Sunday 29 October 2017

Airpower Theorist—William “Billy” Mitchell

William “Billy” Mitchell
William “Billy” Mitchell
William “Billy” Mitchell was born in France in 1879 and raised in Wisconsin. He joined the Army Air Force as a Signal Corps Officer, completed flight training at his own expense, and was appointed to the General Staff all at a young age. Mitchell, who was in Europe when the U.S. entered the war, became the first American aviator to cross enemy lines as a combat pilot and was soon appointed to command of combat aviation at the front. Mitchell led many combat patrols and commanded the nearly 1,500 aircraft of the Saint Mihiel air offensive—the single largest air armada of the time. He was subsequently appointed brigadier general and given command of the Air Service of the Group of Armies.

After the war, he headed the Aviation of the Army of Occupation, established in Germany. When he returned from Europe, having led air forces in combat and served as an Allied air commander, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Service.

Mitchell's major premise was airpower, organized into a separate, equal (to Army and Navy) and an autonomous air force under a unified department of defence, could serve as the most effective an economical means of defending the continental U.S.

Also Read: 

Effect: Mitchell’s theories on airpower have had a profound and lasting effect on airpower doctrine and the employment of airpower. He is often referred to as the “father of the modern Air Force.” The major premise of his theories was his belief that an independent and equal air force serving under a unified department of defense was the most efficient means of defending the United States.

Doolittle Raid 1942
                                                                                 Doolittle Raid 1942                  Source: Wikimedia/National Museum of the USAF
William “Billy” Mitchell, more than any other individual was responsible for molding the airpower convictions that served as the doctrinal basis of the United States Air Force. As World War One came to a close, Mitchell argued to preserve the aviation expertise gained during the war, both in terms of personnel and equipment. Through prolific writing and speaking, Mitchell carried the airpower case—the case of an independent air force—to the American public. Mitchell’s most lasting contribution was moving the idea of air force autonomy to a progressive view, which held that independent air operations could achieve strategic results rather than simply being chained to the support of armies and navies. Mitchell’s ideas and goals were adopted and shared by a wide following of early air officers, including “Hap” Arnold and “Tooey” Spaatz. Through Mitchell’s advocacy, the concepts of the offensive nature of airpower, the importance of air superiority, the primacy of strategic bombing, and the value of interdiction over close air support became enduring beliefs of modern airpower.

Mitchell’s Legacy

  • Influenced the development of U.S. airpower doctrine 
  • Elevated the concept of independent air forces 
  • Originated ideas and goals shared by a wide following of early air officers 
  • Advanced the airpower concepts of: 

          ➤Offensive nature of airpower

          ➤Importance of air superiority 

          ➤Primacy of strategic bombing 

          ➤Value of interdiction over close air support
  • Joined Army Air Force as a Signal Corps Officer 
  • Attended flight training at his own expense 
  • Appointed to the General Staff 
  • First American airman to command air forces in WWI 
  • Appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Services 
  • Became the voice of independent airpower 
  • Provoked court-martial in 1925 
Major Premise:
  • Major Assumptions 
  • Thoughts on Targeting 
  • Thoughts on Air Superiority 
  • Thoughts on Air Exploitation 
Major Assumptions:
  • The advent of aviation was revolutionary in military affairs. 
  • Command of the air is a prime requirement. 
  • Airpower is inherently offensive; the bomber will always get through. 
  • Anti-aircraft artillery is ineffective. 
  • Airpower can defend the Continental U.S. more economically than the Navy. Naval warfare is obsolete. 
  • Airmen are a special and elite breed of people, and they alone can understand the proper employment of airpower. 
  • Future wars will be total; the ascendancy of the ground defensive will persist; everyone is a combatant. 
  • Civilian morale is a fragile thing. 
Thoughts on Targeting
Mitchell favored breaking civilian morale through the destruction of vital centers, like industry, infrastructure, and even agriculture. Mitchell’s intellectual heirs at the Air Corps Tactical School refined and synthesized his ideas by using the industrial triangle of the U.S. as the model for the development of precision bombing theory and doctrine.

