I am keeping the species strong and vigorous, primed for successful competition against other species. By exercising domination over others, by mercilessly weeding out the weak and unfit, I am performing a higher service to the species as a whole. This is a perfectly valid approach and we duly take it up in chapters Two and Three , but by itself it is not enough. From the horrendous murderous acts of the Holocaust to the unveiling of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the war was anything but boring. Underneath the surface, they cannot help but be secretly preparing a coup against each other.
That is not a road I want to take ans it is full of potential traps and pitfalls. This book will leave you deep in though about yourself and your country and the choices we make for some time. Where it went awry for me was once it turned from history to evangelization in the last chapters. Decisions at Midway, 1942: Moral Character As a Factor in Battle 8. Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1860.
I think it is one of the best books I have ever read. Reading this book forced me to fundamentally assess the choices I make in my own life. However, one needs to acknowledge that there could be divergent perspectives on the same set of events. Bess is to be congratulated for pulling it off. Racial ideas shaped both German and Japanese war aims, and helped spur these two peoples to take the aggressive actions that precipitated military hostilities. Finally, it meshed neatly with the widespread phenomenon of imperialism, conveniently justifying all kinds of excursions into the rest of the world, subjugating other peoples in the name of Progress and the Higher Good of the Species. Social Darwinist thinkers of the late nineteenth century also added a twist to this logic, an intriguing moral tone.
The Japanese, Germans, and Italians, despite all the profound differences in their cultures and histories, shared a fundamental set of ambitions in common: to redress perceived injustices and raw deals of the past; to stop being treated as second-class citizens; and ultimately, to climb to their rightful place at the top of the world heap. Hence, we have to move aggressively in preempting them from gaining too much ground, bringing them firmly under our tutelage, so that we can restrain not only their actions, but their reproductive rates as well. Because they had to go in low and slow, they were almost all wiped out and not one torpedo hit. I didn't complete the last two chapters, non-enthused, but terrorism and hacking seem to undermi This was an odd experience. A wonderful mix of history, sociology and moral philosophy. Here, one entered the realm of free will, of deliberate reshaping of environments.
However, some of them are outdated, neglecting more recent scholarship. Animals obeyed instincts, the inflexible behavior patterns with which they were born; they submitted blindly to the demands and limitations imposed on them by their biology and their surroundings. This was an odd experience. Such are the realities of Human Nature. The Enduring Legacy of the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg and Tokyo p.
Bess's objectivity and his evenhanded tone keep him far from coming across as a self-righteous moralist or, worse, a classroom scold. Animals could certainly adapt, through natural selection, but this was not a matter of conscious, deliberate choice: it was an unconscious process that happened to them collectively over many generations, not something they undertook as individuals acting on their own initiative. It is hard to find many significant aspects of this war in which racial distinctions did not play an important role. It is certainly true, they argued, that the non-European races are weaker and less advanced than us white Europeans, but the plain fact is that they reproduce like rabbits. We have what we like to call the freedom of decision-making, but often it simply seems like a facade. Germany in the 1930s was still seething with bitterness and humiliation at the loss of the First World War and the harsh peace treaty of Versailles.
With wisdom and clarity, Michael Bess brings a fresh eye to these difficult questions and others, arguing eloquently against the binaries of honor and dishonor, pride and shame, and points instead toward a nuanced reckoning with one of the most pivotal conflicts in human history. The Iraq War has only confirmed that, for years to come, no future conflict will go unexamined. Ultimately, keeping our hands clean is not only a moral but also a political imperative. In the half- century following 1860, the Social Darwinist ideology became highly influential throughout Europe and America and later in Japan as well : ultimately, one of the most important converts to this grim worldview was Adolf Hitler himself. Bystanders: How Much Is Not Enough? Others attribute the external pressures surrounding them and societal factors as the facilitator of choices. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Japan, after centuries of isolation, wanted to be a great power and colonial empire like France and Great Britain.