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A War of Ideas


Azarkon

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How can we expect peace when we prepare for war? How can we blame nations for hating us when we clearly do not like them? Politics have always been a game of power where the "sincerity" of our relations come second to strategic and political self-interest. This cannot be denied. But if so, what is our true enemy: the Enemy of my Friends, or the fact that I distinguish between Friend and Foe?

 

These aren't meant to be insightful questions. They're meant to scratch the surface. Their answers solve nothing. But they reveal deeper issues. I bring your attention to this article:

 

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GK10Df02.html

 

Ask yourself this, regardless of whether you're pro-US policy or anti-US policy: how can we ever hope to achieve peace if the very definition of Alliance/Friendship is the exclusion of the Other? Sociologists, psychologists, and writers have warned us for centuries that communities are built not only on the idea of mutual benefit but are always, rather, reinforced by the exclusion of a certain group. It may seem very practical for the US or another superpower to go out of its way to convert the entire world to its allegiance, but this cannot be: unity cannot be achieved without the presence of an Other against which to define it. Alliances are formed against the rest of the world much as cliques in high school are formed against other students. Thus is indifference born: "I care only about me and mine. You and yours can go to hell."

 

This mentality must be defeated in order for human civilization to make any progress towards a better, safer society. Some may argue that it's against human nature. I think it's a matter of semantics. It's true that, more or less, we can never be free from the "clique" mentality. But we don't have to be. There are two alternatives to our current state of nationalism & regional division:

 

1) Every man for himself, in which case the clique is individual, and "wars" become individual competitions

 

2) Humanity is a clique defined against an outside force.

 

There maybe others, but I think you get the idea. It's not so much that we need to be free of cliques. It's that we need to redefine them in ways that will not bring about a return to the Cold War because honestly, I don't think the world can survive another major war built upon nationalism and indifference.

There are doors

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I'm trying to convince the Queen she could rally support by having a dinosaur pogrom. The dinosaurs are out to get us! We must engage in a massive rearmament program, and boost economic growth!

 

 

satanus.jpg

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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The problem isn't that humanity lacks some "other" to unite us. Even at the worst of times, at the height of German power during the early 20th century or when the Mongols invaded eastern Europe, factions within nations and communities continued to strive against each other. In fact, Ghengis planned on using French and English rivalry to separate the only powers in Western Europe at the time who could have stood against him.

 

We don't lack some alien "other." We have nature, which is ultimately an unkowable force that acts upon mankind. We know more about nature as time progresses, but it still doesn't prevent us from facing deadly natural disasters. Humanity can't even unite against starvation or disease.

 

If aliens, or dinosaurs, attacked humanity tomorrow, there would be some folks trying to make deals with them and other folks taking advantage of the situation. If we succeed when faced with such a threat, it will because enough people unite in the cause to face the threat. ...But that unity will never be unanimous.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
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Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

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I think it boils down to the prisoner's dilemma - you aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good unless you can trust others. As Eldar said, there will always be others that seek to advance their position at the expense of others. Trust is a fragile thing - especially when the stakes are as high as to affect the future of nations.

Edited by Atreides

Spreading beauty with my katana.

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The problem isn't that humanity lacks some "other" to unite us.  Even at the worst of times, at the height of German power during the early 20th century or when the Mongols invaded eastern Europe, factions within nations and communities continued to strive against each other.  In fact, Ghengis planned on using French and English rivalry to separate the only powers in Western Europe at the time who could have stood against him.

 

We don't lack some alien "other."  We have nature, which is ultimately an unkowable force that acts upon mankind.  We know more about nature as time progresses, but it still doesn't prevent us from facing deadly natural disasters.  Humanity can't even unite against starvation or disease.

 

If aliens, or dinosaurs, attacked humanity tomorrow, there would be some folks trying to make deals with them and other folks taking advantage of the situation.  If we succeed when faced with such a threat, it will because enough people unite in the cause to face the threat.  ...But that unity will never be unanimous.

 

 

Hah! Too true. Although I suspect both our views on this point have been slightly skewed by our reading Warhammer 40K.

 

I would add that it's not so much the prisoner's dilemma as broader game/evolutionary theory. Individual's benefit from the collective, but cheating and defrauding the collective, and trying to seize more than your share is always a good idea unless some artificial discipline prevents you from doing so. In 40K this is achievable due to the utterly altruistic Emperor of Mankind. But we have no such figure, and our leaders are venal and corrupt by nature of the mechanisms which install them. Many political systems try to restrain this corruption by the custodians in turn. But none are perfect.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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You know, Azarkon, you went about this all wrong. You should have singled out some group to insult. How do you think you'll get any wind under this thread unless you question the members' intelligence or integrity or sincerity?

