Substitutes for the Functions of War
By now it should be clear that the most detailed and comprehensive
master plan for a transition to world peace will remain academic if
it fails to deal forthrightly with the problem of the critical
nonmilitary functions of war.
The social needs they serve are
essential; if the war system no longer exists to meet them, substitute institutions will have to be established for the purpose.
These surrogates must be "realistic," which is to say of a scope and
nature that can be conceived and implemented in the context of
present-day social capabilities. This is not the truism it may
appear to be; the requirements of radical social change often reveal
the distinction between a most conservative projection and a wildly
utopian scheme to be fine indeed.
In this section we will consider some possible substitutes for these
functions. Only in rare instances have they been put forth for the
purposes which concern us here, but we see no reason to limit
ourselves to proposals that address themselves explicitly to the
problem as we have outlined it. We will disregard the ostensible, or
military, functions of war; it is a premise of this study that the
transition to peace implies absolutely that they will no longer
exist in any relevant sense.
We will also disregard the noncritical
functions exemplified at the end of the preceding section.
Economic surrogates for war must meet two principal criteria.
must be "wasteful," in the common sense of the word, and they must
operate outside the normal supply-demand system. A corollary that
should be obvious is that the magnitude of the waste must be
sufficient to meet the needs of a particular society. An economy as
advanced and complex as our own requires the planned average annual
destruction of not less than 10 percent of gross national product
 if it is effectively to fulfill its stabilizing function.
the mass of a balance wheel is inadequate to the power it is
intended to control, its effect can be self-defeating, as with a
runaway locomotive. The analogy, though crude,  is especially
apt for the American economy, as our record of cyclical depressions
shows. All have taken place during periods of grossly inadequate
Those few economic conversion programs which by implication
acknowledge the nonmilitary economic function of war (at least to
some extent) tend to assume that so-called social-welfare
expenditures will fill the vacuum created by the disappearance of
military spending. When one considers the backlog of unfinished
business - proposed but still unexecuted - in this field, the
assumption seems plausible.
Let us examine briefly the following
list, which is more or less typical of general social welfare
Health. Drastic expansion of medical research, education, and
training facilities; hospital and clinic construction; the general
objective of complete government-guaranteed health care for all, at
a level consistent with current developments in medical technology.
Education. The equivalent of the foregoing in teacher training;
schools and libraries; the drastic upgrading of standards, with the
general objective of making available for all an attainable
educational goal equivalent to what is now considered a professional
Housing. Clean, comfortable, safe, and spacious living space for
all, at the level now enjoyed by about 15 percent of the population
in this country (less in most others).
Transportation. The establishment of a system of mass public
transportation making it possible for all to travel to and from
areas of work and recreation quickly, comfortably, and conveniently,
and to travel privately for pleasure rather than necessity.
Physical environment. The development and protection of water
supplies, forests, parks, and other natural resources; the
elimination of chemical and bacterial contaminants from air, water,
Poverty. The genuine elimination of poverty, defined by a standard
consistent with current economic productivity, by means of
guaranteed annual income or whatever system of distribution will
best assure its achievement.
This is only a sampler of the more obvious domestic social welfare
items, and we have listed it in a deliberately broad, perhaps
In the past, such a vague and
ambitious-sounding "program" would have been dismissed out of hand,
without serious consideration; it would clearly have been, prima
facie, far too costly, quite apart from its political implications.
 Our objection to it, on the other hand, could hardly be more
contradictory. As an economic substitute for war, it is inadequate
because it would be far too cheap.
If this seems paradoxical, it must be remembered that up to now all
proposed social-welfare expenditures have had to be measured within
the war economy, not as a replacement for it. The old slogan about a
battleship or an ICBM costing as much as x hospitals or y schools or
z homes takes on a very different meaning if there are to be no more
battleships or ICBMís.
