“Slow News” vs “Fast History”

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This month’s CPNN bulletin describes the “slow news” of culture of peace as it has been developing for some time now in Africa. The reforestation of the Great Green Wall and the Plant a Million Trees initiative seem to symbolize the slow pace of the process, especially when one recalls that the pre-colonial peace mechanism of Africa was to meet and resolve conflicts under the village tree.

At the same time this blog last month suggested that history is moving much faster than we think and that the collapse of the American empire is likely to come within the next two years.

This leads me to the question: Can the slow development of the culture of peace make it possible for a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace when the American empire crashes?

I realize that it is out of fashion since the crash of the Soviet empire, but the best analytic framework to understand history is still that of dialectics as conceived by Hegel, refined by Marx and put into practice by Lenin. As Lenin wrote in his letter to the American workers in 1918: “Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Prospekt.” It does not proceed “easily and smoothly.” Instead, it proceeds “by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions.” Put another way, there are times when the pace of history accelerates.

It seems likely that there will be an acceleration in the development of the culture of peace in the next two years as more and more people realize that the system is collapsing and needs to be replaced. I can see that there has already been such an acceleration in the last year or two, especially since the election of President Trump in the United States. Trump’s policies are the most evident sympton of the process, already many decades in the making, that brings us to the end of the empire. We have entered a period of accelerated history; both negative and positive forces are speeding up.

The key question is whether we are preparing the specific institutional frameworks that are needed for the transition? I have previously suggested that we need international frameworks for culture of peace that are above the level of the individual nation-states.

One such framework could be the African Union (AU) which is included in the “slow news” from Africa this month. As an international body, above the level of the nation-state, the AU is relatively free from the culture of war, and it has already made some initiatives towards a culture of peace.

Of course, the AU does not have many resources. Its previous benefactor, Muammar  Gaddafi, was assassinated at the initiative of the EU and the United States, especially due to the policy of Hillary Clinton who was the American Secretary of State. We don’t know precisely why Clinton undertook this policy, but it seems likely that it was, at least in part, to deprive the AU of Gaddafi’s support. After all, it was during her tenure that the United States was secretly establishing military bases throughout Africa. To some extent the support previously provided to the AU by Gaddafi has been taken up by China, but will this be continued or expanded after a crash of the American dollar? Maybe not, since China is heavily invested in the dollar and may have to reduce its overseas commitments.

For a while it seemed that UNASUR could develop as a regional organization for the culture of peace, but recent developments in Latin America have undermined that possibility. As described in an article from the ALBA movement, the major countries of UNASUR have withdrawn their support for the leadership of Bolivia which was dedicated to the culture of peace: “The sovereign and integrationist vision promoted by Bolivia and the other countries of ALBA-TCP is opposed by the war strategy of other UNASUR members, subordinated – as throughout history – to the imperial powers, at this moment in particular to the United States , whose elite tries to control again what they consider their backyard. For this purpose it is the political, media, economic and military siege against Venezuela and the diplomatic offensive against Unasur and CELAC.” [translation from the Spanish by CPNN.

As long as international organizations are based on nation-states, they are dominated directly by the culture of war (such as the UN, the EU, etc.) or else they are dominated indirectly through sabotage, as in the case of the African Union and UNASUR. This is not surprising when we consider the history of the culture of war and we find that over the course of the centuries it has become monopolized by the state.

At one time, there was some hope that the socialist countries might be able to play a positive role for peace, but they, too, were cultures of war. And in a struggle between a socialist culture of war and a capitalist cuture of war, it has always been the capitalists who win because they profit more from international exploitation. This was very evident towards the end of the Cold War when the Rand Corporation, an American culture of war think-tank, was paid to assess the economic relations betwen the Soviet Union and their “satellite countries” of Eastern Europe. They found that the net flow of wealth was from the center (the Soviet Union) towards the periphery (Eastern Europe), true to the principle of socialist solidarity. This is the opposite of the relationship between the imperial capitalist powers and the countries of the South. This becomes evident when you take into account the economic transactions that are secret and illegal.

For this reason, I have tended to put a priority on institutional frameworks for peace based on regional or global organizations of parliamentarians or cities instead of states, but for the moment it seems that they are also in a “slow mode” of development.

It seems that time is running out . . .

Why There is So Much Anger

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

Wherever we turn, people are angry. In France and United States where I live, voters are angry and turn their anger against immigrants and people of color. And they vote for the Front National and for Donald Trump. And the struggle in the US between students protesting against school massacres and linking them to gun sales, on the one hand, and the National Rifle Association (NRA), on the other hand, is fueled by anger on both sides.

To understand this, I go back to the studies I did as a scientist which are summarized in an Internet book called The Aggression Systems.

Of special importance is the analysis of how the aggressive behavior of our animal ancestors was transformed through the course of evolution into the human behavior of “righteous indignation against perceived injustice.” Here is a technical analysis from one of my scientific papers translated into more simple language:

Over the course of evolution the aggressive behavior common to all mammalian ancestors was modified and has come to serve many functions in human beings, including the way people make history.

1) The first modification concerned the kinds of stimuli that provoked aggression. In our most ancient animal ancestors, the stimuli consisted of permanent qualities of the other animal. For example, males attacked other males because of their male odor. Over the course of evolution, and especially in our primate ancestors, aggression came to be stimulated as well by the actions of the other animal. For example, among the monkeys of Japan, the dominant male will attack young animals if they approach the traps that have been set by the scientists who study these animals.

2) A second modification that we can also see in the Japanese monkeys consists of a process of internalization by which the young animal learns which actions are to be punished. This corresponds to the human “superego”, i.e. learning what behavior is “good or bad.” When they become adults, these monkeys reproduce the punishment they received by punishing young animals that show “bad” behavior, for example going too close to the traps. Note here that we need to recognize the importance of “punishment” in the course of human evolution. We see its effect in the anger of children when they cry out “that’s not fair !”

3) A third modification, which takes place only at the level of human society, is the ability to conceptualize institutions and social systems and to respond to their actions with punishment and anger, just as one might respond to the “bad” actions of another individual.

4) Fourth, and, finally, there is the ability to incorporate this “righteous indignation” into a complex pattern of consciousness development, including action, affiliation and analysis by which individuals become powerful forces in history.” In the case of great peace activists, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, their righteous indignation became the emotion that fueled their social activism.

Here, it is important to recognize that the anger of righteous indignation is directed not at some abstract social injustice, but rather at the perceived injustice in the eyes of the person concerned. If the person concerned believes that social ills are caused by immigrants or people of color or of women who seek abortion, then their “righteous indignation” is directed against them. Those who vote for LePen in France or Trump in the United States are often motivated by their anger against immigrants and people of color as well as against “establishment” political parties whom they perceive to be favoring these immigrants and people of color. If the person believes that sales of assault rifles leads to school massacres, then their righteous indignation may be directed against the NRA. On the other hand, NRA members believe they are protecting the American Constitution which gives citizens the right to bear arms. It is important to keep in mind here that another person’s perception of injustice may be very different than your own.

Let me return here to the initial question, why is there so much anger at this period of history? The reason is simple. There is more injustice now. The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer. There is more inequality and there is more exploitation. There are more people displaced by war and more preparation for new wars. These problems are perceived in different ways by different people. But they are perceived!

There was a time, a few generations ago, when many poor and working people adhered to socialist or communist trade unions and political parties that convinced them that they should be united across the lines of social class and ethnic origin and that they should direct their anger against the boss or the capitalist system. But militant trade unions and communist parties have been greatly weakened, and the people they would have recruited in an earlier era are now recruited by populist politicians and media who divide and rule by blaming immigrants or people of color for the deteriorating standard of living of the poor and working people.

I am not writing this in order to excuse racism and xenophobia, but rather to help us all understand the profound crisis in which we find our world. It will not help for us to attack the anger of the people. That will further divide us. Instead, to quote Martin Luther King, “the supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.” We don’t have to look far to find an example of how this can be done. The Poor People’s Campaign that is underway now in the United States takes its inspiration directly from Martin Luther King to organize and unite people against “the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.

* * *

Pourquoi y a-t-il tant de colère dans le monde?

Partout où nous nous tournons, les gens sont en colère. En France et aux États-Unis où je vis, les électeurs sont en colère et tournent leur colère contre les immigrés et les personnes de couleur. Ils votent pour le Front National ou pour Donald Trump. La lutte aux États-Unis entre les étudiants protestant contre les rapports entre les massacres d’écoles et les ventes d’armes, d’une part, et la National Rifle Association (NRA), d’autre part, est alimentée par une colère réciproque.

Pour comprendre cela, je reviens aux études que j’ai faites en tant que scientifique et qui sont résumées dans un livre sur Internet intitulé The Aggression Systems.

L’analyse de la façon dont le comportement agressif de nos ancêtres animaux a été transformé au cours de l’évolution en un comportement humain d ‘«indignation juste contre l’injustice perçue» revêt une importance particulière. Voici une analyse technique d’un de mes articles scientifiques traduit en langage clair:

Au cours de l’évolution, le comportement agressif commun à tous les ancêtres des mammifères a été modifié et sert maintenant de nombreuses fonctions chez les êtres humains, y compris la façon dont les gens font l’histoire.

1) La première modification concernait les types de stimuli qui provoquaient l’agression. Chez nos ancêtres animaux les plus anciens, les stimuli dépendaient des qualités permanentes de l’autre animal. Par exemple, les mâles ont attaqué d’autres mâles à cause de leur odeur masculine. Au cours de l’évolution, et en particulier chez nos ancêtres primates, l’agression a été également stimulée par les actions de l’autre animal. Par exemple, parmi les macaques du Japon, le mâle dominant va attaquer les jeunes singes s’ils s’approchent des pièges qui ont été fixés par les scientifiques qui étudient ces animaux.

2) Une deuxième modification que nous pouvons également observer chez les singes japonais consiste en un processus d’intériorisation par lequel le jeune animal apprend quelles actions doivent être punies. Cela correspond au “surmoi” humain, c’est-à-dire apprendre quel comportement est “bon ou mauvais”. Quand ils deviennent adultes, ces singes reproduisent la punition qu’ils ont reçue en punissant à leur tour de jeunes animaux qui montrent un «mauvais» comportement, en allant par exemple trop près des pièges. Notez ici que nous devons reconnaître l’importance de la «punition» dans le cours de l’évolution humaine. Nous le voyons son effet dans la colère des enfants quand ils crient “ce n’est pas juste!”

3) Une troisième modification, qui a lieu seulement au niveau de la société humaine, est la capacité de conceptualiser les institutions et les systèmes sociaux et de répondre à leurs actions par la colère, tout comme on peut réagir aux mauvaises actions d’un individu.

4) Quatrièmement, et, finalement, il y a la capacité d’incorporer cette «indignation vertueuse» dans un schéma complexe de développement de la conscience, y compris l’action, l’affiliation et l’analyse par lesquelles les individus deviennent des forces puissantes dans l’histoire. Dans le cas des grands militants de la paix, tels que Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela et Martin Luther King, leur indignation était devenue l’émotion qui alimentait leur activisme social.

Ici, il est important de reconnaître que la colère de la juste indignation n’est pas dirigée contre une injustice sociale abstraite, mais plutôt contre l’injustice perçue aux yeux de la personne concernée. Si la personne concernée croit que les maux sociaux sont causés par les immigrés, les gens de couleur ou les femmes qui se font avorter, alors leur «juste indignation» est dirigée contre ceux-la. Ceux qui votent pour LePen en France ou Trump aux États-Unis sont souvent motivés par leur colère contre les immigrés et les personnes de couleur ainsi que contre les partis politiques en place qu’ils perçoivent comme favorisant ces immigrés et ces gens de couleur. Si la personne croit que les ventes de fusils d’assaut conduisent à des massacres d’école, alors son indignation sera dirigée contre la NRA. D’un autre côté, les membres de la NRA croient protéger la Constitution américaine qui donne aux citoyens le droit de porter des armes. Il est important de garder à l’esprit que la perception de l’injustice d’une autre personne peut être très différente de la vôtre, voire à l’opposé.

