Sunday’s Sermon: The Etiology of War


[My friend and colleague Dr. Lex Crane wrote this sermon some time before he died. It seems particularly relevant now. Please read and comment.]

Humanity at Hazard: The Etiology of War
© Lex Crane

War and Peace

Human beings are extremely creative at making weapons and war, but persistently inept at achieving lasting peace. Why is this? The aim here is to seek an answer to this troubling question. A provocative insight emerged early in the course of research on the problem: as civilization spread across the world, the number of wars sharply increased. In the 16th century there were 87 wars; and in only the first forty years of the 20 th century there were 892. (Fromm 215)

This pattern continued during the remainder of the century. In the wars of the entire 20th century “not less that 62 million civilians have perished, nearly 20 million more than the 43 million military personnel killed.” (Hedges 13) In sum, over 100 million people died in the wars of the century past, not to mention the millions more, who were wounded, crippled. Since the number of wars has increased with the spread of civilization, it appears that society, not our natural humanity, is the source of the problem; and this has been the prevailing view in 20 th century social science – until recently, when an opposing view began to develop. Until then the consensus in 20 th century science had been that humans at birth are like a blank slate.  It held that cultural conditioning writes the contents of human nature upon it. . . .



Read the paper here: crane

4 thoughts on “Sunday’s Sermon: The Etiology of War

  1. Lex Crane’s paper is one of the few which identifies “the nature of man” as the primary cause for the world’s genocides, warfare, and oppression, specifically “alpha males” who have analogues in other primate societies. I wonder to what degree alpha males are similar to those identified as having “psychopathic personalities” (as in Joel Bakan’s book “The Corporation”).

    It is refreshing to read a paper which cites evolutionary biology as one of foundations of our seemingly self-destructive nature, however, Crane is blaming only a tiny fraction of humankind (the alpha males in leadership positions). For every alpha male, there are millions of ordinary people to who conform and obey to support their war-mongering, either directly through military service, or by paying taxes to support state aggression.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those millions of people who follow do so because the Alphas have rigged the system through propaganda, laws, penalties, appeals to citizenship, force, and the like.


    • To your list of how the system is rigged “tarsker”, I would add religion. No other mammal deifies another like we humans do. However, I find your statement overly deterministic. If the system was that well rigged, there’d be no possibility for change.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, the list is not exhaustive. “And the like . . .” includes religion and education (brain washing) and the like.
    However, I find your statement overly deterministic. Where do I suggest strict determinism?

    If the system was[sic] that well rigged, there’d be no possibility for change. Change, as history teaches, is possible; just slow and painful.


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