Emergent Order and the Democratic Peace Hypothesis

Posted on March 30, 2010 by


In May I gave a talk in Sebastopol  discussing why democracies differ from undemocratic states in their international behavior.  In the process I explained why the usual explanations by those accepting this view failed and why one based on understanding democracies as spontaneous orders succeeded.  In the process I broke what I think is new theoretical ground.  In time I will make this an academic paper, but I think the argument is important enough that I want to make it available to anyone interested.

Emergent Order and the Democratic Peace Hypothesis

Gus diZerega

Starting with Immanuel Kant, many people have argued democracies have not and will not wage war on one another. By very reasonable criteria there has never been a war waged between two representative democracies. This is interesting because there are few significant invariant observations in the social sciences. But the claim has yet to win much support within the social scientific community.

Some people argue that this failure to persuade is because the statistical base is too small. In other words, the claim is trivially true. Over the course of human history there have not been very many democracies compared to undemocratic states. But social science is far more than statistical data collection. This dismissive argument rests on there being no persuasive theoretical argument that can differentiate democracies from other kinds of government. Many important theses exist that are not simply the outcome of statistics.

The argument against the democratic peace goes more deeply, to the contention that there is no relevant difference between democratic and undemocratic states large enough to account for the democratic peace. Several reductionist arguments have been proposed for the democratic peace, but none have been persuasive to many.

Some argue that on balance voters are peace loving and so will not vote for aggressive governments. The problem is that this is not true to any impressive degree. The 2004 election is powerful evidence that this is not a sufficient explanation.

Another possibility is that democratic politicians are somehow more peace-loving than undemocratic politicians. But the peace loving American politicians have been fighting wars and invading small countries abut as much since the end of the Cold War as before. Further, once they attack someone, they get automatic support from many Americans. This response seems a nearly universal human trait rather than an American cultural one.

Finally, perhaps the reason is ideological. People sharing a common democratic ideology will not war on one another. The problem is that as both Christians and Marxists have abundantly demonstrated, even supposedly loving or fraternal ideologies can be rationalized to such a degree as to lead to very bloody conflict. From the Thirty Years War to Vietnam’s conflict with Kampuchea, a common ideology seems unable to maintain the peace.

None of these factors appears convincing to many scholars. They are not convincing to me, but I accept a fairly strong version of the democratic peace hypothesis. I think we can find the reason by grasping how democracies are spontaneous orders whereas undemocratic states can be best understood as instrumental organizations. The reasons for the democratic peace are systemic, the outcome of all the elements that also influence behavior in undemocratic states working themselves out but within a different systemic context.

I will contend there is something about democratic states that strengthens the influence of citizens desiring peace, politicians avoiding war, and ideologies of mutual respect compared to undemocratic polities. In simple terms, democracies are not states as the term is usually employed, except in a legalistic sense. They are certainly not states as the term is normally used in studies of international relations.

To be persuasive a spontaneous order analysis must do two additional tasks. First, it must account for the “hard cases” such as the American Civil War, where the Confederacy’s constitution was in almost every respect like the US Constitution, or when Great Britain declared war on democratic Finland during World War Two or the American overthrow through military support of the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz Guzman government in Guatemala in 1954.

Second, if there really is a significant systemic difference, it should lead to other differences in democratic international behavior compared to traditional states. Otherwise the explanation still carries an ad hoc character, where we have decided what we want to prove and carefully sculpt the evidence to fit the case.

What is a Democracy?

I will start with an ideal typal definition. No actual democracy fits it perfectly, and all contain elements othat are the opposite of these qualities. But what we commonly call democracies are polities where these are the dominant political features.

The democratic ideal is political equality. As such, three sets of qualities automatically emerge

· universal adult suffrage,

· equality of the vote and fair elections,

· freedom of speech, organization, and press

All are implied in the concept of political equality. This is an ideal definition, but a useful one because some political systems are very close to it, others are far removed, and the way they are far removed turns out to be important for my argument.

There is one additional trait that turns out to be important, a cultural one. It is not definitional in quite the same way, but demonstrates that these democratic characteristics are accepted within the society in which they exist. A democracy’s population and dominant leaders must agree that political opposition can be loyal. This cultural trait makes it possible for there to be both good winners who do not use their power to suppress their opponents and good losers who do not try to destroy the system in an effort to win power. If they do not, the democracy will not last.

