Ride Of The Second Horseman Essay, Research Paper
Robert O Connell explains to us the decline of organized warfare between people. This is stated in three different regions of argument; the nomads having to change to cope with the new geographic changes find it easier to just try to take the agriculturalists food sources rather then find their own. Second the new divisions of government cause a more humanistic approach to settle disagreements rather then warfare, and thirdly the total demise of how warfare once was.
The shift to domesticated farming, away from nomadic pastorals, led to a clash between these two subsistence patterns. The nomads, facing geographic change and poor food supplies, attempted to make their way down from the hills and take on the agriculturalist. This is the only way the nomads could keep a steady food source. Cultures that knew nothing of war suddenly began suffering unprovoked attacks by terrifying strangers. (13) This shows you the kind of bloodthirsty savages the nomads were, their way of life was changing and they weren t ready for it to change. So it is that these voracious ant armies number in the millions, just as major outbreaks of nomadic aggression were characteristically preceded by inertial congregations. If there is strength in numbers among the sedentary, there is only hunger among the nomadic. (21) Again this shows how the nomadic are going hungry and have no way to turn except to fight for food. The agriculturalist have superior strength in numbers and after a few attacks from the nomads the will be ready to take them out for good and worry about them no more. This new age of society is just too profitable for them to leave it, crops that a few men farm yielding the food for twenty. The economics itself are just to great to turn back now. The key to such realti0onships is mutualism, with booth plant and animal oolong in ways that intensify the partnership In the period between 8500 BC and AD 1 the great majority of humans made the transition from wild food to planting and harvesting domesticated crops-a span of only eight and a half millennia in the more than four-million history of our line. (55) Once more you see the demise of the nomads, the ability to culture nature to how humans want it; it s just to easy. So why continue to keep picking up and moving your entire group when you could just center out of one area and have ever possible thing you could need to support yourself.
Over and over their victims, or at least the survivors, would express horror and incomprehension at the patrol nomads capacity for violence, their disregard for human life, their refusal to operate according to any accepted rules of military conduct. Many observers had difficulty in comprehending them as people at all. (80) Not only was there way of life losing its effect in the world, but also their general way of thinking was bizarre in effect. They had no regard for the dead, no remorse, and very little time and concern for anything else but their clansmen. They were seen, as monsters not at all anything like that of the common man .
As one can see the nomad s way of life was easily on the way out, and the new and improved agricultural ways of the yeomen were the wave of the future. Almost all localized communities looked for this new way of life. To domesticate all the food sources and animals they would need to keep their society prosperous.
Next comes the question of state over the individual. This statement meant nothing until the agriculturalists. Everything was always take what you need for yourself by yourself. In the new society people started to rely on others and in time began to get specialized. This was hard at first but after a few small dilemmas the whole clan would excel. Scholars are coming to realize that the analysis of complex social systems must reach down to the level of the individual members . when comparisons of various economic and ecological strategies are made form the perspective of the individual, it becomes logical to ask not just whether they were better fed and housed but whether they were happier and more fulfilled. (12) You have to start with the simple and ask a simple question. Were the people of the society indeed happier with their new life, and one must say yes to this question. The way of life was just more suitable for a community to prosper in to something bigger. But the whole is only as good as its weakest part. And that is why a community must bond and make non-believers or skeptical believers into true believers so that the society can keep going forward. Quite clearly these circumstances cried out not simply for effective explanation but for organization and control. And institutionalized responses were already well under way. It is probably not accidental that the first elites to emerge in Sumer were Priest, or at least whose who sought to validate their claims to leadership primarily in religious term. (90) Who do you always look to for things we can t understand, that are right, the god s? Priest can t lie (sure) they always search for the truth form within. We ve always accepted everything they ve said with very little argument overall. So it seems very fitting that they could possible be the first leaders of a controlled centralized society. In order for war to work among humans, there must be some source of motivation capable of transcending genetic self-interest in a manner that would lead an individual to face personal and hereditary annihilation for the sake of an organization manned largely by those who are not close relatives. (106) In other words, why the hell is a single individual going to risk his life for his neighbors, just for that reason he is thine neighbor. The idea of kinships are occurring and fellows helping fellows, I think it s said best as you watch my back I ll watch your back. This is the first time an idea like this has been tended to. As before it was always watch your own back because nobody else is doing it for you.
