IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Some thoughts on war, wealth and peace

Here are a few more thoughts on the “war is inevitable” argument.  There is a sense in much writing along these lines that the nature of war is immutable, rather like the well known line from the Doxology:  “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…”  .  This may well make sense when applied to certain religious verities believed to be eternal.  But, however deeply rooted the human aggressive impulse might be (and even that, as we have discussed, is open to question), any given war has very specific historical origins–and those conditions change over time.  For instance, empires of the past were, to make a long story short, very much inclined to fight each other.  Why?  Because for them wealth and power depended on how much land (and the people on it who provided tribute, etc…) you had.  So, empires had to keep expanding or they sort of stagnated and went into “decline” (sound familiar?).  OK…so it stands to reason that if the nature of wealth changes war would change.  But you say, what does this have to do with peace?  Over time empires/nations/countries may well fight over different things, but they still fight.  Fair enough.  But what happens when wealth is disassociated (to some degree at least) from “nation” or “country”?  What I mean is, in an era of globalization MNC’s that cross borders are the real economic actors, and they are, by definition, multinational.  Sure, they use (as they did in the 19th century) their influence on government to foster policies (sometimes involving violence) that increase the MNC’s global reach.  However, at the end of the day, if you are really spread over a large section of the planet–and particularly if you have part of production in one place and other parts scattered around the globe–it is hard to see how the disruption of war can really be good for your business.

So, while true and lasting peace (in the broadest sense) seems to rest on moral and spiritual evolution, there is also an argument to be made that some of the older “drivers” of violent conflict are not what they once were.  Certainly, there are still territorial issues here and there (Japan and China at the time of writing, for instance), but they are fewer and farther between.  They are no longer seem to be the  “norm”, as fas as I can tell.   This, I think, is a positive trend, which we might think of as a facilitator of peace, if not exactly a “cause”.


PS  While reading this some of you might be thinking  “OK, but what about the arms industry?”.  This is one of the paradoxical aspects of the topic. As it happens what is good for the arms industry is fear of war which leads to preparing for war, which leads to arms expenditures.  However, wide scale war (as opposed to the odd skirmish) is just as disruptive to the arms industry as to any other.


September 20, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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