There is a simple empirical test for evaluating how strong this cultural trait is in a society. To count as an actual democracy, rather than simply as a potential one, there must have been a case of the government peacefully giving up power after losing an election and of the new government not then using its power to crush its opponents to prevent future challenges. Many newly decolonialized countries started their independence with democratic constitutions, but often these governments were replaced by authoritarian ones because divisions within the society prevented the losers of an election from honoring the legitimacy of the winners.

What is an Undemocratic Political System?

These criteria also give us a criterion for determining whether a political system is undemocratic. It must have at least one of the following characteristics

· no universal suffrage or

· unequal voting and/or unfair elections or

· no freedom of the speech or no freedom of organization or no freedom of the press.

Except for systems gradually becoming more democratic, what we in fact observe is that many or all of these criteria exist simultaneously. Just like the cluster of traits identifying a democracy, this cluster of traits points to what the systemic difference between democracies and undemocratic states really is. As democracies are spontaneous orders, undemocratic states are organizations.

I will discuss these terms in greater depth below, but provisionally, an organization seeks a goal or hierarchy of goals and structures its resources more or less effectively to attain these goals. A spontaneous orders provides a framework of procedural rules that are oriented towards no goal, but provide a context within which independent agents pursue independently conceived and even contradictory goals such that no hierarchy of purposes exists for the order as a whole.

The reason for this distinction is intuitively obvious. An undemocratic system has an identifiable group who holds political power and tries to organize government in such a way as to maintain dominance and suppress its opposition. Voting is abolished or turned into a symbolic ritual designed to legitimize the party in power, at least in its own eyes. To accomplish this the opposition must be deprived of effective means of challenging the government or reaching the population, and so the freedom of press, organization, and speech is suppressed. The government organizes its environment to make it predictable and secure, the better to maintain its goal of staying in power.

With this insight I want to examine the character of organizations in more depth.

Organizations and Democracy

Organizations seek goals and organize their resources to attain them. The better they do so, the more resources they have left over to seek other goals. So an organization necessarily has a leader or leaders, resources, and goals. All positions within the organization except the leaders are resources for achieving its goals. All people within an organization are valuable to it to the degree they can help it achieve its goals and are not replaceable. Therefore an organization cannot be democratic, although the initial setting of a goal may arise through majority or super majority vote.

· In a complex organization with any division of labor people cannot be equal in status. They must exist in a hierarchical relationship with one another, even if, perhaps as co-op members, they voted as equals as to what the goal would be. The janitor is not equal to the engineer and the engineer is not equal to the Vice President. Nor can they be in terms of day to day management.

· If an organization is to be well-managed, goals must be pursued in order of importance to the organization as a whole.

· Efficiency is therefore a primary organizational value because efficient use of resources leaves as many resources left over as possible after the primary goal is attained, to be used to pursue secondary but still desirable goals.

An ideal democracy has primary characteristic that would undermine any organization in pursuit of its goals.

· Citizens are equal in legal status and so are able to pursue goals contradictory to those chosen by the democracy’s current leadership.

· Elections are unpredictable, making for an uncertain environment in terms of attaining any lit of goals. Conflicting hierarchies of goals and even radically contradictory goals are the order of the day.

· Pursuing conflicting proposals and battling over which should be implemented and how undermines efficiency. Democratic procedures trump any hierarchy of goals and any standard of efficiency.

Democracies resemble organizations only when there is overwhelming agreement as to a hierarchy of goals. In a democratic context this happens during times of great and universally visible crisis, such as when it has been attacked, or during a natural disaster or plague. At such times there is little role for the democratic political process of proposing and arguing for alternative goals and ways of getting there.

It is very significant that during such times democratic freedoms are usually limited and sometimes abolished. This is true even if elections continue to exist, as in the United States during both World Wars. Great Britain even set aside elections during World War Two, so great was the crisis.

That during war time often elections can persist while democratic freedoms are otherwise severely limited demonstrates that the most democratic aspect of a democracy is the process of advocating, evaluating, and presenting alternative public alternatives. The election is the end of a process. Elections are necessary, but they are not sufficient. This is why undemocratic states can sometimes have elections, even “contested” ones such as the old Mexican PRI, and still not be democracies.

