David SimsEssays

When War is Morally Right


by David Sims

NATURE’S LAWS—most fundamentally the conservation of energy—make it unlikely that any living thing, humans included, can avoid competitions with other living things. It would be impossible, instead of merely unlikely, if humans didn’t have access to an abundance of fossil fuels. Even with fossil fuels, the dealings of human groups with other human groups is generally characterized by the kind of competition that can become seriously violent.

It happens because living populations grow to the limits of the available food supply, after which they either curb their exuberance and sustain a balance between the birth rate and the death rate—a condition that involves in-group competition, with poverty and an early grave for the losers—or else they try to take additional food away from some other group.

In history, there are few, if any, exceptions. A population grows until it presses the limit of its food supply, and then there is the Hard Choice of whether to endure perpetual poverty or fight other populations, either as an empire or as migratory groups, for more territory. In practice, there has seldom been any actual choosing. Strong nations went to war. Weak ones suffered until a foreign conqueror put an end to their suffering by exterminating most and enslaving the rest.

That’s how things really are. Still. Even in the year 2015. With one exception. In modern times, a certain strong group—the White race—was induced by a very clever weaker group to abjure conquest for what the weaker group assured us were “moral reasons.” As the result of its misguided choice, that strong group is no longer so strong as it was, and its proportion of the world’s human population fell from 25% to about 8% over the course of about 100 years. The weaker group acquired minions (liberals) among the stronger group by seducing them with a rosy-sounding ideology full of sugarphrases: universal brotherhood, racial equality, human rights, etc.

It’s easy to mentally gloss over basic issues, such as energy transport or transfer between organisms, when one wants very badly to believe that cherished humanitarian goals are possible “if only” biological organisms were what they are not, or “if only” people weren’t organisms, or “if only” enlightened persons such as oneself could control the choices of everyone else. But one would be avoiding reality.

Robert Heinlein considered the morality of war and reasoned out several things that many have yet to see. If you want to read his summary, woven into fiction, read Starship Troopers. [1] The most relevant passage begins about one third of the way into Chapter 12: “Well, why should I fight? Wasn’t it preposterous…” A lot of people with liberal sentiments don’t like that passage, and they cavil about it, thinking that they’ve out-thought Heinlein—but they have not. Quite the reverse: Heinlein out-thought them.

If liberals examined their views for unstated assumptions, they’d find these two, among others: (1) the world has an infinity of vital resources, which can be drawn at an arbitrarily high rate, (2) populations can be limited by voluntary measures. Both of those assumptions are false. The first one can be seen to be false, by most people (even by most liberals) once it is clearly stated, once it is no longer held in emotional suppression.

The second assumption can be proved false with an understanding of how evolution by natural selection works. I refer you to the arguments of Garrett Hardin, who explained that voluntary efforts in population control always fail because the “responsible” people who limit their births get out-bred and replaced by the “irresponsible” people, who continue to reproduce rapidly. Whatever had enabled the responsible people to restrain themselves disappears from the gene pool. [2]

While Hardin didn’t take his argument to the level of international competitions, it isn’t difficult to do so. Let’s suppose that Country A limits births, while Country B does not. Before long, Country B has lots of hungry people, while Country A has plenty for all. Country B would like to invade Country A and take its food for themselves, but Country A has powerful technological weapons that makes up for its lower population and, hence, for its fewer soldiers. Then one day the oil wells dry up, and Country A’s technological weapons don’t work anymore. Country B invades country A, and Country A’s population promptly goes from limited (by birth control) to zero (by military genocide). [3]

Man’s intelligence, being without peer on Earth, has prevented any natural predator from keeping his numbers in check. Furthermore, the “tragedy of the commons” noticed by Hardin makes any voluntary effort in population control fail, sooner or later. Man must supply his own predation. We are actually supposed to partition ourselves into groups, and each group is supposed to engage in low-tech warfare against other groups, with weapons that operate by human muscle power, augmented by clever tactics on the battlefield. The longterm effect of this human-on-human predation will be to control the global population, as the winners kill the losers on an ongoing basis, while improving the breed, since the winners will tend to be the stronger and smarter groups. [4]

Nature does this same thing, except in every other case, the predators and the prey belong to different species. The results, with regard to what survives, are generally good. Most wild animals are adaptively fit, energetic, and healthy. Much more so than man, who for three centuries has exosomatized his worth. When fossil fuel energy began to be used on a large scale, and when money brought privileged access to this energy (and to things made with it), the measure of man moved from his genes to his bank accounts, from his blood to his wallet, from what he is to what he owns. And as his material wealth grew, man’s biological quality dwindled.