But before we can proceed with any degree of confidence, there remains the necessity of bridging the gap between the institutional and the individual- to provide some plausible means by which solitary humans came to believe and act on the assumption that their was more important than their genes. (107) Now we get the idea that the agriculturalist has been told to appreciate this higher class citizen with my prestige then that of his own family. Hence the institution, the society as a whole and its governing bodies, are more important then the majority of the people or the individual. A new concept that has some trouble but one that we still use to this day.
War is not simply armed violence. Rather, it is a specific institution- premeditated and directed by some form of governmental structure; concerned with societal, not individual, issues; featuring the willing (though perhaps not enthusiastic) participation of the combatants; and intended to achieve lasting, not ephemeral, results. (225) In other words, the government of this new society worries about the society as a whole and could give a damn less about one as a person. Most of our government works like that today; by listening to the big problems they feel they can resolve most of the smaller ones as well. Although this does work sometimes it falls short a lot as well.
` Finally the horseman is coming for the heart of the traditional art of warfare. But we are only offered one concluding chapter that vaguely covers the subject of the demise of warfare. O Connell begins this chapter by reincarnating the early 1980 s Cold War episode in which the Kremlin, in the throes of confusion during party secretary Yuri Andropo s dying days, was convinced that World War III was about to be launched by the West. But, the crises passed, toughly predictably without incident. After all, it makes sense that even desperately misled men should have abstained form responding to their fears when the probable outcome was suicide on a global scale. (225) Who wants wart that would wipe out the entire world, as we know it, to cause nuclear winter. Everything would perish with just a few bacteria to tell the story of what once was here on Earth.
Traditionally, Egypt had been quite a different place, avenue where the role of organized conflicts, though hardly nonexistent, was decidedly muted. This factor, combined what an unusually fatuous ecology, would produce a distinctive version of agricultural despotism, a social equation in which the variables arranged themselves to compensate for war s demised function. The result, an entirely more relaxed version of the plant trap, not only provides a useful historical counterpoint but also serves to illustrate the relativity of war and its true identity as nothing more than a social mechanism. (132) Even early in the book it hints that war is nothing more then an unnecessary way to confront issues that could easily be solved other wise. This is why Egypt becomes one of the Old World strongest centers.
As the book says John Muller put forth the audacious proposition not only that was war obsolete but that it was finished simple because most people had come to find it repulsive and uncivilized. Like dueling and slavery, war does not appear to be one of life s necessities War may be a social affixation, but in important respects it is also a social affectation that can be shrugged off. (231) I could not agree with this statement more, war is not a necessity there is no reason for the mass killing of people over land, religion or anything else for that matter. It is purely stupid, all kind be resolved in a much more suitable fashion then in the past.
The lesson here was that weapons were turning against war itself, making it increasingly difficult to fight except at a cost far greater than the potential gains. (236) With the gain being far less then the loss the war would cause how can war grow in significance? It just doesn t make sense for countries to go to for any old reason now days. It simply isn t economically sound. Weapons have been developed strong enough to take out entire countries as big as one like the United States in one or two shots at the most. War is becoming an extremely scary situation, and hopefully being as scary as it is, it will keep us safe in fear from it.
Lastly the problem with O Connell s argument is that it is extremely unconvincing. While the title promises an explanation of war, he spends most of the time on the history of war and it s initial outbreaks of warfare around the world, and hardly focuses on the question of war s death, where he gives us but only one small chapter in conclusion.
Confucius and his fellow sages were not sanguine about the future. They viewed their own society as marching toward perdition, and instead looked back fondly to the Western Chou as a sort of golden era of relative tranquility and goodwill. (170) Do we look back on ourselves as a global society and do the same or do we linger on what could come about tomorrow.
O Connell, Robert, Ride of the Second Horseman. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 1995.