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War and Violence: predisposition in human beings Essay

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Updated: Nov 24th, 2019


We can trace war and violence from the beginning of recorded history of human beings. Even before then, humans have always been violent and at war for various reasons.

Today, many people still prefer war and violence as means of solving some issues or world affairs. Human beings have perpetuated war and violence due to their greed, pride, and hatred. People kill one another because of hatred or the need to acquire what others possess. Nations arm themselves and opt for wars because they need world respect or resources from other nations.

Violent men have ascended to power through bloody wars and violence in order to satisfy their desires. Others have used religion to justify killings of others or themselves. It is obvious that men have used wars and violence to end wars. However, this has not been an effective solution because there are new realities of wars and potential war threats. This observation has led some scholars to conclude that wars and violence are unavoidable and basic realities of human cultures.

We can understand wars and violence from various perspectives. In this essay, we look at war and violence from the point of view of Oroonoko by Behn.

War and Violence: predisposition in human beings

From Oroonoko, we can understand that the text presents anti-colonial ideas. It shows slavery in its worst form. In other words, the text associated slavery with greed, brutality, and dishonesty. Behn’s text expresses great dissatisfaction with the beheading of King Charles I and several attempts to assassinate Charles II. Behn attempted to show that violence and greed were predisposition in the Britons. The author also notes betrayal and dishonesty that come with violence.

For instance, “the British captain wins trust of Oroonoko” (Behn 28) by befriending him. However, the captain betrays and lies to Oroonoko by selling him to Trefry. These acts of betrayal and lies are also present in other people of authority Oroonoko interacts with like Surinam. Behn also reflects Byam as a person who greed as consumed by writing, “he was one who loved to live at others’ expense” (Behn 70).

Majorities agree that the main causes of wars are greed, economic issues, and inequality in society. This argument posits that we engage in wars and violence in order to progress their economic aims. Such engagements may aim at previously denied resources or attempts to gain access and control of resources.

In this context, greed has been the main force behind wars and violence. For instance, the ability of people to gain access to resources that they can loot enhances conflict. This conflict emanates from greed because of the possible gains in terms of profits or other tangible or intangible gains.

War, Violence, and Resources

We need to understand that people engage in wars for various reasons. It is important to draw a distinction between wars for resources and amassing of resources for other purposes. We understand that warring factions may need an adequate supply of resources to keep them in the battlefield.

However, problems emerge when people fight to accumulate resources for the sake it. This is because resource accumulation and support to warring factions differ. It is difficult to identify distinctions between conflict for resources and conflict to accumulate resources because courses of wars often change before completion of wars. Initial causes of wars may be genuine. However, as conflicts advance, greed may become a new defining factor in conflicts.

This is usually evident from a change from a collective objective to privileged objective of the few. Therefore, wars and violence when viewed under economic rationale depict various reasons for engaging in them. In this context, we have to understand how people use wars to pursue economic agendas.

British developed their economies by using slaves from Africa. They had to capture and sale slaves for economic gains. Behn’s work promoted the need to eradicate slavery. The author depicts wars and violence of slavery as evil. This is because whites used cruel acts against slaves. For instance, the author notes:

when they thought they were sufficiently revenged on him, they untied him as he almost fainted due to the loss of blood, from a thousand wounds all over his body and led him bleeding and naked as he was, and loaded him all over with irons and then rubbed his wounds, to complete their cruelty, with Indian pepper” (Behn 67).

Such acts only depicted violence against slaves, which British exploited to create fear among slaves.

Behn notes, “those who want slaves make a bargain with a master or a captain of a ship, and contract to pay him so much apiece, a matter of twenty pound a head, for as many as he agrees for, and to pay for ’em when they shall be delivered on such a plantation” (Behn 3). For the British, the option of economic success depended on exploiting African slaves. However, such economic gain came with considerable wars and violence at the expense of slaves.

