a reading sample:
CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC
The declared order of values in modern societies gives a high place to the so- called “creative” activities, and an even higher one to those associated with the advance of scientific knowledge. Widely held social values can be translated into political equivalents, which in turn may bear on the nature of a transition to peace. The attitudes of those who hold these values must be taken into account in the planning of the transition. The dependence, therefore, of cultural and scientific achievement on the war system would be an important consideration in a transition plan even is such achievement had no inherently necessary social function.
Of all the countless dichotomies invented by scholars to account for the major differences in art styles and cycles, only one has been consistently unambiguous in its application to a variety of forms and cultures. However it may be verbalized, the basic distinction is this: Is the work war-oriented or is it not? Among primitive peoples, the war dance is the most important art form. Elsewhere, literature, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture that has won lasting acceptance has invariably dealt with a theme of war, expressly or implicitly, and has expressed the centricity of war to society. The war in question may be national conflict, as in Shakespeare plays, Beethoven’s music, or Goya’s paintings, or it may be reflected in the form of religious, social, or moral struggle, as in the work of Dante, Rembrandt, and Bach. Art that cannot be classified as war-oriented is usually described as “sterile,” “decadent,” and so on. Application of the “war standard” to works of art may often leave room for debate in individual cases, but there is no question of its role as the fundamental determinant of cultural values. Aesthetic and moral standards have a common anthropological origin, in the exaltation of bravery, the willingness to kill and risk death in tribal warfare.
It is also instructive to note that the character of a society’s culture has borne a close relationship to its war-making potential, in the context of its times. It is no accident that the current “cultural explosion” in the United States is taking place during an era marked by an unusually rapid advance in weaponry. This relationship is more generally recognized than the literature on the subject
would suggest. For example, many artists and writers are now beginning to express concern over the limited creative options they envisage in the warless world they think, or hope, may be soon upon us. They are currently preparing for this possibility by unprecedented experimentation with meaningless forms; their interest in recent years has been increasingly engaged by the abstract pattern, the gratuitous emotion, the random happening, and the unrelated sequence.
The relationship of war to scientific research and discovery is more explicit. War is the principal motivational force for the development of science at every level, from the abstractly conceptual to the narrowly technological. Modern society places a high value on “pure” science, but it is historically inescapable that all the significant discoveries that have been made about the natural world have been inspired by the real or imaginary military necessities of their epochs. The consequences of the discoveries have indeed gone far afield, but war has always provided the basic incentive.
Beginning with the development of iron and steel, and proceeding through the discoveries of the laws of motion and thermodynamics to the age of the atomic particle, the synthetic polymer, and the space capsule, no important scientific advance has not been at least indirectly initiated by an implicit requirement of weaponry. More prosaic examples include the transistor radio (an outgrowth of military communications requirements), the assembly line (from Civil War firearms needs), the steel-frame building (from the steel battleship), the canal lock, and so on. A typical adaptation can be seen in a device as modest as the common lawnmower; it developed from the revolving scythe devised by Leonardo da Vinci to precede a horse-powered vehicle into enemy ranks.
The most direct relationship can be found in medical technology. For example, a giant “walking machine,” and amplifier of body motions invented for military use in difficult terrain, is now making it possible for many previously con- fined to wheelchairs to walk. The Vietnam war alone has led to spectacular improvements in amputation procedures, blood-handling techniques, and surgical logistics. It has stimulated new large-scale research on malaria and other typical parasite diseases; it is hard to estimate how long this t? Amoould otherwise have been delayed, despite its enormous nonmilitary importance to nearly half the world’s population.