War is not in the human heart. War resides in the institutions spawned by war, which, in turn, spawn wars.
"I have children, and I do not want them to writhe in agony or to turn into automata or to repeat the atrocious lies amid which they live. Therefore, I am engaged in a struggle, which I often feel to be a hopeless one, but which I have no choice but to wage."
[Paper presented at the American Orthopsychiatric Association 43rd Annual Meeting, April 13-16, 1966, San Francisco, Symposium on "Commitment to Peace: Evolvement of Involvement."]
I was born in a small town in the Ukraine. Although I was only three years old in 1914, my recollections of that time are vivid. Outstanding among them is my father's disappearance. I was taught to say that "papa was at the front," but actually he was living illegally in the Caucasus, avoiding the draft. (The czarist government was slow in extending general mobilization to areas inhabited by minorities who had cultural ties with Turkey.) Mother and I (an only child) moved in with my grandparents. The eldest son of that family was a prisoner of war in Austria. Grandmother sent a package of cookies every month and shed Jewish tears over the monthly post card from the plien (captivity).
Once I made a cannon from chairs and broomsticks and fired a shell toward the west, where I was told the war was. The shell was to end the war, I said; but it would take two years to reach the front. Once some one rushed in with a newspaper announcing the death of Emperor Franz Joseph. I asked grandpa whether that meant that the war was over, but grandpa only laughed.
Life, as I recall it then, was waiting for the war to end, and for papa and uncle Misha to come home.
I learned about the February Revolution from the country girl who helped in the kitchen. I had come to her to complain against grandpa after a collision of wills. "Tell grandpa he can't pick on you any more," she said. "Everybody has got svoboda now."
I did not know what svoboda meant (it means liberty) and went to ask grandpa whether the war was over. He laughed again (he was easily moved to laughter); but then he started to explain that the czar was no longer czar, until grandma put a stop to the political discussion.
Nothing was said about the war ending, but other topics gradually displaced it from conversation. My father came home and was soon immersed in local politics. On the First of May, 1917, mother helped me dress in my best, pinned a red ribbon on my embroidered shirt, and said we were going to a "meeting."
"If any one asks you what you are," mother said, "say 'I am a Social-Democrat Bolshevik.'"
Naturally I did not wait to be asked, and announced my political affiliation to every one, attracting attention and eliciting laughter from adults. But my friends on the block did not laugh. Some responded with enthusiasm and some with derision. I soon learned that there were also Social-Democrat Mensheviks, the Social Revolutionaries (who were also called the S.R.'s) and Cadets, and many other kinds of people, some very good, some pretty good, some bad, and some awful. We, the Social-Democrat Bolsheviks were the best, because we were the only ones who said "Down with war!"
The meeting was a large open air rally. When mother lifted me I could see the "tribune" bedecked with red cloth and the orator shouting on top of it. Father was among the orators. The speeches alternated with a brass band, and I could recognize the tunes, which I had learned to strum on the piano – the Marseillaise and the Funeral March. The latter was in memory of the 1905 victims. I knew about 1905. Another uncle of mine had a crippled hand, the result of beatings. At intervals people shouted hurrah, and so did I from my mother's shoulder: "Long live the First of May! Down with war!"
The only thing I remember about the October Revolution was the orthography reform, which I heartily endorsed. In the winter we moved to the Crimea to escape the Germans, but the Germans occupied the Crimea, too. The summer of 1918 under German occupation was quiet and devoid of politics.
In the late fall the Germans vanished, and we went back to our home town only to be caught in the vicious civil war. Father was the mayor of our town. He organized a short-lived Committee for Self-Defense, a militia entrusted with protecting the civilian population from the marauding bands who went in to rape and loot when the "major" armies retreated. Father was no longer a Bolshevik. He had broken away (as I learned later) during the Red Terror of 1918, following the attempt on Lenin's life. The Committee was to hold power only in the interim periods when the town changed hands, and was to surrender to any "responsible authority." It thus declared itself "neutral" in the civil war. However, Petlura, the Ukranian nationalist, took a dim view of the "Jewish" committee, and father had to flee for his life.
The last year of the civil war found us reunited in Crimea, which had become the last stronghold of the White Guard. We were again living quietly and apolitically, waiting for the Bolsheviks to come; for their coming would mean the end of the civil war.
The Red Army came in November, 1920. At that time the three of us lived in a large single room. Five Red Army men were billeted with us. They were Siberian Tartars. Their behavior was meticulously correct. They shared their rations with us and were constantly apologizing for their presence. Soon we became friends, and there were lively and uninhibited discussions about the future of Russia and of mankind. I recall also that the Red Army men played the piano, using only the black keys. (Apparently their music was based on the pentatonic scale.)
Our guests did not stay long. Their partisan division was replaced by a regular one from central Russia, and the atmosphere changed abruptly. In particular, several thousand White Guard officers (who could not escape to Turkey and had donned civilian clothes) were rounded up and shot in mass executions. Food disappeared. Carloads of wheat, barley, and potatoes went to central Russia to relieve the starvation there. The Revolutionary Committee announced that Crimea had to pay for having been the last "nest" of the counter-revolutionaries.
Father went to work for the city board of education. We lived on the pound and a quarter of bread per day which was his only salary. There were occasional supplements, such as four potatoes, one egg, one hundred grams of salt fish, etc. Eventually living became unbearable. When pressure was put on father to join the Party (in the form of a congratulatory announcement that he was accepted as a "candidate" as a reward for "outstanding work on the pedagogical front"), he yielded to mother's entreaties to attempt an escape. The escape plan, designed by mother, was elaborate and dangerous, but it succeeded; so that after sixteen months of flight and hiding, we finally came to Chicago, where we joined father's family, who had emigrated before 1905.
I relate these matters in order to reveal the background of my early attitudes toward war, revolution, communism, and violence. These attitudes were ambivalent in the extreme. On the one hand, communism became associated in my mind with the primitive and romantic ideals of social justice. I identified the ideals with those of the prophets, about whom father used to tell me, and those of Jesus Christ about whom I read in Tolstoy's adaptation of the New Testament for children. I still thought of the communist revolution as a revolt of the hurt and the oppressed against the callous and the powerful, a revolt which was supposed to have established universal brotherhood and peace. On the other hand, the communists turned out to be ruthless, cynical, and cruel. They shot people on the slightest provocation. They shot several good people we knew. They insisted that whoever was not with them was against them. In their eyes father was a deserter.
It was very difficult to live with this ambivalence. I was eleven years old when we came to the United States. In school, a teacher suggested that I write a piece for the school yearbook on "How and Why I Came to America." My English was still weak, so I was to tell the teacher what happened, and the teacher would help me write the story. These sessions caused me considerable embarrassment. The teacher kept pushing so as to make it appear that we had lived a happy, carefree life, which the revolution disrupted; that we were forced to flee from the murderous, godless Bolsheviks, and that we now wanted only to forget all about the "Old Country" and to become good Americans. I felt it was not quite so; but, of course, I could not explain it to the teacher. I found particularly offensive her insistence that I say something about being at last free to worship God. I told her that we never worshiped God anyway, but there was no way of getting through to her. At home I was told to let the teacher have her way. So, she wrote my story, and I felt humiliated when the principal of the school singled it out for special praise.
No less painful was the cultural barrier which separated me from my playmates. They worshiped Jack Dempsey; I insisted that fighting was for hooligans. My hero was Chaliapin. They said the United States never lost a war; I said no country ever won a war. In 1922 the boys still talked about becoming millionaires. I said John D. Rockefeller was a greedy old man. They played baseball; I played the piano. They were "regular;" I was a sissy.
In my teens, I joined the Y.P.S.L., campaigned for Norman Thomas, and debated amid cheers and jeers in teen-club basements against my opposite numbers in the Young Workers' Communist League. It became impossible for me, however, to hang on to the faith in parliamentary democracy and pacifism in the Age of Hitler. The need to hate was overwhelming, and fascism was an ideal target.
For a while, the Popular Fronts, the Spanish Civil War, and Litvinov's eloquence offered some hope that the split of the Left could be healed, and that a unified resistance could be organized against militant fascism. Stalin's blood purges and his pact with Hitler made a mockery of that hope. The hope was re-kindled in 1941 and burned brightly in 1945, only to be extinguished by the Cold War and by the last spasms of Stalinist obscurantism.
