Animal populations, with some exceptions (arctic lemmings, locusts), seem to be regulated by systems that keep the population within not too wide limits of a set average density. This regulation is not achieved through the action of natural controls such as starvation, predators, accidents, diseases, that all act in a negative way. The animals themselves exercise the necessary restraint so that a population would not outgrow its available food supply. The threat of starvation to come, not hunger today, appears to be the factor that decides what the density of a population ought to be. The control is often done by staking out a territory of no less than a minimum size, to avoid crowding. The territorial boundaries are marked with droppings in the case of rabbits, rhinos, hippos, with urine as with dogs, or signaled through song by birds. In some cases of marine animals, a direct claim on territory is impossible. It is the nesting place on the shore that limits the overall size of the colony and represents the animals’ fishing rights.
Competition for territory usually takes conventional forms and is seldom pursued to the death. Dawn and morning choruses of song birds, of crowing cocks, of tropical bats, of frogs, of cicadas and morning concerts of howler monkeys give day to day indication of the density of the population and automatically cause the group to step up the activities needed to restore the balance between population density and food supplies. If the stress of that pressure is sufficiently great, a reduction in the population numbers can be triggered. Rejected animals are an easy prey for predators. In mammals, the stress of overpopulation may result in hormonal changes that reduce the rate of ovulation, or else entail the resorption of embryos as happens with rabbits, foxes and deer.
The increase in numbers of Hominids was subject to the laws governing gregarious animal species. When the sources of food are depleted, the population numbers have to decrease or else migrations occur. Very probably, until Neanderthal man, the control was exercised through the availability of space in caverns used for shelter and breeding. These Hominid populations were extremely small in numbers. As an example of this, one may mention the few Australoïds who occupied the whole of Australia; the North-American Indians were probably fewer than seven million and yet had occupied the whole of North America. At the height of the Upper Paleolithic culture in Europe, i.e. during the Magdalenian, there were probably no more than 50,000 sapiens sapiens people living in Europe at any time.
In agricultural societies, the relation between food availability and procreation is evident, also in the West. Marriage customs fluctuated with economic conditions: good crops produced a rich crop of marriages and vice-versa. It has been noted that, in the prosperous 15th century, 90% of the upper class women married in Florence before age 20. In poor 18th century England, men married only at age 28 and women at age 25-26. Woman’s fertility was thereby reduced by 1/3. A large amount of the English population never married at all.
9.3.1 Infanticide and abortion
Selection must in early days have operated as it has been shown to operate now among primitive Brazilian tribes. The birth rate is not very high and the children’s death rate is not very high either; few babies are born but those children who are present and kept alive will be taken care of by the whole group. Elimination works mainly on adults and selection will maintain those adults who are best able to care for themselves. Those people who procreate slightly more will have a selective advantage because the children sired will be maintained alive by the whole group. The genetic characters of such families will thus be kept and become in the long run the characters of the totality of the group.
In South America, fertility control was abundantly and easily practiced. The Mexicans used an infusion of the leaves of Dioscorea mexicana to this end. Naturalists travelling in Latin America from the 16th through to the 19th centuries repeatedly expressed surprise that indigenous and African Slave women used both abortifacients and contraceptives. Roots, flowers and seeds controlled their childbearing. Brazilian tribes maintain the control of population numbers by infanticide and so also do the Kalahari hunters, who readily kill any surplus baby (e.g. one of twins), pretending that excess in children is cumbersome and detrimental to their own survival. In this, they do not behave differently from the aborigines of Formosa and from the ancient Spartans who exposed the babies they deemed weak to vultures. Infanticide takes a very large place in primitive and archaic societies (Pre-Islamic Arabia, Sparta, Rome, Japan, China, Australian Gatherer, etc.). The stories of Romulus, Cyrus, Moses, Oedipus prove that child abandonment and killing were currently practiced in Antiquity.
