Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News The Usefulness of Total War

  1. Apr 14, 2010 #1
    George Orwell wrote:

    (The whole text at http://www.panarchy.org/orwell/war.1949.html)

    In the book, a perpetual war is going on, between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. But not on either of these states territory, the war is happening far away, in disputed territories. The purpose of this perpetual war is to consume the products of human labour; and for this reason the economy of a super-state cannot support a high standard of living for every citizen. The three super-states are each so strong that none of them can be defeated, even by an alliance of the other two (as explained in a fictional "book", The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein), and as the alliances are constantly shifting, doublethink is needed to make sense of the politics.

    What's funny - well actually, it isn't very funny at all - is that much of what Orwell envisioned has come into existence. Not in an exact manner, but not very far from it either. Take for instance the war on drugs. God-only-knows how many billions upon billions of world currencies that have been sunk into that quixotic project of well meant heroism, but after 40 years of non-stop "war" we may observe that the drug market is flooded with more, stronger and cheaper drugs than ever before. If that isn't a lost war I don't know what is. Next we have the war on terrorism, which in and of itself is a bit of doublespeak since war is terrorism. How do they plan on winning this war - and who exactly are "they"? It goes without saying that a "war on terrorism" is even less winnable than a "war on drugs" - but that really isn't the point. The point is that it is fundable. It can be used as a means to consume the products of human labour.

    It can also be used as a political pretext for keeping the populations of the developed countries in check under martial law. It it certainly will teach us all the pragmatic value of doublethink. Learn to trust your leaders without questioning! Pay attention to your television. Read up on the revised history. And remember that it isn't a lie if you really believe in it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2010 #2
    This is so biased, it makes Glenn Beck look like Diane Sawyer.
  4. Apr 14, 2010 #3
    I have to say...

    I don't agree with pretty much a thing that you just posted Max Faust.
    One thing I can say I agree with is that the market has more drugs.
  5. Apr 14, 2010 #4
    You two yahoos don't know a whole lot about military strategy, do you?

    Nowadays we have a "reverse Von Clausewitz" kind of situation where politics has developed into a continuation of war with different means; and this is by and large a product of the Cold War (which, unfortunately for the war industry, came to an end). To say there is a war on drugs, or a war on terrorism, is basically just BS - but the real people who are really being killed is not. Nor is the real money that is being made.
  6. Apr 14, 2010 #5
    What exactly are you trying to say?

    Do you want it to be called the "Global fight on terrorism" and the "fight on drugs" ?
  7. Apr 14, 2010 #6
    Firstly there's no need to call me a yahoo just because I don't agree with what you've typed up.

    As well great job with the 'don't know a whole lot about military strategy' line followed up by your explaination of modern military strategy. I've actually written papers on the philosophy of war and as such I have studied in detail military strategies from Sun Tzu forward with most attention paid to modern warfare. Why did I do this? I had intended to look at how the concept of total war had changed with the advent of nuclear warfare. On the side of that I've studied the history of war in quite a bit of detail going as far back as civilizations go. (A lot of time went into studying the Chinese)

    Oh just to let you know the v in von isn't capitilized.
  8. Apr 18, 2010 #7
    Thanks for the interesting read.

    I completely agree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2010
  9. Apr 18, 2010 #8
    By reading your 'signature', Isaiah 42:5, I can understand where your opinion comes from.
    I've often wondered if Yahweh approves of war, and the killing of the children?
  10. Apr 18, 2010 #9
    Yeah, we drink little christian boys blood, and use it for rituals. Watch yourself, I might make an exception with the elders, and you could be next. We sure are horrible people aren't we.
  11. Apr 18, 2010 #10
    There is no doubt that Orwell's study on society was valid, if not abit extreme. The same goes for Aldus Huxley's 'Brave New World'. Social studies are traditional in fiction and this is one of the reasons why Science Fiction is actually the most 'reflective' genre of writing. Plato's 'Republic' was the first to muse such a-utopian structures.

    But in response to the threads topic, IMO total war is useful to humanity in the same way that fishing with explosives is useful. It may get you some fish... but it destroys more than it gains in the process.
  12. Apr 18, 2010 #11
    Excuse me, but what the hell are you talking about? This was just out of the blue.

    To the OP, I see nothing in your post that is suggested by the thread's title. Coming into here I thought you'd have some sort of argument for the economic or scientific value of total war, and all I see is incoherent rambling about the war on drugs and terror.

    Quite frankly, I am very confused.
  13. Apr 19, 2010 #12
    i think it is a very different world now than the one that Orwell thought he lived in. it is certainly not necessary to destroy wealth. rather, the guys at the top have the option of keeping most of it for themselves and only paying as much is necessary to appease their workers.

    about the drugs, yes, there is no war. we have at present the capability to destroy all the opium poppies in afghanistan, and yet, it isn't a priority or even a goal. only a few attempts at dog and pony shows were made for the media in the beginning. also, i think keeping even the more benign drugs like marijuana illegal may have motivations beyond any sort of right-wing morality. drugs, especially smelly ones, give law enforcement an easy in to stop and search people they find suspicious.

    but, most of that stuff in the OP i think is bunk. populations are now kept in check by aggressive birth control. and workers are kept busy and productive by the hamster wheel of revolving credit. but the last thing our government wants to do is keep people needlessly deprived of resources. people are kept "under control" by the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses" [Broken] model.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Apr 20, 2010 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Outside of China, where do you assert this is the case?
  15. Apr 20, 2010 #14
    western democracies are doing a pretty good job, i think. the further people move up the materialism ladder, the more they self-select not to breed, and put it off until their infertile years. for those in the lower incomes strata, government often provides cheap or free birth control. overall, this lowers birth rates.
  16. Apr 20, 2010 #15
    Perhaps we should all breed our own little armies so we can overthrow our respective governments.

    If the people are for the most part happy under their respective regimes, why should they go out of their way to fight the government? We (in the US) definitely are not under the government that was so vividly depicted in Orwell's books. Part of his purpose was to show the types of methods by which a population could be controlled. He wasn't implying that a government that exhibits any of the traits that he described was also performing all the others. You're assuming some sort of controlled malicious intent over the entire government trying to manipulate all those little mindless prols. Surely there are those with ill intent, but not to the extent which is implied in this discussion.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook