Where are we in the course of history?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is important work to be done!

How history moves: Economic change precedes; political change follows

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(pour la version française, voir en dessous)

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

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

Hence, it went bankrupt first and the West won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Success of the United Nations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here are some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The dialectical pace of history

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    (pour la version française, voir en dessous)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Le rythme dialectique de l’histoire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • African Leadership for the Culture of Peace

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    Africa is featured again this month on the CPNN bulletin, as it has been numerous times before, because of its leadership for a culture of peace.

    The recent articles illustrate what I wrote recently in the article Africa’s Contribution to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace for the African journal, The Thinker.

    Culture of Peace Consciousness

    “Africa is the leading continent of the world for peace education and media for peace.” This is exemplified by actions described in articles this month from Cameroon, Mali, Tunisia, Congo and Ethiopia.

    Culture of Peace Methodologies

    Africa has shown its leadership in culture of peace methodologies that promote reconciliation and solidarity “with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the Gacaca in Rwanda, enabling Africans to overcome bitter conflicts and enter a path of reconciliation.” Recently we see movement towards African solidarity in Morocco, Sierra Leone, Chad and the Gambia.

    As we have often seen at CPNN, it is often the women of Africa who take the lead in culture of peace methodologies.

    Culture of Peace Institutions

    “During the transition period in South Africa following Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, as part of the National Peace Accord, a broad set of regional and local peace committees were established that united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels.”

    Culture of peace institutions are once again beginning to develop thanks to initiatives of the African Union, as indicated by their most recent assembly, their delegation to Burundi and their meeting of the Pan-African Network of the Wise, as well as their support for the UNESCO initiatives such as the African biennial for a culture of peace and the networks for African youth and women for culture of peace.

    Conclusion

    Historically, Africa may be in a good position to take a leadership role in the global movement, because in the course of history, with the exception of the ancient empires of Egypt, Africans did not develop culture of war empires and states to the same extent that they were developed in other continents. And the rich tradition of Pan-Africanism provides an alternative model to that of empires and states. A Pan-African union could be based on a culture of peace rather than culture of war. It would be within the tradition of peace-building by Nelson Mandela. And it would fulfill the dream of that great African-American, W.E.B. Dubois, which he shared at the end of his life with Kwame Nkrumah and the people of Ghana, an Africa at peace with itself and the world.

    Culture of Peace: Are we making progress?

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    This month’s bulletin gives us an idea of where progress is being made (or not being made) towards a culture of peace if we compare it to the CPNN bulletins of 2015.

    On the good side

    Progress is being made at  a grass-roots level by social movements for sustainable development and food sovereignty, often led or inspired by women and indigenous peoples.  Often this involves the return to traditional practices.

    On the bad side

    The national governments of the world, gathered in Paris, did nothing to reduce the global dependence on fossil fuels which makes development unsustainable, contributing to pollution and global warming.   Despite technical advances which begin to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels, a large portion of technological innovation and development planning continues to favor the old unsustainable energy systems.

    On the good side

    Increasingly there are political movements against the policies of austerity that have been imposed by international financial institutions and national governments, policies that have accelerated the concentration of the world’s wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

    On the bad side

    The rich continue to get richer and the poor to get poorer, both within and between countries.  This is not just.  And it is not sustainable!

    On the good side

    Wise men and women tell us that the scourges of terrorism and displacement of peoples (refugees) cannot be defeated by more violence and xenophobic barriers, but we must address the roots of these problems by rejecting the culture of war and adopting policies corresponding to the culture of peace.

    On the bad side

    Influenced by the mass media and political demagogues, many people, perhaps a majority in many countries, continue to support policies of violence and xenophobia.

    On the good side

    After decades of civil war, Colombia is arriving at a peace accord with participation of the entire country and, in fact, all of Latin America.

    On the bad side

    Wars and civil wars, often fueled by the most developed countries, continue to plague much of the rest of the world.

    In sum, are we making progress?  It would seem that we are developing the base for a future culture of peace, but it will not come easily because at the higher levels of the world, things are getting worse.  Where is the United Nations in all this?  What if it could be reformed to really represent “we the peoples”, as stated in the opening lines of its Charter?  Imagine what it would be like if the Security Council were composed of representatives of the mayors of the world.  Do you think they would want to maintain nuclear weapons?  Or to make peace by bombing people?  Look, for example, at the recent approach of the mayors of Madrid and Paris!

    Advice to Colombia for the Peace Process

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    As described in this month’s CPNN bulletin, Colombia is preparing for peace as the peace talks advance between the Government and FARC. Local and regional peace initiatives, as well as a national move for peace education, are taking place in this context. It seems that Colombia will achieve peace accords that allow the election of a unity government that represents all of the people. But we should ask the question about what comes next. Can one trust that a unity government will continue the serve the people, or will it become corrupt?

