Friday, December 17, 2004

Pro-War novel

Mark Kleiman is wondering if there are any recent (well post 1700) pro-War novels. The phrase pro-War novel might be considered ambiguous, but Mark offered up Starship Troopers as an example so we have a pretty good idea what he means. He's looking for a novel which promotes the "virtues" of war. That having people go to war and fight for the country creates a population of individuals who have virtues valuable to the nation, which would be absent were we to go without war for several generations.

The problem is that this notion that war promotes virtues in and of itself has long been pretty much abandoned by mainstream thinkers. Or at least, it is thought that the evils of war far outweigh the virtues that might be instilled. The warmest regard that anyone has for war today is perhaps best expressed by Robert E. Lee's comment that "It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it." Given that sentiment from someone such as Lee it is hardly to be expected that there are many authors promoting the virtues of war as a good in itself. Indeed this is in part why Starship Troopers is such a striking novel.

At the risk of falling prey to Goodwin's Law, might I suggest that the most significant group who has promoted the virtues of war for its own sake were the national socialists in Germany. Perhaps Mein Kampf would meet the request.



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