From the Library of Social Science, an interesting article, The Soldier as Sacrificial Victim:
Many people claim to be astonished by terrorists who blow themselves up in the process of attempting to kill their enemies. Many would also find the
Aztec ritual of heart extraction shocking and painful to contemplate. Yet we
barely reflect upon our own suicidal political rituals, for example the
First World War in which nine million people were killed and twenty-two
million wounded. The vast casualties were the result of millions of men
acting precisely like contemporary terrorists: allowing their bodies to be
blown to bits as they attempted to blow up the bodies of their enemies.
In the West, we disguise the sacrificial meaning of warfare by pretending that the other nation is responsible for killing soldiers.
Joanna Bourke, in her book Dismembering the Male, observes that the most
important point to be made about the male body during the First World War
was that it was "intended to be mutilated." We view war as a drive for
conquest and outlet for energetic activity even as its fundamental purpose
and inevitable consequence is injury and death. We encourage the soldier's
delusion of masculine virility and call him a hero-in order to lure him into
becoming a sacrificial victim.
And a cute something on philosphy as therapy.