Order and disorder are closely related, physical laws show us. Order and disorder, can only temporarily coexist.
In this article I argue that we must implement two fundamental changes to our thinking and actions. Implementation of these changes is a challenge, but they cannot be ignored.
In the book ‘Understanding Thermodynamics’ Van Ness explains: “In spite of the mysteries of life, every study of life processes has demonstrated that the laws of physics do in fact apply. There may be additional laws, but none of those known is violated, not even the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”
It is not remarkable that physical laws also apply to historical and social processes; it is human ignorance and arrogance to think otherwise. It would be a real discovery if it can be shown that laws of physics do not apply to these processes.
In my research, I show how basic physical laws can be applied to the (war) dynamics and development of the System. The process of social integration and expansion I describe does not – and cannot – violate the laws of physics.
Until today, in (especially) historical research and international relations theory we continue to ignore these basic facts and ‘refuse’ (it seems) to apply scientific methods, that would provide us with new useful insights and understanding.
A upgrade of these ‘scientific’ disciplines is urgently required, so they can better contribute to our collective survival and well-being: we are in a dire condition, as world-wide turmoil and conflicts and the condition of our environment and climate show.
Since its inception, historical research (mostly) and international relations theory in particular are stuck in unscientific methods and thinking. Regarding war and violent conflict for example – a phenomenon we are part of and confronted with since the first humans met each other – we until now mostly refer to and use as a guideline the destructive ideas of Von Clausewitz.
Von Clausewitz codified European thinking regarding war and statecraft in a war theory with the title ‘On War’, that then further contributed to a kinetic – very destructive – approach to change and war in the international system. The so-called school of Realism is also part of this destructive vicious cycle, we are until now trapped in.
The ordering of humans in communities and states – in international orders – to ensure our collective survival and well-being, is accompanied by a more than compensating disorder created in the surroundings. Order can only be created – entropy can only be reduced – at the expense/cost of increasing disorder in the environment. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics ‘at work’.
Order in anarchistic systems is created by means of kinetic energy, as I mentioned; and has become the dominant ‘modus operandi’ in the System, an approach ‘Made in Europe’ (1495-1945).
My research shows and quantifies that increasing amounts of energy were – and had to be used – to upgrade an international order to a next level of organisation. This – consistent with physical laws that apply – occurred very consistently, the increase is exponential.
Unavoidably, the increased amounts of kinetic energy that were used during successive war cycles to periodically upgrade the level of order (organisation) in Europe, was accompanied by increasing levels of disorder in the environment of the System (Europe). Increasing order and (consequently) increasing disorder go hand in hand.
The ever-increasing order represented by increasing levels of organisation in parts of the System (states that were formed and international orders that were implemented) was (and still is) more than matched by increasing levels of disorder – collapsing states and regions – in other parts of the System that are not included in the process of further ordering. We must better understand this (basic) dynamic, and the relationship between developments in the System.
We must urgently make two fundamental changes to our thinking and actions. First, we must design and use a way of achieving order that no longer dependents on the use of kinetic energy. If the use of kinetic energy is required, it must be done much more wisely; as I explained, the high amounts of energy that are used, are always accompanied by even higher degrees of disorder in the environment.
Second, we must become more inclusive, the order should not exempt certain regions – that pay the price for increased order in other parts of the System. The difference between the levels of order – highly ordered versus highly disordered – cannot coexist any longer at a certain point. ‘Walls’, border controls, etc. are not effective to separate these fundamental differences in levels of order, and cannot effectively contain the (increasing) tensions that will emerge (and be released).
If you are not motivated to accept these changes out of ethical or human considerations, than do it out of self interest and self preservation: Physical laws cannot be ignored, or neutralised. We must develop the science to better understand the impact of these laws, and adjust our ambitions and policies accordingly.