Threat, Trade, and Love

Great thinkers have a way of compressing a whole universe of thought into a single sentence: You can’t step into the same river twice (Heraclitus); Cogito ergo sum (Descartes); War is a continuation of politics by other means (Clausewitz); Those ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it (Santayana); The peasants voted against the war with their feet (Lenin); Some day they will give a war and nobody will come (Sandburg). Boulding’s image of the three types of social interaction, the Deterrent System, the Exchange System, and the Integrative System (Threat, Trade, and Love) is another such admirable a feat of compression, designed to summarize aspects of social reality that have a profound significance for the human condition. 

Are all these aphorisms or evoked images “truths”? Not in the scientific sense, The terms are not “operationally” defined; the implicit predictions (if any) or the generalizations cannot be put to rigorous empirical tests under specified conditions. They are truths in another sense, though, beyond the scope of scientific cognition. They strike a note of recognition of something we have known all along. We cannot “prove” these “truths,” because proof is either impossible or superfluous. Thus, Heraclitus’ aphorism is a metaphorically disguised truism (everything changes); Clausewitz’s, examined closely, is a biased characterization of war and politics (both war and politics are a lot of other things); Sandburg’s is a pious hope. The “truth” of the images resides not in their depictions of reality with implicit predictive power expected of scientific generalizations but rather in their potential for fixating attention on what is of prime importance from the point of view of specific world outlooks.

So it is with Boulding’s three modes of social interaction. They stand out as archetypes of relations of man to man, group to group, nation to nation. And what is more important than these relations in view of the menace that man’s power over nature has become to man’s existence? 

I find myself writing “Man,” “the menace to Man,” “Man’s power over nature,” and so on – a very bad habit, perpetuating the illusion that there is such a thing as Man. I say this not in agreement with the medieval nominalists, who insisted that only individual man has “real existence,” that Man is only a name given to men collectively, a word without a referent in the “real world.” The nominalist position was naive. Why focus on the individual human being as a “real entity”? Why not insist that only the cells of the human body are “real,” that is a “human being” is only a name attached to a collection of such cells? And why stop with a cell? Why not reserve the status of “real entities” to atoms? Generally speaking, what is so basic about objects as “real entities” compared with their parts or collections of them? Is a page more real than a book, or is a book more real than a library? If, as it appears, the level of being that deserves a name is arbitrary, is not also the level of “reality”? If so, why not speak of Man as endowed with “real existence” apart from the human beings that compose mankind? 

Yet the argument of the nominalists has some merit. Whereas an individual human being is a living system, Man is not. Even though Mankind is listed as one of the levels in the hierarchy of living systems, it does not deserve the designation: it lacks a crucial characteristic of a living system, the properties of self-organization and regulatory mechanisms that insure its continued existence as a system. Portions of mankind have these properties and these mechanisms and so deserve to be called systems. Whether mankind will one day acquire them depends on the predominant modes of interaction among its organized portions: whether these are dominated by threats, trade, or love. 

One might ask: If portions of mankind interact in one of these three modes, do not these interactions make mankind a system? Do not even threat interactions contribute to the maintenance of the system by acting as inhibitions (deterrents) of destructive conflicts? Definitions are, in principle, arbitrary, but they should be tailored to the context of a discussion. The point of departure of this discussion was whether it makes sense to speak of “Man’s power over nature,” “Man’s lack of control over himself,” and the like. Implicitly, these phrases project the image of Man as an actor, at times conscious, at times merely reactive, but an actor nevertheless to whom appetites, hopes, and fears can be ascribed. In that sense, I submit, Man does not exist, whereas individual human beings do. However, I part company with the nominalists when they insist that only individual human beings (rather than Man) have real existence,” “Real existence,” in the sense that we usually attribute to human beings, that is, as actors, can be attributed also to collectives of human beings, such as institutions or states. The nominalists’ criteria of “real existence,” for example, the property of occupying a portion of space with clearly defined boundaries, that is the property of objects, was superficial. 

To return to our theme. Imagine for the moment a Hobbsian world of individuals waging a Hobbsian war of all against all. According to Hobbes, this was the “natural state” of men. Further, since the natural state would inevitably lead to demise through mutual extermination, it could not last. Thus arose the legend of the origin of the State, according to which individual actors gave up their “autonomy” to a potentate in order to be protected against each other. 