    I am reminded of the situation 25 years ago in South Africa when the peace talks between the apartheid government of South Africa and Nelson Mandela inspired the entire country to prepare for peace. At that time a network of local peace committees was established. At their peak in the early 1990’s, there were 11 regional committees and over one hundred local peace committees, with an annual budget of almost $12 million which enabled the hiring of full time staff for regional offices. These committees united representatives from political organizations, trade unions, business, churches, police and security forces to resolve disputes at local and regional levels. They engaged people directly in conflict management on a grass roots level throughout the country.

    Earlier this year, I had the chance to spend a month in South Africa and to meet with social activists who had been active in the anti-apartheid movement. The told me that they regret now that they abandoned the network of local peace committees, because the national government has become so corrupt they can no longer work with it. The corruption is exemplified by the alleged involvement of Cyril Ramaphosa in the massacre of striking mine workers three years ago.

    The massacre took place in 2012 at the Lonmin platinum mines near Marikana, South Africa where 41 striking mineworkers were killed and many more injured, mostly by the police, many of them shot in the back. The strike was carried out by workers opposed to the leadership of their union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which they considered to have sold out the company interests. The NUM was founded by Cyril Ramaphosa, after which Ramaphosa became the leader of COSATU, the national organization of trade unions, and then leader of the ANC, and now Vice President of South Africa.

    Most recently, according to an article in Jeune Afrique, the leader of EFF, the new political party opposed to the ANC, announced the filing of a legal complaint against Ramaphosa, for having had “a decisive effect on the final decision of deliberating the mass murder of the miners at Marikana”. At the time of the massacre, Ramaphosa, in addition to being Vice-President of the country and founder of the National Union of Mineworkers, was also a shareholder in Lonmin. Ramaphosa is accused by the leader of the radical left to have insisted that the police should break the strike. Although there was an official investigation after the massacre, its mandate did not allow it to investigate the role of government members in ordering the police action.

    One year after the massacre, one commentator concluded: “Perhaps the most important lesson of Marikana is that the state can gun down dozens of black workers with little or no backlash from ‘civil society’, the judicial system or from within the institutions that supposedly form the bedrock of democracy. What we have instead is the farcical Farlam commission, an obvious attempt to clear the state’s role in the massacre and prevent any sort of real investigation into the actions of the police on that day. In other words, the state can get away with mass murder, with apparent impunity in terms of institutional conceptions of justice and political accountability.”

    Meanwhile, Ramaphosa has become one of South Africa’s richest men, with Forbes Magazine estimating his wealth at $275 million. Many believe that he is in line to be elected the next President of South Africa.

    Hopefully, the activists in South Africa can revive a network of local peace committees. And hence, my advice to the people of Colombia: 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.

    Planting Seeds for a Culture of Peace

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    As stated above, the American Empire and its mirror image in the Middle East, are destined to collapse.  The most important question is what will come next.  Will new empires arise quickly to take their place?  Will they be fascist regimes (extreme cultures of war), which is what happened after the economic collapse that began in 1929?  Or will we have a window of opportunity to make a culture of peace instead of a new culture of war?

    The answer depends upon what we do now.  Have we prepared the ground and sowed enough seeds for a for a culture of peace?

    In Ismail Serageldin’s “Cultural Program to Reject Extremism and Violence” he refers to the arts as “seeds of hope.”   This is what we should be planting.

    A culture of peace is just that:  a culture.  Cultures are not constructed.  They are cultivated, and the first steps of cultivation are preparing the ground and planting the seeds.  In my latest book, Embrace the Fire: Plant the seeds for a Culture of Peace, I consider the myriad initiatives that we have read about in CPNN over the years to be like seeds for a new culture.  Of course, like the planting of seeds in general, not every seed will survive and grow.  But if we continue planting them, eventually enough of them will survive to produce a new culture.   It is not only the culture of war that reproduces itself, but the culture of peace can do so as well – but by a very different method.

    I was very impressed by a visit last year to see the giant sequoias in California and to learn that their seeds can only be productive after they have passed through a fire.  And so we may look at the culture of peace like the sequoias.  The seeds we plant will have to pass through the fiery death of the culture of war and survive to start a new culture that will replace it afterwards.

    This approach requires patience and a long-range vision of history.  The results do not arrive quickly.  It requires the attitude of the farmer who assumes the cycle of seasons.  It assumes the old prophetic wisdom: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. . . ”

    As usual, CPNN this month describes seeds of hope.  If we go to the original essay of Serageldin we find many seeds of hope, some of which have been planted already, and some that need resources in order to be planted.  Then look at the work being done by Syrian women: stopping child marriage, uniting refugees and host communities, policing the streets, listening to marginalized groups, reopening schools, helping families survive, reforming corrupt courts, vaccinating children, disarming youth and mobilizing a movement for peace.  If we go to the International Symposium of the Pan-African Centre for Social Prospects for Peace and Development through Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, we find the planting of a culture of peace in Africa.   Also in Africa we find graffiti art employed as a tool for social change to promote women’s rights, including equal pay and educational access.

