Honorable Mention

Wed Aug 12 10:36:06 2009
One of the main themes of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War is how the war, and the greed and imperialism that fueled it, undermined the social and cultural values of the participants. I think the Spartan surrender at Sphacteria and Pylos should be viewed as dishonorable and a deviation from traditional practice. This is one more step, a small and perhaps justifiable step, that continues the unraveling of these two cultures.

The relationship between honor and military practice is complex and self-reinforcing. In retrospect it seems absurd to view Vietnamese guerilla practices as dishonorable, while at the same time viewing large-scale carpet bombing and chemical deforestation as perfectly acceptable. As technology and conditions change, so does the sense of what is honorable. As a result the social value of honor may necessarily lag behind technology making it an essentially conservative attribute.


~ by severalfourmany on August 12, 2009.

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