It is not that we and our colleagues are ignoble creatures who fail to live up to ideals of peace and selflessness, but that we cannot help the way we are. We have aggressive impulses that are impossible to ignore or repress. In the past, individuals could expect a group—the state, an extended family, a company—to take care of them, but this is no longer the case, and in this uncaring world we have to think first and foremost of ourselves and our interests. What we need are not impossible and inhuman ideals of peace and cooperation to live up to, and the confusion that brings us, but rather practical knowledge on how to deal with conflict and the daily battles we face. And this knowledge is not about how to be more forceful in getting what we want or defending ourselves but rather how to be more rational and strategic when it comes to conflict, channeling our aggressive impulses instead of denying or repressing them. If there is an ideal to aim for, it should be that of the strategic warrior, the man or woman who manages difficult situations and people through deft and intelligent maneuver.
Many psychologists and sociologists have argued that it is through conflict that problems are often solved and real differences reconciled. Our successes and failures in life can be traced to how well or how badly we deal with the inevitable conflicts that confront us in society. The common ways that people deal with them—trying to avoid all conflict, getting emotional and lashing out, turning sly and manipulative—are all counterproductive in the long run, because they are not under conscious and rational control and often make the situation worse. Strategic warriors operate much differently. They think ahead toward their long-term goals, decide which fights to avoid and which are inevitable, know how to control and channel their emotions. When forced to fight, they do so with indirection and subtle maneuver, making their manipulations hard to trace. In this way they can maintain the peaceful exterior so cherished in these political times.