Gian Piero de Bellis
Essays on post-statism
On the Social Sciences as Social Scam and the Social Scientists as Social Scoundrels
Waiting for the Bomb?
The precedent (^)
|"On the 28 June  Francis Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, by a Bosnian Serb." "The Serbian government ... certainly thought that it was likely Francis Ferdinand would be assassinated, if he provoked nationalist feeling by going to Sarajevo; and they warned Bilinski, the Austro-Hungarian minister of finance who was in charge of Bosnia, against the visit early in June. But, of course, the visit was meant to provoke nationalist feeling or, rather, to challenge it. It was deliberately timed for Serbia's national day, the anniversary of Kosovo. If a British royalty had visited Dublin on St. Patrick's day at the height of the Troubles, he, too, might have expected to be shot at."
(A. J. P. Taylor, The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1954)
The idea that historical events are very hard to foresee because subject to the absolute vagaries of human nature reveals a very naïve attitude, worthy of inattentive and absentminded children who are easily distracted by the present, readily forgetful of the past, and unable to make sensible connections between the past and the present. Moreover, those who uphold this idea seem, in general, willing to justify any mischief, however grave, that they or their own side commit, and incapable of realizing the consequences of their conduct.
To illustrate this point, let us go back to the behaviour of the dominant political protagonists prior to the outbreak of the First World War.
The European state powers had prepared themselves for war by building up, year after year, a vast arsenal of weapons and by arousing a climate of increasing confrontation, fomented by a nationalistic and territorial ideology. The objective of every state ruler was to expand the size of the territory and the number of subjects under his control. These two concomitant aims of further territorial conquest and wider political hegemony could be achieved only through wars (nationalistic wars, imperialistic wars).
The First World War, preceded by the scramble for Africa and all that frenzy for grabbing territories, was, then, the practically inevitable consequence of a series of mental attitudes (territorial conquest, political supremacy) and practical decisions (build-up of arsenals of weapons, mass indoctrination through state schooling, mass militarization through compulsory conscription) that only needed a dramatic pretext to set in motion, right in the hearth of Europe, a series of aggressive acts on a massive scale.
Almost a century has elapsed since the day when the student Gavrilo Prinzip fired the shots that killed the Archduke of Austria and his wife and signalled the start of the First World War, but we are still stuck, more or less, in the same mental attitudes and political framework that engendered that terrible outcome. In fact, apart from episodes of political federation (e.g. European Union) or break-up (e.g. USSR, former Jugoslavia), territorial state rulers are still at work, with the same narrow mentality, obsessed with fixing borders and controlling people under the pretext of the protection from enemies who are quite often either totally invented or generated through state policies of interference and repression.
Many individuals attribute the persistence of a violent reality to a perverse human nature, obstinate in its belligerent cruelty and wickedness. However, this explanation of wars in terms of biological determinism is on a par with historical fatalism, i.e. the attribution of every event to an inexorable and inscrutable "fate," and is similarly devoid of any cognitive value. As a matter of fact, the existence of gentle individuals and of populations who have not waged war for many generations (e.g. the Swiss, the Swedish) puts this explanatory thesis definitively to rest.
|"Human beings never fight on an extensive scale under the direct influence of an aggressive impulse. They fight and organize for fighting because, through tribal tradition, through teachings of a religious system, or of an aggressive patriotism, they have been indoctrinated with certain cultural values which they are prepared to defend and with certain collective hatreds on which they are ready to assault and kill."
"[...] war cannot be regarded as a fiat of human destiny in that it could be related to biological needs or immutable psychological drives."
Moreover, the advancement of science, based on critical and rational analysis of reality, has succeeded in producing down to earth explanations of many phenomena, completely disposing of the concept of fate.
The cause (^)
The dismissal of the fatalistic view concerning historical events such as war presents us with the challenge, however, of identifying, with substantiated evidence, the specific causal factors that originated them.
In fact, even if we acknowledge that aggressiveness is, in a certain measure, part and parcel of human nature, present in a latent form in all of us, and expressed occasionally or recurrently by some of us, this does not explain the origin and perpetuation of wars. Everybody knows and must recognize that, in order to have prolonged episodes of mass violence (wars) we need a proper organization whose ideology and agency not only are suited to war but which also finds in the war the justification for the existence and maintenance of the organization itself.
|"War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate co-operation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense."
"The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner towards a rival group has meant, throughout all history - war."
|"... to him who contemplates the unfolding of the ages war presents itself as an activity of states which pertains to their essence." (Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power, 1945)|
The conditions that make it possible for an organization to conduct large scale and prolonged mass violence consist in the exertion of:
- territorial sovereignty (territorialism)
- exclusive rule (monopolism)
- pervasive power (totalitarianism)
These are, in actual fact, the characteristics of the absolute state, which are expressed in their most mature and complete form by the modern nation state through its territorial, monopolistic and totalitarian democracy.
|"A state is absolute ... when it claims the right to a monopoly of all the force within the community, to make war, to make peace, to conscript life, to tax, to establish and disestablish property, to define crime, to punish disobedience, to control education, to supervise the family, to regulate personal habits, and to censor opinions. The modern state claims all these powers, and in the matter of theory there is no real difference in the size of the claims between communists, fascists, and democrats."
(Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Morals, 1929)
Wars (i.e. large scale - long term violence) can be started and carried on only in presence of these conditions, and it is fair to say that aggressive and expansionistic adventures will be more likely to be on the agenda of such an organization (i.e. the state) the more it is characterized by and can rely on those conditions.
These tendencies were in the ascendant and then rampant in the first half of the 20th century with the introduction and consolidation of all sorts of rules (passports, protective tariffs, economic regulations, etc.) and ruling bodies (for administrative permits, policy directives, etc.). To sum it up, huge regulatory and directive apparatuses were instituted for state supremacy and wars, and they became more and more entrenched for the simple reason that state supremacy and wars, once there, require increasing doses of state control (i.e. state centralization, state direction).
|"The state makes war and war makes the state." (Charles Tilly, 1990)|
|"We see that, as every advance of Power is useful for war, so war is useful for the advance of Power." (Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power, 1945)|
|"War is the condition in which centralized government finds itself more fully in control, more secure in its authority, and most readily able to command undisputed public allegiance." (Alex Comfort, Authority and Deliquency in the Modern State, 1950)|
In the second half of the 20th century, the balance of terror based on nuclear weapons forcibly restrained the expansionistic urge and avoided the outbreak of a generalized waged war in favour of a tactical cold war. The aggressive force of the then existing super states (USSR, USA) was mainly used to subjugate 'unruly' people inside each area of dominance (USSR vs. Eastern Europe, USA vs. Central and South America), with open warfare occurring only at the periphery of the empires (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan).
Since the end of a bipolar world dominated by the two super states, the number of 'unruly' subjects (individuals, communities) who want to go their own way and resent being dominated by an external power has multiplied. This makes the state vs. the citizen scenario a very likely one for the violent clashes to come, if we also take into consideration the situation that affects the participants in modern-day hostilities.
