Freud – Why War?
The answer Freud gives to the question of why war exists is that it is a part of how humans interact. He recognizes that humanity provides room for a diverse group of opinions and war or violence is a way of dealing with those conflicts. Since it has been a part of humanity from the beginning it has helped to form the societies and cultures that have arisen since time immemorial.
Freud identifies two essential human forces. Those of love and hate, associated with those are also life and death. He agrees with Augustine that people only want peace, even war mongers just want things to be their way and use war as a way of asserting their desires. Freud goes on to make the case that there are two ways to have peace, through coercion or through connections between people.
This brings me to the most interesting quote of the whole work. “Whatever fosters the growth of culture works at the same time against war.” I believe this force is connections between people. Would Hitler have done what he did if he had a deep connection with a Jewish friend?
Freud however, makes the point that the most peaceful times have been during the reign of a strong central government. This brings me back to Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, who only wanted a strong central government that would ensure the happiness of all people. So perhaps the way of Jesus is to offer a deep connection to the people around us. The idea of turning the other cheek and loving my neighbour as myself are indicative of this line of thought.
Here is the question; can people get along without someone telling them what to do? Jesus thought yes if they kept an image of him in mind. Freud and the Grand Inquisitor thought no.