In this fundamental analysis, Rapoport asks: Why do we have wars? Doesn't humanity always seem on the verge of self-annihilation? Is there something in human genetic structure that makes people want to kill each other? Perhaps this impulse is a matter of good versus evil, or just plain human nature. Rapoport moves beyond cliches by claiming that the sources of modern violence reside in the imbalance between a lag in the system of values inherited from the past and the structure of science and technology that awaits no revision of values to move ahead.
As a result, Rapoport argues that the study of war and peace should be considered a science, just like biology or, for that matter, political science. The same rules of empirical engagement and experimentation should apply. Before we can have a theory of peace, we need a methodology of conflict. Using the writings of thinkers who have made significant contributions to the predominant ideas and ideals of our society, Rapoport weaves together the strands of independent thought and research into a single, thought-provoking work.
After investigating the whys of violence, using ideological, psychological, strategic, and systemic perspective, Rapoport moves to an in-depth analysis of possible varieties of conflict resolution. He explores such mechanisms as mediation, education, and applying the results of scientific research. He documents the impact of ideologies countervailing dominant ones that place obstacles in the way of peacemaking. Rapoport argues that conciliation and game theories can be utilized to replace the concept of winner take all or total victory. The Origins of Violence is a needed contribution to our understanding of warfare, and provides a forward-looking perspective that can be of wide use to each of the policy sciences, starting with military strategy and ending with international development.