Why “By Other Means?”

This blog has been over a decade in the making, I think. The longevity of the blog’s title has been stronger than the consistency of its content, to be sure. But now that my kids are getting a bit older and I’m starting to act more like a functioning adult, this blog can get the attention I think it deserves.

Clearly the world doesn’t need another blog. So this blog isn’t for the world, it’s for me. It’s a chance for me to organize my own thinking, forcing me to actually apply some craft and thoughtfulness to what’s rattling around. Age may bring theoretically bring more wisdom, but it really doesn’t offer much in the way of organizing it. That takes effort.

This blog also forces me to write, which I haven’t done nearly enough of over the past twenty years, and I’m dismayed to find that particular muscle is weaker, slower, and dumber than I remember it being. So work, work, work. Read, research, write, and revise, revise, revise. I’m assuming that lots of practice will make it better, but the only way to know is to try.

And why “By Other Means?” Because I have spent my entire adult life focused on Budo, or the study of warfare, and it’s impossible to study warfare without realizing that everything in life can be viewed through the lens of Budo.

The full quote by Carl von Clausewitz is typically translated into English as “War is the continuation of politics by other means,” from his seminal book On War. And that commonly rendered translation is best seen in its full context in the Introduction:

Besides establishing this real difference in Wars [to overthrow the enemy versus conquests at the frontiers of his country], another practically necessary point of view must at the same time be established, which is, that war is only a continuation of state policy by other means. This point of view being adhered to everywhere, will introduce much more unity into the consideration of the subject, and things will be more easily disentangled from each other.

 

Also, from later in the Introduction:

War is a mere continuation of policy by other means. We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.


In other words, it’s important to remember that warfare is not the purpose in and of itself. Warfare is a tool to achieve a political goal. It’s a powerful tool, to be sure, which is why Clausewitz’s writings were both extensive and groundbreaking for his detailed contextualization of warfare within this larger picture of state policy.

Which brings us back to the original question: What’s the point of this blog?

Conflict, violence, and warfare will certainly be discussed. But really, it’s an excuse for me to look at all the things in our lives that affect our capacity to wage war, whether personally or politically. (Maybe there’s the idea of metaphorical warfare, but that seems a bit abstract for what I’ve got in mind for now.) After all, the study of Budo isn’t just the study of warfare on the larger scale, but also warfare from a personal level as well. The study of Budo is an intensely personal endeavor, and quite frankly I think we can all use as much help as we can get in this matter.

So here I go, to see where my Budo studies takes me. Thanks for coming along.