    Also, as usual, there are many good examples from Latin America.   Several come from Colombia, where the people have suffered from war for many decades and now there are seeds of peace coming to fruition.  The negotiations between the FARC revolutionary movement and the government are moving forward with the decision to establish a Commission for Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition.  The national law for teaching peace is in the course of implementation.  And in the Caribbean region of Colombia a regional peace assembly is being developed.

    Are we doing enough?  Probably not.  And do we have a lot of time?  Probably not.  I fear that the American Empire cannot last much longer, and when it crashes, its allies and its mirror images will probably crash as well, just as the crash of the Soviet Empire led to the collapse of most of its allies.

    Let us redouble our efforts.  We are racing against time.

    Food Sovereignty is Culture of Peace

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    In CPNN this month, we ask the question “What is the relation between peasant movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?”

    Here is my own response to the question.  It is based on the many articles in CPNN this month about the global movement of peasants for food sovereignty.

    Yes, they are an important part of the global movement for a culture of peace, for several reasons.

    First, they are the first line of defense against one of the main advances of the culture of war.  As we said in the document that we sent from UNESCO to the UN to define the culture of peace, it “represents a major change in the concept of economic growth which, in the past, could be considered as benefitting from military supremacy and structural violence and achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak.”  What better way to describe the advances of a few transnational corporations, supported by so-called “free-trade treaties” who are attempting to monopolize the seeds that farmers use throughout the world and to impose monoculture agriculture based on their seeds and their pesticides?

    The transnational corporations are supported by the power (ultimately military) of nation states around the world, not only by the great powers, but also by the governments of the small countries.  An example is Guatemala, where despite pressure from a strong peasant movement to support a Rural Integral Development law, the law is blocked by a coalition of right-wing parties.

    Second, the peasant movements are organized not only locally, and to an increasing extent, on a global scale.  Look at the map of protests on April 17, the International Day of Peasant Struggle against Transnational Companies and Free Trade Agreements. There are actions on every continent.

    The peasant movements are based ultimately on the wisdom and experience of their ancestors as described in the blog from this February, “Listen to the indigenous people.”  This is clearly stated in the declaration of the 6th Congress of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations: “We emerged from the heart itself of the 500-year process of indigenous, peasant, black and popular resistance.”

    The peasant struggle ultimately concerns all of us.  As we concluded in the February blog, we need to “organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business . . .  In this way we can protect ourselves against the crash of the American empire and the global economy that it manages.”

    Finally, we can say that the peasant movement for sustainable agriculture is not only part of the global movement for a culture of peace, but perhaps its most critical component because it will enable us to survive after the crash and during the period when it may be possible to make a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.  For this reason it is especially important that we see more and more young people turning back to small-scale, “human-scale” farming, as described in the CPNN interview this month.

     

    Anti-Austerity is Culture of Peace

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    This month’s CPNN bulletin refers to CPNN articles on the anti-austerity movements in Greece, Spain, Germany, Ireland, France and Canada, with reference to the fact that for many years already South American governments have rejected the austerity imposed by international financial institutions.

    We have posed the following question with regard to these articles: “Movements against government fiscal austerity,  Are they part of the movement for a culture of peace”.

    Here is my own response to the question.

    In theory they should be considered as contributing to a culture of peace.  The definition of the culture of peace adopted in UN resolution A/53/243, the official culture of peace resolution, includes, among its eight program areas : “Actions to promote sustainable economic and social development”.  It includes the following details which certainly are contradicted by national austerity policies:

    . . . appropriate strategies and agreed targets to eradicate poverty. . .

    . . . implementation of policies and programmes designed to reduce economic and social inequalities . . .

    . . . effective and equitable development-oriented and durable solutions to the external debt and debt-servicing problems of developing countries

    . . . ensure that the development process is participatory . . .

    In fact, we may consider that austerity measures are part of the culture of war, since they are imposed by the rich in order to protect and increase their wealth which they gain at the expense of the poor.  The culture of war, since its beginnings, has served the profits of the rich, whether by slavery, by colonialism, or by today’s neo-colonialism.  As we said in the document A/53/370 which we sent from UNESCO to the UN General Assembly to prepare for its official culture of peace resolution: the culture of peace “represents a major change in the concept of economic growth which, in the past, could be considered as benefitting from military supremacy and structural violence and achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak.”

