Civilization and War

Civilization and War

Brett Bowden

Civilization and war were born around the same time in roughly the same place – they have effectively grown up together. This challenges the belief that the more civilized we become, the less likely the resort to war to resolve differences and disputes. The related assumption that civilized societies are more likely to abide by the rules of war is also in dispute. Where does terrorism fit into debates about civilized and savage war? What are we to make of talk about an impending ‘clash of civilizations’? In a succinct yet wide ranging survey of history and of ideas that calls in to question a number of conventional wisdoms, Civilization and War explores these issues and more whilst outlining the two-way relationship between civilization and war.

Chapter 6: Us and them at war

Brett Bowden

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics

Extract

In an early episode of The Simpsons, Bart is sitting on the family couch lamenting the fact that Principal Skinner is no longer around to inspire his mischief-making. Having been fired from his job as Principal of Springfield Elementary, thanks in large part to Bart’s antics, Skinner has re-enlisted in the United States Army, the only institution besides school to have ever given his life any “meaning.” Sighing deeply, Bart turns to his younger sister, Lisa, “It’s weird, Lis: I miss him as a friend, but I miss him even more as an enemy.” Wise beyond her years, Lisa tells her bratty brother, “I think you need Skinner, Bart. Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty, Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow, even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.” At which point, baby sister Maggie Simpson scowls out of the window as her bucktoothed nemesis, Baby Gerald, just happens to be passing by in his stroller, his mono-brow deeply furrowed as he glares menacingly back at her.

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