The UN Resolution for the Culture of Peace

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

This summer and fall is seeing an increase in the number of international conferences dedicated to the culture of peace and basing their analysis on the Declaration and Program of Action for a Culture of Peace that was adopted 20 years ago by the UN General Assembly.

The UN resolution provides a holistic, positive view of peace. For each of the eight aspects of the culture of war, it proposes the alternative as described here. The resolution proposes specific actions to promote each of these eight program areas. And furthermore, it calls for a global movement for a culture of peace through partnerships between an among international, national and civil society organizations promoted through sysems of information exchange (such as the Culture of Peace News Network) on their initiatives.

The struggle for a culture of peace could gain much more force if this resolution were used as the basis for analysis and practice by more organizations around the world, but unfortunately it is relatively unknown.

The situation reminds me of the use of another landmark UN document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR).

The adoption of the UNDHR by the UN General Assembly in 1948 did not immediately yield results. For the first 40 years the document sat on the shelf and was rarely mentioned, as shown in the following graph which shows the citations of human rights in academic publications as monitored by the Science Citation Index. It has only in recent years that references have exploded into thousands of times per year.

Figure drawn from my book World Peace throught the Town Hall.

Now over 70 years after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been taken up by thousands of other organizations and struggles in all social movements as a powerful tool for justice.

We may assume that the increased attention to human rights after the 1970s was largely due to the Nobel Peace Prize of 1977 to Amnesty International because of their efforts for human rights.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait another 20 years for such effective use of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. The work for culture of peace has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years, and if it were to be recognized by the Prize, that could help produce the kind of universal recognition and historical impact as that of the UNDHR.

* * * * *

La résolution des Nations Unies pour la culture de la paix

Pour cet été et cet automne, le nombre de conférences internationales consacrées à la culture de la paix a augmenté. Leur analyse est souvent basée sur de la Déclaration et Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix adoptés il y a 20 ans par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies.

La résolution de l’ONU offre une vision globale et positive de la paix. Pour chacun des huit aspects de la culture de la guerre, il propose une alternative (voir ici). La résolution propose des actions spécifiques pour promouvoir chacun de ces huit domaines de programme. En outre, il appelle à un mouvement mondial pour une culture de la paix par des partenariats entre des organisations internationales, nationales et de la société civile, promues par des systèmes d’échanges et d’informations (comme CPNN) sur leurs initiatives.

La lutte pour une culture de la paix pourrait gagner beaucoup plus de force si cette résolution était utilisée comme base d’analyse et de pratique par plus d’organisations dans le monde, mais malheureusement, elle est mal connue.

La situation me rappelle l’utilisation d’un autre document historique des Nations Unies, la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme (DUDH).

L’adoption de la DUDH par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies en 1948 n’a pas immédiatement donné de résultats. Pendant les 40 premières années, le document était sur l’étagère et rarement mentionné, comme l’illustre le graphique ci-dessous, qui montre les citations des droits de l’Homme dans des publications universitaires suivies par le Science Citation Index. Ce n’est que ces dernières années que les références ont explosé des milliers de fois par an.

[Figure tirée de mon livre “Paix mondiale à travers les municipalites”.]

Aujourd’hui, plus de 70 ans après son adoption, la Declaration universelle des droits de l’Homme a été reprise par des milliers d’organisations et de luttes dans tous les mouvements sociaux, en tant que puissant outil de justice.

Nous pouvons supposer que l’attention accrue portée aux droits de l’Homme après les années 1970 était largement due au prix Nobel de la paix de 1977 attribué à Amnesty International en raison de ses efforts en faveur des droits de l’Homme.

Espérons que nous n’aurons pas besoin d’attendre encore 20 ans pour une utilisation aussi efficace de la Déclaration et du Programme d’action pour une culture de la paix. L’œuvre pour la culture de la paix a été nominée pour le prix Nobel de la paix ces dernières années. Si elle devait être reconnue par le prix, elle pourrait contribuer à produire le type de reconnaissance universelle et d’impact historique de la DUDH.


 

Consciousness + Institutional Change = Culture of Peace

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People are taking to the streets to defend human rights and demand democracy around the world, including Hong Kong, Russia, Sudan, Algeria, Czech Republic and Brazil as described on the pages of CPNN and reviewed in this month’s CPNN bulletin.

They join the millions of people who have taken to the streets for human rights and democracy in the last few years in France , Germany and the United States.

And perhaps most important, it is the new generation that has often taken the lead, as we have seen in the global student movement to demand that we change the policies that are contributing to global warming. This is the new generation that is on the front lines every year to celebrate the international day of peace.

We see the development of a global, universal consciousness. But is it strong enough to counter the rise of authoritarian governance that is also developing at this moment of history, whether in the rich counties or in the poor countries?

In my little utopian novella I have imagined that people will take to the streets to resist the imposition of fascism after the present system crashes. It was fascism that was installed when the financial system collapsed in the 1930’s?

I come from the generation of the 60’s which also saw people taking to the streets to oppose the American war in Vietnam. In fact, in the 1990’s when we looked around the table of UNESCO workers developing the Culture of Peace Program, it turned out most of us had been involved in the movements of the 60’s in one way or another in France, Ecuador, Costa Rica and the United States. The consciousness developed in the 60’s came to fruition in the 90’s.

But consciousness is not enough. We need institutional change towards a culture of peace such as the initiative developed thanks to the leadership of Federico Mayor at UNESCO in the 1990’s. The United Nations resolution for a culture of peace which he inspired will have its 20th anniversary this September and will be celebrated at the annual High Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace at UN headquarters.

To see and understand these institutional changes, we cannot depend on the commercial media to which they are almost invisible. This was the case with the UNESCO culture of peace initiative, which was never mentioned in the American press at the time despite our signed agreements with two American institutions with 50 million members, the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Council of Churches, and the 75 million signatures on the Manifesto 2000 obtained around the world.

At CPNN we provide an alternative media that seeks out news about institutional change towards a culture of peace. A good example is the adoption of restorative justice princiiples and practices by the entire judicial system of Brazil, as described this month in CPNN. Over the years we have followed this initiative that was largely due to the work of Judge Leoberto Brancher. I don’t think it is by accident that prior to this he was involved in the development of city culture of peace commissions that came out of the UNESCO program and the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace.

