As much as economists like to pretend, we are not completely rational actors. Emotions muddy things up, personalities confuse the matter. Yes, there are biological reasons to desire power. There are people, however, who desire power regardless of the biological need--people who, with plentiful food and no shortage of protection for their offspring, still desire to lead, still desire to control the actions of others, still desire to work their will in the lives of their fellow humans. Nations and societies are bodies of people, led by people, and often the people with the desire to reach the top are driven by more than purely biological needs.

    A desire to control another, to deny another choice, to punish another for grievances, to take revenge for past punishment, to strike down an arrogant neighbor or a reckless, disrespectful challenger--these conflicts are a part of everyday life, and a part of international existence. Give two neighbors identical resources, a surplus of all they need, and they are as likely to vie against each other as they are to get along. One or both will desire to have more than the other, or desire that the other should behave differently or speak differently. And so, you have rivalry, you have conflict. On the world stage, you have war.

    Take as an example World War I. The major players all have no biological or material need to go to war. Britain rules the waves, and has profitable colonies. Germany has an increasingly lucrative international trade network, a rising population, and all manner of new chemical and industrial endeavors. France is the jewel of Europe, holds vast colonies, and is at last fully recovering from past turmoils. Russia is modernizing at increasing speeds, railways stretching out in all directions. The government has a measure of control over the populace, and conditions look to keep improving. Why would any of these nations need to plunge into war with eachother? What resources does any of them need or want that they cannot get freely through trading?

    Questions like these were asked in 1900, and in 1913; even as the great nations illogically prepared for conflict, many of the day's pundits and great thinkers were certain that war was vanishing from civilized Europe. Trade networks, they said, bound nations ever closer together; we were all so interdependent, that war would actively harm all involved, would in fact starve nations of needed resources. (England and France lacked many chemicals that Germany produced; Germany lacked oil and food and other raw goods; Russia lacked industrial products) Why did such well-supplied, resource-rich nations end up plunging to war? Not from need for resources. Place Star Trek replicators in each of the capitols in 1914 and you will still have a world war. Hatred and rivalry, nationalism, arrogance and jealousy, all illogical, un-biological, irrational emotions, all drove the mad rush to war. It was not a war of need. Resources did factor in, as of course they do in any war, but it was not for resources that the war was begun.
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