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Guest Post: Is War Necessary?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by mickeyman of World Complex blog,



A recent article discusses an old document (the "Report from Iron Mountain") supposedly written by a committee of academics, explaining why war was necessary as an organizing principle of society. Supposedly these academics decided that if warfare didn't exist it would either have to be invented, or some replacement found. Numerous suggestions are made (the report can be found here).

The report finds difficulties in worldwide disarmament. The problem reiterates an old economic fallacy, which I am certain has been exploded by Bastiat previously. The pamphlet assumes that if there is no longer demand for weapons, missile systems, and the like, then all the poor employees of the companies that make such products will have to be retrained and put to work in some other (centrally planned enterprise) - suggestions included (but were not restricted to): 1) a worldwide program to improve human welfare; 2) endless space exploration; 3) a minutely detailed program of disarmament with forced inspections; 4) the creation of an omniscient, omnipotent global police force; 5) a desperate program to reverse global environmental catastrophe. Other options were offered as well.

I can see why this document is viewed as a hoax. Why replace our economic model of endless warfare with these alternates when we can have the endless war and the alternates?

The real problem with this document (and what gives it the whiff of truth in my opinion) is that it assumes an authoritarian framework. This premise is never stated, but it permeates the entire work. The document never considers that people might be able to make decisions on their own. Instead, the document would have us believe that war is a force gives us meaning.

Is it natural that war be a central organizing force, or is this a conclusion that has been forced upon us by our "betters"?

The trouble with authoritarians is that they believe that they can make any part of our human or cultural systems reflect the "reality" that they create. For instance--as covered in this blog before--Keynesian economics suggests that low interest rates automatically lower the unemployment rate. Empirical observations indicate that such is not the case, yet the Keynesians continue to set economic policy in accordance with their flawed assumptions. Such pig-headedness is akin to a physicist claiming that gravity could be made to fall off with the cube of the distance, given sufficient funding, and that the benefits of the new result would more than justify the costs.

In a free society, capital which was no longer being used to build complex weapon systems would be used for other purposes, as directed and desired by customers. I don't know, and probably can't imagine how the capital would be used, but that isn't actually necessary as it is better for the economy if I don't try to direct it. That is the key point missed by the authors. The capital would be used. It isn't necessary to direct it.

I frequently get a sense of frustration from the writings of some of these economists when they fret about the suboptimal strategy of, say, handmaking furniture as opposed to churning out by the container load out of some factory. The argument is about efficiency, and survival of the fittest. However, one of the things that we observe from nature is that all sorts of critters pursue what appear to our eyes to be suboptimal strategies--but here they are. They have persisted to the present day because their survival strategies are optimal when the environment is different than it is today.

Nature thrives from diversity. Diversity is what gives nature strength and ecosystems their resilience. Despite numerous attempts, we have not succeeded in creating a stable biosphere. Our limited understanding suggests that a functioning biosphere needs a lot of different types of plants and animals, and the more different types, the more stable it is likely to be.

Part of the stability is due to the presence of the suboptimal organisms, some of which really shine when climate suddenly changes, or lots of volcanoes erupt and make the sea acidic.

If autonomous political systems were organized along the same lines as natural systems, there would be a range of sizes from very small to very large. The organization on a global scale is not natural--it is shaped by a historical reality that large political entities have a military advantage over smaller ones--France and Spain vs Italian city-states, for example. The authoritarian vision appears to be to create a larger political union still.

But the end is coming for them. We have entered the twilight of their vision. It is the same fear that motivates the Report from Iron Mountain. The system is too complex to be controlled. Back then the authorities said they feared chaos breaking out over the necessary changes to the economy that would follow from a transition to perpetual peace. In reality they feared the loss of control.

The potential for the loss of control is magnified by the aspirations of billions of people, who can now contact one another directly free of authoritarian oversight. The authoritarians cannot control the future.

Instead they must accept there is nothing to do but watch it unfold.

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Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:05 | 2740897 Black Markets
Black Markets's picture


Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:13 | 2740907 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Bullshit! War is not necessary...just desired (by TPTB).

It's an excellent essay!

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:36 | 2740917 strannick
strannick's picture

"The real problem with this document (and what gives it the whiff of truth in my opinion) is that it assumes an authoritarian framework. This premise is never stated, but it permeates the entire work".

-That was my impression also. They assumed that the existing power paradigm was ideal must be maintained at any cost, and so war was their cost.

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 02:04 | 2742840 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

War is needed to fund research into new weapons and systems.  There is usually some kind of spin off of the technology which then is expected to create a new economic expansion.  In the meantime, a lot of people who need to be killed off (as well as those who do not need to be killed off), are killed.  War also redistributes wealth and power.


Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:19 | 2740918 MillionDollarBonus_
MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

War IS necessary. Along with statism, entral planning and redistribution of wealth. All these things are part of HUMAN NATURE, so there is no point in trying to argue against them. Libertarians need to simply deal with it and stop trying to change how the world works. Ok?

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:38 | 2740965 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Absolutely. And do not forget, people who do not suscribe to this point of view are not human beings. Because this is the 'American' point of view and therefore the point of view of REAL human beings.

Signed: an American.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:06 | 2741034 n8dawg84
n8dawg84's picture

How appropriate that you share this in response to MDB.  Ya know, I bet he would come as close as anyone to truly representing your idea of US Citizenism.  It's quite funny, actually.  Make me laugh!

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:19 | 2741065 Cortez the Killer
Cortez the Killer's picture

Not only is war necessary, it is preferable to peace

Search your feelings, real Men, you know it to be true

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:31 | 2741112 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

when I don't pay a dime in taxes from my labors to support war-then I will fully support it-as long as it is not myself or my kids doing the fighting

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:38 | 2741138 strannick
strannick's picture

And no one else gets killed. Then Im also all for war.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:46 | 2741327 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

An old saying seems apropros:

"It's a rich man's war but a poor man's fight."

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:48 | 2741491 WhiteNight123129
WhiteNight123129's picture

The question is not if war is necessary because it is never. It is always a non pareto result where the sum of gain from the winner and loss from the loser is negative. It is a nash equilbrium where the rulers role dice. If they do not go to war they can lose power, but that might be good for the people under their rule (but they do not care about that). If they go to war two outcomes possible (either they lose everything, or they stay in power), the outcome might be utter destruction for the people they rule, or partial destruction, in hte last case the ruler stays in power. So net net, if faced with internal problems the rulers have a tendency to try to throw dice with war to try to find an escape, even if this dice throwing has net probablity weighted value which is negative for their people, for hte rulers it has a positive one. It is a bit like a CEO with tons of out of the money stock options, if he levers like crazy, the company can go bust or can double, in one case the stock options are worthless in the other they are worth something, but if the CEO is prudent, his stock options will stay out of hte money anyway.... I think we should send rulers like in the old days in front of the army on a horse, this way they might have the downside of being reckless as well, and the CEOs should be granted stock with 0 strike prices, this way they would not gamble.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:25 | 2741090 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

I bet he would come as close as anyone to truly representing your idea of US Citizenism.


Plenty of fine specimens of 'Americanism' on this site.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:53 | 2741308 akak
akak's picture

And one utterly perfect example of dishonest, autistic, retarded, roadside-shitting, puppy-munching Chinese Citizenism, whose trolling nature is apparently eternal.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:00 | 2741363 LowProfile
LowProfile's picture

akak, you and TheFourthStooge-ing always make my day just a little bit brighter.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 16:56 | 2741935 MillionDollarBoner_
MillionDollarBoner_'s picture

Ah...but - you presume MDB and AnAnon are not one and the same...;o)

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:10 | 2741042 Vince Clortho
Vince Clortho's picture

Therapy is your friend.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:26 | 2741096 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Therapy is your friend.

Ah, but our narcissistic little Chinese citizenism citizen friend will never seek therapy. It is not he who has the problem, it is the rest of the world.

His brilliance is beyond comprehension, after all.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:40 | 2741143 Dixie Rect
Dixie Rect's picture

MDB, Is "entral" planning the same as entrail planning?

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 07:47 | 2743055 Ar-Pharazôn
Ar-Pharazôn's picture

i really hope you was sarcastic in this comment.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:12 | 2741043 XitSam
XitSam's picture

See? MDB_ is not a troll, he writes satire. He's had to become a bit, to be honest, quite a bit more blatant about it lately.

AnAnon doesn't get it yet though.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:17 | 2741058 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

And signing: an American is what?

'Americans' are funny people in their duplicity.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:30 | 2741111 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymous said:

And signing: an American is what?

'Americans' are funny people in their duplicity.

Yes, yes, your duplicity is certainly amusing. Ever consider a career as a stand-up comedian?

That is a show I would not want to miss.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:43 | 2741317 akak
akak's picture


Ever consider a career as a stand-up comedian?

In Chinese Citizenism, comedianism is more of the squat-down variety.

And after the comedy, the wiping, oh, the wiping ...

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 15:24 | 2741626 Oldrepublic
Oldrepublic's picture

good opportunities for stand up comedians in Dubai



Mon, 08/27/2012 - 16:41 | 2741901 monad
monad's picture

Send Achmed, they'll like him.