Spontaneous Orders

Orders that arise among equal individuals pursuing self chosen goals that can conflict with others’ goals all pursued by following the same procedural rules are called Spontaneous Orders. They are a kind of emergent order, but one with particular characteristics:

· Everyone follows the same rules. For example, the democratic principle of equality under the law.

· These rules specify procedures that enable cooperation within that order, but do not indicate the specific content of the purposes sought. For example, freedom of speech is silent as to who uses it and what is said.

· The rules forbid subordinating another person against their will. Doing so by definition creates a hierarchy both of people and of goals, because the dominator and his or her choices precede those of the dominated. The relationship shifts from democratic to organizational because I hierarchy of goals is established.

· Individuals can choose independently what to do subject to those rules, and can pursue goals in conflict with others’ choices. This is the logic behind James Madison’s argument why many “factions” check one another’s ability to tyrannize over others. (Federalist 10) It is identical to the argument why access to entry and competition are so important in a viable market.

These rules also generate feedback that others can use to aid them in attaining their own goals, even when knowing next to nothing about the system or the reasons the feedback takes the form it did. Votes in a democracy play this role as, for example, prices do in a market. Consequently, a democracy is not just the government, it is the government embedded within and subordinated to the democratic process. This is the meaning of constitutional government – the organizational elements of a government are subordinated to the procedural rules that keep them responsive to the system of free citizens as a whole.

Spontaneous Orders and Organizations

All spontaneous orders contain organizations within them. In democracies a short list would include political parties, bureaucracies, interest groups, and media organizations. None are themselves democracies and all are vulnerable to shifts in their environment, including their political environment. Consequently, the interests of any organization are always to some extent threatened by the spontaneous orders within which they operate. Their environment can undermine their goals, force painful adaptations, or even destroy the organization by eliminating its resources, such as votes or money. Organizations facing uncertainty will have three options in responding to the challenge.

· They can adapt to new conditions as they arise. This maintains the dynamics of a spontaneous order.

· They can dissolve because they have failed to adapt. Valued resources become resources in other organizations within the spontaneous order.

· They can seek to control their environment, subordinating it to organizational priorities. To the degree they succeed they convert a spontaneous order into part of their organization.

When their environment becomes more challenging, as a rule organizations seek control where possible and try and adapt where not. This is an empirical claim that rests on most organizations valuing their goals more than any particular set of rules they employ in pursuing them.

The deep conflict between democratic and organizational principles is why so many of America’s founders warned against a policy of perpetual or even frequent war. It would gradually transform a democratic system into an undemocratic system as the logic of organization weakened democratic procedures while the organizations established in pursuing military goals gained the strength to dominate and override its democratic aspects. President Eisenhower referred to this threat when he warned of the “military industrial complex.”

With this basic distinction between democratic polities and undemocratic states as an example of the difference between spontaneous orders and organizations, we are able to understand the democratic peace and understand the tough cases that appear to rebut it. We can also appreciate other anomalous behaviors that distinguishes democracies from undemocratic states in their international behavior.

The Democratic Peace

Every other form of government that we have record of has fought clear and unquestioned wars with others of their own kind. By contrast, there are no cases of a democratic army crossing a boarder into another democracy, to wage war or seek conquest. But we can probe more deeply as to what really constitutes a war.

A reasonable definition of a war is when a society organizes itself to wage major or prolonged conflict with another society/government, and does so.

Conflict takes many forms and while I would argue that while democracies are more peaceful than this, this standard provides an unambiguous criteria that emphasizes what I regard as crucial about war: the government organizes resources to wage violent acts against another, and then does so. When we examine major wars democracies have waged, we find the following characteristics:

· Virtually everyone agrees at least with the priorities of what should be done and who needs to be in charge for the moment.

· It is at these times of greatest agreement that democracies commit the greatest violations of our democratic criteria – that they act most undemocratically – because opposition to the national goal is no longer loyal.

· Democracies then act like organizations and people are resources for the common goal, not independent agents. A small war against a weak opponent has minimal impact. Our wars against American Indians in the West is an example. The bigger the war the more people are treated as loyal or disloyal and the more the loyal are themselves simply resources. The most extreme example is the change in a citizen’s status when in the military.

Democracies therefore resemble undemocratic states during times of significant war and in a popular war a democracy’s political culture ceases being democratic.