Conceivably the problem might have been solved in another go way. Each individual could be armed, and the efficiency of armor or weapons, that is, the lengths of swords, thickness of shields, etc. could be carefully calibrated so that each would present exactly the same threat to each. The probability of “victory” in each binary encounter would thereby be exactly one half. Clearly, a series of such encounters under perfect balance of power reduces the chances of survival in geometric progression. Consequently, assuming individuals to be “rational” (which Hobbes apparently does), the war of all against all would be stopped by “deterrence” or a “balance of power.”

Ludicrous as this “solution” would appear in the context of a completely atomized Hobbsian world, it is the most prevalent, the most venerable, and the most seriously discussed model of an achievable peaceful world. 

To be sure, in drawing the analogy with the Hobbsian model, I am doing the international threat system an injustice. The fact is that Hobbes’s world never existed. Man was a social animal, identifying and cooperating with his own kind, long before he became man. On the other hand, the international threat system not only has a long history but continues to exist, and there is no foreseeable end to it. On closer examination it turns out that the international threat system is as much a product of imagination as the Hobbsian “state of nature.” The difference is that the Hobbsian war of all against all was imagined only by Hobbes and perhaps by a few other philosophers of similar persuasion, whereas, the international threat system pervades the imagination of the ruling curcles of all great powers and most of their populations. Threats are real if they are perceived as such. The international threat system materializes in hardware; it determines the allocation of resources. It inspires theories and treatises. It fills the content of courses in international relations. It dictates Ph.D. theses. It promotes bullies like Richelieu, Metternich, and Bismarck to the rank of statesmen, which is to say, sages. It ossifies the Orwellian absurdity “War is peace” as an axiom. But it has never worked in the way intended. Those that say it is working now might ponder the state of mind of the man who fell off the Empire State Building and remarked as he passed the tenth floor, “So far, I am doing fine.” 

Let us, nevertheless, for the sake of argument, assume that deterrence works (except when it doesn’t). How does it work? Why, in the way described, we are told. In the simplest case of two super-powers, the military machine of one protects the society on which it feeds from the military machine of the other. Each machine is thus justified with reference to the other. Consider an analogy. A man, bending under the burden of a yoke with a bucket of stones on each end. Each bucket is necessary to balance the other. Without one of them, the yoke would be useless, Here is a thought: without both buckets, there would be no use for the yoke. So the question necessarily a rises, is the yoke necessary? Yes, if the stones have to be hauled. The yoke is justified by a task that is extraneous to it. 

So the question hinges on whether the military machines (that keep the threat system going) perform a task aside from self-maintenance. In other words, what would be left undone if both military machines in our simplified model vanished? I can think of one such extraneous function, semi-facetiously suggested in the Report from Iron Mountain. An image of an enemy is indispensable for maintaining an organized society. I do not, of course, believe that this proposition is generally valid, although in specific instances, there may be some evidence for it. However, in examining instances where the proposition is supported and those where it is not, we would have to go far afield. For example, we would have to inquire into what sort of societies depend on the image of an external enemy for internal cohesion, and we would have to face the question of whether such societies are worth preserving. 

On the whole, we are forced to the conclusion that the justification of the threat system, hence its nourishment, is internal. It exists and flourishes, because it exists and flourishes. It provides employment to millions, profits and professional careers to thousands. It presents exciting challenges to ingenuity and imagination, not only through the scientific, logistic, and strategic problems generated by the death technology but also through problems generated by widely recognized and sincerely accepted duty to keep the system “under control,” For the tremendous sophistication of modern weapons systems is partly necessitated by the imperative that they should always remain in a state of readiness for instantaneous activation and also that they should never be activated. For their activation would mean that they failed to accomplish their purpose, that is, to deter.

The solution of problems associated with maintaining the threat system requires not only resources but also talent, and talent is accordingly mobilized. As I write, earnest and technically sophisticated discussions are going on between American and Soviet experts, collaborating in the task of keeping the threat system under control without compromising the reality of the threat it presents. These are admittedly difficult problems, requiring the dedication of brilliant, creative minds. 

