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Friday, July 30, 2010

Explosive Differences

Wars are essentially fights over control.  Therefore, to end wars it will be essential to find ways to legitimize control.  Democracy is an attempt to legitimize control and therefore obviate the necessity of war within the democratic state.  The Civil War in the US stands testimony that this is not always successful; irreconcilable differences based on tradition and belief tore the country apart.  The War was an attempt to reestablish control which was partially accomplished.  But, of course, control was not complete and compliance was in many ways successfully avoided.  The moral imperative of civil rights took decades to establish itself and to finally become enforceable by the sword of the state.  For the most part, unrest over living conditions in democracies fall short of rebellion against the legitimacy of the state itself, but rather register protests over the policies of the current representatives.    Protests are made in an effort to right the ship, not overturn it.

Alliances among states are a way to extend control beyond borders for protection and influence in the wild west of international relations.  Irreconcilable differences still exist here and hence mutual enmity becomes simply a reflection of extant reality.   Skirmishes and battles result.  Tremendous resources of all types are spent.  Driven by the deep human need for reciprocity, commitments tend to become unlimited.

A current wedge in human relations is cultural differences.  One culture is highly codified in behaviors that the opposing culture leaves to individual discretion.  Both sides derive a sense of righteousness and pride form their different approaches.     Tradition and belief form strong psychological imperatives for both camps.

The question arises, is the world big enough for both views?  Can both sides agree to disagree (like opposing parties in a democracy) and refrain from armed conflict?  Of course it cannot, because there is no overarching power or mechanism of legitimacy to enforce compliance;  additionally one side finds illegitimate any mechanism based upon representative democracy.    The present conflict is at base a zero sum game and the goodwill requisite for a nonbelligerent solution does not and cannot exist under current conditions; negative reciprocity will rule during this protracted and costly engagement.

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