General Question

Hobbes's avatar

Could war end?

Asked by Hobbes (7353 points ) March 25th, 2011

This is an idea I have talked about before, but I think this is my essential point. I believe that if everyone in the world had free access to:

Fresh, clean air
Fresh, clean water
Fresh, nutritious, varied, tasty, sustainably produced food
Competent, compassionate medical care
Abundant, affordable, clean, renewable energy

War would end, and most of our other problems would too.

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38 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

There’s something to be said for the general mindset and ideology of what Daniel Quinn refers to as “Takers”. Culture is fundamentally a story being acted out, and meeting these needs sustainably does not entirely or necessarily address the psychological component. Some people will continue to act out domination and violence simply because they hold so strongly to the ideologies that reinforce that behavior. I think free, easy, equitable access to our basic needs would greatly reduce warfare, but not end it. At least not at first.

Hobbes's avatar

I can only hope that hateful ideologies would dissolve if this were the case, but it seems to me that they would.

incendiary_dan's avatar

It would at least take time. Violence and domination seem like good survival strategies to some because in the short term it reaps rewards. But it’s unsustainable, and in a world with dwindling resources it can’t last long. Sustainable ways of life will be those that are left, if any do. Best we can do to help that along is to make sure people continue to learn how to live sustainably and equitably, and reinforce the narrative of those sorts of cultures (and I say that in particular to you because of your particular interest in the arts).

Hobbes's avatar

Yes. Plus, we’re all going to die one day, so the rewards don’t matter in the long term.

Nullo's avatar

I doubt it; a lot of wars have been fought over differing opinions.
And I have a hunch that if we were magically able to satisfy the basic needs of Man, he would grow bored, and the rate of opinion-fueled conflict would go up as more trivial things were elevated to survival-grade priority.
Don’t forget that ours is a species that riots over fnording soccer.

Hobbes's avatar

We get bored so we need to murder each other? I was also assuming that things like art, music, science would follow from the availability of those things, and could occupy our time better than mass slaughter and cruelty.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Even if we had everything you listed, the 2 r’s would screw it up. Racism and Religion. There would be other irritating factors between groups, but I believe the 2 r’s would be the main problems. You seem to be describing Utopia. Our society is not that advanced yet.

flutherother's avatar

Let Judge Judy resolve all differences.

downtide's avatar

No. You’d have to eliminate all differences in religious, political and cultural opinion as well.

rooeytoo's avatar

Cultural opinion is a biggie, I think maybe that actually is at the root of the religious and political differences.

Axemusica's avatar

”...a lot of wars have been fought over differing opinions.”@Nullo

Opinion of religion. Can we get a history teacher in here? Lets note the ratio of the past “wars” to wars that were solely based on Religion and the ones that were Not.

mattbrowne's avatar

The root cause for violence and war is our reptilian brain below our neocortex. It is possible to teach and learn restraint. Conflicts can be dealt with by using words only. Elected representatives in the US, UK or Germany have not resorted to fist fights over the past decades, while this is still common in some parliaments, for example the Ukraine or Italy. I’m sure the impulses still exist everywhere, but the cortex executes veto commands when the reptilian brain tries to send a signal to the muscles forming a fist and hitting someone.

A key factor is female leadership in public life. This will help end the era of wars. Using nonviolent communication is very important.

We can watch still watch action movies and sports events and practice sports to satify our more basic needs.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think it will take some further evolution of the social consciousness, and plenty of carefully planned education as well as plentiful resources and services. It is part of the animal psyche to fight to survive – which is why we have been so good at it. However humans are so powerful that survival is no longer in question for the majority of us. We have the instinct to struggle and fight, but not the opportunity. I think this instinct needs to become repressed before all conflicts end.

LostInParadise's avatar

Francis Fukuyama got a lot of attention for is book The End of History and the Last Man The argument is that the world is turning toward democracy and that this will lead to the end of armed conflicts. The recent activity in the Middle East has reminded me of the book. I was particularly struck by the solidarity of some of the Egyptians with workers in Wisconsin.