Herman Kahn once described the nature of the problem in the following parable. 

“Assume there are two individuals who are going to fight a duel to death with blow torches. The duel is to be conducted in a warehouse filled with dynamite. One might conjecture that they would agree to leave the lights on. There is undoubtedly powerful motivation for them to do so. While both are agreed that only one is to survive, they would each like some chance of being that one; neither prefers an effective certainty of both being killed. Yet they might still disagree on how many lights? Where? How bright? Should the one with greater visual acuity handicap himself in other ways? And so on.” [1]

The viability of the threat system manifests itself in the circumstance that questions of this sort completely eclipse other more important questions. First, is it indeed a “warehouse,” in which the duel is to be fought? Or is it rather the basement of a crowded apartment building? And who stacked it full of dynamite and why? And what business have those two imbeciles fighting their idiotic duel in that basement? Why does not someone take them by the scruffs of their necks, bump their heads together and put them away somewhere where they won’t be a menace? 

Of course such questions are asked all the time, but there is no one to pay heed to them, no one who can do anything about this crazy set up. So the observation that the threat system is a threat to Man is true enough, but Man is not in a position to get rid of the threat, because Man is not an actor. States are actors, and they perpetuate the threat system through historical inertia or through the dynamics of their internal organization or simply because states, conceived as sentient beings, have extremely limited mentalities, devoid of those faculties that one attributes to reasonable or sensitive human beings. 

So far we have been examining threat systems composed of “equals.” There are also social systems based on threat to ensure compliance, for example, societies with slave or serf labour. Although the power in such societies is entirely vested in the elite, the elite itself often feels itself to be constantly under threat. Sparta was a classical example, The complete militarization of Spartan society has been, I think justifiably, attributed to the single-mindedness of its elite, determined to keep the helots in subjugation. The constant presence of an internal enemy has a stultifying effect on societies based on threat. Like prisons, they remain static until the system disintegrates cataclysmically and completely. 

In a deterrence system composed of “equals” the participants share only a “negative” common interest – that of avoiding actions disastrous to both (or all). In an exchange system, positive common interests come to the foreground. The underlying model is that of Adam Smith or Ricardo rather than that of Hobbes. In a deterrent system, the prospect of receiving “bads” (Boulding’s felicitous term) is supposed to keep the system from demise. In an exchange system, coherence is insured by the exchange of “goods.” As a result of the exchange, each party is richer than before, for the exchange depends on differential needs and on possession of surplus goods. Each party receives something that he needs or values more than what he gives in return. In a threat system (with equals) each party would prefer that the other were not there; supposedly, that is, for one can argue that the participants in a threat system also fulfill each other’s (morbid) needs. In an exchange system, each party needs the other not merely as a hate object or for some similar pathological reason but as a source of satisfaction of “normal” needs. Therefor symbiotic relations are possible within an exchange system, 

Classical economics rests solidly on the exchange model of human relations. As in the Hobbsian model, however, society appears atomized. To be sure, the “atoms” need no longer be single human individuals. They can be economic units of arbitrary size. However, the cooperative interdependence of the units is predicated strictly on the benefits that each economic unit receives in the exchanges. In most models of classical economics, each unit is assumed to act in a way so as to maximize the benefits accruing to itself (and itself alone). Thus, some acts involve selection of exchange partners (competition). According to the classical economic theory, competition, as well as cooperation, contributes to the “general welfare” by the well-known mechanism of natural selection of efficient units, through stabilization of exchange rates, in short, through the adjustment mechanisms of supply and demand. The critiques and defences of this model and of its off-shoots and variants are well known and, at any rate, fall outside the scope of this discussion. Of principal interest here, as in the case of the threat system, is the quality of inter-group relations dominated by the exchange system.

The exchange system governs most of the relations among autonomous actors in so called civilized societies. The chief characteristic of these relations is their impersonal nature, Who you are matters little, if at all, in a well-run exchange system. What you want and what you offer in return defines every transaction. Money as a universal medium of exchange removes the necessity of examining each such transaction separately. In fact, even money has been largely supplanted by a vast system of bookkeeping far from the scene of the transactions, so that only records of these transactions need to be made. A rich man does not need to carry more than pocket change. He carries only pieces of paper or cardboard or plastic which identify him as plugged into the bookkeeping apparatus. 

