The Danish Peace Academy
On the Concept of Peacemaking
By Howard Richards, November 2004
Introduction 1. Peace
Peace -- to the extent that it exists at all -- is perhaps best thought of as a fragile, complex, ongoing, collective social achievement. Many (not all) of the meanings of "peace" are negative. "Peace" denotes bombs not falling on Belgrade; it denotes artillery shells not falling on Zagreb; teenage boys not mowing down their classmates in the Columbine High School cafeteria; men not attacking their ex-wives; Nazis not burning Jews, leftists, and gays; Hindus and Muslims not rioting; Bloods not driving by the houses of Crips spraying bullets through the doors and windows ... and so on, and on.
Many different motives lead people to break the peace. Tendencies toward violence are deeply rooted in the human body, in the glands, in the muscles, in the spinal column and in the deeper levels of the brain. Further, the institutions that culture has created have not as a general rule brought out the best in human nature. On the contrary, war, overt violence, and structural violence have been institutionalized.
Peace, when it happens, happens because, in spite of drives toward war and, generally, toward violence, there are many peaceful institutions and practices; they build on tendencies toward peace which are, like those toward violence, deeply rooted in the human body. (If it were not so, humanity would have become extinct long ago). The positive institutions, the labors of love, strive to make sure that all of the many things that might go wrong don't happen. When peace succeeds, when humans do not kill other humans, it is a multi-faceted accomplishment.
War can be thought of as failure. When war breaks out, on any scale, at any level, negotiations have failed. The blame for the failure belongs to all of the institutions that could have contributed to creating a context and an atmosphere in which cooperation and mutual respect on agreed terms might have succeeded -- governments, churches, schools, courts, families, parenting, entertainment, labor unions, psychology, history, business, economic structures ...
War is collective failure, a failure of complex processes. No institution, no set of human relationships and practices, can make peace alone. It takes all of them (or, rather, positive transformations of all of them) to carry out the cooperative task of building peace.
Gray Cox, in his book 'The Ways of Peace', proposes to discard the noun "peace," and to replace it with a verb, "peace-ing." "Peace-ing" is the cultivation of agreements. (Cox 1986) It is performing peaceful acts, which when repeated become peaceful practices, and give rise to peaceful traditions. Kenneth Boulding, in his 'Stable Peace', proposes to learn how to make peace by studying peace that has already been made. He notes, for example, that the border between the United States and Canada is thousands of miles long and completely unfortified, as are the borders that separate Sweden from Finland and Norway. Peace, at some places, at some levels, has become so much a part of networks of trusting relationships that people and nations have disarmed. Boulding borrows from engineering the idea of strength vs. stress. When the strength of peaceful institutions exceeds any stress that threatens to tear them apart, then peace is stable. (K. Boulding 1978)
Thus the negative meaning of peace (trying to make sure that violence does not happen) leads inevitably to its positive meanings. Creating a context where negotiations can succeed, cultivating agreements, practicing a spiritual discipline, moral development, and strengthening peaceful institutions are names for some facets of positive peacebuilding. They are inseparable from building a world that is more fair and just, more welcoming and inclusive.
The other side of the same coin is that there will be sources of recruits for violent adventures as long as there are individuals and classes who find no security or joy in participating in society's peaceful institutions.
It would be misleading, however, to conclude that the world is separated geographically into areas where the peacebuilding process is advanced and areas where it is retarded. It would be more accurate to say that the world as a whole is, in Johan Galtung's term, 'structurally violent'. (Galtung 1980) There are privileged people and poor people. The poor tend to live in geographical areas where overt violence breaks out, but there is no true separation. There are, instead, strong causal relationships which bind privilege and poverty together in a single dance of death.
In large areas of Africa, for example, civil war and other forms of overt violence are now severe, but Africa is not separate from the rest of the world. As Samir Amin has shown in Maldevelopment, Africa is a weak and exploited region within the global economic system. (Amin 1990)
Somewhat similarly, on a smaller scale, the inner city and the leafy suburb reflect each other; one exists because the other exists. If the Europeans and the suburb-dwellers are more successful, both in achieving peace among themselves and in other ways, it is success that builds on the failure, or, more precisely, the defeat, of the Africans, and, more generally, of the poor. South African scholar Catherine Hoppers writes, in 'Structural Violence as a Constraint on African Policy Formation', that "Europeans never remember that Africa was incorporated into the world economy by violence. Africans never forget." (Hoppers 1998)
The pattern continues today -- as the USA, in particular, regularly uses overt military force, when subtler measures are not enough, to keep the world's poor in line. The interdependence of rich and poor neighborhoods is dramatic in Manila, in Sao Paulo, and other third-world cities where the leafy suburbs are protected by armed guards against intruders from neighborhoods that are poorer and more dangerous. Except for occasional visits from the police, armed guards do not patrol the leafy suburbs of London or Los Angeles. Nevertheless, even in the first world, the causes of violence and the fragility of peace exist just as much in places where overt violence is rare as in places where overt violence is common.
Although I have tried to make some realistic and helpful remarks about peace, I have not yet given a definition of peace. In what follows, I will work on elucidating the concept of peace a bit more.
The study of the history of the word "peace" shows that it comes from the Old French 'pais', which was an ancestor of the modern French paix, and which derived from the Latin pax or pacis. Pax translated the Greek eirene, and, sometimes, the Hebrew shalom.