The Ancients accepted abortion controlled by herbal medicines as a matter of fact and advocated infanticide as a necessary means to rid society of deformed or diseased infants and as a means of regulating population size. They practiced eugenics. The Hippocratic oath states, “I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy”. This rule applied to physicians but midwifes were not concerned. By the time of the Greeks, abortifacients had grown into a pharmacopoeia. Anti-fertility herbs were well known and widely used, and ancient Greece was a golden age for family planning. From 5 births per female in 2000 BC, the birth rate declined to 3.3 in 120 AD 3. During Roman times, contraception began to be regulated. The Romans tolerated contraception but the prescription of an abortifacient was not and led to exile. By the early middle Ages, the Church benignly opposed abortion by inflicting penance for forty days on the women who confessed to having taken abortifacients.
The Church, from the beginning of its existence, was concerned with the preservation of life. As early as the second century, the catechism stated “you shall not kill the child by corruption or destruction, nor kill it at birth”. Corruption, in this context, means abortion. The concern of the Church for the preservation of life is so great that, whenever a choice has to be made between the survival of the newborn and the life of the mother, the Church privileges the child. However, in the early days of Christianity, there were various opinions on the infusion of the soul into the fetus’ s body and Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas drew a distinction between abortion as an homicide, committed after animation of the fetus had taken place, and abortion before such animation had occurred. The Canon Law stated in 1150 that “it is permissible to abort before the animation of the fetus” 4. It is only about 350 years ago that Innocent XI (pope in 1676) firmly condemned abortifacients applied to a fetus before its animation.
The drama for midwifes began in the fourteenth century, with the creation of universities. A university degree was a prerequisite to practice medicine. Physicians, surgeons, apothecaries and barbers had to be licensed. A Church dictum said, “if a woman dare to cure without having studied, she is a witch and must die”. Yet, women were barred from university studies. With the help of the Church 5, physicians totally ignorant of gynecology willingly enforced the dictum, demonized what they did not know and, between 1450 and 1700, about 500,000 midwifes, i.e. witches, were burned at the stake in Western Europe. The result was a disaster in gynecological terms. It was more than 500 years before medicine replaced what it had destroyed, which had the consequence that infanticide prevailed.
It remained so until the 19th century in Europe. The methods then in use included gin and opiates, strangulation, suffocation, starvation; skulls were broken with hairbrushes and children sleeping in parent’s beds were smothered to death. Abandoning unwanted babies at church entrances was the most common means used, whereby the child quickly died of exposure or starvation. When, in 1756, the British Parliament decided to give funds to hospitals for the care of children, 15,000 were taken care of in the first four years, of whom 10,600 died before adolescence. In 1760, the policy of open admission was abandoned. Napoleon practiced the same policy of open admission and the results were equally appalling; mothers who left their children to the care of the State knew that they were consigning them to death as surely as if they had dropped them in the river Seine.
Infanticide steadily increased during the 19th century in England and public sympathy was definitely on the side of the women (servants impregnated by their employer, workers forced to resort to prostitution, women deserted, etc.). In 1862, the police seemed to think no more of finding a dead child than they did of finding a dead cat; it was the commonest of crimes. This common and banal story is still lived everyday in underdeveloped countries. In year 2007, girls must prostitute themselves to obtain the food that is distributed in refugee camps controlled by the UNO.
A marked change of attitude with respect to children, particularly to newborns, took place in Europe and the USA after about the middle of the 19th century. This change was allowed and sustained at least in part by the introduction in Europe of two American imports: northern and central Europe began to cultivate potatoes and southern Europe maize. Both plants are extremely nutritious, easy to grow and rich in yield. These crops resulted in an increase of 25 to 30 percent in the food supply available to the lowest social classes and a sudden expansion in human numbers followed. This allowed the feeding of over the 100 million people – no matter how poorly – present in the middle of the 19th century. Workers found a relief to their plight through the income of their working children. A postponing of the killing was then practiced, whereby the child was given tasks out of proportion to its strength (slavery, textile industry, mine industry, ship boys, prostitution). They were also readily killed through rough treatment and unhealthy living conditions (mutilations during initiation ceremonies, fastings, beatings, etc.). This work of destruction was and still is further pursued by examinations, competitions, and military service, that all provide the opportunity to definitely destroy a young boy.
