Eliminating the Causes of War


John Scales Avery, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

A New Freely Downloadable Book

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, which discusses the causes of war, and how they may be eliminated. The book may be downloaded  and circulated free of charge from the following link:


The Danger of Nuclear War

War was always madness, always immoral, always the cause of unspeakable suffering, economic waste and widespread destruction, and always a source of poverty, hate, barbarism and endless cycles of revenge and counter-revenge. It has always been a crime for soldiers to kill people, just as it is a crime for murderers in civil society to kill people. No flag has ever been wide enough to cover up atrocities.

But today, the development of all-destroying thermonuclear weapons has put war completely beyond the bounds of sanity and elementary humanity.

Can we not rid ourselves of both nuclear weapons and the institution of war itself? We must act quickly and resolutely before our beautiful world is reduced to radioactive ashes, together with everything that we love.

Population Pressure and War

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) is famous for his studies of the social effects of population pressure. In his second “Essay on Population”, published in 1803, Malthus looked at all the societies then known through the accounts of historians and explorers.

In most of the societies which Malthus described, a causal link can be seen, not only between population pressure and poverty, but also between population pressure and war. As one reads his “Essay”, it becomes clear why both these terrible sources of human anguish saturate so much of history, and why efforts to eradicate them have so often met with failure: The only possible way to eliminate poverty and war is to reduce the pressure of population by preventive checks, such as birth control or late marriage, since the increased food supply produced by occasional cultural advances can give only very temporary relief.

Tribalism and Nationalism

Human emotional nature has not changed much since our ancestors lived in small, genetically-homogeneous tribes, competing with other tribes for territory on the grasslands of Africa. In this situation, the tribe as a whole was the unit upon which the Darwinian forces of natural selection acted. The whole tribe either survived or else perished in wars with competing tribes.

In such a situation, heroic self-sacrifice in war makes sense. If the tribe survives, the genes of the individual who died for his tribe will be passed on into the future by other tribal members who carry the same genes.

Today we all still have the emotions which make war possible, but these emotions are amplified by mass communication into love for a particular nation. Unfortunately, patriotic citizens are not only willing to die for their nation; they are also willing to kill those designated as enemies.

Military-Industrial Complexes

In his farsighted Farewell Address, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Today, the world spends roughly two trillion dollars every year on armaments, This vast river of money, almost too great to be imagined, means that many people are making a living from war. It is the reason why war can be thought of as a social institution. It is one of the main reasons why war persists, although everyone knows that war is the source of much of the suffering that afflicts humanity

Resource Wars

Many of the wars that plague the world today can be seen as resource wars. As populations grow, together with consumer demand, powerful nations compete for the limited and dwindling supply of natural resources. Wars in the Middle East, for example, would hardly have destroyed the region to such an extent if it had not been rich in oil and natural gas. It is predicted that many future wars will be centered on the right to water resources.

International Law

One of the chapters in the book deals with the history of international law, from Hammurabi’s Code and the Magna Carta to more recent developments, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is a great achievement, despite being opposed by all the nuclear weapons states and their allies.

Reforming the United Nations

After the unspeakable horrors of World War II, delegates from 50 Allied nations met in San Francisco California. The purpose of the conference, which took place between 25 April and 26 June, 1945, was to set up an international organization that would be able to abolish the institution of war.

Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter requires that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Thus, the purpose of the United Nations was and is to abolish the institution of war, However, the Charter which the delegates produced was too weak to achieve this goal. The United Nations, in its present form is a confederation, rather than federation. It lacks the key power of federations, the power to make laws that are binding on individuals.

A World Federation

To make it equal to the great task of abolishing the institution of war, the United Nations must be strengthened by giving it the powers of a federation. The essential difference between a confederation and a federation, both of them unions of states, is that a federation has the power to make and to enforce laws that act on individuals, rather than attempting to coerce states.

Other reforms are also needed: If the UN is to become an effective World Federation, it will need a reliable source of income to make the organization less dependent on wealthy countries, which tend to give suppor only to those interventions of which they approve. In fact the present income of the United Nations id laughably small in comparison to the tasks that are given to it. The income of the United Nations, strengthened and converted to a World Federation, should be increased by a factor of many hundreds.

Historically, the federal form of government has proved to be extremely robust and successful. Many of today’s nations are federations of smaller, partially autonomous, member states. Among these nations are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa and the United States.

Other Books and Articles about Global Problems Are on These Links:




I hope that you will circulate the links in this article to friends and contacts who might be interested.


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website: https://www.johnavery.info/

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Apr 2022.

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