The meanings of "peace," its ancestors, and its contemporary cousins, are not stand-alone meanings. Their meanings are, rather, connected with all the other key words in the culture of a given time and place, or in the systematic thought of a given thinker. For the Hebrews, shalom was identified with the land that Yahweh had promised to His faithful people, the land of milk and honey, where the lion would lie down with the lamb, and swords would be beaten into ploughshares. (Brueggemann 1976) Similarly, in the Islamic tradition, "Paradise is the Land of Peace -- Dar al-salam." (Haleem 1998) For Plato, eirene was a harmony, a 'sumphonia', where actions complemented each other. The hearts and minds guiding the actions were of one accord. (Plato, Popper 1945) For Plato's Christian follower, Saint Augustine, peace was concordia, concord. For Augustine, the body existed to serve the mind, which in turn should serve God. The key to concord was to be of one mind. Thus peace re quired that people think alike. (Fuchs 1965, Popper 1945)
For Saint Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, peace (pax), along with joy (gaudium), was a consequence of love (caritas). (Aquinas) For Saint Thomas, the notion that inner peace is the key to world peace had a precise meaning -- inner peace was the rule of the divine word in the soul, which was the rule of the indwelling principle of agape. (John 14:23) (The Latin caritas translates the Greek agape.) Since God is agape-love (1 John 4:16), and God is also the divine word (John 1:1), Peace is a consequence of the divine word of love, both in the soul and in the community. Saint Thomas worked out the specific rules of conduct that would establish peace within Christendom in great detail. It is questionable whether it was even possible in principle, in St. Thomas's system, for there to be peace among, or with, heretics and unbelievers.
I believe that if one were to study the words translated as "peace" in Buddhist, Confucian, and other cultures that exist or have existed, one would find, in each case, that what is meant by "peace" connects with the key terms and key beliefs of the culture in which the use of a term translated as "peace" is embedded.
Surely contemporary global society is no exception. If we are going to speak of peace in a way that makes sense around the world in our times, then the term "peace" will have to connect up with other terms that are meaningful in our contemporary global society. But there are scholars, such as Samuel Huntington, who hold that there is no global society in the relevant sense, but only a number of incommensurable civilizations. Each civilization's values are valid from its own viewpoint, but global society as a whole understands no common normative frame of reference, and recognizes no super-ordinate authoritative norms. (Huntington 1996, Walt 1997) If Huntington were correct, there would be no global contemporary culture for a meaningful contemporary worldwide concept of peace to be embedded in.
In Part One above, I discussed peace in a manner that assumed that Huntington was mistaken. In Parts Three and Four following, I will further develop the idea that cross-cultural connections can be drawn, making the idea of peace meaningful today at a global level. Here, in Part Two, I will return to some key points made in Part One again. I will seek to bring out one feature of the concept of peace which is cross-culturally valid, significant for the practice of peacemaking, and significant for peace research.
In the first paragraph of Part One, I listed examples of some of the things peace is not: Peace is not bombs being dropped on cities. Peace is not artillery bombardments. It is not the massacre of schoolchildren. Peace is not men killing women, or other men. Peace is not genocide. It is not rival gangs conducting urban warfare by hit-and-run attacks.
A notable characteristic of my examples was that they all were of deliberate acts. They were physical acts, but they were also intentional ... they were acts of will. This characteristic can be further illustrated by modifying the same examples to remove any deliberate act of will: a bomb dropped in error during a training mission, an artillery piece that misfires, a woman wounded by mistake, a famine followed by a plague that wipes out a population, an automobile accident. None of these are acts of war or violence, with the possible exception of the famine. They are accidents. Further, the argument that the famine should be regarded as a consequence of structural violence advances my point. War and violence are, in principle, intentional. In order to make the case that allowing people to die of hunger in this day and age is a form of violence, one must say that the human indifference and the immobility of social institutions manifested in such cases amounts to the equivalent of deliberate homicide.
I have been using "war" and, more generally, "violence," as contraries of "peace." I have been saying that peace's contraries are deliberate, intentional, human acts. The same can be said of peace itself, although the point is less obvious.
To describe being peaceful as action is less obvious than to describe being violent as action because of the reasons that led me to say that peace is a complex, ongoing, collective social achievement. When peace works, it succeeds in preventing any of many things that might go wrong from going wrong.
Without being obvious, the point is nonetheless compelling. Flying military airplanes on practice runs for decades without ever dropping a bomb on a city requires a deliberate and intentional course of action, just as much as does a thirty-minute sortie from an aircraft carrier to detonate an enemy gasoline storage facility. Any pattern of nonviolent activity will have intentional elements -- and the more so since more than one impulse toward violence is native to the human body and brain. The point that peace is intentional is even clearer where positive peace is concerned; caring and sharing, celebrating unity, practicing virtues, gratitude, cooperation, appreciating other people and other cultures are typically more than intentional -- they are cultivated.
This general principle -- that peace, like war and violence, is a disposition, or set of dispositions and acts, of human will; that is to say, conscious activity -- will require some qualifications in order to take into account features of human conduct that do not conform to the paradigm of a single deliberate act by a human individual. However, before adding qualifications to this principle, I want to 'sketch in' two other parts of the 'picture' that it is part of.
The purpose of the first of my two sketches is to assert that the idea that peace is made up of intentional human actions is not idiosyncratic. It is at the heart of the mainstream of human reflection on the subject.
The most classic of modern western theories of peace -- more classic even than those of Boulding and Galtung cited above -- is that of Immanuel Kant in his 'Perpetual Peace'. Like William Penn and others of his fellow forerunners in advancing the idea of world government, Kant envisioned world peace through world law. (Kant 1957, Penn 1912) Kant proposed and predicted the extension of the republican principle of the rule of laws, not of men, to a global scale. In order for this political evolution to come about, he wrote, it is necessary for the spiritual and psychological (geistliche) force of law to be as certain and powerful in its operation as a physical force. The rulers of nations are to be counseled by philosophers to follow legal maxims that have moral legitimacy. Those maxims are, in effect, the basic precepts of respect for persons and property that Kant's philosophy designates as categorical imperatives. Kant had derived the categorical imperative, and the validit y of the maxims later proposed as the legitimating framework for international law, from an analysis of what it means to have a good will.
Some other concepts of peace also depend on the idea of "will." Sometimes "peace" is used in a way which ties it to order imposed by a conqueror or supreme authority. When a hierarchy imposed by force is stabilized, peace is identified with the will of the victor or ruler, as in the expressions pax romana and "the king's peace." There is peace when the war is over because the conquest is achieved, and there is peace while the king reigns, because the will of the ruled submits to the will of the ruler. Sometimes, also, a term translated as "peace" is part of a religious belief system, where it is part of a spiritual discipline, which is to say that it is part of a methodology for the transformation of the will. Peace by negotiated agreement is also about will; there is an agreement when wills coincide.