Organizations and Conflict

Organizations are not very good at containing conflict because conflict and opposition provide challenges to leaders in achieving their goals. Since a leader’s position rests to a large extent on an organizations most important members regarding him or her as competent at achieving its goals, challenges to leaders are always threatening to their positions. Upping the ante is always a way for leaders, initially at least, to appear resolute and strong when challenged.

As a consequence, highly organized states will tend to be warlike. They will be poor at initiating compromise, and seek to bring public opinion into identification with the leadership’s goals. Creating an ‘us vs. them” environment is a time honored tactic in such cases because in a crisis loyalty becomes increasingly important. The more successful they are at this the more leaders risk themselves become captured by these goals, for they have identified themselves with them. When both sides to a potential conflict possess leaders who must be seen as resolute to maintain their political positions, chances of conflict are enhanced, even if neither side desires it.

Highly organized undemocratic states will therefore be likely to be warlike. We know today that the communist world was militarily and economically weaker than their democratic opponents, and that their leadership knew it. Nevertheless, every communist state that bordered another communist state in which their respective governments had come to power on their own, rather than as satellites, fought a war with its neighbor. The sample is small, but it is complete: Russia/China, China/Vietnam, Vietnam/Kampuchea.

To pick from this list and contrast it to a serious disagreement between democratic powers at the same time, whereas Khrushchev and Mao tse-Tung were unable to contain the stresses that tore apart the Soviet’s close relationship with China, no equivalent crisis erupted when France pulled out of NATO. In the Communist example, the results led to millions of troops being stationed at immense cost on one another’s borders and ultimately to a serious border war on the Amur Rver. When Charles DeGaulle pulled France out of NATO, relations between France and the US remained basically unchanged in every other aspect of their international interactions. Trade, tourism, and so on went on largely as before. There was never any concern about armed conflict, French troops did not guard against NATO, nor did NATO worry about French hostility. Essentially they agreed to disagree on one important issue, and continued as before on everything else.

Democracies and Conflict

In the absence of major war or other national trauma, the leaders of democracies will always be facing many competing goals pushed by many competing people with no clear hierarchy. This environment breeds habits of compromise and isolating differences. Under such circumstances democratic leaders will be rewarded for successful compromise rather than punished for them. That portion of the citizenry that prefers peace, which is large under any circumstances, will be particularly pleased. When the prospective opponent is a democracy, to the degree it makes a difference, ideological identification will also play a calming role.

In addition, because changes of power are institutionalized and peaceful, leaders have less to worry abut in seeking to defuse conflict. They cannot suddenly be ousted, and if their gestures are successful they will reap rewards for keeping the peace. Political memories are fickle and usually short in democracies in any event.

All three traditional explanations for the democratic peace play a role. They matter. But they matter because of the different systemic environment within which they operate. They are relatively empowered within a democratic context, just as they are relatively disempowered within an organizational one.

When these conditions prevail on both sides, so far the result has been sufficient to avoid war. The democratic peace is the direct outcome of democracies being spontaneous orders and not organizations.

Other Anomalous Behavior by Democracies

Lack of mutual war is not the only result of these systemic characteristics. There are a number of other characteristics that are unique to the democratic world. Among them are

· Demilitarized borders exist between democracies even when they are not in the same military alliance, as was the case with Sweden and Switzerland’s borders with NATO countries throughout the Cold War. The US border with Canada is unusual only in its length.

· Democracies have peacefully given up some of their sovereignty either to larger overarching institutions, or in cases of secession. Norway peacefully left Sweden, many countries have given up elements of sovereignty to the EU.

· Democracies have a statistically significant record of not killing their own citizens.

The democratic peace is simply the most important of an entire complex of qualities.

Some Hard Cases

1. US Presidents’ Wars

US Presidents have a long history of invading or militarily undermining small countries, even some democratic ones. In the democratic cases there were no actual invasions. The efforts were covert. Richard Nixon helped undermine and encouraged the overthrow of Chile’s democratic government. Dwight Eisenhower was involved in a coup that overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1951, as he was in the later overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected government. There are more examples of Presidentially ordered actions against undemocratic governments of small countries. These wars and interventions are waged on very small budgets, and are intended to produce a fait accompli before the political system as a whole has to be engaged. When the conflict becomes large enough that the political system as a whole becomes involved, the political climate becomes far less accommodating – even regarding wars with undemocratic countries like Vietnam and Iraq.

These examples support my contention that it is not the magical effect of democracy that keeps the peace. It is a healthy democratic political process that can be short circuited by executive secrecy, money, and power.