Thoughts on Air Superiority
Airpower Theorist—William “Billy” MitchellMitchell believed that air superiority was a prerequisite for all other military operations. He argued that this would be achieved largely by air battles; however, attacks on enemy airpower on the ground were also in his repertoire. He disdained the effectiveness of anti-aircraft artillery. Interestingly, Mitchell’s doctrinal descendants at the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930’s may have tended to downplay the achievement of air superiority thorough air battles, which many say led to a neglect of pursuit and attack aviation in favor of strategic bombing

Thoughts on Air Exploitation: 
Once air superiority is established, it can be exploited at will in varied operations against vital centers. Sometimes vaguely described, vital centers were usually seen as an industry, infrastructure, and agriculture which, when destroyed, would lead to the collapse of civilian morale.

Implications of Mitchell’s Theories:

  • Organization for War 
  • Role of Other Armed Forces 
  • Force Structure 
  • Technology Requirements 
Organization for War: 
Mitchell argued for a separate and equal, but independent, air force and for a unified department of defense.

Roles of Other Armed Forces
The Air Force would be the primary force in warfare, with the navy playing a secondary role, and there would be an even lesser role for the army. The defeat of the enemy’s army and navy is a false objective; the true objective is the will of the enemy, which can be reached without defeating enemy surface forces.

Force Structure: 
Mitchell, at first, advocated a preponderance of pursuit units, but then increasingly emphasized the need for more bomber units.

Technology Requirements: 
No single type of plane was adequate; pursuit aircraft for command of the air was a paramount requirement, and at least in the early 1920s, he stipulated a need for both attack and reconnaissance aircraft. His supporters in the Air Corps Tactical School (and much of the rest of the air arm of the 1930s) were persuaded that technology had arrived to validate Mitchell’s theories. High-altitude bombers with bomb-sight targeting systems would make the bomber a decisive weapon system that would be difficult to counter by enemy defensive systems.

Key Aspects of Mitchell’s Theories:

Airpower, organized into a separate, equal (to Army and Navy) and autonomous air force under a unified department of defense, could serve as the most effective and economical means of defending the continental U.S. Even if it came to fighting an overseas enemy, airpower could decisively attack enemy vital centers without first defeating enemy armies and navies. Airpower is best generated by nations with populations that are “fair-minded,” and the U.S. has great potential but it needs to be developed.

Mitchell favored breaking civilian morale through the destruction of vital centers, like industry, infrastructure, and even agriculture. Mitchell’s intellectual heirs at the Air Corps Tactical School refined and synthesized his ideas by using the industrial triangle of the U.S. as the model for the development of precision bombing theory and doctrine.

Mitchell believed that air superiority was a prerequisite for all other military operations. He argued that this would be achieved largely by air battles; however, attacks on enemy airpower on the ground were also in his repertoire. He disdained the effectiveness of anti-aircraft artillery. Interestingly, Mitchell’s doctrinal descendants at the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930’s may have tended to downplay the achievement of air superiority thorough air battles, which many say led to a neglect of pursuit and attack aviation in favor of strategic bombing.
Airpower Theorist—William “Billy” Mitchell
Once air superiority is established, it can be exploited at will in varied operations against vital centers. Sometimes vaguely described, vital centers were usually seen as an industry, infrastructure, and agriculture which, when destroyed, would lead to the collapse of civilian morale.

Mitchell argued for a separate and equal, but independent, air force and for a unified department of defense.

The Air Force would be the primary force in warfare, with the navy playing a secondary role, and there would be an even lesser role for the army. The defeat of the enemy’s army and navy is a false objective; the true objective is the will of the enemy, which can be reached without defeating enemy surface forces.

Mitchell, at first, advocated a preponderance of pursuit units, but then increasingly emphasized the need for more bomber units.

No single type of airplane was adequate; pursuit aircraft for command of the air was a paramount requirement, and at least in the early 1920s, he stipulated a need for both attack and reconnaissance aircraft. His supporters in the Air Corps Tactical School (and much of the rest of the air arm of the 1930s) were persuaded that technology had arrived to validate Mitchell’s theories. High-altitude bombers with bomb-sight targeting systems would make the bomber a decisive weapon system that would be difficult to counter by enemy defensive systems.

