A Journal for Western Man

 

The Fate of War

G. Stolyarov II

Issue XCII- March 4, 2007

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Principal Index

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Old Superstructure

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Old Master Index

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Contributors

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The Rational Business Journal

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Forum

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Yahoo! Group

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Gallery of Rational Art

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Henry Ford Award

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Johannes Gutenberg Award

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CMFF: Fight Death

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Eden against the Colossus

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A Rational Cosmology

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Links

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

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Submit/Contact

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Statement of Policy

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            Important Public Announcement to All Virtual Travelers: I, Andrew CIX, Autonomous Proprietor, shall be having a war this evening at 7:00 p.m. against my friend Marcus LXXXVIII, Autonomous Proprietor. Three planets are at stake—renowned for fine vineyards and rich metal deposits.  The war shall be waged in Virtual Realm 756C, with virtual combat automata using arms and armor from the Roman period. With permission of the Intergalactic Commission for the Regulation of Warfare, I have reserved said Virtual Realm for combat activities. Observation of the war is permitted from neighboring planes 756A and 756B—though placing monetary bets is only permitted in Realm 756B. Proprietor Marcus LXXXVIII and I kindly request all other virtual activities in the aforementioned realms to temporarily cease. The war’s loser is legally bound to compensate economic losses to all parties whose interests are adversely impacted by this restriction. The war shall last until one of the Proprietors surrenders, one side’s electronic automata are wiped out, or four hours expire—whichever is soonest. At the 11:00 p.m. tonight, Proprietor Marcus LXXXVIII and I invite all observers to join us at the 981st Intergalactic Café for tea and dessert. We will also be profoundly grateful to any observers who subsequently create and spread news documentaries covering the war so as to promote the Individual Glory of the winner. Notice approved by the Intergalactic Commission for the Regulation of Warfare, October 17, 4324.

            To Our Donors Throughout the Universe: We of the Intergalactic Historical Society thank you for your kind contributions in making possible our latest interactive documentary: The Evolution of Warfare from the Bloody Age to the Present. Due to our scholars’ diligent work, we are able to bring you historically accurate recreations of the battles waged by such renowned ancients as Julius Caesar, Rommel the Great, and the early space lords of the 23rd century. All recreated battles are recordings of encounters fought on virtual terrain specifically molded to replicate historical conditions and staged with our most advanced virtual automata, all outfitted with accurate weapons, equipment, and uniforms.

            The documentary also includes detailed narration by the leading intergalactic military scholar, Professor Harold XCIV, Autonomous Proprietor. Professor Harold XCIV takes us back to a brutal and savage time, when human beings personally engaged in military conflicts—at risk to their economic well-being, their health, and even their lives. It is difficult for us moderns to even visualize what such wars actually looked like—since the sanitized destruction of virtual automata along a predictable, pre-programmed schematic does not come anywhere near portraying damage to physical property or even physical human organisms themselves. Fear not, however; our documentary is all in good taste. It observes universally recognized good sense by drawing an unambiguous distinction between historically informative discussion of human death and the actual showing of such death. We assure you: our documentary contains no corpses.

             We are again thankful for the opportunity to produce this long overdue work. War has universally accompanied man throughout history, and all signs show that it will remain an unavoidable aspect of the human condition. This is why the study of war’s history is essential to understanding human nature itself. Many individuals today are aware of the one-time existence of a Bloody Age, when men fought their wars physically, and the destruction of property and lives was a regular phenomenon. What is less known is how the transition to the modern virtual gentlemen’s war occurred. In creating this documentary, we have conducted the most comprehensive study to date of the Civilizing Age, circa 2050 to 3050—a fascinating time during which virtually every obstacle to Universal Progress and Prosperity was gradually but inexorably removed.

