Do We Even Have A World Community?

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TL;DR: No, unless you count living in a dumpster fire as a community.

With the recent buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine, I’ve had another reminder of how our species sucks at conflict resolution. Ukraine is an allegedly sovereign country, independent from Russia since the early 1990’s. Since 2014, Ukraine has been in conflict with Russia, after Russia occupied several Ukrainian territories. Despite economic sanctions against Russia, the Russians haven’t ended their occupation. As a result of these actions, Ukraine is seeking to gain membership into NATO.

Does the world need another body count over blood and treasure?

The short answer is no. Especially when we’re talking about loss of life over control of physical territory. The exchange is ludicrous. How much blood does it take to equal one acre of land? One square kilometer? One square meter?

Despite this, people in my country and elsewhere are convinced that this makes sense. Kill someone for a wallet of cash, and it’s murder. Do it in uniform, and it’s heroism.

Sadly, the main justification for the violent acquisition of land is hard-wired into international politics.

Why does anyone have the right to their stuff?

No, it’s a serious question.

Exactly how are people assured that they are secure in their possessions, be it stuff like computers or real estate, like land? This isn’t a question people ask themselves when they’re ordering stuff online or standing at the checkout counter. Everybody assumes that they pay money for something, they get that something, and nobody can just take it from them afterwards.

That certainty is a complicated process. People have rights to private property because those rights are recognized (usually) by law. Think of it as a governmental guarantee. But what about people outside the government? Does this mean someone from Russia can just show up and steal my bike?

Turns out, the answer is maybe. It depends on a bunch of different things. At its core is the question of whether my country and Russia have an agreement to recognize each other’s laws. If they don’t, or if no country cares about my stuff, then Russians can steal my bike. And get away with it if they get out of the country with it. Oh, and it’s not just limited to theft.

This loophole is how my country can use robots to kill people. Or how China can get away with building re-education camps. Or how many other terrible acts of violence happen regardless of whether the people on either side wants it to happen.

To put it simply, we live in a violent world because we haven’t changed any of the rules since they were put down. Here’s a peace treaty signed around 3,500 years ago. Many of the ideas contained in it aren’t foreign to modern people. Armies fight. Countries war. And they make agreements that can get broken as soon as the mood hits them.

I understand this got abstract real quick. Or slowly, depending upon one’s attention span. Thinking is hard.

The general gist of what I’m saying is that people resort to violence because it’s what they know. In personal lives, more people recognize that violence isn’t acceptable. Yet there’s this magical permission granted when the violence takes a certain form or it meets certain arbitrary requirements. Everyone forgets that the violence changes lives permanently.

None of it has to happen. Consider this other question: if the human race voted tomorrow to abolish all of their own governments and create a new one, could we do it? The question is NOT would we, or is it likely to be. Just: can we?

Allegedly, countries exist today because they have the consent of the people that live there (more or less). It’s social contract. Person becomes citizen and foregoes uncivilized behavior in exchange for rights and privileges. This is different from divine right, where people claimed power from the things they worshiped. Or from inheritance, like when a king dies and the eldest whatever is now king.

In theory, if everyone decided they’d had enough of blowing money on weapons instead of medicine, they could change it. I recognize that there are practical limitations. For one, wealthy people wouldn’t want to see things change too much. Anyone who benefits even a little from threats of violence won’t want to end that kind of arrangement.

At some point, I’ll continue this rant, but for now, my fingers are tired.