Monday, November 14, 2016

Where to Put Effort for a World Beyond War

Are you looking ahead to a world beyond war? Education, infrastructure, and decisions about communal action are the key . . . .

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which
to place it and I shall move the world."


"A lot of people are opposed to war, but what might look different when a group of people approach war as a soon-to-be-obsolete institution?"

It was a month ago that I posed that question in WAR: Headed for the junkheap, yes . . . but how quickly?

I gave one answer to the question in The Mind of the "World Beyond War" Activist: "Saying 'war is going away; the question for me is how fast' implies optimism-realism, outcome orientation, and humility."

But does the "world beyond war" approach help determine where to put effort?

It seems to me that there are some obvious places to focus. Once one is able to imagine a world in which war is a no-go, it becomes possible to imagine certain aspects of that world that will be starkly different than the world in which we live today -- aspects of life that will be inherent to a world beyond war. And, having imagined these aspects, we realize that it seems very hard to imagine having arrived at the world beyond war without the hand-in-hand changes in those aspects themselves. In other words: what would be rendered profoundly outdated if it survived into a world without war?

(1) Education - In a world beyond war, it will no longer make sense to spend a lot of time becoming knowledgeable about war.

We sometimes imagine that education is fundamentally about building up a store of absolute truths; more and more, however, we are realizing that education mostly has to do with acquiring knowledge of what works in the world.

In the world to date, there has been a prevailing emphasis on learning about wars: how they begin, how they are fought, who makes the critical decisions, who leads the fighting, who follows the orders, who derives the benefits from the wars, how the wars are ended, and what changes after they end. The result is that our society is dominated by people who are highly educated about war, and have devoted little time to learning about other ways of settling conflicts.

The inflection point will come when society begins to reward people who know a great deal about how to resolve conflict in the absence of war -- particularly those who can provide value in the form of outcomes that give maximum possible satisfaction to all the parties to a given conflict.

     ... for more see An Educational Alternative to Rivalry

(2) Infrastructure - In a world beyond war, it will no longer make sense to be in possession of massive amounts of infrastructure for carrying out war.

Infrastructure requires time to build. The process of infrastructure development inherently involves trying to imagine what will be needed in the future.

In the world to date, there has been a prevailing attitude toward war infrastructure that says, "Because the cost of failing to have it when we need it would be so high, the only sensible choice is to build as much as we possibly can -- in case we need it."

The inflection point will come when a new attitude begins to gain adherents: "Any overspending on infrastructure that turns out to be useless, will be deeply corrosive to our joint endeavors."

     ... for more see An Infrastructural Alternative to Military Spending

(3) Decisions about communal action - In a world beyond war, it will no longer make sense to hold counsels about decisions to go to war. No one will participate.

In the United States today, we are still living with a constitution that spells out certain war powers, and we maintain an ideal - only intermittently practiced, as it turns out -- in which a highly democratic process may result in a decision to go to war, or not to go to war.

In the world to date, there has been a prevailing acceptance of the wisdom of the group -- some form of democracy -- to decide whether to embark on communal violence. This is in contrast to our views about individual violence, which we tend to view as something which is virtually never ratified by a claim of "wisdom."

The inflection point will come when our systems of group decision-making begin to include norms of "more wisdom, less violence" in proportion to the scope and size of the decision-making forum.

     ... for more see "Problems from Hell" and Real Options Under Democracy

Each of these aspects of our communal life involves an inflection point. And the interesting thing is that, after the inflection point, things will change very fast. The new pattern of education . . . the new direction in infrastructure . . . the new civic decision-making . . . they will all hasten the coming of the world beyond war.

So . . . are there ways to devote effort to assure that we reach each of these inflection points sooner?

Related posts

People working for peace are intensely attuned to the way education impacts peace efforts -- and also war efforts.

(See Education for Peace? or "Education IS Peace"?)

Just like a family that has extra rooms in its house which inevitably become filled with stuff, the U.S. has thousands of bases -- here, there, and everywhere -- that inevitably create the "need" to spend.

(See What Will "Strategic" Mean in Our Children's Lifetime?)

As all the other senators sat patiently through the obfuscation of Barack Obama's Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey -- Rand Paul gave 'em hell.
"Stand up for us and say you’re going to obey the Constitution and if we vote you down — which is unlikely, by the way — you would go with what the people say through their Congress and you wouldn’t go forward with a war that your Congress votes against."

(See Obama's Syria "Vote" in Congress: Democracy? or Theater? )

There is a growing movement of people focused on the "world beyond war." To many of these people, the question is not "if" but "when?" They share a conviction that the world will get there, and they see that it makes a difference how quickly (and in what manner) the world gets there.

(See WAR: Headed for the junkheap, yes . . . but how quickly?)