IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

“All that rises”…revisited

Readers of this blog have probably figured out, in general terms, my point of view on world events.  Basically, I see humanity being obliged to evolve (the expression “kicking and screaming” comes to mind) into its maturity, represented by the emergence of a world civilization.   Admittedly, this point of view has a degree of optimism in that total extinction is not anticipated.  OK…now keeping that in mind, consider the following comments.

It has impressed me for some time how people in “civilized” countries have, for a very long time, been resigned to and more or less taken for granted actions and situations at the international level which they would consider intolerable in their own communities.  I see this as a an example of what the Marxists call a “contradiction”:   something in the socio-political order that is unstable and has to change as either circumstances or consciousness change.  What do I mean?  Well, consider.    Even if many local governments are not effective at coping with the ongoing crimes of gangs, citizens are not usually ready to say” oh well, that’s just the way it is”  “people (men) are just like that” ” it has always been like that and will always be like that”  “it is naive and utopian to think it could be otherwise”.  No..they would scream for police action, legislation, community action…in short that government and civil society do something to stop the violence, crime and chaos in their community.

However, the statements in quotations above are exactly the kind of thing one hears about violence and crime at the global level.  Basically the view is:  “what do you expect from a chaotic social system characterized by an unbridled struggle among distinct and separate national actors to survive and dominate”.  This is what I would call “bifurcated” thinking, and immediately gives rise to the following critique:  if governance is good at the local and national levels, why not at the global level?  Some reply that it is impossible, but that is an increasingly weak argument, since humanity is, and has been for some time, doing all sorts of things previously thought impossible.  I was reminded this weekend that every second the Voyager space probes are pushing back the (still infinitesimally small, admittedly) scope of humanity’s penetration into the universe.  If we can do all these unprecedented things, we can also do something about global governance.

So, personally, I think this contradiction will resolve itself through the unstoppable expansion of peoples’ personal horizons to encompass the global–our thinking is literally becoming global, even in regard to trivial day to day things (professional sports, “dancing with the stars” etc…).  This leads inevitably to an increasing capacity to see beyond the “us/them” distinction, and to grasp that people suffering far away are still in as much pain as people suffering down the street…and that something should be done about this.

I think this is the trend, but it is obvious that the process of change in this direction is sporadic and characterized by reactionary impulses to “close borders” etc… In this regard, I’m not saying that immigration policies are irrelevant.  What I’m saying is that you have to look to the cause of your immigration problem and the complex dynamics and historical background that put your society in this situation.  You may not want to, but I don’t see how you can, over the medium to longer run, avoid doing so.

Anyhow, you see what I’m driving at, I suppose.  If you don’t, feel free to ask me 🙂

IGBarb says (again quoting the immortal Walt Kelly):  “We have met the enemy, and he is  us”

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Internet and Peace (I)

As a blogger, I wonder about the impact the internet has on peace. I’m sure there are both positive and negative impacts. The first positive thing I can think of is that “we” are getting used to being linked up; being able to communicate with people in many places at the speed of light. In other words, the internet has made a major contribution to burgeoning global interdependence, or what many prefer to call “globalization” (understood more broadly than just expanding world markets). It is an important engine in the process of making the world one and in increasing our awareness of that process. Some have argued that increasing interdependence itself serves as a disincentive to conflict since you can’t really do harm to your “enemy” without running a significant risk of doing harm to yourself….or as cartoonist Walt Kelly wrote many years ago: “we have met the enemy, and he is us” (The “Pogo” strip with this line is actually shown on the Wikipedia page linked here!).

On the negative side rumors spread virally and very fast on the internet; including rumors about ethnic groups, “foreign” powers and other objects of xenophobic paranoia. So the internet can be a propaganda machine on acid, creating a climate of fear and suspicion (or at least greatly reinforcing one that already exists). Does this mean the internet is potentially a “bad” thing? Well, perhaps, to some extent, but then all technological advances have a potential for dangerous misuse.

I’ve got some other ideas, but I’m going to save them for another post.

What do you think?

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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