With such an identification, one moves through the “civilized” areas of the globe with perfect ease and assurance. One is at home everywhere. The world of airports, hotels, restaurants, and shops is striking in its polylingual uniformity. Armies of attendants stand ready to satisfy every need that can be satisfied in the exchange system. And in fact, the needs that can be so satisfied become dominant, because they can be satisfied. All these attendants are perfect strangers, whom one has never seen and will probably never see again. They feed you, clothe you, move you over the face of the earth, entertain you, give you first aid if you are hurt and prolonged medical care if you are sick, not because you are a friend or a relative or because they feel a personal obligation to you, but only because you are plugged into the bookkeeping apparatus. Being plugged in is a necessary and sufficient condition for being taken care of. 

It is, in a way, a marvelous arrangement. It gives the appearance of an integrated world, where no one needs to be wary of strangers or stand in danger of perishing for lack of friends. But of course, these are only appearances. The benefits of the exchange system accrue only to those who have the wherewithal of exchange. Nevertheless, the exchange system is seen by many as a substantial advance over the threat system as a principle of interaction or organization. I, too, prefer a society based on a market and money economy with its necessarily concomitant “free institutions” and flexibility to a society based on slave or serf labour or on quasi-military discipline, that is, one based on institutionalized threats. And of course I would rather see a global exchange system than the present threat system, dominated by delusions of security through military might. 

Still, it should be apparent that the exchange system represents no more than a half-way house on the road to integration of mankind. Getting stuck in it would be perhaps not as disastrous as getting stuck with the threat system but most unfortunate nevertheless. For the crucial problems of our time are global and nothing short of complete integration of mankind (so that Man can be an actor) will set the stage for the solutions of these problems. The exchange system does not provide the means for complete integration if only because the large majority of the human race can be for a long time only on the receiving end of the flow of goods, resources, and services. They have next to nothing to give in return and so cannot be plugged into the bookkeeping complex. But they must be integrated into a living system called Man, or else Man cannot act, and if “he” cannot act, he cannot escape destruction either at his own hands or at the hands of Nature wreaking vengeance for the indignities to which she has been subjected. 

It is very difficult to break through the mentality imposed by the exchange system. The system is widely associated with emancipation from the constraints of threat systems and tightly linked to the notion of freedom. Indeed the term “Free World,” coined during the Cold War as a rallying cry to mobilize loyalty to the United States and its allies, hypocritical as it is, is not wholly devoid of meaning. Anyone with wherewithal of exchange is more free in the “Free World” than any human being ever was throughout history, not only in the sense of choice of consumer goods and services and mobility, but also in the sense of being freed from personal obligations to kinfolk, mentor, lord, or vassal. They say alienation was the price paid for de-personalized social relations, but perhaps the escape from the web of fixed personal and status obligations was well worth the price. (We can form an opinion on this matter only on the basis of reading about the vanished world.) 

The exchange system also carries a promise to attenuate the dangers of the international deterrence system. Enemies can be turned into customers. Finally, the exchange system provides a conceptual basis for a universal theory of value, linking ethics to economics. Money, with its unlovely connotations of venality, need not remain the universal concretization of value. Instead, the sterilized concept of “utility” can serve in this capacity. 

It is instructive to examine the history of the utility concept in economics and decision theory. It first appears in a rather vague formulation as a presumed universal measure of value in Bentham’s utilitarian calculus. Later it is introduced into economics in connection with a theory of commodity exchange. Mathematical analysis, however, revealed that the concept of utility is not really necessary, and Bentham’s utilitarian calculus remains without a logically tenable basis. Of course, innumerable social arrangements, not to speak of interpersonal relations, explicitly or implicitly invoke interpersonal comparisons of utilities. Social life is impossible without some notion of social justice, and all notions of social justice pose the problem of comparing the losses of some to the concomitant gains of others. But a rigorous, operationally defined concept of utility precludes such comparisons. In order to make such comparisons, a “transferable” and, preferably “conservative” (in the sense of conservation of quantity) commodity must be promoted to the status of a universal concretization of value. Money is by far the most obvious candidate. (In fact, any commodity in this capacity would be money by definition.) But to translate all values into monetary terms is to trivialize the formidable problem of value or to side-step it rather than to face it soberly. 