The situation (^)
The last global-scale episode of mass killing (the World War of 1939-1945) and the series of smaller conflicts of the following decades (Korea, Budapest, Vietnam, Prague, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Rwanda, Congo, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Kashmir, Iran, Iraq, etc) have shown that the distinction between combatants (i.e. military forces) and non-combatants (i.e. civilians) is no longer practiced nor practicable due to the way wars are conducted nowadays. Non-combatants are involved in a conflict even if they are not the predestined target of a missile or a bomb. In cases like these, for instance when a baby is killed in a pram by a nearby conflagration, the fertile mind of some officer or journalist has invented the chilling absolutory formula 'collateral damage.'
|"[Besides] the international 'laws of war' proved themselves during World War II to be noneffective. The adversaries on both sides by saturation bombing of the combatants, and even more the non-combatants, including women and children, broke all divine and human laws."
(Pitirim Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics, 1957)
Moreover, the new role taken by some individuals and communities in opposition to state power (the internal state or an external state) has changed the scenario and the rules of engagement.
As a consequence, the differentiation between war and terrorism is more and more unreal and deceitful. War is, in current times, a series of terrorist acts and terror is the most commonly employed weapon in the conduct of the war. The forms of terror depend on the technological and logistic capabilities of the fighters (e.g. a missile dropped on a market or a bomb planted in a busy intersection). Death and demoralisation are the common purpose of the terrorist war, i.e. of the war as terrorism. The only difference, in each combat action, consists in the power of the explosive employed, the number of people affected, and the consequent number of deaths caused by the conflagration.
For all the sides involved, in order to wear out and defeat the chosen 'enemy' it is necessary to destroy its war apparatus, which also consists, to a large and important extent, in its non-military personnel such as:
- taxpayers financing the production of weapons
- workers producing weapons
- citizens upholding the war effort through propaganda or by manning the supporting infrastructure.
All this means that in a situation where masses are subjected or submit to a territorial, monopolistic and all-pervasive power, they find themselves hostages to any fortune or misfortune that befalls that power, in peace and in war, till death them do part, or more precisely, do unite them forever.
In other words, in a mass society dominated by territorial monopolistic states exerting pervasive power over 'their' citizens, the time of personal responsibility is over, supplanted by the reality of collective mass liability.
Given this situation, any criminal act of violence and aggression carried out in a representative democracy by the elected rulers is committed in the name and on behalf (at least in principle) of all the citizens of that country and so the liability is to be shared by all of them. In fact, to talk of personal responsibility in the context of an accepted mechanism of majority decisions would be inappropriate if not preposterous.
This notion of collective mass liability, albeit abominable in so far as it annihilates the individual as a unique human being with independent free will and critical autonomous mind, has long been and is still largely current political practice. This extremely immoral notion has been applied also to many individuals, all of whom have been indistinctly assigned as 'belonging' to a certain group (ethnic, religious, racial, political, national, etc.) and have been held responsible and made to pay for something committed elsewhere or at other times by others with whom they are deemed to share certain traits, real or presumed.
Most horror stories of the XX and the beginning of the XXI centuries are related to the concept of collective mass liability. Amongst them we have:
- group internment (e.g. the imprisonment of American Japanese in the USA after Pearl Harbour)
- ethnic killing (e.g. the reciprocal slaughters of Muslims and Hindus after the partition between India and Pakistan)
- mass extermination (e.g. the massacres of Armenians, Kurds, Jews, Indonesian communists, Tutsi, Bosnian Muslims, Chechens, etc. by the prevailing state power reaffirming its monopolistic rule on minorities).
If the principle of collective mass liability is bound to prevail also in the future, underpinned by the conditions listed above (namely: territorialism, monopolism, totalitarianism) which enable it to be accepted and practiced, willingly or forcibly, we must then be fully aware of what future events are likely to be in store for many of us.
The event (^)
If, in the course of our busy days, we take a good moment of complete quiet and we start thinking about the way we live and the reality that surrounds us, and add to this reflection a minimum of imagination, we may really see what might happen to any one of us living in or passing through a crowded city in this small world.
Picture an anonymous person, dressed like millions of others, carrying a small bag or pulling a suitcase on wheels. The person is going down an automatic escalator into the depths of a subway station. No one is noticing the passenger because he/she is like one of the identical hundreds of thousands that board trains on the underground every day.
The difference will be felt afterwards.
That day and that anonymous person will remain transfixed in the memory of billions of individuals and recounted in the electronic history books of the future, like the student's pistol shots in Sarajevo a century earlier.
The passenger sits calmly, waiting patiently for the moment when the train will reach a surface point close to the centres of command. Then a button will be pressed that will detonate a device whose power can be, on a certain scale, compared with the ones that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than half a century ago.
"I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine
Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope
a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter
Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend
Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs
Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags
Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail
Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train
The smiling Schenley poster will always smile
Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath."
(Gregory Corso, Bomb, 1958)
This event, even in the minds of the most inattentive people, will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the (somewhat infamous) history of humanity. Gone are the times of the Church vs. the State contraposition; almost over are the times of States vs. States wars. Now comes the time of the Individuals vs. the State clashes.
March 2003 - May 2003 : U.S. army vs. Iraqi state army : American casualties (deaths) 176
June 2003 - May 2006 : Individuals vs. U.S. Army : American casualties (deaths) 2267
May 2003 - May 2006 : US army and UK army vs. Individuals : around 38,000 Iraqi civilians killed after the end of major combat operations
(source: Time magazine, June 12, 2006)
April 2006 : British Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith has refused to take part in the war in Iraq because it is contrary to "international law, the Nuremberg principles and the rules of armed conflict." For this, he has been put on trial by the British State.
(source: The Independent 12 April 2006)
May 2006 : Individuals vs. British State : A thousand British soldiers have deserted since the start of the occupation of Iraq by the British army.
(source: BBC1 News, 28 May 2006)
The signs (^)
In the course of modern history there have been individuals who have fought against state power, the most notable of them being anarchists.
In contemporary times, the first premonitory signs of the clash Individuals vs. State were some desperate acts of rebellion which highlighted the total helplessness of the person in the face of the viciousness of the state machine crushing him, and not just figuratively, under its tanks.
In these first examples of the Individuals vs. State clashes we see the coming forward, out of the anonymous masses, of desperate beings ready to give up their lives rather than sacrifice their human dignity.
16 January 1969. In Saint Wenceslas Square, Prague, the student Jan Palack set himself aflame in protest against the Soviet state invasion of his country, Czechoslovakia. Twenty-six people imitated his example in the following weeks and seven of them died.
5 June 1989. In Tiananmen Square, Beijing, a young man stood in front of a column of tanks sent by the rulers of the Chinese state to crush a protest movement against the citizen's lack of freedom and the despotic occupation of power by the leaders of the Communist Party.
Subsequently or contemporaneously to these facts, in other political and geographical contexts, out of desperate individuals there emerged enraged individuals, willing to sacrifice themselves in violent demonstrative deeds that would kill people in a crowd, bringing terror to what they considered the enemy camp.
1981. In Lebanon a series of suicide bombings take place against the presence in the country of foreign soldiers. The protagonists of these suicide acts are replicating the legendary deed of the first suicide fighter known in history and celebrated in the Christian and Jewish tradition, the famous Samson and his cry of vengeance: "Let me die with the Philistines."