Other techniques to check population growth were applied at the level of the adolescent or the adult.
9.3.2 Repressive penal code
Gallows have been from immemorial times the best attribute of Power. Every puny chief on earth abundantly uses them to show his potency. During the middle Ages, there was no town in Europe that did not have a gibbet and executioner. All civilizations freely used this power in order to eliminate young people. Those guilty of illicit sexual games were most ferociously repressed. The king of France Philip the Fair condemned the two lovers of his married daughters to be skinned alive, quartered, castrated, hanged and beheaded. The smallest peccadillo, the slightest show of independence of mind of a young person was severely repressed all over the world. The culprits – males and females – were either immediately disposed off (beheadings, hangings) or else underwent a slower type of killing (galleys, forced labor, prisons and torture). The USSR extended legal death sentences to 12-year-old children in 1935. In Western Europe, France abandoned the guillotine only in 1982 while the U.S. continues to poison the people it wants to dispose off.
Castration of young boys played an enormous role in History. Chimpanzees and rabbits also engage readily in this practice. After war, castration of prisoners was routinely practiced in ancient Egypt, Arabia and Africa. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire had about 1 million eunuchs. The West was not reluctant either to use or produce them. Verdun in France specialized in the castration of Slaves originating from Russia. The Choir of the Vatican was composed of young castrated men and the frequency of castration at all levels (e.g. Abelard) was such that, upon his election, the Pope was publicly certified to “duos habet et bene pendentes” (He has two, and they hang well6). The net result of this practice was to deny procreation possibilities to young people and to favor polygamy and harems. Harems are again a system wherewith the procreation possibilities of young women are largely underutilized.
An additional way to check population is slavery. The word “slave” (he who is not free) originates from Slave (he who belongs to that human race). The slave was initially a war captive whose execution had been postponed. Primitive groups slaughtered their prisoners. It is the development of agriculture that restrained the practice of massacre of conquered populations. Agricultural societies prefer to have people work for nothing. The invention of money and exchange further improved the lot of the conquered, who had to pay tribute only. Slavery is characterized by low fertility and high mortality, especially in civilizations where technique was replaced by human work. This was the case in Greece and Rome and was the case in China until about 30 years ago. Young males (coolies) were compelled to execute extenuating menial jobs that wiped them out like flies.
To slavery can be added the service of poor women. These servants were usually the most intelligent of their social class, yet they knew they would keep their service only as long as they remained childless. In the 19th century, large estates could employ over 50 of such women, while even people of modest means had two or three, thus withdrawing from the role of child bearer the most intelligent of the poor women. Legal restrictions tended to limit marriages of poor people since authorization was only given if proof of self-sustenance was given.
Another check on marriage in former times was the refusal of the large estate holder to grant authorization to build the cottages needed for the newly wed. Actually, he could destroy those existing on his land and very often did so. The landlords of England, during Henry VIII’s time, raised sheep, whose wool was shipped to Flanders for weaving. They pitilessly destroyed the workers’ cottages to increase the surface of the pastures. The most sensitive males also would not copulate with viragos and shrews: on the continent, only 40% of men founded families, just as 30% to 40% of women of childbearing age remained unmarried. The marriage of workers was forestalled by trade and craft guilds, and service in the army lasted for sometimes as long as 6 years, during which marriage was forbidden.
War 7 is practiced by social insects. The most intelligent insects, the bees, are usually not predatory. However, the presence of alcohol in honey due to an occasional fermentation provokes a breakdown of their virtues of work, order and thrift. They then engage in a plunder of weaker hives that results in an annihilation of the attacked colonies through the killing of the queen-bees.