As many have pointed out, the world is getting smaller, particularly with the advent of the Web. When you learn about and even directly communicate with people in other parts of the world, it becomes increasingly more difficult to develop the hostility required for war.

The “last man” part of the book’s title refers to Nietzsche’s belief that in becoming more civilized, we are transforming ourselves from warriors into a bunch of wusses. It is an interesting idea, not that easily dismissed, but it will have to be a topic for a different thread.

I see the end of war as a possibility, though I do not foresee a complete end to violent behavior.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Nope! War will only end when humans cease wanting power over their neighbors.

lemming's avatar

Yes I think you are on to something. Everybody believing in somekind of God or higher being would help too, but I suppose we’d all have to agree on what it is or we’d be killing each other over that difference too. When people are happy they don’t hate, I think, and therefore they wouldn’t kill.

lloydbird's avatar

Yes. It can and it will.
But only after peace becomes more profitable than ”..war..”.

It has to be understood that war is primarily a business, with millions upon millions of people around the globe being dependent (directly or indirectly) on it for their financial income. As things stand, in our competition (Win/Lose, Sink or Swim, Dog eat Dog) based societies, the outbreak of peace is a serious threat to too many people. Especially given that the prevailing social structures would provide no safety net or alternative (and equivalent) employment opportunities should the war industries be significantly wound down.

Our hope lies in more and more co-operation and, due to our ever increasing abilities in the destructive arts our choices are becoming stark :

Competing ourselves out of existence or co-operating our way into a peaceful and happy world.

Hobbes's avatar

It seems to me that while religion and other cultural differences are often used as justifications for violence, they are not usually the root cause of that violence.

Riggerman's avatar

War could some day end if the human race had united and decided to unify all things. But seeing as all humans need a breakdown of something everywhere ie: currency, numbers, land, groups of peopel,etc.War isnt about attaining resources and power all the time. It can be things such as a genocide like Kosovo, Uganda, and other African nations recently, or it can be waged over incidents show of force. War has dramaticly changed and stayed the same. Americans are currently in Afghanistan fighting not Afghanis but foreign fighters in the name of extremist religion because of where we are. Who knows if its all unified like a perfect communist world is then yes there would be a need for a security force but no military.

Hobbes's avatar

I would argue that the hatred which backs genocidal violence doesn’t come out of thin air, but is usually a scapegoat for material problems. The rise of Hitler, for example, wouldn’t have been possible were Germany not in such terrible economic straits following WWI. Also, Americans are involved in the Middle East almost entirely because of oil. The ideology of a “war on terror” and the “axis of evil” was simply a justification, an excuse to occupy oil-rich and tactically valuable land.

Riggerman's avatar

Hobbes: There is NOTHING tactial about occupying and empty desert. As for ‘its all about oil’ the US is not getting any oil and if we wanted that oil we would annex the country of Iraq as well as annex Afghanistan for its precious metals, farmland, and trees we could use. We as a nation are still attempting the immposible of ending terror organizations in the world and making sure that tactical nuclear devices do not devestate our nation and our people are as safe as possible. What could we possibly gain from having an open desert in the part of the world that is indifferent to America for the better part. What is America as a nation going to accomplish tactically with land that wears equipment far too quickly it would be a burden and there is no enemy of America in the immediate area.

flutherother's avatar

War is never going to end and it would be sensible to accept this. What we should do is control the weapons we use in fighting wars. Only a lunatic would fight a war with nuclear weapons and we should begin by scrapping them all.

lloydbird's avatar

@flutherother Listen to you!....spouting forth without any explanation to back up your claim. And accusing others of not being “sensible”.

Care to pad out your assertion at all?
Beyond your faith in Judge Judy, that is. ;-)

flutherother's avatar

@lloydbird There are no indications that wars will cease anytime soon. America isn’t betting its $700 billion defence budget on peace breaking out in the world. The sensible thing to do is to look at how we can fight wars with the least harm to the innocent. That is the best we can aim for at the moment, at least until Judge Judy establishes the New World Order. ;-)

rooeytoo's avatar

Wars will cease when all the people are dead.