27 January 2002. In Jerusalem, a 28 year old paramedic woman called Wafa Idris, blows herself up in protest at the occupation by the Israeli state of territories she considers belong to her own Palestinian people. One old man is killed and more than 100 people are injured. She is the first female Palestinian suicide bomber.
At the beginning of the new millennium we have reached the third stage when enraged individuals are so determined that they are willing to spend months in planning an attack meant to cause mass human carnage and total shock in the minds of millions of individuals.
11 September 2001. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York are destroyed by hijackers who hit them with two jet airliners full of fuel. Almost three thousand people are killed in the attack. One of the motives for the action is the presence on Saudi Arabian soil of American soldiers, seen as occupiers.
7 July 2005. Three trains on the London Underground and the number 30 bus are the targets of bombings that result in 60 deaths, including the four individuals responsible for the action. The motive behind the attack is to be found in the bloody intervention in Iraq by the army of the British state. The same motive, namely the intervention in Iraq by the army of the Spanish state, is behind a similar attack on trains carried out in Madrid in March 2004, leading to 192 dead and 2,050 injured.
We are now going towards the next stage, when totally enraged and highly determined individuals will gain all the relevant technological capabilities for manufacturing the most up-to-date and destructive weapons (nuclear, chemical, bacteriological). The time is approaching when suicide combatants will use those weapons, causing such devastating death and destruction that no rational human being will ever think with the same frame of mind as the day before that event.
And the emotion driving the atomic warriors of the XXI century to their (likely) acts of carnage will be the same as that already expressed by Aeschylus more than 2500 years ago:
"Death is better, a milder fate than tyranny."
(Aeschylus, 525 BC - 456 BC, Agamemnon)
To this tragic assertion we should add another tragic proclamation of past centuries:
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
["Sweet and noble it is to die for your country."]
(Horace, Odes, III, 2, 13)
Both these statements depict with extreme clarity the mental and behavioural attitudes of those who, over the centuries, have willingly fought against what they consider tyranny and died for what they feel to be their home (patria).
By the way, home (patria) is not, necessarily, a territorial or a fixed reality. The ancients had already observed this when they said:
"Ubi bene, ibi patria."
["Where the goodness is, there is my home"].
What is important to notice is that the aspiration to autonomy and the desire to enjoy goodness are part of human nature and that there will always be somebody somewhere fighting openly against tyranny and for his home.
Therefore, the planting of an atomic bomb by an individual, albeit an absolutely abominable deed by whomever and for whatever motive performed, nevertheless should not be seen as an abnormal act (abnormal would be fighting with swords and muskets) but as the most ordinary occurrence, that is the use of the latest and most powerful weapons in a conflict whose motivations are so old and persistent that they might even be considered as intrinsic components of human nature, likely to operate until the end of time.
We should, then, focus on the reality of tyrants/tyranny and patria/home at the turn of the 21st century if we want to go to the root of the problem.
We should ask ourselves first: Who are presently the tyrants, besides the classic image of somebody who seizes absolute power and makes the life of the people subject to him horrendous or just utterly miserable?
Again we can clarify this point with the aid of a quotation that does not give room for any misunderstanding:
"Whoever lays his hand on me to govern me is a usurper and a tyrant,
and I declare him my enemy."
(Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Confessions of a Revolutionary, 1849)
To make things even clearer for those who are so often distracted by shiny appearances and verbal decoy, it is helpful to cite another classic author who stated:
"There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetrated
under the shield of law and in the name of justice."
(Montesquieu, Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence, 1742)
To carry on with our reflection we should then ask ourselves: what is this patria for which some people are ready to sacrifice their lives?
The answer to this question might make us discover the existence of two facts leading to some specific conclusions:
- Firstly, that patria is, for many individuals, their minority, secessionist, or opposition group, united in the aspiration to live according to their own rules without being prevented from doing so by the territorial power under which they live;
- Second, that in order to affirm the right to their patria they must aim at the reclamation/appropriation of a certain territory because this is, up to now, the only way to achieve full autonomy.
- From those facts, it follows that, in current times, one's patria can be perceived and pursued only through the reclamation/appropriation of an exclusive territory. In the presence of contrasting territorial claims, this matter, that is this zero-sum game where my territorial dominion is your political subordination and vice versa, has been, is and probably always will be resolved through war.
The real tragedy in all this is that, in order to escape tyranny, a group must fight for the supremacy over a territory otherwise it would remain in a state of permanent subjection, if not even in a state of continuous peril. In fact, in the course of history and especially during the 20th century, those people who were without a territory (e.g. Jews, Armenians, Kurds) have been murdered in large numbers by the dominant power of the territorial state. The tragedy of the absolute necessity, within the present political context, to fight for a territorial homeland, is compounded by the fact that, once the dispossessed people have grasped/regained a territory in which to exert their dominion, they are likely to oppress the minorities living in that area, because this is in the very nature of any territorial state sovereignty.
And so the cycle of oppressions and revolts and further oppressions and further revolts goes on and on.
To come full circle, the person reflecting on the surrounding reality, and focusing his attention especially on the aspects related to territorialism (i.e. exclusive rule over a territory and all its inhabitants) in the 21st century, and how people will fight over it, must come to very important realisation.
And the realisation is that, in our age, there exist the political circumstances which will motivate and the technological conditions which will allow somebody to make himself an atomic bomb and to detonate it. And this because s/he considers his existence and that of his fellow brothers totally ruined by the intrusion of an external power against which s/he wants to take revenge even at the price of annihilating his life and that of innumerable other people whom s/he considers accomplices or servants of the territorial tyrant.
Tyranny and territory appear then to be the crux of the problem, i.e. the source of deep-seated and widespread grievances that are likely to lead to the occurrence of horrible violent events at a gigantic level.
Let us then analyse the phenomenon of war (i.e. protracted violence on a large scale) paying especial attention to the reality of territorialism (tyranny over territory).
The analysis (^)
We, as rational human beings, should accept the fact that behind any consciously planned action there is a precise cause. In the instance of the planting of an atomic bomb there must be very deeply felt grievances to instil in the mind of someone such a determination that it will lead him to the bomb. As rational human beings, we should strive to identify those motives in order to defuse them as swiftly as possible.
As already pointed out, the opinion that prolonged operations of mass slaughter, i.e. wars, are the inevitable products of a fundamentally aggressive human nature, fails to take account of some important aspects of the matter, in particular that:
- Human nature is not a frozen monolithic reality but a series of potentialities and attitudes, many of which have nothing to do with violent behaviour. Consider, for instance, the widespread presence, at all times, of peace-loving human beings, some of whom even find the courage to openly oppose war, refusing to carry out criminal orders, deserting and being court-martialled by the organizations waging the war.
- An aggressive human nature is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the mass carnage that is war. The other requisite, already stressed, is the existence of an organization intent on and expert in waging wars, having the power to coercively mobilise huge military resources in terms of men and means.