Certain species of ants (F. sanguinea, F. fusca and F. rufescens) practice organized warfare with the taking of cattle (louses), crops (some moulds), slaves and goods and sometimes even land occupation. It is not necessarily always so. Linepithema humile, a highly territorial ant species in its native Argentina, has in some parts of Europe become tolerant of individuals of other nests, forming a confederation that extends at least 6000 km and consists of millions of nests comprising billions of workers: that species at least found out that it actually pays to fight less often with one’s neighbors.
Among vertebrates, organized warfare is unknown because no species of the vertebrate classes works nor accumulates goods in an organized way. And this is true also for the most primitive culture of sapiens, where there are an absence of ownership, organized work and a hierarchical society. The African Gatherer ignores war, as does the Eskimo.
The care taken by some human societies of the newborn and the subsequent abundance of people results in inflation in population growth that cannot be checked by regular means. These young people exceed the numbers needed to perform essential economic tasks, are turbulent, aggressive and unruly. Military service disciplines them and checks population growth: in former times, the service usually took between four and five years. The young serving males were expressly forbidden marriage during all this time. Young males were allowed to live from 17 to 21 years, after which they were killed in combat.
Young males are readily amenable to commit suicide in wars, civil wars, razzias, crusades, mercenary jobs, etc., because most civilizations submit them to an intense chauvinistic hagiography that prompts them to march joyfully towards massacres. To send young males to death is easy because most of them believe almost anything told with authoritative conviction (fig. 9.4).
Figure 9.4. Nazi poster, Library of Congress. The German Student fights for leader and people, says the poster. An idealized, brawny, blue-eyed, virile blond youth represents a Hitler-student group.
In primitive times, the greatest appeal was gained by the promise of manhood (testicles, ears, scalps or whole heads of the slaughtered), cattle, women and land. One of the best ways to induce people from agricultural and modern societies to kill and be killed is to promise them Law and Order, Peace and Security. This is a favorite claim of all conquerors and despots: “The war we send you to, to kill and be killed, is the war that will end all wars”. The greatest empires, all built on mountains of slaughtered, deported, maimed and enslaved, claimed to work for peace. This peace never was. The first world war could be pursued during 4 years despite the reluctance of the soldiers on both sides to fight each other because it was told them it would be the last one (The French said “La der des der, meaning “la dernière des dernières”, i.e. the last of the last). The recent destruction (1999 AD) of 80%-90% of Serbia’s infrastructure and occupation of the Kosovo were justified by NATO because of its desire for peace. We all know, with the desire of the Kosovo to gain independence from Serbia, what the reality is. Be it China, Macedonia, Rome, Islam, and today Serbia, civil wars always blossomed and these wars were by far bloodier than international wars.
The primitive manifestation of war was razzia. The normal disposition by a tribe of its accumulated goods was a Fiesta that decimated the goods. However, goods may be used to increase the amount of people and an increase in population threatens to impinge on the land of the neighbors. Razzia is a preventive measure, whereby the goods of the neighbor are destroyed before they are transformed into people. It customarily resulted in the annihilation of all that was valueless to the invader. These were all the males, huts, trees, pets, food, etc. The activities of the Mongols under Genghis Khan are the best example of this type of destruction. The destruction of Germany demanded and realized by the French President Clemenceau after WWI is a contemporary example of the preventive destruction of a competitor.
A second purpose of war is the acquisition of new territories. This entails the destruction and expulsion of the former inhabitants (e.g. the Celts of England chased by the Anglo-Saxons, the Amerindians exterminated by the European colonists), contemporary transhumances (Greeks chased from Turkey and conversely, Germans chased from Poland after WWII, contemporary ethnic purifications) or their reduction to an inferior social status (e.g. the Palestinians in modern Israel). The most classic predatory system of occupation consists in the subdivision of the conquered territory among the victors (Canaan distributed to the 12 Hebraic tribes, the Greek and Roman colonies, the England of William the Conqueror, the Albigensian crusade, Crusades in Palestine, Vandals in Africa, Vikings in Sicily). The victims are relegated to menial tasks (the India of the Aryans, the Europe of the Franks, the Italy of the Ostrogoths, the Africa of the Moslems, the English, Napoleonic and Nazi Empires) or totally wiped out (Incas, Aztecs).