The British became profit-seeking people in their own ways as Behn noted, “those whom we make use of in our plantations of sugar are Negroes, black slaves altogether” (Behn 3). The British had to control territories and monopolize slave trade. They also derived huge profits due to constant demands.

Slaves were the main economic drivers of wars and conflicts. Past wars and violence have shown that most wars emanated out of the need to accumulate resources. For instant, Charles Taylor managed to get millions of dollars from Liberia every year by focusing on the country’s main resources like diamond, iron ore, and timber among others.

In Cambodia, Khmer Rouge also plundered the country’s resources like timber and gems with the help of his Thai associates. Wars and conflicts in Africa usually revolve around resources like diamonds and oils. These minerals are lucrative commodities of facilitating wars. Wars and conflicts manifested themselves in different ways against slaves.

Violence in society manifests itself in a number of ways. These include murder, assault, rape, war, slander, betrayal, massacre, and execution among others. Behn’s book depicts the worst form of execution ever by stating “so inhuman were the justices who stood by to see the execution, who after paid dearly enough for their insolence. They cut Caesar in quarters, and sent them to several of the chief plantations” (Behn 63).

The execution of Caesar shows how people can turn aggressive based on the prevailing circumstance. Human beings tend to learn aggression from others. There is a notion that the use of violence and aggressive tendencies guarantee the desired results regardless of suffering people endure during the course. This is the belief that people have used to be aggressive and promote violence for the sake of achieving resources or power they desire.

The use of wars strengthened obedience among slaves while physical coercion ensured that slave masters had absolute control over slaves. However, usages of wars and violence only provide temporary solutions. This is because when violence ends, subjects also reduce their levels of obedience to authorities. This is why slave masters used constant vigilance to watch slaves. However, slaves had to revolt against their masters because of excessive violence and threats.

Most people argue that their wars and violence have credible cause. This is not true because negative effects of wars are devastating in society. This means we cannot use either religion or any other way to justify acts of wars and violence. Slave masters turned to violence because they felt that they could not control slaves due to the decline of their power. The use of violence against subjects may reveal weaknesses among rulers.

Countries may engage in wars and acts of violence to test their power and control over others. Protracted wars only enhance further usage violence. Wars and violence enhance superiority of people. For instance, Behn shows that Britons were superior over natives. On the other hand, she portrays native people as savages who also engaged in acts of atrocities and violence.


Wars and violence have consumed values of the world. People have adopted ways that fit their desired outcomes. This means that people resort to violence and wars that only create chaotic societies. People create wars and violence based on their greed, pride, and hatred. Different economic and political reasons have fueled wars.

People have blamed inequalities in allocations of resources or a lack of taking part in decision-making processes as the main causes of conflicts. Serious arguments have concentrated on the real factors that result into conflicts. Others have concluded that wars and violence take place due to economic inequalities. This argument originates from the idea that many people want more resources than they have. However, such people resort to force because they cannot gain access to such resources with ease.

In this sense, we can conclude that greed is responsible for wars and violence in society. However, we also have needy people who need to gain access to resources for potential benefits. Greed reflects the idea of craving for more resources than needed. Therefore, people who fight for noble problems are not acting in the interest of greed. However, if this war aims to support privileged class, then greed undermines the noble fight.

Some scholars have concluded that wars and violence are reactions to a number of problems people face in society such as scarcity of resources, violations of individuals’ rights, inequalities in power and resources distribution among others. War factors usually take racial or ethnic aspects as Behn shows in the book. The British used wars and violence against slaves to advance their economic agendas.

Some forms of wars and violence are irrational because they lack worthwhile motives since most of them may originate from earlier hatred or vengeance. When we understand economic issues, then we have crucial factors that can help us formulate effective interventions for wars and violence. This suggests that we have to comprehend war economies and the role of greed in perpetuating violence.

Works Cited

Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko; or, the Royal Slave. London: W.W Norton & Company, 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "War and Violence: predisposition in human beings." November 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/war-and-violence-predisposition-in-human-beings/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'War and Violence: predisposition in human beings'. 24 November.

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