- Human nature, apart from pathological and uncommon cases, becomes (or might become) aggressive only in response to something perceived as an offence or an injustice. In other words, there must be a real or presumed grievance in order to activate violence (attack, reprisal, resistance).
The dispositions of a person in relation to somebody/something could be classified, following loosely the scheme of the psychoanalyst Karen Horney, as moving:
that individual (somebody) or that experience (something).
In the presence of subjectively felt unpleasant individuals or negatively felt experiences, the usual and sensible human reaction is that of leaving, moving away.
However, if this is not possible, the remaining option and the likely reaction is one of going against in order to overcome that specific situation.
|"If the activity of breathing be interrupted by accident or a deliberate act of another individual, the immediate reaction to it is a violent struggle to remove the obstacle or to overcome the human act of aggression. Kicking, biting, pushing immediately start; a fight ensues which has to end with the destruction of the suffocated organism or the removal of the obstacle."
"... the impulse which controls aggression is not primary but derived. It is contingent upon circumstances in which a primary biologically defined impulse is being thwarted."
In fact, it is human nature to strive for the satisfaction of needs and to fight when the realization of physiological needs (for food, water, shelter, etc.) is imperilled and that of personality needs (for autonomy, creativity, mobility, self-esteem, etc.) is suffocated. These are the grievances that are likely to generate violence.
By contrast, mass violence (i.e. war) starts when the rulers have satisfied all their needs and have resources in excess (arms, provisions, shelters, etc.) which they can use for the satisfaction of their pathological delusions of grandeur or compulsions of revenge.
|"War is essentially the playground of the psychopath in society."
(Alex Comfort, Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State, 1950)
All this means that we have to distinguish clearly between limited, localized and episodic acts of violence by individuals and small groups because they are prevented from satisfying certain human needs, and large scale organized violence, i.e. war, carried out through proxies of the state who will bear the brunt, and aimed essentially at conquering territories, expanding influence and dominating people.
Considering that many human beings, following their human nature, have opposed the inhumanity of war in so many cases where it was possible to do so (e.g. being conscientious objectors, by leaving the army, by denouncing the carnage, etc.), we would do better to focus attention not on the violent individual but on the organization waging war if we want to locate the source of mass slaughters and protracted violence in general.
As previously pointed out, an organization eager for war and expert in how to wage it must rely on:
- territorial sovereignty: the organization must have the power to place under its sovereignty all those who live within a certain territory (compulsory ascription)
- monopolistic rule: the organization must have the power to impose its exclusive laws on everybody under its territorial jurisdiction (compulsory submission);
- pervasive power: the organization must have the power to make use of the life of the individual for the maintenance of the territorial organization itself (compulsory conscription).
In modern times this organization has been the territorial nation state and that is why the coming to full dominance of this kind of state by the end of the 19th century also led to the biggest mass slaughters in the history of humanity. This is not an accidental correlation of events but a precise and documented conjunction of cause and effect.
The hypothesis (^)
In the contemporary age characterized by Individuals vs. State conflicts, we can reformulate the problem of war and its origin in terms of:
- gangs: groups of people with exclusive control over a certain territory
- gates: the artificial borders of the controlled territory
- guns: the repressive means for controlling the territory, including the arms of state propaganda and school indoctrination
- grievances: the various objections and resentments of those who oppose the control of a territory by a certain gang.
Considering that most of the grievances that lead to open warfare consist, in the final instance, in territorial claims of exclusive sovereignty, the success of a gang/government in displacing and replacing another gang/government does not, as previously pointed out, cancel the likelihood of further grievances emerging at some later date, but only postpones it until a new organized and determined group arises with its own demands for exclusive control of some territory.
And then the cycle of violence and warfare is re-ignited once again.
This is exactly what has happened and is still happening in the course of history.
In short, whatever way we deal with the problem of war, it seems that the crux of everything is the pretension by a tyrant (be it the majority as in a democracy or the minority as in an oligarchy) to lay exclusive claims to the control and exploitation of a territory and all its resources, people included. Gangs, gates and guns are there only because of territorialism, that is because of this absurd imposition of monopolistic territorial dominance.
The hypothesis put forward here, and for which plenty of historical evidence can be brought to bear, is that territorialism is the core reason for the emergence of deep-seated grievances that lead to violent clashes and, in the final instance, to total protracted warfare once the social groups have reached a certain level of political structure and organizational weight.
If this is true, it follows then that, if we accept territorialism as the everlasting way of social organization (namely, one territory - one boss) grievances amongst groups of individuals will always be with us.
Supposed means for controlling the eruption of bloody, large scale conflicts might be:
- The small ghetto: to go for completely homogeneous territorial groups (culturally, racially, politically, etc.) totally segregated one from the other (final aim: to love your small cell).
- The big brother: to set up, in each territory, a highly effective propaganda apparatus, capable of making servitude and conformism highly desirable even to minority and alien groups (final aim: to love your big brother).
This nightmarish future of apartheid and subjection on a world scale could perhaps reduce mass warfare to localized internal conflicts to be dealt with through more segregation and more manipulation. Otherwise, with the joint presence of territorialism and globalism, we have to accept that wars will always take place and that today's liberation struggle, intifada, guerrilla campaign, will be tomorrow's total war once a group has conquered/achieved a territorial base and a certain level of political and military force.
According to this hypothesis and on the basis of historical records, it will be so whatever the type of political system adopted, provided that the ideology of territorialism is shared by different groups and one harbours deep-seated grievances towards the other and a strong desire for autonomy.
In the past, some thinkers (for instance Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer) put forward the idea that the development of production and commerce (in other words, industrial capitalism) would make militarism and wars a thing of the past. However, when national capitalists allied themselves with the national rulers of their territorial states and started demanding protection and exclusive rights of exploitation and commerce over specific territories, wars became more rampant than ever. Some capitalists, through their press, even lent support to the imperialist myth that "trade follows the flag."
Later in history, some easily deluded intellectuals advanced the thesis that so-called socialist states don't fight against each other. The presence of soviet tanks in the streets of Budapest (1956) and Prague (1968) and the violent clashes between China and the USSR in Sinkiang (1969) put this other myth finally to rest.
In our times, other naïve intellectuals uphold the conviction that democracies (i.e. states with elected representation) don't wage wars between themselves. If this were true, the spread of democratic states would be a guarantee for the maintenance of peace. Unfortunately this is another myth that will equally be refuted by the course of events.
It is already clear that the only reason why (in the year 2006) the democratically elected representatives of Palestine and the democratically elected representatives of Israel don't start a full-scale war resides in the disequilibrium of forces and not in any supposed but actually non-existent moderation of their democratically elected representatives. As a matter of fact, territorial democratic states (e.g. Britain) have not been less war mongering than territorial authoritarian states (e.g. Spain under General Franco).
What restrains a territorial state from fighting a war is its weakness and not the form of its political structure. This means that, whenever confronted with an attack to its territorial sovereignty or animated by territorial aims or claims, any territorial state is ready to wage a war, provided the chances of success are good.
|"The popular opinion that democracies are much less belligerent than autocracies seems to be unwarranted by our data. In the 20th century the relative magnitude of the war activities of democratic England (measured by casualties) was higher than of Spain; of France higher than of Austria or Russia."
