Christopher Balchin, educator and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I, yet today the brutality of war continues. And there is animosity between nuclear powers, and fear of wider conflicts. People ask: What impels nations to go at each other with murderous intent? Why, with all the work of the various peace movements and the existence of the United Nations, has war continued? Is there no answer?
It is urgent for everyone to know that Yes, there is an answer. In “What Caused the Wars,” issue 165 of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, written in 1976, Eli Siegel, using historical and literary texts, shows the definitive cause of war, where it begins in the self of every person. And since the cause is given for the first time, we have the real means of understanding and preventing war. Every world leader making decisions is a self, and the understanding of self in this writing is remarkable, beautiful, true. I say this with the experience of having studied history and international relations in depth, including at Oxford, and having taught world history in high school for many years.
With all our advances in science, technology, and communication over the past one hundred years, the crucial understanding of self and the cause of war has been widely absent. It is here, as Eli Siegel describes the elemental forces in self that impel a human being’s actions. He shows in logical, passionate sentences how these forces have been at work in the international doings of nations in history, and under our own skin.
“What Caused the Wars” begins:
It is necessary to see that while the contempt which is in every one of us may make ordinary life more painful than it should be, this contempt is also the main cause of wars. It was contempt that made for the trenches of France in 1915; it was contempt which made for the labor camps of the Second World War. It was contempt which made for that awful mode of retaliation called Nazism. Contempt has made Christians and Muslims fight daily, or want to fight daily, in Lebanon. Contempt causes terror in the Middle East. Contempt makes Bolivia a perilous place in which to live.
In the unconscious, dear unknown friends, it is the other person who will have accomplished contempt for you unless you have first contempt for him. >>Read more