What specifically was this hope, which I and so many of my generation have tried to keep alive? It clearly was a hope that revolutionary practice could somehow be brought into harmony with revolutionary ideals. To this day I do not know whether there was ever any justification for cherishing such a hope. We have had a sequence of chilling historical lessons on how revolutionary regimes degenerate into paranoia-ridden tyrannies. The clearest revolutionary gains have all been negative gains, embodied in the destruction of flagrant evils. The French Revolution destroyed forever the privileges of hereditary aristocracy. The Russian Revolution eradicated landlordism; and soon we shall see the last vestiges of that system rooted out, mainly by revolutions, everywhere in the world. The positive gains of revolutions, on the other hand, are not so easy to discern, because we do not yet know what sort of viable societies our age will spawn. If Stalinism had become entrenched as a new, virulent, and stable autocracy (as had been prophesied by Orwell), the net gain of the Russian Revolution might have been zero. If the post-war trends of American society continue, the "pursuit of happiness" ideal of our Founding Fathers will turn into a lewd farce. Indeed, the entire scientific revolution, which supposedly ushered in the manhood of humanity, will be revealed as a prelude to utter degradation of our species, unless some way is found to curb the high priests of the cult of genocide.
Now, I believe I have stated the content of my concern and have attempted to trace its roots. I believe, as probably many in this audience do, that one's ethos, that is, one's deep-seated standards of right and wrong, on the basis of which one judges men, life, and events, derives to a large extent from childhood experience. I would not go so far as some in attributing a determining role to these experiences. Rather, I believe the childhood experiences serve as an impetus which sensitizes the developing individual to certain kinds of subsequent experiences. If the reinforcements are predominantly in one direction, a firm world view is likely to emerge.
My earliest impressions of war, as it affected me and the people close to me, led me to believe that wars were instigated and conducted by people with whom we had nothing to do and to whom we owed no loyalty, people whose main attributes were greed, arrogance, and pugnacity. Needless to say, I do not subscribe to this primitive personalistic view any more; but the fact remains that the attitude engendered by it has remained. One does not get rid of deeply entrenched attitudes by absorbing information, nor by acquiring a more sophisticated view of history.
Similarly, my earliest gut feeling about revolutions has remained with me. Whatever I now know about the dynamics of revolutions, the early belief that revolutions are primarily attempts to establish social justice (and not, say, simply conspiracies to seize power) is at the base of my conception of revolution. Therefore, I constantly tend to feel that the gravest crimes against humanity are performed by those who cling to the privileges and power against which the revolutions are directed, and also by those who misuse revolutions and become the heirs of defunct tyrannies. I have lived in an era when these feelings, engendered in my childhood, were strongly reinforced by events and so gelled into a firm world view.
At present, I find myself a citizen of a super-power, which has embarked upon a career of international mischief, judging not only from the perspective which I have described, but also according to the explicit definition of international crime in the United Nations Charter. By both words and deeds, we have proclaimed war to be the principle instrument of our foreign policy, and the suppression of revolutions its principle aim.
All this is happening at a time when the revolutionary ideas of our century are beginning to mature. Communist orthodoxy has been shattered. A number of regimes have arisen in which communist programs have been tempered with a predominantly Western cultural outlook. In Russia, the age-old longing for cultural acceptance by the West became a force which has finally challenged the xenophobic fixations of the bureaucracy. The present United States foreign policy seems to have been specifically designed to smother all these beginnings, and to prove once and for all the correctness of the primitive communist dogma: bourgeois democracy is a sham; no ruling class will ever willingly give up its privileges; co-existence is impossible; deviation is treason; neutrality is immoral. The two views of the world which come closest to each other in our day seem to be those of the United States and of Communist China.
If I could achieve detachment, I could console myself with the knowledge that this, too, will pass, and that the Pentagon will eventually, possibly quite soon, share the ignominious fate of all the previous foci of naked power. But I cannot achieve detachment. I do not have much hope for the human race, since I do not believe we can develop an adaptation (quickly enough) to our cultural secretions. But I cannot resign from the species. I have children, and I do not want them to writhe in agony or to turn into automata or to repeat the atrocious lies amid which they live. Therefore, I am engaged in a struggle, which I often feel to be a hopeless one, but which I have no choice but to wage.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University of Michigan
February 15, 1966
The goal must be a common one — the dismantling of the global war machine. This means that the legitimacy of the institutions that support the machine must be denied.
Can humanity eliminate war?
Put in this way, the question suggests that humanity is an actor endowed with intentions and a range of capabilities for carrying these intentions out. The question is similar to questions like "Can John stop drinking?" or "Can Tokyo reduce traffic accidents?" These questions can be answered by "yes" or "no," because both John and Tokyo can be regarded as actors.
That John is an actor means that his predilections and intentions can be transformed into a decision, which he can implement. Whether John stops drinking depends on the strength of his will power compared with the strength of his addiction. So the question whether John can stop drinking (whatever be the answer) makes sense.
Tokyo has a city government composed of several individuals, each with his or her own intentions and preferences. But that government acts in accordance with certain rules that make it possible to collate all these different preferences into a decision, either to take measures for reducing traffic accidents or not to take such measures. So Tokyo (as represented by its city government) is also an actor, and it makes sense to ask what it will or will not do.
But "humanity" is not an actor. Humanity is composed of billions of individuals, each with his or her own predilections and intentions. Each of these individuals can act within the range of certain capabilities. But there is no way in which all these actions can be collated into a collective decision, implemented by collective action.
Some see this circumstance as the crux of the problem. Various proposals for a world government or a world federation have been made, presumably with the view of turning humanity into an actor, empowered to take measures toward eliminating war or at least toward reducing the incidence or the severity of wars in the way that the city of Tokyo is empowered to take measures toward reducing traffic accidents.
However, a little reflection shows that we are in a vicious cycle. It takes collective action to establish a world government. And it is precisely this that humanity cannot undertake. It is not an actor. If it were an actor, that is, in a position to take collective action, it could eliminate war whether there were a world government or not. So the whole question hinges on what sort of prospects there are for taking collective actions encompassing all of humanity. This, in turn, depends on the extent to which the understanding of the nature of war spreads through humanity. For war has become a threat to every one's existence. No one can hope to escape annihilation if a nuclear war erupts. More than anything else the awareness of this common danger may turn humanity into an actor. It behooves us, therefore, to gain a better understanding of the nature of war and to help the spread of this understanding.
The first thing we must recognize is that the question "What is the nature of war?" cannot be answered in a sentence. There are three reasons why this cannot be done.
First, just because we use the same word, "war" to designate innumerable instances of organized mass violence does not mean that all these instances have a common origin or produce similar effects or that whatever resemblances they exhibit justify subsuming them under the same class of events.
Second, the origins of war, the events associated with it, and their effects have changed radically through history to the extent that, aside from the distinguishing features of mass violence, usually organized by governments, the various wars that have occurred in different historical eras have next to nothing in common.
Third, and perhaps most important, the nature of war depends substantially on the way it is perceived. That is, war does not have its own objectively definable "nature." It is largely what people say or think it is.
This subjective component is what distinguishes the world of things from the world of human affairs. For example, the nature of the moon depends in no way on what I write, say, or think about it. It continues to be what it has been for countless centuries - a sphere made of rocks. But what I write, say, or even think about some aspect of social reality may significantly affect that aspect of reality, because what I write, say, or even think about it becomes part of that reality.
So it is with war. The nature of war is significantly affected by what people, especially people in positions of power or influence say or even think about it.
Keeping these three circumstances in mind, namely, the immense complexity of the wide range of phenomena that we subsume under the same word, "war," the changing nature of these phenomena, and the subjective component that is inseparable from its manifestations, let us refrain from attempting to give a convincing-sounding "definition" of war. Instead, let us trace the part that various wars in various historical eras have played in human life.
The earliest wars were probably clashes between bands or tribes, each trying to appropriate a piece of territory. Such clashes probably became especially violent and protracted when agriculture replaced herding and hunting as the principal means of livelihood. This is understandable since unlike herders or hunters, who ordinarily led a nomadic life, tillers of the soil live on territories and derive a sense of ownership of these territories on which their lives depend. Conquest of territory was probably the earliest motivation of war and, of course, defence of territory is the obverse side of the same coin.
Wars among primitive tribes probably involved all able-bodied men. With the advent of "civilization," i.e. extensive division of labour, special warrior castes evolved. Nevertheless, even if war became the business of a specialized profession, the outcome of a war in the early days of warfare affected everyone of the population engaged in it.
It is by no means true, however, that outcomes of wars have always affected entire populations. Let us look at the other extreme, for example, at the so-called "cabinet wars" of eighteenth century Europe. The professionalization of war had reached its peak in that era. Every prince had a standing army composed of highly trained professional soldiers. Training consisted of inculcating habits of instantaneous obedience to officers' commands. This reflex-type obedience was necessary, because efficiency in battle depended on the execution of complex maneuvers. Soldiers fought in close formations. Except for the bloodshed, the battle field looked not very different from the parade ground. Loss of coordination usually meant a rout and the loss of a battle.
