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2019 Keogh Chair - Professor Ian Morris

WAR! – What is it Good For?

Professor Ian Morris’s book, “War! What is it good for?” looks at the long term history of how the rise of stronger governments with more force at their disposal have driven down rates of violent death, with some discussion of why people use violence in the first place. This oration contributes to Army’s contest of ideas and will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about the history of conflict, and gain a unique perspective on the evolution of violence and some lessons we can draw for future conflicts.

War is one of the greatest human evils. But Ian Morris will argue that it is thanks to war that we live longer and more comfortable lives than ever before. Without war, we would never have built the huge nation-states which now keep us relatively safe from random acts of violence, and which have given us previously unimaginable wealth. Yet, if we continue waging war with ever more deadly weaponry, will we destroy everything we have achieved? Therefore our struggles to manage warfare make the coming decades the most decisive in the history of civilisation.

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