Azar Gat’a “War in Human Civilization”

Loc 1800: --- Gat speaks as if his discourse on evolutionary foundations of war are peculiar to humans. It goes much further back. “The righteous mind” explains pretty well why human’s rationality does not overcome this ancient tendency. Game theory shows that rationality may not overcome war either.

Loc 2777: Functionalism as I read Gat’s notes and casual scanning of the web leads me to think that Functionalists seem to think that the utility of an institution explains its existence. This does not address the question of the forces that maintain it. Gat’s following defense of evolutionary theory is very good.

Skim 3280 to 3470
Skip 3541 to 8212
Skim 8559 to 8779

8950 thru 9082 is a good new presentation of the emerging markets.

9239 At this point I paraphrase Gat’s explanation of why Europe came from behind in 1450 and surpassed the rest of the world in a couple of centuries. Europe was not unified and the natural tendencies of those in brute power to suppress alternative modes of power, such as corporations, was ineffective. Thus merchant power arose and formed richer and thus more powerful states even as it led to diminished brute power. The merchant class was willing to be taxed for military ends, in order to preserve their new institutions. Few of the traditional elite were willing.

10164: Interesting section describing tension between the modern and traditional—between the bourgeoisie and old elites. I think I finally understand the context from which Marx viewed the bourgeoise. That he disapproved causes me to view Marx as a conservative.

10189: Gat speaks of a “totalitarian regime” as if it were a new invention of the 19th century. I await his definition which would exclude most of the earlier regimes. Perhaps here at 10194:

Perhaps that will do.

Next (10208) Gat skewers communism (and I agree) to left leaning totalitarians. (Not everyone can be at the top.) He turns then to the right wing totalitarians whose memes have mostly eluded me.

I suppose that Gat is about right in which case I can see why I was attracted to either totalitarianism; indeed I was repelled by both. He goes on “… and a cohesive national community was to be created and infused with a sense of brotherhood and purpose—domestically and against outside rivals.”. I have resisted all top-down impositions of “brotherhood and purpose”. They are largely out of date; money will do nicely here, I think.

Skim from 10509:10582

10638: I detect a shift in the book from the nature of war to the reasons for war.

11122: Twice now, Gat has twisted the tail of ‘monists’ who want a single explanation of any phenomenon. First for an explanation of decrease of frequency of war and here for whether MAD or affluence is responsible.

12014: I think that Gat uses many words to say that democracy is an effect of more fundamental causes, and cannot thus be merely imposed.