Influence on U.S. Military Aviation:

Mitchell advocated a national system of airways and airports to further aeronautics within America. He felt that aviation of all types (general, commercial, and military) served the security interests of the country. Mitchell realized that aviation asset could be used in peacetime as well as in war.

Mitchell fought for Air Corps support from Congress and industry. Mitchell repeatedly lobbied Congress for funds to equip the Air Corps with personnel and equipment that were adequate for developing an air force. His intense efforts kept aeronautics alive within the Army and across America. He petitioned the emerging aviation industry to produce better and more reliable aircraft and engines. He angrily railed against manufacturers that produced shoddy and inferior equipment that killed airmen and wrecked aircraft. His efforts helped root out corruption within the industry and brought to light the inadequate aircraft and engines being developed in America.

He helped commit the US to security through airpower, as the voice of airpower and the catalyst for aeronautics programs. The body of thought he is associated with was widely shared within the small corporate body of the Air Service, and his flamboyant style brought them to public attention. Some authors say he helped condition American opinion so that ultimately the US would commit to strategic bombing. Mitchell articulated the idea of “airmindedness.”

Despite Mitchell’s urgings following WWI, his voracious efforts to inspire a national aeronautics program, and his outspoken criticisms of national airpower capabilities, the United States remained woefully behind other developed nations in developing air forces. It took the looming Second World War to motivate the aviation community toward the goals Mitchell had urged a few short decades earlier. Had it not been for Mitchell, it is likely that United States aeronautics would have been even more outdated on the eve of WW II.

Influence on the U.S. Air Force

There can be little doubt that Mitchell had an enormous influence on the foundation and the development of the USAF. Though Doolittle and others have argued that he did more harm than good, Mitchell’s vision was largely fulfilled in the long term. Many of Mitchell’s friends and supporters in the Air Corps gained prominence and continued to shape air forces in line with his views. Hap Arnold, who took charge of the Air Corps in 1938, was one of Mitchell’s supporters. Arnold remained in office for seven formative years just before and during WWII, during which time the strategic bombing theory, in large part, dominated the way the Army Air Force fought the war.

Arnold’s most trusted agent, Carl Spaatz, who was a close friend of Mitchell, succeeded Arnold as the first Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Spaatz was important because he was at the helm when the initial institutions of the USAF were articulated. Many of Spaatz’s ideas on air power reflected ideas that had been articulated by Mitchell.

Influence on the U.S. Navy:

It has often been argued that if Mitchell had not existed, then the United States Navy would have had to invent him. Mitchell offered proponents of naval aviation a way to persuade their conservative senior officers and colleagues that if they did not take the initiative, Mitchell would take their airpower away from them.
Influence on World War II:
Mitchell strongly believed that airpower must be under the command of an airman. Early in the war effort, airpower was parcelled out underground commanders and the result was disastrous. As airmen asserted their belief that airmen must command airpower, the effectiveness of the air effort increased dramatically. General Kenney’s air force in the Pacific was an excellent example of Mitchell’s views.

Airpower Theorist—William “Billy” Mitchell
The bombing of Hanover (Germany)
Mitchell’s ideas had a great impact on the Army Air Forces approach to war. One of those ideas, that airpower would engage the enemy long before armies gained contact, was implemented by the 8th Air Force, the first large unit deployed to England. It was made up of both strategic bombers and fighters and participated in an air war against Germany for two years before the armies landed at Normandy.

At least implied in the Mitchell and the Air Corps Tactical School concepts was the notion that navigation and bombing accuracy would be sufficient to be decisive in a short time. This proved disappointing during the war. In addition to the bombing being less effective than Mitchell had anticipated, advances in air defence, especially in Germany, proved much more effective than Mitchell predicted based on his experiences in World War One.

As for his ideas on maritime warfare, some were more accurate during the war years than others. Although airpower had ushered in the end of the age of the battleship, navies continued to play a vital role in warfare. Aircraft carriers had become the capital ships and battleships served in support as anti-aircraft artillery platforms and amphibious artillery support vessels.

