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The Conflict Helix:

Principles and Practices
of Interpersonal, Social, and
International Conflict and Cooperation

By R.J. Rummel

New Brunswick, N.J.:
Transaction Publishers, 1991


PREFACE (see the web site Fly Leaf)






Chapter 1. Conflict and Peace Begin in the Minds of Men
Chapter 2.The Subjectivity Principle: Perception is Subjective
Chapter 3. The intentionality Principle: You Behave to Achieve
Chapter 4. The Self-Esteem Principle: You Strive for Self-Esteem
Chapter 5. The Expectations Principle: Expectations Guide Your Behavior
Chapter 6. The Responsibility Principle: You are Responsible for Your Behavior
Chapter 7. The First Master Principle: You are an Individual

Chapter 8. The Communication Principle: You Communicate as a Field of Expression
Chapter 9. The Power Principle: You Produce Effects
Chapter. 10. The Conflict Principle: Conflict is a Balancing of Powers
Chapter. 11. The Cooperation Principle: Cooperation Depends on Expectations Aligned with Power
Chapter 12. The Gap Principle: A Gap Between Expectations and Power Causes Conflict
Chapter 13. The Helix Principle: Your Conflict Becomes Less Intense, Your Peace More Lasting
Chapter 14. The Second Master Principle: Through Conflict You Negotiate an Interpersonal Contract


Chapter 15. The Universality Principle: Your Interpersonal Principles Apply to All Societies
Chapter 16. The Trisocial Principle: Societies are Generally Trisocial
Chapter 17. The Violence Principle: A Gap Between the Status Quo and Power Causes Social Violence
Chapter 18. The Polarity Principle: The More Government, the More Violence
Chapter 19. The Third Master Principle: Power Shapes Peace


Chapter 20. The Field Principle: Free Actors Comprise a Social Field
Chapter 21. The Exchange Principle: Free Relations Form an Exchange Society
Chapter 22. The Freedom Principle: Violence Does Not Occur Between Free Societies
Chapter 23. The War Principle: A Gap Between the International Status Quo and Power Causes War
Chapter 24. The Fourth Master Principle: Through Conflict States Negotiate a Social Contract


Chapter 25. The Communality Principle: The Peace Principles Apply to All Relationships
Chapter 26. The Peacemaking Principle: You Make Peace by Balancing Powers
Chapter 27. The Peacekeeping Principle: Peace Depends on Keeping Expectations and Power Aligned
Chapter 28. The Peacefostering Principle: Freeing Adjustments to Change Fosters Peace
Chapter 29. The Positive Peace Principle: Minimize the Power of Government
Chapter 30. The Grand Master Principle: Promote Freedom
Chapter 31. Vectors of Action




The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation is a non-technical presentation of a unified theory of cooperation, conflict, and its resolution based on three-decades of accumulated empirical research.

After presenting and clarifying twenty-eight principles of cooperation, conflict, and its resolution, this book concludes that to wage peace, foster freedom. This means to facilitate procedurally and institutionally people making their own choices about how they want to live, whether with freedom or not, as long as they do not try to impose their choice on others. In fact, the book points out, democratically free people have the least violence, and that no wars have occurred between democratic nations. He argues that freedom provides us with a path to a warless and socially just world.

This book is the culmination of three decades of research on peace. It is nontechnical, written for the general public and student, and organized in terms of the fundamental principles necessary to understand conflict and cooperation between people, in society as whole, and in international relations. These provide a unique, well-rounded view of peace, and thus help to understand the difficult world of social and personal violence and conflict. It teaches how to make, keep, and foster peace.

Among its many themes, the book makes clear that physical things or behavior are significant for conflict or cooperation only as they have meaning for the person or group, or relate to their values or norms, within a particular social context--that conflict and cooperation are wholly subjective.

It also argues that power is one of the most basic ingredients in conflict and its resolution and fundamental to peace and cooperation; that it is an equation involving people's interests, will, and capability; and that there is a family of such powers, including coercion, love, authority and exchange, among others, that basically operate on people's will. One's conflict with another is then seen as a balancing (equilibrating) of such powers--a solving of a simultaneous equation of mutual interests, capabilities, and wills--and cooperation as dependent upon the balance thus achieved.

The book treats behavior as part of a social field, within which conflict and cooperation form a particular process. That is, conflict generally issues from and was embedded in previous cooperation, and this cooperation itself was born in and got its structure from previous conflict. Conflict and cooperation then are shown intrinsic to continuing relationships between people and groups. This means that explaining and predicting interpersonal and group behavior and resolving conflicts requires understanding the history of their social relations and their contexts.

This process is shown to be discontinuous, taking place in jumps triggered by a minor events, often unimportant in themselves. The book emphasizes that this discontinuous process of conflict and cooperation is part of all our lives and that of the relations among groups and nations; it is called the conflict helix, the title of this book.

Conflict is thus viewed as normal, not deviant; as important to social relations as is cooperation and love. Moreover, the book stresses, conflict also plays a role in enabling people and groups to learn through trial and error and to adjust to each other. Indeed, basic to the principles of this book is the understanding that conflict can not only enable cooperative and solidary relations to occur, but can determine and underlie them.

There are literally thousands of books on conflict, peace, war, and conflict resolution. But there are many problems with this literature. The major one being that most of it is nontheoretical and nonempirical, neither based on some general understanding of conflict, war, and peace, or having tested or relying on tested assumptions and propositions. Another problem is that this literature focuses on only some aspect of conflict and peace, such as war among nations or violence in the family or interpersonal conflict. Even so limited, few try to present the relevant principles of conflict resolution based on their analysis. Those works that do focus on conflict resolution generally have little in the way of a theoretical analysis of conflict. Finally, the literature almost always focuses on the causes and conditions of conflict and violence, ignoring the related causes and conditions of peace and cooperation. Indeed, virtually no works try to treat in one framework both conflict and cooperation

By contrast The Conflict Helix:

Nonetheless, The Conflict Helix is written for three distinct audiences. One is the general reader interested in understanding conflict, violence, and war and ways of resolving them. For this group the book tries to answer the questions of "Why conflict and killing?" and "What can be done about it and how?"

The second audience is the student, who needs a coherent presentation of the principles of conflict and cooperation. The use of principles and frequent every-day examples should help the student develop an understanding that can guide his own life, and future study in related areas.

The third audience is the professional and advanced graduate student. My major works have been generally scientific, mathematical, and empirically quantitative. Consequently, only those professionals with a sufficient methodological background have been able to understand and use all these works. This book now makes available to the professional the essence of the theory, findings, and arguments of these works, in a nontechnical and useful manner.

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