I do not want to oversimplify the richness and diversity traditions in which words translated as "peace" play a role. My aim is not to give an adequate account of them. I only want to say that the principle that peace is an intentional disposition, or set of dispositions and acts, of human will, is common and widespread, not marginal.
The second sketch is about peace research. If intentions are what peace is made of, then intentions are what need to be studied. If peace is action, then research needs to take actors seriously. I will not, however, try to illustrate here the sorts of complaints about research that would lead one to say that it did not study intentions enough, or that it did not take actors seriously enough. I think that the sense that something is lacking in some peace research, which leads me to imply, cryptically, that intentions and actors need more and better attention, is best done in the context of commentaries on particular research papers. I will, instead, illustrate here what I take to be positive trends in peace research.
A number of different research traditions and movements within the philosophy of science have contributed to advances in the study of what I am calling "intentions" and "actors." Without pretending to give credit to all who deserve credit, in this second sketch I will briefly mention a few approaches that I consider especially promising.
The first prize for advances in the study of intentions and actors must go to Aristotle. His observations on human action are still fundamental for contemporary humanistic psychology and social science. One of his central observations was that people do not act on the basis of the facts. They act on the basis of what they believe to be the facts. (Aristotle, Charles 1989)
It follows that peace research, whatever else it may be about, must be about beliefs and belief-systems. Because it is about human action, it is about intentionality in the technical philosophical sense of the term. An act is intentional in the ordinary and legal sense of the word when the actor is conscious and aware of what she or he is doing. In some important regards, if there is no intention, there is no act at all. It is not, in law, "my act and deed" if I do not intend to do it. Intention or the lack of it can make the difference between violence and accident.
The introduction of the technical term "intentionality" carries the analysis of peace a step farther. "Intentionality" is defined in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy as intrinsic to mental phenomena. The mind has intentionality because it is directed toward some object as it affirms something, desires something, loves something, hates something; but the something it relates to is not necessarily real. The "intentional object" to which "intentionality" is directed is mental. (Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1964)
Peace research concerns intentionality because it concerns how the world appears to actors. Familiar examples are the studies of the 'Feinbild' (enemy image). (Rieber 1991)
At this point, it is possible to make a general statement about peacebuilding and peacemaking. Given that peace is a multifaceted complex ongoing social achievement, it might seem to follow that no general statement about how to make peace could be true. Many different things need to be done to make peace. Nonetheless, they all have in common, for reasons given above, that any effort to make peace, or to build peaceful institutions, must be, whatever else it is, a *listening* project. This is true because peace is intentional. Peace cannot be accomplished without understanding and dialogue, because the source of human action -- the will -- moves in the light of the beliefs (and images and feelings) that guide actors when they decide to act.
Two approaches to peace research that facilitate dialogue and understanding are that of Gray Cox in 'The Ways of Peace', and that of John Paul Lederach in 'Preparing for Peace and Building Peace'. Cox carries out a philosophical examination of social science methodology, and concludes favoring what he calls "maieutic" research. Maieutic research is midwifery. The idea is taken from Socrates' characterization of himself as a midwife who helped his interlocutors to give birth to their ideas. (Cox 1986) Lederach has developed methods for building peace which employ what he calls "elicitive questions." Elicitive questions focus less on finding out what the asker wants to know, and more on drawing out what the answerer wants to say. (Lederach 1995, 1997) Like the "native language interviews" of anthropologists (Spradley 1979), they shift the frame of reference from one provided by the investigator to one provided by the subject.
Perhaps the most eloquent recent advocate of facilitating social change within the frames of reference of the people (as distinct from those of researchers, activists, or elites) has been Paulo Freire. In Freire's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', a central reason why the oppressed are oppressed is that they have been deprived of their voices, and denied roles as active participants in the co-creation of culture. (Freire 1998)
Freire's facilitative and empowering grassroots approach applies directly to building positive peace; it is a transformative process that humanizes both the oppressed and the oppressor. The methods he and his co-workers have developed are general enough to apply also to many aspects of peacemaking where peace is negatively defined, such as long-term violence prevention.
A characteristic initial step using Freire's approach is for an interdisciplinary team to assemble what he calls "a codification of the thematic universe." Like a good ethnography, the codification provides a map of what is meaningful in the world of a person or group. The codification takes some of the guesswork out of respect. Instead of guessing or assuming that you are dealing respectfully with your conversation partners because you are accepting their way of viewing the world, you have taken some systematic steps to learn how they view the world.
What the codification codifies is the "thematic universe," which is a world-view (universe) of somebody or some group, made up of "themes."
"Themes" is a word that Paulo Freire took from Edmund Husserl. Husserl, more than anyone else, from late in the nineteenth century until his death in 1938, worked to create philosophical foundations for the scientific study of what he once called, "the consciousness of the living present." (Husserl 1973) Western civilization had gone wrong, he argued, when mechanical metaphors from Galileo (and later from Newton) infected and gave (false) form to human self-understanding (Husserl 1970). Starting from what he considered to be a more fundamental and original viewpoint, the consciousness of the living present, he proposed to reconstruct humanity's understanding of itself with a phenomenological method that would rigorously exclude, "every interpretation of association and its laws which makes of it a kind of psychophysical natural law, attained by objective induction ..." Unlike, for example, David Hume, who thought of conscious human experience in terms of "impressions" (a metaphor borrowed directly from the "impressed forces" of Newton) and "associations of ideas" (a surreptitious mechanical metaphor); and unlike the behaviorists who disregarded consciousness entirely and studied instead externally observable patterns of stimulus and response; Husserl and his followers described consciousness in terms of meaningful structures, made up of themes.
A "theme" is, Husserl wrote, "an objectivity of the human, cultural world." Often he did not use the noun "theme," but rather the verb "thematise." By using a verb, Husserl emphasized that consciousness is an active process. Like Kant, he believed that the mind played an active role in shaping experience.
In one of Freire's early codification studies, working with the peasants employed at El Recurso, a major agricultural estate in Chile, Freire found that a prominent theme was "theft." "Theft," including actual theft, absence of theft, and false accusations of thievery, was a meaningful social reality, which everybody talked about, which everybody could understand and relate to.
