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A Brief History of Peace

  • Warfare is rare in thinly populated areas but widespread and recurring in heavily populated areas.
  • The remedy against endemic warfare has been the creation of higher and higher degrees of control: the neighborhood police, the state, international organizations.
  • Peace is enforced. It is not the natural state of humans at all.
  • The safest countries are the most brutal dictatorships, where crime is almost impossible.
  • The moment those dictatorial regimes fall, crime becomes an issue.
  • Free countries need a large and well-trained police force in order to keep people "peaceful".
  • World peace has often been enforced by a brutal empire, like in the cases of the Pax Romana and the Pax Mongola.
  • The reason we kill less today than in ancient times is simple: war has created more and more powerful states that can enforce peace on its citizens and that can deter other states from starting wars.
  • We owe peace to war.
  • It was not by common agreement that we ended violence. It was violence that ended violence: violence created powerful states that can hire police to avoid that we spend all the time trying to exterminate each other.
  • But that doesn't mean that the genes of violence have been replaced with genes of peace: the genes of violence are still there and are just waiting to be triggered by the environment.
  • Whenever the appropriate conditions arise, the genes of violence make us vicious and ferocious warriors.
  • The moment we have had the freedom to do so, we humans started killing each other, more often than any other species.