Fjordman: War and Human Accomplishment

Fjordman’s latest essay has been published at Vlad Tepes. Some excerpts are below:

Charles Murray’s book Human Accomplishment from 2003 has already achieved a well-deserved status as a modern classic. In this work, Murray not only ranks individual achievements and contributions in the arts and sciences; he also attempts to analyze some of the variables involved in rates of accomplishment, such as religion, political system and wars.

There is no doubt that the chaos, death and disruption caused by major wars can potentially limit human accomplishment. Among the most extreme cases in point would be the two great wars in Europe from 1914 to 1945, which caused an orgy of bloodletting and ideological radicalization and disrupted the very fabric of European civilization. Yet this does not imply that wars always have to have a similarly negative impact.

The conflicts between Catholics and Protestants during of the Thirty Years’ War ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which established the modern, sovereign European state. This fighting caused great devastation within the Holy Roman Empire, particularly in the mini-states of what we now call Germany. Yet from the late 1600s on, Johann Sebastian Bach spent his life in Germany between Weimar and Leipzig, and the eighteenth century in German-speaking Central Europe eventually turned out to be one of the most impressive periods in the history of music.

The first Persian invasion of mainland Greece ended with Athenian victory in a battle fought on the Marathon plain of northeastern Attica in 490 BC. According to legend, a soldier ran from the battlefield to Athens to announce the victory, a distance of roughly 42 kilometers. This consequently became the length of the long-distance footrace we now call marathon.

The Greco-Persian Wars continued with the ultimately unsuccessful attempts of Xerxes and his vast armies to invade Greece. They were slowed down with the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC and repulsed by the outnumbered forces of the Greek city-states against Persian galleys at the Battle of Salamis that same year. Socrates was born just a few years later. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) ended with defeat for Athens against Sparta and its allies.

Yet despite all of this, plus a plague after 430 BC that killed the statesman Pericles, Athens during this century and a half witnessed a great cultural flowering, the Athenian Golden Age. It included the playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the sculptors Praxiteles and Phidias, the painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius and above all the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The city attracted talents from other parts of the Greek-speaking world, for instance the astronomer Eudoxus.

Read the rest at at Vlad Tepes.

2 thoughts on “Fjordman: War and Human Accomplishment

  1. The fly in this essay’s ointment and also of the book mentioned by Fjordman is that the exception mentioned (accomplishment in the military realm) has a huge impact concerning ordinary lives of people beyond the wars or conflicts which develop. The most overt example is of course National Socialist Germany. Despite the legitimate repugnance for the ideology the accomplishments made by Germany under a totalitarian dictatorship have shaped our future based mostly on the military developments within twelve years.
    The Americans could not even design a quality inline piston engine and had to license build British Rolls Royce engines for its planes while Germany had functional Jet aircraft using the superior jet design (axeial flow).
    Guided missiles, heat senseing optics, reel to reel tape recorders,genetics,radio guidance, and lets not forget they had modern broad cast television more than ten years before everyone else.
    As a novice military historian my opinion is that conflict breeds healthy enviornments for technological innovation just as much if not more than a peaceful stable enviornment.

    I really hate disagreeing with Fjordman.

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