2. Very Unusual Circumstances

Possibly the strongest counter example to the Democratic Peace argument was when democratic Great Britain declared war on democratic Finland during World Ware Two. Both countries were democracies and war was actually declared. Some military activity even took place. But is this example what it seems?

What appears to be a counter example quickly becomes something different.

From 1939 to 1945 Finland fought three wars: the Winter War alone against the Soviet Union, the Continuation War with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union, and the Lapland War against Germany. To understand what actually happened, we need to understand the nature of these three wars.

The Hitler/Molotov Pact opened Finland to Russian aggression, as it did all of Europe that Hitler had agreed lay within the Russian sphere of domination. A Soviet attack on Finland took place three months after the start of WWII, when Germany and Russia attacked Poland. Initially Britain and other democratic powers provided Finland with aid and some volunteers. The Finns fought the Russians successfully, surprising almost everyone, and a temporary peace followed in 1940.

Russia then prepared another attack and Finland approached Britain, France, Sweden, and Norway for help. Britain and France were willing to send some help, but apparently could not get permission to cross Norway and Sweden. Further, the help would be very limited, as their hands were more than full with Germany. As a consequence, Finland then turned to Germany, who was planning its own attack on Russia. Germany agreed.

The Finns attacked Russia and retook land the Russians had seized. Then they invaded land that had never been theirs. This turned them into aggressors in a technical sense, and that triggered Britain’s declaration of war.

By then the British had become allied with Russia against Germany, and Russia called upon Britain to fulfill its treaty obligations of mutual defense, and declare war against Finland. Britain demanded Finland cease all hostilities against Russia, and then when they did not, declared war. They then launched some minor raids on Finland.

Afterwards, the Finnish Russian front remained fairly quiet until a major Russian attack in 1944. But the Russians were otherwise occupied with their great struggle against Hitler, and so a ceasefire and armistice was signed in 1944. That agreement obliged the Finns to expel the Germans leading to the third “Lapland War” between Finland and Germany.

It should be clear that all that united Finland and Germany was a common enemy. Finland refused to place their troops under German command. Jews were not persecuted. It remained internally democratic. All that led Britain to declare war was a treaty obligation to a vital ally that had initiated the conflict with Finland. After declaring war the British did very little to wage it other than hitting German targets in Finland.

The US Civil War

The South was not a democracy although it had strongly democratic elements. But those elements were in decline. Unlike the first generation of Southern leaders, who disapproved of slavery but did not know how to eliminate it, the generation preceding the Confederacy had decided in favor of it. By the time of the Confederacy the Southern leadership had explicitly repudiated the democratic principles of the Declaration of Independence and claimed that their new system was based on slavery. All later tlak to the contrary by Southern apologists is repudiated when you read Southern words of the time.

Southern politics was democratic so long as slavery was not touched. That is, the South was organized to promote slavery and when that was not an issue, internal democracy was permitted. This was true even before the Civil War.

Many states had strong property qualifications even to vote. North Carolina for example was a property owner’s government. Only landowners could vote for state Senators until 1857, and progressively bigger property qualifications were required of members of the House, Senators, and the Governor until 1868.

South Carolina’s 1790 constitution guaranteed slave owner control and provided for its regular and authoritative exercise through government and politics.  The key to slave owner dominance wasenabling political control only by white male owners of land and slaves.  A House member had to own 500 acres of land and 10 slaves in his district.  One could also qualify as a House member by owning 150 pounds sterling worth of debt-free real estate or, if not a resident of the parish, 500 pounds sterling.  Large holdings of land required slaves to be worked economically. Owning large amounts of wealth virtually guaranteed economic dependence on the slave economy. The rigging was even more obvious in the State Senate, where senators had to have twice as much worth in each circumstance.  Voter registration was limited to a male who could vote in any district where he owned fifty acres of land or a lot in town or in his residential district if he paid three shillings sterling tax there.

In general, Southern electoral rules were such that only slave owners could hold office due to major property qualifications. Think of American politics if a requirement for holding office was that one had to be a multi-millionaire in the House and a many time over multi-millionaire in the Senate. They were.

Significantly, Virginia finally allowed universal white male voting in 1857, but did so mostly at the insistence of what was to become the future West Virginia, that was not a slave owning area. They argued that they were disenfranchised.