    In practice as well, the anti-austerity movements should also be considered as contributing to a culture of peace.  They mobilize people to fight for justice by non-violence means.  Insofar as people in these movements are able to achieve economic justice, they will be empowered to fight as well for the other aspects of a culture of peace, including human rights, women’s equality, tolerance and solidarity, etc.

    In this blog, we have mentioned many times that the transition to a culture of peace will probably come through a breakdown of the present global political and economic system, leaving a space for the institution of an alternative system with the characteristics of a culture of peace.  The economic hardships imposed by the present policies of austerity are only a mild preview of the hardships that are likely to come when the global system breaks down.  Hence, we need all the practice we can get to learn how to overcome such economic hardships and the policies that cause them.  The more we can learn now, the more we will be prepared to make the transition to a culture of peace when the historical time is ripe.

    And we should consider that possibility that such an historical turning point is coming very soon.

     

    An Institute to Train for Culture of Peace Tourism

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    The following is excerpted from the talk I gave at the recent symposium on Tourism and Peace (See this month’s CPNN bulletin).

    Tourism is an enormous enterprise with enormous resources, and it needs a culture of peace.  Tourism is the first industry to suffer when there is violence.  And it has a great potential to promote all the eight program areas of culture of peace.

    Acknowledging my gratitude to a good friend here today, Lou D’Amore, who has shared with me this idea, I propose that we should develop an Institute to train workers for culture of peace tourism

    As a model for this, let us recall the early years of UNESCO after World War II, when UNESCO helped establish three institutes for training literary workers.  The institutes, located in Mexico, Iran and Egypt, trained a generation of literacy workers, coming mostly from national ministries of education.  The subsequent engagement of these literacy workers led to an great increase in literacy throughout the world.   Even if it is not mentioned in most history books, the drive towards universal literacy should be considered one of the great achievements of the modern era.

    It is proposed here to learn from that experience to develop an institute to train a new generation of workers for another kind of literacy, the literacy of peace.  The UNESCO experience provides a reasonable model for such an institute.

    First, it could be self-financing with income from tuition paid by institutions such as ministries of tourism, hotel, tourist agency and airline companies who send their workers to get training, as well as young people seeking a career in this field.  The faculty could be recruited from activists and retired officials who believe sufficiently in the challenge of culture of peace tourism that they would work for minimum salaries, and from people on-loan from relevant organizations involved in the tourist trade.

    An important lesson was told to me by a veteran of the UNESCO literacy institute in Iran: one should minimize the involvement with buildings and infrastructure by renting space from existing educational institutions rather than building or owning the buildings with its costs of maintenance, cleaning staff, guardians, etc.

    Where should such an institution be located?  In Africa, of course.  Nowhere else is tourism so vital to the economy of a continent.  And nowhere else is there so much to offer to tourists and those who host them.

    How should we go about establishing such an institute?  First, a sponsor is needed.  The most appropriate would be the United Nations World Tourism Organization.  Then, clients are needed.  The most appropriate would be ministries of tourism.  And finally, we need faculty.  From among the distinguished gathering of experts on tourism for peace gathered here this week in Johannesburg, I’m sure we could find an excellent faculty.

    There is another reason that we should locate such an institute in Africa.  In the North, especially Europe and North America, the states have become so linked to the culture of war that they would have a conflict of interest to support a culture of peace.  In Africa, on the other hand, the independent state is a new development dating only from the post-colonial era, and although it is often corrupt, it is not so linked to the culture of war.  Its involvement with culture of peace tourism would point it in a good direction for the future.

    To conclude, I hope that together we can develop an institute for culture of peace tourism, and I offer my services to help work on this.    I hope others will join in.

    The Universality of the Movement for a Culture of Peace

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    This month’s CPNN bulletin shows that initiatives for a culture of peace are taking place in most regions of the world.  As discussed in previous blogs, Latin America and Africa are in the leadership, although this may be difficult for the North to accept . The Arab States took two steps forward with the “Arab Spring”, although the turnaround in Egypt moved them one step back.  The only region which seems to lag is East Asia.

    The apparent lag of East Asia may be an illusion caused by our different terminologies.  I recall a personal luncheon with the Ambassador from China to UNESCO at the time when I was director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace.  After listening intently to my description of our initiatives for the culture of peace, he said suddenly, “Oh, now I understand.  You are talking about social harmony.”  The terminology of China was molded in the philosophy of Confucius which is quite different from Western philosophy.

    The universality of the culture of peace was ensured by the adoption in 1999 of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace by the UN General Assembly which is the closest we come to a universal forum of humanity.   Just as the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights provided universal recognition for human rights, so, too, the 1999 Declaration and Programme of Action has provided, with its 8 action areas, a universal basis for the culture of peace.

