Article by Brogan Campbell. Edited by Liam Geoghegan. Additional Research by Ellie Veryard.
Conflict; an irrevocable reason for poverty, hatred and disease. This permanent manipulation of society has plagued countries across the world through race, religion and infinite individuals desperately seeking more power. Conflict is an undisputed human instinct as free-will dictates that no one person will necessarily agree, yet the outcome of conflicts have been devastating.
Paul Collier in 2006 coined the phrase ‘The Bottom Billion’ to describe people in the 21st Century who still live in poverty and are not developing with the rest of the world. On closer inspection, it is unsurprising that conflict is a main feature in each of these undeveloped countries; governments seeping with corruption in constant conflict with their subjects, different religions battling with each other to find the answers. Conflict has ripped countries apart, an example being South Africa, where conflict has resulted in parts being divided in order to separate races, the ‘blacks’ and the ‘whites.’ This way of living defies the evolution of man kind as it fails to recognise equality; conflict itself defies natural progression. South Africa shows how conflict can define a nation, with the country still being a dangerous place to live in, despite the Apartheid having been lifted 20 years ago. The fact that conflict divided a country in the past makes it incredibly difficult for it to repair itself in any near future; prejudices still remain and dominate daily life. This can also be said for India, which was divided in the hope to pacify warring religions after its successful claim for independence from Britain in 1948. Yet, 50 years later, Pakistan and the India of today still remember past prejudices and conflict deeply disturbs the borders of the two countries.
Thus it is apparent that one of the most prominent manipulators of society’s structure is conflict; following World War I, Britain, as an example, witnessed the death of a generation through a bloody war, yet as a result, the country reunited; pride and nationalist ideas spread across the country like wildfire as those who lost loved ones coped with these atrocities by joining together. The government capitalised upon this self-belief in order to progress the nation and re-build its infrastructure and houses, witnessing Lloyd George’s idea of ‘Homes fit for Heroes’. This not only gave the government an excellent opportunity to carry out plans put forward in their election manifesto, but it also increased patriotism, support for the government and, as a result, helped to improve the economy with increased public spending and solidarity.
Furthermore, Margaret Thatcher played upon this natural development of pride and belief in one’s government through conflict as a method of distracting British people from the problems of the country in the 1980s during her premiership. The Falklands War was arguably unnecessary, yet its success reignited national pride and diverted attention from the economic downturn at home. This idea of controlling public opinion has been used continuously throughout the years and across the world. Tsar Nicolas II attempted to qualm the revolutionary atmosphere of Russia in 1904 by embarking on a war with Japan to prove the strength and dominance of his military. However, in contrast to Margaret Thatcher’s “success”, Russia failed miserably, instead highlighting the backwardness and weakness of the Russian troops and governance. Yet, this conflict united the country against the government, resulting in the 1905 Russian Revolution.
Nevertheless, conflict has had detrimental affects across the world; governments have continuously capitalised on its ability to disturb and upset in order to gain control and exert power. Conflict can be seen as a method for bringing the population together in order to make it stronger, and as a way of driving the population apart, in order to ensure a government stays in power, for example. Yet, as countries evolve and learn from conflict and its ability to cause dramatic disturbances, societies are beginning to unify against this oppressor. Through History, lessons can be learnt and this “bottom billion”, might be able to develop if conflict did not tear apart its very foundations. Without conflict, poverty could possibly be eradicated. However, this natural human instinct is so ingrained within society that it will prove incredibly difficult to combat.