Friday 16 September 2011

A view from DSEi: "War is normal"

On the first morning of the arms fare in the Docklands, a group of us tried to obstruct the main bridge entrance to Excel. We sang peace songs and tried to engage with the delegates. Most just kept their heads down, and tried to ignore us. One though, was keen to talk.

"War is normal" he said in a plummy accent "Just like death, and birth. War is a perfectly normal part of life"

He smiled, he meant it from the bottom of his soul. War is normal. And for this reason, it is perfectly possible to justify the actions of 25,000 men (very few women) in suits going about the 'normal' business of buying and selling arms.

The smell of money was palpable. This is big, big business. The wealth that comes along with the arms trade is formidable. It must be intoxicating to those who want it.

But war is not normal. Most people, most normal people do not want war. Throughout history, war has been the tool of the few. The few who desire more land than they need, the few who desire more wealth and power than they need. War is the opposite of normal - it is sick and the product of greed and cruelty. In the powerful words of the CAAT slogan "This is not OK!"


  1. I think you are wrong. War is normal in the sense that it has pervaded humanities struggles for time immemorial. At times it has been the haven of the haves over the have nots but what else would you expect from us newly evolved animals? We fight for what we do not have, even if we are too lazy or stupid to deserve it. The truth, however, is that the power struggles have vasilated over time in many areas but to paint the picture you do,whilst it may fit you predudice, is false. Just look at the history of Ireland. The Unionists of the 1800s like Wolfetone were rich but prepared to fight for principle. I fear your polarised position on conflict fails to account of the nuances but is essential to your world view. Sad!

  2. If war is so normal why does it take so much technology, secrecy, and propaganda to keep it going?

    But we all justify our actions and all our justifications sound silly to anyone who doesn't need the justification.

  3. Steven Pinker's new book 'The Better Angels of our Nature' was reviewed in the Guradian a couple of weeks ago: in it he argues that we have moved away from violence, particularly in recent history. The final paragraph of the review recommends it as essential reading on this subject:

    'Does our gradual move away from violence towards civility leave us better or worse equipped to deal with the next great calamity when it comes? No one can know, and Pinker does not pretend to provide an answer. But in the meantime, everyone should read this astonishing book.'