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In this world, violence has developed to be perhaps most definitive, means of action. Not just humans, but many other species face the harshness of battle, be it to defend their young or gain territory.

The result of a battle is often clear: The strongest survive.

But could there be a world out there where violence, at least not in the form we know today, would not be a most effective means?

How might human conflict be solved in a different world?

For the purpose of this question, a conflict will be defined as a disagreement between two or more parties.

It must not be possible for the humans to view violence as a superior solution to the provided solution, for whatever reason.

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    $\begingroup$ I am not sure this could answered in a way compliant to our standards. It sounds like a highly speculative question with no measurable answer. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 23 '19 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ We know two broad ways to limit violence in humans: cultural and institutional. We're living in an 'institutional' age right now - some folks face international consequences for their choice of violent policy. There are entire library bookcases devoted to cultural changes needed to limit criminal violence and devoted to institutional restraints upon national and international violence-as-a-policy (a.k.a repression or war). From my perspective, this question seems too broad. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 23 '19 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Why not some Heavy Metal Action? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs May 23 '19 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ Violence is very seldom the most effective means of solving a problem. What it usually does is kick the problem down the road. For example, the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 was definitely won by the German Empire, and definitely lost by the French; but it did nothing to solve the fundamental issues between France and Germany, so they both felt a strong need to start World War I, which was definitely won by France (and others) and lost by Germany; but it did nothing to solve the fundamental issues, so there came World War 2; and only then a bunch of clear-headed politicians set up the E.U. $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 23 '19 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ Recommended read: The Foundation by Isaac Asimov. It has a recurring saying: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent". The books contain several examples of political situations which seem to lead up to inevitable wars, but which are then resolved in clever ways which involve none or minimal use of violence. $\endgroup$ – Philipp May 23 '19 at 13:36
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War is the contiuation of politics by other means. - Carl von Clausewitz

For the purpose of this question, a conflict will be defined as a disagreement between two or more parties. It must not be possible for the humans to view violence as a superior solution to the provided solution, for whatever reason. - You

This creates an obvious issue as solving conflicts is the foundation of politics, thus violence and war are a natural outcome.

Humans have always sought to avoid war because killing someone, at least someone in your closest social circle i.e. tribe is a very poor economic decision. Usually this has been done by monopolising the use of violence so that only a few people could initiate violence in order to solve a conflict. In the earliest societies this could have been a wise person, the chief, a council of elders, an elected leader or an absolute ruler. Yet this can go terribly wrong if the leader dicides to abuse his power, thus his right to use violence. Adolf Hitler for example was a democratically elected leader whose exploits based on his utilisation of his leaders roles right to initiate violence went horribly wrong.

Another solution is having a code of law or a constitution. This has been used as an addion to the monopolisation of violence as this collection of rules keeps the leader in check and limits his power. In addition having an indipendent, strong judicial system creates even more efficient ways to solve conflicts without violence. Yet even having all of those things did not stop the USA from declaring war after war in the middle east in order to solve its problems down there.

Since any species that creates a civilisation must be extremely well versed at solving problems and conflict they will be extremely well versed in the use of violence. After all even children are educated at proper behavior by adults using "do this or else" strategies. Violence does not only mean great battles but the threat of even minor forms of it keeps our society going. "Do your shi**y work properly or I will fire you and you will live in poverty" is the base of any kind of employment.

So is there a way of having a society where violence is not used by the government or individuals? No, but there might be in the future.

The kind of society I'm talking about is a post-discontent civilisation, the darker cousin of the post-scarcity civilisation. While a post-scarcity civilisation attempts to satisfy all the needs of its members a post-discontent civilisation attempts to make everyone think their needs have been satisfied. By its very nature it needs to be an extremely totalitarian surveillance state with the ability to watch every citizen all the time and to drug and brainwash them. Personal AI assistants watch over ones shoulders every secound, manipulating peoples actions is order to avoid violence and dissent. Everyone who developes desires which would need to be satisfied with resources beyond the ones needed for basic survival gets drugged and brainwashed. One might say that this constitutes the use of violence but proper education will ensure that noone will see it that way. If a man falls in love with a women for example and the chance of a successful relationship is calculated to be low by the AI's or setting it up would cost a lot of resources he simply takes anti-loveperin as he as been told by the AI. For him it is like using a plaster on a scratch as he's been taking medicine in order to no longer want things he can't have since kindergarden. This solves all conflict by eliminating it, thus eliminating the need for politics, thus preventing politics form escalating into violence.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer, though I fail to see why your post-discontent civilization (love that!) is dark. As I grow older, my definition of utopia keeps falling to the point that now, I am happy with any future that is better than today. If all other factors remain the same, taking an side-effect free, functional happiness pill is superior to being unhappy. A society that has reached this lower heavenly level should be very proud of itself and stop envying it's more prosperous cousin. If this trend in my outlook continues, I may give up reading because more and more, I side with the bad guys. +1 $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor May 23 '19 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. We have always been at war with Eurasia. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs May 23 '19 at 16:56
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It is not enough that both parties in a conflict agree to keep violence out of their resolution seeking activities. There must be an arbitrator, an unbiased third party with an overwhelming authority over both parties, who is guaranteeing that only peaceful resolutions will be allowed. In the absence of such an arbitrator, there is always the risk that one or both parties will loose faith in the peaceful resolution process and return to violence as a means to their ends.

