Picking the Best card

One important thing, if not the most important thing, in preparing for a 2AC is making sure that you have the absolute best card possible for every argument you make. It’s not like the neg block where you can read a crappy card in the 1NC and its ok cause you can read 10 more without any time pressure. Most 1AR’s are not going to be able to read a ton of evidence.

So let’s say the negative makes the argument “capitalism is the root cause of war”.

You need to select your best piece of evidence to answer this argument. Below I have pasted some options. Comment on which card you think is the best in this particular instance and why, although general comments about the evidence is fine as well.

Card A

John Norton Moore   Director, Center for National Security Law, University of Virginia School of Law  The Transnational Lawyer 2004
We will start with what we generally know about the causes of war. There is a short list of some of the major things that we hear over and over about the causes of war. Certainly, there are specific disputes among nations; ideological disputes; ethnic and religious differences; proliferation of weapons and arms races; social and economic injustice; imbalance of power; competition for resources; incidents; accidents; and miscalculation. The old Marxists believed that wars were caused by economic determinism. There are many other theories, but what do we really know about the causes of war? The answer is that nothing on the list of the most important traditional causes of war powerfully correlates with war. If we look from the opposite perspective there is another list, which in many respects builds on the causes of war list described above. That is to say, looking at traditional approaches for avoidance of war rather than causes of war, there are a number of mechanisms including, diplomacy, balance of power, third party dispute settlement, collective security, arms control, and resolving underlying causes. However, once again, the point is that there is nothing on this list that we know to have a robust correlation with wars. This is not to suggest that these approaches are not important. They are collectively an important part of the human arsenal for dealing with war and conflict. For example, if we want to focus on the issue of weapons of mass [*84] destruction, it would be an error not to focus on the importance of arms control. However, these approaches, by themselves, are not the answer to understanding war. Rather, the most important empirical correlation found to date, which is quite robust, is the finding that democracies rarely, if ever, wage war against other democracies. 1 This finding is called the Democratic Peace. According to Bruce Russett, the Chairman of the International Relations Department at Yale, “A striking fact about the world comes to bear on any discussion about international relations … [when we consider that] democracies have almost never fought each other.”

Card B

Richard Aberdeen, “the way: a theory of root cause and solution”  2003 http://freedomtracks.com/uncommonsense/theway.html

A view shared by many modern activists is that capitalism, free enterprise, multi-national corporations and globalization are the primary cause of the current global Human Rights problem and that by striving to change or eliminate these, the root problem of what ills the modern world is being addressed.  This is a rather unfortunate and historically myopic view, reminiscent of early “class struggle” Marxists who soon resorted to violence as a means to achieve rather questionable ends.  And like these often brutal early Marxists, modern anarchists who resort to violence to solve the problem are walking upside down and backwards, adding to rather than correcting, both the immediate and long-term Human Rights problem.  Violent revolution, including our own American revolution, becomes a breeding ground for poverty, disease, starvation and often mass oppression leading to future violence. Large, publicly traded corporations are created by individuals or groups of individuals, operated by individuals and made up of individual and/or group investors.  These business enterprises are deliberately structured to be empowered by individual (or group) investor greed.  For example, a theorized ‘need’ for offering salaries much higher than is necessary to secure competent leadership (often resulting in corrupt and entirely incompetent leadership), lowering wages more than is fair and equitable and scaling back of often hard fought for benefits, is sold to stockholders as being in the best interest of the bottom-line market value and thus, in the best economic interests of individual investors.  Likewise, major political and corporate exploitation of third-world nations is rooted in the individual and joint greed of corporate investors and others who stand to profit from such exploitation.  More than just investor greed, corporations are driven by the greed of all those involved, including individuals outside the enterprise itself who profit indirectly from it.      If one examines “the course of human events” closely, it can correctly be surmised that the “root” cause of humanity’s problems comes from individual human greed and similar negative individual motivation.  The Marx/Engles view of history being a “class” struggle ¹  does not address the root problem and is thus fundamentally flawed from a true historical perspective (see Gallo Brothers for more details).  So-called “classes” of people, unions, corporations and political groups are made up of individuals who support the particular group or organizational position based on their own individual needs, greed and desires and thus, an apparent “class struggle” in reality, is an extension of individual motivation.  Likewise, nations engage in wars of aggression, not because capitalism or classes of society are at root cause, but because individual members of a society are individually convinced that it is in their own economic survival best interest.  War, poverty, starvation and lack of Human and Civil Rights have existed on our planet since long before the rise of modern capitalism, free enterprise and multi-national corporation avarice, thus the root problem obviously goes deeper than this.

