At the heart of the Ukraine crisis lies a fundamental question about the nature of history and the nature of humanity: is change possible? Can humans change the way they behave, or does history repeat itself endlessly, with humans forever condemned to re-enact past tragedies without changing anything except the décor?
One school of thought firmly denies the possibility of change. It argues that the world is a jungle, that the strong prey upon the weak and that the only thing preventing one country from wolfing down another is military force. This is how it always was, and this is how it always will be. Those who don’t believe in the law of the jungle are not just deluding themselves, but are putting their very existence at risk. They will not survive long.
Another school of thought argues that the so-called law of the jungle isn’t a natural law at all. Humans made it, and humans can change it. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the first clear evidence for organised warfare appears in the archaeological record only 13,000 years ago. Even after that date there have been many periods devoid of archaeological evidence for war. Unlike gravity, war isn’t a fundamental force of nature. Its intensity and existence depend on underlying technological, economic and cultural factors. As these factors change, so does war.