Permettez-moi de revenir ici à la question initiale, pourquoi y a-t-il tant de colère à cette période de l’histoire? La raison est simple. Il y a d’avantage d’injustice maintenant. Les riches sont devenus plus riches et les pauvres sont devenus plus pauvres. Il y a plus d’inégalité et il y a plus d’exploitation. Il y a plus de personnes déplacées par les guerres et plus de préparation à de nouvelles guerres. Ces problèmes sont perçus de différentes manières par différentes personnes. Mais ils sont perçus!

Il y a quelques temps, il y a quelques générations, de nombreux travailleurs et pauvres adhéraient à des syndicats et à des partis politiques socialistes ou communistes qui les convainquaient qu’ils devaient être unis sans tenir compte de leur classe sociale ni de leur origine ethnique, et qu’ils devaient diriger leur colère contre le patron ou le système capitaliste. Mais les syndicats militants et les partis communistes ont été fortement affaiblis, et les personnes qu’ils auraient recrutées dans une époque antérieure sont maintenant recrutées par des politiciens et des médias populistes qui divisent et gouvernent en accusant les immigrés ou les gens de couleur de la détérioration du niveau de vie de la population. pauvres et travailleurs.

Je n’écris pas ceci pour excuser le racisme et la xénophobie, mais plutôt pour nous aider à comprendre la crise profonde dans laquelle nous trouvons notre monde. Cela ne nous aidera pas à critiquer la colère du peuple. Cela nous divisera davantage. Au lieu de cela, pour citer Martin Luther King, «la tâche suprême est d’organiser et d’unir le peuple afin que leur colère devienne une force transformatrice». Nous n’avons pas à chercher loin pour trouver un exemple de la façon dont cela peut être fait. L’actuelle Campagne des Pauvres aux États-Unis s’inspire directement de Martin Luther King. Elle organise et unit le peuple contre «les maux du racisme systémique, la pauvreté, l’économie de guerre, la dévastation écologique et la moralité déformée de la nation».

Consequences of the Crash of the American Empire

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In last month’s blog, I mentioned the prediction of Johan Galtung that the American empire cannot last more than another two years. Is that likely, and if so, what will be the consequences?

Having witnessed the crash of a previous empire, I think is likely.

When I worked as a scientist in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 80’s, I could not obtain the materials that were needed for my lab. When I visited the well-equipped lab of another scientist who was my friend, he explained that he got his material from his connections in the military. The Soviet Union had decided to match the military forces of the West in the arms race, gun for gun, soldier for soldier and missile for missile. Since this was based on a gross economy only half as big, they had to devote twice as high a percentage of scientists, engineers and materials to the military. As Karl Marx had explained a century before, investment in the military is like throwing money into the sea. It is not productive. As a result, the Soviet empire crashed, first economically, then politically.

Long before Trump became President, the United States was throwing its money away into its military machine with bases and interventions around the world. And now with Trump it is even more exaggerated. The weakness of the American economy is masked by an elaborate financial system of speculation, greater than the actual economic production of the world, but the system of speculation is fragile. We can foresee that the dollar will crash, and with it the empire.

What will be the consequences?

Let us consider two precedents, the crash of the Soviet empire and the economic crash of the Great Depression.

1) Economically, most people will suffer. There may be runs on the banks and lack of access to savings. There may be devaluation. In the case of the Soviet Union it was a devaluation of something like 10,000 between 1990 and 1996. For pensioners with savings of 100,000 rubles, they now had savings of the equivalent of 10 rubles. They lined the streets trying to sell what goods they had in order to have money to eat. In the US in the Great Depression, people lost their savings, but there was still a sizable number of people living in small farms who could produce something to eat. Now, almost a century later, most people live in cities. What will they eat if they have no money?

2) Key aspects of the global economy will be fragile. Of special significance is the global transport of oil which is carried primarily in tanker ships. Between 1929 and 1932, lacking money to finance their voyages, the number of ships at sea fell by 75%. Imagine a fall of 75% in oil arriving by ship! No oil for trucks. No deliveries to grocery stores . . .

3) For centuries now there has been a constant trend towards urbanization. Imagine the consequences if that is suddenly reversed and in order to eat, people have to flee the cities for the countryside . . .

4) Access to international transport and communication will be vulnerable. Will we still be able to go from one place to another? Will we still have internet and telephone?

5) Ironically, the one institution that will probably be of most emergency help is the military. They have stocks of oil and food, effective communication and transportation systems.

6) Also ironically, the advance of global warming may be slowed down, since the American empire, its military, its industry, its transportation systems, air conditioning, etc., has been the greatest producer of pollution.

7) Politically, there will be severe problems for those countries depending on the American empire. A case in point is Israel. Without American money and American military support, how can they continue to maintain their system of apartheid?

8) Big countries also depend on the American dollar. The reserve holdings of China and Japan are in dollars. Their economies will suffer. Not the mention Western Europe, where the effects of an American crash may be expected to mirror the effects of the Soviet crash on Eastern Europe a generation before.

If the preceding analysis is anything near correct, we need to be preparing now for radical action. As concluded in last month’s blog, the crash of the American empire could open a window of opportunity for a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

At the same time, there is a serious danger of transition to fascist governments, instead. During the Great Depression in Europe, it was HItler, Mussolini, Franco,  Pétain. In the United States, the Business Plot. As a result, in the years that followed, European fascists presided over terrible concentration camps and wars. The risk of war will be greater than ever.

The preparation for a transition to the culture of peace is truly urgent ! Tomorrow may be too late !

The times call for radical action !

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War and threats of war. Resurgence of fascism. Indicators forewarning a global economic crash. Acceleration of global warming. Wherever you turn, there are signs of dramatic, radical, dangerous change.

What is to be done? Where is the lever that can move history forward? We need radical action, but which action should we put first?

Personally, I’ve been active in all the relevant movements: socialism, ecology, peace, democracy, and each one has its proposals. What should be the priority? Let’s look at the probable sequence, keeping in mind what happened 30 years to the Soviet empire.

Back in 1980 Johan Galtung predicted the crash of the Soviet empire within one year, and now he predicts the end of the American empire within the next two years. If he is correct, the crash of the global economy is likely to come before the threatened wars, before the full development of fascism, and before the full effects of global warming. And if he is correct, it will provide us with a window of opportunity in the next two years to refound the global political system.

The most effective change would be the refounding of the United Nations to be under the direction of the People, not the State. The State is inextricably bound to the culture of war, while the People are increasingly conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

With that in mind, I return to the proposal that I made two years ago for the establishiment and effective functioning of an Alternative Security Council. At the time, the proposal fell on deaf ears, but perhaps the time was not yet ripe for it. After all, it is often the case that radical proposals require a certain moment of history to be put into motion.

Here is what I proposed:

“I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level.

One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.”

Along with the proposal two years ago I put forward the need for an institutional host, an agreement for membership, a small secretariat, a means for media dissemination and a small budget.

Have we arrived at a moment of history that is ripe for this action? There are some reasons to think so:

1) the consciousness of the people continues to grow that we need to replace the culture of war by a culture of peace;

2) it becomes more evident every day that the American Empire is crashing, which will provide a window of opportunity for radical change;

3) international organizations of cities are holding high-level meetings devoted to peace.

So far, I have not been able to put the ASC proposal onto the agenda of the meetings of cities, but I will keep trying.

If you are a reader of this blog and you wish to help out with this project, please contact me, either by putting a comment below on this blog or by sending me an email.

Towards a global movement against all violence

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The growing mobilizations by teenagers in the US and Palestine, cited in this month’s CPNN bulletin, remind me of the mobilizations by youth against the War in Vietnam in the 1960’s and by youth against Apartheid in the 1970’s.

If we learn from those mobilizations, now 50 years ago, there is a possibility that they can be expanded into a global movement against all violence.

Both began as localized movements and rapidly spread around the world, especially through the engagement of young people.

I had been active in the anti-Vietnam movement in the mid-60’s in the US and spent a year in Italy in 1968. The students in Italy joined the movement with enthusiasm and enlarged the agenda to include a general demand for education reform. 25 years later, working with the UNESCO team for a National Culture of Peace Program in El Salvador, we discovered that each of us had been radicalized in the movement of the 60’s and active in more than one country (USA/Italy, Nicaragua/France, Ecuador/France, etc.).

The student-led movement against Apartheid in South Africa was picked up by students around the world, including those at my university in the United States which became the first American university to divest its portfolio from companies doing business with the Apartheid regime. I was proud to be their advisor.

At that time there were still active movements of Communist Parties around the world that provided strategic and tactical support to the youth movements, helping them to achieve global networks and inspiration.

The Communists also helped broaden the agendas of action against all sorts of violence. Our actions in the USA against the Vietnam War were linked by the Left to the actions of the Civil Rights movement against the violence of racism. For example, with the help of the Left, a civil rights activist from the South who had been threatened with death in the South came north to help with our political campaign in Connecticut which gained the greatest number of votes of any anti-war candidate in 1966. And in April 1967 Martin Luther King united the civil rights movement with the anti-war movement in two dramatic speeches, one of which he delivered to an anti-war march to the United Nations. Accused of being pro-communist by FBI director J.Edgar Hoover, he was assassinated one year later.

In the 1960’s, It was Communist veterans from the 1930’s who taught us to recognize the agents provocateurs of COINTELPRO, the government agents who tried to infiltrate our ranks with guns and dynamite in order to give the government an excuse to crush our movement with violence.

The movement against the violence of Apartheid produced political leadership of people like Bishop Tutu and Nelson Mandela whose inspiration reached far beyond South Africa, inspiring us all towards a global movement against all kinds of violence and oppression.

Those of us who are veterans of the 60’s and 70’s need to assume the role played by veterans of the 30’s in those years and provide strategic and tactical support to the new generation. We need to help them broaden their agenda to protest all forms of violence and broaden their scope to become a truly global movement.

The time is short. Johan Galtung has repeated his prediction, first made in 2004, that the American Empire cannot be sustained beyond the year 2020. The window of opportunity is soon arriving when the culture of war and violence can be transformed into a culture of peace and nonviolence. The strength is in the hands of the new generation, but the support and advice of the older generation is still needed.

Towards a World without Walls

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    (Une version française suit en dessous)

Walls and frontiers are in the news these days – constructed by states in order to keep people out. At the same time, as we see in this month’s CPNN bulletin, it seems that movements of activists opposed to these walls are continuing to grow.In France, activists continue to aid migrants trying to escape from the wars and poverty of Africa and the Middle East and trying to enter France despite prosecution by the French authorities. As stated by Amnesty International, “These people are not traffickers or delinquents; they are worried, intimidated, pursued, defending human rights first and foremost.”

In the United States, activists continue to gather momentum in their movement to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants by the Trump administration. This month the mayor of New Haven proclaims “We’re the resistance”, while Trump continues to insist on the construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico to stop further immigration.

A similar wall already exists, constructed by the state of Israel to keep people from entering from Palestine. But movements of solidarity continue to grow in opposition, such as the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement newly nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

It will soon be 30 years since the historic destruction of the wall the separated East from West Berlin and East from West Germany. But another similar wall still exists, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Can the Korean wall be removed? There is a glimmer of hope for this in the actions around the Olympic games in Korea, where the top organizer said in his message to the closing ceremony: “The seed of peace you have planted here in PyeongChang will grow as a big tree, . . . a cornerstone of the unification of the Korean Peninsula.”