Card C

Goldstein, War and Gender , P. 412 2k2

First, peace activists face a dilemma in thinking about causes of war and working for peace. Many peace scholars and activists support the approach, “if you want peace, work for justice”. Then if one believes that sexism contributes to war, one can work for gender justice specifically (perhaps among others) in order to pursue peace. This approach brings strategic allies to the peace movement (women, labor, minorities), but rests on the assumption that injustices cause war. The evidence in this book suggests that causality runs at least as strongly the other way. War is not a product of capitalism, imperialism, gender, innate aggression, or any other single cause, although all of these influences wars’ outbreaks and outcomes. Rather, war has in part fueled and sustained these and other injustices.  So, “if you want peace, work for peace.” Indeed, if you want justice (gener and others), work for peace. Causality does not run just upward through the levels of analysis from types of individuals, societies, and governments up to war. It runs downward too. Enloe suggests that changes in attitudes toward war and the military may be the most important way to “reverse women’s oppression/” The dilemma is that peace work focused on justice brings to the peace movement energy, allies and moral grounding, yet, in light of this book’s evidence, the emphasis on injustice as the main cause of war seems to be empirically inadequate.

21 thoughts on “Picking the Best card

  1. Layne Kirshon

    I would say card B (Aberdeen 3) –

    a. It is most direct / specific on cap not the root cause – the other 2 cards are more about war as a general phenomenon and how there are lots of causes – in fact i think card A may even make an argument that could hurt the aff's advs if they are also war based

    b. It pre-empts a lot of block args – it's not just "cap not root of war" but "cap not the root cause of anything" – it allows the 1AR to effectively group impact add ons and just extend this card

    c. we read that card in the 2AC.

  2. Daniel L

    Card A: Kind of sucks if you're trying to answer cap without a democracy advantage and if you did you'd probably have better cards that you could simply C/A from the adv flow. Also, even if you were reading this as an answer, it doesn't get you far. At best it is bad defense because it only says that there are other causes in which case a good cap debater could easily say, we solve the root cause of the warrants in Card A, flows neg.

    Card B: This card is better than A, only because it cites a specific root cause and says why that isn't capitalism today; it predates it. However, again assuming a good cap debater, they could spin cap as the root cause if one can explain how the void causes greed and capital exploits the void to do bad things. *note my knowledge of Lacanian psychoanalysis is limited

    Card C: This is probably one of the better cards simply because the warrants can't be turned so easily. The way this card suggests causality is reasonable but it might not be the best way to work in general. If the cap flow was evaluated in a vacuum, this would probably be the card I'd read but it wouldn't be. Also, it isn't specific to capitalism, so there might be issues.

    If I were to remake a cap block using one of these three cards, it would probably be Aberdeen because to turn that it would take an extra step for the neg then it would for the Moore card. It is also more specific to capitalism then the Goldstein card and doesn't screw over any root cause arguments I'd like to make on other flows.

    Edit: just remembered that the Aberdeen card is in my block already

  3. AMiles

    definetly card c – aberdeen has 0 quals, decent negatives will ahve ev from profs of sociology or whatver – he was educated in the bible and according to him when i emailed him "i should be too" — goldstein is a prof at a U and acutally has warrants – he indicts the idea of monocasuality in general which is a reason the premise of the negs arg is flawed

  4. Charlie Rafkin

    I'd read card C, I guess, because I agree with Layne that Card A could take out your own war impacts if you read econ or something, (if you have a democracy advantage, then card A would be great) and I have some problems with card B. Aberdeen makes some claims that could backfire. The card says capitalism isn't the root cause of war because individuals who are greedy are the cause, not nations who are greedy. "nations engage in wars of aggression, not because capitalism or classes of society are at root cause, but because individual members of a society are individually convinced that it is in their own economic survival best interest." Cap K teams would say individuals are convinced its in their economic self interest to wage wars because capitalism tells them they have to make money at all costs, even if that requires exploiting/killing other people. Also, if you say the problem is at the individual level, then it only furthers the importance of rejection of capitalism EACH TIME (something along the lines of the alt). However, I do see some good parts of the card and obviously the last sentence is great, but I think the contradictory claims could be devastating. So, by process of elimination, card C is best.

