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therealmidnite wrote

I had a much longer reply typed out before this site decided to kill it, so I'm just going to give you the short version - before accusing people of "amorality" or deciding what activities actually require said "amorality" (with nothing but baseless assumptions about what "amorality" actually means in the real world), perhaps it's best to actually know something about "amorality" in the first place? Because I've pored over every line in the various translations of "The Art Of War" far more than any other book - and I have yet to find one line in it that can be described as "amoral" (with the possible exception of some of the "notes" added by different observers throughout the centuries, of course).


autonomous_hippopotamus wrote

Please don't hesitate to make lengthy responses. I don't :)

On 'amorality' i don't think amorality is particularly bad in every context. considering a lot of morality is religious bullsit, I hope that point doesn't need elaboration. But i mean here amorality in the sense of being able to kill without remorse or do things that in any other context would be considered a grave crime. It's extremely difficult for most people to consciously kill anyone, under any context--this is why military training involves so much indoctrination--even in the u.s. military most soldiers don't shoot to kill during combat. Most people puke or have some violent reaction the first time they kill another person and are haunted by guilt for the rest of their lives. A military leader must make decisions that kill thousands of people, this requires an extreme level of callousness.

The Art of War is one of my favorite books as well. but i disagree. It might not seem like it because the text is written in an abstract tone (common to military literature) but Sun Tzu advocates some pretty monstrous things.

For example, Sun Tzu says when you are behind enemy lines you should "forage" from the enemy. Does he mean you should pick from your enemies' blueberry bushes? Yes, and also you should rob the local farmers and loot their food supplies, or even burn the fields and store houses, in the process killing or leaving innocent people to starve.

Sun Tzu says we should avoid strong targets and attack the enemies weak points. Weak points also include what today are called 'soft targets' i.e. civilians, civil infrastructure etc. This is not unique to Sun Tzu, this is the logic of armed struggle.

Sun Tzu says one of the "dangerous faults which may affect a general" are "over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble."

What does that mean? It means that the general should be not be concerned with casualties outside of the strategy goal. Human life has no value as such. If 70% your people die in an attack which achieves a strategic goal, then it was worth it. An effective general does not let casualties effect them emotionally. Causalities, whether military or civilian, are secondary to the overall strategic objective: victory. In military logic, things like freedom, happiness, consent, etc. mean nothing, Human life is disposable, something to be gambled with. The end always justifies the means ( and for Sun Tzu the end is the preservation and expansion of rule of a monarch.)

And of course, Sun Tzu's whole thesis is about Deception--deceiving not only the enemy, but your own men or even the general public, creating an intricate networks of spies, spreading fake information, etc. Espionage is a science of applied amorality. Sun Tzu even advocates the use of the "Doomed Spy" who is a poor sap who is fed false information, then put in a situation where they will be captured and then tortured or possibly killed in order to mislead the enemy.

So idk The Art of War is pretty amoral imo