War never changes.”
Iconic words from a game series almost as old as I am. And yet, they seem blatantly untrue. Wars were once fought with swords, with bows. Now wars can be fought entirely from behind screens, with soldiers of one faction never actually seeing the soldiers of the other faction.
Today, as I ponder yet another unproductive online discussion, I realize how true these words are. It was posited to me that the advancement of 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence would soon render human labor unnecessary, that all the world would have to embrace socialism, which would end poverty, which would, in turn, end war.
At face value, this seems like a reasonable hypothesis. If the value of labor falls to almost nothing, and all humans can just kick back and relax, reaping the benefit of automated labor, why would we keep fighting?
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. Even if labor has no value, even if every country embraces socialism and the income inequality vanishes, there will still be reasons to fight.
For an immediate example, take the war in the Middle East. Not just the current operations, but the entire period of conflict in that region, going all the way back to the 1990’s. Without trying to argue any of the theories of exactly why we were involved, we can still get a good grasp of the motivating factors.
First, natural resources. There is oil in the Middle East, and oil is the lifeblood of modern industry. Even in this hypothetical perfect world, the oil will still only be where it currently is, and there will still be those who want it badly enough to fight for it.
Second, ideologies. Whether you believe that the Muslim terror organizations are extremists distorting their holy scriptures or stalwart fundamentalists doing exactly what the Koran tells them to, the fact remains that there are Muslim terror organizations, and they are using the Koran to spur their followers into a war that they consider holy. No amount of economic change or political shift will stop people intent on inflicting harm on others purely because they believe it to be the right thing to do.
Third, vendettas. Personal or national, there are some hatreds that run deeper than circumstance. Sometimes irrational, sometimes misplaced, but nonetheless real, hatred will always exist, and will always drive man against his fellows, The Muslim terror organizations, particularly those involved in the conflict in the Gaza Strip, hate the nation of Israel. There can be no peace brokered between two parties, when the only goal of one party is the utter eradication of the other.
This is another idea that sounds utopian on paper, but which would not survive contact with humanity. Human beings, whether you believe them to be inherently good or inherently evil, are undeniably flawed. Greed and pride and wrath will always bring about conflict, even in a perfect world where machines give humanity everything it could want. When there is no logical reason to fight, someone will find an illogical reason.
Because war… war never changes.