The waging of war requires human capital, necessitates material goods destined for destruction, is favored through new military techniques and demands, of course, the leaders willing to organize the destructions and massacres.
220.127.116.11 Leadership to death
The intellectual elite of a human group is prone to innovate, invent and construct. It is usually not conformist and, on one point or another, is likely to be in opposition to popular beliefs and general feelings. On these grounds, the intellectual elite is not the ruling class. Leaders are followed because they personify the impulses and desires of the average man. War tremendously simplifies problems so that there is a strong impulse to engage in it. This is done by the choice of a leader who will lead to combat: it is not the dictator who leads to war but really the desire of war, – due to overpopulation and excess of richness -, that produces the adequate warlord (Robespierre, Napoleon I and III, the dictators of the overpopulated countries of World War II such as Germany, Italy, Rumania, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria). It is all the art of the leader to channel bellicose impulses towards a physical elimination of the population surplus that will however leave the leading class in place (Roosevelt during W.W. II). Sometimes the leader miscalculates, chooses the wrong opponent and is himself eliminated (Napoleon, Hitler). The worst case of miscalculation was the assassination of the Grand Duke Ferdinand and of his pregnant wife in Sarajevo, in 1914. The assassination was orchestrated by a Serbian nationalist colonel and executed by 7 adolescents, of whom one only was sentenced to death. All 7 claimed to be good citizens who acted by love for their country. The result of this assassination was 10 million deaths during WWI, 50 million deaths during WWII and the destruction of Serbia.
The leaders chosen for warfare are usually infantile: Alexander, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler behaved like children with similar moods; all were irresponsible and lightheartedly assumed immense destructions of people and goods, as if it were all only a game. War, in their eyes, is only an extension of a Fiesta. In addition, war consecrates mediocre leaders who, from the moment war starts, are endowed with all rights and all powers. The personification of a nation by a single leader and his adulation leads him to believe that he is God. Its top executives then consistently transgress the laws of the country. Moses spoke in the name of God and organized the Hebrews into a murderous, efficacious, pitiless, misogynic war machine (Nb. 31, 1-47). Muhammad the Prophet was the leader most successful in the channeling of bellicose impulses to war: the non-Moslem world was proclaimed “the world of the sword”, the war was declared “holy” and warriors who died in combat had the assurance to be welcomed in paradise by young consenting virgins, the houri. This obscene and murderous representation immensely appealed to millions of believers. Muhammad was extremely rich, and this leads to the next development.
War is a luxury. One needs to be rich to make war. Nations do not make war to become rich but because they are rich enough to do it. Philip of Macedonia succeeded against the Greek City States because he had enough gold to maintain a permanent army able to fight at sowing and harvesting times. The Athenians defeated Xerxes because they had silver mines; Hannibal could endanger Rome because he had silver mines in his personal possession. The conquest of Persia by Alexander involved an enormous plunder of the treasury accumulated by generations of kings. The History of Rome is a quest for gold (Sicily, Cartage, Spain, Greece) with captive citizens sold to fulfill the needs. The conquest of Egypt by Caesar saw the appropriation of the last treasury within easy reach and Caesar kept Egypt literally for himself. The destruction of the Templars and confiscation of their treasury by Philippe the Fair of France (1312) was motivated by his desire of war. The taxation of Church property by burgeoning Nation-States was not motivated by their desire to care for their destitute citizens but by their desire to engage in war. The Great Armada was possible only because of the gold of the Americas. Germany became aggressive only when the Ruhr coalmines were made hugely productive and when a process of treatment of phosphoric iron allowed the abundant use of a nationally quarried iron. For centuries, France was the richest and most populated country in Europe, and the most aggressive. The England of Henry VIII was populated with 5 million citizens, as was Spain, while aggressive France had a population of 20 million.