We need more such institutional change if we are to harness the consciousness of people in the coming decade when the global financial system has crashed and a window of opportunity opens for us to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

Why Julian Assange is so important

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Julian Assange has been arrested, imprisoned threatened with extradition to the US where he could face solitary confinement or death. It seems he is considered to be extremely dangerous by the US and its allies. Why? Because he has exposed the weakness of the culture of war – its secrecy and lies.

As we have analyzed previously, there has been so much advance in both democracy and anti-war consciousness over the past few centuries that the state has found it increasingly difficult to get popular support for its wars, overt and covert, and its threats of war. People no longer will vote for this. To get around this problem and to continue its culture of war, the state has increasingly resorted to secret war, secret threats, and outright lies in order to justify its overt warfare. The war against Vietnam was justified by an invented attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. The war against Iraq was justified by the invented “weapons of mass destruction.”

The control of information has become a crucial means for the culture of war – without this control it cannot be sustained.

In the past, only a few of the secrets and lies of the US and its allies were revealed, such as the Gulf of Tonkin and the “weapons of mass destruction.” But thanks to Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, we have learned about many more secrets and lies in the past few years.

How do governments react? They certainly do not apologize and promise to tell the truth! Instead they try to control the media. As described in CPNN this month, freedom of the press is under attack. And government lying has become so commonplace that the current US president tells obvious lies almost every day and has surrounded himself with advisors that will do the same. In fact, the repeated lying by the US president and his advisors is one of the few conclusions of the long-awaited “Mueller report” in the US. But go one step further. Is the Mueller report telling the truth? Although the commercial media seems to think so, there are some independent observers who think that the Mueller report, like the Warren report after the assssination of Kennedy, may turn out to be an elaborate coverup. Given the current plethora of government lies, we should remain skeptical.

And how do the commercial media react? They criticize governments on many issues, but when it comes to questions of war and peace they repeat the governments’ lies without question. A case in point is the media coverage of events in Venezuela over the past few months. As we have shown recently in CPNN, it is almost impossible to learn from the commercial media what is really happening in Venezuela. And most recently, the US government lies about the coup attempt were headlined without question, not only by Fox News, but by the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, BBC, etc.

This is not sustainable. As famously expressed by Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

People no longer believe in their governmens. One of the effects is their increasingly erratic voting patterns. People are now voting for the most anti-establishment candidates such as Trump and Bolsonaro. Consequent to this, the government policies that result have become increasingly erratic, upsetting the traditional balances and structures of international relations.

Now people are starting to disbelieve the mass media as well. What will be the effect of this?

One thing we can say for certain. These trends are not sustainable!

And they come at a time when there are other trends that cannot be sustained: the increasing gap between rich and poor, the destruction of the environment, the changing of the climate, the structure of global finance based on debt and speculation that far exceeds actual production, burgeoning military production and sales, and the nuclear arms race increasingly out of control.

Analyzing the accumulation of such unsustainable contradictions in the Soviet Union in 1980, Johan Galtung predicted the collapse of the Soviet Empire by 1990. He was correct. And analyzing the accumulation of such unsustainable contradictions in the American empire, he has predicted its collapse by 2020. Yes, next year !

And speaking of the collapse of empire, we must consider the key role of confidence and lack of confidence of the people in their government and media.

I saw this living from time to time in the Soviet Union in the years before its collapse. People no longer believed their government or their media. As they said, you find no truth in Pravda and no true information in Izvestia. President Gorbachev tried to correct this with his “glasnost and perestroika” but it was too little and too late. When the Soviet economy crashed, the people did not come onto the streets to support their government or reconstruct it. Instead, they washed their hands of it, saying in effect, “let it crash, it is not worth saving.”

If the global ecoomy crashes (next year?), who will come into the streets to save it?

When the global economy and national governments crashed in the 1930’s, what happened? We fell back on the culture of war in its extreme form, fascism. And eventually, world war.

Let us not allow this to happen again ! Let us prepare, instead, for a transition to the culture of peace.

In previous blogs we have explored the various trends that could potentially contribute to such a transition:

* a global student movement

* a “rural-urban continuum” based on solar energy and electric vehicles

* the preparation for a United Nations run by direct representatives of the people instead of by nation-states.

We don’t need a Chinese proverb to tell us that a crisis is an opportunity as well as a danger.

Let us not be distracted by the lies of governments and their media supporters, but keep on working positively on these and other potential “opportunities” that can emerge from the present crisis.

Where is democracy?

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

In the past few months we have a tale of two elections.

In the Democratic Repubic of the Congo, after a difficult election campaign (described in CPNN), there is serious reason to believe that the election results were fixed to favor a candidate favorable to the huge mining interests in that country. Although the African Union and the catholic churches of the Congo have questioned the results, none of the major powers of Europe, North America, etc. have spoken up.

The opposite has occurred with regard to the election results last year in Venezuela. All of the major powers of Europe and North America and their allies have claimed that the election results were fraudulent and they have announced their support for the losing candidate. He just happens to support the major capitalist interests in the huge petroleaum industry of that country, unlike the President who claimed the election victory.

Such hypocrisy!

Not only do the governments of the major capitalist countries take these positions, but the major mass media follows the government lines.

This is not new.

In recent years we saw the “successful” overthrow of the President of Libya (put “successful” in quotation marks, because the country has been in chaos ever since). Was it by accident that Libya has major oil exports or that the overthrown President was a major financial supporter of the African Union?

And we have seen the unsuccessful, but extremely bloody attempt to overthrow the President of Syria.

Where is democracy? It seems to be held hostage to neo-colonialism, the continued exploitation of minerals and oil from the poor countries of Latin America and Africa and manipulation of the goverments in those countries to allow this exploitation. Although the mainstream media did not cover their remarks, several countries addressed this in the recent meeting of the UN Security Council called by the United States to gain UN support to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

The delegate from Cuba said that the current United States Administration appears to have “dusted off the Monroe Doctrine”, and in a fresh extension of imperialism in the region, gone so far as to say that all options are on table.  And the delegate from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines recalled that the history of Latin America and the Caribbean is indelibly scarred by military interventions and imposition of dictator Governments.

Let us not forget Salvador Allende!

To further understand the process, we can go over 50 years to the precise analysis of neo-colonialism that was made by the Kwame Nkrumah, the President of Ghana. I have quoted his analysis extensively in my History of the Culture of War. Here are some excerpts:

“Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.

“Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.

Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy? . . . Lurking behind such questions are the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus. And its suction cups and muscular strength are provided by a phenomenon dubbed ‘The Invisible Government’, arising from Wall Street’s connection with the Pentagon and various intelligence services …”

In the culture of war, democracy is fragile and expendable. But the culture of war is also fragile and will eventually crash. When it crashes, we will have the chance to establish a new system with a culture of peace and a democracy that is sustainable. But how can this be done?

* * * * * * *

Où est la démocratie?

Ces derniers mois, deux élections ont pris place.

En République démocratique du Congo, après une campagne électorale difficile, décrite dans CPNN, il y a de bonnes raisons de croire que les résultats des élections ont été fixés de manière à favoriser un candidat favorable aux énormes intérêts miniers de ce pays. Bien que l’Union africaine ainsi que les églises catholiques du Congo ait mis en doute les résultats, les grandes puissances d’Europe, d’Amérique du Nord n’ont rien dit.

Le contraire s’est produit en ce qui concerne les résultats des élections de l’année dernière au Venezuela. Toutes les grandes puissances d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord et leurs alliés ont affirmé que les résultats des élections étaient frauduleux et ils ont annoncé leur soutien au candidat perdant. Il arrive justement à soutenir les intérêts capitalistes majeurs de l’immense industrie pétrolière de ce pays, contrairement au président qui a remporté la victoire électorale.

Quelle hypocrisie!

Non seulement les gouvernements des principaux pays capitalistes adoptent ces positions, mais les principaux médias suivent les lignes des gouvernements.

Ce n’est pas nouveau.

Ces dernières années, nous avons assisté au renversement “réussi” du président libyen (entre guillemets, car le pays est plongé dans le chaos depuis). Était-ce par accident que la Libye avait d’importantes exportations de pétrole ou que le président renversé était un important bailleur de fonds de l’Union africaine?

Et nous avons assisté à la tentative infructueuse mais extrêmement sanglante de renverser le président de la Syrie.

Où est la démocratie? Il semble être pris en otage par le néo-colonialisme, l’exploitation continue des minéraux et du pétrole des pays pauvres d’Amérique latine et d’Afrique et la manipulation des gouvernements de ces pays pour permettre cette exploitation. Bien que les principaux médias n’aient pas couvert leurs propos, plusieurs pays ont abordé cette question lors de la récente réunion du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, appelée par les États-Unis à obtenir le soutien de l’ONU pour renverser le gouvernement vénézuélien.

Le délégué de Cuba a déclaré que le gouvernement des États-Unis actuel semble avoir «dépoussiéré la doctrine Monroe» et, dans une nouvelle extension de l’impérialisme dans la région, est allé jusqu’à dire que toutes les options sont sur la table. Et le délégué de Saint-Vincent-et-les Grenadines a rappelé que l’histoire de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes est marquée à jamais par les interventions militaires et l’imposition de gouvernements dictateurs.

N’oublions pas Salvador Allende.

Pour mieux comprendre le processus, nous pouvons passer plus de 50 ans à l’analyse précise du néo-colonialisme réalisée par le président du Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. J’ai abondamment cité son analyse dans mon Histoire de la culture de guerre. Voici quelques extraits:

“Face aux peuples militants des territoires anciennement colonisés d’Asie, d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et d’Amérique latine, l’impérialisme change simplement de tactique. Sans scrupule, il renonce à ses drapeaux et même à certains de ses fonctionnaires expatriés les plus détestés. Cela signifie Elle prétend ainsi, qu’elle “donne” l’indépendance à ses anciens sujets et qu’elle est suivie d’une “aide” pour leur développement. Sous le couvert de telles expressions, elle conçoit toutefois d’innombrables moyens d’atteindre les objectifs autrefois atteints par le colonialisme nu. Telle est la somme de ces tentatives modernes de perpétuer le colonialisme tout en parlant de la «liberté», connue sous le nom de «néo-colonialisme».

“Au premier rang des néo-colonisateurs, on trouve les États-Unis, qui ont longtemps exercé leur pouvoir en Amérique latine. Elle s’est d’abord retournée maladroitement vers l’Europe, puis avec plus de certitude après la deuxième guerre mondiale, lorsque la plupart des pays de ce continent lui étaient redevables. Depuis lors, avec une minutie méthodique et une attention touchant aux détails, le Pentagone s’est efforcé de consolider son ascendant, ce dont témoignent des preuves partout dans le monde.

Qui règne réellement en Grande-Bretagne, en Allemagne de l’Ouest, au Japon, en Espagne, au Portugal ou en Italie? . . . Derrière de telles questions se cachent les tentacules étendus de la pieuvre de Wall Street. Et ses ventouses et sa force musculaire sont fournies par un phénomène appelé “Le gouvernement invisible”, qui découle des relations de Wall Street avec le Pentagone et de divers services de renseignement … ”

Dans une culture de guerre, la démocratie est fragile et quelque chose qui peut être sacrifié. Mais la culture de guerre est aussi fragile et eventuallement il s’écroule. Quand cela se produira, nous aurons la chance d’établir un nouveau système basé sur la culture de la paix et une démocratie durable. Comment cela peut-il être fait?

The Doomsday Clock

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

Looking back at 2018, we see progress in all of the areas of a culture of peace except one: disarmament, and in particular nuclear disarmament.
Symbolic of this, last year the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was reset to only two minutes before midnight, the shortest it has been since 1953!

An accompanying article recalls a 1982 television film depicting the effects of a nuclear war on a Kansas town which was viewed by 100 million people and which helped inspire President Ronald Reagan to reach a disarmament agreement with Russian President Gorbachev a few years later. The author of the article concludes:

“There are striking parallels between the security situations today and 35 years ago, with one major discordance: Today, nuclear weapons are seldom a front-burner concern, largely being forgotten, underestimated, or ignored by the American public. The United States desperately needs a fresh national conversation about the born-again nuclear arms race—a conversation loud enough to catch the attention of the White House and the Kremlin and lead to resumed dialogue.”

This reminds me of a novel that I wrote back in 1965 called simply “PEACE.” Like many of my generation I was greatly troubled by the Cuban missile crisis a few years before which served as a wake-up call that we could destroy our entire civilization with a nuclear war. So I wrote a novel imagining that a series of accidental nuclear explosions and the threat of nuclear blackmail, combined with a peace movement centered around “Peace News” (much like CPNN), led eventually to a World Peace Treaty and nuclear disarmament.

More recently, in 2011, I came back to this theme in a two-act theatre play called “Freud’s Last Death” which takes place in the 1986 in a bunker buried deep below ground in what was then the Soviet Union. We meet Colonel Stanislav Petrov, retired from the Soviet Air Defense Forces, who refused to launch a nuclear attack against the West despite the fact that the radar showed missiles on the way to destroy the Soviet Union. That part of the play reflects an actual event that occurred in 1983. We carried two articles about this in CPNN, in 2004 and again in 2012, and a film about it was released in 2014. Petrov died in 2017 in poverty, and his story remains relatively unknown. Symbolically, it seems, even the links in the CPNN articles are no longer valid.

In the play we also meet Sigmund Freud, whose brain has been kept alive by a scientific “miracle,” and we question him about his belief that humanity is condemned because of a “death instinct.” At the time of the play, Gorbachev and Reagan are meeting in Iceland where they will reach agreement for the most important nuclear disarmament initiative in history. The danger of a nuclear war was reduced, but not eliminated,.

The play concludes:

The “initial disarmament agreements have been overcome by a new arms race. There are now over 30,000 nuclear weapons under the control of nine states, with other states planning to manufacture them. A global nuclear war would still risk the destruction of all life on the planet. And as for the death instinct, scientists still do not know if it exists or not.”

Here we are, entering 2019, without progress towards nuclear disarmament.

Will humanity survive until 2020? Or will the nightmare of nuclear war intervene?

It’s time to wake up!

 

L’horloge Doomsday


En regardant l’ensemble de l’année ècoulée, nous constatons des progrès dans tous les domaines d’une culture de la paix, à l’exception du désarmement, et en particulier le désarmement nucléaire.

Symbole de cela, l’année dernière, le “Doomsday Clock” du Bulletin of Atomic Scienists a été réinitialisé à seulement deux minutes avant minuit, son minimum depuis 1953 !

Un article d’accompagnement rappelle un film télévisé en 1982 décrivant les effets d’une guerre des armes nucléaires sur une ville du Kansas, vue par 100 millions de personnes et qui a incité le président Ronald Reagan à conclure un accord de désarmement avec le président russe Gorbatchev quelques années plus tard. L’auteur de l’article conclut:

“Il existe des parallèles frappants entre la situation sécuritaire actuelle et celle d’il y a 35 ans, et une discordance majeure: aujourd’hui, les armes nucléaires sont rarement une préoccupation majeure, elles sont en grande partie oubliées, sous-estimées ou ignorées par le public américain. Les États-Unis ont désespérément besoin d’une nouvelle consultation nationale sur la course aux armements nucléaires qui est relancée, mais une consultation suffisamment forte pour attirer l’attention de la Maison-Blanche et du Kremlin et pour amener à la reprise du dialogue. ”

Cela me rappelle un roman que j’avais écrit en 1965 et qui s’appelait simplement “PEACE.” Comme beaucoup de membres de ma génération, la crise des missiles cubains qui a eu lieu il y a quelques décennies m’a profondément troublée et a servi de signal d’alarme pour que nous puissions détruire toute notre civlilsation par une guerre nucléaire. J’ai donc écrit un roman en imaginant qu’une série d’explosions nucléaires accidentelles et la menace de chantage nucléaire, combinées à un mouvement pour la paix centré sur “Peace News” (un peu comme le CPNN) aboutissaient à un traité de paix mondial et au désarmement nucléaire.

Plus récemment, en 2011, je suis revenu sur ce thème dans une pièce de théâtre en deux actes intitulée “La dernière mort de Freud” qui se déroule en 1986 dans un bunker enfoui sous le sol dans ce qui était à l’époque l’Union soviétique. Nous y rencontrions le colonel Stanislav Petrov, retraité des Forces de défense antiaériennes soviétiques, qui a refusé de lancer une attaque nucléaire contre l’Occident alors que le radar montrait des missiles sur le chemin de la destruction de l’Union soviétique. Cette partie de la pièce reflète un événement réel arrivé en 1983. Nous avons publié deux articles à ce sujet dans CPNN, en 2004 et à nouveau en 2012, et un film à ce sujet a été publié en 2014. Petrov est décédé en 2017 dans la misère, et son histoire reste relativement inconnue et oublié. Les liens des articles de CPNN n’existent plus. Le film n’a pas reçu grand attention.

Dans la pièce, nous rencontrons également Sigmund Freud, dont le cerveau a été maintenu en vie par un “miracle” scientifique, et nous le questionnons sur sa conviction que l’humanité est condamnée en raison d’un “instinct de mort”. Au moment de la pièce, Gorbatchev et Reagan se rencontrent en Islande où ils parviendront à un accord sur la plus importante initiative de désarmement nucléaire de l’histoire. Le danger de guerre nucléaire a été réduit, mais pas éliminé.

 La pièce se termine: “Les accords de désarmement initiaux ont été dépassés par une nouvelle course aux armements. Plus de 30 000 armes nucléaires sont actuellement sous le contrôle de neuf États, d’autres pays envisageant de les fabriquer. Une guerre nucléaire mondiale risquerait encore de détruire la planète. Et quant à l’instinct de mort, les scientifiques ne savent toujours pas s’il existe ou non. ”

Nous sommes entrés en 2019 sans progresser dans le désarmement nucléaire.

L’humanité survivra-t-elle jusqu’en 2020? Ou le cauchemar de la guerre nucléaire va-t-il intervenir?

If faut se réveiller!

As the Empire Crashes

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As the American empire begins to crash, capitalism becomes desperate and takes off its gloves. We see its fist; all of the characteristics of the culture of war carried to extreme. In fact, that is the simple nature of fascism, the culture of war carried to extreme.

Trump in the USA, Erdogan in Turkey, now Bolsonaro in Brazil. The capitalists finance their campaigns in a desperate effort to protect their wealth.

History is repeating. Hitler, too, was backed by big capitalists at a time when the Weimar Republic was failing. This is not generally known because the records of German industry for that period are kept secret and the unfortunate historian who tried to document this back in the 1980’s, a young graduate student at Princeton named David Abraham, was drummed out of the profession as a reward for his research.

All of the aspects of the culture of war are exaggerated now. Enemy images are used to label scapegoats (immigrants, leftists, muslims, will the scapgoating of jews be next?). Military budgets are bloated. Democracy is jettisoned in favor of authoritarian regimes. Educational systems are devoted to producing a generation of passive citizens believing in the glory of past wars. Information is controlled and whistle-blowers punished. Human rights are trampled. The earth is plundered for its resources.

And as always the case with the culture of war, women are oppressed and victimized. This was the theme of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, as the Nobel Committee joins an impressive list of organizations around the world that are working for women’s equality and an end to violence against women, in the face of increased pressures against women’s rights.

As an example, consider how Trump, Erdogan and Bolsonaro deal with the question of abortion. Trump’s oppostion to abortion has been concretized in his choice for the Suprieme Court, a man who is pledged to overthrow abortion rights in the US. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has described abortion as tantamount to “murder”, angering women’s rights groups and sparking an intense debate in the mainly Muslim nation. And now Brazil’s Bolsonaro is strongly opposed to abortion. Writing on Twitter on 12 October he said: “The money of Brazilians will not finance NGOs that promote that practice.”

It should be obvious that all of these policies of the culture of war are linked to each other, and hence the struggles for peace, human rights, democracy, sustainable development, education, the free flow of information and equality for women also need to be linked together in one great unified movement.

It’s too late to stop the system from crashing. Just as the Soviet Union crashed because it poured its wealth into the bottomless pit of military spending, so, too, the United States has been doing the same for decades already. There is no one in the Congress opposed to the military budget, as they are all in debt to the military-industrial complex. And Trump, of course, is making it worse. We will soon arrive at the tipping point when the dollar crashes like the ruble crashed before it.

But we can begin already to construct what will come after the crash. We need a whole new system of governance in the world that is devoted to the culture of peace! The maximum unity is needed if we are to achieve this.

The answer is blowing in the wind

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(Une version française suit en dessous)

During the week (actually it took two weeks) during which I was seeking out the information about the observation of the International Day of Peace, I came across the article published by Unfold Zero about two meetings at the United Nations on the same day concerning nuclear weapons. The major nuclear states (USA, France, UK, China and Russia) all went to a meeting for non-proliferation and boycotted the meeting for nuclear disarmament. As the article correctly concludes, the nuclear states “place very little priority on their obligations to eliminate their own weapons of mass destruction, focusing instead on preventing others from acquiring such weapons.”

The contrast could not be stronger between the actions of these national governments and the great numbers of schools, cities and towns, civil society organizations and individuals everywhere in the world who took part in the International Day of Peace.

Having used more or less the same methodology this year as last year, we can see that the involvement in the International Day of Peace is increasing in most of the world. In fact, this is probably the best measure we have of the increasing anti-war consciousness of the peoples of the world.

Not only does this mean that new people, localities and organizations enter the celebration of Peace each year, but we can imagine as well that for those who have been involved before, there is an accumulation and strengthening of their anti-war consciousness.

And most important of all, the greatest part of the celebrations took place in schools with schoolchildren taking part in the International Day of Peace. This gives us great hope for the future. We are raising a new generation who, hopefully, can finally undertake the abolition of war.

The schoolchildren took part in a wide variety of actions for the Day, but for me the most symbolic was their release of balloons and doves into the sky, and their watching them disperse with the wind, as if they were going around the world. After all, the sky is something we share with everyone else in the world. Symbolically, “the answer is blowing in the wind,” as in the anti-war song written by Bob Dylan in my generation opposed to the Vietnam War.

The continuing growth of anti-war consciousness, as expressed by “the answer blowing in the wind,” is absolutely essential to our hopes for peace, including nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war. Perhaps it is not enough, as I have often emphasized in this blog, since we also need to develop an institutional framework for peace. But even if it is not enough, it still essential and indispensable.

Let us be like the children and launch our balloons and doves and desires for peace onto all the winds and involving all the peopes of our planet ! And knowing that the days are numbered for the national governments that hold onto nuclear weapons as instruments of power, let us look forward to the day when their power has crashed and they are replaced at the United Nations by true representatives of the people conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

* * * * *
La solution souffle dans le vent

Au cours de la semaine (en fait, cela a pris deux semaines) au cours de laquelle j’ai cherché des informations sur l’observation de la Journée internationale de la paix, je suis tombé sur l’article publié par Unfold Zero à propos de deux réunions le même jour aux Nations Unies sur les armes nucléaires. Les principaux États nucléaires (États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Chine et Russie) se sont tous rendus à la réunion sur la non-prolifération et ils ont boycotté ainsi la réunion sur le désarmement! Comme l’article le conclut à juste titre, les États nucléaires “n’accordent pas de priorité à leur obligation d’éliminer leurs propres armes de destruction massive, mais se concentrent plutôt sur l’empêchement des autres d’acquérir de telles armes”.

Le contraste ne pouvait pas être plus fort entre les actions de ces gouvernements nationaux et le grand nombre d’écoles, de villes et villages, d’organisations de la société civile et d’individus du monde entier qui ont participé à la Journée internationale de la paix.

Après avoir utilisé plus ou moins la même méthodologie cette année que l’année dernière, nous pouvons constater que la participation à cette Journée s’intensifie dans la plupart du monde. En fait, ces chifres sont probablement la meilleure mesure que nous ayons de la conscience croissante des peuples du monde entier contre la guerre.

Cela signifie non seulement que de nouvelles personnes, localités et organisations y participent chaque année, mais nous pouvons également imaginer que, pour ceux qui ont été impliqués auparavant, leur conscience anti-guerre s’accumule et se renforce.

Et le plus important de tout, la plus grande partie des célébrations de la Journée a eu lieu dans les écoles avec des écoliers. Cela nous donne un grand espoir pour l’avenir. Nous élevons une nouvelle génération qui, espérons-le, pourra enfin entreprendre l’abolition de la guerre.

Les écoliers ont pris part à de nombreuses actions pour la Journée, mais pour moi, le plus symbolique a été de lâcher de ballons et de colombes dans le ciel et de les regarder se disperser avec le vent, comme s’ils partaient faire un tour du monde. Après tout, le ciel est quelque chose que nous partageons avec tous les autres peuples du monde. Symboliquement, “la solution souffle dans le vent”, comme dans le chanson anti-guerre écrit par Bob Dylan de ma génération opposée à la guerre du Vietnam.

La croissance de la conscience anti-guerre, exprimée par “la solution qui souffle dans le vent”, est absolument essentielle à nos espoirs de paix, y compris le désarmement nucléaire et l’abolition de la guerre. Comme je l’ai souvent souligné dans ce blog, cela n’est peut-être pas suffisant, car nous devons également mettre en place un cadre institutionnel pour la paix. Mais même si cela ne suffit pas, cela reste essentiel et indispensable.

Soyons comme les enfants et lançons nos ballons, nos colombes et nos désirs de paix dans le vent pour arriver dans tous les coins de notre planète! Et sachant que les jours sont déjà compté avant que les pouvoirs nucleaires tombent dans un crash économique, attendons avec impatience ce jour quand leur pouvoir se sera écrasé et quand ils seront remplacés aux Nations Unies par de véritables représentants des peuples conscient de ce qui soufle dans le vent !

The Paradox of the United Nations: Peace vs. Culture of Peace

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If we consider the purpose for which the United Nations was formed: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” it is failing badly. This spring, when we hoped that the United Nations would convene a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, the meeting was cancelled due to pressure from the United States and its allies. And most recently, we see that the proposal for a peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinian people cannot be implemented because of the American veto.

This month in the CPNN bulletin, we look at recent moves towards peace in the Philippines, Colombia, Korea and Etheopia/Eritrea. What is remarkable is the absence of the United Nations from these initiatives. Only in Colombia did the United Nations play an important role by supervising the disarmament of the FARC guerilla army.

This impotence of the UN is not new. We saw it two decades ago when our work for peace in El Salvador and Mozambique was not supported by the US and its allies.

On the other hand, if we look at the culture of peace, the 90% of the iceberg of peace which is not visible on the surface, we see that the UN is continually developing a culture of peace at the local level.

Education for peace: the ‘Back to Learning’ education campaign of UNICEF will benefit half a million children in South Sudan.

Democratic participation: UN Women contributed to the historic leap in Tunisia where women now make up 47 per cent of local government.

Sustainable development: UNESCO and UNWTO are encouraging cultural tourism as a means of fostering sustainable development.

Women’s equality: As described in their annual report, UN Women is supporting women politicians, electoral officials, voters, lawmakers, civil society activists and many others to claim their equal right to lead and be heard.

Human rights: Although the task is often frustrating, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights works for implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights which is the keystone of work in this area.

Tolerance and solidarity: The United Nations continues to support youth projects for tolerance and solidarity through the Youth Solidarity Fund.

Free flow of information: In Africa UNESCO supports the development of local radio initiatives against gender violence.

Disarmament: Although the UN is failing at the highest level for disarmament, it is quite capable of action when the member states support it, as described above in the case of Colombia.

And on a more general level, the United Nations continues to hold annual high level forums dedicated to the development of a culture of peace and UNESCO continues to support the development of a culture of peace in Africa.

Imagine how effective the UN could be if the stranglehold of the member states as expressed by the veto of the United States were to be replaced by a radical revision of the UN management with direction by representatives of cities or parliaments, as I have repeatedly proposed!

Movement for Sustainable Development: Model for Culture of Peace?

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From the beginning, sustainable development has been considered to be an essential component of the culture of peace, one of the eight action areas of the Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1999.

In our analysis of the National Culture of Peace Programme in El Salvador, published in 1996, Francisco Lacayo Parajon considered that the global ecological movement provided the best model for the development of a global movement for the culture of peace. He described seven stages of its development, beginning with the adoption of a new paradigm, open to the participation to various sectors, so long as they share the same basic principles and culminating in its internalization in the daily life of people, until it becomes a benchmark of a great majority of societies.

Is the global movement for sustainable development still a good model for the culture of peace? I think the answer is yes, but in a way we did not envisage in 1996.

To some extent, it is true as we predicted that the new paradigm of sustainable development has become accepted and integrated into the thinking of a large proportion of humanity. But there is a new and different stage emerging now, as described in this month’s bulletin of CPNN, based on simple economic forces. This can be seen in the changing nature of fossil fuel divestment: Originally, it “was entirely driven by moral concerns—institutions pulled their money out of oil, gas, and coal companies because they didn’t want to be contributing to the destruction of a stable climate. Now, divestment is increasingly seen as a smart financial move for investors.” An example of this comes from India where “new renewable energy is less expensive to build than it costs to run most of the existing coal fired power in the nation—let alone construct new plants.”

Should we be surprised that economic forces turn out to be the most powerful factor in social change? Not if we were Karl Marx 150 years ago who analyzed historical change as follows: the era of social revolution is preceded by a transformation of the material productive forces of society, i.e. its economy, due to their conflict with the previous material productive forces which have become fetters. Put in terms of example of India, the reliance on coal-fired power is becoming more expensive than the new technologies of wind and solar power.