    This was summed up by Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury who shepherded the Declaration and Programme of Action through the difficult process of adoption.  Presenting the document to the General Assembly, the Ambassador said that it brought in subjects that the Assembly had rarely touched in its 50 year history: “I believe that this document is unique in more than one way. It is a universal document in the real sense, transcending boundaries, cultures, societies and nations. Unlike many other General Assembly documents, this document is action-oriented and encourages actions at all levels . . . All people from all walks of life and all sorts of backgrounds can contribute to its implementation.”

    As Ambassador Chowdhury correctly stated, one aspect of its universality is its relevance to the everyday actions of people throughout the world.

    Another aspect of the universality of the UN declaration was ensured by the manner in which we prepared it.  We began by analyzing and forming the alternative to its antithesis which is another universal culture, the culture of war, which has dominated the world at least since Neolithic times.  It has become, over time, the culture of the state.  As I have often remarked, if you placed Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Napoleon and General MacArthur in a room with interpreters, they would find themselves in complete accord.

    Given the universality of the culture of war, the only way we can arrive at a culture of peace is through a universal transformation of one to the other.  In a previous blog, with the title “Can a Culture of Peace be created in only one zone of the world?”, I answered that it has not been possible, because previous attempts limited in scope have been crushed by the culture of war.

    Only when the states of the culture of war crash universally will there be a chance to install a culture of peace.  This occurs periodically, including four times in the previous century:  World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and (in half of the world) the crash of the Soviet Empire.  And it will no doubt occur fairly soon again in this 21st Century.

    But when the next crash comes, will we be ready to establish a culture of peace universally?  That is the key question.  If we only establish the culture of peace in one or two regions, it is likely that the culture of war will be re-established and once again return to crush our attempts at a culture of peace.

    L’universalité du Mouvement pour une culture de paix

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    Le bulletin de CPNN fait apparaître ce mois-ci que les initiatives pour une culture de paix viennent de la plupart des régions du monde. Comme nous avons vu dans les blogs précédents, ce sont l’Amérique latine et l’Afrique qui en sont leaders, même si le Nord ait du mal à le reconnaître.   Avec le « printemps arabe» , les États arabes ont fait deux pas en avant, bien que, en Egypte, l’évolution de la situation leur a fait faire un pas en arrière.  Seule, l’Asie orientale semble en dehors du circuit.

    Le décalage apparent de l’Asie orientale peut être une illusion causée par nos différences de terminologie. Je me souviens d’un déjeuner personnel avec l’ambassadeur de Chine à l’UNESCO quand j’étais directeur de l’Année internationale de la culture de la paix. Après avoir écouté attentivement la description de nos initiatives dans ce domaine, soudainement il a dit, “Oh, maintenant je comprends. Vous voulez parlez d’harmonie sociale.”  Le vocabulaire chinois a été modelé par la philosophie de Confucius, ce qui diffère tout à fait de notre approche occidentale.

    L’universalité de la culture de paix a été assurée en 1999, lors de l’adoption par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies de la Déclaration et Programme d’action sur une culture de la paix. L’ Assemblée générale est la forme la plus proche pour parvenir à un forum universel de l’humanité. Tout comme la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme de 1948 a permis la reconnaissance universelle des droits humains, la Déclaration et Programme d’action de 1999 a fourni, avec ses huit domaines d’action, une base universelle pour la culture de paix.

    Ceci a été résumé par l’Ambassadeur Anwarul Chowdhury qui a piloté la Déclaration et Programme d’action à travers le difficile processus d’adoption. Dans sa présentation du document à l’Assemblée générale, l’ambassadeur a dit qu’il avait rapporté à l’Assemblée, des sujets rarement soulevés en 50 ans d’histoire. “Je crois que ce document est unique à plus d’un titre.  C’est un document universel dans le sens réel qu’il transcende les frontières, les cultures, les sociétés et les nations. Contrairement à de nombreux autres documents de l’Assemblée générale, ce document est orienté vers l’action et encourage les actions à tous les niveaux … Tous les gens de tous horizons et de toutes sortes de milieux peuvent contribuer à sa mise en œuvre ».

    L’ambassadeur avait raison: l’un des aspects de l’universalité, c’est la pertinence des actes quotidiens des gens partout dans le monde.

    Un autre aspect de l’universalité de la culture de paix a été assurée par la manière dont nous avons préparé la Déclaration. Nous avons commencé par l’analyse d’une autre culture universelle, celle dans laquelle baigne notre humanité depuis au moins le Néolithique : la culture de guerre.  Elle est devenue au fils du temps, la culture de l’Etat.  Ensuite, nous y avons projeté et construit une alternative: la culture de paix.  Comme j’en ai souvent fait la remarque, si vous pouviez placer Alexandre le Grand, Gengis Khan, Jules César, Napoléon et le général MacArthur dans une chambre avec des interprètes, ils se trouveraient tous en complet accord !

    Compte tenu de l’universalité de la culture de guerre, la seule façon par laquelle nous pouvons parvenir à la culture de paix passe à travers une transformation universelle de l’une à l’autre.  Dans un blog précédent, avec le titre “Est-ce qu’une culture de paix peut être créé dans une seule zone du monde?”,  j’avais répondu que jusqu’à aujourd’hui cela n’avait pas été possible, car chaque tentative localisée a été écrasée par la culture de guerre.

    C’est seulement quand les Etats guerriers échoueront universellement qu’il y aura la possibilité d’installer une culture de paix. Des tels échecs arrivent périodiquement: par example, dans le siècle dernier, cela s’est produit quatre fois: -Les deux guerres mondiales, la grand dépression, et la chute dans la moitié du monde de l’Empire Soviétique.  Et cela va sans doute se reproduire bientôt.

    Mais quand le prochain crash arrivera, serons nous prêt pour établir une culture de paix de manière universelle?  Si nous établissons une culture de paix dans seulement une ou deux régions, ce sera insuffisant, parce qu’il est probable que la culture de guerre reviendra et l’écrasera.

    Networking for a culture of peace

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    When we drafted the Declaration and Programme of Action for a Culture of Peace at UNESCO in 1998, adopted by the UN General Assembly a year later as Resolution a/53/243, we envisaged that progress towards a culture of peace could be achieved through the following:

    – Partnerships between and among the various actors [including civil society] as set out in the Declaration should be encouraged and strengthened for a global movement for a culture of peace. 

     – A culture of peace could be promoted through sharing of information among actors on their initiatives in this regard. 

    As readers of this blog know, the communication function is being provided by CPNN and other such Internet websites.

    And now we begin to see the development of the first function of partnerships, through development of civil society networks for a culture of peace.

    At Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, UNESCO and the Network of Foundations and Research Institutions for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa co-sponsored the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the UNESCO initiative for a Culture of Peace, and met to refine and implement their Programme of Action. I was privileged to represent the Culture of Peace Corporation (the parent organization of CPNN) at this meeting.

    Their initial Programme of Action was adopted last September in Addis Ababa and includes the following :

    – Coordinate actions in order to ensure a common understanding and community of practices in pooling our resources in the implementation of our actions

    – Strengthen the visibility of our organizations and our activities among citizens and institutions at national and international level;

    – Contribute to the implementation of the Luanda Action Plan by the elaboration and implementation of joint programs;

    – Endeavor to implement the African Union’s 2063 Agenda and the UNESCO Intersectoral Programme on Culture of Peace;

    – Expand the network to African and non-African organizations with similar objectives.

    More details, including the Luanda Action Plan may be found in the UNESCO brochure Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace in Africa.

    This network parallels and interacts with the new network dedicated to “Women for a culture of peace in Africa” that was established in March of this year. There are plans to establish yet another such network next year dedicated to African youth organizations.

    Indeed, we see in the pages of CPNN that around the world the consciousness already exists of the need for radical change, and that the necessary actions are taking place, but so far the consciousness and actions are too isolated.

    In order to achieve an effective Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, networks like those in Africa need to be developed in other continents.  Given the advanced state of consciousness and action for a culture of peace in Latin America, let us hope that it can be next.

    Leadership of the Global South will be difficult for the North to accept

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    Is it by chance that the leadership for the culture of peace is coming from the continents of Latin America and Africa, continents of the Global South? The detailed evidence for this may be found in many CPNN articles, some of which are summarized in the CPNN bulletins for March 1 and April 1 this year, as well as bulletins from previous years (February 1, 2013 and August 1, 2012).

    It is not by chance that these are the continents that have suffered for centuries from the colonialism of the North: Africa from European colonialism and Latin America from US domination and military interventions?

    It is not by chance that many of their best leaders were assassinated, directly or indirectly, by the colonial powers? I am thinking Samora Machel, Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral in Africa, or Salvador Allende, Che Guevara and Maurice Bishop in Latin America.

    The transition to a culture of peace requires a complete reversal of the domination and exploitation of poor states of the South by the rich states of the North. It is by means of the culture of war that the North has amassed its wealth. And it is their continuing profit from the culture of war that makes it impossible for them to move towards a culture of peace. On the other hand, Africans and Latin Americans have everything to gain by such a complete reversal.

    The coming years will also be difficult for the North, because, over time, they will continue to lose not only their power, but also their wealth that has been maintained through the culture of war. There is a great danger, more and more visible in national elections in Europe and North America, that voters will turn to fascist political parties in their desperate search for a solution.

