"Just" War

March, 2003


Contents List:

First Principles
Divine Agents
Resistance to Bullying
Cultural Organisation
The Nation State
The "Just" War

Return to:

World Views
Ardue Site Plan

See also:

The Enjoyment of God
The Individual and the World
Political Bullying


First Principles.

The entire Universe is sustained by a single eternal principle, most commonly referred to as "God".

The individual human being, endowed by "God" with consciousness, imagination, reason and will, is the sole earthly species capable of rational conduct, accepting responsibility for doing as little harm as possible to his environment and the creatures with which he shares it.

Because all human beings are co-members of the same Universe, our first responsibility as human beings is mutual respect for each other.

This immediately rules out all forms of bullying as running counter to our God-given nature.

Divine Agents

Wherever we live, move and have our being, each of us is in fact a local agent or distributor of life's rich blessings. As Caitlin Matthews puts it in her meditation for 10 March in The Celtic Spirit:

"When the life-force of the Universe and the vigour that runs through our bodies are aligned with our spiritual core, then we experience our true power and live with it. The difference between living with power and simply behaving powerfully lies in one thing: those who inhabit their power by aligning with the Universe freely let their power pass through them, whereas those who behave powerfully hold onto power like a commodity. When the power of the cosmos is restrained, unable to come and go like a tidal current or a mighty wind, it merely inflates the holder, it does not empower her. And when it is hoarded to aggrandise the holder, she risks disease, want, misery, and a host of ills".

To live positively and lovingly is to live for the future. Having learned hard lessons from past mistakes and acknowledged the existence of unsatisfactory features in our present circumstances, our task is to do what we can to make a better future for ourselves, for our families, for our neighbours, for whatever communities and organisations we may be involved with, and for future generations of men, women and children. After millennia of painful squabbling, it should by now be obvious that we cannot be bullied into making such progress but must act voluntarily in friendly concert with each other.

Resistance to Bullying

My contention in this essay is that personal liberty consists in freedom from being bullied, and that resistance to being bullied is the sole justification for war.

Cultural Organisation

I have indicated that, under "God", the individual is sovereign. But living freely in concert with billions of other individuals, each of whose God-given desires and capabilities can make their unique contributions to the infinite variety of life in the World, creates a need for some form of organisation.

The most natural organisational principle is geographical. We all live somewhere. Our primary organisational unit is the home, where we hope to live happily together with family members and relatives with whom we have a "blood" relationship. We may have guests and friends with whom we have a "social" relationship; neighbours, with whom we have a "mutual interest" relationship; work associates, with whom we have a "collaborative economic" relationship; and fellow-members of voluntary organisations and bodies, with whom we have an "aspirational" relationship.

The further we move away from the home and the wider the circle of our various relationships, the more "mutual interest" is diluted. This creates a need for various layers of regulatory authorities to maintain a mutually satisfactory balance between the competing interests of disparate groups. Our relationships with such bodies vary from willing co-operation to outright opposition, depending mainly on the extent to which they maintain impartiality and do not resort to bullying tactics on behalf of one faction or another. All the various forms of organisational institution give those who participate in them plenty of opportunity to learn that bullying does not work in the long term, and that continuous and lasting progress can be made only by voluntary co-operation.

The language, arts, customs, traditions, manners, and institutions that successive generations have evolved in the interests of friendly enjoyment of life without bullying constitute the "culture" of a community or society.

The Nation State

In my opinion, the highest level of hierarchy which is both desirable and practical is the geographically and culturally coherent nation state which retains the allegiance of all, or nearly all, members of its national population, and whose main function is to promote and protect the personal liberty of every subject within its domain. This implies two things:

The "Just" War

There is therefore only one ground on which war is morally justifiable as a last resort: and that is to resist being bullied.

Resistance to bullying within the nation state may give rise to civil war — which is likely to involve some form of terrorism because of the perceived relative weakness of the bullied.

Resistance to invasion from without justifies defensive war; in such a case, the aggressor is always culpable.

It all seems quite simple, really.