Gold is the policeman of governments. The need to pay professional soldiers who remain idle as long as there is peace is always troublesome. In former times, plunder or the granting of land to the faithful survivors compensated this. Nowadays, the preparation for war consists in a tight control over exchange stocks. The strongest country overvalues its money and undervalues that of its clients so as to legally plunder them and accumulate wealth. The first State in History that succeeded in imposing on its subjects a money totally separated from metallic standards was the Mongolic Empire: Genghis Khan imposed the use of birch peels. Every reaffirmation of paper money is linked with an aggravation of the war tendencies. Paper money signifies Total War.
18.104.22.168 Techniques of warfare
Progress in technique is conducive to a war mentality. Bronze axes were superior to stone celts, which broke during combat; iron weapons were more solid than bronze axes; Caesar mentions the need for the Gauls to redress their bent swords in the midst of combat. They also had no adequate horses. Despite this, Cesar claimed it was his own genius that brought about his success. The same arrogant claim was made by Napoleon, who had at his discretion conscripts in unending numbers, and he also had superior guns, developed during the monarchy. Horses and steel were responsible for the meteoric preponderance of the Hittites. The phalanxes of Alexander were superior to the Persian hordes where stone weapons were still in use; the pilum (javelin) and shield of the Roman legionaries did much to ascertain their superiority. These in turn were no match for the steel blades of the swords and battle-axes (francisque) of the Germans (Merovingians) and the penetration power of the arrows of the Parths. The Gothic cataphract composed of armored heavy cavalry was superior to the legion that never adopted stirrups. Greek fire saved Constantinople for many centuries. The city fell because the Turks used heavy artillery, locally manufactured by hired Latin Hungarians. The arrows of the Mongols and Huns had a penetration power superior to primitive firearms and their preponderance rested on this weapon and on cavalry with stirrups. St Bernard of Clairvaux preached the second crusade because the Cistercian monks, whom he was heading, were masters in the smelting of iron. Cannons and portable firearms established the late dominance of the West (fig. 9.5)
Figure 9.5. H. Daumier Drawing, 1868, in “Actualités”. Proposed statues to Mr. Bombardard, inventor of the bombard, Mr. Fusillard, inventor of the rifle, and Mr. Mitrallard, inventor of the gun. Daumier mocks the third French empire, which was actively preparing for war against Prussia and was absolutely sure to win it.
The war of 1870 was a bloody prelude to the war of 1914 and ended in fiasco for the French Empire. The two last world wars fluctuated in accordance with the new weapons the belligerents devised (tanks, combat and nerve gas, airplanes, submarines, mines, plane carriers, radar, atomic bombs, etc.). One needs money to devise these weapons and those countries that have the money devise them.
If one takes as a yardstick of civilization the length of individual lives, the West comes out on top. Civilization is a fight against ignorance, fear, sickness, misery and cruelty. Fear of war, of invasion, of pestilence, of famine, discourage planting and harvesting efforts and even house building. Confidence in one’s society, in one’s philosophy and laws, confidence in one’s intellectual capacities sustain the civilizing effort. Insecurity equates with barbarity.
War plays an extremely disruptive role in this civilizing effort, on several accounts. Armies live off the countryside. They thereby reduce and destroy crops. They provoke famines. And since transportation is poor during wartime, relief is rare in coming from outside. Filthy armies are breeding grounds for diseases and epidemics. During the Middle Age, which had engaged in crusades and religious wars, plagues occurred about every 10 years, the worst epidemics carrying off between 25% and 30% of the population. As late as 1720, the plague caused 40,000 deaths out of the 90,000 inhabitants of Marseille. The Spanish flu appeared after WWI and wiped out millions. War, famine and disease were the terrible trio of fear in which humanity lived, especially since one followed the other. The rise of Sweden to the status of European power under Charles XII (1682-1718) was paid for by the Swedish fiscal policy applied to Finland, which resulted in a third of the Finnish population dying of hunger. Thomas More lucidly depicts the evils of war, in Utopia, when he describes the results of the foreign policy of expansion of the French king Francis Ist.