I have been arguing that whatever else peace may require, it requires the assent of the human will. It requires conscious agreement, and conscious cultivation. It follows that comprehensive advances in the art and science of peacemaking must include advances in the understanding of conscious human behavior. The maieutic approach of Cox, the elicitive questions of Lederach, and the codification of themes of Freire are three such advances. They build upon Aristotle's insight that the premises of deliberate human action are beliefs.
Calling peacemaking a *conscious* activity invokes the endless mysteries surrounding the question, "What is consciousness?" It has something to do with being awake. It has something to do with thinking, with ideas, and with mind. It has something to do with language and logic. It has something to do with culture, belief, images, and symbols. Consciousness has more than one 'other'. The other of being awake is being asleep. The other of thinking is impulse. The other of mind is matter, which, since Einstein, we can also name as energy. The other of culture is nature.
There is a distinction to be made between conscious beliefs, of which one is aware, and the cold hard facts, which are true, but which one may or may not be aware of. My most powerful memories of this distinction concern Chilean peasants and workers who seized land and factories, bypassing legal processes, during the presidency of the socialist Salvador Allende (1970-1973). They believed, as some of them told me, that what they were doing was right and rational. It was right because, in principle, the means of production ought to belong to those who do the work, and because the majority of Chileans had voted for that principle in the elections of 1970. It was rational because it was within their power to take farms and factories and operate them -- they believed that President Allende, although he did not support them, would not order the police to evict them. They believed that the army would remain loyal to the constitution and would not intervene.
Their conscious beliefs were, for the most part, mistaken. They did not appreciate how much they were isolated politically; the majority, even on the left, did not support their interpretation of the 1970 elections. The army did intervene. Seeing helicopter gunships attack the workers who had seized a jam factory near my house impressed on me the importance of the distinction between knowledge and belief.
This example from my own experience is not the ideal illustration of my point, since the workers were more interested in justice than in peace. Further, although some of the facts they were not conscious of were cold hard facts (they were armed, and they overestimated the power of their weapons), most of the gap between consciousness and reality was due to their misinterpretation of other people's ideas and intentions. The general point is that what people are *conscious* of is not all that there *is*.
Peacemakers are sometimes tempted to believe that a change of consciousness is all that is needed. We want to say that the problems of blacks in America have nothing to do with blacks, and from there we slide into saying that they are due to the racist ideas that some whites have about them. From there, it is but a step to say that if the whites would change their ideas, then the problems would be over. We want to say that there is nothing wrong with either the Catholics or the Protestants in Northern Ireland; the troubles arise because of the prejudiced beliefs that each side has about the other side. If those beliefs were replaced by positive images and attitudes, then there would be peace. We are tempted to say, too, that when Arabs and Israelis do not trust each other, then the mistrust is a psychological problem, which has a psychological solution. Trust -- and therefore peace, we are sometimes tempted to believe -- could be built by changing attitudes.
If we follow out this line of thought far enough, we will conclude that there are no problems in the real world at all. All the problems are in people's minds. Peace is the cultivation of agreements. Agreements are acts of will. The will is guided by beliefs. Ergo ... we speciously deduce ... peace can be achieved by changing beliefs.
Before attempting to articulate what is wrong with this specious deduction, let me return for a moment to my Chilean example. I want to note, in that connection, that although the workers in the jam factory held and acted on beliefs that did not correspond to material or social facts, so did the soldiers. The soldiers and their officers (some of whom I had occasion to listen to) held beliefs which, when judged by any scientific standard, were, it seems fair to say, at least as distant from reality as those of the workers through whose bodies their bullets were passing. To speak generally: the human species is not a species that enjoys direct knowledge of facts. Rather, humans grope through life, guided uncertainly by images and words that play upon the screens of the theaters of their minds.
I have been suggesting rather extreme versions of confidence in peacemaking through changing consciousness for the purpose of suggesting that they cannot possibly be justified. At some point, the others that consciousness is *not* (nature, the body, the earth, the subconscious, hard cold facts ...) become indispensable foundations for peacemaking. To articulate this point further, it might be best to begin by paraphrasing the views of R. Buckminster Fuller, who devoted his life to promoting a profound change in the relationship of the human species to the physical environment. Without such a change, he said, lasting peace could not be achieved.
Engaging in a pardonable and illuminating exaggeration, Fuller said that politics was useless. Politics always led to guns. This is true because there are fundamental material conflicts that divide humanity, which cannot be resolved by political means. In the absence of political resolutions, violence, the default arbiter, will necessarily come into play time and again. Fuller considered deep material conflicts over scarce resources to be inescapable as long as the then (mid-twentieth century) prevailing technologies were employed. With such technologies, the earth could not possibly support its population; the majority of the human species was condemned to a premature demise, with much suffering and pain preceding death. The only possible route to supporting the human population of the planet lay through the more efficient use of resources. Doing more with less. A design revolution. Science as applied to 'livingry', rather than to weaponry. (Fuller 1962)
For Fuller, the only possible peaceful world would be a world that worked. He proposed, a world that would work for 100% of humanity without ecological damage.
I think I need to mention that there are peace researchers who do not see the achievement of peace as essentially related to creating what Fuller would call a world that works. They would see his viewpoint as one that confuses peace per se with solving other social problems. Some take the view that giving priority to other social problems postpones the achievement of peace.
It can be argued, for example, that humanity's most urgent problem is the prospect of the extinction of the species through the use of nuclear weapons. Further, the argument goes, a problem is most likely to be solved if it is given priority attention. Trying to solve all problems at once will only result in no problems being solved. Since it is hard enough to achieve any social change at all, the essential goal of peacemaking should be to "identify the least change that would be necessary in Western society, and globally, for war to be abolished." Peacemaking should not be confused with attempts to solve other problems too. (Forsberg 1998)
Fuller's view is much different: Redesign the physical interaction of the species with the environment first. Then justice and sustainability will be possible. And only then will peace be possible.
