Are Wars Rational?
I have three main propositions. First, war is not hard-wired into humans or only men. It is a product of social stratification and states. Second, decisions for war have been predominantly taken by rulers and their entourages, regardless of the formal constitution of the state. Lacking interest in foreign policy, the people are easily manipulated into war. Third, most wars have been irrational in terms of means or ends or both together, because as well as supposed material or strategic interests, war and peace decisions are constrained by emotions, ideologies, domestic politics, and “baked in” culture and institutions. I derive these propositions from quantitative research on wars since 1816 and my own long-run analysis of sequences of war across three continents.
Michael Mann, Michael Mann, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles; Siegfried Lanshut Preisträger 2018
Moderation: Wolfgang Knöbl, Direktor des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung