Article by: Conrad Newholmes (via gnn.tv)
Here a peace talk.. there a peace talk.. everywhere a peace talk-talk. So many talks and so little peace in our world. Despite what the term implies, ‘peace talks’ are not discussions about the fundamental sources of conflict and how to reduce the problem of violence. In reality, they are full of ‘negotiations’ (i.e. logistics pertaining to the trade and/or surrender of desired power assets) between conflicting authorities. They often agitate struggles and they sometimes facilitate the abandonment of further negotiations; securing the path to war. Peace talks may produce a recognized framework of a conflict’s symptoms, however, the national and international leaders who attend them refuse to address the general source(s) of political violence in our world. So, having made no effort to address the problems at their foundation, these politicians remain incapable of presenting ‘peaceful’ and ‘just’ alternatives to current relationships of conflict in our world.
This sad scenario is not an illogical consequence, after all, the national and global entities involved in today’s conflicts have all been formed and fortified through the larger cycle of violence. Constrained, politicians are unable to subvert this cycle’s momentum since the systems that they represent are structured in accordance with the prime elements of a violent feedback loop: domination-resistance.
Thus the question is begged: should humankind expect a fundamental system-shift away from war and terrorism to be initiated by people who greatly benefit from the cycle of violence?
In the terrible and primal universe where domination is existence, and where authority is strengthened by crisis and warfare, the option of ‘peace’ is presented as an abstract notion, as some kind of complicated riddle that must be unlocked before it can be realized. Such frightening universes exist in the mind’s of the people who manage our world’s affairs. Their miserable fantasies are acted out and made real through economic, political, military, industrial, and social constructs. To them, the simple riddle of ‘peace’ is equivalent to the dismantling of their authority.
Is it not peculiar that we have granted these authorities the key to managing world security? Is it not equally dumbfounding that we should expect them to voluntarily denounce the very cycle that feeds and secures them?
We can no longer afford to surrender our most valued asset (security) to institutions that are bolstered by our insecurity. The day when dominant global entities take it upon themselves to dismantle the vicious circle of violence will be the day when violence ceases to assist them. Let’s face it this may never happen. Therefore, the deconstruction of political violence must be undertaken on the grassroots level.
From the flower to the root
We are discouragingly told that the structures of political violence are too entangled and complicated for common logic to grasp. Yet, the application of common logic reveals the simplicity of their structures and that their perceived complexities are produced by a resistance to structural change.
To remedy a problem is to know its source. To know the source of the problem is to identify its parts. To identify the parts of a problem is to observe each part’s characteristics and collective interrelationships. In understanding the simple nature of a problem, we may understand the complexity of its greatest depth.
Let us use this logic to outline some classic characteristics of political violence. Starting with a simple feedback loop in which ‘terrorism’ and ‘war’ are input/output sources (violent reactions responding to violent reactions):
Warfare causes fear, terror, misery and death, which fuels anger and hatred towards the ‘invading element’, nurturing the proliferation of resistance ideologies that can lead to terrorism. Terrorism causes fear, terror, misery and death, which fuels anger and hatred towards the ‘violent perpetrator’, nurturing the proliferation of national defense ideologies that can lead to war; and so forth.
Now that we have identified this simple yet critical circuit, let’s further look at the basic characteristics of ‘war’ and ‘terrorism’ since neither are each other’s first cause.
The will of authority bends towards absolutism, just as the will of the populace equally bends toward freedom.
War is violent conflict carried out by official states. It is usually prompted when one nation desires some measure of control over another nation’s ‘assets’ (population, natural/industrial resources, strategic military use of geo-regional location). There are always emergent properties and variables in the complex of circumstances that lead up to any given war, though, a common factor amidst them all is the use of overbearing force driven by an intent to control another authority’s jurisdiction (domination). The principle of domination in the system of war is illustrated in the nature by which a war is ‘won’: Nation B conquers nation A, thereby establishing control over its former assets, whereupon the war is over. In other words, a war is won when domination has been established.
That is not to say that all wars are declared by dominators, because they are not. Sometimes, war is a state’s response to injustice, or a means to resist another nation’s exertion of superiority. So, while war is generally the product of a nation’s quest for superiority, it has also been declared in defense of a nation’s liberation.
Terrorism is carried out by unofficial groups outside of the rule of law. It is viewed as a crime by the world’s authorities not because it kills and coerces, but because it does such things outside of the auspice of an ‘official’ nation. From religious to secular and from right to left, ‘terrorist groups’ stretch far across the ideosphere in their beliefs and motives. In spite of their vast differences, they usually share a common ambition to resist a real or perceived injustice.
That is not to say that all ‘terrorist groups’ are compelled by desires to liberate a subjugated population or to demand justice where there is none; because they are not. It can be sponsored by official states as a means to carry out inhumane and/or legally questionable activities. And it has been used by groups that eventually overthrew one form of dominance, simply to replace it with their own. So, while terrorism is generally an unofficial response to systematic violence and oppression, it is also used systematically as a means to violently oppress.
Every conflict is fettered with details and its history is often a convoluted collection of histories. Yet no matter the arrangement of any given model, both terrorism and war are inevitable products of a domination-subjugation relationship. Existing in a variety of forms (economic, national, cultural, racial, religious and social) it is from within the most extreme sectors of this relationship that violence is most generated.
This elementary error is the source of many troubles in our world, and it must be addressed before we will ever know a less turbulent existence. In addressing the primary components of our world’s problems, we will advance our options in determining the shape of our future. However, traveling further into the reactionary realm of symptom suppression will limit our options and inhibit our choice in the process of change. We now choose what type of peace this world will come to know: a peace driven by mutual aid and cooperation, or an institutionalized peace established through domination and subjugation.
© Copyright 2/23/06 by Conrad Newholmes. Permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media if this credit is attached and the title remains unchanged. Conrad Newholmes is an activist and freelance writer who will be traveling to Palestine for a peace delegation scheduled for January 10-22, 2007. firstname.lastname@example.org
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