The Olympic Games can be seen as a foretaste of a world without walls. As stated by the UN Secretary-General, ““The Olympic spirit allows people to be together, from all over the world, to respect each other, to assert the values of tolerance, of mutual understanding that are the basic elements for peace to be possible.” The vision of thousands of athletes marching and mingling together at the opening and closing of this year’s Korean games provided viewers with a concrete image of this spirit.

In Africa, the actions for a culture of peace supported by UNESCO are designed not only to promote a lasting peace and endogenous development, but also Pan-Africanism, in other words, an Africa without walls, as was the dream a century ago of activists like W.E.B. Dubois.

The new generation can be seen as force towards a world without walls. The winners of the Youth Solidarity Fund of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization are young people acting in solidarity both within and across national frontiers. They are from a generation that travels and exchanges ideas more than ever before in history, a generation that resists visas and that crosses borders.

The construction of walls, the defense of borders and the demand for visas are among the very few functions of the state that cannot be done better by local authorities, on the one hand, and by a renewed United Nations and regional organizations, on the other hand. Walls, borders and visas go along with the most intensive function of the state which is war and war preparations, along with the taxation that supports them. Other than these, we could do without the state. Management of justice, agriculture, commerce, education, energy, labor, healthcare, transportation and communication which extend beyond the local level can already, for the most part, be managed by the various agencies of the United Nations and regional organizations such as the European Union, African Union, etc.

Of course, for a world without walls, we need a world without the injustices of war and exploitation that are producing the terrible waves of migration from south to north.

With this in mind, we can consider those who work for a world without walls are working for the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace.

PS (added 5 March): In listing the functions of the state, I neglected to mention the establishment and enforcement of tariffs. This has taken on special importance in recent days with the announcement by President Trump that he will impose tariffs on imported metals. The announcement has been met by complaints of the business media that these actions risk to launch “trade wars.” Note the relationship to the state’s monopoly on the culture of war! In fact, according to the classical sociologist Max Weber, the state can be defined as the organization that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

* * * * * * VERS UN MONDE SANS MURS * * * * * *

Les murs et les frontières sont dans les infos ces jours-ci – construits par les Etats afin d’empêcher les gens d’entrer. En même temps, comme nous le voyons dans le bulletin du CPNN de ce mois-ci, il semble que le nombre de mouvements et de militants opposés à ces murs ne cesse d’augmenter.

En France, malgré les poursuites engagées par les autorités, les activistes continuent d’aider les migrants qui tentent d’échapper aux guerres et à la pauvreté de l’Afrique et du Moyen-Orient. Comme l’a déclaré Amnesty International, «ces personnes ne sont ni des trafiquants ni des délinquants, elles sont inquiètes, intimidées, poursuivies et défendent avant tout les droits de l’Homme».

Aux États-Unis, les militants continuent à prendre de l’ampleur dans leur mouvement contre la déportation des migrants sans papiers par l’administration Trump. Ce mois-ci, le maire de New Haven proclame «Nous sommes la résistance», tandis que Trump continue d’insister sur la construction d’un mur entre les États-Unis et le Mexique pour arrêter l’immigration !!

Un mur similaire existe déjà, construit par l’Etat d’Israël afin d’empêcher les gens venant de Palestine. Mais les mouvements de solidarité continuent de grandir dans l’opposition, comme le mouvement international de boycott, de désinvestissement et de sanctions, nouvellement nominé pour la prix Nobel de la paix.

Il y aura bientôt 30 ans depuis la destruction historique du mur qui séparait l’Est et l’Ouest, à la fois de Berlin et de l’Allemagne. Mais un autre mur similaire existe encore. Il s’agit de la zone démilitarisée entre la Corée du Nord et la Corée du Sud. Le mur coréen peut-il être retiré? Il y a une lueur d’espoir dans les actions autour des Jeux Olympiques en Corée, où le top organisateur a déclaré dans son message à la cérémonie de clôture: “La graine de paix que vous avez planté ici à PyeongChang va grandir comme un grand arbre. . . une pierre angulaire de l’unification de la péninsule coréenne.”

Les Jeux Olympiques peuvent être considérés comme un avant-goût d’un monde sans murs. Comme l’a déclaré le Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, «L’esprit olympique permet aux gens d’être ensemble, de partout dans le monde, de se respecter, d’affirmer les valeurs de tolérance, de compréhension mutuelle qui sont les éléments de base de la paix possible.” La vision de milliers d’athlètes qui marchent et se mêlent à l’ouverture et à la fermeture des jeux coréens de cette année a donné aux spectateurs une image concrète de cet esprit !

En Afrique, les actions pour une culture de la paix soutenues par l’UNESCO visent non seulement à promouvoir une paix durable et un développement endogène, mais aussi le panafricanisme, autrement dit une Afrique sans murs, comme l’ont revé il y a un siècle des militants comme W.E.B. Dubois.

La nouvelle génération peut être considérée comme une force pour un monde sans murs. Les lauréats du Fonds de solidarité des jeunes de l’Alliance des civilisations des Nations Unies sont des jeunes qui agissent en solidarité à la fois à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur des frontières nationales. Ils proviennent d’une génération qui voyage et échange des idées plus que jamais auparavant dans l’histoire, une génération qui résiste aux visas et qui traverse les frontières.

La construction des murs, la défense des frontières et la demande de visas sont parmi les très peu de fonctions étatiques qui pouraient être facilement réalisées par les autorités locales, ou par les organisations régionales et une Organisation des Nations Unies reformée. Les murs, les frontières et les visas sont liés aux fonctions les plus intense de l’Etat, à savoir la guerre et ces préparatifs, ainsi que la fiscalité qui les soutient. A part cela, nous pourrions bien vivre sans Etat. La gestion de la justice, de l’agriculture, du commerce, de l’éducation, de l’énergie, du travail, des soins de santé, des transports et de la communication peut déjà être gérée par les différentes agences des Nations Unies et par les organisations régionales telles que Union Européene, Union africaine, etc.

Bien sûr, pour un monde sans murs, nous avons besoin d’un monde sans les injustices de la guerre et de l’exploitation qui produisent les terribles vagues de migration du sud vers le nord.

Dans cette optique, nous pouvons considérer que ceux qui travaillent pour un monde sans murs travaillent en même temps pour une transition d’une culture de guerre à une culture de paix.

PS (ajouté le 5 mars): En énumérant les fonctions de l’Etat, j’ai négligé de mentionner l’établissement et l’application des tarifs du Commerce. Cela a pris une importance particulière ces derniers jours, après l’annonce par le président Trump de l’imposition de tarifs sur les métaux importés. L’annonce a été accueillie très froidememt par les médias d’affaires qui disent que ces actions risquent de déclencher des «guerres commerciales». Notons la relation avec le monopole de l’Etat sur la culture de la guerre ! En fait, selon le sociologue classique Max Weber, l’Etat peut être défini comme l’organisation qui a «le monopole de l’usage légitime de la force physique sur un territoire donné».

The Role of Media for a Culture of Peace

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Over the past century the control of information, especially through the mass media, has become the most important characteristic of the culture of war. Why?

It is because there has been such an advance over the past century in democratic participation that the modern state is forced to justify its culture of war. Since people in general do not want war, the state and its military-industrial complex must convince them that military preparations are necessary in the face of external enemies. This is a major change from earlier history when the state was not subject to election by the people and it could pursue its policies regardless of their attitudes.

In fact, we see that the mass media in countries with the most powerful military forces, such as the United States, are pro-military and continually publish propaganda against external enemies and give priority to news about unavoidable violence and disaster. They do not give place to peace initiatives.

One is not usually aware of this, but I came face to face with it during the campaign for the Manifesto 2000 during the International Year for the Culture of Peace. We obtained millions of signatures in India, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Kenya, Nepal and many hundreds of thousands in Algeria, Italy, Azerbaijan, Morocco and the Philippines. But in the United States, despite signed agreements for its distribution with the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Council of Churches, each with something like 50 million members, not to mention another 69 organizational partners and over 100 events and projects (more than in other countries!), the Manifesto obtained only 46,000 signatures. I don’t believe that this was because Americans do not want peace. Instead, it was due to the fact that there was a total blackout in the mass media.

In view of this, it is especially important when the mass media begin to promote a culture of peace instead of a culture of war. This is the case in Mexico, Colombia and in much of Sub-Saharan Africa as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin.

Perhaps it is not by chance that these are regions of the world where people have suffered especially from violence and where the state with its culture of war has been weakened. In Mexico, corrupted by the narco traffic, one speaks of a “failed state.” And Colombia is just putting into practice the peace accords that ended decades of war. Africa has been weakened by colonialism and neo-colonialism (which are culture of of war) to such an extent that it is now victimized by extremist violence as well which adds to their suffering. As a result, the people have a special thirst for a culture of peace.

In the Global North the mass media have become monopolized by huge multinational companies that are part of a military-industrial-media complex closely linked to the political parties and the government. As an illustration of this, consider the money paid to the mass media by the political campaigns in the United States. The last Presidential election in the United States cost over one billion dollars, much of it spent for media advertising. And candidates for Congress pay enormous sums as well.

Fortunately, we have the Internet, where it is possible to create media that promote a culture of peace for a very small price. The annual budget of CPNN is in the hundreds (not thousands!) of dollars, even though we publish in three languages and at least one article per day. Hopefully, the Internet will remain a space that is free and available, although there is always the risk that the culture of war will try to restrict it. And hopefully, CPNN will be joined by more and more such internet initiatives for peace.

Given that the control of information has become a key function of the culture of war, it is urgent that we continue to develop media for a culture of peace throughout the world, hoping that someday it will obtain an audience as great as that for the culture of war. When that day arrives, we will have made a great advance towards the historical transition from culture of war to culture of peace.

The culture of war is hiding in plain sight: it is the state

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We see articles almost every day criticizing the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and blaming her for not stopping the terrible genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya people.

It is true that she is now the President of Myanmar, but the power of the state continues to be held by the military, which she has referred to as “my father’s army.”

In fact, Myanmar is not exceptional. The state devotes its resources and is more or less controlled, overtly or covertly, by the military throughout the world. This is not new but has been true throughout history.

Let us begin with the Great Powers. The United States, which we may more appropriately refer to as the “American empire” devotes more than half of its national budget to the military and now maintains hundreds of military bases throughout the world. Countries without an American military base are exceptional. Now we learn that almost every African country has one. Another Nobel laureate, Barak Obama, aided in this expansion.

Where is the ultimate power in China if it is not with the Red Army?

Not one of the world’s nuclear powers, the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea, took part in the negotiations at the United Nations for nuclear disarmament.

Should we have been surprised when the Arab Spring was cut short by a military coup in Egypt?

The question of state power is where I part company with those who would follow the advice of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. They believed that peace could be obtained by converting the state from capitalism to socialism. And indeed, in the 20th Century, we saw many examples where capitalist states were indeed overthrown by socialist revolutions. But what ensued was not peace. What ensured was a socialist culture of war instead of a capitalist culture of war.

And we can see why socialism has failed. A socialist culture of war will alway lose in competition with a capitalist culture of war. Socialists tend to share wealth with their client states, while capitalists exploit their client states. In the long run, it is the capitalist states that win the economic competition. The socialist states must either submit (as was the case of the USSR) or become capitalist (as in the case of China).

If socialism is to succeed it cannot be based on the state.

If peace is to be obtained, it cannot be based on the state.

