Dynamic Models of Conflict and Pacification: Dissenters, Officials, and Peacemakers

Dynamic Models of Conflict and Pacification: Dissenters, Officials, and Peacemakers

Dynamic Models of Conflict and Pacification: Dissenters, Officials, and Peacemakers

Dynamic Models of Conflict and Pacification: Dissenters, Officials, and Peacemakers

Synopsis

This work examines the conflict between movements and regimes using dynamic mathematical modeling methods. Most of the deaths from political violence in the world in this century have not been caused by war, but by conflict between governments and dissenters. It is hoped that scholars will improve their understanding of these conflicts, and thus help to reduce the costs.

Excerpt

The people fear the rulers. the rulers fear the foreign devils. the foreign devils fear the people. (Chinese saying)

We have learned from physicists that stable atoms are not so stable, from astronomers that fixed stars are not so fixed, and from geologists that terra firma is not so firm. Chaos theory has pervaded the sciences. Process art is en vogue. Trying to understand things as they are may be chasing after fireflies. Learning how things become may be the more useful enterprise. Powerful tools have become available to do just that. in this spirit, we write our book.

Our substantive interest is the changing pattern of interactions among a movement, a regime, and third parties who support the rivals. Dissident activities are found in every nation. So are repressive ones. Also found are third party supporters. Perhaps some dissent is necessary for democracy. Perhaps some repression is needed for stability. Perhaps some involvement by third parties is useful for social consciousness and conscience. We do not know for sure.

We do know that conflicts between movements and regimes are costly to the rivals and even to third parties. Political scientist R. J. Rummel found that more people have died in the twentieth century from dissent and repression than from war; three times as many people have been killed by their own regimes as by foreign ones (Schmid, 1991). New technologies will raise the death toll. Many conflicts seem intractable (Azar and Ferah, 1984; Kriesberg et al., 1989). We are also aware of the betrayal of noble ideals by dissident movements, the pursuit of illusory stability by repressive regimes, and the disappointment of third parties with both.

Our aim is not to develop a theory of conflict-prevention, even if such were possible, but to break new ground in thinking about movement-regime rivalry. We hope merely to further our understanding of the rivalry with a view toward reducing its human costs.

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