Thus, the exchange system and the impressive conceptual repertoire introduced by it into human affairs still does not solve the problem of turning Man into an actor. 

There remains the integrative system, Of the three terms, “threat,” “trade,” and “love,” “trade” is the easiest to relate to observable referents and so to treat in the context of a scientific discourse. Also, events involving trade can be treated without reference to psychological factors. (Whether it is advisable to leave these factors out of consideration is another matter.) Both “threat” and “love” are necessarily linked to psychology, and so discussions involving them must usually be carried beyond the realm of “hard” science. However, in the context of scientific discussion, attempts to operationalize intuitively appreciated concepts are always in order. 

Throughout the Cold War, attempts to bring “hard” analysis to bear on a theory of threat systems became commonplace (cf. the writings of H. Kahn[2], T. Schelling[3], R. Jervis[4]). This is not surprising, because tough-mindedness and “hard” analysis are conceptually compatible. In fact, the work of the above-mentioned authors relies on models based partly on the conceptual repertoire generated by a threat system and partly on one generated by an exchange system. All of this work was quite likely inspired by game-theoretic models of conflict, where calculations in utility terms of possible or probable consequences of decisions are at the centre of attention. A “threat” in this scheme is conceived simply as a probabilistically determined loss of utility. 

Love, understandably enough, plays no part in these approaches, Not only is this term tinged with connotations that do not lend themselves easily to operational definitions, but also it appears to be completely out of place in an approach that purports to be an embodiment of “realism,” especially in politics. It is, nevertheless, possible to purge the term of all sentimental connotations which make it unacceptable to the tough-minded. Whether the proposed interpretation captures the essence of love as it is understood by moralists and poets is an open question. I submit that it does so at least partly. 

An integrative system, where love is the regulatory mechanism of social interaction, is one where the definition of “self” of an actor is extended to include other actors, “Feelings” need not enter this interpretation at all, because “extension of self” can be operationalized in terms of re-defining the utilities associated with outcomes of decisions. On the other hand, feelings can be also incorporated in the interpretation without necessarily invoking the notion of love, from which the tough-minded shrink as the Devil from holy water. I do not “love” my arm in the sense that I love my children, but if it is injured, I certainly feel pain. Thus, it is natural to think of my arm as part of my “self” but also unnecessary, since “I” can live without it. It is simply a matter of extending the definition of “self” to include a portion of the world to which I am connected by feelings. As for “feelings,” they cannot nor need not be “operationally defined. For instance, everyone knows what “pain” means, and it is fatuous to pretend that one doesn’t.

We know, to be sure, that the nervous systems of our bodies are not physically connected with each other. So if my child is tortured and I do not know about it, my feelings cannot be affected. But if my child were tortured in my presence, I certainly would feel excruciating anguish, psychologically quite akin to physical pain, in the sense, for instance, of evoking involuntary cries of dismay, impulsive reflex-like movements, etc. 

It is an undeniable fact that some individuals are linked in this manner and that this linkage enables the emotional state of one individual (either positive or negative affect) to induce a similar state in another. This linkage on the psychological level is possibly genetically determined, that is, characteristics of our species, That this should be so in mammals and birds is understandable in the light of natural selection: the survival of mammalian and bird species depends on the protection and care of the young. And even adult animals equipped with deadly weapons show evidence of inhibitions against excessive intra-specific aggression. Their fights for territory or mates are seldom fatal. The inhibitions serve as an obvious species survival mechanism. 

It is not unlikely that such inhibitions are built also into the human psyche. Only very few individuals are able to murder in cold blood. The fact that it is usually much more difficult to kill a child suggests that the inhibition is linked to mammalian instincts. 

Now these inhibitions have nothing to do with calculations of utilities or foreseeing the consequences of actions. Nor are they necessarily simply products of socialization or indoctrination. That they are at least in part instinctual is evidenced by physiological reactions, for example, vomiting at the sight of torture inflicted on another. It is as if links other than physical connections existed between the nervous systems of human individuals, as if the boundaries of “self” were not quite the boundaries provided by the skin. 