  5. Layne Kirshon

    @AMiles

    LOLZ if any team reading the cap K ever makes a quals argument, reading an "AT root cause" card that's qualled should be the least of your worries esp considering most negs read the International Perspectivist or Marko '3 as their cap impacts.

    Also, aberdeen is way longer, so if u read it in the 2AC and they say "yo quals" u can always read goldstein in the 1AR if it's a make or break issue

  6. AMiles

    every one of westlake's cards is from a prof of something
    its not about them saying 'yo quals' – its about in hte 2ar mitigating their args by saying, btdubs our ev is from a prof while yours is 'marko' (if it really is all people read) — also, aberdeen has no warrants or evidentiary / academic support- he's like greed is the r/c .. trust me i founded the aberdeen foundation

  7. Dave M

    As a judge, I'd prefer the second card. It has a more specific response to the capitalism causes war argument – that wars preceded capitalism, it provides an alternative cause for war, and it doesn't necessarily cause you problems on other flows. That is, it leaves room for other, specific, issues to affect war scenarios. Granted, you'll have more trouble if the cap -> war argument is in a criticism, and the neg has a good alternative, but card B also has takeouts to some generic negative alt cards. (the 'violent anarchists')

    I'd also rate Card C second – it has good warrants, leaves you plenty of room for your specific impact scenarios on advantages, but i don't think it's overall as good. It also can get you into trouble on other flows – I think it could be turned and cross-applied against a rights/justice advantage of some kind if you're not careful.

    Card A is most useful if you have a democracy advantage, or you're mostly going for non-war based scenarios. It's just more limited than the second two.

    I'd agree with some of the above posters – Card B can be dangerous against a solid K team, because greed might be the same as capitalism. I suppose in terms of generic 2AC block utility, that gives Card C an advantage, but I'd rather have a better card in a block, and know I need to swap it out depending on the round, than start with a slightly worse card.

  8. Ellis

    Yo quals

    I'm with Miles in general on the don't read cards that suck vibe but I think it might be worth it to make an exception for Aberdeen

    1. Pot kettle — pretty likely I get called out when someone posts a card to disprove this, but my guess is the qualified cap k cards aren't on the "cap causes all war ever" wavelength. Like Layne said, 99% of cap k impacts are IP or Marko (not an actual name, a username on a message board). A lot of those cards remind me of a bad CX against this claim — it starts with grandiose rhetoric and historical references, but then when you get specific, it dissolves into "Well it's more the notion that people become greedy and nationalist…resources n stuff…" which Aberdeen indicts pretty well.

    2. Logic — I get that in general it's unwise to say "Well, he's right" when someone indicts your evidence but it doesn't seem too hard to appeal to a judge and be like war existed eons before cap, cap is just the manifestation of that innate greed.

  9. AMiles

    i don't think this card is good enough to make an exception for, considering the alternative is a qualified piece of evidence that indicts the theory of monocasuality and talks about cap
    – pot kettle – wouldn't you rather indict their ev on the basis that it is from marco w/o them being able to do the same thing to you? even if all ppl read is marco , that's not a reason the right side (pun intended) should stoop to their level – it would really suck to destroy the marco ev in cx on 'who the fuck is this' and then have them turn around and do the same thing to you
    – logic – do you need to read ev that says the sky is blue? do you have to read a card that makes the logical claim that says war existed before cap? even if he says innate greed, any good neg will have answers to that and your response will have to come down to 'well, he's right – prefer him, he founded the aberdeen foundation' because he cites nothing (except for Gallo Brothers, wtf) and has no expertise – this inate greed arg is worth no more than an analytic (it's possible considering that his only edu is in the bible, college debaters' analytics would actually count for more)

  10. Rett

    I don't think the Aberdeen card is nearly as effective as some of you seem to.