    But perhaps the most difficult thing for the North will be the psychological aspect of this historical transition. The people of the North, particularly their intellectuals and political leaders have developed a racist belief in their superiority. The loss of that illusion will be a difficult thing to swallow, as the leadership of history passes into the hands of the people of the South.

    Rather than trying to save the rest of the world, progressives in the North should try to save their own societies from racist and chauvinist illusions, and from economies based on exploitation. In this regard they should adopt some of the approaches suggested by Johan Galtung in his analysis of the Fall of the American Empire: to work at the local municipal level instead of trying to change national policies, to organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business, local banks instead of investment banks, local construction of affordable housing to provide jobs as well as housing.

    The transition to a culture of peace needs to be a universal struggle. By working locally for a culture of peace, the people of the North can take their place along with activists of the South in this universal, historical, nonviolent, yet revolutionary struggle.

     

    Leadership for a Culture of Peace

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    This month’s CPNN bulletin raises the question, “What is good leadership for a culture of peace?”

    An initial answer is provided by the Elder, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and international leader for health and sustainable development: “To be bold; to have the courage of your convictions; and to think long-term, not short-term or for political expedience.”

    Nelson Mandela, who founded the group of Elders, exemplified these qualities in his life, and is perhaps the best example of good leadership in our time. In fact, one can trace a line from Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired Martin Luther King, and then Martin Luther King who inspired Mandela. They show us the nature of leadership for non-violent action which is so effective that it has changed the life of entire nations.

    The formulation by Brundlandt is similar to the one in my 1986 book, Psychology for Peace Activists, which describes the “world-historic consciousness” of peace heroes such as the Nobel Peace Laureates Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jane Addams and Emily Balch. I concluded that world-historic consciousness requires a “global view of reality and a sense of moral responsibility for humanity’s future” as well as an understanding of “the strengths and directions of all political forces in a systemic, not superficial way . . . recognizing that peace requires fundamental economic and political changes in society.”

    The “long-term thinking” of Bruntlandt or “sense of moral responsibility for humanity’s future” of great peace activists becomes a vision like the dream in the famous speech of Martin Luther King exactly 50 years ago, a vision of a better future which is taken up and shared by the people as a source of hope and inspiration. This is the highest level of leadership.

    As pointed out in this month’s bulletin, there are many examples of good leadership today, both on a local and national level and on an international level, women and men of great courage and effective action for justice.

    But do we have leaders who can give us the vision that we need?

    It seems to me that the vision does not depend only on the leader, but also it depends on the people and on the historical contradictions of the moment. Have the contradictions become so strong that people are seeking an alternative? In other words, the vision depends not only on the leader, but also on the subjective mood of the people as a result of the objective contradictions of the historical moment.

    It seems to me – as it seems also to Johan Galtung in his recent writings – that the objective contradictions of the historical moment have reached a point that people are starting to look for a radically different future. The time has come that the people have started to look for their leaders. It seems that there are leaders who can provide this vision, which, like a spark in dry tinder, can lead to revolutionary changes in our way of life by means of nonviolent action.

    To me, it seems that the vision needed at this moment of history is for the transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

    The historic challenge to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace

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    Last month’s blog posed two questions. Is the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace growing? And will it be able grow enough to replace the present culture of war when it crashes?  This month’s CPNN bulletin indicates that it is growing, but is it growing fast enough to deal with the world crises that are coming?

    The coming crises are ecological, economic, political and military.

    The ecological crises such as global warming and rising ocean levels, lack of fresh water resources and new forms of disease and epidemics, etc. are developing over many decades. The many initiatives for sustainable development – a key component of the culture of peace – can slow the onset of these crises, but cannot halt them as long as we maintain the present political and economic systems.

    The economic crises include the uncontrolled financial speculation (the annual gross product of the world being traded every day), the constantly rising American debt and consequent risk to the value of the dollar (which begins to resemble the Soviet ruble 30 years ago), the continually increasing urbanization of the world which means fewer farms and more people dependent upon food production and delivery based on imported oil, and the increasing interdependence of the global economy to the point that a crash would be far more devastating than any in previous history. The time line for an economic crash is probably much sooner than that of the ecological crises, even less than a decade according to some predictions.

    The political crises that we see today – the inability of states to deal with nuclear disarmament, with global warming or with economic instability – can only get worse if there is an economic crash. That’s what we saw in the Soviet Union after its economic crash at the end of the 80’s.

    The last time there was a global economic crash in 1929, it was followed by the political “solution” of fascism. In fact, fascism is simply the extreme manifestation of the culture of war in all its aspects.

    Herein lies the greatest challenge to the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace. If its principles are sufficiently established in the consciousness of people and in institutional frameworks, it can provide a convincing alternative to fascism in the face of the crises that are coming.