Can the state be replaced? Yes. The next time the state system collapses (this time with the collapse of the American empire), we need to have an alternative systm of governance to replace it! To prepare for this we need both a strong consciousness of the people of the world that a culture of peace is necessary and possible, and we need to start developing an institutional framework to replace the state. Consciousness continues to grow as we see in our review of 2017 in the CPNN bulletin. But a new institutional framework is lacking.

Catalunya: Culture of war or culture of peace?

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It seems that the people of Catalunya will vote in December whether to declare independence from Spain, i.e. to form a separate state.

If someone were to ask my advice about this election, I would say that it risks becoming a decision to move Catalunya towards the culture of war.

Here’s why I say this.

Over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. Those who seek to take over the state (revolutionaries) and those who seek to declare independence (separatists, nationalists) may have the best intentions for a culture of peace, but inevitably, once they arrive at state power, they take on the qualities of the state which include the culture of war.

Perhaps the most spectacular example is the Russian Revolution exactly one century ago. The revolution was carried out with the slogan of bread, peace and land, but once power was in the hands of the Bolsheviks, they were forced to make it a culture of war in order to defend against the invasions from the Europeans and Americans.

So, today, the people of Catalunya, if they declare independence, will be forced to form an army to defend against being invaded by Spain and its NATO allies, who, of course, are characterized by a culture of war.

Let us look at other examples of independence movements in our time. The independence of Bosnia/Herzogovina was marked by a bloody war with Serbia over the control of Sarajevo. For the first few years after the independence of the Ukraine from Russia, there was no war, but in the past few years, the secession of eastern provinces from the Ukraine has been marked by warfare, and each side remains armed and at the risk of further conflict, exacerbated by alliances with other states.

On the other hand, the independence movement of Quebec did not get to the point of establishing a separate country, and so the Quebecois and the rest of Canada never got to the point of military confrontation.

And coming to the present time, there are those who foresee the secession of California, Oregon and Washington State from Trump America, and a recent poll by Foreign Policy magazine foresees a real possibility of civil war in the United States. But we should not forget that the American Civil War caused by the secession of the South in 1860 was the bloodiest war ever fought by Americans.

There are good alternatives for Catalunya, apart from secession.

Granted that Spain is not in good shape, neither economically nor politically. But instead of bailing out, Catalunya could help in its reform. Wouldn’t it be great if the people of Catalunya could persuade all of Spain to renounce its culture of war and seek through dialogue to establish a culture of peace with all of its citizens and its neighboring countries! A good start would be to withdraw from NATO!

Trump and Le Pen: Symptoms of the empire’s collapse

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What is the appeal of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen? Why have they able to get so many votes?

A superficial response is easy: Voters are angry and fed up with the present political system and they will vote for whoever best shares their anger and damns the present political system. The more the media attacks Trump, the more his US supporters are confirmed that he represents their own rejection of the system. And the more the other political parties and political elite attack Le Pen, the more the French voters are confirmed that she is allied with them against the present political system.

But a more profound response requires that we analyze why voters are angry and fed up. One cause is their economic hardships. The average wages of a worker continue to decrease year after year. More and more families are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive. And they understand, to some extent, that the problem is due to government policies that support capitalist exploitation, enabling the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. On the other hand, many are confused, misled by populists like Trump and Le Pen, who tell them that the problem is caused by imigrants who take their jobs and receive government welfare.

There is a classic term to describe the anger and frustration related to economic hardship that is blamed on the government and other institutions of the society. It is called “alienation.” The young Karl Marx devoted his doctoral thesis to this topic, describing how industrial workers, unlike handicraft workers in previous centuries, no longer had control over the products that they created. Instead, the capitlalist controlled production and took the profits from it. The more the worker toiled, the more the capitalist got richer and could exploit him even more.

Ironically, when I worked in the 70’s and 80’s in the old Soviet Union, I found that my so-called communist friends had never heard the Russian word for alienation (отчуждение), even though their economic conditions were deteriorating as their country’s economy declined under the burden of the arms race. However, they knew that the government was lying to them about the economic situation. They would say “You can find the truth anywhere except in Pravda and the news anywhere except in Izvestia.” These were the two leading state-run news media in the Soviet Union and their names are the Russian words for Truth and News.

Nowadays, Trump and Le Pen make short-term gains by criticiizing the news media. In the short-term, they gain support of many voters who have come to mistrust pronouncements by the government and the capitalist class that are repeated by the media. The voters think that Trump and Le Pen are “on their side.”

But in the long run, they are playing with fire.

In fact, it is true that the media are lying and that the government is directly or indirectly responsible for the lies. If you read Rolling Stone magazine back in the 1970’s, you would have know from Carl Bernstein’s article that all the major media were infiltrated by the CIA during the Vietnam War in order to ensure support by the American people for the war. Although the Bernstein article was simply the account of the US Senate hearings, headed by Senator Frank Church, he could not publish it anywhere except in Rolling Stone. Why? Of course, because the other media were controlled by the CIA!

The Bernstein story is not an exception. It is more and more the rule. In fact, as I conclude in The History of the Culture of War, the control of the media through secrets and lies has become the most important weapon of the culture of war.

We all know now about the big lie of weapons of mass destruction used to justify the war in Iraq. How many remember the falsified Gulf of Tonkin incident that was used to justify the war in Vietnam? Few know the reason for the war against Ghadafi in Libya: it was because he was using Libya’s oil money to strengthen the African Union to the point that the Africans began to resist exploitation by the Americans and Europeans. And unless you dig deep in the foreign media you will not know that the media reports of a poison gas attack by the Syrian government used to justify American intervention, was based on what appears to be faked videos by the White Helmets, an organization established and funded by the US and UK governments as part of their campaign in the Syrian war.

In fact, control of the media, including secrets and lies, is necessary to the culture of war if is to survive. This is due to two other general historical trends: the increase in democracy throughout the world, and the increasing anti-war sentiment throughout the world. People don’t want their country to make war. A few years ago, a political scientist at Yale got a lot of press by arguing that democracies do not make war against other democracies. When I looked at his data, I came to a different intepretation: in order to conduct a war, a democracy has to convince its people that the enemy is not a democracy or else they have to make war secretly, because otherwise the people will not support it. For example, the American wars against Cuba and Nicaragua, as well as the Cold War against Russia, were possible because they could convince the American voter that these were totalitarian countries rather than democracies. And in order to make war against Chile they had to conduct it secretly. The same process is evident today as the government (and the media) condemn Libya and Syria as totalitarian, while supporting even more authoritatian allies, especially Saudi Arabia. The new form of American warfare, the drone attacks that were greatly increased by Obama, enable the US to engage in secret wars throughout the world.

But in the end, the political and economic system of the American empire will pay a heavy price for the manipulation of the news. As it becomes more blatant and more universal and more evident, it increases the alienation of the people from their government and their media. In the short run, it opens the door to demagogues like Trump and Le Pen and perhaps even worse yet to come.

But the heaviest price will come when the economic system collapses. The people of America and Euorope may do what the Soviet people did when their economic system collapsed. The Soviets stayed in their homes and the troops stayed in their barracks, saying “good riddance!” to the Gorbachev government and the Communist Party in Russia. The system collapsed with a whimper rather than a bang!

It’s a vicious cycle. The alienation of voters makes possible the electoral victories of demagogues and fascists. In turn, these demagogues and facists increase government priorities for military spending which, eventually, will push the American empire over the same cliff as the Russian empire before it, unless of course they stumble into a world war which would be and even worse outcome.

Fortunately, since our species is resilient and our history is dialectical, there are positive reactions against the election of demagogues. As we continue to cover in CPNN, there is a strong positive fightback against the Trump administration which this month concentrated on saving the planet from his disastrous denial of climate change.

And there is also a positive fightback against the secrets and lies of the government and the mass media in the form of independent media. Thanks to modern technology, internet news systems like CPNN globally as well as many local independent news websites and low-cost local radio stations have been made possible by technological progress. And more and more people are relying on the independent media for their news.

I got a taste of this last month when I was invited to participate in a panel discussion in Oregon with other independent media operators on the topic “Cultivating a Culture of Peace in an Era of Trump: What’s the Media’s Role?” It was good to see that CPNN is not the only independent media out there, but there are many good local media in Oregon as well. And thanks to modern technology I was able to take part in the discussion by means of Skype.

To quote the National Coordinator for the Peoples Climate Movement, “Today’s actions are not for one day or one week or one year. We are a movement that is getting stronger everyday for our families, our communities and our planet. To change everything, we need everyone.”

Women, religion, socialism, and the state

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

Each March in CPNN, we celebrate International Women’s Day and the annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and we see how women are a force for peace.

There is a deep historical reason for this. As I found in my one foray into anthropological studies, women were excluded from war very early in human prehistory because of the social contradiction between war and marriage. Marriage, in prehistory, was often arranged between different tribes or communities that would also be at war from time to time. In such a war, a woman’s loyalty was torn between her husband on one side and her father and brothers on the other. There was a simple solution: women were excluded from war.

Does that mean that we should promote women to positions of leadership in order to achieve peace? The answer is no. And we saw a good example last year. Hillary Clinton became the first woman who was a serious candidate to become President of the United States. And as we documented in CPNN, she was a war candidate, having been largely responsible when she was Secretary of State for American involvement in the wars of Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

It turns out the the state as a force for war has a stronger effect than women as a force for peace. Once a woman becomes head of state, she becomes part of the culture of war. Another example in recent history was Margaret Thatcher in the UK.

This is similar to the situation for religion and war. As a general rule, religions are for peace. We devote an entire section of the Culture of Peace Network to the theme of “How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

But when religions take power in the state, they become a force for war. Look at the situation today in Israel and Iran for clear examples. Once again we see that the state as a force for war has a stronger effect than religion as a force for peace.

And finally, consider the relation of socialism and war. In general those who are for socialism are also for peace. Exactly 100 years ago, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia under the slogan of “Peace, Bread and Land.” Their leader, Lenin, was a powerful critic of imperialist wars. In his essay War and Revolution, he wrote “Peace reigned in Europe, but this was because domination over hundreds of millions of people in the colonies by the European nations was sustained only through constant, incessant, interminable wars, which we Europeans do not regard as wars at all, since all too often they resembled, not wars, but brutal massacres, the wholesale slaughter of unarmed peoples.”

But once the Bolsheviks took power, they succumbed to the culture of war of the state. Trotsky called for forced labor camps to “build socialism” and his rival, Stalin, put them into place and later, invaded by Nazi Germany, he built a powerful war machine which eventually led to the crash of the Soviet empire.

The crash of the Soviet empire was forced, intentionally, by the United States and its allies, by bankrupting them with the arms race. I cannot forget passing by Lenin’s tomb in the May Day celebration in Moscow in 1976 and looking up to see all of the Soviet leaders, all old soldiers proudly wearing their military medals.

No one is forcing the United States today to be bankrupted with an arms race, but we see the same old soldiers with their military medals being appointed by President Trump to run (and bankrupt) the American empire. They learn nothing from history!

In fact, as I have documented in “The History of the Culture of War,” over the course of history the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. Other entities of the the culture of war, such as cities which flourished in Europe in the Middle Ages, were taken over by the state, and since then cities have no culture of war.

All of this goes to show that in order to move to a culture of peace, we must develop alternatives to state power. That is why I work for a global network of culture of peace cities that could someday run the United Nations when the state system collapses into bankruptcy and chaos.

If you can help with this, contact me at coordinator@cpnn-world.org.

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LES FEMMES, LA RELIGION, LE SOCIALISME ET L’ETAT

Chaque année en mars, nous célébrons dans CPNN la Journée internationale de la femme et la réunion annuelle de la Commission des Nations Unies de la condition de la femme ; cela nous permet de voir comment les femmes sont une force pour la paix.

