Scientific progress requires an open mind (source).
In my research, I explain that physical laws and certain mechanisms determine and shape the war dynamics and development of the System. The System and its dynamics are highly deterministic in nature. By means of wars the System regulates tensions in the System; tensions can be considered energy and wars energy releases.
It is important to distinguish between two categories of Great Power wars: Systemic and non-systemic wars. The timing, duration and severity of systemic wars are highly predictable. Non-systemic wars on the other hand are intrinsically unpredictable. Their unpredictability can be attributed to their chaotic nature.
Despite the deterministic nature of war dynamics there still is a certain capacity for contingency. Their is latitude for contingency within the restrictions imposed by deterministic laws and mechanisms.
In case of the war dynamics of the System, determinism and contingency – to a certain extent – go hand in hand. For example: deterministic laws and mechanisms determine the timing, duration and severity of systemic wars: what we fight for and how we fight is left to our discretion (to illustrate what I mean with this: Architects can design and construct what they want, as long as the law of gravity is respected).
The latitude that is left for contingency in the System, determines the choices we can make, in other words the effective ‘range’ of our free will.
Until now, historians and International Relations theorists only are aware of the existence of a contingent domain, and unaware of the existence and impact of ‘underlying’ deterministic laws and mechanisms. The underlying deterministic laws and mechanisms drive and shape the war dynamics and development of the System, as I explained.Historians and International Relation theorists’ understanding of the workings of the System is in other words incomplete.
Analysis of the Systems dynamics – including historical processes and events – requires that the underlying deterministic laws and mechanisms – and their impact – are taken into consideration. Historians only look at symptoms, and ignore causes.
Because of this lack of understanding, historical analysis, and policy advise are plagued by serious shortcomings.
For example, in efforts to make sense of historical events and to create coherent ‘story lines’ (a human need), historians often connect events and invent causalities that do not exists.
The assumption by some historians that the First and Second World wars, were one and the same war, is an example of efforts to fabricate consistent stories. This incorrect assumption is based on the observation that in the contingent domain of the System, social issues and developments were connected during the period 1918-1939, which can be attributed to the short time span – the interbellum – between both world wars. However, these relationships between issues and developments in the contingent domain, do not make both systemic wars into one.
My research shows that the First and Second World Wars were respectively the third and fourth systemic wars (systemic energy releases) the System produced during the period 1495-1945. During that period, the System produced a finite-time singularity dynamic that was accompanied by four accelerating war cycles. Each cycle ended with a systemic war, when accumulated tensions (energy) in the System were used to implement an upgraded order, resulting in a new war cycle. This pattern repeated itself four times, until the collapse of the European System in 1939.
From a System perspective, the third and fourth systemic wars, the First and Second World Wars respectively, are as related to each other as the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (the second systemic war) is related to the First World War (the third systemic war).
The ‘one-war-assumption’ is indicative for our limited understanding of the war dynamics of the System, and the short-term – event-focused – perspective of historians.
At best historians and International Relation theorists can give incomplete explanations in hindsight. No progress is being made in understanding war, and in giving sensible advice. We are stuck.
Until today, historical ‘science’ – contrary to all other scientific disciplines – has not made any significant progress since the Age of Enlightenment. We are stuck with a deep-seated belief that physical laws do not apply to social systems. We assume that we ‘control’ the System with our ‘free will’, while in fact, our free will is much more limited than we are aware of.
Portrait of Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642) by Giusto Sustermans (1636). Galileo revolutionised our understanding of the universe, by introducing a scientific approach and challenging dogmas. Dogmas and belief can be very persistent: It took the Vatican more than 350 years (until 1992) to finally rectify one of its most infamous wrongs: The persecution of the Italian astronomer and physicist for proving the Earth moves around the Sun.
Our ‘free will’ is shaped by deterministic laws. We unknowingly ‘obey’ the System, that in fact constitutes a war trap (as I explain in other articles).
As far as free will exists, we do not use it wisely.
It is sour that the scientific discipline that studies the Age of Enlightenment most intensely, is itself immune for its meaning and potential.