“The simplest form of artificial weapon is a hard, solid, but unmodified, natural object of wood or stone. By simple improvements in the shapes of these objects, the crude actions of throwing and hitting become augmented with the addition of spearing, slashing, cutting and stabbing movements.
The next great behavioural trend in attacking methods was the extension of the distance between the attacker
and his enemy, and it is this step that has nearly been our undoing. Spears can work at a distance, but their range is too limited. Arrows are better, but they lack accuracy. Guns widen the gap dramatically, but bombs dropped from the sky can be delivered at an even greater range, and ground-to-ground rockets can carry the attacker’s ‘blow’ further still. The outcome of this is that the rivals, instead of being defeated, are indiscriminately destroyed. As I explained earlier, the proper business of intra-specific aggression at a biological level is the subduing and not the killing of the enemy. The final stages of destruction of life are avoided because the enemy either flees or submits. In both cases the aggressive encounter is then over: the dispute is settled. But the moment that attacking is done from such a distance that the appeasement signals of the losers cannot be read by the winners, then violent aggression is going to go raging on. It can only be consummated by a direct confrontation with abject submission, or the enemy’s headlong flight. Neither of these can be witnessed in the remoteness of modern aggression, and the result is wholesale slaughter on a scale unheard of in any other species.
Aiding and abetting this mayhem is our specially evolved co-operativeness. When we improved this important
trait in connection with hunting prey, it served us well, but it has now recoiled upon us. The strong urge towards mutual assistance to which it gave rise has become susceptible to powerful arousal in intra-specific aggressive contexts. Loyalty on the hunt has become loyalty in fighting, and war is born. Ironically, it is the evolution of a deep-seated urge to help our fellows that has been the main cause of all the major horrors of war. It is this that has driven us on and given us our lethal gangs, mobs, hordes and armies. Without it they would lack cohesion and aggression would once again become ‘personalized’.”
–Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape
“Finally, on October 3, at two minutes before four in the afternoon, the [V2] lifted off and arched out over the Baltic on a perfect fall day. The rocket, which carried on its side a Woman in the Moon logo, continued straight on its course until all that was visible was a glowing dot at the end of a white exhaust contrail. When the shifting winds at high altitude turned the contrail into a zig-zag of ‘frozen lightning’, many thought that the missile had gone awry. Nonetheless, it continued unperturbed, and at fifty-eight seconds the engine made a normal, if slightly early, cutoff. On the roof of the guidance division’s Measurement House, Dornberger and Zanssen wept and hugged each other with joy.”
–Michael J. Neufeld, The Rocket and the Reich
“For the first time in history there was a nuclear explosion. And what an explosion…For a brief period there was a lighting effect within a radius of 20 miles equal to several suns at midday; a huge ball of fire was formed which lasted for several seconds. This ball mushroomed and rose to a height of over ten thousand feet before it dimmed…‘Dr. Kistiakowsky, the impulsive Russian, threw his arms around Dr. Oppenheimer and embraced him with shouts of glee. Others were equally enthusiastic’.”
–Memorandum from General L. R. Groves to Secretary of War, “The Test,” 18 July 1945
“The industrial way of life leads to the industrial way of death. From Shiloh to Dachau, from Antietam to Stalingrad, from Hiroshima to Vietnam and Afghanistan, the specialty of industry and technology has been the mass production of human corpses.”
–Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto)