A website for scholarship
in the theory and practice of nonviolence
in the USA.
A reader's guide to web literature on the theory and practice of nonviolence.
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We Have Seen the Future and It Does Not Work: The Politics and Ethics of Fear
NVUSA Feb. 14, 2003
The main point I want to make about that era is that the
climate of fear was deliberately induced by our political elite
in order to mobilize a frightened population into supporting its
anti-communist crusade. Republicans and Democrats, conservatives
and liberals alike sought to purge Leftists from the political
life of the nation so there could be no dissenting voices from a
Cold War to protect capitalism and ensure U.S. hegemony in the
world. Never mind that a nuclear arms race made us less secure,
that in the name of anti-communism our government sought to crush
every progressive movement that emerged anywhere in the world,
and that the scope of political discourse at home was limited to
a narrow range. A fearful population was willing to accept all
this and more. Fear induced an unquestioning, childlike trust in
a political elite that promised to protect us from harm. As the
17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes well understood, those
with sufficient fear for their lives, liberties and property will
be willing to turn all that over to an all powerful Leviathan in
hopes of finding security. [Cf. Iris Young, The Logic of Masculinist Protection: Reflections
on the Current Security State", forthcoming in Signs]
The politics of fear has governed our national life ever
since. With the end of the Cold War up until 911, there was a
hiatus. Without a communist bogeyman to scare us with anymore,
the national security state was faced with a legitimization
crisis. How could it justify its interventions against Third
World countries? How could it justify continued high levels of
military expenditures? How could it sustain the powers of an
imperial presidency? Without an enemy, without a threat to fear,
how could the political elite mobilize public support? Through
the 1990s you could see it grasping for a new enemy for us to
fear. A war on drugs was offered as cover for interventions in
the Andean countries and in Panama, even though the problem of
drugs had its roots here at home. We were told to fear crime (at
a time when crime rates were actually decreasing) so we would
support draconian police and sentencing practices that have given
us the highest prison population in the industrial world. But
the most ludicrous of all was the propaganda campaign launched by
the Pentagon to try to convince us that we were threatened by a
possible asteroid that could crash into the earth, destroying all
life. To protect against that, we needed to develop space laser
weapons that could destroy an oncoming asteroid first. Thus did
the military-industrial complex seek to frighten us into
supporting the development of star wars weaponry.
Militarism and Reproductive Freedom
ZNet Dec. 29, 2002
Lately, it seems whenever we need a reminder about why it is the U.S. should budget more national funds for the military, or take aggressive action in another small poverty-stricken country, the battle cry of equal rights for women is sounded by the most unlikely people.
When U.S. soldiers invaded Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 and unseated the Taliban, they were hailed as the liberators of Afghani women. Bush has repeatedly referred to women’s rights in Afghanistan and Palestine as a positive outcome of U.S. intervention in those areas as well as in Iraq. If we are to believe what we hear, militarism is the true herald of feminism. But don’t let the talking heads fool you. Upon closer examination it is clear that tanks and guns are doing more damage to women than liberating them. Here are ten reasons why:
1. Military toxins damage the environment and reproductive health.
Militaries are among the worst polluters on the planet. Not only does war degrade or destroy local environments, but military bases and weapons facilities contaminate the air, soil, and water with deadly toxins. According to geographer Joni Seager, “Anywhere in the world, a military presence is virtually the single most reliable predictor of environmental damage.”
Military pollution has many harmful and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. In Vietnam, the herbicide Agent Orange sprayed by the U.S. military is responsible for ongoing high rates of birth defects, miscarriages and reproductive cancers. In both the U.S. and Russia, releases of radioactive materials from nuclear weapons production and testing are associated with sterility, cancer and genetic abnormalities.
Military pollution is usually shrouded in secrecy. In Memphis, TN, a military depot dumped chemical weapons in the midst of a black residential community without informing people of the health dangers. Today, women there report a high incidence of miscarriage, birth defects, kidney diseases and cancer.
The Parents Circle
We have betrayed our children
Nurit Peled-Elhanan Jerusalem Post Nov. 28, 2002
TODAY, WHEN "terror" is the term coined to define the murderous deeds of the poor and the weak and "war against terror" is the term coined to define the murderous deeds of the strong and the rich, when the greatest democracies commit the most terrible crimes against humanity using terms such as "freedom," "justice" and "the clash of civilizations" to justify their crimes, we the bereaved, the victims of either terror or anti-terror terrorism, are the only ones left to tell the world that there is no civilized killing of the innocent or barbaric killing of the innocent, there is only criminal killing of the innocent.
We are the ones to tell the world there is no clash of civilizations, that in the ever-growing underground kingdom of dead children there is no clash of civilizations. On the contrary: True multiculturalism prevails there, true equality and true justice. And maybe we are the ones who should remind the world that the golden age of both Islam and Judaism was when the two lived side by side, nurturing each other and flourishing together.
We are the ones who travel from one country to another to remind the world that the death of a child, any child, in Palestine or Israel, in Afghanistan or Chechnya, is the death of the whole world; that after the death of a child, any child, there is no other, that no one can avenge the blood of a child because the child takes into her small grave, with her small bones, the past and the future, the reasons for the war and its consequences.
We are the ones who keep telling the world that the only way for humanity to prevail is to join us in raising this ancient voice, that has always been there, the voice of motherhood and fatherhood, raise it until it deafens all the other voices.
We demand that the world redefine its values and priorities, redefine crime, guilt, the rights of children and the duties of adults and therefore redefine education and justice, and make it very clear that anyone who kills a child will never be able to live in peace in this world. Not even as Cain.
Democracy as a Universal Value
Journal of Democracy 10.3 (1999) 3-17
There is, in fact, no convincing general evidence that authoritarian [End Page 6] governance and the suppression of political and civil rights are really beneficial to economic development. Indeed, the general statistical picture does not permit any such induction. Systematic empirical studies (for example, by Robert Barro or by Adam Przeworski) give no real support to the claim that there is a general conflict between political rights and economic performance.2 The directional linkage seems to depend on many other circumstances, and while some statistical investigations note a weakly negative relation, others find a strongly positive one. If all the comparative studies are viewed together, the hypothesis that there is no clear relation between economic growth and democracy in either direction remains extremely plausible. Since democracy and political liberty have importance in themselves, the case for them therefore remains untarnished....
There is, I believe, an important lesson here. Many economic technocrats recommend the use of economic incentives (which the market system provides) while ignoring political incentives (which democratic systems could guarantee). This is to opt for a deeply unbalanced set of ground rules. The protective power of democracy may not be missed much when a country is lucky enough to be facing no serious calamity, when everything is going quite smoothly. Yet the danger of insecurity, arising from changed economic or other circumstances, or from uncorrected mistakes of policy, can lurk behind what looks like a healthy state....
Viewed in this light, the merits of democracy and its claim as a universal value can be related to certain distinct virtues that go with its unfettered practice. Indeed, we can distinguish three different ways in which democracy enriches the lives of the citizens. First, political freedom is a part of human freedom in general, and exercising civil and political rights is a crucial part of good lives of individuals as social beings. Political and social participation has intrinsic value for human life and well-being. To be prevented from participation in the political life of the community is a major deprivation.
Second, as I have just discussed (in disputing the claim that democracy is in tension with economic development), democracy has an important instrumental value in enhancing the hearing that people get in expressing and supporting their claims to political attention (including claims of economic needs). Third--and this is a point to be explored further--the practice of democracy gives citizens an opportunity to learn from one another, and helps society to form its values and priorities. Even the idea of "needs," including the understanding of "economic needs," requires public discussion and exchange of information, views, and analyses. In this sense, democracy has constructive importance, in addition to its intrinsic value for the lives of the citizens and its instrumental importance in political decisions. The claims of democracy as a universal value have to take note of this diversity of considerations.
If the above analysis is correct, then democracy's claim to be valuable does not rest on just one particular merit. There is a plurality of virtues here, including, first, the intrinsic importance of political participation and freedom in human life; second, the instrumental importance of political incentives in keeping governments responsible and accountable; and third, the constructive role of democracy in the formation of values and in the understanding of needs, rights, and duties. In the light of this diagnosis, we may now address the motivating question of this essay, namely the case for seeing democracy as a universal value....
INTERSUBJECTIVE DIMENSIONS OF TERRORISM AND ITS TRANSCENDENCE
The first stage in the development of terrorism begins when intolerable life conditions cause suffering that produces internal psychological changes in people that can be understood as a psychological mutation, a malignant alteration in the personality caused by the repeated failure to respond to overwhelming trauma. Intolerable affects that are not treated cannot be endured. Failure to respond to repeated trauma, humiliation, and suffering produces utter hopelessness. When cries for help are not heeded, people are plunged into the depths of despair -- an abyss that creates a change in personality. When appropriate methods of trying to get help do not work, people resort to deviant, destructive measures to receive attention, relief of suffering, and justice....
Terrorism is a form asymmetrical warfare. A power imbalance, characterized by feelings of domination and humiliation, is part of the system. We can imagine a terror system as a volatile field generated by inequality between a dominant power and a weak power, compounded by great suffering with no hope of relief. This creates an unstable, intense dynamic that sets the stage for the emergence of leaders, recruits, sympathizers, supporters, and targets.
Direct, superficial, common sense strategies, are not effective in increasing global security, and can actually make things worse by provoking unintended consequences (blowback). First order change focuses concretely on the content, problems, and trying to get rid of symptoms, according to systems and family theory, and does not address the sources of the problem and is generally ineffective in the long term. (Watzlawick, Weakland, & Fish, 1974) Unidimensional focus on military strategies and counter-terrorism are insufficient and eclipse thinking about other kinds of approaches that can be more powerful....
Yesh Gvul: 'There is a Limit'
Yesh Gvul Web Site (English)
"Selective refusal" is a uniquely Israeli concept, though sporadic protests on similar lines have been recorded in other armies. Selective refusal applies the principles of civil disobedience, as pioneered by Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., to a military context. While acknowledging the legality of universal military service, it stresses the right and duty of every soldier to scrutinize the orders he receives, and reject assignments he finds morally or politically repugnant. Unlike pacifism or conscientious objection, selective refusal recognizes circumstances when force is legitimate, as in defense against external aggression, or in pursuit of national liberation from foreign tyranny. But it rejects the abuse of military might for unworthy ends, such as wars of aggression, or violent subjugation of a civilian population.
Refuseniks do not evade the consequences of their challenge to legal authority: defiance of the military hierarchy is overt and direct, accepting the painful personal consequences. Their willingness to pay the price imbues the refuseniks' protest with a moral and political effect out of all proportion to their number. .
War Resisters International
International Office and Executive Committee Report 1998-2002
Joanne Sheehan, WRI Chair (July 31, 2002) War Resister's International
[I.1).A.1] The international conference on Nonviolence and Social Empowerment was one of WRI's main projects in the period 1998-2002. This conference was part of a larger, ongoing project, and a book, containing essays written after the conference will be published early in 2003.
The project developed out of an idea to start consultations with armed struggle movements, presented at WRI's Triennial Conference in São Leopoldo in Brazil in 1994. Through the course of the discussion issues of social mobilisation and of what changes in society we aim to achieve became more central. At WRI's Council meeting in Liège/Bel-gium in 1996, the change of focus in the programme was acknowledged by changing the title to "Nonviolence and Social Empowerment"; `empowerment' became the key word, both for WRI's philosophy of nonviolence, and as the key theme every broader nonviolent movement has to deal with....
Content-wise, the project certainly led to a deeper understand of nonviolent social empowerment. One important aspect is the different approach of many southern groups compared to "Western" groups. While the southern approach is often more holistic - making the links with economy and the daily struggle for survival - the "Western" approach is often more focussed on a clear aim in a single issue campaign. The NVSE conference also influenced the theme for the Seminar 2001 in Turkey and the Triennial 2002 on Storytelling. In some aspects this year's Triennial can be seen as a follow-up to the NVSE conference.
Donna Howard, Mareike Junge, Corey Levine, Christine Schweitzer, Carl Stieren, & Tim Wallis (Sept. 2001) Nonviolent Peaceforce
[Ch. 3.1] Effectiveness in the field will depend on positive, creative, and efficient relationships - on the team itself, with other governmental and non-governmental organisations, and
with components of Nonviolent Peaceforce governance. The following chapter includes examples of how these relationships are handled by others. The attempt will be to
draw some conclusions from field relationships of peace teams which share a proximate mission but are too small to transpose directly to the work of NP’s large-scale
intervention, and to draw others from organisations of equal or greater size but less similar in aims and history.
Team-sending peace organisations included in this study include Balkan Peace Team (BPT), Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Civil Peace Services in Europe, Osijek
Peace Teams, Peace Brigades International (PBI), Servicio Internacional para la Paz (SIPAZ), and Witness for Peace (WfP). Other examples are drawn from the Cyprus
Resettlement Project, the Gulf Peace Team and Mir Sada.
Larger scale organisations were also looked at. These included international humanitarian NGOs such as CARE, International Rescue Committee etc.; International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and transnational governmental organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and UN
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).
At this point it is important to point out that the difference between the organisations addressed in the two categories of large and small scale organisations is not only the
size of the operation, but also on the way the organisation is structured and their mandate. Many of the small scale organisations are mostly grassroots, often volunteer
run, with small budgets and non-traditional methods of decision-making. The largers-scale organisations are generally top down, hierarchical organisations with
requirements for staff more focused on education and experience rather thanthe value-based recruitment of the small-scale organisations. It is the assumption of the writers
that NP will hybridise these examples for greatest efficiency, unity, and participatory governance.
The Work of Immanuel Wallerstein
The Eagle Has Crash Landed
(Jul-Aug, 2002) Foreign Policy
Such triumphalism hardly appears warranted. Consider the following April 20, 2002, New York Times report: “A Japanese laboratory has built the world’s fastest computer, a machine so powerful that it matches the raw processing power of the 20 fastest American computers combined and far outstrips the previous leader, an I.B.M.-built machine. The achievement ... is evidence that a technology race that most American engineers thought they were winning handily is far from over.” The analysis goes on to note that there are “contrasting scientific and technological priorities” in the two countries. The Japanese machine is built to analyze climatic change, but U.S. machines are designed to simulate weapons. This contrast embodies the oldest story in the history of hegemonic powers. The dominant power concentrates (to its detriment) on the military; the candidate for successor concentrates on the economy. The latter has always paid off, handsomely. It did for the United States. Why should it not pay off for Japan as well, perhaps in alliance with China?
The Work of Bryan Caplan
The Literature of Nonviolent Resistance and
Civilian-Based Defense: Bibliographic Essay
(Summer 1994) Humane Studies Review 9.1
Finally, the role of civilian protest and direct action in recent anti-communist revolutions lends a new
credibility to the idea of nonviolent resistance. It would go too far to attribute the demise of communism purely to nonviolent resistance. But it was one important and neglected factor in the greatest triumph of freedom in the twentieth-century. Classical liberals should study the lessons that it teaches. In particular, they should learn how freedom may be defended against tyrannical
governments. A central lesson here is that even when the government has the weapons, there is something that it cannot seize: the voluntary compliance of its citizens. Without it, maintaining power becomes costly or even impossible. But, as we have seen, governments almost instinctively sense this risk and strive to prevent it from arising. As La Boetie explains, "it has always happened that tyrants, in order to strengthen their power, have made every effort to train their people not only in obedience
and servility toward themselves, but also in adoration" (La Boetie, 75). All that is necessary to prevent tyranny is to let the citizenry come to know its own strength. Or, in the timeless words of La Boetie, "From all these indignities [of tyranny], such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to
serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces" (La
Boetie, p. 53).
The Work of Patricia Applebaum
(Undated) Material History of American Religion Project
Pacifism redefined itself gradually during the turbulent 1930s, when events challenged and fragmented the confident postwar peace movement. By the beginning of World War II pacifism had become a separatist position rather than one embedded in the mainstream; absolute-pacifist
organizations grew while more broad-based peace groups collapsed. The character of pacifism also changed. Drawing on elements that were already present in the post-World War I movement, this new pacifism laid the groundwork for Vietnam-era and later peace movements. This essay will cover Protestant pacifism from World War I until about 1960, just before the large-scale peace movement of the Vietnam period....
Whole-life pacifism also had nearer antecedents. During the 1920s and 1930s the pacifist press followed experiments in cooperative economics, government and church-based rural aid, and homesteading. Protestant activists including Reinhold Niebuhr and pacifist Sherwood Eddy organized Delta Cooperative Farm in 1936, and its neighbor Providence Farm in 1939, to assist and teach struggling farmers in southern Mississippi. The American Friends Service Committee
promoted homesteading for displaced West Virginia coal miners in the early 1930s. Educational trends were also a factor. Some pacifists experimented with folk schools, after the Danish model, which fostered traditional crafts for both practical and ideological reasons: crafts honored survival skills and rural self-sufficiency, and they signified resistance to the dehumanizing tendencies of
industrialism, both by preserving self-reliance and by allowing individual variations in products. Similarly, the progressive-education movement that followed John Dewey’s philosophy valued individuality over uniformity. This appreciation of individuality dovetailed with the modernist
Protestant emphasis on the value of “personality,” meaning individual uniqueness. A third factor in the emergence of whole-life pacifism was the American tradition of high regard for the natural world, a view that pacifists shared....