Il y a une raison profonde dans notre préhistoire. Comme je l’ai constaté lors de mon incursion dans les études anthropologiques, les femmes ont été exclues de la guerre très tôt dans la préhistoire, en raison de la contradiction sociale entre la guerre et le mariage. Le mariage était souvent arrangé entre différentes tribus ou communautés qui seraient également de temps en temps en guerre. Dans de telles guerres, la loyauté d’une femme était douteuse, parce que partagée entre son mari d’un côté et la famille de son père et de ses frères de l’autre. Il restait une solution simple: exclure les femmes de la guerre !

Cela signifie-t-il que les femmes doivent être promues à des postes de direction pour parvenir à la paix? La réponse est non. Et nous avons vu un exemple récent l’année dernière. Hillary Clinton est devenue la première femme candidate sérieuse pour devenir président des États-Unis. Et comme nous précisé dans CPNN, elle était une candidate ‘’guerrière’’, ayant été largement responsable de l’implication américaine dans les guerres Libye, de Syrie et d’Ukraine quand elle était la ministre des Affaires étrangères.

Il semblerait que l’État en tant que force de guerre a un effet plus fort que celui des femmes comme force pour la paix. Une fois qu’une femme devient chef de l’État, elle devient partie intégrante de la culture de la guerre. Un autre exemple dans l’histoire récente a été Margaret Thatcher au Royaume-Uni.

Ceci est semblable à la situation pour la religion et la guerre. En théorie, les religions sont engagées pour la paix. Nous consacrons une partie entière de CPNN au thème : «Comment différentes confessions peuvent-elles travailler ensemble pour la compréhension et l’harmonie? »

Mais quand une religion prend le pouvoir dans un état, elle devient une force pour la guerre. Regardez la situation actuelle en Israël et en Iran pour des exemples clairs. Une fois de plus, nous voyons que l’État, en tant que force de guerre, a plus d’effet que la religion comme force de paix.

Et enfin, considérons le rapport du socialisme et de la guerre. En général, ceux qui sont pour le socialisme sont aussi pour la paix ( voir la position de Jean Jaurès avant la 1ere guerre mondiale).

Il y a exactement 100 ans, les Bolcheviks prenaient le pouvoir en Russie sous le slogan «Paix, pain et terre». Leur chef, Lénine, était un puissant critique des guerres impérialistes. Dans son essai ‘’Guerre et Révolution’’, il écrit: “Pendant que la paix régnait en Europe, les nations européennes exerçaient une très forte domination sur des millions de personnes dans les colonies. Cette domination n’a pu exister que parce qu’elle n’était soutenue que par des combats constants, incessants, interminables que les Européens ne considéraient pas comme des guerres, puisqu’elles ressemblaient d’avantage à des massacres brutaux, à l’abattage massif de peuples désarmés.”

Mais quand les Bolcheviks ont pris le pouvoir, ils ont succombé à la culture de la guerre de l’état. Trotsky a proposé de creer des camps de travaux forcés pour «construire le socialisme» et son rival, Staline, les a mis en place. Puis plus tard, envahi par l’Allemagne nazie, il a construit une puissante machine de guerre qui a finalement mené à l’effondrement de l’empire soviétique.

L’effondrement de l’empire soviétique a été forcé, intentionnellement, par les Etats-Unis et ses alliés, en le ruinant dans la course aux armements. Je suis passé par le tombeau de Lénine lors de la célébration du mois de mai 1976 à Moscou et j’ai vu tous les dirigeants soviétiques, tous ces vieux soldats portant fièrement leurs médailles militaires.

Personne ne force les États-Unis aujourd’hui à être mis en faillite par une course aux armements, mais nous voyons les mêmes vieux soldats avec leurs médailles militaires, nommés par le président Trump pour gérer (et mettre en faillite) l’empire américain. Ils n’apprennent rien de l’histoire!

En fait, comme je détaillé dans “TL’histoire de la culture de la guerre“, au cours de l’histoire, l’État est parvenu à monopoliser la culture de la guerre. D’autres entités, telles que les villes qui ont fleuri en Europe au Moyen Âge, ont été prises en charge par l’État, et donc n’ont plus de culture de la guerre.

Tout cela montre que pour progresser vers une culture de paix, nous devons développer des alternatives au pouvoir de l’Etat. C’est pourquoi je travaille pour un réseau mondial de villes de la culture de la paix qui pourrait éventuellement gérer les Nations Unies lorsque le système d’État s’effondrera dans la faillite et le chaos.

Role of mass demonstrations in history

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Once again, as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, we are seeing mass demonstrations against corrupt and repressive government policies, which leads us to the question of their historical significance.

I am reminded of mass demonstrations which I have experienced over the years in the United States: the gathering for civil rights at the Washington Monument in 1963 when Martin Luther King made his great speech “I have a dream!”; the mobilization of one million people for a nuclear test ban in New York’s Central Park in 1982; and the mobilizations in 2003 against the American invasion of Iraq which involved millions of people around the world. The mobilization in Barcelona in 2003 was cited as the precedent for the new mobilization a few days ago in that city demanding that Spain should receive refugees.

The effect of these demonstrations, as I look back at them, was to mobilize the consciousness of participants and onlookers, to make them realize that progressive change is possible if enough people demand it. In the words of the World Social Forum, it makes us realize that “A better world is possible!” In the words of the Black Panther Party in the 1960’s, “Power to the People!” And in the words of the poem I wrote when working for the culture of peace at UNESCO:

“… those who would drive the team of peace
must link arms on either side,
harness their anger against injustice,
conquer the fears of centuries…”

Yes, this kind of consciousness is essential for progress! In the cases mentioned above, it led to civil rights legislation in the United States in the 1960’s, to nuclear agreements of the 1980’s (Gorbachev said at the time he was influenced by the mass demonstrations), and to the great increase in consciousness against the culture of war that we have seen in this century.

But consciousness, by itself, is not enough to bring us to a culture of peace.

Think of the massive demonstrations in Iran in 1978 or in Egypt’s Tahir Square in 2011. Yes, there was a great leap forward in consciousness of the people in those countries. And yes, change was achieved. But in the end they did not lead to a culture of peace, but rather to new authoritarian (culture of war) governments in Iran and Egypt.

I come back to the analysis put forward last year for the changes towards peace in Colombia, which has also been accompanied by a great increase in consciousness. Like Martin Luther King in the 1960’s, President Santos has received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in this important historical process. But as I wrote last year in my advice to the people of Colombia, one cannot leave progress in the hands of the state because ultimately the state is inextricably linked to the culture of war. Instead, “develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that you do not have to depend solely on the national government to maintain the peace.”

It is for that reason that we continue to search for more initiatives such as the peace commission of the city of New Haven where I live.

Can we learn from history?

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The events reflected in recent CPNN bulletins concerning the voting split in the United Nations and the results of last fall’s elections, remind me of turbulent periods of the 20th Century and raise the question if we can learn from what happened then.

The rise of populist and potentially fascist parties last year remind one of the rise of fascism in the 1930’s. What can we learn from those times?

First of all, we must avoid a Third World War. That requires a unified opposition against fascism and preparations for war such as those that took place in Germany and Spain in the 1930’s. A lesson from the 1930’s is that the opposition was weakened by serious infighting between communists, socialists and anarchists. In France, in the late 1930’s there was a united front under the leadership of Leon Blum (who later played a major role in the establishment of UNESCO), but by then it was too late for united fronts in Germany and Spain.

Lesson 1: the need for solidarity of those opposed to fascism and war.

These times also remind us of the 1960’s and the movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. I was part of the new generation at that time in the United States, and our generation was opposed by many peace activists of the previous generation who were influenced by the anti-communism of the government and the media. We were considered too radical! Of course, there were some in the previous generation who worked with us, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X. but they paid for it with their lives (to what extent at the hands of government forces remains an open question). In Europe, too, the new generation took a revolutionary stance in the face of opposition for the most part from their elders.

Lesson 2: the need to listen to the new generation and work with their progressive leadership.

Returning to the voting split in the United Nations, we can ask if the Global South can provide leadership at this period of history beyond their votes at the UN. In recent years, this blog has followed progressive trends in Latin America and Africa, but the more a regime is progressive the more likely it will be overthrown by the forces of imperialism. The classic example from a previous generation was the government of Allende in Chile. But now, Venezuela is overturning the left-wing legacy of Hugo Chavez and Brazil has overturned the leftist legacy of Lula. And perhaps most dramatic was the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, we may assume because of his leadership for African unity to oppose Northern imperialism.

Lesson 3: the need to develop oppposition based in the civil society rather than relying on states to provide the leadership that is needed. Even in Colombia, which has provided leadership for peace in the last year, we have warned that the people should develop a strong civil society and not depend on the government to remain progressive. Even if the government is not overthrown, it may be weakened by corruption as is the case now in South Africa.

As for the reaction to the rise of right-wing politics, we have been following the post-election fightback for human rights in the USA, which can also serve as an example for other countries faced with similar problems. One of the outstanding aspects of the fightback for human rights in the USA is the leadership of cities. Something like 300 American cities continue to maintain their stance as sanctuaries to protect undocumented immigrants against national police raids, despite the threat of the new president to cut funding to those cities. These are the cities that voted against Trump and that mounted huge demonstrations on the day after his inauguration.

Lesson 4: the need to develop an alternative progressive movement based on cities.

These lessons are played out at a local level in my city, where I am writing the annual report, The State of the Culture of Peace in New Haven, for the official city peace commission, of which I am a member. Here are some of the remarks of activists who were interviewed for that report and who were asked about how to respond to the new political situation in the country:

* Ideally, we should unite the widest movement possible to defend the human rights of everyone, beginning with the most vulnerable. And at least, we should struggle against divisiveness, not necessarily to convince the other, but at least to find ways to collaborate.

* Listen to the youth. They have a more holistic view than us adults, especially with regard to sexual orientation. They’re angry and will not tolerate inaction. We need them in public office to push the legislature to defend public services and policies.

* Resistance is needed at every level against hate and persecution. For immigrant rights, the city needs to continue providing leadership and link up to the resistance on a national level. Despite the election results and false news by some of the mass media, we must realize that progressive opinions are those of the majority of Americans.

* Protest is necessary, but with an agenda that is clear and unifying. We need dialogue at every level, engaging the opposition and taking care that legitimate anger does not stifle dialogue. We need the emergence of a moral voice like that of Martin Luther King, with an effective media strategy.

I have presented a rationale previously that we need to develop a movement of progressive cities that can take control of the United Nations if and when there is an economic and political crash that leads the Member States to more or less abandon the UN.

But now we arrive at a major contradiction. On the one hand, cities are more progressive than rural areas, but on the other hand, they are also more vulnerable if and when there is a global economic crash. And there is reason to think that such a crash is imminent. We face the possibility of a sudden and traumatic reversal of the trend towards urbanization that has been developing over recent centuries.

That leads us to Lesson 5: The need to develop links between progressive organizations based in cities (such as City Peace Commissions) and adjacent rural associations that can help us survive a global economic crash.

In this regard, an economic crash at this point in history could be worse than that of the Great Depression, because small, self-sufficient farming has been replaced by industrialized farming dependent on oil deliveries. It is not easy to find an historic precedent or roadmape for how we should respond. Perhaps the closest is the experience of Cuba after loss of oil deliveries following the crash of the Soviet Union when they reformed their agricultural production to be more diversified, more integrated, and smaller in scale.

Where are we in the course of history?

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I have long believed that we are at the point of human history where we can make the transition from the culture of war which has dominated us for 5,000 years to a new culture, a culture of peace. As I prepare the CPNN review for 2016 and compare it to the CPNN review that I wrote one year ago for the year 2015, it gives me the chance to reflect on the question: where are we in this transition?