However, I did not introduce Fuller's views for the purpose of defending him against the 'least change' school of thought. The reader already knows that I think peace is a fragile, complex, ongoing, collective social achievement. The reader already knows that I believe that collectively humanity needs to work on solving many problems at once in order to achieve peace, although a given individual may specialize in one facet of the multifaceted process of building peace. From these cards already on the table, it can correctly be surmised that I consider Fuller more right than wrong, and the 'least change' school more wrong than right. I introduced Fuller as part of my efforts to balance my previous picture of the achievement of peace through listening, understanding, dialogue, and agreement. Above and beyond whatever may be happening in minds, peacebuilding requires reconstructing the physical world.
But Fuller deals only with one physical world: the environment, the earth. There is another physical world which also poses challenges to peacemaking: the testosterone, the adrenalin, the blood, the hypothalamus, the muscles, the nerves ... that is to say, the human body and all of the energies that pulse through it.
Sigmund Freud is among the best known of those who have written about the relationship between the elemental impulses that drive the human species and the pursuit of peace. I will discuss his views briefly, regarding him both as a student of Trieben, i.e. of instinctual tendencies or drives, and as a classic pessimist who held that warfare could only end in the unlikely event that humans accept the renunciation of instinct. He believed that his theories concerning the psyche had a physical foundation in the material constitution of the human body, albeit one which had not yet been discovered.
Freud expressed his views on war in a letter to Albert Einstein, who had written to him asking him to state his views on peace. (Freud 1964) But the question Freud answered was different from the question Einstein asked. Freud answered the question, "Is it possible to get rid of men's aggressive inclinations?" Einstein had asked a different question, "Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war ?" (Einstein 1964) To Einstein's question, the historian Quincy Wright, the author of a comprehensive study of the history of warfare, had given a good answer, "The absence of conditions of peace is the cause of war." (Wright 1935, 1942) Consequently, mankind can be delivered from the menace of war by establishing the conditions of peace, one of which is "... an organization of the world community adequate to restrain conflicts." Freud gave a good answer too, "No," but it was an answer to his own question. Concerning the question Einstein had asked he admitted that he did not know the answer.
Even while masses of people continue to feel violent emotions, for the same reason that an individual can have aggressive feelings but not act on them, it is possible for society to be at peace and not at war. War is an act of will. Plato, many years ago, was among the first to give a plausible account -- one which is still plausible today -- of why it is possible for reason (what he called the logistiche psuche, the part of the soul that has language, which today we would in some regards identify with the cerebral cortex) to guide human conduct, in spite of the fact that human conduct is largely driven by appetites, aggressiveness, and pride. Freud himself pioneered methods for building what has come to be called ego strength, which is characterized by an ability to resist being blown away by impulses, to make rational plans, and to carry them out. (Plato)
What Freud's work shows is not that peace is impossible, but rather that sex, aggression, and self-destruction are powerful human energies. Even people who think that what he said about those energies was mostly wrong will concede that he was a pioneer in calling attention to their power. Freud is among those who help us to discern the impulsive energy of the raw material that the peacebuilding process must work with.
Another energy that is often said to be a cause of war and violence -- that is also said to be ineradicable, and not subject to social redefinition -- is self-interest. Striking examples are found in the colonial wars of conquest waged by the European powers. As John Locke once noted, Power (by which he meant armed men and fleets) can be acquired with Treasure, and the Power, once acquired, can be used to acquire still more Treasure, and so on successively. The subduing of large parts of Asia and Africa by the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company was transparently a commercial venture, and yet it was similar to the more subtle use of violence in the pursuit of self-interest that is found today.
It should be noted that aggressive impulses and calculated self-interest are different. They have in common that they lead to violence. They have in common that they are inescapable realities that the processes of peacemaking must deal with. But they are not the same. Peacemakers are often accused of being conceptually confused because they allegedly believe that every conflict has a win/win resolution, in which both sides maximize their payoffs. Peacemakers are accused of believing that wars are caused entirely by perceptions, and that there are no real conflicts of interest in the world. But pessimists, who doubt that peace is possible, are guilty of at least as much conceptual confusion when they cloak aggressive impulses, calculated self-interest, and other disparate phenomena under the all-purpose umbrella concept: "power".
Instead of assuming that self-interest explains everything, or that aggressiveness explains everything, it would be more accurate and more empirical to observe what energies are in fact at work. The better approach is not to assume 'a priori' that any particular manifestation of matter as energy is the key underlying force that fuels the social construction of reality and moves human behavior. Instead, we should take energy as we find it. "History is moved by whatever moves it" is a principle that must be true, because it is a tautology. It is also a valuable guide to action, because it enables us to acknowledge all the energies which we encounter, or which encounter us. It enables us to build peace without worrying that the spirit that moves us could not possibly exist.
The pessimistic conclusions that some have drawn from the study of violent proclivities of the human body are not valid. The facts on which they draw do, however, imply that the construction of peaceful institutions has real obstacles to overcome. Insofar as they tend in practice to bless visions of the world that expect liberation from oppression and all good things to come from dismantling institutions, we should resist the philosophies of anti-essentialism, deconstruction, anarchism, Rousseauian romanticism, and the notion that discourse constructs its own objects. The existing institutions are bad -- we live, as Betty Reardon has put it, not just in a world where wars occur now and then, but rather in a world which is organized and constituted as a war system. (Reardon 1985) But peace can only come from building better institutions. Peace cannot come from an absence of social conventions.
4. Growth Points
In Part One, I discussed the concept of peace without defining it. In Part Two, I arrived at the precept that whatever else peacemaking may be, it is listening. In Part Three, I endorsed the principle that whatever else peacemaking requires, it requires restructuring the relationship of the human species to physical reality.
Here in Part Four, I will argue that peacemaking is necessarily a process of moral change -- otherwise described, it is a process of cultural transformation. The polemical aspect of my case will be to deny that peace can be achieved by declarations establishing peaceful legal structures -- such as, for example, declarations making obligatory the submission of international disputes to the World Court at The Hague -- without at the same time nurturing a culture of peace.
The meanings of the word "culture" are at least as varied and mysterious as those of the words "consciousness" and "energy." I will follow Ruth Benedict's usage in 'Patterns of Culture', where she uses the term "culture" interchangeably with "customs." And I will take "customs" to share a core meaning with "social conventions," with "norms," with "rules," and, drawing on the Greek and Latin origins of the terms, with "ethics," and with "morals".
