|THE PSYCHOLOGY OF WAR|
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, IOWA CITY
FROM the flood of writings called out by the war in Europe, a few things have become fairly clear. For instance, it is evident that this is the most costly and the most tragic of all the wars of history, that it has proceeded from the least apparent causes, and that it has come in the face of new and powerful forces making for peace.
But these facts, if such they be, reveal a situation which to the sociologist is more than puzzling, it is amazing. If, as Norman Angell has shown, modern wars are wholly futile so far as the possibility of bringing any kind of gain to the victorious nation is concerned; if war is contrary to the spirit of the age, which is no longer martial, but industrial, commercial and humanitarian; if the contrast between the brutality of war and the culture and refinement of the age is so great that war has become grotesque and anomalous; if the present war is the outgrowth of political rivalries which have largely lost their significance owing to the fact that nearly all present vital human interests have widened out beyond the mere political boundaries of the state and become international in their scope; and if, finally, the nations in order to carry on the war are assuming a debt so crushing that posterity can not exist unless the debt is repudiated in whole or in part, why, then, it would appear that the whole European world has gone insane.
But the student of history and of psychology will look at the matter in quite a different way. He will see that the history of mankind for thousands of years has been a history of incessant warfare and that the new economic and industrial conditions which have made war irrational are not more than about one hundred years old, while the human brain is practically the same old brain of our fathers and forefathers, deeply stamped with ancestral traits and primitive instincts, which can not thus suddenly be outgrown. It is society which has suddenly changed, not the units of society.
Ever since the war began, sociologists, economists, philosophers and political theorists have tried their hands at explaining the causes of the war and with small success. Its roots must be sought in psychology and anthropology.
The anthropologist and historian will review the situation somewhat as follows: The rivalries between nations with their mutual suspicion, distrust and hatred leading to the clash of arms is the survival