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#436: The Worth of War

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You’ve probably heard that Edwin Starr song “War, What is It Good For?” Well, my guest today makes the provocative argument that war is in fact good for a lot of things. His name is Benjamin Ginsberg. He’s a professor of political science at John Hopkins University and in his book, The Worth of War, he argues that while war certainly is terrible in the death and destruction it wreaks, it also gives rise to many of the political structures, technologies, and conveniences that society benefits from.We begin our conversation discussing how war is what gave rise to many things we take for granted, including nation-states, engineering, leadership strategies, and large-scale organizing. We also discuss many of the life-saving medical advances that have been made thanks to war, including sanitation, vaccinations, trauma surgery, and prosthetics. Professor Ginsberg then makes the case that war is the ultimate test of rationality, as it unsparingly eliminates bad ideas and bad thinking. We then discuss how war has counterintuitively advanced civil liberties, like voting, in the 19th and 20th centuries.This is a thought-provoking conversation that’s going to give you plenty of grist to consider and discuss with your friends.Get the show notes at aom.is/worthofwar.

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