Moreover, the loss of a battle frequently meant the loss of a war. Capitulation was no disgrace. Wars, in fact, were fought "politely" for limited objectives, usually the conquest of a province or establishing the legitimacy of succession to a throne that had become vacant.
In that era of European history, the lives of ordinary people, most of whom were peasants, were least affected by wars. It did not matter much who won or who lost. Also, because the objectives of the wars were limited, they were not particularly bloody by today's standards.
There was also another reason why the so called "cabinet wars" of 18th century Europe were not very severe by our standards. The professional armies were very expensive instruments. Once an army was lost, it could not be easily replaced, because it took a long time to train a soldier in those days. Not only did the soldier have to execute the intricate maneuvers of battle formations. He also had to be turned into an automaton in order to suppress the natural instinct of self-preservation. Standing stiffly in formation, firing his musket only when commanded to do so by an officer, the soldier lost all resemblance to a normal human being.
This de-humanization was necessary, because the professional soldier of the 18th century had no stake in the outcome of a war. As a rule, he did not even know what the war was about. As for the generals, they did not care. They were specialists of their profession, nothing more. They freely passed from the service of one prince to that of another, much as corporation lawyers in America freely leave one corporation to serve another. Patriotism had not yet been invented in 18th century Europe.
The French Revolution changed all that. The revolutionary armies were citizen armies. They were easily assembled and did not undergo the grueling training that the Prussian or the Austrian soldiers underwent. This was not necessary for two reasons. First, the French soldier did know what he was fighting for. In the early phase of the Revolutionary Wars, he fought for the Revolution - for liberty, equality, and fraternity. Later, he fought for his emperor and for the glory of France.
Second, because the French soldier was infused with fervour and loyalty, he did not have to be turned into an automaton like his Prussian or Austrian colleague. This enabled Napoleon to develop completely new battle tactics. The soldier no longer had to fight in rigid formations to keep him from running away. Each individual soldier could act on his own. This greatly enhanced the flexibility of battle tactics.
Third and most important, the citizen-soldier was expendable. Casualties could be quickly replaced by recruits. The military potential of France became as great as her male population of military age. The war, at least on the French side, became a people's war.
Inevitably, the new kind of warfare spread to other countries. Wars were now nurtured by patriotism. Nationalism, loyalty to one's country, not merely obedience to superiors, became the psychological underpinning of the belligerency, which we to this day often associate with war.
This belligerency reached its peak at the outbreak of World War I. Declarations of war triggered rejoicing. Strangers embraced each other. The streets of Berlin and Paris, of Vienna and St. Petersburg were lined with cheering crowds. Women threw flowers at soldiers departing for the front.
This enthusiasm did not last long. The war turned out to be quite unlike the war imagined by the young men in their patriotic fervour. The cavalry, once the symbol of gallantry and of masculine pride, turned out to be practically useless in trench warfare. Infantry charges against enemy positions ended in slaughter by murderous machine gun fire.
Four years of this horror was enough to extinguish the fires of militant patriotism. In a paroxysm of rage, the Russians put an end to monarchy. The soldiers turned their guns against their own officers and created a new enemy, the bourgeois, whether in the shape of the village store keeper or the legendary "capitalist" in his top hat and with his pot belly. The German Kaiser fled and Socialists came to power. The Austro-Hungarian empire fell apart. There were revolutionary rumblings in England and in France. The Americans were bitterly disillusioned with the results of a war, which, they thought, was fought "to make the world safe for democracy."
In short, the years following the end of World War I witnessed a widespread disillusionment with war, at least in Europe and in America. Some dared to hope that humanity was "cured" of war. There was a timid beginning of institutionalizing a world federation, the League of Nations, which, however, soon proved itself too weak to rid humanity from the plague of war.
So it came to another bloodletting in Europe. A malignant form of nationalism was revived in Germany. The Germans, once thought to be among the most civilized people of the world, who had produced some of the most precious treasures of Western culture, went on a murderous rampage, having succumbed to the demagogic ramblings of a paranoid maniac.
Then this, too, was over. For a short time it seemed as if the new attempt in the direction of a world federation, the United Nations, would succeed where the League of Nations had failed.
The function of preventing and stopping wars was incorporated in the Security Council. The power of that body was for all practical purposes concentrated in the Big Five under the supposition that their unanimous decisions could be backed by their combined might. The victors of World War II were entrusted with the creation of a new world order based on renunciation of violence. Although war was not outlawed in the charter of the United Nations, nevertheless sovereign nations were enjoined to resolve their conflicts by peaceful means. Aggressive war, that is, war aimed at subjugating another nation or forcing its will on it was implicitly condemned.
It is noteworthy that this view of war was diametrically opposed to that of Carl von Clausewitz, the foremost philosopher of war of the nineteenth century. War, wrote Clausewitz in his famous treatise, is an act of violence by means of which we impose our will on our enemy. Or, to quote a more famous phrase of his, war is the continuation of politics by other means. It is difficult to imagine a more emphatic declaration that war is an inalie-nable right of a sovereign state. Nothing is said here about "self defence," the only rationale of war recognized in the United Nations charter. War, according to Clausewitz, is the way a nation asserts its nationhood. It seems that if the charter of the United Nations reflects the spirit of our times, then humanity has come a long way toward eliminating war. For if "self defence" is the only legitimate justification of war, then, if all nations subscribe to this principle, war has become logically impossible.
But of course, the scourge of war is still with us. Ironically, it is the most powerful of the victorious allies, who were supposed to bring in an era of lasting peace by crushing the "aggressors," who now stand poised to annihilate each other and carry the rest of humanity with them into extinction.
How did this come about? Various answers have been offered. Let us examine the most frequently offered ones. They are of three types. One explains the war-proneness of the human race by an inherent aggressive instinct. Some support this explanation by pointing out that fighting is natural among animals, at least among vertebrates and that it even has survival value, since when males fight for mates or for territory, the victory of the stronger confers upon him greater reproductive success, in the sense of guaranteeing more progeny, and so contributes to the vigour of the species. Others take seriously Freud's theory of the "death instinct" which generates destructive compulsions in human beings.
Another type of explanation emphasizes clashes of incompatible ideology. According to orthodox Marxism, socialism is fated to triumph, and many in the capitalist West take this doctrine to imply that the Soviet Union is intent on conquering the world and imposing its ideology on it. According to this view, war preparations in the West are defensive measures against expected aggression. Needless to say the this view is faithfully mirrored in the Soviet Union. The Soviets view their military might as a defence against expected aggression from the capitalist West, supposedly motivated by the necessity to eliminate socialism as the mortal danger to "free enterprise"
The third type of explanation reverts back to the Clausewitzian model of international relations. International relations, according to this view, is a perpetual struggle for power, a war of every one against every one. There is no way of restraining states from pursuing their "national interests," assumed to be essentially ambitions to enhance their power and to resist the expansionist drives of other states, except through superior force. Since the United States and the Soviet Union are the most powerful states, they need not yield to any "law." Each will continue to pursue its "national interest," which, as in Clausewitz's day, is assumed to be the pursuit of power.
Explanations of war based on inherent aggressive instinct can be dismissed for lack of evidence. Indeed, if aggression against his own kind is natural in man, why must soldiers be trained to kill? Why is killing comparatively rare in ordinary life? How can we explain love of children, love of friends, cooperation of people who are no kin to each other in pursuit of common ends? There is also a more important reason to think that "aggressive instinct" has nothing to do with war, as it is conducted in our time. We shall come back to this point.
The ideological basis of war cannot be taken seriously today. If the present war-proneness were based on clashing ideologies, how can we explain the quarter of a century of bitter hostility between the Soviet Union and China? For many years the danger of war between those two Communist giants seemed greater than between either of them and the capitalist United States. Why does the present American administration rant against the Soviet Union but not against China? No, the days of religious wars are over. Even the present regimes of the United States and the Soviet Union, not noted for sophistication, cannot be assumed to believe seriously that either the "capitalist" or the "socialist" ideology can be imposed by force of arms. To be sure, "ideological incompatibility" is offered as a rationale for war preparations, but that is an entirely different matter.
Finally, the trouble with the Clausewitizian explanation, based on the so-called "realist" interpretation of international relations as a perpetual struggle for power, fails in one important respect. In Clausewitz's model, war appears as only a means to an end. The "imposition" of one's will on the enemy has political consequences, and the decision to go to war is based on weighing the opportunities offered by victory against the costs and risks of defeat. But what can "victory" possibly mean as an outcome of a nuclear war or, for that matter of a conventional war fought with modern weapons? So what political advantages can possibly justify the horrendous costs of a such a war both for the "victor" (assuming for the sake of argument that the term makes sense) and for the vanquished?
Having dismissed the three prevalent explanations of the present war-proneness of our species, I should, of course, offer an alternative one. First, however, I want to call attention to two things, namely, the alternation between a "democratic" and an "elitist" nature of war and the radically changing conceptions of war through the ages.
Warfare was in a "democratic" phase when every one had a stake in it, as in tribal warfare or in wars fueled by nationalist enthusiasms. Warfare was in an elitist stage when it was the business largely of professionals, as for example, in 18th century Europe.
Since World War II, war has been steadily reverting from the "democratic" to the "elitist" stage. This was due to two reasons. First, abhorrence of war, started already during World War I, has markedly increased. It has become impossible to "sell" war to populations, at least in Europe or in America, as a road to glory or as assertions of "national destiny." These slogans have been thoroughly discredited. It is noteworthy that all the ministries of war have become ministries of defence. "Defence" can still be sold. And it is sold without flag waving, trumpet blaring, or drum beating. It is sold like insurance is sold. In supporting the bloated military establishments, the people of the United States and of the Soviet Union believe they are buying "security".
Thus, the only emotion that serves as driving force behind the rush toward war is fear - fear that unless one can show a war potential at least equal to that of the "enemy," one is helpless at the enemy's mercy. And the enemy, being the enemy, has no mercy. This is the myth that threatens to become reality and consequently the extinction of the human race.
Imagine two scorpions in a bottle. Neither stands to gain anything by stinging the other. But if scorpion A thinks that scorpion B is about to sting him (never mind why), he will most probably sting in self defence. And because both scorpions reason the same way, both may sting each other and die, even though neither gains anything from the other's death. Both lose. And this is not all. Even if scorpion A does not think that scorpion B is about to sting him but thinks that scorpion B thinks that he, A, is about to sting him, then A must conclude that B is about to sting him "in self defence" and will feel compelled to sting first. This is the situation in which the two superpowers now find themselves. Mutual fear is, in my opinion, the most compelling explanation of the suicidal arms race. Is this fear justified? Yes and no. On objective grounds no, since neither superpower stands to gain anything even if it could destroy the other with impunity. On subjective grounds, yes. When two paranoiacs face each other, each is a realist.
Does any one stand to gain from this mutually reinforcing fear that may explode in a spasm of self-destruction? To answer this question, I will briefly outline the changes in the conception of war since the beginnings of warfare. There was a time when war was seen as a means of survival. Without arable land, a population depending on agriculture was doomed to die. There was a time when war was regarded as "the sport of kings," something like hunting. In the heydays of nationalism, war was regarded as the highest expression of a people's vigour. Since the disillusionment that set in in the wake of World War I and especially after World War II, war came to be regarded as a disaster, something like a flood or an epidemic.
It is this conception of war that stimulated the peace research movement. It was thought in the early days of peace research that once the "causes of wars" were sufficiently well known, war could be eliminated from human affairs as certain diseases became eradicated, once their specific causes became known.
The trouble with the disaster conception of war is that knowledge of causes by no means guarantees the eradication of war. The crucial difference between medical research and peace research is that there is an institutional infrastructure ready and able to translate knowledge emerging from medical research into action. Let a definite cause of some disease become known, means of combating the disease can be produced almost immediately. The medical profession, the boards of health, the pharmaceutical industries stand ready to do their part.
With regard to war, the situation is quite different. In fact, the necessary cause of wars, that is something without which modern wars could not be fought, is well known. It is weapons. It is therefore a simple matter to eliminate war, at least the totally destructive form of war that threatens civilization and the very life of humanity. One needs only to get rid of weapons. But where is the actor empowered and willing to do this?
This brings me to the conception of war which, in my opinion, is the most relevant in our present predicament. War is neither an expression of aggressive instincts, nor a romantic enterprise for attaining glory, nor a natural disaster, nor a "malfunctioning" of the international system, as some specialists in international relations picture it. War is an institution. Some institutions serve societies in which they are embedded. Others are parasitic on them, serving only those whose professional lives or careers depend on the continued existence of the institution. War continues to dominate society, at least the societies of the superpowers, because their war establishments have become entrenched as institutions.
The war establishments of the superpowers comprise much more than their military forces. Huge infrastructures of industrial, scientific and bureaucratic complexes nurture the war machines. I am not suggesting that the personnel of those institutions and enterprises have conspired to prevent the dismantling of the war machine or inhibiting its growth. It was once fashionable to blame the munition makers for promoting war in pursuit of profits. Surely this explanation is inadequate, since the war industries of the Soviet Union are not run for profit, yet flourish no less than in the West.
Not a conspiracy but institutional dynamics keeps the war machines growing. This is especially evident in the scientific-technological sector. We are witnessing what I like to call the technological imperative. Every advance in some sector of technology stimulates advances in other sectors. Thus, it is not only the advances in the military potential of the adversary but also one's own that keep the arms race going.
Pride of achievement plays here no small role. A scientist working on some problem whose solution contributes to the efficiency of mass killing is stimulated by the challenge of the problem as strongly as one who works on a problem whose solution makes possible the eradication of a horrendous disease. Both work in environments that are insulated from the concrete situations in which their discoveries or inventions will be applied.
In seeking the roots of war, it is well to remember that hatred and aggression have ceased to be the necessary emotional ingredients of war. It is no longer necessary to hate any one in order to kill every one. All that is needed is for every one to do his or her job efficiently and conscientiously. None of these individual jobs suggests mass killing and total destruction. But they add up to mass murder and collective suicide.
Not passion but intellectual sophistication is the psychological requirement of modern war. War has become intellectualized. This is the increasing elitism of modern war. The design of weapons systems, the working out of strategies of their use, the abstract quantitative evaluation of their projected effects, all these intellectually sophisticated activities are totally insulated from the concrete events to which they are directed. Mass armies, mobilization of war hysteria, flag waving, trumpet blaring, and drum beating are no longer necessary. A nuclear war could be "fought" (if this term is at all applicable) by pretty young ladies sitting at consoles that resemble typewriters. War has become "sanitized." As in the 18th century, war has become the business of professionals with this difference, however. Hardly any one but soldiers suffered in the "cabinet wars." Every one will be a victim in a war fought by modern specialists.
Let us now once again pose the question: Can humanity eliminate war? Yes, but only if there is sufficiently wide-spread awareness of what war has become in our nuclear age. The main problem is no longer that of enhancing people's understanding of other people, turning people away from hatreds and prejudices toward tolerance and love, because total destruction need not be triggered by hatred, and the most perfect understanding among the people of East and West, North and South may have no effect on the self-propelling dynamics of the arms race. In fact, the final holocaust can be triggered by a malfunctioning computer.
The main problem is that of recognizing that the war establishments no longer perform the function they may have once performed - that of protecting populations against aggression. In effect, the war establishments of the superpowers have been fused into a single war machine. Each of its components nurtures the other. Neither could justify its existence without the other. They do not compete. They cooperate in promoting each other's growth.
The war machine derives its legitimacy from the authority of the governments, who represent the war machine as a protector instead of the potential destroyer of populations, which it is.
The inculcations of the awareness of what the institution of war has become and of the fraud by means of which its legitimacy is maintained ought to be, in my opinion, the first priority of peace movements throughout the world.
The sort of actions that will result from such increase of awareness depends, of course, on the political environment of the various peace movements. In some countries, vigorous political action can be undertaken. In others, where this is impossible, because all political dissent is ruthlessly persecuted, other techniques will have to be developed. Only practice can guide these developments.
The goal, however, must be a common one — the dismantling of the global war machine. This means that the legitimacy of the institutions that support the machine must be denied. In the past, other institutions once thought to be God-given or rooted in human nature, hence permanent, lost their legitimacy and disappeared. Absolute monarchy and chattel slavery come to mind.
War is not in the human heart. War resides in the institutions spawned by war, which, in turn, spawn wars.
Only if humanity becomes sufficiently aware of this to acquire the status of an actor, can the scourge of war be eliminated before war eliminates humanity.
One of the most disheartening features of the current debate on national security has been the perversion of the scientific mode of reasoning until instances of it appear as ghastly caricatures of human thought.