            The origins of the transition in paradigms of warfare can be traced as far back as the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1850 and its inauguration of the exponential pattern of rise in the human standard of living—a trend that has prevailed ever since. As is typical of historical trends, however, some will lag behind others, though over the course of centuries they will inevitably catch up. The wars of the Bloody Age were at one time a social necessity. Possessed of scarce material resources and impoverished populations, nations (i.e., groups of individuals who in aggregate performed roles analogous to those of Autonomous Proprietors today) had no choice but to fight or to be overcome by other nations or by economic hardship.

            Then, as now, the essence of war was that of a contest of skill wherein each side hoped to gain the economic resources of the other. Yet as technology, commerce, and liberty spread throughout mankind, the old rationales for war as a physical contest of physical men began to become increasingly irrelevant. Why attempt to take one’s neighbor’s property, when it is far easier to produce what one desires or exchange one’s own goods for it? Furthermore, why fight a war if one is materially well-provided for and perceives no urgent threat to one’s well-being? At the twilight of the Bloody Age, governments (i.e., the groups of men who oversaw the functions of non-autonomous individuals within a nation) were faced with no diminution of their military ambitions, but a steady decline in the number of men who were willing to act as accessories to those ambitions.

            As always in history, certain institutions play an inertial role that temporarily retards Universal Progress; but these institutions must eventually adapt to a changing world. At first the governments of the Bloody Age tried to give their subjects a new reason to fight wars: ideology. Instead of openly recognizing the resource-conflict nature of warfare, governments virtually everywhere for a time sought to justify wars as the necessary outcome of other peoples and governments not sharing the worldview and belief system prevalent within a given nation. At first, the ideological school of warfare tried to use war as a vehicle of promoting a particular religion, but within only a few centuries this was recognized to be counterproductive.  Then the ideological basis for war shifted to a peculiar worship of the nation-state itself. After leading to two colossal slaughters and many smaller ones in the 20th century, this nationalist mode of justification was, too, largely abandoned; mankind had been shocked out it. 

            And so—without any reason remaining for perpetuating the phenomenon of men killing men on a vast scale—the nature of war itself had to change. Large segments of manufacturing, data analysis, and services had already become automated by the mid-21st century. Economies of scale now made it possible to manufacture fighting automata as well. For a fraction of the cost of training, equipping, and supplying a human fighter, these combat machines—aided by artificial intelligence—provided greater firepower, maneuverability, and speed. The first wars fought with automata were one-sided—much like earlier clashes of European colonial armies against African tribesmen. One side—armed with the new machines—would easily decimate the other side’s army of men. The world’s nations quickly learned the futility of sending people into combat. The only men remaining in armies were those who—from heavily fortified headquarters—electronically controlled the automata or maintained them between battles.

            But war’s dangers to lives and property continued to persist for some time. If directed against population centers, the automata could still inflict considerable damage—and all resistance by the inhabitants would be futile. Reluctantly but prudently, the governments of the world agreed that this could not be allowed to become a legitimate mode of conquest. The transfer of resources and territories in war was instead reached by mutual agreement; the two sides would select a deserted region of the world as their battlefield, set up their automata, and fight under increasingly regimented conditions. The winner—it was universally acknowledged—was entitled to all spoils originally in dispute. Many doubted the firmness of such gentlemen’s agreements, for the winners would need to voluntarily restrict their gains, and the losers would need to openly acknowledge defeat while they had ample fighting capacity left. But the alternative would be the death of a nation’s citizens, who, enjoying their newly found and ever-improving material prosperity, were ever more reluctant to leave this world. By 2750, breaking the gentlemen’s code was tantamount to international political suicide.

            And then mankind learned that the vast material expense of fielding corporeal automata was not required for the gentlemen’s code to work. After all, if the same disputes could be settled using advanced virtual reality technology, the wars could be fought at trifling expense, and more of the potential spoils would remain intact. Since 3023, no property has ever been damaged in a war, though, as Autonomous Proprietors increasingly replaced governments, the number of wars fought multiplied greatly. A thorough examination of this fascinating history awaits you; order our documentary today, and we shall have it electronically shipped to your planet, free of charge! Notice sponsored by the Intergalactic Historical Society, October 18, 4324.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue XCII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.