"Ukraine has become the front line in a struggle, not just between democracies and autocracies but in a struggle for maintaining a rules-based system in which the things that countries want are not taken by force...”
~ Fiona Hill, former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs
The Putin/Russian invasion of Ukraine is the physical manifestation of an asymmetrical world war that began in modern times with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but with roots going farther and deeper to the fundamental nature of who we are as a species.
Each of us as individuals is motivated by a myriad of universal traits. Each trait can be understood as falling on a spectrum ranging from 1 to 100. One set of traits I describe as the spectrum between greed and altruism. Another can be understood as the continuum of rigidity and flexibility of thought. Together with other variables that include who we are and what is true within the society in which we live, these traits have contributed significantly to the rise and fall of societies over the eons of history.
Homo sapiens have been around for upwards of 200,000 years, which, in evolutionary eras, is a flash in time. All societies survive and thrive because they find a way to regulate competition within the group and enforce cooperation of their collective behavior. But it is also true that societies go through rise-and-fall cycles. Part of those cycles is the buildup and concentration of social power, wealth and prestige into fewer and fewer hands. In the mid-19th century, Marx and Hegel called this the process of ‘dialectical materialism.’
All societies create systems that utilize the technology available to them to exploit their environment for survival. Because of the inevitable technological changes that expand any society, it is necessary for the fundamental organizational and regulatory structures of that society to adjust to those changes. Without those crucial adjustments, societies fail. Each change in technology changes the equation. Those in power often resist adjusting or giving up their hold on that power. As Einstein said, society cannot be regulated by the same level of organization that causes the problems in the first place.