    1) Ok, greed is bad. However most of the impact evidence read on the negative's side does a pretty good job establishing that capitalism is the system in which greed is manifested in the most destructive manner possible. It's the extraction of surplus labor (ie forcing labor beyond subsistence and general good) made possible by proletarianization/elite control of the means of production that results in the most excessive exploitation. It's also what causes misuse of resources and destructive practices in the pursuit of profit over sustainability. In either a state run system or a direct social democracy (the only 2 systems I can see an alternative defending, if it defends a system at all) communal decision making prevents "greed" from having such effects. True, cap may not be responsible for all wars, but i think the question should be whether it's going to be responsible for future wars.

    2) I think qualifications could definitely go neg on this issue. For example, the two impact cards most frequently in our 1nc when we read cap are Callinicos and Kovel. Callinicos has a master's in history and phd in philosophy from Oxford, he teaches sociology and european studies and he's widely regarded as an expert marxist. Kovel has a bachelor's from yale, a master's from columbia and a phd from the albert einstein school of medicine. He practiced psychology/psychoanalysis for about 20 years before getting a phd in sociology and teaching that at Bard. I'm not sure if the neg should "go for" quals, but if it became an issue they'd be ahead against aberdeen.

    So I think card c is the best. It's not the mostly strongly worded, but I think it does a good job setting up the argument that proximate causes should come before low-level root causes, which is probably the strongest argument the aff has in their favor in case /v/ k impact debates. Short term proximate causes with a quick timeframe are definitely the most difficult internal links for an alt to capture or a k impact to internal link turn.

  11. AMiles

    basically i have no idea what rett said with his fancy 'proletarianization/elite control' lingo but he concluded on my side, so it's good

  12. Faber

    Everyone got pulled onto this "quals do/not matter" tangent, and ignored Alex's warrant for preferring Goldstein – 'monocausality false' indicts the methodology of the negative arg. That means that a) the neg has to read evidence on monocausality that they otherwise weren't intending to read, which means it's probably a debate they're less prepared for, b) the neg's evidence on monocausality can be isolated from the other 5 cards they plan to read defending "cap r/c of war", which decreases the advantage of the block, c) lays groundwork for case accessing the impacts of the K, d) possibly ties in or lays groundwork for aspects of the link debate, eg "we don't expand cap, we are capitalism neutral".
    And, as Rett's #1 argued, the greed warrant in Aberdeen is something that lots of neg cards are prepared to explain as 'brought to its inglorious pinnacle' or w/e by capitalism. Cap good people sometimes argue that it takes some of the most negative aspects of human nature and makes them socially productive, but Aberdeen seems to be on the "these traits can never be good things" side of the debate, which the neg should be fairly ready to incorporate into its i/l analysis.

  13. AMiles

    i tried to post this last night but it didnt –
    @ ellis
    i don’t think this card is good enough to make an exception for, considering the alternative is a qualified piece of evidence that indicts the theory of monocasuality and talks about cap
    – pot kettle – wouldn’t you rather indict their ev on the basis that it is from marco w/o them being able to do the same thing to you? even if all ppl read is marco , that’s not a reason the right side (pun intended) should stoop to their level – it would really suck to destroy the marco ev in cx on ‘who the fuck is this’ and then have them turn around and do the same thing to you
    – logic – do you need to read ev that says the sky is blue? do you have to read a card that makes the logical claim that says war existed before cap? even if he says innate greed, any good neg will have answers to that and your response will have to come down to ‘well, he’s right – prefer him, he founded the aberdeen foundation’ because he cites nothing (except for Gallo Brothers, wtf) and has no expertise – this inate greed arg is worth no more than an analytic (it’s possible considering that his only edu is in the bible, college debaters’ analytics would actually count for more)

  14. Bill Batterman

    I don't think any of these cards is any good—*especially* Aberdeen. (1) While quotes from him make the *claim* that aff debaters want to make, they don't really advance an *argument*. "Bad things pre-date capitalism"… yes. I don't think you need a card for this unless the card adds something to the argument—e.g., a study of relative levels of violence by a qualified historian. (2) He's utterly unqualified and totally crazy. This has already been covered, but I don't think people realize the context of this chapter/article—it's part of his online book that advocates Christianity (and specifically a weird Jesus Communism he calls "The Way"), not free market capitalism or "Third Way" liberalism. If the aff wins their Aberdeen argument, they must do so by appealing to his polemic on human nature—since the aff doesn't address/solve the shortfalls of the human condition or align itself with a Christian movement based on unions (that's the "Gallo Brothers" the card mentions), it doesn't solve.