The role of science in transforming man's physical and social environment is well known. Less well known but equally important has been the role of science in freeing man's thinking process from the shackles of tradition, superstition, and bigotry. Science was able to play this role by virtue of its preoccupation with truth, specifically with truth independent of man's appetites, preconceived notions, or current moral convictions. While the Church argued that the earth was a motionless center of the universe because the drama of man's salvation took place on it, astronomers marshaled evidence of the earth's motion. Later when bishops and philosophers argued that species were created separately because only this conclusion agreed with dicta of religion or philosophy, biologists brought forth evidence for evolution. When the Lysenkoists argued that acquired characters are inheritable, because this will revolutionize Soviet agriculture, the Soviet geneticists fought a losing battle by calling attention to evidence to the contrary. Characteristically the enemies of science have striven to make us see the world not as it is but as the power elites thought it ought to be. The scientific attitude appeared to carry the supreme premise of a genuine morality, because it seemed the best antidote to the encrusted moralistic shibboleths, be it the divine right of kings or racist determinism or proletarian dictatorship or free enterprise.
It is all the more discouraging to see in the current debate on national security, outstanding scientists in the service of demagogy, rationalizing their betrayal of the scientific ethos by posing as "hard-headed realists" condescendingly explaining the facts of life to the naive.
How did these scientists get to their present inglorious position? By a series of degradations of the scientific ethos. The foremost principle of that ethos is objectivity. The scientist follows truth wherever it leads, regardless of whether it portends good or evil. This is a very high principle, worthy of truly mature minds. But from there it is only a step down to moral neutrality: the scientist's task is to decide what is so; not what ought to be. From moral neutrality it is only another step to moral irresponsibility: science does not determine goals; science only seeks effective means to achieve given goals, the goals being given by the decision-makers of the scientist's society. Finally the last step downward is taken into moral illiteracy, the total unawareness of moral issues.
A physicist proclaims, "If we continue to neglect our preparations, a nuclear war will be the end of our democratic way of life." He threatens us with tyranny if we do not plan mass murder. He forgets that the most characteristic feature of tyranny is the subjugation of human life to what the tyrannical elite calls political necessity. The Nazis slaughtered innocent men, women, and children, saying that they did this to insure "national survival." The killing of hostages became one of the most characteristic stigmas of Nazi depravity. And now our military planners, seconded by their hired scientists, proclaim deterrence as an insurance of "national survival." Plainly speaking, deterrence means that if we are attacked, we will retaliate, and it does not mean anything unless we mean this. So if we mean it, and if, for some reason, deterrence fails, we will have to retaliate, that is, we will have to perform an act of senseless revenge on tens of millions of men, women, and children, who were in no way responsible for what happened.
How does this proposed slaughter differ, aside from its extent, from the killing of hostages? So what meaning can be assigned to "our democratic way of life" if we have already betrayed its cardinal principle, namely that human sacrifice, especially mass human sacrifice is not to be made to political necessity?
But moral issues are not the scientist's concern, according to the scientists who emulate Tennyson's Six Hundred. Unfortunately, scientific issues are not his concern either, if they fall outside the range of his specialty's microscope. One physicist, discussing the effects of a single bomb of specified power exploded at a specified height "refutes" an "alarmist" by arguing that only 500 square miles instead of 5,000 will be completely and immediately devastated by that explosion. He reassures us on the score of fire storms in California by correcting erroneous notions on the nature of forest fires. Another physicist shows that the dangers from a cumulated deposit of Strontium 90 are "probably" exaggerated. Still another presents as a definitive argument in favor of a shelter-building program his calculations to the effect that a properly designed and properly utilized shelter system can reduce the casualties of a thermonuclear attack from one hundred million to forty million (provided, of course, the attack is of the sort and timing anticipated.) This is what goes for a realistic "scientific" appraisal of the danger. For a physicist, scientific appraisal means calculation resulting in answers expressed in units which he under-stands, namely Roentgens, megatons, millions of degrees, tons per square inch, square miles, etc. The biologist tells the physicist how to translate his findings into lives destroyed, forfeit, and possibly saved, and that is the extent of the physicist's calculations and of his "science." Psychological matters do not even exist for such a physicist. If he is properly humble, he will declare that to be beyond the scope of his competence; if he is arrogant, he will dismiss psychology for not having attained the exalted status of an exact science. In either case, the fate of the survivors as human beings never enters his calculations. Nor do the psychological effects of the measures he proposes enter his calculations. Being ignorant of psychology, he accepts the tacit assumptions of the equally ignorant military planner. Like the latter he views world politics as a chess game. If the "opponent" attains the capacity to strike and expects reasonable impunity, he will strike. If the opponent feels himself sufficiently threatened by retaliation, he will not strike (all historical and psychological evidence to the contrary notwithstanding). As in the theory of games, decisions are calculated by comparing "expected pay-offs," in the simplest case by subtracting the losses of your opponent from your own. Realism equals mistrust. Maturity equals ruthlessness.
I have heard that a sign hanging on the premises of the Rand Corporation reads "Don't think – compute!" A more appropriate slogan could not have been designed for the scientist who has forsaken the search for wisdom to serve as a magician to the wielders of absolute power.
Our ancestors used to say that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Americans, in their comfort, their pursuit of individual advantages, in their worship of the bitch goddess of success, forgot to pay the installments, and their liberties were re-possessed.
Four and a half years ago, eleven faculty members of the University of Michigan issued a call for a one-day moratorium in protest against United States aggression in Vietnam. It was proposed that for one day, just one day, teachers and students stop talking about chemistry, English sonnets, and corporate law, and talk instead about what the United States war machine was doing to people on the other side of the world. As I recall, forty-nine faculty members joined the call. To some of us this seemed too few. Others said it did not matter; that the justice of a cause is not measured by the number of its supporters. It goes without saying that those of us who then had second thoughts about suspending business as usual did not doubt the justice of the cause. They were concerned with whether a demonstration that might fizzle out would not demonstrate the contrary of what it intended, namely that the University stood squarely behind Lyndon B. Johnson, his generals, and his advisers.
Another major concern was that the first reaction to the moratorium would raise — had, in fact already raised — issues which at that time seemed to many to have nothing to do with the war in Vietnam, such as whether suspending for one day discussions about, say, the physiology of digestion in order to talk about starving people constituted a breach of contract by a professor, or a reneging of his responsibility to students. We knew then what now everyone knows, that these issues were of paramount relevance and importance. But we did not want these issues to obscure the one that the moratorium was supposed to bring into focus: the war, deliberately instigated by the United States, the stupidity, the illegality, and the immorality of that war.
So we looked around for an alternative way to drive the point home, and we found one. The accusation against us was that we were intending to do our thing on company time. So we announced that we would teach what we felt had to be taught during the night. And so the Teach-in movement was born. Right over there, a few yards from where we are standing, the world's first Teach-in was held on the night of March 24-25, 1965.
It made history. Within a month over a hundred campuses in the United States were ignited. Within a year the movement spread to Europe; and those other issues which, for tactical reasons, were at first avoided came to the forefront, namely what is the role of the University in a society that calls itself civilized? What are the responsibilities of professors to students? And so on. From these issues to a re-examination of the meaning of democracy is only a step. This step has now been taken.
The Teach-ins did not stop the war. But they accomplished something even more important. They awakened the people of the so-called Western democracies to the most salient political fact of our age, namely that democracy defined by rhetoric, political rituals and trappings, is a moribund, subverted democracy. Our ancestors used to say that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Americans, in their comfort, their pursuit of individual advantages, in their worship of the bitch goddess of success, forgot to pay the installments, and their liberties were re-possessed.
Living democracy involves three features of the social order. The first everyone knows or, at any rate, can repeat: governments must be responsive to the needs and aspirations of their people. But this definition is not sufficient. A government that claims legitimacy because it has not been turned out by procedures formally available to the people, is not thereby unquestionably democratic. More is required of a democracy. The people must have an opportunity to realize WHAT their genuine needs and aspirations are. They are denied this opportunity if the means of communication are overwhelmingly controlled by elites, by bureaucracies, or by commercial enterprises; and if the institutions of learning are co-opted to serve the interests of dominant groups. Democracy is subverted if people are denied access to sources of enlightenment by whatever method — whether by overt control, as in totalitarian states, or by sheer preponderance of economic power and political inertia as in the United States. The second feature of democracy, then, is an unimpeded access for everyone to the sources of enlightenment, in fact as well as in principle.
The third and most crucial test of democracy is whether, when a government fails to be responsive to people's needs and aspirations, the people have the will to dismiss that government and to replace it by one that is responsive. The founders of this republic passed that test. This principle will now be put to a test once again.
Richard Nixon pleads for national unity. Well, he has almost got it now. After years of bitter strife, the American people seem to be on the verge of being once more united, now in a protest against a senseless criminal, and beastly war.
