In War as an Addiction Chris Hedges explains the myths around war and the ugly truth that lies behind its seductive veil.
Drawing on a wide variety of sources such as Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents, the Iliad, Swank and Marchand’s WW2 study of soldier psychology and Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism this lecture contains not just emotional depth, from Hedges own experiences, but a profoundly detailed analysis of war.
For more see his book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
War as an Addiction (53:31): MP3
War is an emotionally intense and exhilarating experience. From ancient times war and the warrior have been celebrated. The adrenaline rushes of combat, the parades, the medals and the adulation are all part of the allure of war. It is imbued with ideas of nobility, selflessness and glory. General George Patton, one of America’s most famous warriors said, “Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God, I do love it so.” War is an elixir that gives some who wage it purpose and resolve. If one is not careful, as Chris Hedges warns, it can become addictive.
8 thoughts on “War as an Addiction”
mp3 is not there.
No. Wait! It’s there now. I rebooted and now my machine will download it. How very weird. New twist on the old reboot-me-please computer nagging thing. Sorry.
Hey 99, I think the server might be having problems :/
Oh, sheesh, thanks, Dave! You saved me having to figure out what in the heck would make my RAM, grown grouchy with twistedness, not even recognize an mp3 was there, let alone not play it. I’d obsess on that sort of thing…. :-P
Well, and, I started to listen a little while ago and Hedges, who I admire was sounding way too wussy for me. So I turned it off pending enough coffee in me to endure wussy, fuzzy, possibly even pusillanimous prissiness about the scourge of humanity. I’m ready now, but I gotta say, even before I listen, there are a lot of really good reasons people end up loving wars, despite the carnage and waste and apocalyptic damage.
They, for once, are not drones in some giant hive. They are humans with purpose who get to interact with alacrity in the face of hugely consequential matters. They are part of getting something completely comprehensibly real accomplished. They are full of responsibility, and people depend on them, and they depend on each other, and they get to interact that way, and their ideas and inner strengths and morals get to operate, get to COUNT for something….
There’s lots more, but that’s the one, the narcotic.
In peace, almost everything is disingenuous on its face, stuff gets counted as real that is mere consensus and fucked-up consensus at that. Even when people are completely deluded by it, believe in it, something in them, their greater sense knows it’s bullshit and withers a little more with each new disappointment over something that held out the promise of vitality turning out to be unsatisfying, empty.
We may manage to someday hypnotize soldiers so well that war too is that empty, but so far, carnage still manages to reconnect the average human with the true human vitality buried so deeply behind what we call “consciousness”.
Okay. I listened. He has some important insights, but he’s so fucking wrong about so much, and referring to war as necrophilia and pornography is deeply, deeply perverse. Those who do it, I know, wish to express the extent to which they revile it, but instead end up derogating the victims more than the aggressors. And his repeated imprecations against love having any part in love maybe indicate he actually knows what a lie that is, but is so determined to inveigh against the travesty of it that he loses sight of the true.
His speech gave me such a stomach ache that it was starting to feel like an ulcer was going to shoot stomach acids out my ears and eyes and nose, maybe the top of my head.
It seems he feels guilt for his years addicted to LIFE and unmanned that so many he knew decided it was worth dying for and he couldn’t quite get there, works hard here to come back as a shining example of the legions dulled by impenetrable delusion, searching out that life again where it won’t be found… in a well-crafted and well-lauded denunciation of war. With this kind of denunciation, none of his objectives will be met.
Where is the antiwar activist brave enough to suggest that filling our societies with LIFE instead of slavery, instead of conditioned delusion that functions as slavery from which we cannot find any escape, will lessen the incidence of war? How dare he suggest that those suffering the aggression of murderating fucks are the corpses fucked by necrophiliacs, and the pictures of them pornography? How dare he?
And, for the thousandth time, war in defense of life is not war: IT IS DEFENSE OF LIFE… and we will never be absolved of the duty to defend life, no matter how successful we become at eliminating war, no matter how good we get at making excuses for not doing it.
Those who cherish the love they feel for their comrades in battle or in abjection are experiencing the love humans feel for each other which is denied to us in almost every other situation. It’s too impertinent, too pushy, too needy, uncool, presumptuous, taxing, nerdy — get a life! — in mundane life, but it certainly isn’t in war.
I really admire Hedges for quite a lot, but this was just neurosis masquerading as eloquence and actually did more harm than good to most of the people who heard it.
Ooops! Er, against love having any part in love obviously, I hope, should be against love having any part in WAR.
I get what you are saying , though it is not the soldiers that are neccessarily the warmongers that get the real buzz.It is the ideological suits , virtually all them never having participated in a war , that have the lust.
The rate of Mental stress and distress of returning soldiers is an indicator of how much they “enjoy” the experience.
If you notice the key determinate of the wars the US and Israel are losing is related to committment of actual troops on the ground in the zone , or in the case of Gaza , the fear of doing so on an open-ended timescale.
The major casulties of any deployment in Afghanistan is going to be Mental illness making a whole generation of soldiers being unfit to serve more than a few terms in the combat zone , and being unfit to work and/or being unable to function in society in a cohesive and productive way.