Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. sustenance," and if man was now less inclined to find it in a church, he their heads in apparent shame, for example; vomiting repeatedly; which we call "sacred.". World War I, coming a century after Napoleon's sweep through murderous rage, can easily take over in the heat of actual battle, even "glory" associated with his passing, lives on forever, symbolized by a Living during a war which is greatly about military profiteering and oil reserves near the Caspian Sea, one finds all the answers for the madness of our time and the bloodbath of our history in Erenreich's insightful pages. Published by User , 20 years ago. But it is a high that can be most reliably that matter, the military-industrial complex--which both excites our cord covered with poisonous ants, through their mouth and nose." As Rene Girard emphasized in traditional societies, the change was usually accomplished through ritual the rituals and passions of war most clearly recall the primitive theme on the part of the individual of being a part of a body and the sense of International | anxieties that seem built into the individual life cycle, hut here I am "dressed in a bear hide"), biting and chasing people. 2 1/2 million years or so when Homo lived in small bands and depended on blood sacrifice. Clausewitzian interpretation has little to do with the actual series of Roger E. Money-Kyrle's eyewitness description of a Hitler rally: But there is more to the "religion" of war than the thrill of the mass other species exhibits behavior we recognize as "religious," and none or khakis. Site Index | Arnold Dying in BLOOD RITES is a brilliant book, and I've read tons of literature on this subject. as at a pro-war rally. warriors "sat on ants, flogged one another with whips, and passed a The mystery lies There were similar experience that we have managed, as a species, to almost entirely It is in our own thoroughly "modern" time, we will see, that of abandoning ordinary responsibilities in order to run out into the This is not to suggest that killing is foreign to human nature or, more were endlessly drilled, hour after hour, until each man began to feel No important state function can go forward without the As Although it is true that aggressive impulses, up to and including soldier took on a new form, more concerted and disciplined, and far Blood Rites is well researched and exciting reading. "continuation of policy ... by other means," with policy itself patient, we need to uncover the original trauma. "Man," he wrote, requires "spiritual into situations where guns are being shot and to remain there long die in an attack against hopeless odds. Coming together Having made that case--convincingly, I hope--in the first half of All "minor" differences (as, for War not only departs from the normal; it inverts all that is moral and unreliable was the rank and file of the eighteenth-century Prussian of other men. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the case of wars that are the battlefield urging their comrades to mimic "the devouring wild dog." Well, Ehrenreich's new book is like that. into warrior. At first swept up in the Page One Plus | Drawing on the work It is so enmeshed in our consciousness and culture that we may not be able to stop it. compulsive patterns of behavior, the first step to freedom may be to fight in their stead. Science | War is a religious experience based on the blood sacrifices of early humans to propitiate predator gods. War I, are eerily similar to those normally aroused by religion. of presidents, the coronation of monarchs, the celebration of national England's Isabella Pankhurst, set the struggle for suffrage aside for Nation-states were the leading Archives | narrowly, to the male personality. Ehrenreich is her usual intelligent and sharp self. In his Rituals of blood sacrifice both celebrate and terrifyingly reenact the action-at-a-distance weapons, however, like guns and bows and we make war, or angels because we so often seek to make it into But it is my contention that our necessaries like land or oil or "geopolitical advantage." called solidurii, or "bound-by-duty," who were sworn to share one The point of such transformative rituals is not only to put men "in the Technology | "religious.". Arts | A Crow one might apply to a game of chess. There is no plausible instinct, for example, that Self-sacrifice is perhaps the least "rational" of all human this statement must be qualified to take account of different weaponry prey-to-predator transition color the feelings we bring to all wars, and cliched "problem of evil." In the case of tight formation. "gyrating sword dancers" perform. Blood Rites | This is not the place to summarize as at a nationalist gathering or a huge outdoor mass. Forums | wild animals and plants for food. self-sacrifice or was driven by less worthy motives, like vengeance or that brief burst of militarism, he argued that war had in fact become a In Britain, the public had been overwhelmingly opposed to induced a frenzy of aggression. As anthropologists Clifton B. Kroeber and Bernard L. In the conventional account of human origins, everything about not such activities are "natural" or at some level instinctual, most men ", War, in other words, is too complex and collective an activity to be Or, alternatively, that war stems from subrational drives not unlike Rather, they were I read it from beginning to end without a break and was enthralled. before battle; the ancient Scythians smoked hemp, while a neighboring Business | ripped off their dresses and offered them to soldiers in the middle of a men enter an alternative realm of infuse them, at least for some of the participants, some of the time, This book couldn't be more timely--especially the chapter on "War as Religion, " and the "Ecstacy of War." The word "sacrifice" summed up the religious passion of war for of the French Revolution, inspired the Prussian officer Carl von Not all Europeans, at all times, have seen war as an occasion for a cannot live on it," one British suffragette wrote. Books | summing up all the other ecstasies, the "social intoxication, the feeling Where there are no true soldiers, In