Nixon says that he will not be influenced by the protest. The next move is, therefore, the people's. If Nixon and his generals can get away with it, the alleged American democracy will have failed the crucial test. It will have shown itself as a system where people can say what they will while its military machine does what it will. One is almost tempted to
call it a live-and-let-live arrangement, except that the military machine does not let live. It kills people; and the more it kills, the more it promises to kill, the fatter and stronger and more independent it becomes
If, on the other hand, our society can pass the crucial test of democracy, if the people can prove that they mean business, if they follow through with an ultimatum to what are supposed to be their servants: obey us or get out — then the most important political issue of our age, the issue of people's sovereignty, will become alive once again, as it was in 1776, 1789, 1848, and 1917. It will become as alive in the United States as it is with people struggling for national liberation.
The war in Vietnam is an event that awakened the people to what should always have been of prime concern to them. It is not enough to stop the war. It is not enough to see to it that there are no more Vietnams. What is at stake is whether those who are responsible for the Vietnams, for the plundering of the planet, for seducing creative thought into the service of death, for erasing the difference between truth and falsehood, for identifying global politics with a poker game — whether people who think this way, and who in their impudent arrogance proclaim this way of thinking to be the height of political wisdom and realism, shall be allowed to continue to rule. What is at stake is whether, centuries after the Divine Right of Kings was exposed as a superstition, absolute power of life and death over every man, woman, and child on this plant will continue to be wielded by a few individuals.
The American people, it seems, have finally learned to say "NO." We shall now see how well they have learned it.
Education, if it means anything, produces a change in at least the store of knowledge (one hopes a gain) but often also changes in the way people feel about the world they live in (their attitudes) and in the way they think about it (their mode of cognition).
The "ticking bomb" evokes an image of an impending disaster with time for forestalling it running out. The threat of a nuclear war is often depicted in this way, A clock showing a few minutes to twelve appears on the cover of each issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. This journal was founded shortly after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by scientists who had worked to produce the bomb. After they saw what it did, they realized the deadly peril their success presented to all of humanity. So they decided to devote their journal to informing people of what threatens them (regardless of their nationality, ideology or preparedness for war) if their leaders continue to identify the danger of extinction with "national security".
For Andre Ryerson the "ticking bomb" has a different meaning which he makes clear in his article in the Wall Street Journal of May 31 last. Mr. Ryerson sees horrendous danger not in the prospect of a nuclear war but in informing people about the consequences of such a war, disclosing obstacles in the way of removing the constant threat, exploring the psychological and political hang-ups that nurture an addiction to violence. In short, Mr. Ryerson sees the real danger lurking in programmes of education about the age we live in - the Nuclear Age. His article is entitled "The Ticking Bomb of Nuclear Age Education.”
His concern is with the "loss of liberty that would follow from a pacifist foreign policy." It seems that under the guise of "global education," "nuclear age education" and "peace education" the young are being taught to interpret the world "from a radical perspective." Among the subversive ideas taught in these programmes, it turns out, is a suggestion that it was wrong to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that competition (an antithesis to "sharing") divides the world into hostile camps and that private property is a source of social conflict. "These are not doctrines most parents expect to find in the local school," Ryerson points out, "nor does the average tax payer imagine such uses for his money".
There is a case to be made for the point of view that all education is indoctrination. In fact, anti-indoctrination can also be regarded as indoctrination. This is the way education appears if only its end result is examined and the way of achieving it is ignored. It goes without saying that education, if it means anything, produces a change in at least the store of knowledge (one hopes a gain) but often also changes in the way people feel about the world they live in (their attitudes) and in the way they think about it (their mode of cognition). All of these changes can be adduced to "indoctrination", as indeed they are by people who do not approve of them. People who approve of the changes in attitudes and in ways of thinking produced by education call them "enlightenment."
But is this all there is to it? Is it just a matter of whether one welcomes or resents the end product of education that makes it "enlightenment" or "indoctrination"? Not quite. The difference is brought out more clearly if instead of looking at the end product one looks at the way it was brought about. Indoctrination achieves its results by constricting the range of knowledge and ways of getting it, by narrowing the channels along which thoughts are allowed to run. Enlightenment broadens both the range of knowledge and ways of attaining it.
Educators who take their calling seriously insist that education should enable people to think things out for themselves. This does not mean that instruction should be limited strictly to teaching "facts," eschewing any interpretations. It means rather that people should be made aware that there are several ways of interpreting what is happening, that maturation entails learning to live with a certain degree of ambiguity, ambivalence and uncertainty, learning to distrust ready-made simplistic answers to every bothersome question.
To some people such prospects are frightening. They want to cling to accustomed certainties and, above all, want everyone else to cling to them: the certainty that the world is an arena where good guys are fighting the bad guys; that we are the good guys; that the way to come out on top is to have more muscle, to be quick on the draw, to keep the finger on the trigger (today we call it the Button), not to be fooled by the enemy's soft talk. According to people of Mr. Ryersons's persuasion, "nuclear age education" in its various guises threatens this stance. It undermines the "will to win" by spreading doubts and heresies. Eventually the foundation of our strength and liberty will crumble, the whole edifice of certainty and self-righteousness will come crashing down and "they" will "take us over." This is why "nuclear age education" is a ticking bomb.
Mr. Ryersons's fears are probably exaggerated. It will take more than peace and conflict studies programmes to produce the sort of "changes in our way of thinking" that Albert Einstein said are indispensable for reversing the drift to irreversible catastrophe. Also, if these changes occur, they won't cause an explosion of a "ticking bomb" imagined by Mr. Ryerson. Rather they will come gradually and unevenly as all the lasting changes in ways of thinking came that produced everything we cherish in civilization, more humane attitudes and relations, a better understanding of the formidable complexities of the world we live in. Nor will they come about as results of indoctrination, as Mr. Ryerson imagines. Rather they will be results of enlightenment, a broadening of perspectives acquired through habits of independent critical thinking; in short, closer acquaintance with the realities of the nuclear age.
The three modes of conflict suggest three approaches to peace research, the systemic, the strategic and the ideological. If peace research is to contribute to the hope of establishing a durable peace on this planet, all three directions must be synthesized into a science of peace.
When I was kindly invited by Professors Harada and Kanokogi to give a lecture at the Hiroshima Shudo University, I was asked to tell something about my personal history, in particular about what motivated me to concern myself with peace research.
I received formal training in mathematics at the University of Chicago and defended by doctoral dissertation on December 5, 1941. Two days later a war broke out between United States and Japan, and I entered military service soon after. Between two overseas assignments I was in Chicago on leave and visited my University. I wanted to go to the mathematics library to look something up that interested me at the moment. But although I was wearing the uniform of a captain in the U. S. Air Force, I was not permitted to enter the building where I spent five happy years as a student of mathematics. Secret research was carried on in that building. Later, after the war I learned the nature of that work. It was done by mathematicians like myself and was connected with an atomic reactor. The work was done under the direction of Professor Fermi, who, along with Albert Einstein was one of very few atomic scientists at that time.
At the time I was denied access to Eckhart Eall, where the mathematics department was located, I knew nothing about the secret work that was going on there. But I resented deeply the presence of armed guards in a building dedicated to science and enlightenment. I had one fervent wish: to come home after the war was over and to find Eckhart Hall just as it was as I knew and loved it: with offices where scholars worked and thought and conferred with students, with a quiet library on the second floor, with its seminar room, where creative mathematical work was discussed on Friday afternoons after fifteen minutes of sociability with tea.
Actually, this wish of mine came true. When I came back to Chicago in the fall of 1945, the armed guards were gone, and Eckhart Hall was its old self, or rather so it seemed. In reality, however, everything was changed — irrevocably and irreversibly. But the realization that the whole was changed came only gradually.
On the fence of Stagg Field, where football games were held, there was a reminder of what went on at Eckhart Hall and in the laboratories of the University of Chicago. It was a plaque. I don't recall the exact wording, but the gist was something like this:
"On this site on such and such a date man first achieved a controlled chain reaction and the release of atomic energy."
It was assumed when that plaque was put up that future generations of University of Chicago Alumni would read the plaque and be filled with pride of their Alma Mater. But Robert Hutchins, then Chancellor of the University, surely the greatest chancellor the University of Chicago ever had, said on one occasion that he blushed with shame when he passed that plaque.
When I came back to Chicago after the war, I joined a group led by Professor Nicolas Rashevsky. He became my sensei, and I owe about one half of my ideas about peace research to him. The other half I owe to a number of people, whom I will mention later. First I want to tell you about the impact of Rashevsky's work on my thinking about war and peace from a scientific point of view.
Rashevsky was a pioneer in mathematical biology and later in mathematical sociology. I came to him, because I was especially interested in application of mathematical methods beyond the sphere of the physical sciences. That mathematical methods were indispensable in physical science was established several centuries ago. The extension of these methods to biology and especially to the social sciences, where human behaviour is at the center of attention presents serious problems and therefore a welcome challenge to the mathematician.
