War And Ideology; & Violence And The Absolutist State

Published in

John Childs reviews

  • War And Ideology
    Eric Carlton - Routledge, 1990 - viii+207 pp.- £25
  • Violence And The Absolutist State: Studies In European And Ottoman History
    Ed. Stephen Turk Christensen - Akademisk Forlag, University Press Copenhagen, 1990 - 138pp. - Dkr. 105

Both these books address the old question of the causes of violence. Eric Carlton examines the culpability of ideology in inter-state conflict. After outlining the main sociological theories about why states fight – man's innate aggression, economics, culture, moral decline and ritual – Carlton states that 'ideologies are sets of beliefs which define and validate the policies and practices of particular (state) systems' and they 'en- shrine a complex nexus of values which are expressed as belief, and that belief affects actions and is not just the intellectualisation of the need for action.' This seems such a broad definition that the majority of values in most states may be regarded as ideologies; war can surely be caused by anything and everything which pertains to a state.

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