Although airpower was not as decisive as Mitchell had envisioned, it was also not employed as Mitchell had envisioned. Many of Mitchell’s beliefs in the decisive nature of airpower would not be proven for several decades until technology had matured and airmen were allowed to employ airpower consistent with Mitchell’s earlier vision


Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons
Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or a specific type of weaponry. Disarmament is often taken to mean total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear arms. General and Complete Disarmament was defined by the UN General Assembly as the elimination of all WMD, coupled with the “balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments, based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties with a view to promoting or enhancing stability at a lower military level,taking into account the need of all States to protect their security.”

Definitions of disarmament 

In his definition of "disarmament", David Carlton writes in the Oxford University Press Political dictionary, "
But confidence in such measures of arms control, especially when unaccompanied by extensive means of verification, has not been strengthened by the revelation that the Soviet Union in its last years successfully concealed consistent and systematic cheating on its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention." 
He also notes, 
"Now a freeze or a mutually agreed increase is not strictly speaking disarmament at all. And such measures may not even be intended to be the first step towards any kind of reduction or abolition. For the aim may simply be to promote stability in force structures. Hence a new term to cover such cases has become fashionable since the 1960s, namely, arms control."

The book by Seymour Melman, Inspection for Disarmament, addresses various problems related to the problem of inspection for disarmament, evasion teams, and capabilities and limitations of aerial inspection. Gradually, as the idea of arms control displaced the idea of disarmament, the weaknesses of the present arms control paradigm have created problems for the idea of disarmament itself.


Before World War I at the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907 government delegations debated about disarmament and the creation of an international court with binding powers. The court was considered necessary because it was understood that nation-states could not disarm into a vacuum.After the war revulsion at the futility and tremendous cost of the war were widespread. A commonly held belief was that the cause of the war had been the escalating buildup of armaments in the previous half-century among the great powers (see Anglo-German naval arms race). Although the Treaty of Versailles effectively disarmed Germany, a clause was inserted that called on all the great powers to likewise progressively disarm over a period of time. The newly formed League of Nations made this an explicit goal in the covenant of the league, which committed its signatories to reduce armaments ‘to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations’.

One of the earliest successful achievements in disarmament was obtained with the Washington Naval Treaty. Signed by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, France, and Italy, it prevented the continued construction of capital ships and limited ships of other classification to under 10,000 tons displacement. The size of the three country's navies (the Royal Navy, United States Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy) was set at the ratio:5-5-3.

In 1921 the Temporary Mixed Commission on Armaments was set up by the League of Nations to explore possibilities for disarmament. Proposals ranged from abolishing chemical warfare and strategic bombing to the limitation of more conventional weapons, such as tanks. A draft treaty was assembled in 1923 that made aggressive war illegal and bound the member states to defend victims of aggression by force. Since the onus of responsibility would, in practice, be on the great powers of the League, it was vetoed by the British, who feared that this pledge would strain its own commitment to police the empire.

A further commission in 1926, set up to explore the possibilities for the reduction of army size, met similar difficulties, prompting the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand and US Secretary of State Frank Kellogg to draft a treaty known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which denounced war of aggression. Although there were 65 signatories to the pact, it achieved nothing, as it set out no guidelines for action in the event of a war.

A final attempt was made at the Geneva Disarmament Conference from 1932–37, chaired by former British Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson. Germany demanded the revision of the Versailles Treaty and the granting of military parity with the other powers, while France was determined to keep Germany demilitarized for its own security. Meanwhile, the British and Americans were not willing to offer France security commitments in exchange for conciliation with Germany. The talks broke down in 1933 when Adolf Hitler withdrew Germany from the conference.

Nuclear disarmament

Nuclear disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons and to the end state of a nuclear-free world, in which nuclear weapons are completely eliminated.

In the United Kingdom, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament held an inaugural public meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, on 17 February 1958, attended by five thousand people. After the meeting, a few hundred left to demonstrate at Downing Street.

CND's declared policies were the unconditional renunciation of the use, production of or dependence upon nuclear weapons by Britain and the bringing about of a general disarmament convention. The first Aldermaston March was organised by the CND and took place at Easter1958, when several thousand people marched for four days from Trafalgar Square, London, to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment close to Aldermaston in Berkshire, England, to demonstrate their opposition to nuclear weapons. The Aldermaston marches continued into the late 1960s when tens of thousands of people took part in the four-day marches.