(Pitirim Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics, 1957)
What is common to all these cases of war under so-called capitalism, socialism, democracy, is the presence of territorial state rulers convinced that it is their right to enforce their will on everybody living within a certain territory and eager to expand further their sovereignty or sphere of influence over other territories. This is called statism, which is the current ideological and organizational form of territorialism.
The two main traits of statism are:
- Nationalism: waging war against social and political entities considered alien to a certain territory;
- Imperialism: waging war against social and political entities considered inferior in order to replace them in the administration of a certain territory.
Historically, the territorial urge has fed a nationalism in which the strongest indigenous group has crushed the weaker ones. Nationalism has then begotten imperialism, in which the strongest states have subdued the weaker ones. All this has been carried out with the use of appealing slogans (the civilizing mission, the white man's burden) or supposedly compelling reasons (lebensraum, a place in the sun).
The same dynamic is still active, with some new protagonists, some new slogans (fight for democracy, war on terror) but with the same underlying aim: to control territories in order to control people in view of exerting total power.
We always come back then to the problem of territorialism (tyranny over a territory) as the real source of war, once we have dropped a series of other alleged causes that do not withstand even a superficial critical examination.
The alternative (^)
The link between territorialism and war was already clear to those who, in the past, put forward proposals for the abolition of war. The most ingenious solutions presented in history are:
- Cosmopolis. The end of national territorialism and the surrender of territorial sovereignty to some overarching organization in order to grant peaceful world governance/administration (Freud, Malinowski, Einstein, H. G. Wells).
- Panarchy. The end of territorialism altogether and the re-appropriation by the individual of the power of association with and disassociation from any social or political entities, all equally devoid of territorial sovereignty (Paul-Emile de Puydt, John Zube).
These two solutions are not antithetic, as might appear at first sight and could be amalgamated assuming that we go beyond conventional or misleading interpretations of either of them.
Cosmopolis as world governance/administration should not be understood as centralization of all controlling power in one world super-state. This would be a totally unworkable proposition besides being a quite tyrannical one (as acknowledged already by Kant). Instead, it should be understood as a general framework of universal civic principles within which individuals and communities freely associate and interact.
In other words, Cosmopolis should mean a world federation (network) of independent communities and individuals (nodes) in which the soundness, robustness and richness of each node is given by the plurality and quality of its connections and not by the size or brute force of its components.
Panarchy as free choice by every human being to associate with or secede from any social or political entity, is certainly not to be understood, on the whole, as personal egotism or communitarian isolationism (or, even worse, narrow sectarianism and endemic factionalism). This would be the very opposite of what Panarchy advocates (i.e. universal political tolerance) and in stark contrast with a good deal of current reality characterized by an incredible and growing number of links and exchanges that connect each person with so many others. Instead, Panarchy is to be seen as the actuation, at last, of personal choice and personal responsibility in any field. This would mark the real beginning of the history of humanity, i.e. of universal free human beings, after so much history made of states, rulers, armies and wars.
The two proposals are, then, not incompatible but can be integrated in a general proposition, a Cosmopolis of Panarchies promoting the broadest and deepest co-existentialism between autonomous individuals and independent communities throughout the world.
And if or when divergences arise, they can be settled through forums for clarification and mechanisms of arbitration (as already happens for disputes between companies); or, in cases of outbursts of heated passions, through the temporary use of neutral forces of interposition and pacification (as has always happened when the contenders need time and assistance in order to come back to their senses).
In short, as previously and repeatedly stressed, without the monopolistic and totalitarian control of a territory and of its inhabitants, no war (i.e. large scale - long term violence) is possible.
If territorialism, monopolism, totalitarianism are the requisites that make for a war mongering organization, it follows that those who are against war should promote the overcoming of these three aspects and should develop in their place alternative organizational structures and arrangements that neutralize and finally extinguish the drive to war and the capability for it.
The new social entities should display characteristics antithetic to territorialism, monopolism, totalitarianism, namely:
- Spatialism. Governance is dissociated from territorial sovereignty (aterritorialism) and is related only to performing specific circumscribed functions, affecting exclusively the people voluntarily concerned by those functions. This frees the individuals from being hostages of a certain power for no other reason than that of living in a certain territory, and eliminates the main drive to war (i.e. conquer/control new territories).
- Pluralism. There are no limits to the number of existing communities (voluntary and free from territorialism) as long as there are individuals ready to set them up. This will give rise to a wealth of social entities, most of them interconnected and open to external inputs and new members, and will eliminate the pervasive power of any large centralized organization. The consequence is the elimination of another prime condition favourable to engagement in mass slaughters, namely the existence of large groups of people subject to a central power.
- Voluntarism. All the individuals are free to associate with the community of their choice, to set up new communities or to live apart, on their own, totally undisturbed. This personal universal right to social choice will implement the basic form of freedom (i.e. free will) and will definitively leave behind the remaining traces of modern feudalism, that is territorial nationalism, in so far as free contracts will replace compulsory ascription everywhere, even in the social and political sphere.
|"... originally no one had a greater right to any region of the earth than anyone else."
"... the right to the earth's surface ... belongs in common to the totality of human beings." (Immanuel Kant, To Perpetual Peace, 1795)
These three conditions represent not only the most sensible way to promote and preserve peace, but also the most reasonable option for dealing with the most intractable problems (Iraq, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Northern-Ireland, multi-ethnic Europe, etc.) in a complex multicultural cosmopolitan world. The time of one ruling territorial government, one dominant political faith, one all encompassing nation, is finally over. We have only to fully realize it and act accordingly. We need then new ways of thinking and acting in order to master the art of living (expressing, exploring, exchanging) in all its complexity and variety.
The responsibility (^)
The responsibility to prevent the occurrence of catastrophic man-made events relies on each individual. Otherwise each individual, in different ways, will be doomed, going down with the conflagration or being swept away by the resulting vortex, unaware of why ultimate terror is befalling him and naively proclaiming his innocence right until the moment terror arrives to visit him.
What is instead required from each one of us, in the ways and forms which are humanly possible in each case, is the:
- Dissociation from tyrants: We should distance ourselves, as soon as possible, from vicious rulers and their criminal gangs and withdraw our support, as much as possible, either through underground resistance or through open intervention.
- Denunciation of tyrants: The open intervention should aim at deposing the tyrant and his criminal clique, bringing them to trial. The examples set by the detention of Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor should represent only the beginning and should lead to a wider and deeper cleansing of the world of murderous rulers.
- Dissolution of tyrants: A judicial process should be the proper way for the abolition of tyrants. However, if a Prime Minister, President of State, Commander in chief of the army, etc. cannot be brought to trial for one reason or another, then, tyrannicide is the justifiable act of last resort.
|"They [the Utopians] regard it as honourable, as an act of humanity and mercy which, by the death of a few guilty individuals [the warmongering rulers], saves the lives of thousands of innocent people who would otherwise die on the battlefield. For the mercy of Utopians embraces all enemy soldiers. They know that the soldiers do not begin a war on their own initiative but are forced by orders resulting from the quarrelsomeness of princes." (Thomas More, Utopia, 1516)|
|"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to W. S. Smith, 1787)|
Clearly tyrannicide should only be the extreme option, taken in order to:
- stop further large scale crimes committed/ordered by a person;
- stop other people following the example and engaging in similar crimes.