I frame my response in the context of my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, in which I have tried to imagine the stages by which the transition to a culture of peace could take place.

In the novella, I suppose that the system of nation states, led by the Amerian empire, which have come to monopolize the culture of war, will crash, first as an economic collapse, then follwed by a political collapse (such as I witnessed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s). It will be accompanied by attempts to impose fascist governments, such as occurred during the great depression of the 1930’s. To move forward, we will need strong nonviolent movements to resist the movement towards fascism. I imagine that after the crash, governments will abandon the United Nations and leave a void in which cities, which no longer have a culture of war, can take change of a renewed United Nations and thereby manage the transition to a culture of peace.

In my blog last month, I remarked that “the election of Trump promises to embolden fascists everywhere. We already see fascism in Turkey, and it is threatened in Brazil and Venezuela. Not to mention fascist political parties on the rise throughout Europe. Hence, we are aleady challenged to overcome fascism now, before we suffer from the economic collapse. Perhaps that is to our advantage, because the struggle will be more difficult later when economic survival becomes the priority.” More details are provided in the recent CPNN article that quotes the human rights chief of the United Nations, “‘Fascist Rhetoric’ Becoming Commonplace in US and Europe: UN” Let us recall that fascism is simply the extreme form of the culture of war, with all of its eight aspects exaggerated.

In other words, we are already seeing signs of political collapse, even though the global economy continues to struggle along. At the same time, there is no let-up in the various economic contradictions listed by Johan Galtung as the basis of his prediction that the American empire will crash by the year 2020. These contradictions include: 1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger [i.e. the widening gap between rich and poor]; 2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work; and 3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming. Not to mention the ever increasing balance of payments deficit of the United States as it imports without exporting, and the economic burden of its military bases around the world.

Another sign of political collapse is suggested in recent speculations that the new government in the United States, may withdraw its support for the United Nations.

As I concluded in last month’s blog: “We are entering a watershed period of human history. Although it is being pushed forward by economic factors, the ultimate determining factor can become the social consciousness of the people themselves.”

Now, let us look at the CPNN reviews for 2015 and 2016. Do they give us cause for optimism? In the reviews, we have given particular attention to the transition to peace in Colombia, as well as advances elsewhere in Latin America. However, as we have discussed previously, the transition to a culture of peace will ultimately have to be global in scope if it is to succeed.

On a global level, our reviews present some evidence that the social consciousness of the people is developing rapidly enough to resist fascism in the coming years? In particular, we see advances in the practice of nonviolence and the development of peace education, as well as continually expanding participation in the International Day of Peace. We have seen advances in confronting terrorism without violence, and, most recently, the strengthening of sanctuary cities, universities and churches in the face of threats by the new Presdient of the United States.

But, as we have often considered, consciousness is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by the development of a new institutional framework, if we are to replace the nation states in a reformed United Nations. Here, it seems we are lagging. There are calls for UN reform, but they do not seem radical enough. There is growth in peace cities, as reviewed by CPNN, but it seems that the growth is not yet sufficient to play a determining role.

Some things can be done immediately. In particular, I have previously proposed the establishment of an Alternative Security Council composed of mayors or parliamentarians from all regions of the world. Such a “Shadow Security Council: would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. It would provide a first step towards the eventual institutional change that is needed.

There is important work to be done!

Entering a watershed period of human history

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

“We’ve seen two shocking election results recently: the defeat of the referendum for the peace accords in Colombia, and the election of Donald Trump in the USA based on a racist and xenophobic campaign. What does it mean? It means that voters in the two countries are alienated from their governments – quite simply, they do not trust the government. And they are angry. So what comes next? Do we slide back into war or into fascism? Or do we return to the people, listen to their fears and anger, and organize them in the sense that Martin Luther King told us?: “The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.

Hopefully, we can avoid a nuclear war, which might have been greater if Clinton had been elected.

But at the same time, yes, we are moving backwards.

By looking at the big picture, we can see that this is inevitable. As I describe in my novella, “I have seen the promised land“, the American empire is crashing, and it will bring immense human costs in dislocation and suffering, far greater than we can imagine at this time. As a result, we may assume, as I describe in the novella, that there will be attempts to impose a fascist “solution” much as was done during the greatest economic collapse of the 20th century.

In fact, the election of Trump promises to embolden fascists everywhere. We already see fascism in Turkey, and it is threatened in Brazil and Venezuela. Not to mention fascist political parties on the rise throughout Europe.

Hence, we are aleady challenged to overcome fascism now, before we suffer from the economic collapse. Perhaps that is to our advantage, because the struggle will be more difficult later when economic survival becomes the priority.

In the CPNN bulletin, we list some of the measures being taken already in the fightback against the attacks on human rights in the United States and towards territorial peace in Colombia. The move towards sanctuary universities, cities and states in the USA is especially impressive. Were there such moves when minorities were targeted in Germany during the 30’s? We cannot forget the words of the pastor Martin Niemöller in Germany at that time, “First they came for the communists and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist.” Then the trade unionists. . Then the Jews . . . Then the catholics. “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We note that in both the USA and Colombia, the fightback takes place primarily on the local level, often at the level of cities and towns. At the national level, the corruption of the culture of war continues. We may be slow it down, but it cannot be eradicated there because it is too much entrenched in the structure of national government. At the local level, however, we can be free from the culture of war and free to develop strength for the culture of peace.

In Colombia, there was consideration of a process by which the revised peace accord would be adopted through open municipal councils with direct participation of citizens. Unfortunately, however, there is so much violence and threat of renewal of war that it was decided not to take this route but rather to seek ratification immediately from the national congress. However, in the long run, I have argued elsewhere, the peace will not be sustainable until it is established and maintained at the local and municipal level.

We also note that in both the USA and Colombia, the leadership is being taken by young people. That is inevitable and necessary. As I documented previously in my history of American Peace Movements, each new peace movement must reinvent its methods, because the preceding movement has become rigid and inflexible in its approach. However, that does not mean that the older generation should remain on the sidelines. We have ever more work to do as advisors to the new generation. In that regard, I call your attention to the example of I.F. Stone who served as an advisor to the youth movements of the 1960’s. The new generation of activists will have to look for our advice based on the experience of previous generations, and we must be there alongside them.

To some extent, our advice will be tactical. We must teach the methods of nonviolence and mass mobilization. We must alert the new generation to avoid the influence of agents provocateurs.

But even more so, it is important to provide strategic advice. The most important task is to prepare both the consciousness of the people and new institutional frameworks, so that when the institutions of the culture of war have momentarily collapsed, we can create a new United Nations based directly on the people.

We are entering a watershed period of human history. Although it is being pushed forward by economic factors, the ultimate determining factor can become the social consciousness of the people themselves.

      NOUS ENTRONS DANS UNE PERIODE CRITIQUE DE NOTRE HISTOIRE

    Nous avons vu récemment deux résultats électoraux choquants: la défaite du référendum sur les accords de paix en Colombie et l’élection de Donald Trump aux Etats-Unis après une campagne raciste et xénophobe. Qu’est-ce que cela signifie ? Cela signifie que les électeurs dans les deux pays se sentent aliénés, dépossédés de leurs gouvernements – tout simplement, ils ne font plus confiance à leurs dirigeants et ils sont en colère. 
Alors, que va t-il arriver maintenant ? Allons-nous tomber dans la guerre ou dans le fascisme, ou retournerons-nous vers les peuples ? Serons nous capable d’écouter leurs craintes et leur colère et de nous organiser dans le sens exprimé par Martin Luther King? :”La tâche suprême est d’organiser et d’unir le peuple pour que sa colère devienne une force transformatrice“.

    Espérons que nous pourrons éviter une guerre nucléaire, bien que cela ait été plus probable si Hillary Clinton avait été élue.

    Mais en même temps, oui, nous sommes dans la régression. 

En regardant les grandes lignes, nous pouvons voir qu’une régression est inévitable. Comme je l’ai décrit dans la Nouvelle: «J’ai vu la terre promise», l’empire américain est en train de s’effondrer, et il entraînera des coûts humains énormes dans la dislocation et la souffrance, beaucoup plus grands que ce que nous pouvons imaginer. En conséquence, nous pouvons supposer, comme dans mon roman, qu’il y aura des tentatives pour imposer une «solution» fasciste, comme cela a été le cas lors du plus grand effondrement économique du XXe siècle, en 1929.

    En fait, l’élection de Trump promet d’encourager les fascistes partout. Nous le voyons déjà en Turquie, et il semble vouloir émerger au Brésil et au Venezuela. Sans parler des partis politiques fascistes à la hausse dans toute l’Europe.

    Par conséquent, nous devons lutter MAINTENANT contre le fascisme, avant que nous ne souffrions de l’effondrement économique. Peut-être est-ce à notre avantage, parce que la lutte sera bien plus difficile plus tard lorsque la survie économique deviendra la priorité.

    Nous citerons quelques-unes des mesures qui sont déjà prises pour lutter contre les atteintes aux Droits de l’Homme aux États-Unis et pour aller vers la paix territoriale en Colombie. Les initiatives pour les sanctuaires dans les universités, les villes et les États aux États-Unis sont particulièrement impressionnantes (cf. cpnn). Y a t-il eu de tels mouvements lorsque les minorités ont été ciblées en Allemagne dans les années 30 ? Souvenons nous des paroles du pasteur Martin Niemöller en Allemagne à cette époque : “Quand ils sont venus chercher les communistes, je n ai rien dit, je n’étais pas communiste. Quand ils sont venus chercher les syndicalistes, je n’ai rien dit, je n’étais pas syndicaliste.” Puis ils sont venus chercher les juifs, ensuite les catholiques. “Puis ils sont venus me chercher. Et il ne restait plus personne pour dire quelque chose.”

    Nous notons que, aux États-Unis comme en Colombie, la lutte se fait principalement au niveau local, souvent au niveau des villes. A l’échelle nationale, la corruption de la culture de guerre continue. Nous espérons pouvoir éviter le fascisme et ses extrêmes ; mais la culture de guerre ne peut pas être éradiquée dans la structure du gouvernement national parce qu’elle y est trop ancrée. Au niveau local, cependant, il n’y a pas de culture de guerre et nous sommes libre de développer la force de la culture de la paix.

    En Colombie, avait été envisagé un processus par lequel l’accord de paix révisé serait adopté par des conseils municipaux ouverts avec la participation directe des citoyens. Malheureusement, il y a tellement de violence et de menace de renouveau de la guerre qu’il a été décidé de ne pas emprunter cette voie, mais plutôt de demander immédiatement la ratification du congrès national. Cependant, à long terme, comme je l’ai toujours soutenu , la paix ne sera durable que si elle est établie et maintenue au niveau local.

    Notons aussi que, aux États-Unis comme en Colombie, les jeunes sont les nouveaux leaders. C’est logique, souhaitable et nécessaire. Comme je l’ai documenté dans mon histoire des mouvements pacifistes américains, chaque nouveau mouvement pour la paix doit réinventer ses méthodes, parce que le mouvement précédent est devenu rigide et inflexible dans son approche. Cependant, cela ne signifie pas que les générations précédentes doivent rester à l’écart. Nous avons encore plus de travail à faire en tant que conseillers pour la nouvelle génération. Je me souviens de l’exemple de I.F. Stone qui a servi de conseiller aux mouvements de jeunesse des années 1960. La nouvelle génération de militants devra chercher nos conseils sur la base de l’expérience des générations précédentes, et nous devons être là, à leur coté.

