#12 Nonlocality

Where does war take place? Stupid question, right? Obviously, war takes place in war zones. Battles take place on battlefields. Right?

To say that war takes place in a specific locality and nowhere else is similar to saying that ice cream is only eaten in an ice cream parlor or learning only takes place at school or sleep only takes place in a bedroom. And we might have such a naive idea because we believe that war is something that we would recognize if we saw it taking place. We can easily see that ice cream is eaten many other places than just ice cream parlors. Likewise for learning and school, sleeping and bedrooms. The behavior of disruption, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to discern. Do police and criminals wage war? Do opposing sports teams wage war? Do men and women wage war? Do businesses and consumers wage war? Do politicians wage war? We might be inclined to say “no”, because they don’t use violent force, or they use very specific, restrained violence, or there are distinct rules they are supposed to follow when using that violence with set consequences for violating those rules, or because God said they could use violence, or because the use of violence is only done to protect civilization, or children, or whites, or blacks, or Christians, or freedom loving people, or because the violence is only used against “bad” people, etc.
Disruption is disruption. What KIND of disruption and whether or not the bitch deserved it is a separate issue.

We might like to think of ourselves as peaceful people who would have a negative reaction to war, but for most people, that is probably another self-deception. People LOVE games. Games are fun. Games teach us. “Game” is a valuable idea. However, as the nature of the special game we are playing approaches the general game condition of “war”, the cost of winning and losing increases. Playing is fun. Losing . . . not so much. Unfortunately, as “game” approaches “war”, even winning becomes more and more costly. Our negative reaction is probably not to the idea of “game” or “war”, but more to the ideas of “risk” and “cost”, the latter two being heavily associated with “fear”, “pain”, “grief”, etc.

The possibility of winning is exciting, fun. But, in more general games of war, there is a high cost to even play, letalone lose. Even winning means losing, sometimes. Winning a battle can mean taking horrendous casualties. Winning a war can mean destroying a city or even a civilization. Preparing a soldier, a weapon system, a unit, an army, a civilization, to play a game of war can be a monumental undertaking. Soldiers must be educated, fed, equipped. Weapon systems must be researched, developed, produced, deployed for training and maintenance, and that’s all before actual use. Units must be conceptualized, constituted with planned and existing personnel and material, integrated into the larger force’s structure, prepositioned for optimal deployment with respect to speed, dormant and operational logistical support, and vulnerability to pre and post emptive action by opposing forces. An army must be recruited (read: Human beings must be persuaded to put their effort, wealth, and lives on the line for a cause.).

And, how does a civilization even begin to prepare for war? This question is akin to asking how to prepare a square to become a triangle. A square must cease to be a square in order to become a triangle. In order to wage war, a civilization must become uncivil. A better question than how to prepare a civilization for war might be “How do we stop?”. The point at which a civilization has determined to act uncivilized is the point at which that civilization has ended. It’s an easy problem to solve, preparing to make war. More, better weapons. More, better soldiers. More, better equipment. More, better intelligence. More, more, more and better, better, better . . . but where does it end? When and how does a group of people who were previously determined to be disruptive become civilized? Why should they, even?

War is a game, but it is also just a mechanism for destruction and devaluation, and not only of physical objects. Civilization is a game, in some sense, too, and a mechanism, too, but it is a mechanism for creation and contribution.

Practically, we might consider a game of ping pong with a friend. The mechanism of war is the manner in which you play, but the creation of happiness and contribution to eachother’s life, the addition of value to eachother’s time, that is why you bothered playing in the first place. If we continue to expand the scope of the war-mechanism, it would consume the game, your relationship with your friend, your happiness, and anything else, in the pursuit of victory. At some point, the cost of winning the game is breaking your friend’s neck, and you should probably ask yourself some questions, like: What is gained from disrupting others? Who gains it? What is lost? Is it worth it? Is there a better way?

Disruption is a behavior, like dancing or lying or adultery. It takes place where ever it it makes sense to, where ever it has to, where ever it can. If there was ever a place that was safe from the ravages of war, rest assured that that is where every smart commander would put all his troops and equipment and use as his base from which to launch his attacks. If there was ever some object outside the scope of conflict, that is what soldiers would use to club their enemies over the head.

War is not a thing or a place. It is a state and a choice.


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