The Origins of the World Wars I and II The Contribution of the Cognitive-Developmental Approach To the Explanation of the 20th century’s Catastrophe
Authors: Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff
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The realistic school of political sciences explains politics and wars by reference to “rationality” and “material interests”. However, a look at the political world of the first half of the 20th century shows forms of mind, culture, worldview, and behavior that are predominantly submerged in today´s most advanced nations. Racism, antisemitism, aggressive nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, and warfare for conquest targets shaped the political life. Cross-cultural psychology has evidenced that the generations born around 1870 or 1900 stood on intermediary psychological stages between those of humans from folk societies (R. Redfield) and from today´s most advanced nations. The rise of the adolescent stage of formal operations stepwise unfolded during the whole 20th century, while the earlier generations stood on lower stages. Accordingly, the intelligence of the peoples increased especially between 1950 and 1990 in consequence of school and job enrichments, a phenomenon the psychometric intelligence research calls Flynn effect. This article demonstrates that only the new developmental approach has the means available to disclose the psychological structures behind the former political life and the two world wars. The psychological advancement after 1950 is the main motor behind the humanitarian revolution (S. Pinker) that caused the changes and ameliorations of the moral and political life observable both on the national and international level. The considerate analysis of the causes to the world wars reveals that the instability of the international system originated in forms of mind and reason that are vanished nowadays not only in the Western world but partially beyond. The former instability of the international system, which led to the wars, has not institutional causes but mental ones describable by modern psychological approaches. On the whole, the 20th century catastrophe does not originate in the eternal structure of the human psyche but in a certain developmental stage modern humans occupied at that time.