Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conscious Professionals

Reading "Acts of War, the Behavior of Men in Battle" by Richard Holmes. Some things jelled, thoughts scattered among the sections read this morning.

That going into battle is a fundamental conflict between basic survival needs and social needs. You can get killed in battle. Your animal mind knows this. But the part of your mind that knows that you are part of a group or society is stronger. For the average soldier, showing fear is a bigger concern than dying.

Yet it is, for most people, the small society of comrades- the squad, the fire team, the unit- that demands this kind of loyalty and sacrifice...

Yet the battle itself is for the good of a larger society that is not present (this is arguable, as people quibble over their petty ideas of what a war is or should be about, what is 'good' for society. Nation-states, corporations or terrorists organizations are organic, in a way, and 'good' can't be defined teleologically. What the organism or organization is willing to fight for is what is it's own perspective of it's own 'good' at the time, rightly or wrongly.)...

What percentage of soldiers or warriors consciously decide that the battle is for the good of society as a whole and voluntarily take the job, eyes wide open?

How is this percentage perceived by the soldier who are concerned only with not appearing as cowards? Is there a separation? How great is the gulf?

How much greater is the gulf between these conscious professionals and the ones they protect, the ones who stay home?

And does this come full circle, that the people most willing to die for the good of others are the ones most contempuous of the society of sheep that they protect?


Charles said...


I knew we were in trouble the day I asked a fellow Marine why he volunteered. He said, "to get an eduction (degree type)."

I asked, what if we are sent into harms way?

He said, "Canada sounds fine to me."

I said, "You are kidding, you did know that every Marine is a grunt and we all have to fight."

He said, "So..."

We were in deep trouble and it was barley 1973.

Thanks for the blog.

Rory said...

Hit the same thing when I was in AIT when we bombed Libya. "I joined the army to go to college, not to fight in some war." It really disturbed me. Same attitude that led to the housing bubble maybe?
You're welcome for the blog.