Since the list is general, we have elected to forestall the
tangential controversy that surrounds arbitrary cost projections by
offering no individual cost estimates. But the maximum program that
could be physically effected along the lines indicated could
approach the established level of military spending only for a
limited time - in our opinion, subject to a detailed
cost-and-feasibility analysis, less than ten years. In this short
period, at this rate, the major goals of the program would have been
achieved. Its capital-investment phase would have been completed,
and it would have established a permanent comparatively modest level
of annual operating cost - within the framework of the general
Here is the basic weakness of the social-welfare surrogate. On the
short-term basis, a maximum program of this sort could replace a
normal military spending program, provided it was designed, like the
military model, to be subject to arbitrary control. Public housing
starts, for example, or the development of modern medical centers
might be accelerated or halted from time to time, as the
requirements of a stable economy might dictate.
But on the long-term
basis, social-welfare spending, no matter how often redefined, would
necessarily become an integral, accepted part of the economy, of no
more value as a stabilizer than the automobile industry or old age
and survivorsí insurance. Apart from whatever merit social-welfare
programs are deemed to have for their own sake, their function as a
substitute for war in the economy would thus be self-liquidating.
They might serve, however, as expedients pending the development of
more durable substitute measures.
Another economic surrogate that has been proposed is a series of
giant "space research" programs. These have already demonstrated
their utility in more modest scale within the military economy. What
has been implied, although not yet expressly put forth, is the
development of a long-range sequence of space-research projects with
largely unattainable goals.
This kind of program offers several
advantages lacking in the social welfare model. First, it is
unlikely to phase itself out, regardless of the predictable
"surprises" science has in store for us: the universe is too big. In
the event some individual project unexpectedly succeeds there would
be no dearth of substitute problems. For example, if colonization of
the moon proceeds on schedule, it could then become "necessary" to
establish a beachhead on Mars or Jupiter, and so on. Second, it need
be no more dependent on the general supply-demand economy than its
military prototype. Third, it lends itself extraordinarily well to
Space research can be viewed as the nearest modern equivalent yet
devised to the pyramid-building, and similar ritualistic
enterprises, of ancient societies. It is true that the scientific
value of the space program, even of what has already been
accomplished, is substantial on its own terms. But current programs
are absurdly and obviously disproportionate, in the relationship of
the knowledge sought to the expenditures committed.
All but a small
fraction of the space budget, measured by the standards of
comparable scientific objectives, must be charged de facto to the
military economy. Future space research, projected as a war
surrogate, would further reduce the the "scientific" rationale of
its budget to a minuscule percentage indeed. As a purely economic
substitute for war, therefore, extension of the space program
warrants serious consideration.
In Section 3 we pointed out that certain disarmament models, which
we called conservative, postulated extremely expensive and elaborate
inspection systems. Would it be possible to extend and
institutionalize such systems to the point where they might serve as
economic surrogates for war spending? The organization of failsafe
inspection machinery could well be ritualized in a manner similar to
that of established military processes. "Inspection teams" might be
very like armies, and their technical equipment might be very like
weapons. Inflating the inspection budget to military scale presents
no difficulty. The appeal of this kind of scheme lies in the
comparative ease of transition between two parallel systems.
The "elaborate inspection" surrogate is fundamentally fallacious,
however. Although it might be economically useful, as well as
politically necessary, during the disarmament transition, it would
fail as a substitute for the economic function of war for one simple
reason. Peacekeeping inspection is part of a war system, not of a
peace system. It implies the possibility of weapons maintenance or
manufacture, which could not exist in a world at peace as here
defined. Massive inspection also implies sanctions, and thus
The same fallacy is more obvious in plans to create a patently
useless "defense conversion" apparatus. The long-discredited
proposal to build "total" civil defense facilities is one example;
another is the plan to establish a giant antimissile missile complex
(Nike-X, et al.). These programs, of course, are economic rather
than strategic. Nevertheless, they are not substitutes for military
spending but merely different forms of it.
A more sophisticated variant is the proposal to establish the
"Unarmed Forces" of the United States.  This would conveniently
maintain the entire institutional military structure, redirecting it
essentially toward social-welfare activities on a global scale. It
would be, in effect, a giant military Peace Corps. There is nothing
inherently unworkable about this plan, and using the existing
military system to effectuate its own demise is both ingenious and
convenient. But even on a greatly magnified world basis,
social-welfare expenditures must sooner or later reenter the
atmosphere of the normal economy.
The practical transitional virtues
of such a scheme would thus be eventually negated by its inadequacy
as a permanent economic stabilizer.
