Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Do You Remember Peace?" Introduction, pt. 1, 410 words

Conventional wisdom through the Atomic Age held that war was good for business, to sum it up in a cliché. The Atomic Age was founded on war, after all, and so war overshadowed all its thinking. And for much of the First World, those societies that came out of the war flush with power and influence, it really was good for business – and science, and politics, and everything else. Many technological advances, whose progress in leaps and bounds were the hallmark of the Age, came out of developments during and immediately after the war.

Easily overlooked in this war-worship was the corollary that peace was good for business as well. The Second Great War was lionized as the source of all good in the modern Western world, while simultaneously generating a complementary evil that one could fight and thus be good against. Those who bothered to look back any further stopped on the First Great War, and pointed to the decade of abundance and weal known as the “Roaring Twenties” immediately afterward, and supposed they saw a pattern that held: war created good for the victors, and victors were good. Oh, it would eventually come apart, as any tower might eventually fall, but it could be drawn back up out of the mire and even closer to heaven with a new war.

Some took this as a lesson that eternal war was the answer. If not a single conflict fought constantly, then a variety of conflicts fought in staggering succession. A war-driven economy would flourish, because there would always be demand for more bullets, more weapons, more people. If no war was being fought, then present the threat of war, and the promise to stay ever vigilant, ever prepared. To stay ever prepared, then, one must always develop new, better weapons, and build enough to replace the old stock. And the other benefits of war, the technological achievements made in its name and the affluence that came from overseas influence, would filter into society.

The problem with such a state is that it does not confer upon a society the benefits of constant war as readily as a cycle of punctuated conflict and peace grants. Power develops and grows, yes, but it concentrates as well – the powers that be need more of it to carry on a state of eternal conflict. In contrast, embracing peace after war will carry the advancements of war into society more immediately.

No comments: