#26 Ending War IS Possible (April 2012)
We are a supremely adaptive species. We live in profoundly troubled times on a planet that is now filled to the brim with our species. Our burgeoning numbers and alteration of the environment have changed the nature of the challenges we must meet and overcome in order to keep our civilization from imploding and the deaths of many millions. Few would argue with the proposition that if we stopped spending vast sums of money on war and spent it instead on meeting these enormous challenges we would be better off.
But can we end war? Not can we end a particular war, or even just have an extended truce? But can we end war permanently?
A Future Without War is dedicated to the proposition that we can. If we have sufficient will to do it. The following items are recent support for that proposition.
The Better Angels of Our Nature
The latest, and monumental book, by Harvard neuropsychologist Stephen Pinker is entitled The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence is Declining. Although it does not directly offer support for why or how we might end war permanently, it is a valuable read for everyone working to end violence of all kinds.
A Future Without War does not agree with Pinker's working premise, that humans have been violent and making war since our deep past and that history, in a kind of jerky escalator process, is moving ever more toward embracing nonviolence. For a rather biting critique of Pinker's approach, see the review of Better Angels by the anthropologist Douglas Fry here.
Nevertheless, Pinker's extraordinary marshaling of facts on the kinds and rates of violence documents the downward trend in violence especially since the Enlightenment, something AFWW agrees with. In an essay, "How Far We Have Already Come," AFWW's Dr. Judith Hand describes six historical changes that have made our time in history poised to abolish war, and the first of these six changes began with the Renaissance and Reformation of the Enlightenment.
Pinker, Stephen. 2011. The better angels of our nature: why violence has declined. New York: Viking.
The End of War
Science writer John Horgan's 2012 book, The End of War, is another valuable contribution for those seeking reinforcement for the premise that we can end war if we choose to. Readers will find easy-to-read-and-absorb supporting facts and arguments.
AFWW's single serious criticism of Horgan's presentation is that, as the essayist Barbara Ehrenreich said in her review of the book, "In the service of optimism, Horgan ends up making one of the oldest military mistakes that there is - underestimating the enemy." Readers will be free to draw their own conclusions as to just how hard ending war might be. In essays entitled, "To Abolish War" and "Shaping the Future", Dr. Hand presents the outline of a directed plan to end war in two generations or less, and her stress is that it will be extremely difficult, since war is a deeply engrained bad habit, but that it is nevertheless within the grasp of human endeavor.
Horgan, John. 2012. The end of war. San Francisco: McSweeney's Books.
Winning the War on War
In his book, Winning the War on War: the Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide, Professor Joshua S. Goldstein has given us an extraordinarily useful review of the causes of war, a description of its relatively recent decline, and many insights into how we can change some behavior and strengthen other behavior in order to win the war on war. He is a professor at the School of International Service at American University and author of International Relations (10th Edition) and War and Gender. AFWW found especially useful his exploration of the successes of the United Nations and suggestions for how that body could be strengthened to be a major force in ending war.
Goldstein, Joshua. 2011. Winning the war on war: the decline of armed conflict worldwide. New York: Dutton.
Our Time Is Poised to End War Permanently
In her essay "To date, nonviolence movements were "before their time." Now they are poised to change history," Dr. Hand offers one vision of why and how we have the knowledge to achieve this extraordinary goal. The books above are recent additions to that knowledge. We don't need to wait any longer. What is needed now is the will to do it, followed up with action.
"There's something more powerful than all the armies in the world and that's an idea whose time has come." - Victor Hugo
A Good Book
Waging Nonviolent Struggle. 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential.
- Gene Sharp.
Provides tactics for an ending war campaign.
A Good Movie
Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
- Abigail Disney and Gini Rittiker.
Liberian women use nonviolence and persistence to end a war and establish the foundation for peace. Learn more or purchase
A Future Without War
Believe in it.
Work for it.
And we will achieve it.
These three quick links are to Dr. Hand's core articles on paradigm shift:
To Abolish War
Shaping the Future
Paradigm Shift: Swift and Enduring
How Long Ending War Would Take
Why Women Are the Key to Security
The Nine Cornerstones
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