War is regression.
For 12,000 years States were not viable unless they made war to steal resources from their neighbours.
Since the invention of Agriculture until the Industrial Revolution empires fell because of this dynamic. See Why the West Rules for Now by Ian Morris to understand more.
We escaped this trap through technology. The resulting peace (among the most powerful nations at least) has made the incredible benefits of our modern world possible.
It why in 2022 we don’t know what it’s like to starve to death, die of violence, be consumed by smallpox, live with excruciating pain, freeze to death or see half of our children die.
It’s why we call 55 middle age instead of calling it end of life like they did in the Medieval Ages.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a regression
It’s going back to the times of misery when death and suffering were commonplace. When the power of a few men was more important than the wellbeing of millions.
It’s a step back to a worse time.
The response to the invasion might be a step forward
But the response is not as bad as in the past.
Not long ago, such an invasion by a powerful nation of a weaker one would go mostly unchecked. There would be some statements and people saying it’s wrong. Maybe even some symbolical sanctions.
But all in all it was how the world worked. Nation-states competed for resources and power. It was a ruthless zero-sum-game.
The early state of Babylon existed only subsidized by conquest. As did Egypt, the Greek states, the Roman Empire, European nations and every state until the Industrial Revolution.
Peace was a temporary state.
A respite from the endless war that was inevitable.
If a nation far away invaded another one, you mostly rejoiced that it was not you.
But it’s different now.
There is a response to help Ukraine. Not as strong as maybe I would have liked. But much stronger than expected. Surely stronger than Putin expected.
I believe this response comes not from nation-states themselves. But from the people.
In his book ‘The Shield of Achilles’, Phillip Bobbitt argues that we are living through the end of the nation-state. His argument is that nations have lost absolute power within their own borders (through global human rights and intense global communication). It’s not that countries will cease to exist. But rather that other factions gain power. And that nations respond more to the will and needs of the people.
I believe this is happening now.
We as individuals are outraged at the invasion of Ukraine. It is an act of unjustifiable aggression.
This outrage is what drives the nations’ support for Ukraine. The guns and munitions and supplies. The political movements to get Ukraine into the EU. The support from big corporations (Elon Musk activating Starlink Internet in Ukraine and Google stopping Google Maps there to not help the Russian army).
This war is awful.
It’s unnecessary suffering of many people.
It’s also a ray of hope that we have moved into a better period in history. One where despots like Putin cannot do whatever they want. Where they have to bow to the will of individuals.
We are far from a perfect democracy where nations are actually run for the good of their citizens. But maybe we are a little closer.
That’s for the future.
Now the war is ongoing.
Ukraine still needs all the help it can get. Help them however you can. A win for Ukraine is a win for the future.