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War Restores Truth


I understand now. Finally, once and for all, what the purpose of war is. The purpose of war is to destroy myths. The purpose of war is to restore human faith in cause and effect. The purpose of war is remind humankind of its limits. And now I understand how that can be a good thing.

That’s Cobb, riffing on the pretty lies we tell to make us feel like good people. Advertisers create illusions to sell products. Light beer or gallons of cheap body spray do not attract hot girls. But young men want to believe this is so. It’s essentially the same operation when a giant food corporation touts its new organic brand to upper middle class shoppers. Or when a political action group makes believe that computer word games actually help feed starving children.

The pretty lies accumulate on top of one another, until the whole structure collapses. It’s a pyramid scheme promising truth and virtue. But the physical world has physical laws. The lies lead people to misdirect their energy toward things that do not produce the promised results. Boys are lonely depsite the body spray, and kids starve depsite the mouse clicks.

Illusions do not solve problems. When pretend answers don’t work, people eventually return to the proven techniques of violence. This may not always work, and always comes with a high cost. But direct action is satisfying in a way that myths never can be.

I've never believed in the term 'senseless violence'. The only truly senseless violence is that generated by things without senses like volcanoes & tornadoes. People get violent because they sense a reason, even if that reason is only a belief, as in "I believe you need an ass-whooping today". That is purposeful action, Hurricane Katrina was not. People may decide not to grant any sensible purpose to an ass-whooping but they'd be wrong.