The Effects of Schism and Disorder and What is to be Done About Them

Wednesday, December 7, 2005


Written by Tristan Dineen

Without a common power to watch over the broader mass of humanity there is only lawlessness and disorder leading to centuries of war and betrayal. Certain norms and regimes bring out the best in us and so do other norms and regimes bring out the worst of man’s excesses. We have existed for five centuries under an international regime that has brought untold disorder and devastation to the human species often in the name of very trivial matters.

The processes of schism among human beings and the resulting disorder and strife have marked human history time and again over centuries. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire Europe was torn by centuries of external invasion and rampant internal disorder. In the 16th Century the Protestant Reformation destroyed the religious hegemony of the Catholic Church that had kept Europe ideologically unified for the entire medieval period. What followed was an era of religious wars and extremism that would claim the lives of millions. In the 18th Century the Feudal Order itself that had organized society for so long was swept away by the French Revolution, ushering in a new era of nationalist conflict and mass destruction in the name of one’s country.

At every turn schism has resulted in the deaths of millions and as we look back upon the devastation we cannot help but ask ourselves, was it really worth it? Was stopping the selling of indulgences and the concept of “salvation by faith alone” worth the annihilation of Central Europe and the deaths of millions of innocent people over a period of two centuries? Was the call of nationalism and the promise of self-determination worth the demise of countless millions who have died in the unending national struggles that have scarred history since the beginning of the French Revolutionary wars in 1789? What about the bloody wars of independence and later civil wars that consumed much of the world following the collapse of the colonial order in the 20th Century? Was so much blood, human blood, necessary just so that a few idealogues could stand vindicated? It is shameful that a human being could do such things to his or her own species in the name of an ill-conceived idea, religious or secular.

Without a common power to govern over the states of the world themselves, a situation of anarchy prevails on the world stage. Arms dealers continue to ply their deadly trade often with the blessing of the great nations of the world as they sell their weapons to criminal militia groups and corrupt governments alike throughout the developing world. Without adequate constraint from a world organization better described as an activist forum the nations of the world continue their competition via proxy. It is something that states will always seek to do whenever there is no higher authority. The state and its interests, however they are secured, form the bottom line as each state seeks to outmaneuver any perceived competition. If human beings living elsewhere in the world must die so that the citizens of the state in question might continue to live in peace than so be it, it is considered acceptable collateral damage.

The corporation adopts a similar mentality, whoever or whatever suffers for the company’s profits is ultimately considered an externality. I do not believe that the world can be called orderly when international law is effectively in the hands of a weak United Nations and with the great powers who will use and abuse such law as they see fit and as their power allows. A similar situation exists regarding corporations, they are more than willing to take opportunities created by the sufferings of others. It is simply the way it works. There is no deliberate malice involved in most cases, they simply do what they see as best for themselves and do not mind when what is best for themselves does not coincide with the common good of humanity. They will deny wrongdoing and they will deny responsibility, as far as they are concerned they have none, and yet it is this elite that governs over the major economic, political, cultural, and military functions in this world. Their refusal to effectively take responsibility means that they deny the most fundamental obligation that the ruler has to their subjects: to defend them.

For too long it has been humanity that has paid the price for the excesses of the nationalist, the religious fanatic, and the greedy merchant. It is shameful that we live in a world where nations continue to divide the map into ever smaller portions as more and more ethnic groups seek to be the sole lords and masters of a homogenous nation-state. Religiously tolerant empires such as the Ottoman Empire fell apart into nationalist enclaves that would come to use genocide and warfare as a means of exerting themselves over both their neighbours and internal minorities in the Balkans, the Middle East and beyond. Events such as these have led to poverty, disease, and starvation over much of the globe and, while there have been many attempts at combating these afflictions, good intentions mean nothing when they are not backed up by decisive action and the capability to engage in such action. We remain a house divided with precious little to stop us from killing one another.

I see radicalism to the right and to the left and pacifists everywhere else. Of allegiance to one’s species in the spirit of defense I see little, but I see enough of it for it to be a source of hope. A source of hope for a unified tomorrow, where the dignity of humankind will triumph through a combination of law, responsible government, leadership by example, balance, and decisive action. What we require is a universal regime with the power to protect and defend the human species, and with the authority to effectively lead it into the future. Without this ability to enforce law in a lawless world the cycle of schism and disorder will continue and its continued effect will be the great suffering of the human species. Power and its exercise for noble ends is a necessary tool in bringing peace to the world.

The future leaders of humanity must understand the dangers of neglect. They must realize what duty falls to them and what responsibilities must be upheld above all. For there is only one earth, and there is one human species, and both must be defended if they are to survive.

We must and we will secure a strong and stable world order that will finally bring an end to the unstable mutation that humanity and human civilization have undergone since the upheavals of the 16th Century. Ours is an ongoing struggle, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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  1. Posted by: Julie on Dec 7, 2005 @ 4:39pm

    Egad! I hate this column.

    Why is the tone always "A call to arms!"

    Why do you always write in such an elite, jumbled, pseudo-historian, pseudo-philosopher, pseudo-intellectual fashion?

    I don't think you are converting anyone to your confused liberal revolution by whipping out your intellectual sword and measuring how long it is.

    Oh, and university students are not going to be the revolution. Nor are they the intellects of our generation. Mostly, they are passive, comfortable middle-class kids.

    Look elsewhere.

  2. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 7, 2005 @ 9:42pm

    I'm sorry that you feel that way. Well unfortunately we are the best educated of the bunch so we do possess a serious responsibility. Maybe most don't realize that but there are some of us that do. And where did I call for a revolution? And where did I describe myself as liberal, or as any political orientation for that matter? I don't think you read my article carefully.

