War, Emotions and the European Civilizing Process. The War-Related Affects from Feudal to Industrial Warfare in an Eliasian Perspective

HELMUTHelmut Kuzmics, from the University of Graz/Austria …. a paper originally presented at the Interdisciplinary Collaboratory ” Norbert Elias:  Emotional Style and Historical Change,” held on 14-15 June 2012 at the University of Adelaide

The Problem[1]

There exists a basic consensus that guides public opinion within Western, particularly European states, referring to war and other acts of inter- or intra-state violence. It is pacifist and tends to treat all these events as simply “irrational” or “uncivilized”. Resulting from this attitude – which is also often not devoid of a dismissive or derogatory element – two quite differing types of judgement emerge: The first type regards war as atavistic and time-bound. War can or should be overcome with the progress of mankind. The second type – maybe a bit paradoxically – treats war and violent conflict as endemic to human nature and, therefore, unchangeable in its “essence”. This duality of judgment also extends to the field of the human sciences themselves. Two voices shall be picked out here. In Norbert Elias’s (2000) theory of ‘Civilizing Processes’, reality and experience of war are situated historically. In one of the most surprising and original recent interpretations of war, Van Creveld (1998: 319) has stressed its basically unchanging character, including the motives and causes for war. For him, the male fascination for war is deeply rooted in needs that can be summarized vaguely as the appeal of danger, the wish to prove manliness, by all means not guided by rational interest or profit-seeking. War is rather a transcendental game with ultimate seriousness and should be distinguished from throwing atomic bombs, massacring innocent by-standers or committing mass-suicide. Declared war-aims are irrelevant to a deeper understanding of war – sacred soil, god, fatherland, nation, race or social ideals are not important per se, but because people – or better: men –fight and die for them. This readiness to sacrifice one’s own life is the main criterion that distinguishes war from other forms of collective violence; without this, even the best-equipped armies of the world would degenerate to mere bugbears. Van Creveld, thus, emphasizes the unchanging, eternal nature of war, and since he sees it, essentially, not as a means for achieving certain goals but rather as a means in itself, he can accept the various forms in which war occurs, also their arbitrariness, as long as men fight for something; and they will do so for a very long time to come. Continue reading

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Reviewing the SOOKA Report and NGO Manoeuvres

The Sooka Report: How NGOs serve government …… by CSI

Many of these NGOs espouse the universalist language of human rights, but actually use it to defend highly particularist causes: the rights of particular national groups or minorities or classes of persons.”– Michael Ignatieff, I. Human Rights as Politics. II. Human Rights as Idolatry, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Princeton University, 4-7 April 2000, p.291[1]

Yasmin sooka

The Political Context:  Ever since the end of the civil war brought peace to Sri Lanka, there has been a concerted attempt in the Western media to criticise and undermine the victory Sri Lankan won against the LTTE terrorists (the “Tamil Tigers”) in 2009.

The most notable examples of this have been the series of highly misleading news reports issued by Channel 4 news on “Sri Lanka’s killing fields” which allege widespread and systematic killing of civilians in the final months of the conflict. Continue reading

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Centre for the Study of Interventionism

About Us: http://www.interventionism.info/

UN INTERVENTION picEver since the end of the Cold War, the idea has gained ground that there is a right or a duty to intervene in the internal affairs of other states. This can be for humanitarian reasons or in the name of UN Security Council Resolutions. According to this new doctrine, international law should be enforced by means of military violence and international criminal law can be used to indict. These claims stand in contrast to the hitherto existing principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, which is both an established principle of customary international law and also enunciated in the UN Charter.

