10/23/07

Gangs, war, and the small life

First, let’s dispense with the idea of a gang as a special mode of organization. It’s a tribe, maybe a clan. Also recognizable in its primate nature, it’s always at war.
This fact alone is enough to doom it to the tiniest life that can still be called human. Like every other society at war, it’s missing ninety percent of the interesting potential of human interaction and individual pleasure.
When a group goes to war, the US is a current example, it agrees within itself that the war is more important than most of the good things of human life--idle pleasure; medical progress; philosophy; art beyond the sentimental, patriotic, and memorial; politics as a tool of protecting its members.
Just to focus on art, wars seem not to produce the riskiest, subtlest, or even more durable work. True, great art can be about war, but it’s not created in the frightened society at war, only later. Wars narrow the potential for creating beauty. Xenophobia makes taboo the remote and contingent; only exoteric patriotism is allowed. Because of the forced groupthink of a social unit at war, the continual experiment at the edges that produces or discovers beauty is crippled.
This groupthink, so useful for fighting as a cohesive unit, is the death of the artist. Likewise, the surplus resources that go to art dry up or are diverted to the war.
The group no longer affords itself the decadence of models, parties other than r&r for the troops, cosmopolitan curiosities, or novelty. All these are too risky for the frightened. And make no mistake, people at war are frightened or are at least forced to act frightened. When you're caught in the rain, you’re expected to duck your head and act uncomfortable, to show you’re sane and chagrined. The same social pressure applies in spades during wartime. Anyone who doesn’t share the emotional decision that the group’s members are in danger, is thought crazy or subversive.
Warriors never get to enjoy the wider world, until their group stops the war.

1 comment:

I love said...

I was thinking almost the opposite,that people are more motivated,at the threat of war,even if the actual bombs are dropping far away.
"Nature springs her last in a war."
I am not convinced that the majority of any population actually wants war, ever.