I watched the first two episodes of a History channel’s video called “Mankind: The Storey of All of Us.” What struck me was its portrayal of war as the instigator of innovation. Not only so, but it obscenely glamorized war. The leaders who led these wars were also glamorized. The video makers made it seem as though each war was a necessary response to an aggressor. The socio-psychology of war and leadership has been portrayed quite differently by some philosophers of history. These authors explain war as, first, the leader’s attempt to control their urban populations by creating an army.
Next the army must be kept occupied by invading neighbors. An additional incentive was to obtain food and other booty both as pay for their troops and as a palliative for their urban populations. However, to keep troops satisfied, there had to be perpetual wars with more and even more distant cities or nations. The cost eventually exceeded the rewards and the families deprived of heads of households, which drained the aggressor’s city, became economically and emotionally unbearable. Eventually such costs resulted in the decline of the aggressor and, finally, some other war mongering state would come in and defeat and exploit them. Thus the history of civilization is one of a perpetual rise and fall of nations. The US does not seem exempt from this dynamic.
Innovations were described as actually a cause of wars, not the products of it. Warrior kings would quickly seize innovations and make use of them to instigate new wars. Likewise, in the US, innovations were not caused by greed or war mongering or the bogus myth of self-defense. Innovations in science and technology have come from humans’ natural curiosity and drive to experiment. The greed of free enterprise capitalism has a long history of suppression of such scientific and technological innovations except when they increase profits. Most of the world’s problems could be solved if the implementation of innovations were free of capitalism’s suppression.
The media promotes myths of dangerous enemies whom we must war against. It promotes the myth that free enterprise and capitalism are the engines of our ingenuity. The pervasiveness of our media addressed to an uneducated, gullible public makes it possible for the masses to be convinced of the truth of these myths. The masses, therefore, can be persuaded to enlist to fight wars and to give all of their time and energy toward the pursuit of goods that are both unnecessary and harmful to them while this dynamic results in the amassing huge fortunes for the captains of industry and the military-industrial complex. The political leaders typically come from the ranks of the capitalist elitists and are well compensated, bribed if you will, by their capitalist supporters. This is a deadly dynamic system that is more difficult to penetrate and defeat than that ancient Greek phalanx.