Warfare and welfare are usually assumed to serve contradictory ends and to be rooted in antithetical values, institutions and dynamics. In this essay, I propose to challenge this notion and to advance, instead, the thesis that, in spite of significant differences between them, warfare and welfare serve, nevertheless, identical and complementary functions, and are both rooted in identical societal values, institutions and dynamics.

As with other phenomena which are considered to be "social problems," such as poverty, crime, unemployment, inflation, mental illness, etc., but which are merely by-products of the "normal" workings of certain social systems, warfare and welfare can not be understood and overcome unless their philosophical and institutional roots and functions are first unraveled. This requires studying warfare and welfare from a holistic-evolutionary perspective which treats social, economic, political, psychological, and ideological dimensions of human societies as variables rather than as constants, settled once and for all. When warfare and welfare are explored in this fashion and are placed within the context of universal essential processes, the extent to which they tend to fit the internal logic of certain patterns of these processes should become discernible, and their presumed inevitability can then be demystified.

What, then, are tie general functions of warfare and welfare, and from what philosophical roots and values do they derive? To explore these questions, I will focus first on welfare and then on warfare.