(Un)Fortunate necessity of war

Necessary war

Politicians, poets, commons … keep repeating that one of main obstacles for humankind to reach a goal (what goal? Prosperity, Freedom? Peace?, …? ) is war. We were taught that if only our civilization could avoid this stupid armed (and unarmed) fights between races, countries, cities, clans, families, individuals… that produce death, pain of relatives, wounds (physical and psychical) earth would be much better place to live.

Unfortunately this self-evidence is as far from reality as almost every other self-evidence. Not because it would be impossible to reach this goal due to selfishness, stupidity, greed, … of people, but because any complex system (including all Gaia eco systems) can not survive without occasional crashes, avalanches,  turmoils and/or wars. If we understand war as a phase in the system’s life cycle in which cells/agent/elements of this system destroy each other in a way that threatens the existence of the system itself, then the war is integral part (phase) of any system. As such it is as necessary as much as any other metabolism function of a system. War is precondition for life.

Such notion is surely a threat to complacency every complex system element (individual) is apparently looking for according to second law of thermodynamic. And exactly such complacency should be avoided in search for best evolutionary stable strategy (ESS). It is ESS that we are all looking for as living creatures, not complacency. Nations, families, individuals, genes; each for itself. Should one misrepresent ESS with complacency (perfect equilibrium, peace), then he misses his survival kit and he confuses living systems with physical thermodynamic systems.

The evidence of structural necessity of a war for any (living) system is such, that the real surprise is the above mentioned self-evidence of a world that reaches peaceful equilibrium in bright future. We could connect this dreadful illusion to all kinds of contemporary phobias (chemo, nucleo, algo, bacterio…) that are based on underlying hypothesis of complacency as an ultimate goal. It is then a hard lesson for all complacency believers when they face threats not being prepared (eating dirt, bacteria, stones…). We could say that such complacency is a perfect strategy for war itself (yes – we should understand “a war” as living in meme ecosystem) to set up environment in which it can thrive. Higher panic – higher entropy – more food for war. No entropy – no life – no war. The equilibrium is found (as always) on phase transition maximum.

It is of course hard to live with the necessity of war for each individual since for each and every it is emergent property meaning something that “happens” regardless if individual will. That also means that war emerges in every system in such a way that it can not be understood from the rationale of that system. War not only proves irrationality of every system, but also serves as best proof that a system is still alive.

There are many lessons to be driven from here. Let us point to one only: brandlife. Occasional wars (turmoils) are not only necessary but constituent parts of brand internal life and its life within markets. It is not a question how to avoid wars, but how to manage them. Internal brand structure, brand management, is in the end nothing but internal and external turmoil management. A management that does not try to avoid wars, but tries to produce them “small” and frequent knowing that less frequent wars produce not only longer complacency periods but also wars of larger scales with less predictable (manageable) results.

But how could then reconcile evidences that Steven Pinker brought in his tremendous The Better Angels of Our Nature with my claim that wars are evolutionary necessary. Quite easily! It is true that many civilization processes reduced armed fights among states, nations and even individuals over time so that we can easily assume even further reduction in this respect. But it is exactly because of this civilization process that battlegrounds shift from physical territory and physical weapons to memetic battlegrounds. As much as memetic reproduction take more and more important role in our evolution in comparison to genetic, wars shifted to civilized memetic battles of words, pictures and sounds.

Memetic battles are as fierce as physical though people do not die from wounds in flesh but from wounds in their souls. It is true that life is fundamental, so assasination of someone good standing (with memes) should never be compared to physical assassination. But whoever survived fierce memetic attacks would approve my claim that those wounded by memes often rather wish to be dead than to suffer further memetic massacres.

Steven Pinker, though one of greatest minds of our age, did not take in account memetic wars. Should he, war statistic of recent couple of centuries would be much less optimistic. Memetic wars should be included in global conflict statistics and a whole new taxonomy of types of wars and types of victims should be developed. Social media wars, dark internet wars, future blockchain wars, as much as verbal battles in offline local bars that expel victimized individuals from civilized social networks are still going to be categorized, evaluated and prosecuted in the end.


Andrej Drapal