Our world overwhelms us. Wherever we go, even throughout history, it seems what we see is always the situation of everyone fights against everyone.
From tribal conflicts to medieval brutalities to modern warfares to postmodern exploits, it seems we have never experienced any peace at all. Even at the individual level, often, we consider our lives as a state of fight. We have to win the battle to live our lives.
We all know this Latin maxim of Thomas Hobbes.
Bellum omnium contra omnes
It means “the war of all against all.” Thomas Hobbes described it as a natural condition of human existence in his work, Leviathan (1651).
By nature, we humans are a type of creature who always fights one another. It seems we are not Homo Sapiens, but rather Homo Pugnax. We are a man in the fight. By default, we are in the state of the war of all against all.
And many thinkers loved this expression. Revolutionists also loved it. Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels often used it to justify their worldview – dialectical materialism.
The world can evolve itself only by constant dialectical fights from thesis to antithesis to synthesis. We have to defeat our opponent to “sublate” ourselves into the next stage. War is a mean for it. Killing is inevitable, conflicts are welcomed. Thus, revolutions are the critical steps to make our society “better.”
In this worldview, we are constantly looking for reasons to justify our step. One group identifies one reason, which is supposed to be a roadblock for progress. Then, we have to fight against it. Or, the other group identities the different reason, which is also supposed to be an obstacle for “better” society. There are various kinds of “justices” depending on one’s worldview.
According to Karl Popper’s concept of open society, we are supposed to conduct constructive discussions to come up with truly synthesized ideas through the pursuit of knowledge. Indeed, science can progress itself through such steps from a problem situation to tentative theories to error eliminations to a further integrated problem situation, as long as theories are falsifiable.
Ideology is not like that. Once the situation is under the ideological, political agenda, we would no longer expect any constructive progress, but constant warfare. Politicizing is the path to destruction.
In the situation of “each against all”, each tries the best to defeat the opponent, even there is no concept of fairness. They do whatever they can do.
This is why our history teaches us the terror of totalitarianism and authoritarianism, where one group defeated everything else, where we can never see any freedom of speech, constructive discussions, and criticisms. It is the terrible dead-end of the war of all against all.
Let’s ask ourselves. Are we a man of war? Are we Homo Pugnax? No, we are Homo Sapiens. We are a man of wisdom and peace.
Let’s put peacefulness as our top priority. Without peace, we can never expect anything to be constructive and positive. Seek peace first, and everything else should come after.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.Matthew 5:9
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