In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy gave a speech before the UN General Assembly where he announced the US "intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race - to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved." He went on to call for a global general and complete disarmament, offering a rough outline for how this could be accomplished:

The program to be presented to this assembly - for general and complete disarmament under effective international control - moves to bridge the gap between those who insist on a gradual approach and those who talk only of the final and total achievement. It would create machinery to keep the peace as it destroys the machinery of war. It would proceed through balanced and safeguarded stages designed to give no state a military advantage over another. It would place the final responsibility for verification and control where it belongs, not with the big powers alone, not with one's adversary or one's self, but in an international organization within the framework of the United Nations. It would assure that indispensable condition of disarmament - true inspection - and apply it in stages proportionate to the stage of disarmament. It would cover delivery systems as well as weapons. It would ultimately halt their production as well as their testing, their transfer as well as their possession. It would achieve under the eyes of an international disarmament organization, a steady reduction in force, both nuclear and conventional, until it has abolished all armies and all weapons except those needed for internal order and a new United Nations Peace Force. And it starts that process now, today, even as the talks begin. In short, general and complete disarmament must no longer be a slogan, used to resist the first steps. It is no longer to be a goal without means of achieving it, without means of verifying its progress, without means of keeping the peace. It is now a realistic plan, and a test - a test of those only willing to talk and a test of those willing to act.” 
Major nuclear disarmament groups include Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Greenpeace and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. There have been many large anti-nuclear demonstrations and protests. On June 12, 1982, one million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park against nuclear weapons and for an end to the cold war arms race. It was the largest anti-nuclear protest and the largest political demonstration in American history.

Disarmament conferences and treaties

  • 1675: Strasbourg Agreement (1675)
  • 1899: Hague Peace Conference
  • 1919: Treaty of Versailles
  • 1925: Locarno Treaties
  • 1927: Kellogg-Briand Pact
  • 1932-34: World Disarmament Conference
  • 1960: Ten-Nation Disarmament Committee
  • 1962-1968: Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee
  • 1969-1978: Conference of the Committee on Disarmament
  • 1979–present: Conference on Disarmament (CD)


  • 1908–1909: London Naval Conference
  • 1921–1922: Washington Naval Conference
  • 1927: Geneva Naval Conference
  • 1930: London Naval Conference leading to the London Naval Treaty
  • 1935: London Naval Conference leading to the Second London Naval Treaty


Saturday 28 October 2017

Conflict Theory

Conflict Theory

Conflict theory originated with the work of Karl Marx in the mid-1800s. Marx understood human society in terms of conflict between social classes, notably the conflict in capitalist societies between those who owned the means of economic production (factory or farm owners, for example) and those who did not (the workers). 

Subsequent thinkers have described different versions of conflict theory; a common theme is that different social groups have unequal power, though all groups struggle for the same limited resources. Conflict theory has been used to explain diverse human behaviors, such as educational practices that either sustain or challenge the sta­tus quo, cultural customs regarding the elderly, and criminal behavior.

Also, Read Conflict Theory-2

Conflict theory has wide and varied roots that range from the individual intra-psychic approach of Freud to the systemic societal approach of Karl Marx. Became popular during the 1960’s when feminists and African Americans challenged the current family theories.
Conflict theory examines the ways in which groups of people disagree, struggle for power and compete for resources (such as wealth and prestige).

Thomas Hobbes

First law

Self-preservation and self-assertion Human beings think of themselves first and will assert themselves to exist.

Second law
Humans form a social contract giving up rights of self-interest to live in a stable and secure society of laws.
We want to live in a stable world, so will give up certain rights and form arrangements with others to have that stable world. Much of human interest is regulated and governed by laws, not negotiation Conflict Theory and Families Conflict theory as applied to families challenges the myth that families are harmonious and instead focuses on the ability of the family to deal with differences, change, and conflict. Conflict Theory begins by asserting that conflict in families is the normal state of affairs and that family dynamics can be understood by identifying the sources of conflict and the sources of power.

