These historic vessels—the Mothball Fleet—served their country in four wars: After a decade of impasse, the ghost fleet is slowly dwindling as the ships are towed out one-by-one for scrapping. About 15 retired ships are already gone; bythe entire fleet will be just a memory. Sneaking on-board required months of planning and coordination, and it involved taking significant risks.
It has seemed to me worth while to show from the history of civilization just what war has done and has not done for the welfare of mankind.
In the eighteenth century it was assumed that the primitive state of mankind was one of Arcadian peace, joy, and contentment.
In the nineteenth century the assumption went over to the other extreme — that the primitive state was one of universal warfare. This, like the former notion, is a great exaggeration. Man in the most primitive and uncivilized state known to us does not practice war all the time; he dreads it; he might rather be described as a peaceful animal.
Real warfare comes with the collisions of more developed societies. If we turn to facts about the least civilized men we find proofs that they are not warlike and do not practice war if they can help it.
The Australians have no idea Note. Their fights do not lead to slaughter or spoils or other consequences of victory. Quarrels between tribes are sometimes settled by a single combat between chiefs. They have no political organization, so there can be no war for power. An Englishman who knew them well said that he knew of serious wounds, but he had known of but one death from their affrays.
We are told Edition: Perhaps the converse would be true: We are not astonished to hear that they develop excessive tyranny and cruelty to those who are weaker than themselves, especially to women, and even to their mothers.
This is attributed in great part to head-hunting and cannibalism. In general they know the limits of their own territory and observe them, but they quarrel about women.
In one case only had he heard of war for any other reason; three brothers, Barolongs, fought over one woman, and their tribe had remained divided, up to the time of writing, into three parties.
During his residence in the Bechuana country he never saw unarmed men strike each other. They quarrel with words, but generally both parties burst into a laugh and that ends it.
A Spanish priest, writing an account, inof the Aurohuacos of Colombia, 5 says that they have no weapons of offense or defense. If two quarrel they go out to a big rock or tree and each with his staff beats the rock or tree with vituperations.
The one whose staff breaks first is the victor; then they embrace and return home as friends. Even our American Indians, who appear in Edition: Wampum strings and belts were associated with peace-pacts and with prayers for peace.
In contrast with these cases we find others of extreme warlikeness which account for the current idea that primitive men love war and practice it all the time.The Purdue University Online Writing Lab serves writers from around the world and the Purdue University Writing Lab helps writers on Purdue's campus.
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