Probably Mark Twain said something to the effect that, “My biggest problem with other people is that they think they are right, when I know that I am.” Of course if he said it he said it better. When people know they are right they are unwilling to relinquish their ability to dominate other people, and so when the other people are equally right, and usually they are sure they are, they then become adamant about the rightness of their self-created intellectual position. I suppose that works when a person is living in a small group of people isolated from others, and everyone has an understanding of their common problems and an understanding of their other associates’ needs, and thus they form their ideas of rightness based on their common knowledge, and their common assumptions about the reality of their group’s situation and their personal relationship to their problems. Everything is contained in “their” group. In that type of situation simple yes/no, right/wrong, good/bad, binary decisions work most of the time, and general conflicts don’t arise, only personal ones. Personal conflicts are resolved by direct force of social status or by overpowering physical presence, that is usually obvious to all, and so complications are rare.
In our modern society those small-group dynamics no longer function well when applied to large groups, and a higher authority of published and accepted laws must be generated to which all, or at least almost all people willingly agree. In modern society it becomes possible for laws to be physically and thus permanently published, and when they appear reasonable people will agree with them, and willingly obey them. In most of our modern world there exist laws that are accepted and that generally suppress direct violence, and when violence does occur the local government has the society’s sponsored and previously agreed upon legal power to punish those who violate other group members’ rights. However, at this level of intra-group conflict the enforcement of the laws does require physical force; but that force is rarely applied because it is costly and generates resentment. Read Steven Pinker‘s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, for a full development of that idea and the proofs that it permits larger and much more peaceful social groups to exist.
The problem of the modern world, that is our world, is that since the end of World War One the United States has been forced into the role of world enforcer of law. Being a democracy these self-administrating people are respectful of other people’s rights of self-determination, even those people outside of their own national boundaries. At the end of World War Two, when the US had exclusive control of A-bombs, a brief window arose for imposing a world law and possibly developing the methods for enforcing it. The original meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco perhaps considered creating a world law enforceable by a single entity, which would have been the United States, but instead it created a world order enforced by a coalition of sovereign states. They created a situation that is no better than a small group of primitive people living in closed communities in a wilderness, as described above, where deadly power is distributed across the involved members. Force can be used with free choice of the group because there is no substantial outside force that comes into play. It works in the short run for family-size groups. While conflicts are resolvable with verbal conversation it behooves each of the sovereign entities to maximize their individual power by growing as rapidly as possible. Unfortunately, our sovereign states live within an absolutely limited container, the Earth, with limited resources, much like a family in a house.
All of those observations are common knowledge, but the implications of rapid doubling of the Earth’s huge population are also obvious. The population is already projected to consume all of the essential one time-use-resources within the lifetime of people now living. Increasing conflict over these declining resources brings on wars, but the wars themselves will reduce the total amount of resources available, which will bring about even more conflict and more wars. It is a positive feedback situation that will continue to develop, making things increasingly worse and worse, until a major war occurs and then there will be a total disruption of distribution of all supplies and ultimately of food. The feedback problem may begin with many things, but the most likely are water, land, and energy. For example if fuel becomes scarce or costly, then the fuel for transportation is scarce, then fuel for agricultural equipment isn’t available, then the fuel for fertilizer and many other things isn’t available. These things bring on armed conflict between nations and piracy in unprotected areas. This crisis will become obvious to everyone when there is a lack of protection for cargo ships on the high seas and piracy becomes common. When that happens the cargo of the world won’t be moved and etc., etc. … etc. The population of the Earth will rapidly drop from the seven-plus billion people to much less than the one billion people of the pre-industrial era. It will drop below that number because people are totally unprepared to create food by the sweat of our brow, as our ancestors did, and our naturally fertile soil has been largely eroded away into the seas, as written in Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery.
If we are to avoid this problem, we must find a way to impose an acceptable world law, and very soon. America had its chance, but our institutions, although wonderful in the past, and perhaps equally wonderful if applied globally, don’t seem capable of achieving an acceptable world law. The Chinese new traditions, although oppressive even to people used to living with oppression, are probably even more unstable because they generate more resentment than American law. Modern European traditions might function, but they are pleasantly living under the umbrella of pax-Americana, and don’t have the military manpower to become a universal force. Reasonable world laws are needed, but then an acceptable policing agency must be in place to enforce those laws. At present both of those criteria are missing and even the discussion of creating them is intolerable. Thus it seems humanity will be compelled by more natural forces to endure an absolute collapse. Some humans will probably survive, because humanity’s total destructive power doesn’t equal the Chicxulub asteroid impact of 65 million years ago, where our ancestors did survive, or we wouldn’t be here. However, if you are reading this before these events, you most certainly won’t be among the survivors. Therefore, if you want to live to an old age, and have a reasonable hope that your grandchildren will live a healthy life, you might consider supporting some explorations into creating a world law with a single enforcer.