An Artificiality of War: Social Construction of Organized Violence

Ben Zweibelson, PhD
17 min readNov 28, 2023

This is part one of a nine part series where I share some current research that I am working on concerning the nature of human conflict and how our species socially constructs reality within which, we clash swords, fling missiles, and destroy tangible and intangible constructs. This was something I worked on originally as a book chapter, but since then re-organized my third book project so that many of these concepts become their own dedicated chapter. So, this will be put here at Medium as an example of the writing process that I personally like to perform: Creating rough drafts, flinging them in series online, re-tooling them, and eventually getting to the great book projects that we usually want to dive into immediately, often unprepared. My preparation is as follows- research, think, write, edit, post, write more, edit more, post more, refine, and eventually cobble together a book. Somewhere in there is arguing with editors…

Image source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/russia-ukraine-war-year-russias-invasion-ukraine/story?id=97247428

The terms war and warfare are used in a particular manner throughout this work and require immediate clarification to readers, specifically those accustomed to one dominant (western) war philosophy that is systemic across much of the modern military profession. Today’s military profession and by extension, the vast majority of International Relations theory, security affairs, foreign policy and defense strategies embrace what is a Clausewitzian, Jominian, Westphalian, and natural science inspired theory for modern war.[1] Readily accepted by this group is the notion that war has some unchanging, enduring nature while the character of warfare is emergent, “blowing with the winds of change” as the rock song goes.[2] Modern war theory is comprehended and acted upon entirely through an engineering mindset, structured through analytic optimization pairing predetermined ends (goals) rationalized with direct, controlled actions (ways and means), and resting upon a foundation inspired by natural sciences and mathematics.[3]

Such military action, usually aiming for heroic and decisive patterns that form linear-causal configurations, is paired with a preconceived goal, and the ideal world is correlated to the real world so that ways and means will bring about desired changes along a linear timeline.[4] Popular today and dating back several centuries, this has not always…

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Ben Zweibelson, PhD

Philosopher of Conflict; works at U.S. Space Command; All opinions my own!