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 01:30 | 2742822 forexskin
forexskin's picture

And after the comedy, the wiping, oh, the wiping ...

and the idiot probably considers that a left handed complement - knowing of course what that left hand is full of...

true ananonymous nature!

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:00 | 2741354 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture




"entral planning"


Did you mean entrail planning(aka extispicy or haruspicy) MDB?

That would fit in with a Babylonian/Caananite influenced govt..


No (hot)Wars? TPTB Plan B:

Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars (also employed in conjunction with hot wars)

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 18:41 | 2742139 Liberty2012
Liberty2012's picture


I think you have that backwards.

Do you really think people work together because they are forced to? That free will does not exist?

Who or what prevents choice? Who or what is controlling you?

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 07:44 | 2743054 Ar-Pharazôn
Ar-Pharazôn's picture



i bet you're an american brainwashed product of the system

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 16:07 | 2741801 Treeplanter
Treeplanter's picture

Exp;ain that to the jihadis.  Submit or die. 

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:15 | 2740913 Race Car Driver
Race Car Driver's picture

> Yes

Magic 8 Ball agrees.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:14 | 2741048 daz
daz's picture


Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:26 | 2741260 Gringo Viejo
Gringo Viejo's picture

"War is the health of the State".....Randolph Bourne, 1918

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 07:51 | 2743058 Ar-Pharazôn
Ar-Pharazôn's picture

in a TRUE democracy, the State are the citizien, so NO war IS NOT the wealth of the state

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:06 | 2740899 Money By Trading
Money By Trading's picture

My weekly review of gold and the dollar here:


War is necessary for the state, not for you.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 13:32 | 2741279 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture



"Whether the mask is labelled Fascism, Democracy, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our great adversary remains the Apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battlelines, which is not so much our enemy as our brother's enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."
— Simone Weil, Politics, Spring 1945

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:11 | 2740906 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Largely silliness.

Wars recent (including WW II in the Pacific) have been about oil (Japan was desperate for it after the 1945 US oil embargo of Japan).

This isn't going to change.  It's going to get worse.  Hand waving about complex systems and who makes arms doesn't mean a whole lot if planes can't get fuel.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:18 | 2741055 XitSam
XitSam's picture

I believe it was July 1941 US oil embargo of Japan. WWII ended in 1945.

But let's take two major US actions since WWII, Korea and Vietnam, were they about oil?

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:08 | 2741384 Disenchanted
Disenchanted's picture



How about both Iraq wars...if those were about oil how much of that oil is hitting the markets?


Maybe the PNAC agenda had more influence than oil in our current and very recent past 'kinetic actions.' I know heretical to some.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 14:15 | 2741402 XitSam
XitSam's picture

I didn't say the Gulf wars weren't about oil.

Tue, 08/28/2012 - 07:53 | 2743062 Ar-Pharazôn
Ar-Pharazôn's picture

and tell me if not for economic reasons, what were these 2 wars for?

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:13 | 2740908 LostWages
LostWages's picture

war is needed in order to find a scapegoat to blame and direct the anger away from those seeking to retain their power.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:37 | 2740964 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Monkey War.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:16 | 2740912 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

There will always be a group of people who try to exercise control over another group of people. It has been that way since the dawn of time and it will not change now or ever, it will only grow worse as resources grow scarce.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:37 | 2740948 LMAOLORI
LMAOLORI's picture


Dr. Engali :There will always be a group of people who try to exercise control over another group of people. It has been that way since the dawn of time and it will not change now or ever, it will only grow worse as resources grow scarce"


If that is the case then war is sometimes necessary unless you want to be ruled by Dictators correct?  Look at the history of gun control and the toll it has taken on those who gave up their weapons for example.


Innocents Betrayed - Gun Control History - Genocide Disarming Populations


Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:40 | 2740972 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

Agreed. You will never hear me argue for any compromise on gun freedom for that very same reason.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:15 | 2740914 Robot Traders Mom
Robot Traders Mom's picture

Is War Necessary?


Well, if you enjoy the same group that funds them-banks, then yes.

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 11:54 | 2741006 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

I laugh my ass off everytime some fucking idiot [usually driving a Prius & looking like Max Fisher] cuts me off in traffic, so then I see their "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER" bumper sticker... It pretty much synthesizes the whole conundrum into one microsecond of time...

WTF ever...

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:29 | 2741106 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

great generalization- so someone that drives a fuel-efficient car is usually a more aggressive driver? actually i find this type of car/driver combo the more courteous on the road and it is usually the lil' blonde soccer mom in her hulking Escalade/Tahoe/Denali/ SUV/substitute dick  tailgating me and cutting me off

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