The Most Dangerous Animal

Published: 2021-08-16 14:40:08
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Smith’s The Most Dangerous Animal, he first defines war as a word that is “ordinary” therefore a “workaday word (8). ” He says we cannot be too broad with the idea of war but also not too narrow. War is a diverse phenomenon. In order to understand war “we must have an appreciation of its variety: the sometimes dramatically different forms that it has taken from time to time and place to place (11). ” First Livingstone approaches the nature of “true war,” true war is a recent development that started in the Middle East.
But before the recent development of men in combat; there was raiding. Raiding is a “primitive warfare said to exist below the military horizon” (15). War is not something so clear and exact that can be easily defined. Livingstone approaches war as a wide spectrum; something similar to light. It varies on a spectrum up and down. “War encompasses a wide spectrum, from raids in the Amazon rain forest, through gang battles on the streets of Los Angeles to the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (16).
Basically, war is any action premeditated that is brought upon by one group or people to another. Livingstone rejects the idea that war is a learned behavior. Rather, he argues that war is an innate characteristic of human nature deeply rooted in us. As such, “war is distinctively human” (6). In our society today, we like to believe that we are moral creatures. Our television and media glorify war. They “dishonestly represent battle” (2). We have this distorted view of war and ourselves.
For example, in the case of the Korean War; the Americans, who believed they were moral creatures, pushed for war and tried to exterminate the North Koreans after the taste of their first victory. After the Americans were able to push the Communists back to 38th parallel they continued to push further when the plan called for containment. Why did they push even farther if they did not want war? Could war really be an innate feature of human nature? Livingstone’s theory reminds me a lot of Hobbes’ theory of human nature. In Hobbes’ state of nature, humans were nasty, brutish, and were out for each other.
Humans constantly lived at a state of war and were capable of committing gruesome actions to gain property. Hobbes’ world is a world where at any moment we could be terrorized. There is no concept of safety. Similarly, Livingstone describes a place were we are almost at a constant war. Livingstone discusses how “all human beings, have the potential to be hideously cruel and destructive to one another” (4). Not just strangers but anyone, even your family, friends, or loved ones. If the case, how can anyone be safe? We would be constantly suspicious and are wary of each other.

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