TexasDude's avatar

@rooeytoo, I’m pretty sure that certain colony-based organisms would still engage in what we would call, by a loose definition, “war” even if we humans were all gone.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard – I assumed old Hobbsie was referring to humans but you never know….......................

TexasDude's avatar

@rooeytoo, yeah, I’m pretty sure Hobbes was too, but I was just sayin’. You’re right that human wars will end when we’re all gone, but ants and bees and stuff like that will be waging pretty sophisticated “wars” then, assuming we don’t bring them with us.

Hobbes's avatar


The intention was to get oil, but it didn’t pan out as well as the Bush administration hoped. The continuing violence in the region wasn’t planned for, and the whole thing is now a giant clusterfuck, but the hope of access to oil was the primary motivator.

“Bush’s Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that ‘Iraq remains a destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East’ and because this is an unacceptable risk to the US ‘military intervention’ is necessary.”

In the December 13, 2002, briefing, deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz said that the ”‘the cost of the occupation, the cost for the military administration and providing for a provisional [civilian] administration, all of that would come out of Iraqi oil.’”

In September 2008, oil giant Shell become the first western oil company to win significant access to the energy sector in Iraq since the 1970s, in a $4bn deal, which angered the industry’s critics who argued that there had been no competitive tendering. Shell signed an agreement with the OIl Ministry to form a joint venture with the South Gas Company, in Basra to process and market natural gas extracted on 19,000 sq km (7,300 sq miles) of land.

As for tactics, Iraq borders on all the other Middle Eastern countries, it is the only one with an inland fresh water source (the Tigris and the Euphrates) and is within easy missile striking distance from Israel and the former Soviet Union.

Hobbes's avatar


“America isn’t betting its $700 billion defence budget on peace breaking out in the world.”

Perhaps that expenditure has something to do with the lack of peace in the world?


“There are no indications that wars will cease anytime soon.”

There are also no indications that everyone in the world will be provided with clean air and water, food, shelter and medical care any time soon. But were this the case, do you think (human) wars would cease?


Some species of ants will fight other colonies. I believe they are the only other species to engage in large-scale collective violence. However, it’s not organized in the way human wars are. There’s no central command directing the ants – they’re lead by pheromones.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Hobbes – I have come to the conclusion that you are a hopeless romantic or a troll.

No I don’t think that would stop wars. Humans are not that simple. And I don’t think you are either.

Riggerman's avatar

Hobbes: The Former USSR is just that former and poses no threat to the US as was beleived. Also what does Isreal have to do with this and a missle stike the US provides so much in military aid to them. The US has a force in readiness, US Marines that go on expiditionary units all over the world. In less than 72 we can be conducting full scale combat operations anywhere in the world with the assets on hand. Afghansitan has plenty of fresh water sources such as the Helmand River and when the Russians came through in the 70’s they deforested the entire area making the desert bigger. All these deals you talk about are all free marketing and are not a plot of the US government.

Hobbes's avatar


Not a troll, and possibly a hopeless romantic.

I just don’t know what people would fight about if all these things were a given. Of course, people would still get angry, murders and crimes of passion would probably still take place, and old hatreds would still exist. It seems to me though that if everyone in the world had free access to the things I listed, the majority of violence, and in particular organized violence, would end. Not overnight, but I think it would happen.

Of course, it won’t happen, because it’s impossible to organize the entire planet in such a way. This scenario is my hope and dream, but I know that as things stand that’s all it is.


I wasn’t implying that the US wanted to strike at Israel, but the tension between Israel and many middle-eastern governments might have had something to do with it. The Cold War is over but there are still tensions there, especially since Russia still has an enormous number of nukes. Afghanistan has rivers, but none so big or easily accessible as the Tigris and Euphrates.

Are you seriously telling me you don’t think there’s a connection between large corporations and the actions of the government? The two have been in bed together for a long time now. More senators are in the pocket of Big Oil than you could shake a stick at.

lloydbird's avatar

@incendiary_dan The author of that looks like a nice guy.

Hobbes's avatar

They look like pretty smart guys to me.

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