    Because I don't want to ever hear that card read again, here are two much better cards on this issue.

    (___)
    THERE IS NO SINGLE ROOT CAUSE OF WAR—COMPLEXITY DOOMS MONOCAUSAL EXPLANATIONS.
    Vivienne JABRI, Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Kent, 1996
    [“Introduction: Conflict Analysis Reconsidered,” Discourses on Violence: Conflict Analysis Reconsidered, Published by Manchester University Press ND, ISBN 0719039592, p. 3]
    The study of war has produced a number of often conflicting answers to Quincy Wright's question, "Why is war thought? Why is war fought?"1 The history of human political violence has shown that we cannot produce monocausal explanations of war. Studies which concentrate on assumed innate human characteristics fail to account for the societal factors which are implicated in what is essentially an interactive and dynamic process. Similarly, investigations which link attributes of the international system, such as balances of power, not only produce contradictory findings, but seem to negate human decision-making and psychological processes in the onset of war in specific conditions. Studies of violent conflict aspire to uncover, through empirical investigation, patterns of behaviour which lead to war. As indicated by Holsti, studies of war may be divided into those which emphasise structural or "ecological" variables, such as the distribution of power capabilities within the system, and those which emphasise "decision-making, values, and perceptions of policy-makers" in attempts to isolate common features leading up to the decision for war.2

    (___)
    THE CONSENSUS OF EXPERTS IS ON OUR SIDE—THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.
    Kalevi Jaakko HOLSTI, Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia, 1991
    [“On The Study Of War,” Peace And War: Armed Conflicts And International Order, 1648-1989, Published by Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521399297, p. 3]
    Investigators of conflict, crises, and war reached a consensus years ago that monocausal explanations are theoretically and empirically deficient. Kenneth Waltz' (1957) classic typology of war explanations convincingly demonstrated various problems arising from diagnoses that locate war causation exclusively at the individual, state attribute, or systemic levels. He also illustrated how prescriptions based on faulty diagnoses offer no solution to the problem. Even Rousseau's powerful exploration of the consequences of anarchy, updated by Waltz (1979), remains full of insights, but it only specifies why wars recur (there is nothing to prevent them) and offers few clues that help to predict when, where, and over what issues. Blainey (1973), in another telling attack on monocausal theories, continues where Waltz left off. He offers, on the basis of rich historical illustrations, both logical and anecdotal rebuttals of facile explanations of war that dot academic and philosophical thought on the subject. But rebuttals of the obvious are not sufficient. We presently have myriads of theories of war, emphasizing all sorts of factors that can help explain its etiology. As Carroll and Fink (1975) note, there are if anything too many theories, and even too many typologies of theories. Quoting Timascheff approvingly, they point out that anything might lead to war, but nothing will certainly lead to war.

  15. Whit

    No Root Cause for Violence
    Dr. John MONAHAN 1994 (Psychologist and Professor of Law – University of Virginia-Charlottesville, “The Causes of Violence,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 1/1)
    I have been asked to summarize everything that we really know about the biological, sociological, and psychological causes of violence–in 20 minutes or less. Unfortunately, I think I can do it. But, I warn you in advance what I cannot do-what no one can honestly do–and that is to offer a neat, simple story that explains why so many Americans are afraid to walk home alone at night. Only people on the extremes of the political spectrum have that luxury and that conceit. The political right believes that the root cause of violent crime is bad genes or bad morals. Not so, says the left. The root cause of violent crime is bad housing or dead-end jobs. And, I tell you that while doing something about the causes of violence surely requires a political ideology, the only way we can determine what those causes are in the first place is to check our ideologies at the door and to try to keep our minds open as wide, and for as long, as we can bear. I realize that this is not easily done. But, if you give it a try, which I urge you to do, I think that you will find that violence does not have one root cause. Rather, violence has many tangled roots. Some grow toward the left and some grow toward the right. We have to find the largest ones, whichever way they grow, and only then can we debate how to cut them off.