The war system makes the stable government of societies possible. It
does this essentially by providing an external necessity for a
society to accept political rule.
In so doing, it establishes the
basis for nationhood and the authority of government to control its
constituents. What other institution or combination of programs
might serve these functions in its place?
We have already pointed out that the end of war means the end of
national sovereignty, and thus the end of nationhood as we know it
today. But this does not necessarily mean the end of nations in the
administrative sense, and internal political power will remain
essential to a stable society. The emerging "nations" of the peace
epoch must continue to draw political authority from some source.
A number of proposals have been made governing the relations between
nations after total disarmament; all are basically juridical in
nature. They contemplate institutions more or less like a World
Court, or a United Nations, but vested with real authority. They may
or may not serve their ostensible postmilitary purpose of settling
international disputes, but we need not discuss that here.
would offer effective external pressure on a peace-world nation to
organize itself politically.
It might be argued that a well-armed international police force,
operating under the authority of such a supranational "court," could
well serve the function of external enemy. This, however, would
constitute a military operation, like the inspection schemes
mentioned, and, like them, would be inconsistent with the premise of
an end to the war system. It is possible that a variant of the
"Unarmed Forces" idea might be developed in such a way that its
"constructive" (i.e., social welfare) activities could be combined
with an economic "threat" of sufficient size and credibility to
warrant political organization.
Would this kind of threat also be
contradictory to our central premise? - that is, would it be
inevitably military? Not necessarily, in our view, but we are
skeptical of its capacity to evoke credibility. Also, the obvious
destabilizing effect of any global social welfare surrogate on
politically necessary class relationships would create an entirely
new set of transition problems at least equal in magnitude.
Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing
a political substitute for war. This is where the space-race
proposals, in many ways so well suited as economic substitutes for
war, fall short. The most ambitious and unrealistic space project
cannot of itself generate a believable external menace. It has been
hotly argued  that such a menace would offer the "last, best
hope of peace," etc., by uniting mankind against the danger of
destruction by "creatures" from other planets or from outer space.
Experiments have been proposed to test
the credibility of an out-of-our-world invasion threat; it is
possible that a few of the more difficult-to-explain "flying saucer"
incidents of recent years were in fact early experiments of this
kind. If so, they could hardly have been judged encouraging. We
anticipate no difficulties in making a "need" for a giant super
space program credible for economic purposes, even were there not
ample precedent; extending it, for political purposes, to include
features unfortunately associated with science fiction would
obviously be a more dubious undertaking.
Nevertheless, an effective political substitute for war would
require "alternate enemies," some of which might seem equally
farfetched in the context of the current war system. It may be, for
instance, that gross pollution of the environment can eventually
replace the possibility of mass destruction by nuclear weapons as
the principal apparent threat to the survival of the species.
Poisoning of the air, and of the
principal sources of food and water supply, is already well
advanced, and at first glance would seem promising in this respect;
it constitutes a threat that can be dealt with only through social
organization and political power. But from present indications it
will be a generation to a generation and a half before environmental
pollution, however severe, will be sufficiently menacing, on a
global scale, to offer a possible basis for a solution.
It is true that the rate of pollution could be increased selectively
for this purpose; in fact, the mere modifying of existing programs
for the deterrence of pollution could speed up the process enough to
make the threat credible much sooner. But the pollution problem has
been so widely publicized in recent years that it seems highly
improbable that a program of deliberate environmental poisoning
could be implemented in a politically acceptable manner.
However unlikely some of the possible alternate enemies we have
mentioned may seem, we must emphasize that one must be found, of
credible quality and magnitude, if a transition to peace is ever to
come about without social disintegration. It is more probable, in
our judgment, that such a threat will have to be invented, rather
than developed from unknown conditions. For this reason, we believe
further speculation about its putative nature ill-advised in this
Since there is considerable doubt, in our minds, that any
viable political surrogate can be devised, we are reluctant to
compromise, by premature discussion, any possible option that may
eventually lie open to our government.
Of the many functions of war we have found convenient to group
together in this classification, two are critical. In a world of
peace, the continuing stability of society will require:
effective substitute for military institutions that can neutralize
destabilizing social elements and
2) a credible motivational
surrogate for war that can insure social cohesiveness.
