Grow… seeds of evolution
Revolution never won
It’s just another form of gun
To do again what they have done
With all our brothers’ youngest sons —Mike Pinder, “Lost in a Lost World” in The Seventh Sojourn, by the Moody Blues
The desire for social change has many times led to revolutionary fervor and the excitement for quick destruction of the old order, with the belief that society will magically change when dictators and corrupt social institutions are destroyed. But often the destruction of the social order that exists, corrupt as it may be, leads to anarchy, insecurity, poverty, refugees, and death. Last year International Journal on World Peace published several articles on the Arab Spring and the Bolshevik Revolution that showed how this recently happened in Syria and Libya, and how similar dynamics played out after the Russian revolution. Tunisia, on the other hand, the country that inspired the Arab Spring, did not go through revolution but experienced an evolutionary process where social institutions were constructively transformed.
In our March 2017 issue, Akmal Gafurov proposed that social development occurs when constructive elements in a society outweigh the destructive elements so that social change can be positive rather than negative. In the first two articles of this issue we look at the nature of the development of consciousness that affects both the destructive and constructive forces and the development of the modern state and global society.
Our first article, by Quanyi Zhang, a professor of political science at Zhejiang Wanli University in China, looks at the evolution of group identity and the constructive transformation of group identities to global identity through interaction with other groups: Continue reading →
This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Rome Treaties that created the European Economic Community (EEC). Since the origins of the nation-state system with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, it has been a long arduous path towards a stable and peaceful international system. The process, which began in Europe as a treaty among warring kingdoms, led to an international state system represented by the United Nations. But the idea of the nation-state is foreign to traditional societies and empires, and perhaps not appropriate for modern pluralistic societies.
The Idea of a Nation-State
The original concept of the nation-state involves the idea of a king deciding the national religion or value system that applied to all residents on his territory. The idea of a religious system coterminous with a territory is not new. Egypt, Babylon, Israel, and Rome all had national gods that guided and protected their societies and who were worshiped in temples. Then in 380 ad, Emperor Theodosius I of Rome made Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire. The relationship of church and state was often contentious, with popes and kings vying for supremacy. The Reformation, spearheaded by Martin Luther and John Calvin, led many kings and princes to adopt new denominations of Christianity they considered better. And, in 1534 ad, Henry VIII in England created a national church for England. When the Peace of Westphalia was signed, every state had an official religion. The King provided security and the religion provided the cultural value system.
Then, following the American and French Revolutions, to be an American or French national, regardless of race, religion, or origin, required allegiance to a secular state agreeing to speak the national language and live peacefully with others on the territory. This secular understanding of of “nation,” which theoretically allows for pluralism, has been difficult to implement because these states enacted social policies through secular political processes that conflict with the value systems of groups living on the territory that agreed to the rules of citizenship. Continue reading →
This issue of IJWP coincides with the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917. In 19th century Europe, there had been a large-scale industrial revolution created with capital investment that produced massive amounts of goods. Heavy industry produced steel for railroads, ships, and other products that dramatically transformed traditional societies rooted in agriculture, family, and local communities. This social transformation affected businesses, jobs, and lifestyles as much as the internet and smartphones have transformed society and the economy today.
Many people believed that industrial production could lead to a higher standard of living for all and end problems of poverty and war. However, industrial monopolies led to price gouging, surplus labor competing for a limited number of jobs led to unlivable wages, and taxes on profits went to political elites. There was great anxiety and resentment among those who were displaced or underpaid by this new industrial economy. In the second half of the nineteenth century, many socialist ideas developed seeking ways to distribute the fruits of this new economy for the good of all. Continue reading →
This issue of IJWP focuses on the prospects for democracy in the Middle East. The larger question behind this is whether democracy is the most desirable form of government for the Middle East, or for anywhere else in the world. In the March 2017 issue, Professor Gafurov argued that democracy is a stage in social development that is higher than rule by dictatorship, the most common form of government in the Middle East. In the mathematical model of social and political development that he described, societies require large segments of the population that are morally constructive (M) and economically self-sufficient (E), and that democracies require a large number of middle-class owners and a vibrant civil society. Democracies require people who largely do not rely on government for anything except freedom and security. The Middle East countries whose economies are based on the sale of oil, whose oil proceeds are distributed through the state, do not have large numbers of citizens who are economically independent from the state—an E deficit. The religion of Islam, to the extent it promotes ritual and obedience, rather than creative inquiry, would mean an M deficit. These factors argue against the possibility of achieving democracy in the Middle East any time soon.
Many people in the West would like to see democracy bloom in the Middle East, and the Arab Spring movements there that the West supported reveal that many individuals aspire to democracy, or at least the moral and economic independence they see in the West. However, if the Arab Spring taught the world one lesson, it was that giving a democratic vote to people unprepared for democracy is likely to make conditions worse than the dictatorship they experienced before a democratic revolution. Democratic evolution, as opposed to revolution, might be a more possible path to democracy, as evidenced by the developments in Tunisia that preceded the revolutionary Arab Spring fervor that resulted in disaster. This issue of IJWP contains two articles that examine this question. Continue reading →
The application of systems theory to social development has not been popular in political science for decades. Strategic thinking and conflict resolution have dominated, perhaps because they are employed to achieve immediate goals. But the refugee crisis created by the “Arab Spring” has forced some to conclude that a benevolent dictatorship is a precondition for democracy, and that toppling dictators and holding elections only brings anarchy and terror. This issue of International Journal on World Peace examines social development and the idea that creation of more democratic societies, or even academic fields like peace and conflict studies, is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.
