Wars have been with us for as long as there has been any social unit the size of a tribe or greater. They must, in spite of all the protest songs and pacifistic sermons, seem somehow natural or inevitable to the minorities that lead them and the majorities that support them. They would not have to be seen as anything but good business to explain the participation of some corporations in these sick paroxysms of history.
This may be too weak a metaphore to lend itself to any redress of this mess but I find in this behavior of bodies politic an analogue to a mechanism of our physical bodies: overzealous immune reactions. Doctors categorize quite a few types of disease that we might lump under the heading "overzealous immune reaction", but that describes a number of ways in which the cellular and systemic mechanisms that are supposed to ward off infection can do more harm than good by going awry. Under my general category I would put anaphylactic shock, autoimmune diseases such as lupus, arthritis, MS and others. One of the categories that medical science sets apart is hypersenstitivities. I, like many, suffer awfully from poison ivy, a type IV hypersensitivity:
Type IV reactions are not abnormal. Rather, they serve a very important purpose, which is to defend the body against bacteria and fungi that live within cells (e.g., Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Pneumocystis carinii). Unlike viruses, these intracellular pathogens do not use a cell’s machinery to manufacture their proteins. These bugs have everything that they need to replicate on their own; they are just using the cell as a cozy place in which to hide from the immune system. Therefore, the cell’s quality control mechanism does not sample pieces of proteins from these invaders and display them on the cell surface. As a consequence, T cytotoxic cells are not signaled that these cells are infected, as they would be if the invader were a virus. The only way that the body knows that these intracellular pathogens are present is when they are released from an infected cell to spread to new host cells. At this point, T lymphocytes that recognize antigens from these bugs are activated. These specialized T cells begin to secrete factors that call macrophages into the area. The macrophages, in turn, secrete toxic factors that kill the surrounding cells. Since the macrophages have no way of knowing precisely which cells are infected, they just destroy everything in the area indiscriminately. Think of the macrophages as bombardiers, destroying everything in a village in the hopes of routing out the unseen enemy. T cytotoxic cells, on the other hand, are sharpshooters that can pick off an enemy soldier when they spy a glimpse of him in a window. Delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions can be drastic and destructive, but it is the only way that the body can deal with microorganisms that shield themselves from attack by hiding in the body’s own cells.
What cruel mind fashioned such a defense? Why wouldn't something as pointlessly unpleasant as that fade away under the pressures that select the fitest? The answer is that my personal agonies mean nothing, and I don't die of poison ivy. In fact I probably live because my immune system is so damn vigilant.
The body's complex system of cell types and their many interactions rivals the complexity of human societies and maps on to the specialized division of labor that characterize even social units as small as the family. There being things that would like to make a meal of us, specialization for defense is needed. The imbalanced or mistargeted action of some functions within the body or the body politic leads to disease and dysfunction. Cells have no choice but to execute their programs however miswired. But we should not use emotion or trust instinct: relying on behavior evolved in simple times is a way to be eliminated as unfit in complex times. The balance is too hard, maybe impossible, to evolve to perfection because the range of environments from hostile scarcity to peaceful abundance is too variable for one adaptation. Only the flexible adaptation we call intelligence could potentially save us from cycles of over reaction and retaliation...but we, as crowds or states, seldom avail ourselves of that.
I find this overzealousness in the body politic too. Some minds are disposed to sense threat and buy all hints or claims that we are under attack. That sort of zeal is usually bull. Turning against your own fellow citizens when you are of that mind and they are not is common in the worst moments of history and is a mechanism quite analgous to the sloppy slaughtering by T lymphocytes.
If the greatest democracy in history is morphing into a fascist state with all the parallels to the worst dictatorship in history, why should I not look for what common influence might be at work in both of these cases? I need look no farther than human nature. Get well soon america