I readily concede that in regarding "culture", "customs", "social conventions", "norms", "rules", "ethics", and "morals" as sharing a single meaning, I have done little to advance the analysis of what the core meaning they all share is. However, what I have not done (so far, at any rate), H. L. A. Hart has done. In his 'The Concept of Law", Hart's account of what it means to have a "rule" advances the analysis of the core meaning I am seeking to designate and intending to employ. Above and beyond being merely a description of some tendency toward a regular pattern of behavior, Hart observes that a "rule" also has: (1) an internal aspect, such that the people who accept the rule take it as a guide for personal self-government, using it to direct their own behavior; and (2) a socially obligatory aspect, such that violation of the rule authorizes censure. (Hart 1961) I would extend Hart's analysis of "rules" to make similar observations about the other terms I am treating as sharing a core cultural, customary, conventional, normative, ethical, and moral meaning with "rule."
My own contribution to humanity's unending conversations about what "culture", "ethics", and related terms mean is to place a discussion of them in the context of the conceptual framework developed in the preceding three parts of this paper. Culture is where themes and energies meet. Culture is where humans live; it is the socially-constructed reality in which the conscious life of willing and acting happens. Culture, in all its constantly shifting variety, is, as Clifford Geertz says, the human adaptation to physical reality. To be an interpretive and self-interpretive creature is the ecological niche of homo sapiens sapiens. (Geertz 1973)
This two-level approach -- themes and energies -- corresponds to the proposal made by Anthony Wilden in his 'System and Structure' that all scientific explanations can be thought of as falling in two categories: 'meaning explanations' and 'energy explanations'. (Wilden 1972) It also corresponds to the suggestion made by the anthropologist Victor Turner that human behavior can be thought of as on two "leashes" -- under the dual control of both culture and genome. (Turner 1986) Nature has culture on a leash, such that it is not possible for just any culture at all to come into existence and to be sustainable; culture, in turn, has the individual on a leash, so that it is not possible (except perhaps for creative and playful moments) for an individual to do or be or think just anything at all; it is only possible to act, be, and think within a repertory of language games (to use Wittgenstein's phrase) (Wittgenstein 1956) available at a given moment in the history of a culture.
Following out Wilden's two-level approach, I advocate a rather specific methodological principle for understanding the histories of cultures. The history of a culture is a record of the interactions between the conscious meaningful level of perception and belief, where acts of will occur, and the brute facts of physical reality. I advocate the methodological principle of taking what the culture does to meet basic needs to be a key to understanding everything else the culture does. Plato wrote in The Republic, "The true architect of our city is our needs, and the first and chief of these is the need for food." (Plato) I sometimes call this principle "food ethics" or "the ecology of culture." The ethics of a culture is best understood in the light of its food supply, and, generally, in the light of the way it meets basic needs. (Richards 1994)
That the basic structure of a culture is given by the way the people in it do what they need to do to survive ... this notion is not idiosyncratic. Anthropologists frequently classify cultures as pastoral, hunting and gathering, fishing, settled agricultural, slash-and-burn agricultural, and the like, according to how the culture manages to cope with nature. I would claim that even where the focus of the anthropologist's interest is on styles of interpersonal interaction, as in Ruth Benedict's 'Patterns of Culture', indispensable clues to understanding the observed cultural configurations are provided by, for example the Zunis relying for their food on corn grown in a desert climate, the Dobu Islanders living by growing yams in poor soil, and the Kwakiutl's living by fishing. (Benedict 1961) Perhaps Marvin Harris overstated the case for cultural ecology in 'Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches' wherein he analyzed the venerable Indian institution of the sacred cow by tracing the physical contributions of cows to survival ... but he was certainly not completely wrong. (Harris 1974) Although many would deny that a culture can be adequately understood by reference to the source of a people's food, few would deny that a culture cannot be adequately understood without it.
It is consistent with the idea of ecology of culture that scholars find class divisions to be a key to understanding societies. Long ago, it was discovered that one way to cope successfully with the physical environment was to make other people do the work, and then to live off their labor. Exploitation can be, and often is, a basic characteristic of a social structure.
I also advocate a rather specific account of the basic structure of modern western society -- which is in some ways today not just western, but global.
Accounts of the basic structure of (western) modernity are typically also accounts of modernity's origins; Anthony Giddens has remarked that the main schools of sociology today diverge according to their accounts of how the modern world began. Giddens takes the three main sociological traditions to be those that stem from Karl Marx, from Max Weber, and from Emile Durkheim; and he finds that their accounts of what society fundamentally is are of a piece with their accounts of how -- between the 15th and the 18th centuries -- modern western society emerged out of the matrix of medieval Christendom, expanded geographically, and instituted the principal secular institutions we know today -- science, democracy, the nation-state, capitalism ... (Giddens, 1971)
I find that Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and also several others who do not make Giddens' short list of founders of principal schools of sociology (Sir Henry Maine, Fernand Braudel, Karl Polanyi, Louis Dumont, Immanuel Wallerstein, Werner Sombart ...) all coincide -- and coincide also with my own studies -- in finding that the basic structure of modernity is exchange for money. The key cultural structure is the market. The way modern people acquire the things they need to survive is by buying them -- to an extent, this premise can be overstated, but it is nevertheless a key to understanding modern western culture. Similarly, knowing that basic needs are met through the cultivation of corn is a key to understanding Hopi culture. Different writers use different terms to articulate the basic structure of modernity, and they all disagree with each other on some important issue or other, but on the whole I think it is fair to say that there is a consensus that the exchange of goods for money is basic to the modern way of life.
My opinion about the basic structure of the modern world coincides -- as Giddens suggested it would -- with taking sides with regard to competing accounts of how the modern world began. I find most persuasive those writers -- such as Karl Polanyi, Fernand Braudel, and Immanuel Wallerstein -- who emphasize the expansion of markets as a major causal factor generating the global market culture we now live in.