The purpose of this Project is to take a critical look at the arguments in favour of interventionism and to analyse the track record of actual interventions. Continue reading

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Encouraging Reflection on Martin van Crefeld’s Bold Predictions in 1991 within ON FUTURE WAR

ON FUTURE WAR, London: Brassey’s, 1991 ISBN 0 08 041796 5

ON FUTURE WARAn examination of the nature of war and its radical transformation in our own time. The author argues that the Clausewitzian assumption that war is rational is outdated, and that strategic, logical planning is unrelated to the current realities of guerrilla armies, terrorists and bandits. He sets out to demonstrate that our most basic ideas of who fights wars, and why, are inadequate – because man has a need to “play” at war. Van Creveld also wrote “Technology and War”, “Command and War” and “Supply and War”

  • Extract from Flap Abstract of the Book, 1991
  • Michael Howard: “Famous Last Screams,” a review of On Future War

This item is meant to set the stage for both blog comments and short essays in this site in the near future. Standing now in 2014 we are in a position to comment critically on the views of this famous historian who resides in Israel. It is not unconnected to the items (a) “Where In-fighting generates Fervour and Power: ISIS Today, LTTE yesterday” and (b) “The Psychology of Totalitarianism via Skya’s Treatise on Japan’s Holy War”. Standing now in 2014 we are in a position to comment critically on the views of this famous historian who resides in Israel. Apart from the advantages of hindsight, several visitors to this website will have one advantage over van Crefeld: their experiential compass will not be in the heartland of international power, the West (and its offshoot Israel). They will be located in the peripheries of international clout and be backed by knowledge of the four Eelam wars in Lanka. Continue reading

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Sudharshan Seneviratne talks to the people of The HINDU

Meera Srinivasan, in The Hindu, July 2014

SS Pic by Meera Srinivasan

When Sri Lankan archaeologist Sudharshan Seneviratne drove down to Chanakyapuri on a hot day recently, memories of his Delhi days came back gushing. From being a student in the city in the 1970s to returning now as the highest representative of his country, life has come a full circle, says Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India who, as a student, spent a decade in India, studying in New Delhi and later researching early Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

On 13th Amendment: In an interview to The Hindu , days ahead of his big move, Mr. Seneviratne says issues such as the implementation of the 13th Amendment — India has been pushing Sri Lanka to devolve more powers to its provinces as per this Amendment — the fishermen’s conflict or [the claim to] Katchatheevu could be resolved by coming together and working without “being parochial about it”. Continue reading

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Gunesekera’s NOONTIDE TOLL: Tip-toeing through Sri Lanka

Paul Binding, reviewing Noontide Toll, by Romesh Gunesekera, Granta, pp.256, £12.99, ISBN: 9781620970201

NOONTIDE TOLL‘The first night I stayed in Kilinochchi, I was a little apprehensive,’ admits the usually cool-headed Vasantha, van-driver and narrator of all the stories in Noontide Toll. Kilinochchi was the operational centre of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) until the Sri Lankan army’s entry in January 2009. Now the town offers amenities like the Spice Garden Inn, with glass-walled cafeteria and reception desk overflowing with coconut flowers and bougainvillea. Yet its assistant manager, Miss Saraswati, belies such luxurious blandness. A rat suddenly appears in the café; immediately she hurls a bottle, breaking the creature’s skull without destroying the implement. ‘I stared at Miss Saraswati. “You learn to do that at Jaffna hotel school?” ’ Next morning Vasantha notices ‘the trigger finger of her right hand was callused and discoloured at the edge’.

Miss Saraswati calls the van-man a ‘peacemaker’, and often he feels himself ‘a kind of doctor’. Those long journeys on which he takes passengers ‘looking for something lost and irretrievable’ are surely a form of ‘healing’. He has certainly learned to keep his counsel, so many revelations does he hear of grave splits in identity. Continue reading

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The Psychology of Totalitarianism via Skya’s Treatise on Japan’s Holy War

Richard A. Koenigsberg, reviewing Walter A. Skya: Japan’s Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism, Duke University Press, 2009, 400pp, ISBN-10: 0822344238

What is totalitarianism? Why did the Axis powers stick together? What did Japan have in common with Germany? This essential book articulates the ideology and psychology underlying Japanese ultra-nationalism.

japans holy war Skya explicates the thinking of Japanese social theorist, Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912). According to Hozumi, the individual exists in society—and society within the individual. The clash between individualism and socialism is resolved through the concept of g­odo seizon (literally, fused or amalgamated existence), meaning the merging of the individual into society. Human beings fuse together to create “society.” Continue reading

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