Greta wrote: ↑
December 28th, 2017, 7:13 pm
Orwell appears to be talking about respect for one's combatants.
Actually, he was justifying the killing of civilians, I guess because of some higher purpose. That's what warmongering is all about. No different than the positions held by the Italian proto-fascists, glorifying war as "the world's only hygiene". The higher purpose doesn't change much: patriotism, nationalism, freedom, civilization, etc.
Having never fought a war or been shot at I respect Orwell's perspectives, even if I don't agree with all, eg. in war it is much better IMO to kill combatants rather than civilians, regardless of age or gender. When outmatched fighters embed in civilian populations, the latter are effectively being sacrificed as an "ethical shield" that logically can never hold.
In my case, I cannot respect any opinion that holds a superior motive to kill innocent people. And worst if he adds a pragmatic reason: better to kill a cross section of the population than only young men.
I find it hard to judge those who have served in the military because, this being a eusocial society, they fight on my behalf with my taxes, whether I personally agree or (more usually) not in a given war. They do the dirty work so we don't have to; the concern for me is only when the "dirty work" becomes especially dirty, eg. illegal invasions, political interference, wanton damage to infrastructure and nature, and the abuse of captives and the vulnerable.
The claim of ours being a eusocial society is disputable. Other than the instinct of aggression and basic community safeguarding in primitive societies, I don't see any sophisticated form of warfare as a necessary, unavoidable social activity. Historically, in all societies (and capitalist society is no exception), no one is fighting on behalf of citizens, they are fighting for the interests of the ruling class, but of course it is needed that the general population sees the work of soldiers this way. The idea that "they are not us", that they do a dirty work, so that the class of civilians don't have to, ignores that there's no real significant social division between civilian and military: they are the brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, cousins, friends and neighbors, etc. Also, especially when thinking of today's hegemonic powers, is very hard, if not impossible, to find any war endeavor that is not "especially dirty", unethical, inhumane and driven by rapacious interests. And their colleagues in our non-hegemonic peripheral countries had served no better purpose, often allying with them to subdue their citizens and literally colonize us all.
Life is complex and it's hard to tell the good or bad reasons that motivate someone to join the military or the garbage collection company. Although I start with doubts, I hold my judgement of them until I get a better picture. But some people are easy to spot as falling somewhere in the spectrum of psychopathic behavior: they really like this thing, it's not just a job, but a vocation. An attitude rarely seen in garbage collectors.