The first is
an essential element of social control; the second is the basic
mechanism for adapting individual human drives to the needs of
Most proposals that address themselves, explicitly or otherwise, to
the postwar problem of controlling the socially alienated turn to
some variant of the Peace Corps or the so-called
Job Corps for a
The socially disaffected, the economically unprepared, the
psychologically unconformable, the hard-core "delinquents," the
incorrigible "subversives," and the rest of the unemployable are
seen as somehow transformed by the disciplines of a service modeled
on military precedent into more or less dedicated social service
workers. This presumption also informs the otherwise hardheaded
ratiocination of the "Unarmed Forces" plan.
The problem has been addressed, in the language of popular
sociology, by Secretary McNamara.
"Even in our abundant societies,
we have reason enough to worry over the tensions that coil and
tighten among underprivileged young people, and finally flail out in
delinquency and crime. What are we to expect ... where mounting
frustrations are likely to fester into eruptions of violence and
In a seemingly unrelated passage, he continues:
"It seems to me that we could move toward remedying that inequity
[of the Selective Service System] by asking every young person in
the United States to give two years of service to his country -
whether in one of the military services, in the Peace Corps, or in
some other volunteer developmental work at home or abroad. We could
encourage other countries to do the same." 
Here, as elsewhere throughout this significant speech,
has focused, indirectly but unmistakably, on one of the key issues
bearing on a possible transition to peace, and has later indicated,
also indirectly, a rough approach to its resolution, again phrased
in the language of the current war system.
It seems clear that Mr. McNamara and other proponents of the
peace-corps surrogate for this war function lean heavily on the
success of the paramilitary Depression programs mentioned in the
We find the precedent wholly inadequate in degree.
Neither the lack of relevant precedent, however, nor the dubious
social-welfare sentimentality characterizing this approach warrant
its rejection without careful study. It may be viable - provided,
first, that the military origin of the Corps format be effectively
rendered out of its operational activity, and second, that the
transition from paramilitary activities to "developmental work" can
be effected without regard to the attitudes of the Corps personnel
or to the "value" of the work it is expected to perform.
Another possible surrogate for the control of potential enemies of
society is the reintroduction, in some form consistent with modern
technology and political processes, of slavery. Up to now, this has
been suggested only in fiction, notably in the works of Wells,
Huxley, Orwell, and others engaged in the imaginative anticipation
of the sociology of the future. But the fantasies projected in Brave
New World and 1984 have seemed less and less implausible over the
years since their publication.
The traditional association of
slavery with ancient preindustrial cultures should not blind us to
its adaptability to advanced forms of social organization, nor
should its equally traditional incompatibility with Western moral
and economic values. It is entirely possible that the development of
a sophisticated form of slavery may be an absolute prerequisite for
social control in a world at peace. As a practical matter,
conversion of the code of military discipline to a euphemized form
of enslavement would entail surprisingly little revision; the
logical first step would be the adoption of some form of "universal"
When it comes to postulating a credible substitute for war capable
of directing human behavior patterns in behalf of social
organization, few options suggest themselves. Like its political
function, the motivational function of war requires the existence of
a genuinely menacing social enemy. The principal difference is that
for purposes of motivating basic allegiance, as distinct from
accepting political authority, the "alternate enemy" must imply a
more immediate, tangible, and directly felt threat of destruction.
It must justify the need for taking and paying a "blood price" in
wide areas of human concern.
In this respect, the possible substitute enemies noted earlier would
be insufficient. One exception might be the environmental-pollution
model, if the danger to society it posed was genuinely imminent. The
fictive models would have to carry the weight of extraordinary
conviction, underscored with a not inconsiderable actual sacrifice
of life; the construction of an up-to-date mythological or
structure for this purpose would present difficulties in our era,
but must certainly be considered.
Games theorists have suggested, in other contexts, the development
of "blood games" for the effective control of individual aggressive
impulses. It is an ironic commentary on the current state of war and
peace studies that it was left not to scientists but to the makers
of a commercial film  to develop a model for this notion, on the
implausible level of popular melodrama, as a ritualized manhunt.
