Human history has witnessed more than 2,500 wars in which millions of human beings have perished. Wars are conducted to redistribute social goods by means of armed violence, seizing them from some human beings and delivering them to others (1).
These interests today are hidden behind motives that are religious, geopolitical, in “defence” of human rights, etc. At the same time, technological progress is leading to the production of increasingly devastating weapons that target the civil population more and more, justifying it as “collateral damage”.
In contemporary society there are powerful social forces interested in wars, including the military-industrial complex, racist groups, radical nationalists and fundamentalists, organized crime, etc. The arms trade continues to be one of the most lucrative export businesses for many countries, principally the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Everything has gone into crisis, except the arms trade which is permanently increasing year-on-year.
Despite attempts by various international organisms (the UN among them), war and violence continue to be justified as part of a supposed “human nature”. WwW has a humanist vision of the human being as an historical being whose mode of social action changes their own nature (2).
It is not only wars and violence that have accompanied humanity in its historical development; we have seen in almost every era and in many geographical points the appearance of an attitude of ethics, solidarity and compassion that is revolutionary and humanising.
(1) Silo, The Dictionary of New Humanism, Collected Works, Vol. II
WAR. (ME. werre; OHG. werra, confusion, strife, quarrel). Open, armed conflict between tribes, clans, states, large social, religious, or ethnic groups; the strongest form of violence. There have been more than 2,500 wars recorded in world history, among them two world wars. In the First World War, more than 20 million people died; in the Second World War, more than 50 million. Wars are conducted to redistribute social goods by means of armed violence, seizing them from some human beings and delivering them to others. In earlier times, this selfish motive was not only not concealed but was displayed openly. In modern times this motive is hidden behind ostensible religious, geopolitical, or other motives (e.g. the defence of religious beliefs, access to sacred sites or the sea, restoring the rights of ethnic minorities, "ethnic cleansing" of territories, and many other such pretexts). In principle, it is possible to avoid the transformation of smaller conflicts into wars, but in contemporary society there are powerful social forces, including the military-industrial complex, chauvinist and nationalist groups, crime syndicates, etc., that have a vested interest in wars. In today's world, the arms trade continues to be one of the most lucrative export businesses for the United States, France, England, Russia, China, and a number of other powers. Hopes that the League of Nations following the First World War, and the United Nations following the Second World War, would erect effective barriers to prevent the outbreak of war have been frustrated. Armed conflicts today grip the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, as well as republics formed out of the collapse of the USSR. Notwithstanding this, humanity has created certain international principles and legal processes to punish war crimes and war criminals. The international tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo established a precedent of great importance that is now being carried on in the International Tribunal of The Hague under the charter of the UN. Although the anti-war movement is no longer as large as it once was, this phenomenon has not died out and continues to develop. Humanism works to support the revival of the anti-war movement in order to bring peace to regional and local conflicts such as those in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and other places in the Caucasus; Rwanda and Burundi; Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico; Cambodia, and East Timor.
(2) Silo, 4th letter to my friends, Collected Works, Vol. I