However, if the person (Prime Minister, State President, etc.) responsible for those crimes
- brings an end to the wrongdoings (completely)
- makes reparation (as far as possible)
- asks sincerely for forgiveness (as soon as possible)
he should be re-admitted into the circle of humankind and no attack on his life should be undertaken.
With this necessary act of retribution we are, nonetheless, still in the realm of politics and so of hatred and vindictive deeds.
After that, we need to move beyond politics and beyond territorial, monopolistic and totalitarian organizations, towards the sphere of spatialism, pluralism, voluntarism, a sphere inhabited by cosmopolitan individuals characterized by the universal attitude and practice of tolerance and acceptance of different creeds and customs, in all fields.
The trajectory started a few centuries ago with the introduction of religious tolerance would be then extended and completed with the practice of political tolerance and freely chosen membership covering the wide social area of state allegiance and group association. In other words, the practice of voluntary association (or abstention from any association) should be available to every individual, in relation to any community and organization, the state included.
The question (^)
On the evening of 5th of January 1953 at the Théâtre Babylone in Paris, many bewildered spectators saw the first performance of "En attendant Godot" (Waiting for Godot) by Samuel Beckett. In this surreal pièce Godot never arrives but the two beggars, Estragon and Vladimir, keep waiting for him.
And the Bomb ?
Given the current reality, most likely it will arrive.
It might be a real, physical bomb of astounding power or a metaphorical one, i.e. an ecological, chemical, financial, moral, bomb that will shatter our lives and will show us that, ultimately, there is no master to protect us and no tutor to guide us.
At that moment we will discover our loneliness in the world but also our uniqueness and the absurdity of abdicating our task of striving to become human beings in exchange for an illusory security under elected or imposed masters.
|"Servitude is a people's voluntarily accepted evil and its existence is more the fault of the servants than of the masters." [La servitù è male volontario di popolo ed è colpa dei servi più che dei padroni.] (From an inscription outside the Museum of St. Martin, Naples)|
In any case, if we are passively waiting for the bomb (consciously or unconsciously) it means not only that we have forgotten our human rights but also that we do not really deserve them because we are just dummies stuffed with straw.
We will make a good fire, then, when the bomb finally arrives!
The pre-conditions for the bomb to arrive are all there.
Observe, for instance, the incredible imbalance engendered, on the one side, by a feudal territorial model of social and political organization in which the individual is treated as a handicapped child, denied any possibility of true social experimentation and, on the other side, a technological and informational reality where the individual is the potential master of a universe of tools and data encompassing a world-wide network of connections and relations.
In the past, the narrow views of most of the populace, who spent their lives inside a limited territory and with a relatively restricted range of social intercourse were, from time to time, shaken by unforeseen events over which people had no control whatsoever.
In our times, not only do news and ideas circulate instantaneously on a world-wide scale, but, in addition, the archives of the past are open to all, to be perused and pondered in order to avoid previous mistakes, and simulations can be made to anticipate possible future events. So, we do not really need further shocking facts to force us to change direction, after having already paid a terrible toll in psychological suffering and material loss of lives.
State territorialism is a pest we can no longer afford to live with because the consequences that might be generated by it are even more appalling than the worst ones we have witnessed in the past.
Maybe a further gigantic slaughter is what we need in order to say eventually: Enough is Enough! - Let the carnage stop and let people live how they want, freely professing their chosen political creed, without territorial masters dictating to them their beliefs and practices of observance.
Impositions didn't work for religion and cannot work for politics (for many, the new religion).
As history shows us, only after abominable bloodshed driven by religious hatred (like the August 23, 1572, Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day in France in which twenty thousand Huguenots were killed); and after long conflicts like the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) in which religious pretexts fuelled territorial ambitions, bringing grief and misery to many regions of Europe, did ideas of tolerance in religious matters slowly start to be introduced, considered, and finally accepted.
Unfortunately, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) that ended that war started the official enthronement of the territorial states and of their rulers as the protagonists of history. So, while religious tolerance was sprouting, religious grievances were declining and conflicts in matters of faith were becoming a thing of the past, new violent clashes were incubating, engendered by the usual territorial greed and fed by the new fanaticism of national hatreds based on politics.
If bloodshed itself can cure us of our territorial madness based on political intolerance, we could say that we already had the equivalent of a Thirty Years' War in the two World Wars (1914-1945) of the last century.
So, we shouldn't really need a series of further political conflicts leading to more colossal destructions and waste of lives before we start accepting and practicing political tolerance, i.e. tolerance in matters of political faith, where everybody can freely practice his own political beliefs, following not the leaders selected by the majority (democracy) or by the minority (oligarchy) but only those chosen by himself/herself, if he/she so wants, or no leader whatsoever, according to his/her personal exigencies and wishes.
Regrettably, many human beings do not seem able to remember the past or prefer to ignore its lessons and so are bound to repeat the same tragic mistakes.
In fact, a sort of religious war has already started. As in the Thirty Years' War religion is only a pretext for political expansion and dominance. In current times, even more than in the past, defending a religion means upholding a political faith, and this has nothing to do either with spirituality or with religious sentiment.
Political faiths all based on territorialism are, indeed, the new soporific opium of people, which obfuscate the minds of individuals and lead to commit atrocities that will horrify future generations who will deride if not despise us for our blindness and intolerance as we deride and despise those who committed the religious massacres and persecutions of the past.
For all these reasons, now more than ever, each person in full possession of his rational capabilities and having at his disposal plenty of historical data and reflections on those data, should ask himself the question:
AM I WAITING for the BOMB?
The way each of us responds to this question intellectually and practically will make the difference between remaining moronic servants at the mercy of any foreseeable and avoidable cataclysmic event, or mature human beings who are fully independent, responsible shapers of our own future.
Bibliographic Notes (^)
1. War (^)
The concept and theme of war in history is treated in
- Gaston Bouthoul, La Guerre, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1973
- André Corvisier, La guerre. Essais historiques, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1995
An historical and sociological approach to war is in
- Pitirim Sorokin (1957) Social and Cultural Dynamics, Revised and abridged in one volume by the author, Porter Sargent Publisher, Boston
see: Part six: fluctuation of war in intergroup relationships
A simple statistical treatment of wars in history is presented in
- Jack S. Levy, War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495-1975, The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1983
A collection of essays on war is
- Leon Bramson and George W. Goethals, editors (1968) War. Studies from Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Basic Books, New York.
Amongst them is the essay by Bronislaw Malinowski (1941) An Anthropological Analysis of War.
Also worth reading is: Harold D. Lasswell (1941) The Garrison State.
A contemporary analysis of war with future scenarios is in
- Alvin and Heidi Toffler (1993) War and Anti-war, Warner Books, New York
The climate of rivalry that prepared the terrain for the outbreak of the First World War is poignantly presented in
- A. J. P. Taylor (1954) The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1918, Oxford University Press, Oxford
In the opening is found the famous sentence that ascribes the "bellum omnium contra omnes" not to the state of nature but to the state "tout court" (i.e. to the state as political institution, territorial and monopolistic):
"In the state of nature which Hobbes imagined, violence was the only law, and life was 'nasty, brutish and short'. Though individuals never lived in this state of nature, the Great powers of Europe have always done so."