But is this relevant for the movement for a culture of peace? Yes, if we take seriously the analysis made several decades ago by the economist Lloyd Dumas in his book The Overburdened Economy. He shows that in the long run military production is a burden to the economy, draining its talent and material resources away from production which is useful for people. This was, in fact, the reason for the collapse of the Soviet economy (and Soviet empire) at the end of the 1980’s and it seems likely to produce the collapse of the American economy (and American empire) in the next few years. Recalling how the collapse of the Soviet empire produced a collapse of the linked economies of Eastern Europe, we should understand that the collapse of the American empire will have a similar effect throughout the world due to the interdependence of economies which has increased over time.

Already we see that the paradigm of a culture of peace, as opposed to a culture of war, is becoming internalized in the consciousness of a large proportion of humanity.

Can we not expect that the closer we come to a collapse of the present system, the more it will become evident that wise financial investment should seek out productive sectors instead of militarized sectors of the economy? If and when this occurs, then the time will be ripe for a social revolution from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

“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 . . .

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 struggle to eliminate violence against women is essential to the culture of peace

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The advance this year of the struggle to eilmininate violence against women is an important step forward for the global movement for a culture of peace. Here’s why.

First of all, violence against women has always been an intrinsic component of war. This goes back to prehistory when women were excluded from war due to the fact the practice of patrilocal exogamous marriage (husband remains in his native village and marries a wife from outside) ensured that wars were conducted between the husband of a woman on one side and her father and brothers on the other side. As a result, since warriors were exclusively men, they were free to capture and rape the women they found when vanquishing another community.

The male domination of the culture of war has characterized all human societies since the beginning of history. The male rulers of the first empires were not only the military commanders but also the heads of the state religion. Female heads of state and religion were so rare that they are considered to be curiosities of history: for example the pharaoh Hatshepsut in ancient Egypt, and the (mythical?) female Catholic Pope in the Middle Ages.

The male domination of the culture of war has come down to our present world system transformed by previous changes in economic systems, from slavery to colonialism to neo-colonialism, but all of these systems remain essentially sexist.

Huge economic industries, part of the culture of war, are essentially sexist. Of course, female prostitution goes back to the beginning of recorded history. But what about modern advertising the use of scarcely clad female models to sell automobilies, beauty products, etc. etc.? In capitalist economies, women are often considered as a commodity to be bought and sold. Seen in this context, rape can be considered in many cases as the forceful theft of the female commodity.

Apart from physical violence the exploitation of women in the modern economy is a form of structural violence. Women are not paid for their essential work in the bearing and raising of children. And in the workplace they continue to be paid substantially less than men in the equivalent occupation.

Political leaders often echo the sexism. The current US President is an example as reported on many occasions (for a list see the this article in The Guardian). Fortunately, we find more political leaders speaking out against sexism, such as the Presidents of France, Turkey and Canada as described in this month’s CPNN bulletin.

Second, violence against women diminishes their capacity to play their essential role as leaders in the transition to a culture of peace. Their role is essential as a result of their exclusion and suffering from war and the culture of war which gives them special reason to take action. In fact, we find women in leadership wherever there are campaigns for a culture of peace, but it would be even greater if all women were free from the threat of violence.

Third, the struggle for any one of the eight program areas of the culture of peace is a struggle for the others as well, because the movement for a culture of peace is an integral and synergistic struggle. For example, the rights of women are an important component of human rights in general. Similarly, sustainable and equitable economic development and democratic participation require the economic and political equality of women. Education for peace requires that girls have the same access to education as boys. In fact, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said, unless the international community tackles the problem of violence against women, the world will not eradicate poverty or reach any of its other goals.

In general, we should not make the mistake of thinking that the struggle to eliminate violence against women is just a struggle of the women themselves. It has to be the struggle of everyone, men as well as women, if we are to advance towards a culture of peace.

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!

Towards a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

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A frequent theme of this blog has been the need for a profound reform of the United Nations so that it is managed more directly by the peoples of the world – through cities or parliaments instead of the present Member States that are inextricably linked to the culture of war.

A significant first step towards such a reform would be the proposed parliamentary assembly of the United Nations (UNPA). As this month’s bulletin of CPNN documents, there are increasing calls for such an assembly, including proposals from the European Parliament, the Pan-African Parliament and an international conference of around 300 chief justices, judges, legal experts and ambassadors from nearly 60 countries predominantly from the Global South.

Such an Assembly would be an important step forward for a number of reasons.

1) A UNPA could make the United Nations more democratic. As stated by the European Parliament, it could increase “the democratic profile and internal democratic process of the organisation and . . . allow world civil society to be directly associated in the decision-making process.”

2) Parliamentarians are often closer to the people than their national goverments. For example, we have seen recently that many parliamentarians and some parliamentary associations support the nuclear ban treaty even when their governments have boycotted the UN negotiations, and we note other parliamentary initiatives towards a culture of peace. Hence a UNPA would be a force within the UN system to move towards a culture of peace.

3) There has been talk of UN reform for many years, but no action, because of resistance by the Member States. A UNPA would set a precedent for change.

4) There has been an erosion of confidence among the peoples of the world that the UN can provide a way forward to escape from the damages caused by the culture of war. A UNPA could begin to restore confidence and inspire further change.

5) If the thesis of this blog is correct that we are approaching a collapse of the present world economic and political structure, a UNPA could become key element in a new global governance structure, which, in turn could help in the development of a new, and hopefully, more equitable, economic order.

So what needs to be done?

Already regional parliaments of Africa and Europe are on record to support a UNPA. We need a similar initiative from the Latin American Parliament, and support from parliamentarians in North America, Asia and the Arab States.

We have seen that organizations of mayors often take progressive positions on the issues related to war and peace. It would be good if they would support the development of a UNPA.

There needs to be a concerted effort by alternative, progressive media to put the UNPA on the agenda for action by the civil society. To the extent that this is done it can stimulate the mainstream commercial media to pick up the issue as well.

International NGO’s should be encouraged to see in a UNPA a potential support for their progressive initiatives, and they should get on board a global movement for a UNPA.