One might ask whether it is at all possible to apply mathematics in describing, explaining, or predicting human behaviour. Is not human behaviour notoriously unpredictable? And is this unpredictability not due, perhaps, to the fact that human beings possess "free will", that is, are not subject to the laws of cause and effect, which govern the behaviour of non-living matter and so make it possible to describe, explain, and predict physical events by mathematically formulated physical laws?
The answer to this question is neither yes nor no or, perhaps, both yes and no. It seems that the behaviour of the human individual may well be governed by "free will" or, at any rate, by impulses, motivations, or purposes that arise within the individual and thus are not accessible to the outside observer. But the behaviour of large numbers of individuals is often predictable, sometimes quite accurately predictable. For instance, in a large city, where people go to work in the morning and go home in the evening, everyone knows that the streets will be crowded with traffic during the morning and evening rush hours but virtually deserted in the small hours of the night. Whether a person decides to go to work or not on a given day, his decision (presumably undertaken with "free will") will not affect the general pattern. Or take the people in a large assembly, such as this one, or the audience in a theater or at a concert. Every individual in such an assembly may be free to come at any moment he chooses. Yet the rate at which the auditorium will fill before the performance and empty afterwards is predictable with quite good accuracy. The influx and the outflow of the people can be described by a mathematical formula.
In short, the behaviour of people in large masses is sometimes quite predictable. If it were not, insurance companies could not operate. In fact, no social planning would be possible, because all such planning is based on estimates of how masses of people are likely to behave in given circumstances.
If human behaviour in the mass is to some extent predictable, it is not unreasonable to assume that some historical events are to a certain extent predictable, at least to the extent that such events depend on the behaviour of large numbers of people rather than on behaviour of single individuals.
Now wars are historical events of very large maqnitude. Old fashioned historiographv ascribed wars to wills or ambitions of princes. Indeed, the decision to make war or peace seems to have been the prerogative of every prince. A prince onlv had to give an order, and this order would qo down the channels of command to generals, from generals to captains, from captains to soldiers, and large masses of people would start killing each other. The prince had only to give another order, and the killings would stop, and there would be peace.
This conception of war as an event that was instigated by princes exercising their wills or pursuing their goals was challenged by Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy was neither a historian nor a political scientist. He was a writer, a very great writer who delved deeply into the human soul and thought a great deal about historical events, especially about war. In his youth, he was himself an army officer and participated in the Crimean War between Russia on one side and England, France, and Turkey on the other. Tolstoy described that war in his Sebastopol Memoirs. About the causes and goals of the war he had little or nothing to say, and questions of strategy interested him even less. It is the behaviour of the people and their feelings and sufferings that Tolstoy described with lucid vividness, which marked him immediately as a great writer.
Tolstoy found it impossible to believe that masses of people would engage in mass murder just because two kings quarreled about something. He did not propose a theory of his own to explain war, but he rejected categorically the idea that wars were started or stopped simply because individuals called kings or emperors wanted to start or to stop a war.
Tolstoy's greatest work is a novel entitled War and Peace. In it he describes the invasion of Russia by Napoleon's army in 1812. In that novel Tolstoy expounds his conception of war as well as of other large historical events. He maintains that causal connection between the decisions of kings, generals, etc. and the events called "war" is only apparent. In his view, the potentates and commanders are only figureheads of history. Historical events, in Tolstoy's view, are results of historical forces (the nature of which Tolstoy did not profess to know). If the orders qiven by a commander are in harmony with these forces, they appear to be obeyed.
To illustrate this idea, imagine a man standing on a busy street in Hiroshima or some other city in Japan and ordering all the motorists to drive on the left side of the street. Naturally, they seem to obey his "orders". They would also seem to obey if he did the same thing in London. But if he tried to give such orders in Paris or in New York or in Moscow, where motorists drive on the right side of the street, no one would obey him. Similarly, Tolstoy argued, the Napoleonic invasion, which was a "flood" of violent masses from West to East in 1812, just like the invasions of Europe in the fifth century, which were violent floods going from East to West were results of some huge "pressures" generated by historical forces. We still know little or nothing about the nature of those forces, but we must assume that they exist; otherwise these floods are unexplainable. The "explanation" that hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen and other assorted West Europeans poured into Russia killing and plundering just because Napoleon told them to do so is only a pseudo-explanation. In the fall of 1812, when the flood receded and started going back West, no order of Napoleon's could have stopped it, just as no one would obey someone who suddenly ordered the motorists of Hiroshima to drive on the right side of the street.
Tolstoy's idea was, in effect, a systemic theory of war. A physical system, such as the solar system or a system of chemical reactions behaves as it does because it is governed by physical laws, not by some one's will. Tolstoy assumed that similar laws govern historical events.
It is, of course, one thing to imagine that laws exist to which large human affairs are subjected and quite another to find them. A philosopher might content himself with assuming that systemic forces and causes of historical events exist. The business of the scientist is to look for them. The scientist has at his disposal two methods of investigation: induction and deduction. Induction begins with examining special cases and goes on to generalizing what has been observed. Deduction goes from general principles to specific cases. In science, observation under controlled conditions is called an experiment. For instance, we can put a kettle of water over a fire and observe that after a while it begins to boil. This happens every time and justifies an inductive inference: heated water will eventually boil. The heat is a cause; boiling is an effect.
Suppose now we are interested in causes of wars. Clearly, the experimental approach is not practical. We cannot arrange conditions that we think will cause a war just to see whether they will. And even if we could, we would be ill advised to do so.
The other approach to scientific investigation called the deductive approach begins with a particular model of the system to be investigated and proceeds to the consequences of the assumptions embodied in the model. A mathematical model is, in fact, nothing but a set of mathematically stated assumptions. The deduced consequences indicate what we should observe if the initial assumptions are correct. Mathematics is essentially a tool of deduction. With the aid of its techniques, we can arrive at deductions, which we might not have been able to derive by verbal reasoning alone.
Rashevsky used mathematical tools to construct models of some social phenomena, for instance mass behaviour engendered in people who imitate one another. Formally, this sort of process resembles an epidemic. In an epidemic, disease is transmitted from person to person by contact. Depending on the contagiousness of the disease, the density of the population, the state of sanitation etc., an epidemic may or may not occur. A mathematical model can examine theoretically the effects of various conditions. Imitative behaviour in a large population has many aspects of an epidemic. All of us are familiar with fads, explosions of mass violence, or of panics that suddenly flare up like epidemics and eventually peter out gradually or disappear as suddenly as they began.
Now Rashevsky was not directly engaged in peace research. But another scientist in England, using very similar mathematical methods in constructing models of war behaviour, is now often called the father of peace research. His name was Lewis F. Richardson. He was a meteorologist by profession and a pacifist by conviction.
Like Rashevsky, Richardson had a systemic view of large scale social phenomena. As a meteorologist, he was concerned with the problem of predicting the weather. Even today, it is sometimes very difficult to predict weather accurately. In Richardson's days, before a global network of weather stations was established and before high speed computers came into use, weather prediction was still more difficult. Nevertheless no meteorologist doubted that weather is determined by physical laws that govern air currents, the flow of heat, and so on. The only obstacles to accurate weather prediction are the incompleteness of our observations and the enormous complexity of the events involved. Thus, predictability of weather is a matter of degree, not of principle. Richardson thought of large scale social phenomena in the same way. He was convinced that their predictability is a matter of degree, not of principle. So if we want to improve our ability to predict social phenomena, such as wars, with the view of avoiding them, we have to begin our investigations somewhere. Accordingly, Richardson started these investigations by constructing very simple models of some aspects of war behaviour, in particular of war hysteria and of arms races.
Richardson was led to the use of mathematical methods in his attempts to start the construction of a theory of war by his professional orientation — that of a meteorologist: he thought of wars as manifestations of the international "weather." His pacifist convictions led him to the same point of view. As a pacifist, Richardson was not interested in the political causes of wars. He was interested in the dynamics of war-generating systems. From his pacifist point of view, wars appeared to Richardson simply as disasters (like typhoons, earthquakes or epidemics) that frequently afflict the human race or portions of it.
Two of Richardson's mathematical models are very similar to Rashevsky's models of social behaviour. One of these is a model depicting an epidemic of "war moods." Richardson was strongly impressed with the sudden flare-up of war hysteria, which spread through European countries at the outbreak of World War I. Toward the end of that war, another mood spread through the populations, namely "war weariness". Richardson attributed these changes in the "political weather" to contagion effects, just as Rashevsky attributed mob behaviour to such effects.