This linkage, I believe, is a psychological and physiological basis of love, Now the integrative system is one in which the participants are bounded by such linkages to the extent that the definition of self extends to a collective. Certainly such collectives are not unknown among human beings, although the degree of integration varies. The most dramatic manifestations occur in times of great stress or danger, especially when a realization of mutual interdependence for survival has been deeply internalized. It is observed, for example, on the battlefield. In fact, somewhat ironically, the strongest personal attachments, acts of self sacrifice, undertaken as a matter of course, genuine concern for the well being or safety of others, all forms of behaviour ordinarily associated with love and empathy (I believe the two terms refer to closely related feelings) occur among soldiers jointly facing death. These attitudes cannot be wholly explained by the usual indoctrination to which soldiers are subjected, because they persist long after the effects of indoctrination aimed to induce loyalty to God, country, leader, etc. have been eroded by disillusionment and cynicism. Loyalty to buddies is the staunchest. It is based on concrete, not abstract, extensions of self to real, immediately present others. 

There is no question, then, that love, in the sense of extension of self, exists among human beings. The important and still unanswered question is how far the limits of self can be extended. The question is crucial, because a partial extension may aggravate the problem of human survival instead of partially solving it. For a partial extension defines the limits of self short of including some others, hence excluding others. This distinction occurs, of course, also on the individual level. However, assuming for the moment a Hobbsian world, where the conception of self is sharply confined to the individual, who thereby finds himself “at war” with all other individuals, the situation resulting is not nearly so dangerous as one where each self is a much larger unit. For one thing, individuals do not possess the destructive power of groups organized for violence. Also, the prospect of remaining “sole victor” in the war of all against all is very dim. The dream of remaining “sole victor” is the dream of kings, emperors, and dictators, commanding integrated collectives, not of Hobbsian human atoms. The fewer actors there are, the more attainable the dream appears. The most dangerous world is a bi-polar one. 

For this reason, I do not share the optimism of those who see the gradual regional integrations as steps to global integration. To be sure, a war between Western European states is incomparably less probable today than in the days of trumpet-blowing, drum-beating nationalism. To the extent, however, that this integration was stimulated by a perception of a common danger, it may have contributed to polarization. Since the disintegration of the Communist bloc, brought about by the Sino-Soviet split, the dangers of another world war may have been attenuated. There is, to be sure, no way of weighing the local pacifying influence of regional integration against the increase of tensions brought about by reducing the number of centres of power and thus sharpening the rivalry among them, Whether the balance is positive or negative depends on the principal motives that have facilitated the integration, whether they stem from broadening the definition of community and thus can maintain the momentum of ever broader extension of the concept or whether they stem from fear of a “common enemy.” 

Whatever be the results of integration on a scale larger than sets of individuals in direct contact with one another, such integration can be effected only with the help of ideological indoctrination. Identification with a fellow-citizen or fellow-national, or fellow-X-ist, or fellow-man is different from that with one’s mate, one’s child, one’s buddy, or one’s neighbour. In the broader forms of integration, love takes on an abstract quality; cerebration takes precedence over affect. Indeed, the intellectualization of “love of humanity” may dull a person’s sensitivities to human beings in the flesh. The less than adequate relations with family and friends of famous “lovers of humanity” are well known. Tolstoy, for one, was convinced that the only way to practice love was to do good at this time in this particular situation to the person who happens to be at hand without giving a thought to the broader consequences of one’s actions. He dismissed as self-deluding or counter-productive all attempts to consciously structure society presumably for the purpose of improving relations among human beings. 

In the days when the strongest ties of interdependence were between members of small communities bound by direct contacts, it may have made sense to epitomize love in the commandment “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” where the meaning of “neighbour” was literal. To be sure, everyone is now everyone’s neighbour in the sense of shrunken distances and all-pervasive nets of interdependence. But this change in the human condition can be appreciated only intellectually, not by immediate and direct experience. 