A short reconstruction of the incredible series of circumstances surrounding the killing of the Archduke and his wife is in
About the tangle of alliances that brought a continuous accession of new states into the conflict see
The identification of the political causes of war makes it very necessary to refer to the state and its features.
2. State (^)
For the role of the state, the functions of war and the link between state and war see the following texts:
- Piotr Kropotkin (1897) The State [L'Etat - Son rôle historique]
"State is synonymous with war. Wars devastated Europe and managed to finish off the towns which the State had not directly destroyed." (Piotr Kropotkin)
- Randolph Bourne (1919) The State, Resistance Press, New York, 1919
The essay "War is the Health of the State" is at
For a more recent libertarian view about the war-state link see also
- Murray Rothbard (1963) War, Peace, and the State
Also worth reading is Rothbard's dissection of the reality of the State which contains very interesting insights on war, territory and nationalism.
- Murray Rothbard (n.d.) The Anatomy of the State
For Rothbard (following Franz Oppenheimer) "the State is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory." Moreover, "the natural tendency of a State is to expand its power, and externally such expansion takes place by conquest of a territorial area."
For a general view on state power
- Bertrand de Jouvenel (1945) On Power : its nature and the history of its growth (Du pouvoir: histoire naturelle de sa croissance), Liberty Press, Indianapolis, 1993
For de Jouvenel "the State is in essence the result of the successes achieved by a band of brigands who superimpose themselves on small, distinct societies."
About the criminal side of state power see
- Alex Comfort (1950) Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State. A criminological approach to the problem of power, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London
For the ideological background of a never ending war against ever present enemies (terrorists) and about the manipulation of people's minds see
- George Orwell (1948) Nineteen Eighty-Four
"War is Peace"
"Ignorance is Strength"
- Sigmund Freud expressed some powerful considerations about war and the State in (1915) Thoughts for the Times on War and Death. However his final analysis is very poor and misleading. His essay can be found at
For a series of quotations about the war and the state go to
and, in particular, to
For the function of war as the means to promote and develop a centralized social organization see
- Anonymous (1967) Report from Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, Penguin, Harmondsworth
For the mass murder activities of the State see the writings by R. J. Rummel
- R. J. Rummel, Power, Democide and War
- R. J. Rummel (1994) Death by Government
"My overall totals for world democide 1900-1999 ... I have estimated it to be 174,000,000 murdered (by the state)." (R. J. Rummel)
A recent essay on the close link between war and the State is
- Anthony Gregory (1998) Warmongering is the Health of Statism
For contemporary examples of how war is conducted by the state see
- Llewellyn H. Rockwell jr. (1998) What Is Terror?
- Yuri N. Maltsev (1999) Why Russia Is Destroying Chechnya
A wealth of data and insightful ideas on the State and war is in
- Martin Van Creveld (1999) The Rise and Decline of the State, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
- Charles Tilly (1990) Coercion, Capital, and European States, Blackwell, Oxford, 2001
3. Tyranny (^)
The quotation of Thomas More about tyrannicide is from
- Thomas More (1516) Utopia
For a brief general overview on tyrannicide and the position of the Catholic Church see
- J. M. Harty (1912) Tyrannicide (Catholic Encyclopedia)
For Voluntary Servitude as the most fertile ground for Tyranny see
- La Boetie (1553) Discours de la servitude volontaire
For an act of tyranny such as the imprisonment of Japanese Americans refer to
4. Territorialism (^)
An introduction to the concept of Territory is
- David Storey (2001) Territory. The claiming of space, Pearson Education, London
For an ecological perspective critical of state territorialism see
- Thom Kuehls (1996) Beyond Sovereign Territory, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
For territorialism in the history of international relations and about the crisis this reality is undergoing see
- Thomas J. Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, editors (1996) State Sovereignty as Social Construct, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
and especially the essay
Alexander B. Murphy, The sovereign state as political-territorial ideal: historical and contemporary considerations
One of the visible results of modern state territorialism is the control of the movement of individuals. For this see
- John Torpey (2000) The Invention of the Passport. Surveillance, Citizenship and the State, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
For a view on state and territoriality in our times see
- Mathia Albert (2001) Territoriality and Modernization
The meddling and misdeeds of the Western territorial state powers in the last decades are portrayed and analysed in the following books:
- William Lederer (1961) A Nation of Sheep, Cassell, London
- Tristram Coffin (1964) The Armed Society. Militarism in modern America, Penguin Books, Baltimore, Maryland
- William McGaffin and Erwin Knoll (1969) Scandal in the Pentagon. A challenge to democracy, Fawcett Publications
- William Blum (2000) Rogue State. A guide to the world's only superpower, Zed Books, London, updated edition 2002
- John Pilger (2002) The New Rulers of the World, Verso, London, 2003
- Mark Curtis (2003) Web of Deceit, Vintage, London
- Philip Sands (2005) Lawless World, Penguin Books, London, 2006
See also the Amnesty International magazine (U.K.), in particular the January-February 2006 issue about the detention network administered by the U.S.A. through their allied tyrants in some Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen).
For documents exposing the causal link between territorialism and terrorism see:
- Ivan Eland (1998) Does U.S Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism? The Historical Record, Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 50
- Robert Pape (2005) The Logic of Suicide Terrorism. It's the occupation, not the fundamentalism.
5. Space (^)
The term spatialism, which has been employed in the text above with the meaning of aterritorialism, is intended to stress the importance of space and put that concept on the agenda of social organization in place of territory. In fact, space is a more valuable idea than territory because it applies more appropriately to ecological (open) and technological (connected) realities. Territory has, instead, all the limitations of its feudal origin.
Moreover, space/spatialism gives the idea of three-dimensional wide-open reality, where individuals are free to move and explore (to ramble); territory/territorialism, instead, conveys the idea of borders and limitations (to be trapped inside or to be excluded from entering).
For anarcho-spatialism defined as "a spatial system devoid of domination" see
- Anders Corr (n.d.) Anarcho-spatialism: Towards an Egalitarian Land Tenure
Not everything in this essay is enlightening but still it is worth reading.
For a modern vision on spaces for exchange see
- Peter Fingar et alii (1999) 21st Century Markets. From Places to Spaces
Another interesting aspect to focus on and to examine from many different perspectives (biological, ecological, technological, social etc.) is that of size, considering that gigantism is a pathology that is the cause of imperialism (and so of aggressive postures and practices) in all fields.
