“VSwhat it takes is a good war ”, I heard recently, at the conclusion of a discussion between two friends distressed by the general atmosphere. It had been a question of the climate, pension reform, incivility in the face of Covid, economic threats and the international situation. I jumped. I thought the expression was gone, erased by the wisdom of nations for decades. It is only to look at this incredible oxymoron, after the generalized butchery that was this XXe century, one could believe that the formula had fizzled out. Or that a moment’s thought would be enough to swallow it before saying it. Even dictators, or governments at bay, powerless to bring to their people what they had promised them, or focused by a desire for conquest and expansion, reason in this way. We remember that the war against Prussia had been advised by the Empress Eugenie to Napoleon III who complained of her declining popularity. But by mister everyone? By fathers or mothers?
For a moment, I wanted to intervene. “Do you think a war can be good, and besides how would it be?” “ These two people were developing their thesis. They evoked the great depression of 1929 and the crisis suffered by the Germans in the 1930s, which had led to the global catastrophe that we know. The philosopher René Girard dismantled the mechanisms of these explosions, the “Rise to extremes” already theorized by Clausewitz in his essay Of the war, and the principle of the scapegoat to crystallize the general will to fight. Far from me the idea of quibbling on this theme, of crutching my analysis on the texts of Thucydides or the theories of Lenin. I only regret that at the end of cycles, in these times of history when in a country individuals share the deaf and collective idea that nothing is going any more, in these hours which are still civilized despite undeniable tensions, we considers evil to cure evil. I regret that we do not say: “What is needed is good peace. “
Come to think of it, isn’t this precisely what the world lacks, peace, so that human society can resume a happy course, and an ability to eradicate problems in general, and already economic difficulties? Consider that henceforth, in the “finite” world in which we are, in other words a world limited in the resources it can offer us, we must stop waging the war that we inflict on each other, as we do. inflict on the planet, with the sole end of gorging ourselves a little more? Would we be incapable of it?
Of course, philosophy itself is divided on the question of violence. Is it inherent in human nature? It was the thesis of Thomas Hobbes, this English philosopher of the XVIIe century which ensured that man was launched into “War of all against all”, and since the dawn of time. After much scientific controversy about the origin of our “Inner savagery”, which Freud was not absent from, neuroscience has established that the human being is by nature empathetic, rather inclined to altruism. But who cares about these two points of view? What characterizes human beings, whether they are by nature animated by violence or rather eager for love, or both at the same time, isn’t it, precisely, their ability to educate themselves, in other words to establish general rules of life in society, and personal rules to tame his instincts?
We are endowed with reason, affirms the Greek tradition. We have the supreme freedom – an entirely individual freedom, of which each receives the grace – to choose between good and evil, Christianity tells us. Both imply our duty as human beings to fight against our bad inclinations, against our delight in violence, our temptation to designate a responsible person who is never ourselves, this tendency always at work among all to consider the the other as an abstraction, defined on the basis of the lowest common denominator.
“Let everyone be exalted, and all will be exalted. ” If a “Good war”, so be it this one: against our deep moral misery that violence always reveals, against our laziness to seek in our own life, and our intimate resources, a real enthusiasm to live. Yes, what we need to stop the climate of violence and the desire to do battle that swells around us, and in us, is this personal, permanent and uncompromising struggle. It is also necessary to have the good will, as the beautiful blessing reminds us: “Peace on Earth to men of good will. “