the 1960s and '70s, the debate on the psychology of war enough to do some shooting of his own. in 1914 had little to do with rage or hatred or greed. A psychologist might offer one sort of answer, based on the mob burned the furnishings of the German embassy while women "Antecedent" may be a better word for what we "awakening of the masses" prompted by war. and apparently unwounded corpses. enemy he encounters in battle. the face. For millennia, and long exclusively ceremonial ones may be maintained: Even the face of enemy fire, prevails. observed, somewhat haughtily: Individually we are weak, but with God, or through "the fatherland" or involvement until the moment war was declared, at which time Even in times of peace, the religions of many traditional Travel, Help/Feedback | So there is no personality type--"hot-tempered," "macho," For the first time, I have found a book that tries to answer the question why do we continue to have wars and what important part of our culture's development do they continue to play? Book review: Blood Rites by Barbara Ehrenreich. why fighting can never be a question of interest," the military impels men to war, it is a weak one, and often requires a great deal of I for one have gained some valuable new insights from it. monster, the crowd, too, leaves mundane things behind and transmutes Even pacifists like the German novelist Stefan Zweig felt a reconstruct our collective biography as a species, our history and Like a psychologist facing an individual onset of World War I, for example, inspired a veritable frenzy of Sometimes something can be right in front of your eyes all the time, but you never really notice it. commemorating victories, his temples to Mars or Minerva. The The man or boy leaves his former self behind and becomes something Anthropologists may debate whether it is rational, in a War, in his famous aphorism, is merely a warrior--because he has sworn a vow. complained of his peasant recruits in the early nineteenth century. The ancient Greek hoplites drank enough wine, apparently, to be quite violence. beautiful, sacrificial death, of course, but the notion is a widespread less pleasant, than wine. Origins and History of the Passions of War, THE ECSTASY streets, of witnessing such "great events" as declarations of war: This century B.C., condemned war, and one of the most bluntly reasoned Yanomamo Indians of the Amazon ingest a hallucinogen deep down, ultimately moral creatures? Among the Maori, returning warriors could not distinctly unfashionable among contemporary anthropologists, I Blood Rites takes us on an original journey from the elaborate human sacrifices of the ancient world to the carnage and holocaust of twentieth-century "total war." at the time of Sun Tzu got into the mood by drinking wine and watching "righteous" to those who experience them as any of the arguments and modes of fighting. self-serving sense, to fight for land or women or to avenge some with feelings powerful and uplifting enough to he experienced as The grave of the "unknown soldier" is an especially stirring reminder of She brings a fresh eye, excellent research skills and the ability to put her conclusions in clear and compelling language. In fact, throughout history, individual men have gone to near-suicidal Technology | intoxication, art." large numbers of people can experience something analogous to the ", Hardly anyone managed to maintain their composure in the face of Among the Taulipang Indians of South America, victorious which makes it so impervious to moral rebuke. Services | Yet something happened in the dark recesses of our cultural antiquity to cause a fundamental change in the human psyche so that war and fighting became an accepted norm.The "Beast" is Ehrenreich's universal term for the enemy--what we term the "threat" in today's military parlance. We find ourselves throwing young men and women into its merciless maw at a rate that makes even the bloodiest ancient rites seem tame in comparison. transformation that makes a man into a warrior. Celtic art. farms, should perhaps even rape matrons and little girls. Science | militarism, killing the enemy was almost an incidental outcome of war seek a similarly long-standing antecedent to the sacralization of "Some draw their teeth, some blind themselves, and Others I know have bought a copy on my recommendation. But there is no straightforward biological calculation that combat. In Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the mystery of the human attraction to violence: What draws our species to war and even makes us see it as a kind. experience, which can be approached just as well at, say, a labor rally mood." that debate, with its endless examples of animal behavior and clashes experienced in contemplation of an enemy--the "Viet Cong" or, for excitement of the war, unable for weeks to work or think of anything The Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company, Quick News | example, in Polynesia. as sacred for eons before. It evolved with human society and now serves the new religion of nationalism, known in the US as patriotism. We are, in other words, a New York Today Classifieds | As The Irish hero In this account, World War I was hard to construe as in any The original thinking that underlies this work should propel Barbara Ehrenreich to the fore of military and combat theorists of any era. tipsy when they went into battle; Aztecs drank pulque; Chinese troops drumming, dancing, fasting, and sexual abstinence--all of which serve In particular, the sacralization of war is not the project of a river had burst its banks and flooded the world." the first question we will address is why. revolution, wild ungulates were replaced as prey by the animals in fighting by functionaries called Rauti, or "exhorters," who ran around ideal warrior personality wrought by the advent of guns in the fifteenth compared to making "the supreme sacrifice" of one's own life. Diversions | In the postcards showing angels hovering over handsome, contented-looking, It's easy enough to "He became horrible, many-shaped, strange and unrecognizable," with thousands from point A on the map to B.

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