 

On a more serious note, I don't think it's always that folks are mercenary. That's part of the problem, but that's not all of it. Let's take global warming as an example. Some folks see it as a dire threat. Some folks see the warming temperatures as a natural phenomenon that occurs regularly over the long term. As I understand it, the folks who see it as a dire threat concede that the earth has undergone periods of both warming and cooling, but that

 

1. this time, the warming having been instigated by humans, will not lead into a similar period of cooling

 

or

 

2. That a period of warming, particularly when exacerbated by humans, is not beneficial to humans anyhow.

 

So, we might have a potentially devastating problem on our hands, but we are not united because we do not agree on the nature or severity of the problem.

 

In fact, I have only the most cursory knowledge on global warming, so added into the mix is a healhty dose of ignorance.

 

The same will undoubtedly be true for any real thret we face as a species. After all, aliens might come in blasting, but a good number of peole will want to negotiate or talk to the aliens. Should it become clear that there is no negotiation possible, we might not know until it's too late.

 

For the record, it's probably a good idea to try to negotiate with aliens. ...But that's another knott in the problem of a united humanity. Maybe we should have pulled out all the stops right away when the aliens came in blasting, but going to the mattresses (just for you, Gorth) right away might have been worse in the long run.

 

I don't think humans, as a species, will exist forever. Our grasp on life is limited to one planet that is not all that secure a place in the universe. Let's face it, just because we've been lucky so far doesn't mean that we're going to unite to do the one thing that translates to a significant step towards the survival of our species, branching out to a few other places to live. Right now, all our eggs are in one basket, and just because that baskat has been relatively safe for us for what we see as a long time doesn't mean it's going to be safe forever.

 

Indeed, the fact is, science gives us a good idea that the solar system is unstable in the long, long haul, even if nothing "extraordinary" happens. Of course, we can only know ordinary from extraordinary based on what we can observe, and that's not really much when it comes to planets. After all, how many other planets have we actually seen. Hell, we can hazard a guess at very few planets by conjecture, but they must exist, right? So, we don't know normal. We only know normal for us, which means we might not even have time to unite to face a challenge, because we might not know there's a challenge until something that's perfectly normal that we've never observed springs out and destroys the lot of us.

 

...And that, children, is my inspirational sermon for the day. Please feel free to suggest this post as light-hearted bedtime reading to all your friends.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

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You know, Azarkon, you went about this all wrong. You should have singled out some group to insult. How do you think you'll get any wind under this thread unless you question the members' intelligence or integrity or sincerity?

 

:D

 

To be honest, I started this thread (in a feverish impulse late at night) partially as a way of sorting out my own thoughts in the matter, not so much to initiate discussion. I realized this after waking up the next morning and feeling no particular desire to "champion" my cause, so to speak, which is the reason I have simply let the thread die.

 

Still, I am grateful that some people responded with more food for thought, and some of them are very good points that deserve examination in some future thread that's a bit more... Heated, shall we say?

 

For now, though, let me just say that while human progress is undoubtedly limited by biology, I think we've a long way to go yet before the realization of our potential. Come a day when we can not even imagine anything new under the sun, and I'll accept that we've reached the end. But as long as man dreams, so he may become >_<

Edited by Azarkon

There are doors

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Then I'll just swing a low one as this thread is bowing down for it's final breath ..

 

This whole problem has so many angles that it's hard to grasp .. I think it boils down to - biology and culture, biology covering everything physical in us and culture covering everything unmeasurable between us..

studies have shown that inheritably we don't trust anyone who seems strange to us .. people from far away, which have genetically little in common with us.. this, combined with culture, produces a national distrust towards foreign nations and foreign ways .. and since culture is as elusive as it is (and having such an lasting effect as it does) feelings, on a national level, can actually be maintained for centuries .. it seems like conflict and distrust is breed in us .. that we are driven to fight/defend hate and loathe .. and this has been fused into a national conscience resulting in groups of people hating groups of people just because that's how it's always been...

how can we then hope for a lasting peace? it will be a battle against ourselves, against our apperant nature and society! it will require a complet restructuring of both mind (individual and society) and body (gentically and culturelly structured society)

 

sorry if this was pure rambling ..

Fortune favors the bald.

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