  16. Bill Batterman

    In addition to the two generic “no monocausal explanation” cards posted above, here’s a card specific to capitalism—I just cut this today… it makes the Aberdeen argument better than Aberdeen does. If you just need a short card, the first paragraph (first two paragraphs—first paragraph is just context/FYI) is good; if you want a better/longer card, this is definitely “A” quality. No reason to settle for a bad, unqualified card when a few minutes of research will yield a good, qualified one.

    (___)
    CAPITALISM IS NOT THE ROOT CAUSE OF WAR.
    Christopher DANDEKER, Professor of Military Sociology in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, 1992
    [“The Causes of War and the History of Modern Sociological Theory,” Effects of War on Society, Edited by Giorgio Ausenda, Published by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Social Stress by Boydell & Brewer Ltd, ISBN 0851158684, 1st Edition Published in 1992, 2nd Edition Published in 2002, p. 44-46]
    All these arguments presuppose two specious sociological contentions: first that capitalism, as the most historically developed and dynamic form of class exploitation, is the source of modern militarism, and second, that socialism, preferably on a world scale would involve the abolition of war. The deficiencies in these views, and indeed of those associated with the industrial society thesis discussed earlier, can be revealed by drawing on Machiavellian themes which can then be set out more explicitly in the next section.

    Despite the fact that industrial capitalism has produced two world wars, as Aron (1954) and more recently Michael Mann (1984) have argued, there is no ‘special relationship’ between capitalism and militarism—or the tendency to war—only one of historical indifference. All the pre-dispositions of ‘capitalist states’ to use warfare calculatively as a means of resolving their disputes with other states predate the formation of capitalism as an economic system. Of course, it could be argued that capitalism merely changes the form of militarism. That is to say, pre-capitalist patterns of militarism were still expressions of class relations and modern capitalism has just increased the destructive power of the industrialised means of war available to the state. But this argument will not do. Socialist societies in their use of industrialised power show that the technological potential for war is transferable and can be reproduced under non-capitalist conditions. Furthermore, the military activities of socialist states cannot be explained in terms of a [end page 44] defensive war against capitalism or even an aggressive one, as national and geopolitical power motives are arguably just as significant in the determination of state behaviour. Furthermore, imperial expansion not only predates capitalism but it is also difficult to reduce the causes of wars then and now to the interests of dominant economic classes (Mann 1984:25-46).

    Meanwhile, modern attempts to explain patterns of military expenditure in terms of the imperatives of capital accumulation face major difficulties. The association between economic boom and military spending has been revealed as an empirical association not an inherent connection; indeed the evidence from Germany and Japan indicates that low levels of military spending might well be associated with economic performances superior to those of societies which commit more of their GNP to defence expenditure. Furthermore, the idea that war and the threat of war are weapons of national mythology used by dominant classes to confuse the working class and weaken their natural affinity with international socialism faces the problem that, as in the case of Europe in 1914, national enthusiasms were such that truly remarkable powers would have to be attributed to ruling classes in order to make sense of them while in any case alternative explanations are at hand (Howard 1976:108-15).

    The problems of economic determinism in Marxist social theory are compounded by two further difficulties. The first of these concerns its emphasis on endogenous, unfolding models of social change. The tendency is to view state behaviour in terms of the imperatives of internal class relations with warfare being regarded as the externalisation of the contradictory nature of those relations. Marxism finds it difficult to view inter-state relations as characterised by structural interdependencies of a politico-strategic nature. The drift of Marxism is to regard the state as a class actor not as a geopolitical one. This failing derives not just from the internalist bias of Marxist social theory but also from its failure to provide a satisfactory account of the conditions under which the human species has become differentiated into separate societies and, more specifically, why it is that the modern capitalist economic system has developed in the context of a system of competing nation-states—a political system extending from the core of Europe to the rest of the globe during the course of the twentieth century. As Michael Mann has suggested there is nothing in capitalism as an economic system which presupposes or requires such a political system although there is a strong [end page 45] case in favour of the view that the development and triumph of modern capitalism benefited from the constant power struggle amongst the emergent nation-states of European civilisation (Hall 1986; Mann 1988). In Marxist theory, the rise of nation-states has been interpreted as an early stage in the political expression of the universality of the capitalist market, an expression which will change with the demands of capital accumulation (Semmel 1981: 166-73). A contemporary case in point would be the current shift to European integration in the context of global competition amongst the major capitalist blocs. However, nationalism is not a bourgeois phenomenon created to provide ideological and legal conditions favourable for capitalist economic relations. Nor are modern nationalisms, when suitably ‘decoded,’ enthusiastic proletarian movements ready to take the stage vacated by their less distinguished Western comrades. Nationalism is a far more significant motor of human history than class—a fact which was recognised by some Marxists in the early twentieth century: Mussolini was one of them (Ashworth and Dandeker 1986:82-7; Dandeker 1985:349-67; Gregor 1974:145-7; Smith 1983:47-50).

