Conflict and Development

By Sebastian Sarbu.


“Don’t force it, get a bigger hammer.” (The law of violence)

When classifying military conflicts, if we are to look beyond the balance of forces in the geopolitical and historical fields, no matter the nature and military means for carrying out wars (be it conventional or unconventional ones), the strategies being used, or the justifications employed by the world’s centers of power, we can name and outline two main categories of wars, by using the method of reduction:
– defensive wars, carried out according to national deterrence strategies, which are considered just wars;
– wars of conquest, which are considered unjust wars.

The latter category includes wars of economic disruption, interventionist wars (for various political reasons), ideological wars, economic wars, wars for the restauration of order and the rule of law, wars for imposing various interests, as well as for creating institutions and centers of power in a new administrative context under a new political leadership.

There are military conflicts generated by:
– geopolitical reasons;
– geoeconomical space;
– ethnicity;
– popular revolts;
– coups;
– severe economic crises leading to the deterioration of the rationality and political legitimacy of the agents of power;
– the need to solidify credibility, authority, and security by compensating the unbalances between developed and underdeveloped regions through force, leading to new power balances on the international stage; it is known that war can create, as well as destroy civilizations, and economic changes are the cause as well as the result of average and large scale armed conflicts, on the short run as well as on the long run.

We can also name wars of national liberation, wars generated by local customs and anthropological considerations, cultural and religious wars, which assert state identity and independence.

The German philosopher Fichte said that “war is holy when independence, the condition for culture, is threatened”. In some countries there are constant conflicts between conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and reformers, moderates and radicals, being at risk for becoming isolated if radical ideas triumph or being considered fundamentalist if the opposite camp triumphs.

Necessary wars have had an important role in the history of mankind. Seeing that right before the beginning of the first world war the German chancellor said that the Constitution was no more than a piece of paper, we can conclude that Erasmus of Rotterdam was right when saying that war is “collective madness” (a well organized and directed one, we might add), having unpredictable consequences for future generations. The belief in the historical necessity of war is not, as many wrongly believe, unique to the German national-socialists. Taking into consideration the operationalization of the idea of aggression and the emergence of new political values, military conflicts and their effects have been defined and recorded, the consequence being the reconceptualization of war. Once war has been rationalized by ideological and pseudocultural means, world wars would enrich the art, science, theoretical experience, and military practices of carrying out war itself.

The belief in the historical necessity of war, with its numerous aspects and dimensions, has nonetheless ancient roots in history; we shall consider only the most important events, what is strictly necessary for the current theoretical approach.

As already mentioned, during global economic crises political rationality and political legitimacy deteriorate. At the same time there is a need for the consolidation of authority, credibility, and security in the context of an increasing global anomie. As such, it often happens that, when quality of life decreases, when social order is subverted, when global anomy increases, not to mention financial insecurity or the moral crisis affecting social relations, authority, credibility, and responsibility (coming from statesmen and obviously from the institutions charged with ensuring social equilibrium by correctly fulfilling the obligations towards the community whose vital interests must be protected for a good management of financial resources and especially public funds) become more relevant.

Bad management of resources, of needs of security and growth, of deficiencies in the development of various social and professional groups leads to conflicts between state and society, between individuals and society, or between various special or private interest groups whose supreme value is profit rather than long-term development. Loss of authority is associated with lower credibility with respect to people, institutions, statesmen, which decreases managerial ability with respect to implementing necessary reforms meant to ensure social balance, economic growth which increases human well-being, stability, and collective security, having for aim to augment a country’s defensive capabilities. Negation of authority is linked to economic, ideological, and moral crises, but such crises do not appear out of nothing. Revolutions and wars happen in the context of historical justifications espoused by society. According to certain scientists, crisis is a source of change as well as stability, and fluctuations are the foundation of any order. Revolutions and wars have had for secondary causes systemic crises which nowadays are mostly linked to the economic component, the one which dominates the structure of the system. We claim this due to the fact that economic crisis is the secondary cause of revolutions and wars.

The essence of systemic crises is the erosion of authority, authority linked to collectively held political values, beliefs, convictions, and mindsets, to a nation’s collective consciousness, its state of inertia and creativity, its morals, as well as innovation and reform. It has to be noted that all well-rooted social systems are threatened by the fact that peace can be assimilated to a state of inertia, and thus peace is but a well-planned and directed moment of preparation for war, which is to change a country’s political regime and lead to a redistribution of power following an axiological equation in the social and political fields, which reasserts the truth of the idea expressed above.

