Social Value of War

In past ages a fierce war would institute social changes and facilitate the adoption of new ideas such as would not have occurred naturally in ten thousand years. The terrible price paid for these certain war advantages was that society was temporarily thrown back into savagery; civilized reason had to abdicate. War is strong medicine, very costly and most dangerous; while often curative of certain social disorders, it sometimes kills the patient, destroys the society.

The constant necessity for national defense creates many new and advanced social adjustments. Society, today, enjoys the benefit of a long list of useful innovations which were at first wholly military and is even indebted to war for the dance, one of the early forms of which was a military drill.

War has had a social value to past civilizations because it:

1. Imposed discipline, enforced co-operation.

2. Put a premium on fortitude and courage.

3. Fostered and solidified nationalism.

4. Destroyed weak and unfit peoples.

5. Dissolved the illusion of primitive equality and selectively stratified society.

War has had a certain evolutionary and selective value, but like slavery, it must sometime be abandoned as civilization slowly advances. Olden wars promoted travel and cultural intercourse; these ends are now better served by modern methods of transport and communication. Olden wars strengthened nations, but modern struggles disrupt civilized culture. Ancient warfare resulted in the decimation of inferior peoples; the net result of modern conflict is the selective destruction of the best human stocks. Early wars promoted organization and efficiency, but these have now become the aims of modern industry. During past ages war was a social ferment which pushed civilization forward; this result is now better attained by ambition and invention. Ancient warfare supported the concept of a God of battles, but modern man has been told that God is love. War has served many valuable purposes in the past, it has been an indispensable scaffolding in the building of civilization, but it is rapidly becoming culturally bankrupt — incapable of producing dividends of social gain in any way commensurate with the terrible losses attendant upon its invocation.

At one time physicians believed in bloodletting as a cure for many diseases, but they have since discovered better remedies for most of these disorders. And so must the international bloodletting of war certainly give place to the discovery of better methods for curing the ills of nations.

The nations of Urantia have already entered upon the gigantic struggle between nationalistic militarism and industrialism, and in many ways this conflict is analogous to the agelong struggle between the herder-hunter and the farmer. But if industrialism is to triumph over militarism, it must avoid the dangers which beset it. The perils of budding industry on Urantia are:

1. The strong drift toward materialism, spiritual blindness.

2. The worship of wealth-power, value distortion.

3. The vices of luxury, cultural immaturity.

4. The increasing dangers of indolence, service insensitivity.

5. The growth of undesirable racial softness, biologic deterioration.

6. The threat of standardized industrial slavery, personality stagnation. Labor is ennobling but drudgery is benumbing.

Militarism is autocratic and cruel — savage. It promotes social organization among the conquerors but disintegrates the vanquished. Industrialism is more civilized and should be so carried on as to promote initiative and to encourage individualism. Society should in every way possible foster originality.

Do not make the mistake of glorifying war; rather discern what it has done for society so that you may the more accurately visualize what its substitutes must provide in order to continue the advancement of civilization. And if such adequate substitutes are not provided, then you may be sure that war will long continue.

Man will never accept peace as a normal mode of living until he has been thoroughly and repeatedly convinced that peace is best for his material welfare, and until society has wisely provided peaceful substitutes for the gratification of that inherent tendency periodically to let loose a collective drive designed to liberate those ever-accumulating emotions and energies belonging to the self-preservation reactions of the human species.

But even in passing, war should be honored as the school of experience which compelled a race of arrogant individualists to submit themselves to highly concentrated authority — a chief executive. Old-fashioned war did select the innately great men for leadership, but modern war no longer does this. To discover leaders society must now turn to the conquests of peace: industry, science, and social achievement.


Urantia Book. (1955). Social Value of War. Chicago, IL: Urantia Foundation.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matt 7:20).

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