The first and third articles argue for an emphasis on stages of social development in which middle-class owners and civil society—not mere elections—are prerequisites to a democratic society. Our second article argues that the field of Peace and Conflict Studies has evolved in stages following wars that take on new dimensions when mechanisms for preventing former wars are circumvented. Continue reading →
In this issue of International Journal on World Peace, three articles probe the creation of peaceful and legitimate states. Since the rise of modern democracies, people have believed that having elections would make states legitimate because every citizen would have a right to participate in governance. Such simple views fail to ask whether (1) the governance system gives all groups access to power, or (2) whether people are capable of voting as responsible citizens.
The recent events related to the “Arab Spring” began with euphoria and largely ended in despair as violence, starvation, and millions of refugees were the product of what was intended to be a transition to better Arab societies. In some cases, the opposite results of what the Arab Spring promoted were created, for example the emergence of ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and Libya filling the vacuum of failed states. This led many to conclude that arming rebel forces, or attempting to occupy a foreign country, was counterproductive and that the refugees were the result of the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations and their allies. Many American citizens began to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad should have been supported and humanized by improving human rights, rather than by arming rebels to topple the regime and creating chaos.
How are regimes best transitioned? What might lead to transition failure? The first article, by Samuel R. Greene and Jennifer Jefferis, is titled “Overcoming Transition Mode: An Examination of Egypt and Tunisia.” It examines the popular idea that continuity with the previous regime will have better prospects for success than a complete break from the previous regime and uses Tunisia and Egypt as examples. Surprisingly, Egypt had greater continuity and more elections than Tunisia, but it failed to transition, whereas Tunisia, which created an interim government and a new constitution seems to have some chance of successfully transitioning. Continue reading →
This issue of IJWP has articles that discuss three topics: peace within democracies, the relationship between participation in IGOs and state military spending, and Korean unification. All of these articles relate to the issue of justice and security of groups, whether politically or culturally united. No state wants to lose its power and no cultural group wants to lose its identity or be treated as inferior. Violence can erupt between or within states when one entity attempts to dominate or exploit another, rather than recognizing an inherent right of others to exist and act in the world.
In principle, democracy reflects a level of consciousness that considers everyone as having an inherent right to exist and to cast a vote for a common future. In practice, there is no existing democratic political regime that entirely reflects this ideal. The institutions of governance, whether between states or within states, have not been well-enough perfected to eliminate unequal treatment under the law. Many factions, whether they be political, economic, or cultural sub-groups, have been able to influence political systems to favor their own interest at the expense of others. And, the institutions of culture often fail to transcend an in-group / out-group group-centered consciousness that would treat other ethnic groups, economic interests, or political parties with due respect. This can happen both in the process of establishing a new democratic entity, or with the corruption of an existing one. Continue reading →
One of the fundamental tensions in the contemporary world has been between traditional societies and modernity. “Traditional societies” refers to those who are connected to traditional communities or cultures. This includes accepting received religious beliefs and/or scriptures, loyalty to community leaders, and shaping one’s life based on how things were done in the past. “Modernist societies,” on the other hand, refers to those societies who have faith in science, modern social institutions like the bureaucratic state, and those who want to build a new and different future based on reason and discovery.
Social change is inevitable. There are demographic changes, technological changes, changes in the natural environment, and more. Traditional ethnic and national groups are constantly bumping up against one another, infringing on territory. Some groups suffer from environmental impacts made by other groups. New technologies and social institutions create lifestyle changes. Traditionalists are more likely to resist these changes, while modernists are more likely to advocate change. The tension between tradition and modernity can lead to constructive change and adaptation, but often it leads to civil war and strife. This depends on the people involved, and whether they are willing and able to adapt. Whether people have a traditionalist or a modernist orientation, they can act peacefully or violently based on the maturity of their social consciousness. Continue reading →
The modern world is still coming to grips with the concept of a nation-state and the degree to which states can be at peace when laws promote the cultural values of one group over another. For example, is it possible to have a religious state (e.g., a Jewish, Christian, Islamic, or a Buddhist state) that does not inhibit freedom and development by imposing a past worldview and practices on its population? Is it possible to have a state-imposed religious system that does not persecute minorities?
In the West, Emperor Constantine and others declared Christianity the religion of the empire in an attempt to create social stability. Christians without political power had proved honest and caring, as opposed to the corruption that existed everywhere in the Roman Empire. However, it has been said that when Rome became Christian, Christians went the way of Rome. Power corrupts, and it corrupted Christianity in the West. Popes and kings used religion to oppress people, most of whom were serfs, by promising salvation in the next world for obedience to their religious and feudal lords in this one. By the end of the first millennium, popes and bishops had declared crusades, fought over wealth, used deceit and trickery, and had sired countless children despite their vows of chastity. They used the power of the state to conduct horrific pogroms against heretics and Jews. Ingenious tools of torture, like racks that stretched people until they “converted” or their limbs detached, were invented for inhumane treatment contrary to Jesus’ message of “love your enemy.” Continue reading →
The articles in this issue of IJWP are related to the cultural consciousness that influences group-on-group violence. The pursuit of group interest with disregard to the interests of other groups can either be the willful result of selfishness or actions based on ignorance of the situation of other groups.
The photos of the body of the three-year-old son of Syrian Abdullah Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach helped fuel a campaign for global sympathy for refugees fleeing war-torn areas in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. This sympathy increased pressure on states to receive more refugees and for reform of bureaucratic practices. Refugees make dangerous illegal trips in which the death rate is high because red tape can make legal immigrants wait for years. This news promoted by global media raised global consciousness of the plight of others who are suffering an undeserved fate, and helped to encourage compassion for members of other groups. The result was increased quotas for refugees adopted by many countries, although few solutions to solve the systemic violence causing the refugees to flee were promoted by the media. It is clear that the media and globalization have a major impact on the fate of people who a century ago would never have been known to the larger world. However, the media often promote elite interests that lead to group conflict. Continue reading →