    Dans une certaine mesure, nos conseils seront tactiques. Nous devons enseigner les méthodes de non violence et de mobilisation de masse. Nous devons alerter la nouvelle génération comment éviter l’influence des agents provocateurs.

    Mais plus encore, il est important de fournir des conseils stratégiques. La tâche la plus importante est de préparer à la fois la conscience du peuple et les nouveaux cadres institutionnels, de sorte que lorsque les institutions de la culture de la guerre s’effondreront, à ce moment nous puissions créer une nouvelle ONU basée directement sur le peuple.

    Nous entrons dans une période critique de l’Histoire de l’humanité. Bien qu’il soit poussé par des facteurs économiques, l’ultime facteur déterminant peut devenir la conscience sociale des peuples eux-mêmes.

How history moves: Economic change precedes; political change follows

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

When I visited and worked in the Soviet Union and later in Russia I was able to see how history moves. I watched from within as an empire crashed.

The crash of the Soviet empire, foreseen a decade before by Johan Galtung, was first an economic crash, and then secondarily to that, a political crash. The empire crashed economically because it lost the arms race to the West. The West, led by the United States which devoted something like 40% of its budget to the military, forced the Soviet empire to match them, soldier by soldier, boot by boot, rocket by rocket, military scientist by military scientist. But since the Soviet empire had only half the size of the West’s economy, it had to double the percentage of their economy devoted to the arms race.

Hence, it went bankrupt first and the West won.

Once the Soviet economy crashed, the political system crashed on top of it. The people stayed home, the soldiers stayed in their barracks, and the oligarchs, aided by CIA economic advisors, finished the economic collapse by drastically devaluating the ruble. The people stayed home because they were totally alienated from the system. They used to say you could find truth anywhere except in Pravda (which means truth in Russian) and the news anywhere except in Izvestia (which means news in Russian).

In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we see once again how political change lags behind. Here it concerns the solution to the problem of global warming. We have known for many years that to halt the global warming, we need to change from fossil fuels to renewable energy. But politically, we could not make the change. Last year’s global summit of the world’s nations failed to address the challenge of abandoning fossil fuels.

It’s the economic factors that are making the change. Renewable solar energy has become so cheap and readily available that it is more and more replacing energy from fossil fuels. And the faster we change over to renewable energy for economic reasons, the faster the political change will follow.

The first great sociologist, Karl Marx, understood this dynamic when he developed his theory of historical change. Here’s what he wrote in his Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or — this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms — with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.

How does this apply the great historical change that we have yet to make: the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace?

There is a growing psychological and political consciousness around the world that this transition is necessary. The movement for a culture of peace has been inspired by the movement for sustainable development which has been the greatest political movement of the past half century.

But as we are seeing, the movement for sustainable development can only become effective as a sequel to economic changes which make sustainable development possible and profitable.

The sequence of economic change first, political change second, applies equally to the transition towards a culture of peace. A culture of peace will become politically possible after the economy of the culture of war has crashed. When will that come? Too soon, because we are not ready for it!!!

The same economic fate that destroyed the Soviet empire is already far advanced towards the destruction of the American empire – and for the same reason – devotion of the greatest part of the economy to armaments and wars. Johan Galtung predicted in 2004 that the crash would come by the year 2020. The economic crash will be followed by a political crash; Americans and European are already as alienated from their political system as the Russians were in 1989. As evidence, just look at the abstention from voting in national elections.

When the American empire crashes, the rest of the world will crash with it, just as Eastern Europe crashed when the Soviet Union crashed.

At that moment, there will be a window of opportunity to establish a culture of peace – but that can happen only if we are prepared with institutional frameworks that can replace the nation states. If we are not prepared, we risk the replacement of the present system by a fascist system – just as happened after the crash of 1929 in Europe (and almost in the United States as well).

Whereas the question of global warming and changes of energy sources are matters of many decades, the question of the collapse of the economy of the culture of war is a matter of only a few years. Like the collapse of the Soviet Union, it threatens to catch us by surprise.

I work with cities in the hopes that they will be able to provide an institutional framework to replace the role of the nation states as the basis for the United Nations Security Council (See blog of June 1), but the work is painstakingly slow. Too slow. History is moving faster than us!

      • Comment bouge l’histoire: Les changements economiques passent avant le politique !

        Durant les années où j’ai voyagé et travaillé en URSS, puis plus tard en Russie, j’ai vu comment l’Histoire bouge. Je regardais de l’intérieur pourquoi et comment s’écrase un empire.

        Le crash de l’empire soviétique, prévu une dizaine d’années auparavant par Johan Galtung, fut d’abord un crash économique, puis ensuite seulement, un crash politique. L’empire s’est écrasé économiquement parce qu’il a perdu la course aux armements à l’Ouest. L’Occident, dirigé par les Etats-Unis, qui consacrait environ 40% de son budget à l’armée, força l’empire soviétique à les égaler, soldat contre soldat, botte contre botte, fusée contre fusée, scientifique militaire contre scientifique militaire ! L’empire soviétique ayant seulement la moitié de la taille de l’économie de l’Ouest, il a dû consacrer le double à la course aux armements et a donc fait une ponction enorme dans son économie.

        Par conséquent, il a fait faillite et l’Occident a gagné !

        Une fois que l’économie soviétique est tombée, le système politique s’est écrasé à son tour. Les citoyens sont restés chez eux, les soldats sont restés dans leurs casernes, et les oligarques, aidés par des conseillers économiques de la CIA, ont terminé l’effondrement économique en dévaluant le rouble. Les citoyens sont restés chez eux parce qu’ils étaient totalement aliénés au système et qu’ils n’avaient plus confiance en lui. Je les ai même entendu dire que l’on pouvait trouver la vérité partout, sauf dans Pravda (qui signifie la vérité en russe) et les nouvelles partout sauf dans l’Izvestia (ce qui veut dire nouvelles en russe)

        Revenons à l’actualité, dans le bulletin de CPNN ce mois-ci, nous voyons une fois de plus que les changements politiques sont à la traine en ce qui concerne le problème du réchauffement climatique. Nous savons depuis de nombreuses années que pour arrêter le réchauffement de la planète, nous devons quitter les combustibles fossiles et développer les énergies renouvelables. Hélas, politiquement, nous ne pouvons pas faire de changement. Le sommet mondial des nations du monde de l’an dernier n’a pas réussi à relever le défi d’abandonner les combustibles fossiles.

        Ce sont les facteurs économiques qui mènent la danse . L’énergie solaire renouvelable est devenue si peu chère et si facilement disponible qu’elle commence à remplacer l’énergie des combustibles fossiles. Plus vite nous passerons à l’énergie renouvelable pour des raisons économiques, plus vite le changement politique suivra.

        Le premier grand sociologue, Karl Marx, a bien compris cette dynamique quand il a développé sa théorie du changement historique. Voici ce qu’il a écrit dans sa préface à la “Critique de l’économie politique.”

        “L’ensemble de ces rapports de production constitue la structure économique de la société, la base concrète sur laquelle s’élève une superstructure juridique et politique et à la­quel­le correspondent des formes de conscience sociales déterminées. Le mode de production de la vie matérielle conditionne le processus de vie sociale, politique et intellectuel en général. Ce n’est pas la conscience des Hommes qui détermine leur être; c’est inversement leur être social qui détermine leur conscience. À un certain stade de leur développement, les forces productives matérielles de la société entrent en contradiction avec les rapports de production existants, ou, ce qui n’en est que l’expression juridique, avec les rapports de propriété au sein desquels elles s’étaient mues jusqu’alors. De formes de développement des forces productives qu’ils étaient ces rapports en deviennent des entraves. Alors s’ouvre une époque de révolution sociale. Le changement dans la base économique bouleverse plus ou moins rapidement toute l’énorme superstructure.”

        Comment cela s’appliquera t-il au grand changement historique que nous avons encore à faire: le passage de la culture de la guerre à une culture de la paix?

        Une conscience psychologique et politique croissante apparait dans le monde entier sur la necessité de cette transition. Le mouvement pour une culture de la paix a été inspiré par le mouvement pour le développement durable qui a été le plus grand mouvement politique du dernier demi-siècle.

        Mais comme nous le voyons, le mouvement pour le développement durable n’a pu devenir effectif que suite aux changements économiques qui rendent le développement durable possible et rentable.

        Les séquences “changement économique d’abord, changement politique après” s’appliquent également à la transition vers une culture de paix. La culture de paix va devenir politiquement possible qu’après l’implosion de l’économie de la culture de la guerre.

        Le même sort économique qui a détruit l’empire soviétique est déjà bien avancé vers la destruction de l’empire américain – et pour la même raison – l’attribution de la plus grande partie de l’économie à l’armement et aux guerres. Johan Galtung a prédit en 2005 que l’accident viendrait avant l’an 2020. Le crash économique sera suivie d’un crash politique. Les Americains et les européens sont déjà autant aliénés à leur système politique que les Russes l’étaient en 1989. Comme preuve, il suffit de regarder le taux d’abstention aux élections nationales.

        Lorsque l’empire américain s’écroulera, le reste du monde va suivre, tout comme l’Europe de l’Est s’est écroulée lorsque l’Union soviétique est tombée.

        À ce moment-là, il y aura une fenêtre d’opportunité pour établir une culture de la paix – mais cela ne peut se produire que si nous sommes prêts avec les cadres institutionnels qui peuvent remplacer les Etats-nations. Si nous ne sommes pas prêts, nous risquons le remplacement du système actuel par un système fasciste – tout comme cela est arrivé après le crash de 1929 en Europe (et presque aux États-Unis également).

        Alors que l’affaire du réchauffement planétaire et des changements de sources d’énergie sont les questions sur plusieurs décennies, l’effondrement de l’économie de la culture de guerre est une affaire de seulement quelques années. Comme l’a fait l’effondrement de l’Union soviétique, il menace de nous surprendre.

        Je travaille avec les villes dans l’espoir qu’elles seront en mesure de fournir un cadre institutionnel pour remplacer le rôle des Etats-nations comme base pour le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies (Voir le blog de 1 juin), mais le travail est très lent. Trop lent. Histoire se déplace beaucoup plus vite que nous!

  • Success of the United Nations

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    We know all too well the failures of the United Nations. At this moment of history, its failures include the wars and potential wars everywhere in the world, including the potential of a catastrophic nuclear war. As we have stated previously, as long as the United Nations is run by the Member States, it will not be able to control their culture of war.

    But let us not ignore the successes of the United Nations.

    First, it has succeeded in developing around the world a universal consciousness for peace.

    This is shown in the celebration of the International Day of Peace, which, as we have documented in this month’s CPNN bulletin, has been taken up by millions of people in all parts of the world. And, as we have mentioned in the bulletin, this follows in a tradition that includes the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto 2000 for the International Year of the Culture of Peace and the mobilization for peade by thousands of organizations of the civil society during the International Decade for a Culture of Peace 2001-2010.

    The universal consciousness for peace follows on the heels of the universal consciousness for human rights.

    In both cases, a key moment was the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of a key Declaration. For human rights it was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and for peace it was the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace of 1999. The simple fact that all the countries of the world could adopt a resolution has enabled the UN to play a key role in the development of universal consciousness.

    In sum, one great success of the United Nations has been its standard-setting function.

    Second, the United Nations has succeeded in managing international matters on a global scale when they are not part of the culture of war.

    Here are some examples:

    In 1967 there were 130,000 cases of smallpox in the world. By 1984, there were no cases and the virus was declared extinct. This was due to the global vaccination program of the World Health Organization, one of the United Nations agencies.

    At any given moment there is a bewildering number of airplanes taking off and landing in airports around the world without accident. This is due to the work of the International Civil Aviation Organization, another United Nations agency.

