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Unformatted text preview: xamines in detail the connection between war
and morality. He identifies the basic contradiction between the myth of
the heroic defender and the problem of killing another human being,
which in all societies is either unequivocally condemned or at least has a
dubious moral status.
The development of civilization has led to a decrease in interpersonal violence, from slavery and duels, through private armies, to allowing the right to the use of force only to states. Aggressive wars aimed at
territorial conquests have become increasingly unacceptable in Western
societies. The pacifist movement finds support in the expansion of trade
and the globalisation of the economy. However, there are still many
countries in the world which wage aggressive wars against each other,
and commit atrocities, which the democratic, individualistic societies
cannot efficiently suppress. In fact, they are unable to prevent terrorist attacks on their own territory. This inability stems from the reluctance on The concept of ‘war’ in the humanities 81 the part of democratic societies to take risks and hazard the lives of their
soldiers. If refraining from war is not possible, then the operation of the
international law should minimise the casualties. (As pointed out above,
the enforcement of such laws is often faulty, but the very emergence of
the concept and not necessarily its immediate and complete implementation seems an important development in the approach to war and its
Degeneration of the democratic system may lead to a situation in
which the only motivation behind a government’s decisions is its future
re-election. This, combined with the inclination of a liberal consumer society for peace and inaction may result in a replacement of democratic
mechanisms based on an informed public opinion with a populist demagogy awakening the primitive desire for a scapegoat by intensifying the
sense of constant threat.
The issue of the morality of war can be further complicated if we
consider the so-called humanitarian intervention. As in the contemporary
world every war may affect the functioning of the global economy and
threaten the security of other societies, the need for an intervention of a
third party into a bilateral conflict has increased significantly. The basic
moral question in this new situation remains a balance between the aims
and means employed to solve the conflict. The means may vary from
verbal (diplomatic intervention), through economic (an embargo) to military intervention. Even within military intervention further subdivisions
can be introduced, for example between an intervention conducted with
or without the permission of the government of the country in question.
As in the case of war the fundamental moral problem was the one between the myth of a hero and the necessity to deprive other humans of
life, so in the case of humanitarian intervention the primary problem is to
strike a balance between possible imperialistic intervention conducted in
the name of humanitarianism on the one hand and the parochialism of
consumer societies which...
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