Why a war? Because leaders expect it to be of significant benefit to their state, right? Perhaps it’s not as cut and dried as that. Try this on for size.

Historians and political scientists agree that war is a realistic, rational, utilitarian activity ]and] “that states are rational actors, carefully calculating costs of alternative courses of action and seeking to maximize their expected utility.”Rationality is simply assumed by Realists … Irrational, self-destructive motives are unthinkable. That would be “doing psychology”—a forbidden activity.

Realists therefore tend to accept the statements of war leaders when they claim to start wars for rational economic reasons. … The emotional meaning of these statements is never investigated by Realists [who] simply don’t recognize the pathological portions of the right hemisphere.

The above is extracted from a forthcoming book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, by Lloyd deMause, the dean of psychohistory. Incorporating elements of psychoanalysis and the social sciences, psychohistory maintains that the course of history is determined by the quality of child-rearing around the world. In fact, deMause continues

… Realists routinely overlook all the suicidal imagery that leaders voice as they actually make their decision to go to war. In the over a hundred wars I have researched in the past four decades, not one began by political or military leaders actually ever sitting down and adding up the economic costs and benefits of the war they are about to begin. More typically they voice suicidal, sacrificial motivations.

DeMause sums up how that works in an article. Here’s the general idea.

A new psychoclass comes of age, and introduces new inventions, new social arrangements and new prosperity, producing a Belle Epoque, with warmer personal relationships and less scapegoating of women and minorities.

The older psychoclasses become depressed by guilt over the prosperity and anxiety from the new social arrangements. The world seems out of control, as childhood traumas press for repetition [key to psychohistory – RW], and the nation regresses, goes on Purity Crusades and fears of women, and creates an economic depression. … When a cooperative Enemy is found … the nation sends its youth to be killed. … Images of restored virility and rebirth of the world predominate, and [the cycle begins all over again – RW].

In the summer issue of the Journal of Psychohistory (print only), deMause’s psychohistory colleague Robin Grille responds eloquently to an excerpt of The Origins of War in Child Abuse that the journal ran.

War follows from collective child abuse as night follows day. This psychohistorical finding is so consistent, it is so well explained by neuro-psychological, developmental and social sciences that child abuse and war should almost always be mentioned in the same sentence. … The hope for world peace is grounded in realism [take that, IR realists. – RW] when we see the efficacy of interventions that assure emotionally healthy beginnings for children, and compassionately address the post-traumatic emotional wounds for warmongers. [Emphasis added.]

In today’s globalized reality, every child is our child. When a boy is beaten in Balochistan, his pain will, with chilling velocity, impact our personal lives in the West. … When a school child’s buttocks are paddled in a Texas classroom, the bruises will manifests as far as Iraq.

In other words, Grille writes

The child is the key.

Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.