There was no freedom of speech or press on the slavery issue in many southern states. Papers from the north were often banned, and the death penalty could be imposed on people who advocated abolishing slavery. It was illegal to teach slaves to read or write. More people were enslaved in the South than anywhere else on earth except for Russian serfdom. In Virginia one third of the population was enslaved. South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama had even more.

And let us not forget that Fort Sumter was fired upon by South Carolina, initiating hostilities. Until then the United States had huffed and puffed, but no organized violence had broken out. Once the fort fell, passions were easily inflamed, and the war resulted.

Things to worry about

This argument has been mostly an optimistic one, but not entirely. Democracies can become organizations once people are convinced they face an overwhelming threat. Many political groups, for reasons of their own, want to increase their control of their environment, freeing themselves from democratic processes. This is the spontaneous order equivalent of Robert Michels’ “Iron Law of Oligarchy.” After lengthy studies of the German Social Democratic Party before World War One, a party that took pride in its internal democratic procedures, Michels argued that in fact the party’s leadership so controlled communication that the Social democrats were in fact not democratically controlled.

Unlike a democratic organization, a democracy has room for a vast variety of competing positions, priorities, and visions, and so is largely free from Michels’ strictures. But, to the extent it becomes internally colonized by organizations, it also becomes vulnerable to the same dynamic. At that point it becomes less able to defuse conflict.

The United States very early on became a two party system because of its plurality elections, whose rules were designed before political parties existed and thoughts of any one receiving an actual majority seemed often to be remote. In addition, the parties very early on rigged the electoral game so as to seriously hamper third party efforts. As a result, only once have third parties replaced the dominant parties, and that was when the American system was breaking down just before and up to the Civil War.

What kept the United States reasonably democratic, at least the non-Southern part of it, was that the parties were locally controlled. Later primaries ensured in many states that there would be no firm control exercised over the parties, though under normal circumstances the party elites powerfully influenced who would be a candidate. Over time primaries spread until they are all but universal.

Moving in the other direction, parties have centralized control over their funds. National party organizations finance or help finance favored candidates at state and congressional district levels. As we have seen with the Republicans in particular, centralization led to homogenizing the candidates to a historically unusual degree of ideological conformity. A new element has entered where even more ideologically demanding standards are being imposed by a minority of citizens who dominate Republican primaries. The Republicans are rapidly becoming a highly ideologically disciplined organization more on the European than the American model.

There is no inherent reason why the same could not happen with the Democrats.

Such developments would substantially decrease the systemic factors that have kept the democratic peace.

The same process holds as the Executive Branch becomes more and more independent of the legislature over matters of foreign policy, particularly military intervention. Germany before World War One was internally very democratic, but its military and foreign policy was dominated by the Kaiser and his Chancellor. Insulated from democratic dynamics, Germany initiated the military actions that led to World War One, and its war with the truly democratic countries of Europe.

To strengthen the democratic features within the United States and weaken its tendency to become an organization three issues need to be faced.

· First, political candidates need competing in primaries to be selected from and financed by local constituencies.

· Second, if possible, greater uncertainty should weaken party elites’ dominance of voters’ choices. This could be done without constitutional restructuring simply by changing elections from plurality to majority vote.

· Third, the Executive Branch must become more transparent and more subject to Congressional oversight in foreign policy.

These are constitutional level changes. That is, they do not reflect a bias for or against any concrete policy, only the context within which policies are debated and determined. Their purpose is the strengthen spontaneous order elements within the American system and weaken organizational ones.

War and Peace: What This Analysis Does and Does NOT Accomplish

This level of analysis does not remove the psychological predispositions that cause men and women to become more accepting of waging war against others. It does not address deeply embedded cultural traits that do the same. It does not analyze the economic factors that strengthen or weaken aggressive action. It does not even address these very important issues.

But what it does do is easily just as important.

My argument holds that within different systemic contexts the same people and organizations will act more or less aggressively because the context is itself a major factor in the kinds of decisions emerging within it. Undemocratic polities are organizations, and as organizations have internal dynamics that are not able to discourage conflict and violence, and can even enhance tendencies in that direction. Spontaneous orders act in the opposite direction, such that when both polities are spontaneous orders, the end result appears to be peace. These are not Laws of the Universe, so to speak. It is not impossible that they might not hold in every case. But to the considerable degree that a system shapes the actions that emerge from it, this appears to be what holds.

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