Order and Change in a Warless World
T O IMAGINE a warless world is to imagine a special kind of world order--a system of "law and order" which must nevertheless allow for the disorder, conflict, and change essential to the development of human institutions. An idea must be formed of how such change, which throughout history has been so often and so deeply associated with war, can come about with a minimum of physical violence.
That change through conflict will continue to come about, regardless, is scarcely arguable. The complicated struggles among individuals, groups, classes, communities, or nations for wealth, position, and power is inherent in human nature. No system of world law and order can eliminate these power struggles; it would be primarily a means of regulating or structuring them.
The relative "justice" of such regulation is highly important from the standpoint of support for the system, but it seems essentially secondary--a by-product, as it were--to the "order" which the system would impose. There have, of course, been highly unjust orders which have survived over long periods and others comparatively just which have suffered early collapse. The essential of any order, just or unjust, is that it force the competitive struggles among those subject to it into other than lethal or violent channels.
In any system of law and order one finds three elements, which are the mechanisms through which it achieves its purpose: (1) a sovereign "monopoly" of legal force to forbid resort to violence; (2) a system of general rules (law) defining in generalized terms the rights, duties, and, therefore, the power positions of all involved; (3) a judicial system to apply the general rules in specific conflicts and to provide in its decisions a generally accepted alternative to trial by combat or violence.
No system of this kind, of course, is ever perfectly successful. An irreducible minimum of violent crime, usually a certain amount of rioting and group violence, remains under the most developed systems of law and order. Nor has any such system ever completely inhibited change; even the most static and somnolent of social orders has never been "frozen" into a coma. It is true that a developed system of law and order has the effect, at any given time, of defining--crystallizing--the power relations of the individuals, groups, and classes subject to it, and that this crystallized legal structure of power may survive after the actual power relationships in the community have changed. But when the actual power structure tends to get out of line with the legal definition, it is, sooner or later, the legal definition which is altered, not the newly emerging structure of power.
W HEN the discrepancy between the fact and the form grows too great, such changes may be violent, reflected in great wars on the international stage or bloody revolutions within. But war and violent revolution are by no means the only or the necessary means of adjusting the system of law and order to changes in the underlying power structure. The modern world has recorded immense adjustments of this kind large-