Sunday, August 29, 2010

Passive Resistance and The Global Peace Effort

I had the strange idea that I should write a book analyzing war and peace and current trends in both. So far I've got an outline, a few chapters written and a few others researched. I have a long way to go but I'm working on it. 

I was having this conversation with Adonai just a few days ago and it was about peace and optimism. I said that I thought it was very weird that so many people in the peace movement also subscribe to this kind of war fatalism. "We must protest. But war," they will say, "is really inevitable. We're doomed to have wars. We're flawed as a species," so the argument goes, "and the MIC have the upper hand. But we have to try don't we?"  

Adonai said he thought that attitude looked schizophrenic. I think he's right, though it's not the word I'd have chosen.  I've long been an optimist about the longer term chances of smashing the MIC in times to come, so I cannot subscribe to war fatalism and I don't believe anyone should.

We're told it's a childish fantasy. I'm told that all the time. I think to overturn that illusion, that a child thinks it's possible to make progress against the war machine, it's not enough to blog a few times or whatever, you have to lay it all out in a really flat and level way. It's such a big reply that it's easily a book sized project and I'm keen to put a lot of time into this.

Here is the first draft of my introduction...

We are at war with the idea of war.

It is a strange war, where one side has no weapons at all. It is a borderless war with no geographical frontiers and no nationality to offer. It is a global battle for the future. The stake is our life on earth and nothing less.

The peace movement must win this war against war if human beings are to emerge out of savagery and ignorance. The peace movement must win and we must win by preaching and using non-violence and passive resistance. That is the only way to victory.

We may not ever grow to like the more insane generals and we may not ever personally approve of CEOs of corporations manufacturing weapons, but these are only people and not the real enemy. The real enemies of the peace movement are old human fears and modern human ignorance, they are the roughly one hundred million landmines buried under our planet's soils, the over 7,000 permanently active and armed nuclear warheads aimed at our cities, the tools, the corporations themselves, the institutions and weapons of war, the basic causes which perpetuate it.

We must know our real enemy, not the people in uniforms carrying the weapons, most of whom are surprisingly nice people, but instead the follies which lead to wars in the first place. If we address the causes of war, if we can change the relationship between war and business, if we can change the relationship we have with media and war, if we change the international dialog on war, we can begin to really treat the disease of war and not  persist in attacking so many of the symptoms.

A lot of activism in the peace movement comes from a few hundred thousand very committed people, scattered across the world who all really see a more strategic vision and many of them might not attend a rally in two years while working for peace for a significant fraction of their lives. The world has an interconnected movement of high profile, highly motivated, very educated and persistent people who, mostly, think the same way about activism: you take it into your own hands.

If you believed much of what was said in the mainstream media, however, the peace movement is the same thing as the anti-war protest movement; mostly populated by old and young hippies, some bearing joints and others with guitars as well. It is a fringe of idealistic kids and dreamy retirees, bored and looking for something to do. Peace is, by implication, the deluded aspiration of a small and radical group, who will inevitably move from one lost cause to the next.

To a large extent the peace movement has not done enough to state its own case and dispel the mythology of being that aimless movement of stoners living in some fantasy land.

We must end that public perception of the peace movement as a fringe band of bleeding hearts if it is ever to gain a more mainstream acceptance.

We should, then, carefully examine the aims and successes and the cumulative effect of the last century of the peace movement on global politics, the benefits of peace to economy, trade, stability. We should look at the institutions already built, the nations already changed by peaceful mass action.

To give the international peace movement full credit for its achievements also means winding back the clock of human history. There's ten thousand years of recorded military history and to see how new and recent and effective (as well as ineffective) the peace movement is, it's important to compare the wars of old to the wars of today.


Any suggestions or reactions would be welcome.

blog comments powered by Disqus