  3. Posted by: David Renaud on Dec 7, 2005 @ 11:29pm

    Hell of a long article just to state that humanity's a little messed up.

    Also laughably pretentious.

  4. Posted by: Alex on Dec 8, 2005 @ 1:19pm

    It needs to be formatted better to read, I couldn't get through it.

  5. Posted by: Kyle Lambert on Dec 8, 2005 @ 5:54pm

    "In the 16th Century the Protestant Reformation destroyed the religious hegemony of the Catholic Church that had kept Europe ideologically unified for the entire medieval period. What followed was an era of religious wars and extremism that would claim the lives of millions. In the 18th Century the Feudal Order itself that had organized society for so long was swept away by the French Revolution, ushering in a new era of nationalist conflict and mass destruction in the name of one’s country."

    Are you for real? I realize that is saying so I am being pretentious, but you need a far more nuanced understanding of history.

  6. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 8, 2005 @ 9:36pm

    Nuanced understanding of history? Well let me see. It is very easy to understand if you just look at the body count. If you look at the broad trends of history you will notice that the number and severity of wars increases significantly from the 16th Century onwards. Thats not just because of new and better weapons but because of new reasons for fighting. Ideological wars have traditionally claimed far more lives than wars over territory.

  7. Posted by: Kyle Lambert on Dec 9, 2005 @ 12:55am

    You are using an absolutist view of the world to suit your own political project. Unfortunately, your conception of history ignores the facts which you so desperately claim to have.

    The Catholic Church was responsible to millions of deaths before the Reformation. It was not the Reformation that led to such wars, it was the Catholic Church's desire for control.
    Same goes for the French Revolution. Are we to believe that the effort to construct an enlightened democracy should have been ignored in favour of despotic monarchy just to avoid conflict?
    I appreciate what you are trying to do, because a belief such as yours is neither widely accepted nor easily justified. But I don't think history is the way to go.

  8. Posted by: Kyle Lambert on Dec 9, 2005 @ 1:01am

    To add to what is above, how can you possibly argue that pre-16th century there was a more universal acceptance of humanity as a whole?

    Slavery was rampant and an accepted norm, torture was thought to extract confessions from people who "weren't right with God", religious wars were fought on a massive scale, etc, etc.

    Yes, more wars have been fought since the 16th century, but that likely has more to do with growing populations than with efforts of smaller diasporas to achieve a form of self-determination.

  9. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 9, 2005 @ 8:42pm

    You obviously know precious little about Medieval History. Alot of the abuses we associate the Catholic Church took place after the Middle Ages. The Protestant Reformation radicalized the Catholic Church and that is when the brutalities of the Inquisition became mainstream. Witch-burnings, torture and the death of heretics were much rarer before the 16th Century. The dramatic increase in these practices occured because the Catholic Church now faced a serious threat. When a hegemonic power sees a threat to its continued dominance it will fight tooth and claw to maintain its position. With the exception of the crusades religious wars were a rare thing. War was generally a clash between competing nobles, not the huge struggles between nations and religions that would characterize the post-16th Century world. Ironically the Catholic Church was actually quite liberal when it had sole control, you had to follow the core beliefs of course, but regional differences were more than tolerated when it came to details. I just finished a course concerning this so it is still fresh in my mind.

  10. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 9, 2005 @ 8:51pm

    Just to add to that. Would you say this "enlightened democracy" is what we have now? This election campaign? These kinds of leaders? They are salesmen and little else. There is a serious lack of professionalism in Canada today amongst current political leaders.

  11. Posted by: Kyle Lambert on Dec 10, 2005 @ 12:36pm

    1) The Catholic Church commanded the crusades which were among the more brutal wars ever fought. Where's the humanism there?

    2) In response to the second point, would you have preffered to leave France as was? Are you arguing that despotism is the way to go? If so, who would lead your humanist world?

    3) Far from saying that the current form of democracy is perfect, I would still argue it is better than what was in place pre-French Revolution. Yes, terrible things happened in the Revolution's aftermath, but does that mean popular responses to despotic rule should always be suppressed?

    4) Population growth and technology allowed for larger wars. One couldn't be concerned with another country if one cannot actually reach that country's shores.

  12. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 10, 2005 @ 8:32pm

    I only used the Medieval Church as an example. And the crusades were not linked to a breakdown in the European order of the time. When that order did break down the resulting wars were far more brutal and far more destructive.
    The real point is stability. When there is stability and general harmony there is peace. When there is no stability and when different factions are constantly struggling against each other there is war. The moral of the story: unity is much more prefferable to disunity.

  13. Posted by: Jesse on Dec 14, 2005 @ 1:14pm

    "Also laughably pretentious."

    Let me second that.

  14. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 14, 2005 @ 8:19pm

    I need to understand you people and your taunts. Explain why this piece is "pretentious" as you say.

  15. Posted by: d on Dec 21, 2005 @ 5:53pm

    tristan. you are a loon. manifsto's dont mean shit. your understanding of what it might mean to make some sort of change in the ways in which societies are organized is from another planet. get real.

  16. Posted by: lancelot on Dec 21, 2005 @ 5:56pm

    take it from me. chivalry is dead.

  17. Posted by: dope on Dec 21, 2005 @ 5:56pm

    where can i sign up??

  18. Posted by: Sarah on Jan 6, 2006 @ 6:35pm

    To put it in non-pretentious, easy to understand language:

    Dude. If you don't like it, go read something else.

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