Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
- Isaac Asimov in "Foundation", published in "Astounding Science-Fiction" (May 1942)
My own thoughts on the quote:
Of course, the quote above is a joke. However, the pure incompetence of political leaders has killed millions of people in real life. The quote is, in fact, derived from the famous phrase by Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Most of all violence is a method for coercing other people to follow one's wishes.
When Carl von Clausewitz said "War is the continuation of politics with other means", I would say "War is a continuation of politics after politicians have failed in their job."
This failure of politics can happen due to dogmatic faith in some form of "manifest destiny" or dogmatic faith in "a divine mission of our nation" or some other dogmatically held belief by some of parties involved. However, very often war happens just due to pure and simple incompetence.
This is the case when the incompetent leaders just cannot fathom any other solution the use of violence, as in World War I or the second war on Iraq. War just is very often a result either of open hate or greed and failure to suppress them or failure of diplomacy.
It is funny how so many people think of violence only as a reaction to something. However, there is always the "incompetent" who has initiated the use of violence. This all too often happens because he or she does not know how to negotiate and to get what they want without violence.
Self-defense is clearly very different thing than using violence to get something that you want because you do not know or want not to use other means. However, there is no need to even for self-defense if there are no incompetent attackers.
(This piece was refurbished on 7th of January, 2012)
"Isaac Asimov (c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His works have been published in all ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System (although his only work in the 100s—which covers philosophy and psychology—was a foreword for The Humanist Way)."