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.