- Shaped by a childhood during the cold war
- Honed his arguments within a military family, his father and his grandfather served in WWII and WWI
- Is it possible to end war?
- His experience has been that 9 out of 10 people believe that it is not possible to end war
- His book is an attempt to argue otherwise.
- Is war part of human nature?
- This theory is false: war is a recent innovation, war is sporadic
- There is not much evidence that war is an inevitable result of competition for resources or inequality or poverty
- Horgan paraphrases Margaret Mead: War begets war, once war breaks out, it transforms a society, makes it more militaristic and more likely to engage in war in the future
- Some peace activists think we need to eliminate conflict and competition
- Not true, conflict is neither good nor bad, doesn’t necessarily lead to violence
- War is expensive, impractical and leads to lose-lose situations
- The U.S. spends $1 trillion on military
- There is evidence that we are in a period of relatively low war casualties
- Although the Syrian war is a big upsurge
- There are reasons to be optimistic
- Period of decline in violence
- Spread of democracy
- Democracies fight non democracies, but don’t tend to fight other democracies
- As information becomes the valued commodity, this undermines need for violence
- Although as global technology promotes globalism, it can also be used to spread hatred, e.g. ISIS’ use of social media
- Capitalism and commerce can be a progressive force in ending war
- The biggest companies, such as Apple and Google and Walmart, don’t want war; they want goods and capital to flow freely
- Vision of a new anti-war movement, including the traditional left but also including conservatives who worry about spending and religious conservatives who recognize that war is immoral
- Ending war is both a moral and practical imperative
- U.S. defense budget is nearly bigger than all the other countries’ budgets combined.
- Every time we use war we legitimize war and use of force.
- How do we use show of violence in a way that does not perpetuate more violence?
- War is not a force of nature or a natural disaster, it is a human creation.
- If everyone wants the end of war, even people who are making money off it, why is it not ended?
- War is not the inevitable product of differences and competition
- New York is fractious and competitive but the conflict and differences do not result in mass violence.
- John Horgan is a science writer and a professor
- Classes taught at Steven’s Institute of Technology include a class on war and science
- Author of a book titled: ‘The End of War’
You can contact John via his Scientific American blog: Cross-Check, his email firstname.lastname@example.org or his webpage.