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“The ideas for which we die have a right to truth”
(and other papers on the sacrificial meaning of warfare)
Part II: Fornari - Lockwood
Franco Fornari says that war is the establishment of a situation in which “death assumes absolute value.” Warfare seeks to validate the truth. What we die for must be real and true; what we kill for must be real and true. If there were nothing to kill or die for, would anything be true?

Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed that the faith that leads a soldier to throw away his life is “true and adorable.” This was especially true if the soldier was obedient to a “blindly accepted duty,” dying for a “cause that he little understands,” in a campaign under tactics of which “he does not see the use.”

This is the clamor of those that wage or seek to wage war: “something to kill and die for;” “something to kill and die for:” “something to kill and die for.”

Warfare has nothing to do with “genes” and has no adaptive value. War is undertaken as a desperate spiritual quest.

Please take your time reviewing the list of items below.
Then click through to read any document.
Fornari, Franco
The Psychoanalysis of War (Book Excerpts)
  “War is a spectacular establishment of a general human situation whereby death assumes absolute value: the ideas for which we die have a right to truth, because death becomes a demonstrative process.”
Griffin, Roger
The Meaning of ‘Sacrifice’ in the First World War
  It was as if the fantasy of redemption through sacrifice—stubbornly entertained by both fighters and onlookers—was fueled rather than quenched by the blood of the fallen, like pouring oil on flames. The whole war can be seen as a collective act of redemptive self-sacrifice—transcendent meaning produced by the relentless flow of blood.
Hauerwas, Stanley
Sacrificing the Sacrifices of War (Paper)
  I think it is a mistake to focus only on the sacrifice of life that war requires. War also requires that we sacrifice our normal unwillingness to kill. The sacrifice of our unwillingness to kill is but the dark side of the willingness in war to be killed.
Holmes Jr., Oliver Wendell
The Soldier's Faith (Speech)
  “In the midst of doubt, the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.”
Howard, Michael
Men against Fire: Expectations of War in 1914 (Paper)
  The British, the French, and the German armies all thought it worth their while to produce multi-volume histories of the Russo-Japanese War, and for the next ten years, the lesson were analyzed in the most precise details by pundits writing in military periodicals. It was neither the Boer War nor the American Civil War nor even the Franco-Prussian War that European military specialists had in mind when their armies deployed in 1914: it was the fighting in Manchuria of 1904-5.
Kahn, Paul
Political Evil: Killing, Sacrifice, and the Image of God (Chapter 5 of Out of Eden)
  “The willingness to sacrifice for the creation and maintenance of political meanings always appears inconceivable to those outside of the community.”
Torture and International Law (Chapter 2 of Sacred Violence)
  “We have not so much abandoned the practice of torture as shifted its locus. The battlefield is strewn with the disemboweled and beheaded, with severed limbs and broken bodies. All have died a terrible death in a display of sovereign power. To view the battlefield is to witness the awesome power of the sovereign to occupy and destroy the finite body; to stand before the modern, democratic equivalent of the spectacle of the scaffold.”
Lecomte-Tilouine, Marie
“KILL ONE, HE BECOMES ONE HUNDRED”: Martyrdom as Generative Sacrifice in the Nepal People’s War (Paper)
  In Nepal, war is a sacrifice. The warrior maintains a direct and unique relationship with the divine, since in warfare he makes a sacrificial gift of his own person, the bali dân—a gift that results in a ‘noble death’. The warrior can offer the sacrifice or be offered in sacrifice.
Martyrs and Living Martyrs of the People’s War in Nepal (Paper)
  In Nepal, the Maoists' armed wing (PLA) developed as a collective of martyrs-to-be, whose example was disseminated as soon as they fell through tributes, poems and ceremonies. Its dynamic relied on self-sacrifice rather than any heroic prowess, and acquired a strong power of attraction in that it fundamentally asserts that anyone, whether illiterate, poor or of the lowest status, is of ‘priceless’ value, and can contribute to the project to change the order of things by putting their lives at stake.
Library of Social Science
Review Essay of Ivan Strenski's Book Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism, and Social Thought in France
  Nationalists attacked the deplorable state of French morale. Intellectuals were derided for “egoism” and “lazy melancholy;” workers for lack of enthusiasm for collective causes. War represented a spiritual force that would “bind citizens into common service for the nation,” incubating a spirit of national unity. Just as Jesus’ death cleansed the sins of humanity, so common soldiers’ self-sacrifices were seen as expiation for France’s sins.
Review Essay of Ruth Stein's Book For Love of the Father: A Psychoanalytic Study of Religious Terrorism
  Collective forms of violence are perpetuated in the name of an ideal that binds the group together and functions to “sanctify the actions of a (collective) perpetrator on a (collective) victim.” Large scale forms of violence are undertaken in the name of an ideal object that can move groups to decree the liquidation of anything that “challenges its validity and superiority.” Forms of behavior deemed criminal on the individual level may be “condoned and encouraged when perpetrated collectively.”
Linderman, Gerald F.
Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (Book Excerpts)
  “The linkage between honor and courage manifested itself in Civil War solders’ frequent referenced to the 'honorable death'—inevitably the courageous death— and the ‘honorable wound’—inevitably suffered in the course of courageous action.”
Lockwood, Renee
The Meaning of ‘Sacrifice’ in the First World War
  It has often been acknowledged that nations are born of war. Yet recent scholarship suggests that it is not the sacrifice of the enemy that creates a unified group identity, but the sacrifice of the group’s own. This essay demonstrates the truth of this hypothesis on the basis of two primary case studies: the ‘sacrifices’ made at Gallipoli and Masada.