    You can mail a letter to any destination in the world by puttiing it in a mailbox in any country. This is due to the work of the Universal Postal Union, yet another United Nations Agency.

    In all these cases, success comes because the problems are not political. They are simply technical.

    That leaves us with the big question: could the United Nations succeed in bring us a global culture of peace? Not just peace consciousness, but could it achieve a true and universal disarmament, just as dueling, slavery and other such practices were previously eliminated? The problem here is not technical. It is political.

    My experiences when I worked at UNESCO tell me that a culture of peace is technically possible. As I have described previously, we were able, as an agency of the United Nations, to involve the people of Mozambique and El Salvador to design national peace programs during the 1990’s following their civil wars, and I believe that they would have achieved peace and disarmament in those countries if the Member States had supported our work. But they did not support our work – for political reasons. I am reminded of that history when I see the progress towards disarmament that is being achieved these days in Colombia, and I hope that they can sustain the peace despite the arrival of political changes.

    Yes, a culture of peace is possible. What is needed is a radical reform of the United Nations, putting it in the hands of the people instead of the states.

    The dialectical pace of history

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    (pour la version française, voir en dessous)

    History does not progress at an even rate, but by long periods of slow development punctuated by sudden revolutionary changes, as described by dialectical philosophy.

    The news in CPNN this month illustrate the slowness of the development of the culture of peace.

    The development of the peace process which led to this month’s signing of a peace accord in Colombia comes after a half century of war and many years of peace negotiations. The case is similar for the progress towards a peace accord with the communist movement in the Philippines. When I took part in the UNESCO international conference for a culture of peace in the Philippines twenty years ago, negotiations were already underway.

    Development is similarly slow for city peace commissions. We began the New Haven City Peace Commission in the 1980’s and it is still trying to find its identity. The newest city peace commission, that of Santos, Brazil, was begun six years ago, and only this year has it been officially formalized. As they say: ” It is a long walk on a road that builds itself as we walk over it; we cannot see the end of it, but it is known that the end is a much better place than the one we are living today.”

    Human rights are widely recognized and respected today, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was ignored and unknown for the first 40 years after its adoption by the United Nations. It was only after the Nobel Peace Prize to Amnesty International in 1977 that it began to get recognition. The equivalent UN resolution for a culture of peace was adopted in 1999. If the same pace is followed as that for human rights, it may not gain universal recognition for another 25 years!

    When development is very slow, it is hard to see. As the activists of the new Ashland Culture of Peace Commission state, “we need to acknowledge the important and often unnoticed work that is being done in our community that moves us toward a better world.”

    The culture of war has dominated humanity for more than 5000 years. Should we expect it to be replaced by a culture of peace in a short period of time?

    On the other hand, at the present time, there are other historical tendencies developing that may come quickly to the point of sudden revolutionary change. In his most recent column, Johan Galtung considers that “the world ‘right now’ [is] so unstable with imbalances everywhere that what we are living is fluxes and jumps. . . . power imbalance that can lead to war ‘before it is too late’, to passive coexistence, or to active coexistence, peace.  Very, very dynamic indeed.  No stability.”

    The “peace” mentioned by Galtung would seem to be a relative peace in the sense of the absece of war, caused by the exhaustion of the warring parties. However, even if that comes about, we will still be far from the culture of peace that we need and that is developing much too slowly.

      • Le rythme dialectique de l’histoire

        L’histoire ne progresse pas à un rythme constant, mais par de longues périodes de développement lent entrecoupées de changements soudains et révolutionaires comme le définit la philosophie dialectique.

        Les nouvelles de CPNN ce mois-ci illustrent la lenteur du développement de la culture de la paix.

        Le développement du processus de paix qui a conduit à la signature d’un accord de paix en Colombie ce mois-ci aboutit après un demi-siècle de guerre et de nombreuses années de négociations. Le cas est similaire pour les progrès vers un accord de paix avec le mouvement communiste aux Philippines. Quand j’ai pris part à la conférence internationale de l’UNESCO pour une culture de la paix aux Philippines il y a vingt ans, les négociations étaient déjà en cours.

        Le développement est similairement lent pour les commissions de paix des villes. Nous avons débuté la Commission de Paix de la Ville de New Haven (USA) dans les années 1980, mais elle chereche est encore son identité. La toute derrière commission municipale de la paix, celle de Santos, au Brésil, commencé il y a six ans, n’a été officiellement formalisé que cette année. Comme le disent ses membres: «C’est une longue marche sur une route qui se construit alors que nous marchons dessus, nous ne pouvons pas en voir la fin, mais nous sommes sûr que la fin est un endroit bien meilleur que celui où nous vivons aujourd’hui.”

        Les Droits de l’Homme sont largement reconnus et respectés aujourd’hui, mais la Déclaration universelle des Droits de l’Homme a été ignorée, voire inconnue les 40 premières années suivant son adoption par les Nations Unies. Ce fut seulement après le Prix Nobel de la Paix décerné à Amnesty International, en 1977, qu’il a commencé à aovir une reconnaissance. La résolution de l’ONU équivalente pour une culture de la paix a été adoptée en 1999. Si le même rythme est suivi, nous devrons attendre encore 25 ans pour une reconaissance universelle !!

        Lorsque le développement est très lent, il est difficile de le voir. Comme disent les militants de la Commission de la cultre de la paix de Ashland, “nous devons reconnaître le travail important et souvent inaperçu qui se fait dans notre communauté qui nous pousse vers un monde meilleur.”

        La culture de la guerre a dominé l’humanité depuis plus de 5000 ans. Faut-ils attendre à son remplacement par une culture de la paix dans un court laps de temps ??

        D’autre part, à l’heure actuelle, il existe des tendances historiques en développement qui peuvent venir rapidement au point de changement soudaine et révolutionnaire. Dans sa chronique plus récente, Johan Galtung estime que «le monde en ce moment ‘[est] si instable avec des déséquilibres partout et ce que nous vivons sont des flux et des sauts…. Déséquilibres du pouvoir qui peuvent conduire à la guerre “avant qu’il ne soit trop tard”, à la coexistence passive, ou à la coexistence actif, i.e. la paix. Très, très dynamique en effet. Pas de stabilité.”

        La «paix» mentionné par Galtung semble d’être une paix relative dans le sens de l’absence de guerre, provoquée par l’épuisement des partries belligérantes. Cependant, même si cela arrive, nous serons encore loin de la culture de la paix dont nous avons besoin et qui se développe beaucoup trop lentement.

  • Consciousness, by itself, is not enough; the task is also political

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    We are seeing progress towards a culture of peace on several fronts:

    In this month’s CPNN bulletin, we feature progress in peace education around the world.

    In the bulletin of May, it was progress in the practice of nonviolence.

    As described by the Brazilian pedagogue, Paulo Freire, there is a development of consciousness in the sense of understanding plus action.

    But consciousness, by itself, whether through peace education or the practice of nonviolence, is not enough to change the course of history. If we are to make the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace, our task is not only psychological, but also political. I have discussed this previously by insisting that peace education, to be effective, must be prepared to confront the dominant culture of war.

    To be political, consciousness needs to be linked up to the development of a new institutional framework.

    As we have previously observed, peace education is an integral part of the peace process in Colombia, but to make a permanent change, it needs to be linked to a network of peace committees at the local and regional levels.

    We can begin to see signs that such a linkage is happening. For example, restorative justice, a key practice of nonviolence and an important aspect of peace education is being promoted by the peace commissions of the cities of Londrina in Brazil and Ashland and New Haven in the United States. Cities are also promoting the practices of mediation and participative budgeting, two other key practices of a culture of peace.

    A great step forward is underway as cities for peace link into global networks such as those described in a recent CPNN bulletin. This process should be strengthened by regularly assessment of the state of the culture of peace by each city (see CPNN February 24) and exchange of their practices and results in this regard.

    The development of networks of cities for peace can be seen as a step towards the development of a global institution of the culture of peace, perhaps a radically-reformed United Nations (as we suggested in a previous blog), or perhaps an entirely new institutional framework at a global level.

    Looking at the headlines of the mass media might make us pessimistic, but we need to keep in mind that a better world is possible and keep working to establish its institutional framework.

    What happens after peace accords are signed

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    Now that there is a ceasefire in Colombia, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, the question arises whether a culture of peace can be maintained afterwards.

    When I was working on the culture of peace in UNESCO, I experienced a similar situation in two countries, El Salvador and Mozambique. Both of them emerged with peace accords in the early 1990’s after civil wars comparable to that in Colombia. In both we established national culture of peace programs to maintain the peace afterwards. They were major efforts, as I will describe, but ultimately they failed. Now, twenty five years later, both El Salvador and Mozambique are once again descending into violence, verging once again on civil war.

    Why did they fail?

    First, consider the efforts. The program in El Salvador is described in a journal article, available on the Internet, written by the three of us who managed the program. To quote from its conclusion: the program transformed “conflict into cooperation by engaging those previously in violent conflict in the joint planning and implementation of human development projects of benefit to all. . .. [it] developed both a set of guidelines accepted by all parties to the previous violent conflict, and institutionalized these guidelines in a National Coordination Council and its Executive Committee which ensure that they are put into practice. In particular, the guidelines are being followed in the implementation of project 507/ELS/01, the production of daily radio broadcasts and non-formal education campaigns for the most needy and neglected women in the country. In the course of the working out of this project, during the period from the summer of 1994 to the present (spring of 1996) the participants, representing the government, community radio stations and nongovernmental organizations including those associated with the FMLN, have internalized the basic principles and guidelines of a culture of peace. While at first they distrusted each other to the point that UNESCO had to play the role of arbitrator and mediator, they have since learned to negotiate and arrived at the point of regular concerted decision-making. Daily radio broadcasts are now being produced which reflect the fruits of this process of dialogue, participation and concertation and which up until now have been well-produced and well-received despite time pressures and the demanding schedules of radio broadcasting. These broadcasts are carried by 24 radio stations around the country, as well as in marketplaces, and they are accompanied by the work of 64 correspondents in the various communities who monitor the broadcasts and provide information from their communities to the technical team that creates the programmes.

    The radio project was only one of 20 human development projects in El Salvador that were developed by the method of concertation described above.

    In Mozambique, a similar process of concertation between ex-enemies resulted in the elaboration of ten human development projects with rural women, demobilized soldiers, schools, youth, mass media, community leaders, etc.

    The process worked. Hoping to develop their country, the ex-enemies could be brought together and could work together.

    But the programmes did not work. The Member States of UNESCO refused to fund the projects, preferring to put their development funds into projects that they could manage themselves for political advantage (including, in some cases, corruption and exploitation).

    Alvaro de Soto, who had mediated the El Salvador peace accords, warned us at the time that it could not work. As part of the accords, the US and Europe had promised to fund land reform and judicial reform in El Salvador, but afterwards they reneged and never provided the funds they had promised. By the way, the same thing happened with the peace accords that established Zimbabwe. The UK never came through with the money they promised as part of the accords, to buy land from the white farmers and distribute to the African farmers. Eventually, President Mugabe got tired of waiting and seized the land and Zimbabwe was punished by international sanctions.

    In general, we came to realize that the powerful Member States of the UN do not want peace. They want to exploit the poor countries of the world and that requires the old method of the culture of war: “Divide and conquer.”

    Hopefully, Colombia can learn from the failures of the past and achieve a sustainable peace. As I have suggested in my previous blog, “Advice to Colombia,” they need to develop a network of local peace committees and keep them strong and independent so that they do not have to depend solely on the national government or United Nations support. Those of us in other countries can help with direct people-to people support; as Amada Benavides says, “Peacebuilding moment starts just now. Today we need more support than ever.”