Conflict :Origin and Meaning

Conflict and mankind both have born together. It is an essential feature of society. Men have fought even when there were no arms and tools of violence hasn’t invented, and as Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall quoted “the starting point of understanding the war is the understanding of human nature”.


the starting point of understanding the war is the understanding of human nature”
From birth, a baby begins the journey of conflict by crying, which is a flash of conflict. As he grows up, he bites with his teeth or scratches with the nails on his tiny fingers when he is upset. This presupposes that men will continue to fight as long as they have emotions that have the potential to love or hate; to be happy or sad; to be pleased or angry. So long as man has other men around him, there will be issues of disagreement, because interest differs and interests do clash, which may lead to disagreement or confrontation. A community or society of men thus creates room for explosive attitudes and relations. 

When seen from the extremist and religious point of view; conflict represents one of the two nature of man ‘evil’ and ‘cooperation’. The conflict thus dwells in disagreement, anger, hatred, destruction, killing or war. Any effort capable of charging and changing the political or social environment is likely to result in conflict. Greed, covetousness, self-centeredness, discontent, envy, arrogance, rudeness, impunity, among other acts, is capable of producing a breakdown of human relations. In a way, these vices are innate attributes of the ‘conflict nature’ of man.

What is Conflict?
As per Oxford Dictionary conflict is “A serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one”.

Pruitt and  Rubin 1986 “Conflict means perceived divergence of interest or a belief that the parties' current aspirations cannot be achieved simultaneously

Conrad 1990 “Conflicts are communicative interactions among people who are interdependent and who perceive that their interests are incompatible, inconsistent, or in tension.

Folger, Poole, and Stutman 1997 “Conflict is the interaction of interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals

Nicholson, 1992 “Conflict is an existing state of disagreement or hostility between two or more people”.

Thus one can say that when 2 parties do not an accord and have different views and objectives on the same issue which often result in the pursuit of incompatible goals. Put differently, conflict means collision course; it also refers to opposition to existing view, stand, or position.
Political conflict, on the other hand, is counteracting of parties (political subjects) expressed in certain actions directed against each other.

Goal incompatibility means totally opposite objectives or motives. For example with the end of World War 2 USA and USSR engaged in total opposite type of state economy i.e. USA (capitalist) and USSR (socialist) from 1945 till 1990s which is often referred by the people as COLD WAR where the term ‘WAR’ is referred to the conflict of ideologies and foreign policy.

It is, however, important to know that conflict does not always denote war. While all wars are a state of conflict, all conflict situations may not be a war situation. At the various occasion, conflict is referred to different perception which not results in hostility. Here conflict is the only difference in perception on an issue or situation.


For example; The Syria and Iraq crisis can be referred to as ‘conflict’ and because ISIS is an illegitimate Islamist group that seeks unconventional means to destabilize the state and impose their self-defined laws. Here government have not officially declared war but have targeted criminal insurgents and groups within the state. The conflict thus differs from the war as a conflict is a general definition of a state of chaos, including that of war situations; while war is a legally declared course of action by constitutionally recognized groups.