Thursday, April 24, 2014

War is good

Anzac Day 2014

Ian Morris argues in his book WAR: WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? that whereas in the Stone Age 10-20% of people died violently, in the 20th century despite its world wars, just 1-2% died violently.1  (How he got his statistics for the Stone Age I don't know. I suppose I would have to read his book.) This suggests that war is good, that it reduces casualties because it develops stronger societies. Yet to me, a Jewish historian, seeing history through Jewish eyes, this is a hollow, even meaningless argument. (Read the book!) Between 1941 and 1945, between the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the defeat of Germany. some 40% of the Jewish population of the world, 6 million out of about 14 million were killed. It is of little comfort to know that this is part of the 1-2%. And later on in the Listener article Morris says that had Hitler won the war, he  'would have faced a retreat from violence and plunder'. True, by then 'instead of killing most of Europe's Jews, he would have killed all of them.' No thank you for such benefits of war. If Jews would be some endangered bird, lizard or frog, the whole world would agitate to protect them. The whole gene pool, the whole ecological system would be threatened by their extinction. Who can even attempt to calculate the damage that the murder of such a high proportion of the Jewish world had caused to the human gene pool and the ecology of human society. 

1 NZ Listener, April 26 2014 p36-37