    And, of course, there are always the crises of militarism. In recent years we have seen the military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now underway, Syria, with nothing but disastrous results, and always the risk of nuclear weapons being employed.

    More and more there is a global realization that there are no military solutions to the economic and political crises. But can this negative anti-war sentiment be matured into a positive culture of peace consciousness that consists of positive actions as well as ideas?

    The challenge facing us is so complex that we cannot predict its details. Hence, we need to strengthen every one of the 8 program areas of the culture of peace, mobilize every sector of society, women, youth, intellectuals, artists, etc., and the Movement needs to be expanded in every continent and region. As this month’s CPNN bulletin indicates, there is some progress in all of these respects, but much more is needed if the Movement is to achieve its potential.

    The Past and Future of CPNN

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    The bulletin this month marks a milestone in the evolution of CPNN, as its coverage begins to depend on the extensive involvement of reporters from around the world.

    Looking back over the 15 years of CPNN since it began at UNESCO in 1998, I recognize this as the most recent of several milestones.

    At first it was hoped that there would be many different CPNN sites in various languages, and I ran CPNN only for the United States, but by 2007, seeing that sites were not materializing in other languages and continents, I expanded it to a global level.

    2010 was a watershed year for CPNN. The Culture of Peace Decade of the United Nations had ended, and we had submitted the final report from over 1,000 civil society organizations around the world. In order to continue the information exchange among these organizations, it was necessary to expand the service of CPNN, which had almost ceased to function in the previous year. We established the Culture of Peace Corporation in order to involve young people in the management of the site, including those who had worked on the UN Decade report. With their assistance, the site was revamped to be more attractive using many images.

    In the years since 2010, the coverage of CPNN has greatly expanded. There were 205 articles in 2011, 413 in 2012, and already 181 in the first half of 2013. Most of these depended upon me to write or seek out the articles, but as of this month, there is more of a contribution by reporters.

    As stated in the conclusion of this month’s bulletin, CPNN aspires to fulfill the challenge in the UN Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, to serve the development of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace by exchanging information among its actors. As I have written at the end of an article about CPNN to appear in the next issue of the Journal of Peace Education, the future of CPNN is intimately tied to the future of the Global Movement. On the one hand, CPNN can only develop its full potential in the context of a growing Movement, and on the other hand, in order to grow, the Movement needs the extensive exchange of information among its actors.

    At this moment of history, it is critical that the Movement should grow. The present global culture of war, headed by the American empire, is reaching the end of its power, similar to the situation of the Soviet empire in the 1980’s. When it crashes, if we are not ready to replace it with the culture of peace, we risk to fall back on the extreme culture of war called fascism, as happened in the 1930’s when the previous system crashed.

    But is the Movement growing? And will it be able grow enough to replace the present culture of war when it crashes? This will be the theme of next month’s blog.

     

    Sowing the culture of peace: The International Day of Peace

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    When I went to work in Mozambique on behalf of UNESCO to help develop a national culture of peace program in the early 90’s, my African friends criticized the European notion of building a culture of peace.  “No, they told me, you don’t build a culture of peace.  You cultivate it.”

    The culture of war, on the other hand, is built.  Empires and their states are built on fear through domination, exploitation, control of information, and the development and use (or threat) of armed force.  Economic enterprises are constructed within this shield.  Entire economic systems are built, eventually to be ruled by speculation.  As a result the culture of war is not sustainable.  Fear is eventually overcome by courage, and the truth eventually will out.  Arms production exhausts the economy.  And speculation, like a house of cards, eventually crashes.  From time to time, these spectacular, unsustainable institutions collapse and leave space for the sustainable processes of culture.

    And so human history, human culture, slowly, by fits and starts, makes its way forward.  Culture is not a state of being, but a process.  It is not static, but dynamic.  It is not built but cultivated.  As stated in the UN Declaration on a Culture of Peace (UN Resolution A-53-243), it consists of “values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behavior and ways of life.”  It is a social, not an individual process.  It is not “inner peace.”  Instead, it is political in the sense that Aristotle meant when he began his greatest work with “Man is a political animal”, linking the word “political” to “polis,” the city.

    The process is not steady.  We may plant seeds and fail to see the results afterwards.  We may harvest fruit and have to wait for the winter before planting again.  But slowly, over time, the culture grows – that is our theme and our hope for the future.

    There is a terrible urgency to what we are doing.  We know from history that when empires crash, there is great suffering, and there is an immediate cry to rebuild the structures of the culture of war that are stronger than ever – what is known as fascism.  If we are not prepared at that moment to make the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, we will risk a transition to fascism.

    To help us attain universality for the culture of peace we need to continue involving the United Nations in this process.  Even though it is now controlled by states with their cultures of war, the time will come when we can reclaim the United Nations, as the Charter says, in the name of “We the peoples….”