If we end religion, does war end? That’s the question I attempt to come close to answering.
Wherever socio-cultural institutions yield authority-legitimizing and/or enforcing power, those who seek to utilize the mechanism of the state to preserve, seize, and expand their own spheres of power influence will move to control the authority-legitimizing/enforcing decision-making process for these same institutions.
This is my claim.
If true, then it makes no wonder that so many religious wars have taken place through the ages, as a vast swathe of religions (including all of the so-called ‘major’ religions) have various forms (and mostly dominant forms, or, if you will, denominations, factions, etc.) that have embraced their role in legitimizing and/or enforcing power.
As a matter of fact, many of these various religious factions have also taken the role of defining the rules of engagement (such as writing edicts that have the effect of a ‘law’).
So, it is understandable that those who vie to control thousands, millions, must ALWAYS control the institutions that have the power to legitimize or de-legitimize authority.
The ROOT is not the particular religion but the particular ASSUMPTION that controlling the lives of thousands, even millions, is not only a desirable action, but (real or imagined) is necessary for your own continued existence.
That assumption starts with the individual (in the case of the all-powerful ruler, the King, Dictator, Emperor, etc) or the individuals (in the case of oligarchies).
That assumption is then picked up by the individuals tasked with writing and/or delivering the orders that set in motion the organizing and supplying for the latest force manifestation of power.
That assumption is then picked up by the individuals tasked with organizing, managing, supplying, and equipping this force manifestation of power.
The final stop for that assumption (that controlling the lives of thousands, even millions, is not only a desirable action, but is necessary for your own continued existence) is with the individual who decides to put his or her life on the line, and to attempt to end the lives of others, of strangers, whose only crime is being in a different force manifestation of power.
Whatever ‘reason’ they give to conceal themselves from the reality of their actions (when stripped of socio-cultural claims of legitimacy based on moral supremacy, such as religious supremacy), the defining action that gives Warlords, Kings, Queens, etc. a reason to hope that their own assumptions that lead to orders will be faithfully executed where it matters most, with flesh-altering and life-terminating interactions between the order-giver’s executers of force manifestation and another order giver’s executers of force manifestation, is this willingness by the individual to engage in this type of human interaction.
The 30 Years War featured an interesting alliance between the French and the Protestant factions. The French were a Catholic nation, as were the powerful Hapsburgs of Spain. As the Hapsburgs of Spain were using the Protestant-Catholic infighting within the territory of the Holy Roman Empire to expand their own influence into that region (by coming to the aid of the Catholic factions), the French chose geo-political power over religion by siding with the Protestant factions.
This is a war which is OFTEN cited as an example of how religions lead to wars, yet a key power player on the continent eschewed natural religious alliance over natural geo-political enmity.
My motivation for writing this is NOT to defend the notion of religion, NOR to attack religion.
I believe that the whole “religion is the root of all wars (and in various less absolute and all-encompassing forms)” narrative, while it might help the non-religious engaging in debates with the religious about the usefulness of religion to humans (though usually couched under significantly less ‘polite’ terms), it also helps to perpetuate the veils that prevent us from more fully taking in the ramifications, the implications, the values, the standards we are actually living out by continuing to give legitimacy to the notion that an individual or a small group of individuals should presume to persuade thousands, even millions, to conform to their particular program or face potential ruination and/or death.
The ROOT question is NOT “does religion cause all, most, many wars?”
The ROOT question is two-fold.
First, do you yourself prefer to see this assumption of control through the manifestation of force continue into the future? This is a question I would hope, at some point, most all of us come to face, with all the religious veils, and any other claims of moral certainty over such action, stripped away to allow us to come to terms with who we are, and what it is we are not only capable of, but we are willing to continue to assure happens, again and again and again and again.
Second, is this assumption, from the Queen to the Longbowman, from the Czar to the Cossack, a product of biological pre-programming within us that cannot be broken, or is it the product of the reality of power, a reality that shows great benefits can be gained, for minimal cost and risk (real or imagined), by utilizing this particular method of power influence, the use of force to change the action of the other in ways that either conform to the new codes (whatever they might be) or cease to exist within the boundaries controlled by the Order Giver(s) and the band of Force Manifesters?
As to the former, well, we are a LONG way from seeing many people come to question themselves outside of their morality shields. As for the latter, I do not have an answer to that question, but I strongly suspect, based on some historical anecdotal evidence (which I am sure to write about in future posts), that wherever the cost of applying force manifestation to influence the action of others becomes precipitously high (real or imagined), then this technique will be utilized less and less and less.
To that end, I say, if you want to end wars, you don’t need to end religions or bad ideologies, you need to arm, supply, equip, support, and train individuals and free associations to be able to effectively resist such attempts at using force manifestation to bring individuals into the codes of the order-giver’s choosing.
Tools first, proof of concept second, and new ideational influences now void of that assumption of control through force manipulation will then emerge (or spread, where some ideational influences will come from pre-existing ones).
If and when individuals and free associations have social, demonstrable, force, and ideational capacities, institutions, functions, customs, etc, that deter the opportunities for control through force manipulation, then wars, such as we know them today, will end, or, at the very least, decrease in frequency with great significance.
All of that starts, in my opinion, with individuals doing their own work to make of themselves a more costly target of such manipulations. From that, it branches out as individuals find other individuals and build their own networks to help one another make themselves a more costly target of such manipulations.
Proof of concept will open doors across all spheres of influence, including (and especially) ideational influences.
There is reason to hope, even in these times, where multiple political faction in America are now calling for various expansions of the legitimacy of the use of force manipulation to control people to act according to a particular (now rapidly expanding) code.
That hope, I believe, starts with individuals deciding to make their lives, and the aggregate lives of their disparate networks, the proofs of concept that will open doors to ideational influences which not only no longer legitimize this method of affecting action (through the use of force manipulation) but ideationally are opposed to such actions.
I do not judge the ebb and flow of humanity’s experiment with ‘civilization.’ I can understand how and why this assumption of the legitimacy to use force manipulation emerged (and I am sure to write more about that as well), but I am of a strongly held assumption of my own now, that such assumptions of the use of force manipulation to control others have significantly less claims of ‘practical’ legitimacy that they potentially had up until now.
The most significant change in the human condition is the evolution of our understanding of technologies and practices that go back thousands of years, and the evolution of new technologies and new practices (emerging, often, because of the changing reality brought on by these new technologies) that are all set to equip and supply individuals and free associations using tools, technologies, currencies, resources, etc that are all acquired and exchanged outside of the institutions that are controlled by individuals who continue to hold the assumption that force manipulation as a tool of control by an individual or small group of individuals is a legitimate, positive (or, at the very least, unavoidable) behavior for humans, (or at the very least, to the particular human that’s part of this legitimizing process).
To put this more plainly, new and old practices and technologies are giving individuals the choice to provide for themselves, while minimizing their enabling and legitimizing of institutions and systems controlled by people who embrace the old way, the way of control through force.