Politics follow a “Boom and Bust” pattern with an experimentation stage, an elimination stage, and a standardization stage. There are situations where conflicts of interest emerge that block cooperation. Factions compete for control, employ political violence, ending in victory for one faction over the others.

This places the idea of warfare within the context of political evolution.

Adaptation starts with the experimentation stage. Innovative competitors grow until they reach the external limit of the system. At that point, growth slows and competition increases between those within the system. This initiates the elimination stage. The weak die off while the winning competitors establish a sort of equilibrium. The end result is a standardized political system. A revolution occurs that increases the external limit and the cycle starts over. It is resilient, stable, self-correcting and evolving.

This cycle cleans the bad imputs out of the system. Any idealistic system without winners and losers is unstable and collapses because losers take up resources and continue losing. Then the cycle starts over again.

This cycle appears in a number of dynamic systems. It is the basis of Darwinist evolution. It is called “Creative Destruction” in economics, as failed businesses die off to provide more market space to successful businesses. Economic Recessions clear the field to make room for the next Economic Boom. This results in better organizations with superior abilities.

There is an element of uncertainty when making decisions where there are many alternative choices. In any evolutionary system, many organisms will choose the wrong path. If possible, they can readapt and choose the correct path. If not, they will go extinct.

Boom and Bust

This “Boom and Bust” pattern appears throughout the international system. They system is in anarchy, so there is no governing force in international affairs. States and non-state actors engage in self-help to fight for their own interests. This creates balancing mechanisms and adaptation.

Politics is the management of scarce resources with alternative uses. The political systems that perform best will be more likely to survive. This creates a form of evolutionary pressure.

Political evolution in a Boom and Bust cycle involves political violence. All politics requires violence. This includes policing, taxation, regulation, etc. A low-level of violence can be highly beneficial for the public good. As political violence escalates, it becomes detrimental.

In International Relations, the creative destruction is warfare. Wars eliminate losers to make room for something new.

War is not a means to itself. Multiple competitors struggle over limited space and the struggle proves which idea or organization is superior. Political power itself is a zero-sum game. A government may be a monarchy or a democracy, but not both. War removes the inferior competitor.

The Long War

Monarchism remained a stable form of government until the Enlightenment. It was a stable government well suited to ruling over agricultural societies. Industrialism and the Enlightenment weakened the stability of Monarchism. As Monarchism grew weak, other ideas grew to fill the vacuum, aided by the printing press. This was the experimentation stage.

Rival ideologies emerged and infringed on monarchism’s political turf. This lead to revolutionary wars that resulted in the collapse of Monarchism world-wide by the mid-20th century

There were many alternative ideas challenging Monarchism. This included Liberalism, Socialism, Marxism, Fascism, Anarchism, and many variants. The result was the Long War between 1914 and 1991 (And some claim it began in 1776). This was the elimination phase – resulting in the “extinction” of failed political alternatives.

Liberal Democracy won this war and became the dominant form of government across the world. Liberal Democracies destroyed monarchism, fascism and communism as political alternatives. Democracy quickly spread to fill this vacuum and installed a superior form of government or economy. This is the standardization phase.

Wars are functionally similar to economic recessions and biological extinction. These are forms of creative destruction. They are temporarily painful but they eliminate weaknesses to allow for greater robustness in the future.

Likewise, many individuals appear to “oppose” recessions, extinctions, and wars. Not only is it impossible to halt economic recessions, wars, and extinctions, but it is not desirable.

Our political and economic systems have grown measurably more complex over the past 2,000 years thanks to recessions and wars. Perhaps this is counterintuitive. I do not believe we should attach morality to systemic cycles. These are naturally occuring events due to balancing mechanisms that prevent inefficient ideas and organisms from surviving in a complex system.