The failure of world religions (by those I mean religions that emphasize the brotherhood of man and try to induce a corresponding affect) was, in my opinion, due to the fact that it is impossible to induce the affect of love for perfect strangers, for people with whom it is impossible to communicate because of language barriers, for people whose appearance is radically different from what one is used to and who for that reason usually seem unattractive, above all, for people whom one never saw and whom one will never see. 

What, then, remains? The only hope, it seems to me, is in raising the awareness of mutual interdependence of all human beings. And this awareness must transcend the interdependence based on exchange. For, given the present allocation of control over resources, exchange cannot be “fair” or balanced or profitable to all. Nor can it be adjusted by juggling prices of raw materials so as to give some of the countries of the hungry world a better break. Because some of the hungry countries have no resources to speak of. They have no wherewithal of exchange. True, they have no power either; so they could be left quietly to starve without much danger of a global revolt of the poor, the specter that has replaced the specter evoked by Marx and Engels in 1848. At any rate, aid to the hungry to forestall revolt would be simply an acceptance of the imperatives of the threat system. Aid to the hungry as a gesture of largesse is an extension of the exchange system: implicitly one puts the hungry under obligation, hence exacts from them a psychological tribute. 

In a love system, a human being deserves consideration, assistance, and respect, not because of what he could do to you if denied these (as in a threat system) or for what he is able to give in return, be it only humble gratitude (as in an exchange system) but simply because he is an extension of self. 

However, to argue this point on moral grounds is futile, for morality must be charged with affect, and one cannot love “every one” in the sense of engaging one’s affect. The argument is also weak on pragmatic grounds: it is not certain that letting a few tens of millions of Africans starve will have direct drastic consequences for the rest of the world. The argument can be made only on ideological grounds, but not in the usual way, that is, not by deriving the argument from an a priori formulated ideology, such as “the brotherhood of man” or something of this sort. By an argument on ideological grounds I mean considering the ideological consequences of actions rather than their ideological antecedents. For instance, practising threats and counter-threats, as in power diplomacy, perpetuates the ideology that accepts the threat system as a normal matrix of international relations. Practising bookkeeping in all transactions perpetuates the ideology that accepts trade as the normal matrix of human relations. Similarly, “practising love” is the only way of making the integrative system a serious competitor of the other two. It is essential to promote such competition, for although there are areas where an exchange system and even, perhaps, a threat system have their place, clearly the hegemony of the latter is fraught with danger, and the hegemony of the former would be tantamount to arrested development. To avoid such hegemony, the exchange system must be pressured out of some areas of human interactions, for example, where services are rendered that should be the birthright of every human being, such as succor in drastic need or medical help or education. It seems that the threat system must be forced out of most human relations, especially from international politics. 

By “practising love” I do not mean what revivalists mean. I mean engaging in an ideological and political struggle to promote actions and policies incompatible with either the threat system or the exchange system, in order to drive them from niches where they do not belong. I mean exposing the absurdities of Realpolitik in the light of a recognition that enemies are made, not given, and that their enmity is nurtured by threats. I mean exposing the superstitions and breaking the taboos imposed by the pieties of economics, where prosperity is identified with profits and salvation with solvency. 

“Practising love” means getting rid of the pernicious idea that discovering self is the same as differentiating oneself from others, that love and hate always come in complementary pairs. The problem, as I see it, is that of inducing integration in concentric circles, as it were, from self to family to community to a culture to humanity, inducing a realization that loyalty to one of these need not clash with loyalty to another. One the contrary, the loyalties on the different levels can and must reinforce one another. 

For reasons already suggested, such a change of outlook, if it occurs, will not be the result of either a concerted effort of massive re-education (the proponents of the idea do not have the necessary resources or access to masses), nor of the emergence of a new world religion. If the change occurs, it will be in consequence of sobering, possibly traumatic experiences that will make it impossible to hold on to parochial beliefs, to give obeisance to bankrupt ideologies, or to render loyalties to disgraced elites. It will be in consequence of hard and long struggles. We can only hope, despite the dismaying lessons of history to the contrary, that the vision of a love system can guide these struggles without disintegrating in the process. 

[1] H. Kahn, On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965, p. 16. 

[2] H. Kahn, On Thermonuclear War. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960. 

[3] T. C. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960. 

[4] R. Jervis, The Logic of Images in International Relations. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970. 

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