War leads to a desecration of life and also fosters a manicheism that allows an easy distinction between the good and the bad. War amplifies the grievances that justify slaughters, destructions and vileness (the transformation of battle fields in butchery fields by Napoleon, the bombing of Ostend and burning of Heidelberg by Louis XIV, of Hanoi by Nixon, of London and Coventry by Goering, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Truman, of Dresden by Churchill, etc.). The sinking of the British liner Lusitania by a German U-Boat on 7 may 1915 was militarily justified because the Lusitania transported huge amounts of ammunition but provoked the death of 1145 civilians, including 118 Americans. The German commanders of U-boote used to make surface and warn the crew of enemy vessels to leave ship before sinking it. Churchill, lord of the Admiralty, took advantage of this decency to camouflage destroyers as merchant ships, and therewith easily destroy the surfaced submarines. These rapidly learned about the trick and soon sank the merchant ships without any warning.
The enemy without and within is depicted as odious, disgusting, dissolute, ugly or else as weak and impotent. During W.W.I, the French artist Jean Cocteau succeeded in making the whole world believe that the German armies invading Belgium systematically cut both hands of all Belgian children. Within, a state at war is resolutely misogynic, virile, austere and disciplined. Military chiefs are sacrosanct and their actions become unquestionable (see the Dreyfus affair in France, after the 1870 defeat). They indoctrinate the people with slogans that transform them into fanatics. The best soldiers are fanatics and most governments make them so by an ample use of political commissars of all kinds. A ferocious police repression and the awareness to speak in the name of the Nation, and even of Humanity, suppress all attempt of internal opposition. Dissenters are traitors. This is observed also in the US. See McCarthy and the anti-communist drive during the 1950′s. Remember also Nixon’s constant accusation: “I do not question his loyalty to the country but…”. As a result, the practice of war brings a society into a vicious circle since the end of a war is followed by a greater enslavement than before and a greater readiness to prepare for the next one.
Here is an example of asinine pursuit of retaliation: France (Louis XIV) annexed Alsace from the Germans in 1648. It was taken back by Germany in 1871. It was receded to France in 1919, together with the exigency of a gigantic, crippling bounty. The French politician Clemenceau bears the responsibility of this exigency that could not possibly be met. It led almost automatically to resentment, galloping inflation in Germany and a spirit of revenge. The same French “statesman” demanded the dismantling of the central Empires (German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman) and forced the German Sudetes into a newly created Czechoslovakia against their will (treaty of St Germain, September 1919). It led unavoidably to Munich in 1938, when Germany reclaimed the Sudetenland. The French “statesman” died in 1929, unfortunately too early to see the long-range effects of a foreign policy governed by greed and blind hatred.
Another disposal of human surpluses that entails a huge consumption of excess goods is monachism. Monks consume and present in the mean time the advantage to be celibatarians. In most moral, philosophic and religious traditions, chastity is presented as a superior stage that culminates in celibacy and communal living in convents. It was practiced in Rome (Vestals), Peru (Virgins of the Sun) and Japan and was further emphasized by the Buddha and Paul (e.g. 1Co 7, 8 and 25).
A judicious use of monachal practices may be beneficial to the living standards and to the level of civilization of the sustaining society. This is for example the case in Tibet. In the West, the magnificent abbeys strewn all over Europe are monuments to sterility. The Christian countries of the middle Ages diverted huge sums of money into cathedrals, Church Dignitaries, pilgrimages and holidays. These diversions of capital and human strength would have otherwise been invested in war machinery and soldiers, as they eventually were, once the Church properties had been confiscated and once the Protestant ethic of austerity authorized a greater accumulation of capital.