Solutions are a result of:

1. Establishing better communication
2. Developing empathy and understanding
3. Being motivated to change

Conflict Theory-2

Conflict theories are perspectives in sociology and social psychology that emphasize a materialist interpretation of history, dialectical method of analysis, a critical stance toward existing social arrangements, and political program of revolution or, at least, reform. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies. It is, therefore, a macro level analysis of society. Karl Marx is the father of the social conflict theory, which is a component of the four paradigms of sociology. Certain conflict theories set out to highlight the ideological aspects inherent in traditional thought. While many of these perspectives hold parallels, conflict theory does not refer to a unified school of thought, and should not be confused with, for instance, peace and conflict studies, or any other specific theory of social conflict.

Also Read: Conflict Theory

In classical sociology

Of the classical founders of social science, conflict theory is most commonly associated with Karl Marx (1818–1883). Based on a dialectical materialist account of history, Marxism posited that capitalism, like previous socioeconomic systems, would inevitably produce internal tensions leading to its own destruction. Marx ushered in radical change, advocating proletarian revolution and freedom from the ruling classes. At the same time, Karl Marx was aware that most of the people living in capitalist societies did not see how the system shaped the entire operation of society. Just as modern individuals see private property (and the right to pass that property on to their children) as natural, many of the members in capitalistic societies see the rich as having earned their wealth through hard work and education, while seeing the poor as lacking in skill and initiative. Marx rejected this type of thinking and termed it false consciousness, explanations of social problems as the shortcomings of individuals rather than the flaws of society. Marx wanted to replace this kind of thinking with something Engels termed class consciousness, the workers' recognition of themselves as a class unified in opposition to capitalists and ultimately to the capitalist system itself. In general, Marx wanted the proletarians to rise up against the capitalists and overthrow the capitalist system.

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

— Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto 1848,

In the social productions of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces, these relations turn into their fetters. Then an era of social revolution begins. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

In studying such transformations it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production. No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient to have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.

"Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation. In broad outline, the Asiatic, ancient, [A] feudal and modern bourgeois modes of production may be designated as epochs marking progress in the economic development of society. The bourgeois mode of production is the last antagonistic form of the social process of production – antagonistic not in the sense of individual antagonism but of an antagonism that emanates from the individuals' social conditions of existence – but the productive forces developing within bourgeois society create also the material conditions for a solution of this antagonism. The prehistory of human society accordingly closes with this social formation."

— Karl Marx A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy 1859, 

Two early conflict theorists were the Polish-Austrian sociologist and political theorist Ludwig Gumplowicz (1838–1909) and the American sociologist and paleontologist Lester F. Ward(1841–1913). Although Ward and Gumplowicz developed their theories independently they had much in common and approached conflict from a comprehensive anthropological and evolutionary point-of-view as opposed to Marx's rather exclusive focus on economic factors.

Gumplowicz, in Grundriss der Soziologie (Outlines of Sociology, 1884), describes how civilization has been shaped by conflict between cultures and ethnic groups. Gumplowicz theorized that large complex human societies evolved from the war and conquest. The winner of a war would enslave the losers; eventually, a complex caste system develops.Horowitz says that Gumplowicz understood the conflict in all its forms: "class conflict, race conflict and ethnic conflict", and calls him one of the fathers of Conflict Theory.

"What happened in India, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome may sometime happen in modern Europe. European civilization may perish, over flooded by barbaric tribes. But if anyone believes that we are safe from such catastrophes he is perhaps yielding to an all too optimistic delusion. There are no barbaric tribes in our neighborhood to be sure — but let no one be deceived, their instincts lie latent in the populace of European states".

— Gumplowicz (1884),

Ward directly attacked and attempted to systematically refute the elite business class's laissez-faire philosophy as espoused by the hugely popular social philosopher Herbert Spencer. Ward's Dynamic Sociology (1883) was an extended thesis on how to reduce conflict and competition in society and thus optimize human progress. At the most basic level, Ward saw human nature itself to be deeply conflicted between self-aggrandizement and altruism, between emotion and intellect, and between male and female. These conflicts would be then reflected in society and Ward assumed there had been a "perpetual and vigorous struggle" among various "social forces" that shaped civilization. Ward was more optimistic than Marx and Gumplowicz and believed that it was possible to build on and reform present social structures with the help of sociological analysis.

