History - the primary reasons for war

  • Natural Resources = land, oil, gold, water, traderoutes etc.
  • Money/Extortion = Enslaving people, conquering just for taxation or plunder.
  • Religion = Obvious.
  • Political ideology = old Soviet thinking.
  • Culture of war = Vikings.
  • Race = parts of the Civil War.

I’m curious what people think the primary cause of war has been over history.
Nowadays people always want to blame religion or oil for war, but I’m not so sure its so clearly defined.

This isn’t a political debate, just a look at hsitroy and what seems to draw the human race to conflict. For myself, I’m leaning towards the need for land & natural resorces to support a growing population. <— as the primary cause of war. Japan’s attack of the US in WWII and the current situation in the Middle East kind of supports this. However, I don’t know where this would put other warring situations like Alexander the Great & the early Roman Empire. It seems the desire for natural resources is always there… but is it the root cause, or a by-product of war?

Obviously it’s a complex dynamic of history, but post what you think what has been the #1 trigger for war.

The primary cause of war: “I want your stuff.”
The second-most cause of war: “Hey, those guys want our stuff!”

It all begins with: “We don’t have any stuff.”

It almost always comes down to resources/territory as the base reason. Religion is very often used as a tool to incite a populace into supporting a war that the people in charge really want to wage for money/resources/territory. Even the crusades, arguably the most religious-centric wars in history, really boiled down to European powermongers wanting the wealth and the territory available in the holy land.

The Jews.

Money, land, power - pick one or more of the above. The rest is just window dressing for the masses.

Also black people, aliens and the Illuminati.

Also: they may want our stuff, let’s get theirs first.

The Allspark

The Mexican-American war, the Punic Wars, the Boer Wars, the Clone Wars… All because of the Israelites. :-/

War. War never changes.

  • Natural Resources = land, oil, gold, water, traderoutes etc.


  • Money/Extortion = Enslaving people, conquering just for taxation or plunder.

People are a natural resource, so Greed.

  • Religion = Obvious.

The only religions that want to conquer other religions are the ones that require fresh converts. So people = resources = greed.

  • Political ideology = old Soviet thinking.

Soviets wanted to spread ideology to get people = resources = greed.

  • Culture of war = Vikings.

They were greedy bastards.

  • Race = parts of the Civil War.

This was about people as a resource too. So, greed again.

If you want a relatively peaceful life, don’t covet, and don’t brag.

I think if you look far enough back into history to times when nations were at the command of single powerful men, you get things other than pure greed. Anger, for instance. And sheer bloddy-mindedness. I’ve recently finished reading Justin Marozzi’s ‘Tamerlane’ - it has been said that Timur was “unable to pass by the kingdom of Armenia without razing it” - he did so six times in total. Now, there wasn’t that much stuff there even the first time - he apparently just enjoyed it.

Why did Xerxes spend so much time and effort on Greece, when there was so little stuff there compared to the other parts of the ancient Middle East? He was riled, and when the emperor gets riled, the entire Persian Empire gets riled with him.

Many philosophers agree that evil, of which war is a prime example, is caused by the human capacity to be driven by external desires. So the “greed” answer is the most common. We want things beyond what we simply need, and that leads to conflict. If we were all absolutely satisfied in just attaining our basic, fundamental desires (read: needs) and no more than that, all would be well.

Spinoza, a Jewish philosopher (I throw him in just as a “heya!” to chet and Mel Gibson), also made that point that there are two types of desires: actions – needs that are internally generated, like the needs for food, shelter, clothing, and safety and passions – external desires that come from observing the outside world and wanting things. Actions are inherently good, passions can be either good or bad. He also argued that it’s desires that make us band together into societies. So, along with the bad (e.g. war) we also get good, things like helping people in need, having laws that keep us from killing each other, etc…

So, if I had to answer the question of what causes wars: 1) passions (desires that are externally generated) and 2) multiple human societies – if we were all a single, homogeneous group than we wouldn’t be able to target another group to take their stuff.

2 is caused by lots of things, namely geography, racial differences, religious differences, language differences… you get the picture. But it’s the superset. If we lived in the Star Trek universe, Earth would be a single society and we’d have to look for Klingons with whom we could war.

Spinoza was Dutch. Like Leibniz was German. And Locke was English. And Diderot was French.

Knowing what little I do about Spinoza, I don’t think he’d label himself Jewish. He was completely ostracized by the Jewish community for his ideas. Ex-communicated if you will.

Well, technically a Dutch Jew who was “excommunicated” from the Amsterdam Jewish community, most likely due to his alleged homosexuality.

Psst, nice stealth edit, but I posted before you added the rest :) And I disagree with the notion that he was ex-communicated due to his ideas. Judaism has always had learned men with radical beliefs, and they didn’t get excommunicated. Nope, it was likely a) his homosexuality or b) the Amsterdam Jewish community didn’t want to risk offending the Dutch authorities, they needed the place of safety during the Inquisition and didn’t want to rock the boat.

No, he was descended from Portuguese Jews.

And was born to two Jewish parents, and was a Jew until his community gave him the boot. Thus, a Jew.

No, they gave him the boot. Therefore, not a Jew.

You say potato, I say po-tah-to. OK, I’ll concede and call him “a Dutch philosopher of Jewish decent, who was raised and learned in the Jewish tradition until expelled from the Jewish community for arguable reasons”.

All that effort just because I wanted to poke a little fun at chet and Mel Gibson. Huh.