IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Some more thoughts on “utopian”

I am currently teaching a course on International Conflict Management, and I have students read some material that has suggestions on how to reduce/eliminate “deadly conflict”.  Often as not, I get responses from students like:  “these ideas are Utopian, or “pie in the sky” [I love that one!].    I understand why they say these things, but I also feel it is important to clarify a couple of points.  First, because well informed experts say, for instance, that you need more effective Global Governance if you want to limit arms proliferation, etc…does not mean that said experts are saying that more effective Global Governance is around the corner.   Rather, they have analyzed the situation and concluded something like “well, you know, we’d like to be able to say that all you have to do is get rid of government X or bad guy Y, and things will look up.  However, it ain’t that simple.  You’ve got a–sorry for the complicated term– “structural problem”.  You are going to have to consider making some fundamental changes in the overall system if you want to reduce the level of what we all can see are becoming increasing dangerous and destructive conflicts.  Those are our findings. Take ’em or leave ’em…it’s up to you.”

In fact, as I’ve tried to get across, “peace” is not enigma wrapped in a conundrum enshrouded in mystery (to badly paraphrase what I think Churchill once said about Russia).  Rather we have a pretty good idea what it is and what needs to be done to move toward it.  However (and this is a big “however”) it will have some costs, and it will infringe on the profitable activities of some powerful people and groups.  So, those folks would very much like you to think that peace is Utopian, and that we should resign ourselves to a world of armaments and hatred.  Pardon me, but looked at objectively this is both wrong and dangerous.

So, my word of wisdom for you today is when/if you hear somebody suggesting something is Utopian do two things:  (1) run, do not walk, and find out what that idea, program, concern is and seriously consider getting behind it–it is probably something we really need (like alternative energy seemed 50 years ago for instance); and (2) take a hard look at the person/organization using the “U” word and see if you can figure out why they are so threatened by the “Utopia” under consideration.  Could be enlightening.

IGbarb says:  “Better a relevant utopia, than a rapidly deteriorating reality!”


October 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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