Durkheim (1858–1917) saw society as a functioning organism. Functionalism concerns "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system," The chief form of social conflict that Durkheim addressed was the crime. Durkheim saw crime as "a factor in public health, an integral part of all healthy societies." The collective conscience defines certain acts as "criminal." Crime thus plays a role in the evolution of morality and law: "[it] implies not only that the way remains open to necessary changes but that in certain cases it directly prepares these changes."

Weber's (1864–1920) approach to conflict is contrasted with that of Marx. While Marx focused on the way individual behavior is conditioned by social structure, Weber emphasized the importance of "social action," i.e., the ability of individuals to affect their social relationships.

Modern approaches

C. Wright Mills has been called the founder of modern conflict theory. In Mills's view, social structures are created through conflict between people with differing interests and resources. Individuals and resources, in turn, are influenced by these structures and by the "unequal distribution of power and resources in the society."The power elite of American society, (i.e., the military-industrial complex) had "emerged from the fusion of the corporate elite, the Pentagon, and the executive branch of government." Mills argued that the interests of this elite were opposed to those of the people. He theorized that the policies of the power elite would result in "increased escalation of the conflict, production of weapons of mass destruction, and possibly the annihilation of the human race."

Gene Sharp (born 21 January 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world. In 1983 he founded the Albert Einstein Institution, a non-profit organization devoted to studies and promotion of the use of nonviolent action in conflicts worldwide. Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. For Sharp, political power, the power of any state—regardless of its particular structural organization—ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects' obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). If subjects do not obey, leaders have no power. Sharp has been called both the "Machiavelli of nonviolence" and the "Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare."Sharp's scholarship has influenced resistance organizations around the world. Most recently the protest movement that toppled President Mubarak of Egypt drew extensively on his ideas, as well as the youth movement in Tunisia and the earlier ones in the Eastern European colour revolutions that had previously been inspired by Sharp's work.

A recent articulation of conflict theory is found in Alan Sears' (Canadian sociologist) book A Good Book, in Theory: A Guide to Theoretical Thinking (2008):

  • Societies are defined by inequality that produces conflict, rather than which produces order and consensus. This conflict based on inequality can only be overcome through a fundamental transformation of the existing relations in the society and is productive of new social relations.   
  • The disadvantaged have structural interests that run counter to the status quo, which, once they are assumed, will lead to social change. Thus, they are viewed as agents of change rather than objects one should feel sympathy for.                                                                                              
  • Human potential (e.g., capacity for creativity) is suppressed by conditions of exploitation and oppression, which are necessary in any society with an unequal division of labour. These and other qualities do not necessarily have to be stunted due to the requirements of the so-called "civilizing process," or "functional necessity": creativity is actually an engine for economic development and change.
  • The role of theory is in realizing the human potential and transforming society, rather than maintaining the power structure. The opposite aim of theory would be the objectivity and detachment associated with positivism, where theory is a neutral, explanatory tool.
  • A consensus is a euphemism for ideology. A genuine consensus is not achieved, rather the more powerful in societies are able to impose their conceptions on others and have them accept their discourses. Consensus does not preserve social order, it entrenches stratification, a tool of the current social order.                                                                                                                           
  • The State serves the particular interests of the most powerful while claiming to represent the interests of all. Representation of disadvantaged groups in State processes may cultivate the notion of full participation, but this is an illusion/ideology.                                                             
  • Inequality on a global level is characterized by the purposeful underdevelopment of Third World countries, both during colonization and after national independence. The global system (i.e., development agencies such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund) benefits the most powerful countries and multi-national corporations, rather than the subjects of development, through economic, political, and military actions.

Although Sears associates the conflict theory approach with Marxism, he argues that it is the foundation for much "feminist, post-modernist, anti-racist, and lesbian-gay liberationist theories."