As long a violence is a possibility, each side will consider it an option for resolving any last ditch irreconcilable differences.

The absolute authority of the arbitrator does not necessarily have to be rooted in violence. Economic sanctions, the cutting off of economic aid or the withdrawal of crucial technological resources can be effective sources of authority over both parties, but the arbitrator themselves have to be immune from violent attack. If the arbitrator does not have superior skills at violence and defense, then their attempt a arbitration will just turn a two sided conflict into a three sided one.

The Arbitrator must be an independent third party. Self arbitration does not work. If it did, we would not have spent the last several decades learning how to hide under school desks while our leaders self-arbitrated their disagreements under the thread of mutual assured destruction.

Once absolutely authority, in the form of an invulnerable arbitrator, is present and involved, there are a variety of conflict resolution methods which could be pursued. Athletic competitions, games of chance and/or dialogue/debate, can all work.

Non-violent conflict resolution is a possibility, as long as neither party involved is the apex predator in the domain of conflict and as long as a superior predator agrees to arbitrate and enforce whatever resolution is found by more peaceful methods.

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Possibly by potlatch

"In the potlatch, the host in effect challenged a guest chieftain to exceed him in his 'power' to give away or to destroy goods. If the guest did not return 100 percent on the gifts received and destroy even more wealth in a bigger and better bonfire, he and his people lost face and so his 'power' was diminished." (Dorothy Johansen, Empire of the Columbia: A History of the Pacific Northwest)

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In our world, typically the strong rule. The biggest (usually) male is the one who gets his way. If we want to change that, we need to change the fact that if you can kill the other guy, you can just take what you want afterwards.

One way to do this might be to borrow a bit from... I forget, some kind of monkey (or ape?) here on earth. There, the females of a tribe(?) are the ones deciding what gets done - by withholding sex from any males who don't go along.

If this kind of behaviour developed earlier in the evolutionary history of your world, and along with it a general behaviour of "the females don't like violent conflict because it might mean their kids get hurt/killed", you might get what you're looking for - a world in which the social animals don't see violence as a good way to resolve conflicts because those who do don't get any.

Which alternative conflict-solution approaches develop will likely depend on the specific problem to be solved. It might be discussion or democracy for in-tribe conflicts, it might be "give offerings to the feared beast" for predators...

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Telepathy, in a world with humans with the ability to change the mind of less powerful individuals, the most talented (telepaths) will never argue with anyone.

Also, having a world with all the animals be somehow telepaths, the predators will be those with stronger abilities, that will "simply" convince their preys to be eaten.

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Ending resource Scarcity should end conflict

In my view all conflict (both in nature and society) arises from scarcity of resources. IE we have a non-infinite amount of stuff. If you changed your universe to get rid of this then all problems are solved.

Resource scarcity is the basic fact that motivates all economics, if their were unlimited supplies of every type of stuff you could want their would be no need for any kind of economic system or money or even any kind of government. Their would be no theft, because you could as easily grab a fancy car that no-one had claimed yet (and their is an unlimited supply of them to claim). And even if you did accidentally take one belonging to someone else it would cause them so little inconvenience that they would be unlikely to hold a grudge.

In the evolutionary sphere, animals fight for food, mates and territory. Only the fittest survive. But if all resources were infinite no animal would ever starve, none would never have become predatory in the first place. (In fact their would probably be no real evolution).

So if every life form in your universe had the ability to conjure anything that it wanted/needed out of thin air at no cost that would solve your problem. Each bacterium would conjure the sugars it needs. A person would simply conjure the house, wife and family they want. If you didn't like something you could conjure a new land, or a new bit of space, and live away from it. It is unlikely that the other incentives towards violence (cruelty or whatever) would be enough, and these attributes would probably not have arose in the first place.

So no conflict, no violence.

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    $\begingroup$ The "Mouse Utopia" experiment seems to disprove your hypothesis. $\endgroup$ – krb May 24 '19 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing that krb, really weird. $\endgroup$ – Dast May 28 '19 at 17:09
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I used to work with someone who regularly said "A referendum is a revolution without bloodshed".

What you probably want is something like a Democratic Revolution whereby civil disobedience and public demonstration forces some sort of political change. Be it that it forces an election, forces the government to capitulate on an issue or forces the government to hold a legally binding referendum.

Remember, authorities such as the government and the police only operate by public consent. If "the public" (i.e. a large enough minority or a majority) ignore or even explicitly disobey authority on a specific issue or set of issues, that authority effectively loses control.

In a replacement for a military conflict scenario, you'd add the complexities of international diplomacy, trading partnerships and international collaboration comes into play. You can almost imagine sending a debating team of intellectuals and academics instead of sending infantry and cavalry into a conflict zone.

The one caveat for this of course is that everybody need to be mature enough to agree to abide by the outcome without resorting to combative tactics if they are unhappy with the outcome.

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    $\begingroup$ Cavity?? Caveat?? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs May 23 '19 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs yes, caveat. $\endgroup$ – Steve Matthews May 23 '19 at 16:53

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