The Paradox that Prevents Peace

There has been a desire for global cooperation and peace for at least a century if not longer. The dream is for all people from all ethnicities and cultures to realize we are not so different from one another, to embrace each other, and to live happily ever after in perfect harmony. Think of the world John Lennon illustrates in the song “Imagine” for a template.

Here is why it will never happen:

  1. It’s true that we are all basically the same. We’re unique individuals, but no different from other races or cultures at a fundamental level. We all want to be fulfilled and safe.
  2. It’s also true that we are not perfectly rational and that we are even less rational as groups. Reality is objective, but we are biased. In groups, we become even less objective and form unruly mobs rooted in groupthink.
  3. We are narcissistic. We are obsessed with #1 and what/whom we identify with. This makes us even more tribal.
  4. We want to protect ourselves and our identities. Since we identify with our tribes, we want to protect our tribes too.
  5. Having a tribe makes us afraid of “the other” tribes. This fear eventually leads to hate.
  6. “The other” is the same as us (as point A states). This means that the other tribes want to protect their identities and that they fear and sometimes hate us too.
  7. Knowing that other groups fear and hate us makes us feel less secure, so we refuse to let our guards down. We improve our defenses (sometimes via preemptive strikes).
  8. Other groups do the same, so peace remains out of reach despite the fact that we are all basically the same.

The question is what to do with this knowledge.

Should we risk laying down our arms in hopes that the others will do so too? Or will they enslave us the moment we show vulnerability?

Should we keep up our defenses and remain wary of the others? Or should we soften up and give them the benefit of the doubt?

Should we launch more preemptive strikes to weaken and intimidate the others’ ? Or will that just increase their likelihood to hate us and strike back?

My solution, as always, is smaller government and freer markets. Allow people to work together without authorities and to exchange goods and services freely. The free market forces us to be polite and productive or risk being ostracized and poor, something none of us want.

I think the world is growing and will continue to grow safer thanks to technology and easier access to food and other basic needs. These luxuries make it less likely that we will risk war since we have so much comfort to lose. That’s not to mention the increase in entertainment options which keep us distracted.

Thank goodness we won’t be forced to rely on human nature and rationality for world peace. That would be a losing effort.

The Paradox that Prevents Peace

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