A catalyst of the whole-life pacifist movement was the
work of Richard B. Gregg. Gregg, a convert to Quakerism from a Congregational minister’s family, went to India in 1925 to study Gandhi and began in 1929 to interpret Gandhi’s work to Americans. His most significant book, The Power of Non-Violence (1934), described Gandhi’s
spiritually-based nonviolent political action in terms accessible to modernist Protestants. Its importance lay in the fact that it offered American pacifists a way out of the apparent dichotomy between absolute pacifism and political effectiveness—and it was only after pacifists absorbed this message that “active nonviolence,” rather than opposition to war or refusal to bear arms, became the
litmus test of true pacifism....
First, cooperative living was the logical end point of Protestant pacifist thought and action. It is not surprising that peacemaking as a “way of life” would ultimately be thought to encompass livelihood, housing, food, family life, and community. And Richard Gregg’s work elevated the status of small communities, manual work, and folk arts to pacifist essentials. It is only a short step from practicing simplicity and manual labor in intimate groups to settling on a communal farm....
...Ralph Templin of the School of Living in Suffern,
New York, justified linking pacifism with farming in this way: “‘Total pacifism’ takes the soil as ‘radical’ (‘getting at the roots’),” he wrote. Farming was a way of “opposing centralized, intrenched privilege with its violence.”...
The Work of Cathleen Young
The Practice of Peace: Putting It Where Your Mouth Is
What has become obvious is this: nonhuman animals have capabilities sometimes greater, sometimes lesser than our own, but we can no longer assume that they feel less pain than we do. Because global suffering is a connected, interspecies phenomenon, we encourage the practice of vegetarianism. Properly a fringe interest? Hardly.
A Future Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
Today, everywhere in the world, animals will be born. Their mothers will nurture them-feed them, comfort them, and care for them-just as any human mother would. In these most basic acts of nature, the species know no divisions. But to be born an animal in today's world is to begin life in circumstances that many of us would consider inhumane.
Rethinking the Roots of Violence
The world seems to be falling apart. Violence is increasing, and this site is predicated on a conviction: that human perception of nonhuman animals is not a secondary issue that belongs on a back burner while people go on killing one another. We believe that human-upon-human violence is not in some vague way interwoven with human-upon-nonhuman violence, but absolutely interwoven: that both spheres arise together, interdependently. It is upon nonhuman animals--our exquisitely kindred brethren--that we freely exercise and unwittingly reinforce the mental habits that lead to oppressions of every kind. There can be no human-upon-human peace apart from
human-upon-nonhuman peace because it's materially and spiritually impossible.
A Prescient Query
Speech by Foreign Secretary [of India] at the International Conference on “State Sovereignty in the 21st Century Concept, Relevance and Limits”
Smt. Chokila Iyer (July 23, 2001) Discover India
Is the debate on the Right of Humanitarian intervention intended to vest this right in interested parties to be exercised in special circumstances outside the framework of the UNSC? And would this create potential for global disorder and instability.
Would the long term objectives of stability and prosperity in the nascent nation states of the developing world be better served by a focus on strengthening pluralism and nation building, rather than doctrines that might disrupt this process by exacerbating fissiparous tendencies and encouraging calls for external intervention?
And can narrow and self-interests of the proponents of such intervention be wholly dissociated from any larger humanitarian projections.
What could, in this context, be the relevance of a positive agenda, through a global compact to lift developing societies from the devastation of under development, and for which national and global responses could be agreed upon. Would this be better and more effective than a negative agenda based on intervention and presumption of failure.
The Work of Rohan Gunaratna
Archived by Al Aronowitz (July 26, 2001) Jane's
Bin Laden supports three types of groups. First, groups fighting regimes led by Muslim rulers, which they believe, are compromising Islamic ideals
and interests (as in Egypt, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia). Second, groups that are fighting regimes perceived as oppressing and repressing their
Muslim populace (as in Kosovo, India and Indonesia). Third, groups fighting regimes to establish their own Islamic state (as in Palestine, Chechnya, Dagestan and Mindanao). Bin Laden has also directed his
efforts and resources to fight the USA, a country he sees as a direct threat to Islam, closely followed by Europe, Israel, Russia and India in importance as targets.
Protracted Conflicts in South Asia
HUGG Conference, Hawaii (June 1997) Toda Institute
South Asian states have gradually developed their capacity and
capability to wage war by proxy. This have become more evident after
India and Pakistan assumed a nuclear dimension in 1990. Today, the
international community will neither tolerate interstate aggression nor a
confrontation that could graduate into nuclear status. Therefore, waging
war by proxy, by empowering dissident groups of inimical states or
unfriendly regimes is becoming an increasingly "acceptable" method of
advancing the foreign policy objectives of states.