    The inability of Marxism to provide a satisfactory account of nationalism is part of a broader failure to explain why ‘societies’ exist at all. That is to say, in relation to the four clusters of modernity distinguished earlier, it is through the conjoining of industrialism, capitalism, bureaucratic surveillance and the state monopolisation of the means of violence that modern societies have emerged. As Anthony Giddens has suggested, societies are actually products of modernity (and not one dimension of modernity, i.e., class relations within capitalism). If by society one means a clearly demarcated and internally well articulated social entity it is only relatively recently that large human populations have lived under such arrangements and these have been the achievements of modern nation-states (Dandeker 1990:51; Giddens 1985:172).

  17. Scott Phillips

    One more monocausal card

    Monocausal bad
    Brian Martin, Uprooting War, 1990 edition http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/90uw/

    In this chapter and in the six preceding chapters I have examined a number of structures and factors which have some connection with the war system. There is much more that could be said about any one of these structures, and other factors which could be examined. Here I wish to note one important point: attention should not be focussed on one single factor to the exclusion of others. This is often done for example by some Marxists who look only at capitalism as a root of war and other social problems, and by some feminists who attribute most problems to patriarchy. The danger of monocausal explanations is that they may lead to an inadequate political practice. The 'revolution' may be followed by the persistence or even expansion of many problems which were not addressed by the single-factor perspective.

    The one connecting feature which I perceive in the structures underlying war is an unequal distribution of power. This unequal distribution is socially organised in many different ways, such as in the large-scale structures for state administration, in capitalist ownership, in male domination within families and elsewhere, in control over knowledge by experts, and in the use of force by the military. Furthermore, these different systems of power are interconnected. They often support each other, and sometimes conflict.

    This means that the struggle against war can and must be undertaken at many different levels. It ranges from struggles to undermine state power to struggles to undermine racism, sexism and other forms of domination at the level of the individual and the local community. Furthermore, the different struggles need to be linked together. That is the motivation for analysing the roots of war and developing strategies for grassroots movements to uproot them.

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  19. Scott Phillips

    Otherness/Dehumanization not the root cause of war
    Miroslav Volf (Evangelical Pentecostal Church of Croatia and Presbyterian Church [U.S.A.]) has been Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School since 1998. Educated at the University of Zagreb, Evangelical Theological Seminary in Zagreb, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Eberhard-Karls-Universitat, Tubingen (Dr. theol., 1986; Dr. theol, habil., 1995), he also taught at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia (1979-80, 1984-91) and Fuller Theological Seminary (1991-98). Journal of Ecumenical Studies 1-1-02
    Though "otherness"–cultural, ethnic, religious, racial difference–is an important factor in our relations with others, we should not overestimate it as a cause of conflict. During the war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990's, I was often asked, "What is this war about? Is it about religious and cultural differences? Is it about economic advantage? Is it about political power? Is it about land?" The correct response was, of course, that the war was about all of these things. Monocausal explanations of major eruptions of violence are rarely right. Moreover, various causes are intimately intertwined, and each contributes to others. That holds true also for otherness, which I am highlighting here. However, neither should we underestimate otherness as a factor. The contest for political power, for economic advantage, and for a share of the land took place between people who belonged to discrete cultural and ethnic groups. Part of the goal of the war in the former Yugoslavia was the creation of ethnically clean territories with economic and political autonomy. The importance of "otherness" is only slightly diminished if we grant that the sense of ethnic and religious belonging was manipulated by unscrupulous, corrupt, and greedy politicians for their own political and economic gain. The fact that conjured fears for one's identity could serve to legitimize a war whose major driving force lay elsewhere is itself a testimony to how much "otherness" matters.

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