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Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805057870, Paperback)In this ambitious work, Barbara Ehrenreich offers a daring explanation for humans' propensity to wage war. Rather than approach the subject from a physiological perspective, pinpointing instinct or innate aggressiveness as the violent culprit, she reaches back to primitive man's fear of predators and the anxieties associated with life in the food chain. To deal with the reality of living as prey, she argues that blood rites were created to dramatize and validate the life-and-death struggle. Jumping ahead to the modern age, Ehrenreich brands nationalism a more sophisticated form of blood ritual, a phenomenon that conjures similar fears of predation, whether in the form of lost territory or the more extreme ethnic cleansing. Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War may not offer a cure for human aggression, but the author does present a convincing argument for the difficulties associated with achieving peace.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:20 -0400)
"In Blood Rites, renowned social critic Barbara Ehrenreich confronts a subject that has challenged thinkers from Homer to Freud: What draws our species to war and even makes us see it as a kind of sacred undertaking? Ehrenreich takes us on an original journey from the grasslands of prehistoric Africa to the trenches of Verdun, from the spectacular human sacrifices of precolonial Central America to the carnage and holocaust of twentieth-century "total war."" "Sifting through the fragile records of prehistory, Ehrenreich discovers the wellspring of war in an unexpected place - not in a "killer instinct" unique to the males of our species, nor in our Paleolithic hunting tradition, but in the blood rites early humans performed to reenact their terrifying experience of predation by stronger carnivores. It is in these ancient blood rites that Ehrenreich finds the first form of organized, socially sanctioned violence - and the spiritual antecedent of war." "Moving into historical time, Ehrenreich traces the evolution of war from the sacred undertaking of a privileged warrior caste to the central rite of the mass religion we know today as nationalism and shows the persistence of ancient fears in the most modern rituals and passions of war."--BOOK JACKET.
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