We have had, and have wasted, our chance to improve the human breed without the necessity of war. We could have used fossil fuel energy to augment our development, but instead we used it to undo it. Eugenics could have made us stronger and smarter by design. No, not with high-tech genetic engineering, but simply by encouraging more children from the better people and by discouraging births among the inferior. Instead, our social welfare systems did everything wrong and backwards. So we have more fat people, and more nearsighted people, and more diabetics, and more retards, and more whiners and losers and thugs and sinners. It could all have been so much better.

Liberals blame interracial fighting on “irrational” hatred, but there is nothing irrational about it. [5] Do you know what happens when two troops of chimpanzees meet in the jungle? They fight a war, with chimps killing chimps, until one side wins and the survivors on the losing side have been driven away. [6] Is this “irrational”? Why, no. There are only so many fruit trees, and fruit grows only so quickly, and as a result the two chimp troops found that the jungle wasn’t big enough for both of them. It was necessary to determine which chimps would get to pick the fruit off the trees. Both groups wanted to feed their children, but not both of them could do so with the available food supply. And chimps have too much innate sense to believe they can play games to decide such an important matter. Violence was required. War is the supreme court for survival contests, devised by nature for that very purpose. Hatred is the emotion that causes the contestant to focus on his opponent, and which gives him the courage to risk himself and the moral strength to strive his utmost to win.

Whether human or chimpanzee, a hominid who cannot hate is a cripple, not a paragon of virtue. Anyone who belittles hatred by suggesting that it is inherently evil, or that it serves no important purpose, is either misled or hopes to mislead someone else. However, it is true that one should not hate just anything, but should reserve his hatred for the proper things. Here, again, it can be useful to observe that chimps form cooperative social relationships with each other as well as fighting wars. The normal way [7] of things: amity for one’s own natural in-group—family, tribe, race—but enmity for outsiders, hostility for competitors, and, with due consideration for one’s real circumstances, diligence in promoting the molecular information that made one’s own existence possible. Sportsmanship is for the games we play voluntarily for amusement: it has no place in the struggle for survival.


1 – Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein, especially Ch. 12, published by Berkley Books. Although the story is fiction, the philosophy is sound, not to mention very well presented.

2 – “The Tragedy of the Commons,” by Garrett Hardin, 1968, published in Science, 13 December 1968.

3 – “Reducing Population in Step with Oil Depletion,” by William Stanton, ASPO Newsletters, July 2005, Article Number 573. Stanton is speaking of Great Britain, which in the absence of high-tech transportation would be protected by water from military or refugee invasion.

4 – The worst part of the harm that war does is the result of the misuse of exosomatic energy. Modern war is, more or less, a matter of fossil fuels exploding with human soldiers being caught in the explosions. Since the decisive power in play is not muscle power, the strongest people are not necessarily the winners. But fossil fuels will be depleted in thirty years or so. Then it will be back to low-tech war for us, and then war will be a eugenic thing, a good thing, once more.

5 – People afflicted by political correctness often picture themselves as being somehow “above it all,” looking down at the struggles of mankind as though they were benevolent gods of impartial judgment. But that’s never really true. The afflicted is himself a part of the struggle, not its referee. The divine point of view is improper for such as he. His proper task is to play nature’s game as he believes will best advance the molecular information that led to his birth, not to comment on the wisdom of, or suggest changes to, the game’s rules. If it is all the same to him whether his race or another inherits the Earth, it does not mean that he has a loftier mind than most men do; rather, it means that there is something wrong in the mind he has. Normal organisms act to perpetuate their genes, whether they exist in themselves, in their families, or in their race. Social conditioning that disrupts that pattern of behavior is not an improvement from the evolutionary point of view; it is a defect that nature will get rid of in the natural course of events.

6 – The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, by Jane Goodall, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1986.

7 – We should suspect anyone who…

(a) Claims that the normal way is abnormal, or reprehensible, and proposes alternatives that have no historical record for success.
(b) Wants to “talk” when our survival interests are in a conflict with someone else’s that no amount of talking can resolve.
(c) Says that there are causes more worthy for one to pursue than the survival of one’s genes, whether embodied in himself, his family, or his race.

Nature didn’t ask for our preferences while it was making us, and whatever alternative rules we might wish for are irrelevant to the fact that we must obey nature’s rules, or die.

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Source: David Sims

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21 July, 2017 1:07 am

“Assume for a moment that by some miracle one of our two groups is full of farsighted, ecological geniuses. They are able to keep their population in check and, moreover, keep it far enough below the carrying capacity that minor changes in the weather, or even longer-term changes in the climate, do not result in food stress. If they need to consume only half of what is available each year, even if there is a terrible year, this group will probably come through the hardship just fine. More important, when a few good years come along, these masterfully ecological people will/not/grow rapidly, because to do so would mean that they would have trouble when the good times end. Think of them as the ecological equivalent of the industrious ants. The… Read more »