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What Slavery, Ordeals, Duels and Lynching Can Teach us About Abolishing War


What Slavery, Ordeals, Duels and Lynching Can Teach us About Abolishing War

David Carroll Cochran

When it comes to war, deja vu can be a depressing thing. With the U.S. military in Iraq once again, this time to battle Islamic State fighters, it is tempting to see the cycle of war as endless. Over two millennia ago, Thucydides wrote that “peace is merely an armistice in a war that is continuously going on.” But what if he had it wrong? What if we can actually end war once and for all, much as we did other violent practices once thought impossible to abolish?


“Joshua Goldstein, Steven Pinker and others have detailed the decline in war’s frequency and lethality over the last several centuries, a long-term trend that was temporarily interrupted in the early-20th century, but that resumed after World War II and has accelerated since the end of the Cold War. By some measures, the number of people killed in warfare has dropped 75 percent in the last three decades alone, even as the global population increased sharply in the same period.”

This is an absurd statement. And so is this one. I’d like to see documentation supporting this “10,000 year” contention since written history goes back about 4000 years or so, and there is PLENTY of Feminist Scholarship pertaining to PEACEFUL, female-oriented, Goddess-worshipping societies. In other words societal models that did not include or feature war.

"A world without chattel slavery was inconceivable for almost all of recorded human history. From around 10,000 B.C., it grew to become a pervasive global institution, existing, as the historian Orlando Patterson writes, “in every region of the world, at all levels of sociopolitical development, and among all major ethnic groups.”

I find it suspicious, if not repugnant, that this long article doesn’t mention the 2nd class status of women once, or what their absence from church, state, academic, and culture-making bodies meant to Western societies’ pro-war, asymmetric (as in masculine-dominant) formation.

Note how this quote takes PAINS to make gender invisible:

“One especially powerful newspaper ad pointed out that the United States was the only place left on earth where people were still burned at the stake.”

People, not WOMEN in particular, he insists–were burned at the stake. A gender neutral comment like this inside a very long article that not once mentions patriarchy, the fact that aggression is PROMOTED in males, or that the lack of female input into decision-making just might have something to do with this long-held emphasis on war.

How about this statement… sounds like Mr. Cochran takes seriously the Pentagon’s “We don’t do body counts” to assert that the bloodbaths across huge swaths of the Middle East constitute some cessation or diminishment in organized war’s Kill Counts!

“The spread of democracy and the rule of law, the rise of nonviolent direct action movements, and economic development have all contributed to war’s decline. So too has greater global governance made possible since World War II by a growing web of international institutions — intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, treaties and their enforcement regimes, grassroots advocacy groups — that have pulled nations into closer interdependent relationships with each other.”

And this gem reads like a Position Paper submitted to the State Department by a man so loyal to his own narrow stance as to not see outside his own paradigm IN THE LEAST:

“It is really a relatively small group of countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe bordering Russia, and parts of Africa that account for almost all of the world’s armed conflict (as well as a few nations such as the United States that travel to these regions to join in and start new ones).”

As Robert Parry would put it, NATO is wearing white hats and on the side of the angels. It’s those troublesome Russians and unstable Middle East lands that bring all this carnage and conflict onto themselves. Sure!

The writer’s background and incuriosity about Feminist portraits of the human past expose him for the covert misogynistic that he is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a Jesuit.


White male elites executed these actions. They do NOT speak for all. As usual, those who can’t think outside of the established box presume that’s what’s true of the dominators (many of them, sociopaths) speaks to everyone else. That is false.