"...It gives no easy recipe for the abolition of war or for the general control of conflict, though it does, I hope, demonstrate exactly why in our own age these tasks have become a necessity.... In particular, this work is the result of a conviction that the intellectual chassis of the broad movement for the abolition of war has not been adequate to supprt the powerful moral engine which drives it and that the frequent breakdowns which interrupt the progress of the movement are due essentially to a deficiency in its social theory.
"Although a theory of war and peace and of international relations is perhaps the most important part of this work, it is by no means the hwole of it, because of another conviction which grew in my mind largely as the result of a year of fruitful discussion at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavior Sciences in Palo Alto, California in 1954 and 1955. This was the conviction that, in order to develop a theoretical system adequate to deal with the problem of war and peace, it is necessary to cast the net wider and to study conflict as a general social process of which war was a special case....
"Whatever originality this boopk may posses is a metter of building rather than of brickmaking; most of the bricks were made by others and my main task has been to fit them together into a reasonable, coherent structure. My own training and background are revealed both in the method, which is largely that of theoretical economics, and in the central theoretical structure, which is largely based on the theory of oligopoly, that is, of competition among few frims. The substance of the book, however, is not 'economics' in the usual sense of the word; it is, I hope a new theoretical abstraction from the general phenomenon of conflict; it draws for its models on many of the other social scinces and its principal application is to the theory of international relations...." 7
"Social movements as well as commodity movements can be classified either as entropic or anti-entropic. There are those which tear down and those which build up. In the present state of the world, for instance, it is very easy for nationalism and nationalistic movements to become entropic--that is, to destroy world order in the supposed interest of preserving national order. Religious and political movements, in so far as they appeal to the legitimation of hatred and the displacement of aggression on the unbeliever and the heretic, are likewise entropic...
"A troublesome question, which is again worth asking even though we cannot answer it, is whether man needs a certain amoutn of trouble, difficulty, challengem or even pain in order to stimulate him to that constructive activity which is necessary to prevent him from going to pieces. In a sense this is the analogue in the social system to the problem of the genetics of degeneration in the biological system. The basic problem, to which we have as yet very imperfect answers, is how evolutionary potential is generated. This is something we do not understand even in biology. Why is it, for instance, that certain lines of evolutionary potential exhausted, whereas other lines go on to ever increasing differentiation and complexity? It may well be that evolutionary potential always emerges out of some kind of crisis situation, and that without catastrophe of some kind evolutionary potential would soon be exhausted.
"There seems to be a conflict here between adaptability and adaption... If all environments were stable the well-adapted would simply take over the earth and the evolutionary process would stop. In a period of environmental change, however, it is the adaptable not the well-adapted who survive. These are the periods when the meek can inherit the earth, and it is meekness--that is adaptability--which seems to carry the greatest evolutionary potential. We may therefore worry whether the end results of the great transition will not be to create an environment for the human race so stable, so free from catastrophe, and so free from environmental change of all kinds that human adaptability will degenerate, not so much because man has adapted to his environment as because he has made his environment adapt to him.
"Some confirmation of these gloomy predictions may be found in the history of leisure classes in many different civilizations.... The most successful leisure classe and the ones which have maintained their vigor the longest seem to have done so by practicing a set of artificial miseries and discomforts such as fox-hunting, dressing for dinner, opera, court ceremonial, and athletic games. Therefore, if human race is to prevent itself from disintegrating through sheer boredom or lasciviousness in a post civilized society, it may be necessary to introduce artificial discomforts, and it may be hard to do this when comfort is so easily attainable. The ideal is of course to find a way in which comfort and virtue can go hand in hand, but so far we do not seem to have been too successful in finding this happy combination.
"These problems may be hard to solve but I know of no proposition that says they are insoluable. We may, indeed, be very close to the solution of the poroblem of material entropy and continued energy import. Unfortunately at the moment we do not know two things which vitally affect man's future. We do not really know how far we are from astable, closed-cycle, high-level technology. And we do not know how many people such a stable technology would support." 8
"The thesis of this book is that htere are two major types of processes at work in human history and in the dynamics of society. On the one hand there are dialectical processes. These involve conflict and the victory of one group or system over another, and hence a succesion of victors. On the other hand there are non-dialectical (or developmental) processes in which conflict, even where it exists, is incidental, and in whcih the central pattern of the process in cumulative, evolutionary, and continous. My main proposition is that the dialectical processes--important as they are in the short run, and significant as they are to those participating in them--are not the major processes of history but only waves and turbulances on the great histrical tides of evolution and development, which themselves are fundamentally non-dialtectical.
"...People have always looked at history as the struggle of 'us' against 'them.' It is not surprising that short-term views predominate, because we all live in the short run, and it is in the short run that the dialectics of nation, class, race, aprty, and factionm tend to form the human horizon. It is also not surprising, therefore, that philosophers and thinkers have arisen to justify 'us' in the conflict against 'them.' In spite of all this, I am convinced that there is a larger horizon, and that we must therefore look beyond dialectics and toward development.
"This book is quite frankly polemical. It is a tract rather than a
treatise, a work of reflection rather than of scholarship; and at the
same time it is intended to give the reader at least an outline of a
general development theory of social dynamics and of human history, which
only the future can devlelop in detail. The polemic is directed
particulary against what I call 'dialectical philosophy,' which I define
as 'all those ideologies which regard conflict as the essential process
in development and therefore tend to put a high intrinsic value on
conflict, struggle, war, and revolution'." 9