Swords... plowshares

Some ringing lines from the prophet Isaiah (verse 2.4) came to mind today :  

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Reading, thinking much about the "Great War" lately (as are many people these days).

Note how Isaiah specifies three aspects of war - singling them out for a future renunciation :

1)  the technology of war ("swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks").   This zeroes in on the special obscenity of modern warfare.  We are enslaved by our own mastery of technology : it has become so easy to kill a human being.  To commit mass murder.  The technology we make is our accomplice.

2)  the politics of war ("nation shall not lift up sword against nation").  The nation-state has become a sophisticated, polished machine of power-accumulation.  Power in the Machiavellian sense, for its own sake.  War is a means to this end.  Here war itself becomes the accomplice of centralized human viciousness (our pride, our vanity, our greed, our wrath, our fraudulence).

3)  the pedagogy of war ("neither shall they learn war any more").  Someday mankind will have to renounce the whole panoply of militarism and warcraft.  At present, we limit certain weapons as taboo, out of bounds (chemical weapons, nerve gas, land mines).  Thus we avoid the really difficult renunciation - to do away with the whole shimmering glory of arms and war science.  Isaiah can only project such a social transformation into an undefined future.... On that Day.

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