Howard Richards
Professor, Peace and Global Studies Department, Earlham College
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Three Theses on Peace

Howard Richards
I propose for discussion the following three theses on peace. To begin the discussion let me reply to a comment the beloved and wonderful Mara Vanderslice made when I proposed something similar. She said, if I remember, "But this calls for a profound cultural transformation, which will take a long time. What are we going to do now?" My reply is that if these theses are valid, then there will be no peace without the transformation they call for. Consequently whatever we do now is not going to help solve such basic problems as the survival of the species and the biosphere, unless it is oriented toward the needed transformation. To put the matter in terms Betty Reardon once used: we have to distinguish between the merely doable and the worth doing. The doable may succeed in accomplishing some short or medium term objective, but it is not worth doing unless it contributes to the long term objective, since in the end the little victories do not count if the species goes under. 1. Any peace at the conflict resolution, diplomatic, or military levels (e.g. truces, treaties, negotiated agreements, partitions, elections, "peace education" conceived as overcoming stereotypes about the other, disarmament, arms control...) without a shift of economic paradigm is illusory.

2. A shift of economic paradigm without changes in human emotions at the psychological-spiritual-religious level is not feasible. (Keynes was wrong; feminist historical materialism is right.

(2B. Thesis 2 recast in Gramscian terms: Economic hegemony is not possible without cultural hegemony.)

3. A so-called "spiritual transformation" that does not include changes in economic conduct (i.e. sharing of material goods, a life devoted to service) is not sincere.           Back to Top