More realistically, such a ritual might be socialized, in the manner
of the Spanish Inquisition and the less formal witch trials of other
periods, for purposes of "social purification," "state security," or
other rationale both acceptable and credible to postwar societies.
The feasibility of such an updated version of still another ancient
institution, though doubtful, is considerably less fanciful than the
wishful notion of many peace planners that a lasting condition of
peace can be brought about without the most painstaking examination
of every possible surrogate for the essential functions of war. What
is involved here, in a sense, is the quest for William Jamesís
"moral equivalent of war."
It is also possible that the two functions considered under this
heading may be jointly served, in the sense of establishing the
antisocial, for whom a control institution is needed, as the
"alternate enemy" needed to hold society together. The relentless
and irreversible advance of unemployability at all levels of
society, and the similar extension of generalized alienation from
accepted values  may make some such program necessary even as an
adjunct to the war system.
As before, we will not speculate on the
specific forms this kind of program might take, except to note that
there is again ample precedent, in the treatment meted out to
disfavored, allegedly menacing, ethnic groups in certain societies
during historical periods. 
Considering the the shortcomings of war as a mechanism of selective
population control, it might appear that devising substitutes for
this function should be comparatively simple. Schematically this so,
but the problem of timing the transition to a new ecological
balancing device makes the feasibility of substitution less certain.
It must be remembered that the limitation of war in this function is
entirely eugenic. War has not been genetically progressive. But as a
system of gross population control to preserve the species it cannot
fairly be faulted. And, as has been pointed out, the nature of war
is itself in transition. Current trends in warfare - the increased
strategic bombing of civilians and the greater military importance
now attached to the destruction of sources of supply (as opposed to
purely "military" bases and personnel) - strongly suggest that a
truly qualitative improvement is in the making. Assuming the war
system is to continue, it is more than probable that the
regressively selective quality of war will have been reversed, as
its victims become more genetically representative of their
There is no question but that a universal requirement that
procreation be limited to the products of artificial insemination
would provide a fully adequate substitute control for population
levels. Such a reproductive system would, of course, have the added
advantage of being susceptible of direct eugenic management. Its
predictable further development - conception and embryonic growth
taking place wholly under laboratory conditions - would extend these
controls to their logical conclusion. The ecological function of war
under these circumstances would not only be superseded but surpassed
The indicated intermediate step - total control of conception with a
variant of the ubiquitous "pill," via water supplies or certain
essential foodstuffs, offset by a controlled "antidote" -
under development.  There would appear to be no foreseeable need
to revert to any of the outmoded practices referred to in the
previous section (infanticide, etc.) as there might have been if the
possibility of transition to peace had arisen two generations ago.
The real question here, therefore, does not concern the viability of
this war substitute, but the political problems involved in bringing
it about. It cannot be established while the war system is still in
effect. The reason for this is simple: excess population is war
material. As long as any society must contemplate even a remote
possibility of war, it must maintain a maximum supportable
population, even when so doing critically aggravates an economic
liability. This is paradoxical, in view of warís role in reducing
excess population, but it is readily understood. War controls the
general population level, but the ecological interest of any single
society lies in maintaining its hegemony vis-a-vis other societies.
The obvious analogy can be seen in any free-enterprise economy.
Practices damaging to the society as a whole - both competitive and
monopolistic - are abetted by the conflicting economic motives of
individual capital interests. The obvious precedent can be found in
the seemingly irrational political difficulties which have blocked
universal adoption of simple birth-control methods. Nations
desperately in need of increasing unfavorable production-consumption
ratios are nevertheless unwilling to gamble their possible military
requirements of twenty years hence for this purpose. Unilateral
population control, as practiced in ancient Japan and in other
isolated societies, is out of the question in todayís world.
Since the eugenic solution cannot be achieved until the transition
to the peace system takes place, why not wait? One must qualify the
inclination to agree. As we noted earlier, a real possibility of an
unprecedented global crisis of insufficiency exists today, which the
war system may not be able to forestall. If this should come to pass
before an agreed-upon transition to peace were completed, the result
might be irrevocably disastrous. There is clearly no solution to
this dilemma; it is a risk which must be taken. But it tends to
support the view that if a decision is made to eliminate the war
system, it were better done sooner than later.
