THE INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMMUNICATION, DOUGLAS BLANKS HINDMAN – 1 DEC 2015
“Abstract: Social conflict involves public struggles over limited resources, the distribution of status, and the exercise of power (Coser 1956). Communication is crucial to social conflict because, through it, social conflict can escalate into violence, de-escalate into resolution and reconciliation, and can lead to clearer definitions of opposing positions (Gilboa 2006). Conflict is a ubiquitous form of social interaction that can have positive or negative consequences for the groups involved, can have implications for both social change and social stability, and can be understood as both a product of the social setting and a purely symbolic act that has no relationship to what are imagined as real conditions”.
The first half of the above abstract seems – to me at least – a straightforward and cogent definition. The second part touches on two aspects worthy of consideration. One is the unresolved or ambivalent consequences of social conflict. The other are the symptomatic aspects of social conflict, the causal nexus between conflict and perception. This takes us to Hume and how he divided relationships among ideas in two types: analytic and synthetic. The latter are temporal concurrences or conjunctions. Hence, Hume concluded that the idea that world events are linked to a causal chain is purely a projection of human psychology, which is, I add as if we were talking about the universe.
In War and Peace, Tolstoy states: “when an apple ripens and falls, why does it fall? Because of its attraction to the earth, because its stem withers, because it is dried by the sun because it grows heavier because the wind shakes it….?” The causal relationships are almost endless.
For many, social perception is linked to how Aristotle sees it, which basically states that men are the originators of its actions. Yet, Orwell said: “…to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle“.
John Tooby, Psychologist, UC Santa Barbara, writes: “Locating the “cause” (blame) in one or more persons allows us to punitively motivate others to avoid causing outcomes we don’t like (or to incentivize outcomes we do like). More despicably, if something happens that many regard as a bad outcome, this gives us the opportunity to sift through the causal nexus for the one thread that colorably leads back to our rivals (where the blame obviously lies).
If one adds to this the deliberate viral spread of fake-news or the post-truth judgmental universe of the ignorant with powerful transmitters at their fingertips, what should humans be doing in order to preserve peace, progress, and basic freedoms? I see two juxtaposed possible remedies to widespread disenchantment and total social shutdown: improved discretionary but intentional social stability or increased enforced social control.
Oh well, I was just talking to myself…