With increased attention to the question, there needs to be further study of the methods and effectiveness of the regional parliaments that exist already, in order to determine how a UNPA should be structured. This was the conclusion of a recent meeting of the organizations already involved in working for a UNPA: Parliamentarians for Global Action, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

The establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly could move us a step closer to the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. No doubt there will be resistance from national governments, and especially the great powers, who will understand the a UNPA provides an alternative to their power that is based on the culture of war. Hence, the struggle will not be easy. But, as Richard Falk reminds us with regard to the nuclear ban treaty and the elimination of nuclear weapons, there is historical precedent for progressive change as a result of “deep commitments, sacrifices, movements, and struggles that eventually achieved the impossible, ending such entrenched evils as slavery, apartheid, and colonialism.”

Mayors and Media for Peace

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Imagine what the world would be like if the United Nations was managed by mayors instead of states! And imagine how it would be if the mass media was dedicated to a culture of peace!

We have some hint of how this might be in the recent events covered by CPNN.

While all of the nuclear-armed states and their allies are boycotting the UN conference to draft a treaty against nuclear weapons, we see that mayors have a different point of view.

At their annual meeting the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution that “welcomes the historic negotiations currently underway in the United Nations, involving most of the world’s countries, on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination” and they demanded that the US government join the negotiations in good faith. Their resolution concludes with the following remarkable paragraph:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges all U.S. mayors to join Mayors for Peace in order to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities by 2020, and encourages U.S. member cities to get actively involved by establishing sister city relationships with cities in other nuclear-armed nations, and by taking action at the municipal level to raise public awareness of the humanitarian and financial costs of nuclear weapons, the growing dangers of wars among nuclear-armed states, and the urgent need for good faith U.S. participation in negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Mayors for Peace already includes the mayors from more than 7,300 cities around the world!

If the mayors of the world were running the UN instead of the states, we could achieve nuclear disarmament! And much more! Once again we come back to the need for a radical reform of the United Nations!

As for the media, some indication of the positive role that they could play can be seen in the role of community radios in the peace process in Colombia. They are supported by funds from the European Union in order to send messages on peace to the territories and to promote reconciliation between the Colombians. The EU initiative not only opens microphones to the people, but also includes workshops in which 200 community radio journalists have been trained in the elaboration of educational content on peacebuilding, as well as 50 broadcasters receiving technical assistance and donations of recording equipment.

Similarly, in Uganda, community radio stations continue to work for peace. Back in 2004, they played a major role in convincing over 22,000 child soldiers and commanders to abandon the armed rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army: “In short, the LRA conflict could only be ended after the intervention of peace journalism.” Today they continue to work for peace, especially to give a voice to the massive number of refugees in Uganda.

As The Senegalese writer Aissatou Cissé said at the recent meeting of the Writers’ Union of Africa, Asia and Latin America, which took place in Senegal: What we need are “readings of peace in this world context of turbulence, verbal and physical violence”. “Every morning, when we get up, we read on the Internet, or through a newspaper or a book, and what we read does not promote the culture of peace, it disrupts even more and creates zizanie [discord].”

“Children, adolescents and adults who read us need to read positive things that can boost their creativity, and it is in peace that we can create,” said the Special Advisor to the President of the Republic, Macky Sall.

Thank you, mayors, and thank you, writers and journalists! You remind us that “A better world is possible!” Imagine it!

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

Who are the biggest terrorists?

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Readers of this blog know that I believe that in order to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace, we must develop a new order of world governance in which the United Nations is based on cities or regional parliaments rather than the present system of Member States. This is because the nation state is inextricably tied to the culture of war. More evidence for this comes from the recent United Nations vote on a resolution concerning a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

All the rich and powerful countries are against the resolution, including all the countries that possess nuclear weapons and their allies, including most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

What this tells us is that nuclear weapons are considered essential to the power of the state

This is state terrorism.

Let me explain.

The definition of terrorism is the achievement of political goals through violence or threat of violence against innocent populations.

What can better describe the possession of nuclear weapons than to call it terrorism.

The only times they have been used, they slaughtered the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 for political goals. Some think it was to end the war earlier. Others, having examined the evidence, say that it made no difference in ending the war, but was rather meant as a threat against the Russians which evolved into the Cold War. In any case, the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were mostly civilians, not military.

Since 1945, nuclear weapons are used as a threat against whatever enemy a state happens to have. During the Cold War it was the American against the Russians, and it seems now that a new Cold War is being developed, especially by the American “deep state” that supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy. The weapons of France and the UK are jusitified by their membership in NATO which is on the American side of the Cold War. Then there is the antagonism between India and Pakistan which is used to justify their weapons. And between Israel and North Korea and their enemies which seems to be much of the world.

Nuclear weapons do not distinguish their victims. That means that in all these cases, the threat is against the populations of the enemy country, without regard for the fact that most are not engaged militarily. This is terrorism. State terrorism.

Why do I say that this is essential to the state?

After considering the history of the culture of war in my book by that name, I come to the conclusion that over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. No one else is allowed to make or prepare for war except the state. Not cities, as was the case in the Middle ages. Not indigenous peoples, as was the case before they were conquered and subjugated around the world. Not private armies or armies of religious sects (although sometimes states with a state religion are allowed to have nuclear weapons as in the case of Israel, but not Iran).

In the same way, the state monopolizes nuclear weapons. No other institution is allowed to develop or possess them.

In fact, the culture of war, if we include the defense and limitation of trade and travel at its borders and the raising of taxes (mostly to pay for the culture of war), is one of the few functions that can only be performed by the nation-state. Other vital functions, such as healthcare, education, housing, transportation and communication services, etc. can (and often are) regulated at a higher and lower level. For example, aviation and maritime shipping are regulated at the level of the United Nations. As for healthcare and education, the United Nations has specialized agencies that are capable of regulating them (WHO and UNESCO). At the same time, many of these functions can be effectively regulated at lower levels, as is done for education in the United States.

The culture of war is the defining characteristic of the state. As stated clearly by the great sociologist Max Weber the state is defined as the organization that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

The next time you see reference in the commercial media to “terrorists,” ask the question, “who are the biggest terrorists?” And join the ranks of those who are struggling to abolish nuclear weapons. In the short run, the struggle is being carried out with states from the Global South at the United Nations. But in the long run, we need a new United Nations run instead by cities or regional parliaments.

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.