The Morbid Eros of Warfare

The more optimistic would say that Afghanitan’s civil war ended barely a few years ago. By other accounts, it is still raging on.
Yet only a short time after that bloody episode (assuming that we are in the optimistic camp), and while its ruins and rubble is still scattered around us, the fascination with war and violence knows no end. We love it so much we are already missing it! Observe, if you will, an Afghan pre-teen in full military attire -on the day designated as the national holiday for education (جشن معارف)!

I am reminded of the title of Chris Hedges’s book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. Hedges writes:
“The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, and a reason for living.”

I think that there is more than just meaning to it. It gives us pleasure and satisfaction. There is eros in the experience of warfare, in its collective ritual. Think of it as an orgy. There is a seduction and lure to the blood, gore, violence, and carnage of war. It gives men the reassureance they lack, the same reassurance that they gain after a sexual encounter.
Yes, I have it, it is down there, and it works.
It works just fine.
Like the instinct to reproduce, it is hardwired into our primate brains, our animal instincts. What else could explain the enduring fascination with an anachronism that should have been abandoned around the same time as fire was discovered? And sure as hell the laws of aerodynamics is not the only thing behind the phallic resemblance of all rockets, missiles, and other military projectiles. And oh yes, let’s not forget the magnetism and charisma of the military uniform.

Beg enlighten me, what does a national holiday for education intend to accomplish? Celebrate education by cancelling classes?


13 Responses to The Morbid Eros of Warfare

  1. Baraka says:

    So true – I saw Hedges speak recently at a discussion called “Does God Love War?” & am now reading his new book, “Losing Moses on the Freeway.”

    Good stuff – he is impassioned and thoughtful.

  2. pari says:

    salam bar shuma, ma bargashtim dar:


  3. Meaningless and contradictory gestures are our greatest natural resource. We bemoan war, but our songs celebrate war. We smugly confuse martial glory with civilizational glory – as if a thief and a poet share the same virtues. I suspect to overcome the tragedies (through immense energy in order to avoid the discussion – mind you – and not to resolve it) of our own history and society, and to compensate for lack of identity, we turn to the most easily accessible device: war. And of this everyone is culprit, the peasent and the intellectual. Evidence: look at any Afghan website or blog worth its salt.

    Despite all this, we are terribly incompetent in war. We should have successfully annihilated ourselves, but somehow we lack even that resolve and competence. For this shame, collective suicide is in order (at least for the camp — we know who they are — that tend to swoon most to martial valor and glory).

  4. Haseeb says:

    Fascinating. I liked the way you looked at the Afghan fascination with war through Hedge’s perspective. I am glad your back. Good luck with your writings, and I would appreciate it if you could e-mail me a copy of the two papers you are currently working on.

  5. Hafez says:

    Hello Hamesha
    Thank you for commenting my post on my blog,…
    so I found you AND your interesting blog. I ll visit it again and again
    Thanks,… your blog is interesting as well.I would like to stay in contact….
    your Hafez

  6. Hafez says:

    On my Blog you will find several Posts called “For Pumuckl and friends…”
    These Posts are for people interested in Afghanistan and its Nation building (as long as you could say so). Its very important for me to discuss on several forums like blogs the situation in Afghanistan. Talk about free press, corruption, government etc. Even when we (you and me) don t agree in some opinions, we can discuss and comment…


    I described a new movie coming up soon(on my blog):

    A screening in New York on 5th May of a film by Ray and Spene on Afghanistan’s Presidential elections in 2004.

    Spencer Mandell & Ray Pagnucco
    Invite you to the world premiere of
    “God’s Open Hand”

    GOD’S OPEN HAND is a feature length documentary produced by Ghost Studios, charting the course of fledgling democracy in Afghanistan. The film’s focus is Afghanistan’s historic first presidential election as seen through the eyes of the Afghan people, as well as the major presidential candidates and western observers. The film begins in the weeks leading up to election day as tensions mount from threats of Taliban and Al Qaeda attacks, rumors of backroom deals, American influence and voter intimidation from candidates and insurgents. Culminating in an election day riddled with problems, this film presents the viewer with an open and balanced look at Afghanistan’s troubled first attempt at democracy.

  7. Hafez says:

    please join and visit my blo with your comments. Its very helpful for me

    your Hafez

  8. homeinkabul says:

    Hi, I meant to suggest that you add the following to your website:

  9. homeinkabul says:

    May I also add that the attraction of war is also in it’s hope for equality? Class, education and status are all wiped away when on the battlefield (even if that is the reason that they’re fighting).

    I think it’s in the hope for more power, which lies the attraction of war for Afghans. And in that is where my concern lies in demobolizing soldiers. Even in the U.S., you see that for many soldiers, war is what defines their lives, it is what makes them special and creates their identity. If we have this in the U.S., how do we move past it as Afghans?

  10. homeinkabul says:

    **I meant its not it’s, in the first line

  11. This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. pumuckl says:

    there is definitely eros in the game. in all its form (its, not it’s :-))

    and I do not agree fully with the lines “If we have this in the U.S., how do we move past it as Afghans?”

    you can go anywhere in the world and you will always find that people who witnessed war or have been involved in it, they just have it in their souls. it does not depend if you are a peace keeping troup or guerilla, you are in the same place and the same fascination – negative or positive – is playing. overcoming it is hard, the longer you’ve been in it, the more addicted you got.

    but it is possible. just takes time. and a new generation, maybe.

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