Sunday, July 17, 2011

John Kenneth Galbraith on civilization and war

From the closing two paragraphs of the late John Kenneth Galbraith's Economics of Innocent Fraud: Truth for Our Time (2004), the last book he published during his lifetime:

Civilization has made great strides over the centuries in science, health care, the arts and most, if not all, economic wellbeing. But also it has given a privileged position to the development of weapons and the threat and reality of war. Mass slaughter has become the ultimate civilized achievement.

The facts of war are inescapable - death and random cruelty, suspension of civilized values, a disordered aftermath. Thus the human condition and prospect as now supremely evident. The economic and social problems here described, as also mass poverty and starvation, can, with thought and action, be addressed. So they have already been. War remains the decisive human failure. [my emphasis]
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