Arthashastra: Kautilya on War

                                                                   Arthashastra's manuscript                                                                                                                       Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kautilya was a
proponent of a welfare state but definitely encouraged war for preserving the power of the state. Kautilya's Arthashastra is a book of 'pure' logic, not taking any religious aspect into account. It deals with the various subjects directly and with razor-like sharpness. The Arthashastra totally contains 5363 Sutras, 15 books, 150 chapters, and 180 Sections. The 15 Books contained in the Arthashastra can be classified in the following manner: Book 1, as a book on 'Fundamentals of Management', Book 2 dealing with 'Economics', Books 3, 4 and 5 on 'Law', Books 6, 7, 8 describes Foreign Policies. Books 9 to 14 concerns subjects on 'War'. The 15th book deals with the methodology and devices used in writing the Arthashastra.

What is interesting to note is that the topic of war is the last subject in Arthashastra. War is always the last option. However, a war in certain cases is unavoidable, hence, preparation and maintenance of the army, the right moves in the battlefield and warfare strategies all are essential in the defense of a country, subjects which Kautilya tackles with the extrasensory precision.

Economics in Statecraft and War. Kautilya thought that the possession of power and happiness in a state makes a king superior hence a king should always strive to augment his power. Kautilya propounded that war is natural for a state. He said that "Power is strength and strength changes the minds".Economic power has helped shape statecraft. This element of power is very flexible. This aspect of the power is one which Arthashastra concentrates on and has highlighted 'Artha', the economics of the state in the pursuit of power. The quest for power is driven by the satisfaction of the king and his subjects in all the spheres of material well being and social acceptance. This can be achieved by a progressive and robust economy. A corollary to this fact is that the economics of a state can be used to progress the influence of the state over international issues and also used to augment the war waging potential of the state.

Whether a nation has a large or small military, its leadership does understand economics. Economics is a great tool to create conditions for further action or force a nation to change behavior. There are constraints prevalent in the pursuit of sound-economy to further the war waging capability of a state and in turn achieve the power. the resolution of these constraints is the enigma which Kautilya unraveled through Arthashastra.

2. Kautilya presents that for a King to attain these three goals he must create wealth, have armies and should conquer the kingdoms and enlarge the size of his state. This is quite interesting because he in a way does believe that a state's superiority is in its military and economic might which is what later philosophers and rulers have followed. In the case of war, Kautilya advocates the King to be closely involved in the science of war.

3. Classifications of War. Kautilya advocated three types of war: Open war, Concealed war, and the Silent War.In Open-war he describes as the war fought between states, concealed war as one which is similar to guerrilla war and Silent war which is fought on a continued basis inside the kingdom so that the power of the King does not get diluted. He believed that there were three types of kings who go into warfare and it is important to understand the distinction between the types of kings and the appropriate warfare strategy to be selected.

4. Kautilya propounded that state is not considered a massive entity but as one which combines various internal constituents – the king, the fortified city , the countryside, the treasury and the army. The power with which a state can promote its own interests over other states in the neighborhood depends on how close to ideal the internal constituents are. The four devices Kautilya used for deriving practical advice were: relative power, deviations from the ideal, classification by the type of motivation and the influence of the unpredictable. This is the core what Arthashastra addresses as the endeavor is to resolve all the constraints that arise in the quest of the state to gain ascendancy and enhance its power.

5. Warfighting tactics. Kautilya was also very harsh in narrating the exact methods of fighting a war and use of various tools to reduce the strength of a state. Kautilya wrote in detail explaining the war strategy because he was a strong proponent of social structure. He vehemently defends the state and believes that religion and morals are supposed to serve the state. In Kautilya's concept of war, chivalry does not have any place and he is a realist. Kautilya in his Arthashastra and believes that war is a means to an end for wealth and stability. He provided the understanding to resolve all the constraints which emerge to achieve the ends. Kautilya has argued that the primary constraint that a state faces is the economic constraints and many a war has been lost for want of resources. The Arthashastra has guided the king in eliminating the constraints, primarily the economic constraints in the furtherance of its interests. The use of economic strength as a means of states' power has also been highlighted by Kautilya.

6. Kautilya also took the societal structure and King's power as given and never challenged it. His focus was not on war per-se

Thursday 26 October 2017

SunTzu's Thought on War

A statue of Sun Tzu at Yurihama(Tottori)
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and Eastern philosophy.

The Art of War: It presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles. It is accepted as a masterpiece on strategy and has been frequently cited and referred to by generals and theorists since it was first published, translated, and distributed internationally.

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