It has to be noted further that the state of social inertia is opposed to authority, reform, innovation, and individual creativity. It is apparently a vicious circle since any action requires and produces a reaction. As such, even if there is desire for changing the state of inertia, be it via a well run information system or via the mobilization of the human resource, depending on the national strategy for development, there will always be forces associated with resistance, opposition, and reaction. The contrast between reality and the ideal values upon which political praxis rests launches real reform, and the opposition between various social forces, as well as the social and political confrontation itself, lead to synthesis, cooperation, and absolute social order.

If we are to synthesize, ideologies, cultural systems, new doctrines and approaches, as well as management strategies centered on objectives and creation of alternative solutions are the cause for revolution, peace, and conflict, but also their effects. What we intend to prove is that any social conflict can be a cause for war as well as for a new direction of development.

Favoring change in times of peace has to be done gradually, via structures of authority, control, and communication which are to eliminate institutional decision making and functional chaos proceeding from divisions between the rulers and the ruled.

Slow but steady and pragmatic change via creative solutions and social and political innovations which are to overcome ideological dogmatism and temporary political interests, by the means of which the subordination of resources and social power to certain power structures is sought, cannot be an end in itself. It has to be noted that not only global, but also national economic crises, happen when:

1) the information system is not functional;
2) administration is either very centralized or weakened, or corrupt;
3) the state is dependent upon internal or external financial subjects;
4) shadow economy represents more than 5% of GDP, or there is a parallel financial system;
5) work quality and efficiency decreases, ceasing to be sufficiently competitive, productive, and successful;
6) monopolies control and divide national wealth;
7) there is disloyal competition;
8) there is inflation;
9) resources are wasted;
10) there is no middle class;
11) there is a lack of individual skills to face competition;
12) there is no strategy for managing the nation’s development in a unique and unitary way on the long run;
13) the government does not provide the goods and services needed to protect its vulnerable citizens, and to encourage individual social and economic freedom;
14) there is a moral crisis;
15) there is axiological warfare;
16) there is informational genocide.

Beyond all these factors, the existence of a dangerous conflict between economic power, political power, and military power, has to be underlined. Prevailing corruption can also lead to social conflict and the dissolution of state authority. With this picture in head, we realize that without a solid economy in case of war, without a resilient, almost natural self regulating economy, able to overcome successive structuring, restructuring, and destructuring cycles without state intervention, any country can find itself in a situation where it is not able to defend itself except for the case when it resorts to its last resource, the human resource; it is widely known that war or any threat mobilizes the psychological forces of human collectivities, creating a renewed solidarity and forcing people to understand and rise above tragic phenomena, since, as Hegel said, “only war can shake society, making it aware of itself”.

It has to be remarked that during economic crises, which are associated with social, educational, and civic underdevelopment, democracy itself is threatened for historical experience shows that development is a condition for democracy and not the other way around. To that extent, authentic democracy is par excellence social as it involves the concept and practice of extended participatory management. At the basic level, people can be governed because they have passions, as political thinkers in ancient China said. The political wisdom which, socially and militarily, first takes into account security and defense, can be reduced to the following law: politics has to be the art of equilibrating forces in order to ensure steady change, conciliate opposing forces, and mobilize the masses.

From this law is derived the necessary alternative: that the masses themselves make those unconventional revolutions in information, knowledge, creativity, and morality by the means of which multisystemic security policy aiming to prevent risks concerning the safety and balance of the social system, institutions, individuals, and national defense is achieved with the help of perfected political instruments. Economy can deter the manifestation of this revolutionary spirit if ideological crises occur and spiritual resources are not valued, leading thus to the emergence of one-dimensional men. We can only hope that economic crises, war threats, any type on conflict, lack of confidence in pseudodemocracy and abstract political theory will challenge the peoples enough for them to generate moral self-determination of free human individuality, creating new attitudes by liberating superior consciousness and creative energies, and thereby fulfilling the purely human nature of society, to paraphrase the great German creator Richard Wagner. The way to peace is through the unification of the material and the spiritual, tradition and progress, religion and science, East and West.

We underline that a society able to mobilize itself autonomously and voluntarily, by not disintegrating by virtue of lack of ideals or following overproduction, can maintain a state of civic consciousness, thereby creating an immune system leading to independence in an increasingly insecure and interdependent world.

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