Peacemaking throughout History
The course objectives were covered by analyzing the peacemaking processes and movements throughout history. The five course objectives were:
1. analyze how historical narratives have marginalized peacemaking;
2. explain the meanings of negative peace and positive peace and describe specific historical examples of each;
3. identify and describe individuals and groups in the past and in the present who have advanced efforts at peacemaking;
4. identify, describe, and evaluate methods of peacemaking followed by individuals and groups in the past and in the present;
5. explain the influence of peacemaking to themes of continuity and change across historical periods from antiquity to the present.
This essay will explain how the course material addressed each of these objectives, summarize their meaning and provide two examples for each one.
Marginalization of peacemaking by way of historical narratives means that peace movements and people or groups who promote peace efforts have been undermined by viewpoints and worldviews that are promoted over them to make their peace overtures look ridiculous and out of place. For instance, historical narratives have marginalized peacemaking by depicting the history of mankind as a strugglei.e., survival of the fittest. As Clancy (2017) points out, the historical narrative of evolution has generally always been promoted in these same terms: i.e., survival of the fittest, as though life were a zero sum game competition and one had either to kill or be killed. This concept, virtually accepted everywhere in the modern world is one example of how historical narratives have marginalized the peacemaking process. Yet Clancy (2017) points out that when natural selection on an organism is relaxed, the creative powers of mutation can be unshackled and evolution accelerated. The relief of an easier life can inspire new biological forms just as powerfully as the threat of death. This argument suggests that those who come together as one have a better chance at survival than those who seek to dominate over others.
Another example is the narrative that war is intrinsically more interesting than peace, which suggests that peacemaking is silly and absurd because war is far more interesting and has provided fodder for more historical analysis than times of peace (Chapter 1: The Perception of Peace and War, n.d., p. 15). As is shown in the same chapter with respect to Minoan culture, it appears that the Minoans were a rather more peaceful people than history has given them credit for in the past. Though historians like Herodotus and Thucydides have noted the military might of the Minoans, there are signs that Minoan culture was peaceful, too-yet this view is largely ignored in history course.
Another example would be the rise of nationalism in the Hamas classroom, in Russia, in Germany and Japan and in the US, where strength is characterized in terms of being willing to fight for ones country, ones honor, ones culture and so on.
Meanings of Negative Peace and Positive Peace
Negative peace is the absence of war or conflict, while positive peace is a long-term process that involves working towards the goal of an end to structural violence. An example of negative peace would be the use of the threat of war throughout the Middle Ages as a way to obtain peace. If one nation felt the threat, they would be more likely to avoid warso the idea went.
An example of positive peace would be the traditional Jewish commitment to peace, which was a fundamental part of their religious experience and one that was later picked up by the Christians and used in their culture as well (Stearns 48). This commitment is seen in their sacred texts, and though war could be an objective at times, positive peace was often the goal of the Jews and of the Christians, who used conversion as a means of obtaining peace throughout community-driven influence (Anthology 27).
Individuals and Groups
An individual who advanced efforts at peacemaking was Woodrow Wilson who sought to implement the League of Nations as a way of bringing the states of the world together as one where they could see themselves as neighbors in a global community rather than as competitors in a zero sum game of domination and subjection.
Groups who advanced peacemaking efforts were the generalists, the federationalists, and the legalists. The generalists sought peace through the promotion of good will among all nations. The federationists sought peace through permanent international institutions that would formalize and regularize the conciliation process.
The legalists sought peace through the creation of a world court (Patterson, 1972).
Currently, one group who is making efforts at peace is the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which has been committed to peace efforts since WW1.
Methods of Peacemaking
One of the most politically important organizations to have an impact on the pursuit of peace in the 20th century was the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which established the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 and awarded it to Bertha von Suttner in 1905 after her decades long battle for peace and an end to military conflict around the world (Pick, n.d., p. 8).
Butler promoted the idea of an international court for settling disputes and supported the institution of the Hague. He and the friends he made at the Hague Conference founded a law journal Conciliation Internationalebut these enterprises were not disconnected from the ambitions of business magnates like Andrew Carnegie (Howlett, 1983). The problem with Butlers activism was that it resembled all too much the pursuit of business interests. International law could be promoted for the purposes of peacebut it could also be co-opted and used for the purposes of business and neo-colonialism.
Influence of Peacemaking in Terms of Continuity and Change across Historical Periods
Since the 18th century, a more pragmatic approach towards pursuing peace through politics, economics and law has been seen among nations. In the Old World, peace was essentially pursued by way of the sword: the threat of war was used as a deterrent to maintain order and peace as much as possible. However, the Old World also more or less generally had an alignment of interests, united under Christendom. With the Protestant Reformation that alignment was broken and unity among nations, required for peace, became based on more practical matterspolitical realities, economic realities, and the need for an international framework.
The Anthology (pp.24-33) on early Christianity and peace
Chapter 1: The Perception of Peace and War. (n.d.).
Clancy, K. (2017). Survival of the friendliest. Retrieved from
Howlett, C. F. (1983). Nicholas Murray Butler’s crusade for a warless world.The
Wisconsin Magazine of History, 99-120.
Patterson, D. S. (1972). an interpretation of the american peace movement, 1898-
1914.American Studies,13(1), 31-49.
Pick, H. (n.d.). Bertha von Suttner: living for peace. Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
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