Tag Archives: Conflict

Conflict is an essential element, probably the most important one, in creating societies where exploitation is important.  It is easy to see in the past: one group or nation conquered another and put those conquered in a subsidiary status, taking their land, taxing them and placing them in an inferior position through various means. (See the exploitation sections in Understanding exploitation, especially  conflict theory, some economic historians, and primitive accumulation in the exploitation in Marxism section.)  These patterns frequently continue into the present, in (usually) weakened, but still present, form.  Conflict can also arise when people who are oppressed fight for their freedom.
Conflict, even narrowly defined, is an important activity. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates world military expenditure at $1.8 trillion in 2017, or 2.1 percent of global gross domestic product (SIPRI 2019).  It does use resources that can be devoted to productive activity.
The drastic worsening of peoples’ lives is the second major source of harm from conflict. The global population of forcibly displaced increased by 2.3 million people in 2018. By the end of the year, almost 70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. They have moved from normal lives to the bleakness and hopelessness of a refugee situation.

Conflict 2020

Conflict is an essential element, probably the most important one, in creating societies where exploitation is important.  It is easy to see in the past: one group or nation conquered another and put those conquered in a subsidiary status, taking their land, taxing them and placing them in an inferior position through various means. These patterns frequently continue into the present, in (usually) weakened, but still present, form.  Conflict can also arise when people who are oppressed fight for their freedom. Also see Conflict

Hospitals and schools are being bombed in Syria. A U.N. inquiry is limited. We took a deeper look Malachy Browne, Christiaan Triebert, Evan Hill, Whitney Hurst, Gabriel Gianordoli and Dmitriy Khavin New York Times December 31, 2019

2019 review of exploitation and oppression in the world

Lane Vanderslice December 31, 2019

Exploitation and oppression continued to play a major role in the world in 2019. Standard economics principally looks at income obtained from production. This website looks at income or other benefit gained by harming others.  We prefer the term harm, as being correct and also indicating a range of behavior. Types of harm in a society may not rise to the level where they could reasonably be termed exploitation and oppression.  Harm, no matter the term(s) used is much more important than suggested by standard economics1. This follows Kenneth Boulding in The Economy of Love and Fear. Boulding distinguishes not only the productive economy but also the grants economy, which consists of two parts: exploitative grants from threats or ignorance, and integrative grants from love or kindness. In Boulding’s terms, this is an exploitative grant. A principal aspect of this website is publishing links to articles that describe a current aspect of harm in the United States or elsewhere; this is reviewed here.

The analytical view taken in this website is that through control of a society and its key elements of the society (economy, government, social system) some people/groups in the society obtain income from others. So, there are two basic aspects, maintaining control and obtaining income.  This is expressed in the principal categories used in the website (can be seen on the left of each page).  For control we have categories including  Staying in power – Struggle for control and Harming People – Keeping People Oppressed.  For obtaining income, we have Obtaining income through the government – rent seeking – corruption, Harm through the market,  Discrimination: race – gender – ethnic – religious – class and  Discrimination against women — gender inequality.

Staying in power/struggle for control An important part of the struggle for control is between democratic/popular forces that want to expand human rights and opportunities and those who want to restrict access to key rights and opportunities to their group. HE published a summary of what Freedom House had to say about 2018. Here is an excerpt from that summary. (2019 report not yet available.)

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Global Peace Index 2019

Vision of Humanity

The average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly in 2019, for the first time in five years, on the 2019 GPI. [However,] the average level of global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent since 2008. Over that period, 81 countries deteriorated in peacefulness, while 81 improved.

The global economic impact of violence improved for the first time since 2012, decreasing by 3.3 per cent or $475 billion from 2017 to 2018. The improvement in the global economic impact of violence is largely due to the decrease in the impact of Armed Conflict particularly in Iraq, Colombia and Ukraine, where the impact of Armed Conflict decreased by 29 per cent to $672 billion in 2017. The global economic impact of violence was $14.1 trillion PPP [ a measure of GDP which takes account of differences in the purchasing power of various currencies; see Wikipedia] in 2018, equivalent to 11.2 per cent of global GDP or $1,853 per person. Syria, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic incurred the largest economic cost of violence in 2018 as a percentage of their GDP, equivalent to 67, 47 and 42 per cent of GDP, respectively. In the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic cost was equivalent to 35 per cent of GDP, compared to 3.3 per cent in the ten least affected.

The gap between the least and most peaceful countries continues to grow. Since 2008, the 25 least peaceful countries declined on average by 11 per cent, while the 25 most peaceful countries improved by 1.8 per cent on average. Conflict in the Middle East has been the key driver of the global deterioration in peacefulness. The indicator with the most widespread deterioration globally was the terrorism impact indicator. Just over 63 per cent of countries recorded increased levels of terrorist activity. However, the number of deaths from terrorism has been falling globally since 2014.

An estimated 971 million people live in areas with high or very high climate change exposure [where climate change issues such as water scarcity can increase the probability of conflict], . Of this number, 400 million (41 per cent) reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness.

Access the full report.

Global Peace Index released

Global peacefulness improves but the world is less peaceful than a decade ago.
The world is slightly more peaceful than a year ago Laren Favre U.S. News and World Report June 13, 2019
The U.S. drops to No. 128 out of 163 countries studied due to increased violence, political instability and a weakening view of its leadership.

The Sahel in flames

The Sahel in flames. Violence rips through West Africa causing crises in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso The New Humanitarian May 31, 2019

Photo: Barsalogho camp in Burkina Faso Credit: Philip Kleinfeld/The New Humanitarian

Five takeaways on the growing violence and its civilian toll:

Jihadist groups are manipulating inter-communal conflicts. They are exploiting the region’s ethnic fault lines to stir violence that can be far deadlier than anything the militants are doing directly themselves. In central Mali, the level of violence may now qualify as ethnic cleansing.

Governments have helped local militias thrive. Central governments have allowed and in some cases encouraged the proliferation of communal militia groups – decisions that are now coming home to roost as intercommunal conflicts rise.

Civilians look to jihadists for support the state doesn’t provide. Jihadist groups often understand the social grievances of local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.

Civilians are becoming casualties of security forces. These forces add to the insecurity by killing civilians during counter-terrorism operations. In Burkina Faso, military forces are killing three times more civilians than jihadists.

Displacement, food insecurity, and other humanitarian crises are escalating, but resources to respond are lacking. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, and the new violence is “compounding” already existing needs and “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, a UN official said.