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Prevailing Assumption: War has existed throughout human history. It is caused by many things (territory, scarcity of resources, religion, power).

Scenario: In the year 2020, the planet Escala III (An alternate Earth. Assume all differences are negligible) experiences a severe famine. A significant majority of the food supply has been decimated. Pushed to desperation, every single world power comes together and miraculously decides to join together under a single planet-wide country dubbed: "New Pangaea".

Question: Is it feasible for Escala III to never experience war? Is it safe to assume that, regardless of which systems are put in place, the government will eventually fall? History shows us that great empires always fall, but is there a way to ensure that this one doesn't?

Note: It is safe to assume (for the sake of this particular famine) that Escala's scientific community is confident that this famine will prevade for several millennia to come.

Bonus points for creativity/extra insight.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nothing is eternal. Nothing. However, some things are able to survive "transforming/merging/splitting". $\endgroup$ – o0'. May 1 '15 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide some words exploring the meaning of "war?" Is two men in a disagreement a war? How about if one of them stabs the other. Five men? A hundred men? A dozen men united by a common cause? Gang wars? Does it require a nation (with the sovereignty enjoyed by modern nations)? Guerrilla Warfare? Police actions? I don't expect there's a line in the sand you can give us, but I would like a little more clarity as to the behaviors you wish to associate with "war." $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica May 1 '15 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon of course! In the context of this specific question, I meant war as a state of armed conflict between 2+ groups of some size (I don't have a specific size). These groups could either be separate nations or groups within a nation. I don't have an exact line, but I'm referencing sizable conflicts comparable to modern/historical wars. $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 1 '15 at 19:05
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It seems unlikely that it would NEVER experience war. There are plenty of civil wars even within small countries, it's very likely there will be some in a planet sized one. However they might never experience a highly organized combined arms war with areal combat, large scale operations etc.

If the famine persists it's be next to impossible to have large numbers of people dedicated to nothing but fighting, feeding an army is a non-trivial task. But having a village get their rifles out and attacking a neighboring village for food (possibly including tasty fallen enemies) is pretty likely. I can definitely see "cannibal wars" becoming a thing after generation of food shortage.

Side note: lack of food makes women unable to conceive so birth rates will drop dramatically (see "Great Leap Forward" for more info on that), so I'm not sure how a famine would last for millennia, either people will become extinct or there will be a new equilibrium with a much smaller population.

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  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, It seems unlikely that war will never occur, BUT I am interested in the plausible means in which war could be avoided as well as the likely-hood of those means succeeding. $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr Apr 30 '15 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ If the government doesn't manufacture weapons in large quantities, if people live either in cities with strong law enforcement and\or small rural communities far from other people and they are focused on finding food it would make anything resembling a modern war unlikely $\endgroup$ – Maxim Apr 30 '15 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it seems like famine will lead to conflict over resources, which will lead to war. As you point out, it will be hard to keep a huge army fed, but smaller-scale conflicts seem possible and likely. I guess it depends on how one defines the word "war". $\endgroup$ – sumelic Apr 30 '15 at 19:25
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I can think of two possible cases:

  1. Food is rare through the years and people are desperate to simply survive (lowest step of Maslov's pyramid). So they won't even think of war, especially when the government keeps them down with drugs and/or supression and/or dull TV-shows. Just have a look at these-days Northern Korea.

  2. The government is telling stories about a fictional outer source of danger over and over again and the herd keeps together.

Both cases will need an 'evil' government. But I don't think that happiness will prevent us from war. Some will be greedy and... bang.

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It depends.

Great empires in history generally fall, but they generally fall for reasons:

  1. Transfer of power. Does your empire have a clear mechanism for the transfer of power? The Mongol empire fell because the empire ended up divided between the sons of the ruler, who fell to bickering amongst themselves. How do we prevent that? Maybe with super-science? An immortal god-king? An AI ruler?

  2. Regionalism. The British empire revolted because it was inherently exploitative - it was based on the productive regions of India supplying Britain for very little in return. Your empire needs to work out for all sides - and this is probably a problem given your setting. Supposing your famine hit the world disproportionately, then what you'll have is that the food producing parts of the world are much better off being independent, instead of having to share. How can we prevent this? Maybe again with AI administration? Militarising the agricultural regions?

  3. Military weakness. Rome ran into issues as its powerful army began to decay. It was then unprepared for challenges from the barbarian hordes. A great empire would need a military, even if there isn't a war. The threat of force at the end of the day is important, or perhaps the ability to pick off problematic elements per-emptively before they can cause trouble. Moreover you need to ensure that this military is unified, and its command is not able to be subverted by the odd ambitious general.

Solve these problems, and your empire might last a long time.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1.) What do you think the best method of power transition would actually be. You mentioned some examples but remember that Escala's Tech level is comparable to present day Earth and 'immortal God-King' is not relevant. $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 1 '15 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @wposeyjr: Dang. Well, that's a question for the political scientists. I don't think it's a problem we've really successfully solved in the current age. That said, we haven't made it possible for the world to join together as one nation, either. I suppose you could maybe imagine something like a neo-monarchy, with a cloned ruler indoctrinated at birth to become the wisest possible leader. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 1 '15 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ You don't want to go with a democracy because a democracy creates losers, who become disaffected. And in a huge empire, divisions would quickly appear in a party system. If stability is all you care about, you need someone 'outside of the system', and it needs to be absolutely clear he is going to be in charge so that no one below him starts getting ideas. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 1 '15 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ definitely! BUT that one person won't live forever! How do you decide who the next ruler will be? $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 1 '15 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Well, like I say, use a clone. I think 2020 tech level might be enough to make human cloning possible. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag May 1 '15 at 17:45
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Actually, I think you might have a better shot with the opposite of famine. A post-scarcity world would have little or no incentive for war or conflict. I'm not sure this would work by 2020 if you're similar to Earth, but if you diverge enough, maybe.

First step would be nearly free energy, so you're probably looking at an early acceptance of nuclear power, possibly followed by breakthrough in cold fusion (perhaps hastened by the cheap fission energy). Next, you need robotics advanced enough to replace all physical work performed by humans.

So, you have a society where dirt-cheap energy is used to gather materials and mass produce every item a person might want, with no human interaction. Pretty much all wars are fought over resources, so that eliminates most war alone. Don't need to steal from a neighbor if you have all you could want.

Another cause of war is ideology, which is where you get a lot of difficulty. I'm not sure it's possible to stop people from killing one another over things like religion or sports teams or whatever differences of opinion. One dominant ideology with totalitarian control might be able to do it. Or perhaps you could provide channels for conflict that don't qualify as war. Or perhaps you just lobotomize everyone, or at least indoctrinate them from an early age.

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Ingroup/Outgroup:

Best bet: One aspect of humans nature is that people band together into ingroups to combat external threats. The kind of food shortages common during WW2 in the UK might have caused riots at other times yet people put up with it and made do and if anything grew closer.

So one possibility is a huge, visible, verifiable external threat that would kill/enslave everyone.

Ritual combat:

Sometimes there will be major conflicts which might lead to war but in history it wasn't unknown for kings/armies to agree to champion warfare where one champion from each side fights it out when neither side could afford a full scale war:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_combat

Given the right social views/traditions it might be possible to avert large scale wars through single combat.

Strong trade links and debt:

It's bad business to murder your debtors. Countries are rarely willing to go to war with those who owe them money and are paying it off. Killing your creditors on the other hand can be appealing: don't go too far or it can cause war like the debts Germany had to pay after WW1.

Strong trade links also help avoid war. It's bad business to kill your best customers or the people who sell you the majority of your food, particularly if they give a fair price.

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