Exchange in a market implies, as most of the writers mentioned above have noted -- and this is important for what follows -- the recognition of certain human rights. It would be an exaggeration to say that concepts of human rights, as they have developed historically, have been a consequence of the growth of market capitalism. Nevertheless, it would be correct to say that the efficient functioning of a market requires certain norms consistent with ideas of human rights, even though those norms may be set in the context of a variety of different institutional structures, and may be justified by a variety of ideologies. Buyers and sellers must have enough freedom to allow their choices reflected and aggregated in a market to set prices; property rights must be respected, or else the whole point of buying disappears. Further, the laws governing commerce must not be parochial and local, if the market is to function over a wide geographical area. They must be like the Roman jus gentium, which applied throughout the Roman Empire to commercial transactions. Thus commerce provides a foothold and a beginning for -- although it does not fully imply -- a philosophy of universal human rights.
Previously, in Part Two, I noted that "peace" is not a free-standing concept, but rather one embedded in a language, and in a cultural system of meanings. I noted also that if Samuel Huntington were correct in arguing that the peoples of the planet Earth are divided among several distinct civilizations (each of which does not recognize the authority of the norms of the others), then there could be no concept of peace with validity throughout the planet. There would be no global civic culture for a global concept of peace to be embedded in.
However, there is a global civic culture. Elise Boulding's project -- building a global civic culture in order to make world peace possible -- neither starts from scratch, nor builds upon nothing. (E. Boulding 1988)
To start with -- but this is only a start -- there is a global civic culture because, for the most part, the natural sciences -- physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, and mathematics -- are the same, or are becoming the same, the world over. This is not to say that there are no exceptions, or that there are no non-western systems of mathematics or physics, which are still believed and applied by considerable numbers of people. To argue "global" is not to argue "universal," and it is not to make a claim that will be false if a single exception is found to it. What I am saying is that for the most part, in schools everywhere, the same natural sciences are taught. It is not unusual either, for people to reject parts of western science, or to synthesize it with indigenous beliefs, in ways even more conducive to respect for the earth than recent western science has become. A global civic culture can count on a global acceptance of the scientific principles employed by ecology.
Important as the widespread acceptance of scientific thinking is, it is only a start toward a global civic culture. In Asia and in Africa, and even in Europe and North America, there are many people who make it a point to distinguish science from ethics. They adopt western science, but they explicitly reject western morals. In North America, many people use science instrumentally, however they derive norms for conduct from a religious tradition whose sacred texts are the ancient Greek New Testament and/or the ancient Hebrew Old Testament. Huntington points out that throughout the world modernization -- in the sense of learning how to use up to date technology -- has proven to be quite compatible with retaining traditional and non-western values. (Huntington 1996) In this regard, one must grant that Huntington is correct, and that the people who expected that the spread of western technology and western commercial practices would carry with them the acceptance of western secul ar political and social institutions have turned out to be mistaken.
Nevertheless, there is a common global culture, and it is not just a scientific one. It is based, as I have indicated above, upon rights. Rights, in some form or other, are on the agenda everywhere, because without them the basic structure of the modern world, the market, cannot function. Exchange is the link between rule-governed human activity and the physical processes through which the world's peoples for the most part get their daily rice, bread, lentils, potatoes, or corn. Exchange has become the global survival strategy. Market culture is the global culture, and it does not work without rights. The Chinese and the Saudis, for examples, may vehemently deny the alleged universal validity of western concepts of rights, but some concept of rights they must have, and do have.
Hence it is possible to provide a definition of peace that is embedded in the idea of rights, and which links up through that idea with mainstream concepts found around the world. A great president of Mexico, Benito Juarez, has done so: "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz." Respect for the rights of others is peace. (Juarez 1981)
Defining peace as respect for rights does not make peace simple or easy to achieve. The complexity of peace and the difficulty of achieving it transfer to the equally complex and difficult concepts of "respect" and "rights". What the definition accomplishes is to ground "peace" in the developing process of establishing ethical norms for a global culture -- or stated even better, for a global mosaic of different cultures -- which will have in common that they will be able to live at peace internally, with each other, and with the earth.
"Rights" is an especially valuable concept because it is more than a concept that almost everybody finds meaningful. It is a concept that almost everybody respects as having moral authority. It makes an inward appeal to conscience, in the respect that most people inwardly guide their own conduct to avoid infringing on other people's rights. It has moral authority in the sense that one is considered justified while acting within one's rights, and also in the sense that one is considered to be justified in becoming indignant when one's rights are violated. The concept of "rights" thus complies with the 'internal aspect' and 'socially obligatory' aspect criteria identified by H. L. A. Hart in his analysis of the nature and essence of a "rule." To a considerable extent, in spite of its functional relationship to basic modern cultural structures, the concept of "rights" admittedly still belongs within what anthropologists call "ideal culture" -- a set of meanings recognized as correct, but which may have little or no effect on actual conduct. Nevertheless, a cultural context where it is acknowledged that the rights of others are supposed to be respected provides a framework for meaningful dialogue.
Where there is no shared moral culture, the listening aspect of peacemaking may fall flat. Without listening, peacemaking cannot even begin, because where one side does not understand the other's intentions it cannot possibly agree with, appreciate, or respect them. But without respect for rights, or some other precepts drawn from moral culture, the outcome after listening may be like the outcome of the Melian Dialogue recounted by Thucydides in his 'History of the Peloponnesian War'. The Athenians said, in effect, to the Melians, "We have listened to you, and we understand you perfectly well, but we are going to kill you anyway, because it is to our interest to do so."
The conclusion I am moving toward is that peacemaking must include the enhancement and extension of existing ethics in ways that make it possible to establish the rule of law. Following Hart again, Hart defines law as a "union of primary and secondary rules." (Hart 1961) The primary rules govern conduct. The secondary rules (such as the rule that what a court decides is to be accepted) identify which primary rules are valid. Thus law, in principle and in concept, requires the acceptance of rules; and, as I am arguing, it requires the acceptance of the core of normative strength (to recur to Kenneth Boulding's notion of the strength of institutions) that rules share with morals, ethics, norms, conventions, customs, and culture.
