Social science research methods are able to produce verifiable knowledge about society that is more reliable than the seemingly arbitrary suppositions of religious traditions based on prophetic revelation or sacred texts, or on ideological belief systems based on other suppositions.
Auguste Comte, “father of sociology,” proposed a threefold view of the evolution of social consciousness: (1) the theological stage, in which gods and spirits control our fate, (2) a metaphysical stage, in which existence is governed by laws and processes that can be described by rational abstract thought, and (3) a “positive” stage that is based the scientific method. “Positive” implies more certain and verifiable truth: truth as something that is known rather than belief based on suppositions or claims.
However, such technically obtained knowledge only explains what is observed, not what ought to be. When social scientists make value judgments about what ought to be, those values arise in one of three ways, based on the stage of consciousness: (1) religious beliefs the scientist developed during social upbringing, (2) philosophical or ideological beliefs extended from rationalizing ideas like social justice, and (3) normative beliefs that argue that observed norms are what ought to be. Continue reading →
Introduction to IJWP, September, 2018 Only people over 75 years of age can remember a world without nuclear weapons—a world before humans could end life on earth as we know it in a few hours. The possession of nuclear weapons by a few poses a threat to all. During the Cold War, the nuclear weapons race between the United States and the Soviet Union was rooted in a doctrine appropriately called MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). This doctrine was based on the idea that possession of enough nuclear weapons to kill everyone in an enemy country would deter that country from attacking. But since nuclear weapons can still be used for offense, people will still feel threatened. The only way to guarantee survival after a nuclear war would be to spend years in a bunker underground, undersea, or somewhere away from Earth until the radiation levels drop.
A Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) went into effect in 1970. This treaty was designed by existing nuclear power states (the United States, the Soviet Union, England, France, and China) to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. While about 190 states adhere to this treaty, the threat of a nuclear war obliterating human life still exists. A few non-adhering states—Israel, India, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea—have developed nuclear arsenals, and the NPT did not stop the five existing nuclear states from increasing their arsenals. The NPT did not stop the United States and the Soviet Union from expanding their arms race. Continue reading →
Positive peace is more than the absence of war and more than the absence of structural violence and oppression. Positive peace alludes to a world in which everyone has more than their basic needs met and has an opportunity to be healthy, pursue their dreams, and enjoy their relationships. Positive peace can be guided by science, but it is motivated by ideals and values. Since the rise of science and the decline of publicly affirmed values, the primary focus of peace in the modern world has been on “negative peace”—the absence of violence and the guarantee of human rights. However, “positive peace” requires an assessment in relation to human values and responsibilities that have been divisive or neglected in modern secular society.
Our first article on “Global Peace Index of Economies” by Unmana Sarangi discusses peace indexes. Good peace indexes include items related to “Positive Peace” that refer to individual well-being including things like healthcare, income, housing, and things that require production or service (e.g., labor); a“Negative Peace” items refer to personal security, protection of freedom, and the absence of violence. Negative peace is generally provided by government, while positive peace is related to the vibrancy of the economy and culture. Continue reading →
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 →