Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Recommendation - War: The Lethal Custom by Gwynne Dyer


Years ago, I was introduced to Gwynne Dyer's book entitled War: The Lethal Custom. I recently picked up the book again and have been reviewing the video series that he made back in the 80s. While his overall thesis surrounds his desire for humans to give up war as a human institution, Dyer does retain a realistic sense that such a thing may never happen as long as humans remain human.

As he says:
The universe does not give guarantees. But change is certainly possible, provided that we understand the nature of the institution we are trying to change and are willing to accept the consequences of changing it.
I am more cynical and pragmatic than Gwynne Dyer. I agree with his ideal, that we as humans ought to strive to end war. I do not think, however, that imperfect governments can or will band together to broker an uneasy peace across the world. There are still far too many dangerous types of governments, including the socialism that modern progressives are trying to build out of the US. All the great evils of the 20th Century arose from the foibles of trusting government to "fix" the inequities of humans. The ideals behind ISIS rest on socialism as a means to force others to convert to Islam or die.

I also substantively disagree with Dyer about the causes of war. Conservatives tend toward an understanding of human nature that liberals cannot grasp. Dyer, being more liberal in his views, doesn't see the value of honor and patriotism in helping humans get along in groups. He also doesn't quite view evil as an absolute (except of course, the absolute evil of war). Most of you will disagree with Dyer in his analysis of war.

Still, the book is worth a read. The video series is also worth watching once. All the parts are on YouTube.