A classic text is
- D'Arcy Thompson (1917) On Growth and Form
The idea of appropriate size, especially with reference to the biological world and then, by extension, to social organization, was sketched in a short essay by
- J. B. S. Haldane (1927) On Being the Right Size
Other writings worth examining are:
- Leopold Kohr (1941) Disunion Now : A Plea for a Society Based upon Small Autonomous Units
- Leopold Kohr (1957) The Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986
- Luigi Einaudi (1948) Il mito del colossale
- Ivan Illich (1973) Tools for conviviality, Fontana/Collins, Glasgow, 1975
- E. F. Schumacher (1973) Small is Beautiful, Economics as if people mattered, Harper & Row, New York, 1975
- Kirkpatrick Sale (1980) Human Scale, Secker & Warburg, London
This last is a well documented plea for the reduction in size of social organisms and for setting up independent communities, beyond gigantism and centralism.
The same author expresses ideas of decentralism, mutualism and promoting ecological communities in
- Kirkpatrick Sale (1985) Dwellers in the Land. The Bioregional Vision, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco
The idea of manageable appropriate size should not mean a world made of tiny isolated units. To counteract this view, the idea of space as network should be firmly stressed. From that perspective the entire world appears as a small world.
For the space viewed as a network and the world as a small world see the following texts:
- John Naisbitt (1994) Global Paradox, Nicholas Brealey, London, 1995
"The bigger the world economy, the more powerful its smallest players." (John Naisbitt)
- Geoff Mulgan (1997) Connexity, Chatto & Windus, London
- Mark Buchanan (2002) Small World: uncovering nature's hidden networks, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
- Duncan J. Watts (2003) Six Degrees. The science of a connected age, Norton & Company, New York
The new updated slogan for those in favour of an interconnected world seems to be:
"I link therefore I am."
The linking and exchanging should favour mutual understanding provided that all this is based on spatialism (aterritorialism) otherwise we could end up as the previous trend towards globalism ended up, that is with imperialism and nationalism leading straight to the First World War.
6. Pacifism (^)
For episodes of pacifism and anti-militarism during the course of the First World War see:
- The Christmas truce of 1914, at
- The "live and let live system" in the trench warfare of 1914-1918, at
A satirical poem against war (in Roman dialect) is
- Trilussa (1914) La ninna nanna de la Guerra
Touching and powerful verses about the insanity of war are in
- Wilfred Owen (1917-1918) Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori
For other poets and poems on the First World War see
A poignant novel against the horror of war is
- Eric Maria Remarque (1929) All quiet on the Western Front
From which the film with the same title by Lewis Milestone (1930)
Another superb film against war and the criminality of the military elite is
- Stanley Kubrick (1957) Paths of Glory
Needless to say, the circulation of this film was forbidden by the state in France for many years. This is another proof that the state rulers, if they can, will block any frank depiction of the criminal nature of war.
Stanley Kubrick took aim again at the military establishment with his (1964)
- Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
where criminality and madness are fused in an extraordinary satire on the armed forces and state power.
About the bomb as a phenomenon of daily life to be accepted as an artefact of popular culture see
- Gregory Corso (1958) Bomb
7. Tolerance (^)
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)
About Erasmus as a peace-loving tolerant person see
Two major classic writings on tolerance are:
- John Locke (1689) Letter on Toleration
- Voltaire (1763) Traité sur la tolérance
For a general history on the birth of tolerance see
- Henry Kamen (1967) The Rise of Toleration, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London
A quite recent essay on tolerance is
- John Zube (1982) On Tolerance
The sentence by Walter Lippmann on the modern state and its lack of tolerance is from
- Walter Lippmann (1929) A Preface to Morals, George Allen & Unwin, London
8. Mutualism (^)
One of the classic writings on Mutualism is
- Piotr Kropotkin (1902) Mutual Aid. A factor of evolution, Allen Lane, London, 1972
For a later text see
- Clarence Lee Swartz (1927) What is Mutualism?
Mutualism should not be seen as a conception stressing only cooperation. Competition, whenever pursued with transparency, honesty and creative far-sightedness, is also a powerful tool for evolution and betterment of personal and social life.
An interesting simulation on how co-operation (understood as trust and absence of aggression) can develop spontaneously and freely is in
- Robert Axelroad (1984) The Evolution of Co-operation, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1990
Another text on the same theme is
- Matt Ridley (1996) The Origins of Virtue, Softback Preview, England, 1997
9. Cosmopolis (^)
A classic text is
- Immanuel Kant (1795) To Perpetual Peace, Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, 1983
The idea of a world government appears in
- H. G. Wells (1933) The Open Conspiracy, London
For a series of passages taken from that text see
For a similar proposal see also
- Bronislaw Malinowski (1941) An Anthropological Analysis of War.
In this essay the author asks himself the following rhetorical questions:
"Shall we abolish war, or must we submit to it by choice or necessity? Is it desirable to have permanent peace, and it is this peace possible? If it is possible, how can we implement it successfully?"
Malinowski then replies that there is a price for it and "the price to be paid is the surrender of state sovereignty and the subordination of all political units to a world-wide control."
He concludes declaring that "the great enemy of today is the sovereign state, even as we find it in a democratic commonwealth."
The idea of a world government promoted by USA, Great Britain and USSR is also in
- Albert Einstein (1945) Atomic War or Peace, in, Ideas and Opinions, Crown Trade Paperbacks, New York, 1982
10. Panarchy (^)
The originator, at least in modern times, of the term "Panarchy" was a Belgian botanist, expert in orchids, by the name of Paul-Emile de Puydt. In 1860 he wrote an article published in the Revue Trimestrielle (Brussels) bearing the title "Panarchie." In that article de Puydt advanced the proposal of finishing with territorialism (state territorial sovereignty) and introducing political tolerance (on the model of religious tolerance) whereby everyone could associate himself to a chosen government and various governments co-existed on the same territory, vying for the political and financial support of the public (like many providers of public services or clubs and associations in competition for customers or members).
For the English translation of "Panarchie" see
- Paul-Emile de Puydt (1860) Panarchy
That brilliant essay went practically unnoticed until the historian of the anarchist movement, Max Nettlau, rediscovered it and wrote an article that appeared in 1909 in the German review "Der Sozialist."
- Max Nettlau (1909) Panarchy. A forgotten idea of 1860
After that there is little debate to be found about de Puydt's very original idea until John Zube resurrected the notion of Panarchy in our contemporary age. He is the one who has done more than any other to promote the idea of Panarchy through his writings and various activities.
For a clarification of the concept see some of his texts like:
- John Zube (1986) Some Notes for a Talk on Panarchism to Anarchists
- John Zube (n.d.) Further Notes on Panarchism and Anarchism
- John Zube, (1996) Some Panarchistic Notions
Other authors who have expressed ideas in tune with Panarchy are:
- Anonymous (1962) Democracy with a small "d"
An enlightening view of what democracy should be, once we stop thinking and acting in terms of majorities and minorities.
- Le Grand E. Day (1969-1977) The Theory of Multigovernment
- Roderick T. Long (1993) Virtual Cantons. A New Path to Freedom?
For the topic concerning many legal systems present within the same territory see
- Richard CB Johnsson (2005) Non-Territorial Governance - Mankind's Forgotten Legacy
- Richard CB Johnsson (2005) To the Monopolists of All Parties
- James Leroy Wilson (2005) One State, Many Legal Systems
For an interesting essay about globalism and post-territorialism see
- Bruno S. Frey (2001) A Utopia? Government without Territorial Monopoly