I have not forgotten Quincy Wright's conclusion that the cause of war is the absence of the organization of peace. Expressing Wright's conclusion juridically, as Emery Reves does in 'The Anatomy of Peace', we can say that we have a war system because we have national sovereignty. (Reves 1945) In the strong sense of "sovereignty" classically articulated by Hugo Grotius in his pioneering work on international law, each nation-state recognizes no authority higher than itself. (Bull 1992) Therefore, each nation-state is legally authorized to make war whenever it wants to, and the world is governed by a war system in which war is, in principle, in von Clausewitz famous phrase, "the continuation of politics by other means." It should be noted, as Albert Einstein did note, that von Clausewitz's phrase reveals that politics itself, regarded as power politics or Realpolitik, assumes that the nation-state recognizes no authority higher than itself, and power politics is therefore, as Einstein also noted, already part of a system based on war, even before any shots are fired.
With my focus on the world as a global economic system in which rights are an indispensable part of culture, I have not forgotten Wright, Einstein, Reves, von Clausewitz, and others who find war (and, following Hobbes, the same sort of analysis can be extended to violence in general) to be implicit in the logic of independent actors who recognize no authority higher than themselves. What I have done, and what Benito Juarez, Kant, and others did, is to carry the analysis a step farther, by articulating the principle we need to start from to achieve the general recognition of a legitimate authority higher than a nation-state, and (in Huntington's terms) higher than a civilization.
We do not need to go far to find formal legal norms that outlaw violence. War was outlawed by the Kellogg-Briand Treaty of 1929, and then outlawed again in the United Nations Charter of 1945. Other forms of violence were outlawed earlier.
The stubborn refusal of peace to happen in spite of the widespread general acknowledgment of the idea respect for the rights of others, and in spite of official documents that declare peace to be legally obligatory, shows that more is needed to create a culture of peace. It will not do to say that the culture already in existence, if only it obeyed in its own norms, would succeed in achieving lasting and general peace. The lack of law and order in the world is not just due to the lack of courts with binding jurisdiction. It is putting the cart before the horse (or the effect before the cause) to attribute violence to the lack of an international police force with physical power to enforce the law. The principle stated by James Brierly, the late professor of international law at Cambridge, should be remembered: "It is not the strength of the police that gives strength to the law; rather it is the strength of the law that makes it possible to organize a police force." (Brierly 1963)
To illustrate the significance of Brierly's principle: in Northern Ireland there are plenty of courts, and plenty of police, but no peace. The law is not strong enough to permit the organization of an effective police force.
This is not to say that peacemakers should abandon rights talk ... on the contrary. Juarez' definition of peace in terms of rights is an appropriate one for the mainstream culture of the modern world. It derives strength from functional necessities, which in turn are rooted in the way the majority of the human species acquires food and meets basic needs. This a starting point for building a culture of peace. Starting from here, from where we are, peacemakers can nurture the growth of peace by encouraging growth points that are already growing, where meaningful themes and powerful energies combine to further the growth of a culture of peace.
The building of a culture of peace begins with respect for the rights of persons because it is a cornerstone of the global civic culture that exists. But -- and here we find growth points -- for the same reason (i.e. because they exist) peacebuilding can employ and enhance other ethics. Trust, solidarity, love, caring, loyalty, respect for nature, integrity, honesty, virtue, self-discipline, character, duty, commitment, forgiveness, purity, responsibility, nonviolence, generosity, joy in the joy of others, and the spirit of self-sacrifice for the common good can all be found embedded in cultural norms that have moral authority for one group of people or another. Peacebuilding must seek and develop ethical growth points above and beyond the ethic of respect for the rights of others because, although it is indispensable as a starting point, it is inadequate.
Respect for the rights of others is the mainstream ethic of a world that does not work. There are at least three good reasons why the moral framework of a culture of peace -- consistently carried out and put into practice -- needs to be more than respect for the rights of others.
The first was perhaps most famously pointed out by G. W. F. Hegel. (Smith 1989) It is that there are too many rights. Where there is a surplus of rights, Hegel said, force decides. Commonly in a war, or in a barroom brawl, both sides can paint with the language of rights to give their cause the color of moral superiority, and to give themselves the color of 'knights errant' fighting for a righteous cause. To some extent, this versatility of the concept of rights can be attributed to the human capacity for deception and self-deception. But it is easy to think of instances that are not mere deception. Often culturally recognized precepts of right really do give both sides good moral arguments, and then it is really true that there is a moral stalemate, where both sides are rhetorically armed with good reasons for declaring the other evil. Then it seems that Hegel may be correct to say that force is necessarily the final arbiter in a culture whose ethics relies solely on concepts of rights.
The second was perhaps most famously pointed out by Karl Marx. It is that the stubborn persistence of poverty, the instability of capitalist systems, and the exploitation of labor are all consistent with recognizing the rights of humanity embodied in the laws of commerce. Where everything is sold at its market price, in a free market, with property rights respected, it may well turn out to be the case, and often is the case, that labor is sold for little or nothing. As Marx put it, the deceptive surface of bourgeois society is "a very Eden of the innate rights of man. There alone rule freedom, equality, property, and Bentham." (Marx)
The third was perhaps most famously pointed out by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and by M. K. Gandhi. (Berman 1980, Dalton 1982) It is that in principle, rights without duties are unworkable. Emphasizing rights at the expense of duties is similar to adopting Denis Diderot's 18th century definition of liberty: 'whatever the law does not forbid is allowed'. Like liberty, conceived as being allowed to do anything at all with a few exceptions, rights-talk lends itself to an irresponsible ethic. It authorizes everyone to say what they are supposed to be allowed to do, and are supposed to have and supposed to get. But it does not make anyone responsible for contributing to the welfare of others, or to the common good.
By noting the limitations of peace conceived as respect for the rights of others, in a sense I am leaving "peace" undefined. Although I think Juarez' definition is valid for mainstream modern culture today, I do not have a proposal for defining peace in a future global mosaic of cultures living at peace with one another, which would preserve today's ideals and enhance them. I agree with Chadwick Alger that "... the further we move toward the attainment of our present notion of peace, the more highly developed our future image of peace will be, and the possibility of achieving this new image." (Alger 1991)
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