Cultural and Scientific
Strictly speaking, the function of war as the determinant of
cultural values and as the prime mover of scientific progress may
not be critical in a world without war.
Our criterion for the basic
nonmilitary functions of war has been: Are they necessary to the
survival and stability of society? The absolute need for substitute
cultural value-determinants and for the continued advance of
scientific knowledge is not established. We believe it important,
however, in behalf of those for whom these functions hold subjective
significance, that it be known what they can reasonably expect in
culture and science after a transition to peace.
So far as the creative arts are concerned, there is no reason to
believe they would disappear, but only that they would change in
character and relative social importance. The elimination of war
would in due course deprive them of their principal conative force,
but it would necessarily take some time for the effect of this
withdrawal to be felt. During the transition, and perhaps for a
generation thereafter, themes of sociomoral conflict inspired by the
war system would be increasingly transferred to the idiom of purely
At the same time, a new aesthetic would have
to develop. Whatever its name, form, or rationale, its function
would be to express, in language appropriate to the new period, the
once discredited philosophy that art exists for its own sake. This
aesthetic would reject unequivocally the classic requirement of
paramilitary conflict as the substantive content of great art.
eventual effect of the peace-world philosophy of art would be
democratizing in the extreme, in the sense that a generally
acknowledged subjectivity of artistic standards would equalize their
new, content-free "values."
What may be expected to happen is that art would be reassigned the
role it once played in a few primitive peace-oriented systems. This
was the function of pure decoration, entertainment, or play,
entirely free of the burden of expressing the sociomoral values and
conflicts of a war-oriented society. It is interesting that the
groundwork for such a value-free aesthetic is already being laid
today, in growing experimentation in art without content, perhaps in
anticipation of a world without conflict.
A cult has developed
around a new kind of cultural determinism,  which proposes that
the technological form of a cultural expression determines its
values rather than does its ostensibly meaningful content. Its clear
implication is that there is no "good" or "bad" art, only that which
is appropriate to its (technological) times and that which is not.
Its cultural effect has been to promote circumstantial constructions
and unplanned expressions; it denies to art the relevance of
sequential logic. Its significance in this context is that it
provides a working model of one kind of value-free culture we might
reasonably anticipate in a world at peace.
So far as science is concerned, it might appear at first glance that
a giant space-research program, the most promising among the
proposed economic surrogates for war, might also serve as the basic
stimulator of scientific research. The lack of fundamental organized
social conflict inherent in space work, however, would rule it out
as an adequate motivational substitute for war when applied to
"pure" science. But it could no doubt sustain the broad range of
technological activity that a space budget of military dimensions
A similarly scaled social-welfare program could
provide a comparable impetus to low-keyed technological advances,
especially in medicine, rationalized construction methods,
educational psychology, etc. The eugenic substitute for the
ecological function of war would also require continuing research in
certain areas of the life sciences.
Apart from these partial substitutes for war, it must be kept in
mind that the momentum given to scientific progress by the great
wars of the past century, and even more by the anticipation of World
War III, is intellectually and materially enormous. It is our
finding that if the war system were to end tomorrow this momentum is
so great that the pursuit of scientific knowledge could reasonably
be expected to go forward without noticeable diminution for perhaps
two decades. 
It would then continue, at a progressively
decreasing tempo, for at least another two decades before the "bank
account" of todayís unresolved problems would become exhausted. By
the standards of the questions we have learned to ask today, there
would no longer be anything worth knowing still unknown; we cannot
conceive, by definition, of the scientific questions to ask once
those we can not comprehend are answered.
This leads unavoidably to another matter: the intrinsic value of the
unlimited search for knowledge. We of course offer no independent
value judgments here, but it is germane to point out that a
substantial minority of scientific opinion feels that search to be
circumscribed in any case. This opinion is itself a factor in
considering the need for a substitute for the scientific function of
war. For the record, we must also take note of the precedent that
during long periods of human history, often covering thousands of
years, in which no intrinsic social value was assigned to scientific
progress, stable societies did survive and flourish.
could not have been possible in the modern industrial world, we
cannot be certain it may not again be true in a future world at
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