Another model proposed by Richardson, for which he is best known, is a model of an arms race. As I said, Richardson was not concerned with the political causes or goals of wars, factors that can be ascribed to human will and to so called "rational" pursuit of national interests. His concern was with systemic factors, independent of human planning or reasoning. Among these, he regarded mutually reinforcing fear as a factor of prime importance in the dynamics of the international system driving toward war. This mutual stimulation of fear and hostility is manifested in arms races.
Actually, this idea is very old. Already Thucydides, an ancient Greek historian, writing about the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta expressed this idea quite clearly. When the Greek city states were united in repelling the Persian invasion, Athens and Sparta were allies. But after the external danger receded, they became bitter rivals, contending for hegemony in the Hellenic world. Each was afraid that the other would attack it and made military preparations to repel the attack. Perhaps neither side had the intention (at least initially) of attacking the other. But each interpreted the other's military preparations (which may have been purely defensive) as symptoms of hostile intent. The more Athens "made herself secure" against Sparta, the better "proof" it provided for Sparta that she meant to attack Sparta. And, of course, Sparta's "security measures" had the same effect on Athens. The result was an arms race that ultimately exploded into war which brought losses and suffering to both sides.
Richardson constructed a mathematical model of an arms race between two nations. The assumptions of the model are expressed in so called "differential equations," which specify how the rates of growth of armaments are affected by the levels of armaments. Specifically, the armament level of the other side acts as a stimulant, while one's own armament level acts as an inhibitor of the rate of growth of armaments. Depending on the magnitudes of these influences, the system represented by the model may be stable or unstable. If it is stable, the level of armaments will reach some steady state, and the arms race will come to a halt, although these stabilized levels may be very high. If the system is unstable, it cannot persist in a steady state. It must keep moving in one direction or in the other, resulting in either a "runaway" arms race or, on the contrary, in complete disarmament. Which way an unstable system will go depends on where it starts from.
To test his model, Richardson examined the armament budgets of the principal antagonists in World War I, Russia, France, Germany, and Austo-Hungary during the years preceding the outbreak of that war — from 1908 to 1914. He was led to the conclusion that the system was unstable. Further, the actual combined armament budgets of the two sides corresponded almost exactly to the values calculated from the equations of the model. Finally, the direction in which the system was driven, namely toward war rather than toward disarmament, appeared in the light of the model to have been determined by a historical accident. Had the combined armament budgets been £5 million less, the model would have predicted a movement in the opposite direction — toward disarmament.
Now it stands to reason that a mathematical model is a highly idealized and drastically simplified representation of reality. Therefore Richardson's conclusion cannot be taken entirely seriously. However, his theory might have a possible relevance to the dynamics of war. Certainly his assumption that mutually stimulating fears drive arms races is reasonable. We are now witnessing a gigantic arms race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Each claims to have no aggressive intentions and justifies the monstrous growth of its weapons of total destruction by the needs of "national security." Yet as the weapons systems become more and more formidable, each feels less and less secure, which adds more fuel to the fire. The present day arms race bears an ominous resemblance to that of 1908 - 1914.
I return to my personal history. Under Rashevsky's tutelage I was attracted to the idea that theories of large scale social phenomena could be constructed on the basis of idealized mathematical models. Besides this influence, which was reinforced by my professional commitment as a mathematician, there was another motivation to turn these methods in the direction indicated by Richardson, that is to research related to war dynamics. This motivation stemmed from an ideological commitment.
I cannot claim to be a pacifist by religious conviction as Richardson was. I thought I saw a justification for America's involvement in World War II, because I succumbed to the illusion especially widespread in America, that World War II was a "war to end war." But after that war was "won" by the powers that were supposed to establish a lasting peace, it became apparent very soon that a lasting peace was as far away as ever. New threats of war appeared, of a war far more terrible than the last "war to end war," and these threats appeared in the post war policies of the erstwhile champions of a lasting global peace — the United States and the Soviet Union. What was most terrible to contemplate was that this prospect of total and senseless destruction, meticulously planned by the superpowers, was the end result of the work of scientists, people who were supposed to be the vanguard of human progress toward well being and enlightenment.
It seemed to me that since scientists by their research have contributed to this mortal danger to humanity, they should also contribute
to the cause of peace by providing knowledge about the dynamics of war
and enlightenment that would help to reverse the drift to war. Thus,
it seemed to me that at least some scientists should turn to peace research as Richardson had done immediately after World War I.
In 1954 I left the University of Chicago on a one year appointment as a Fellow at the newly established Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences in California. The Center was interdisciplinary. Among the Fellows were psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, economists, and mathematicians.
One of the Fellows during that first year was Stephen Richardson, the son of Lewis F. Richardson, who, as I said, is regarded by many peace researchers as the father of peace research. Old Richardson died in the preceding year, leaving many unpublished papers, among them an analysis of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, which he was not able to complete, because that race was just getting going when he died. The papers I mentioned before had been published only in professional journals and so were known only to very few. Young Richardson was afraid that his father's life work would remain unknown.
After some discussion with Stephen Richardson on how to proceed, I contacted by old teacher Rashevsky and described the situation to him. Rashevsky (together with three other scholars, E. Truces, Q. Wright and C. C. Lienau) enthusiastically undertook to edit the mass of manuscripts left by Richardson. The work took over five years, and Richardson's collected works finally appeared in two volumes entitled Arms and Insecurity and Statistics of Deadly Quarrels. Thereafter Richardson's name became widely known, and peace science became firmly established as a discipline and a field of research.
Now I said that Rashevsky's systemic approach, exemplified also in Richardson's models, constituted one half of the influence on my thinking about peace research. The other half came from the opposite direction. Richardson said this about his models : "The equations represent only what can happen if people do not think." In other words, if the "system" is allowed to run without intervention, and if it is unstable, an explosive armament race is very likely to result. But what is likely to happen if people do think? Questions of this sort are posed in another branch of mathematics called the theory of games.
The theory of games is concerned with strategic decisions in conflict situations. I say the approach to problems of war and peace suggested by the theory of games is opposite to the systemic approach, because in the strategic approach "rational decisions" instead of blind systemic forces are at the center of interest.
Now rulers, diplomats, and generals tend to see international conflict as a strategic conflict like a game of chess or go or poker rather than as a manifestation of "political weather" as Richardson saw it. This is understandable, because rulers and generals make decisions in these conflicts, and no one likes to think of his decisions as being of no consequence.
The idea that decisions about war and peace and in the conduct of war can be made "rationally" was clearly and forcefully expressed by Carl von Clausewitz, who is sometimes called the philosopher of war. Clausewitz defined war as the "continuation of politics by other means." We can see that Clausewitz's and Tolstoy's philosophies of war are at opposite poles.
It is reasonable to assume that the truth is somewhere in between. Systemic forces create conditions conducive to war or peace, but decisions made by rulers trigger wars. Therefore the peace researcher should concern himself not only with systemic historical forces but also with the logic that governs the thinking of decision makers, who often see themselves as players in a vast global game of strategy. Competence in this game is regarded as closely related to the ability to play chess or go or poker.
At the Center for Advanced Study, where I met young Richardson, I also met Duncan Luce, a young mathematician, who at that time was preoccupied with game theory. It was Luce who called my attention to a curious paradox that arose in the theory of games, which, as I said, is concerned with the analysis of rational decisions in situations defined by a conflict of interests. The paradox was originally illustrated by a story, from which it derives its name — Prisoner's Dilemma.
Imagine two men accused of the same crime (of which they are guilty) and held incommunicado in separate cells. They are told that if both confess the crime, both will receive comparatively light prison sentences. If neither confesses, they must be set free, because there is not sufficient evidence to convict them. If only one confesses, then he will not only be set free but given a handsome reward to boot for helping convict the other; while the other, who did not confess, but was convicted by the testimony of his accomplice, will be given a heavy prison sentence.
Now what is the rational thing to do from each prisoner's point of view— to confess or not to confess? If the other confesses, it is rational to confess also to avoid the heavy prison sentence. If the other does not confess, it seems still rational to confess, because by confessing one gets not only one's freedom but also a reward, while by not confessing all one gets is freedom. Therefore it is always rational to confess, regardless of what the other does! But if both confess, both are convicted, whereas if neither confesses, both are set free! So what is the meaning of "rational decision" in situations of this sort?
It is easy to see that the problem of disarmament is closely related to Prisoner's Dilemma. Consider the U.S. and the Soviet Union from the point of view of each of these superpowers. If the other disarms, it is more advantageous to remain armed than to disarm, since if one remains armed one has the disarmed opponent at one's mercy. If the opponent does not disarm, then, of course, it would be a disaster to disarm unilaterally. Thus, from the standpoint of each power, it is more "rational" to remain armed than to disarm. But from their common standpoint, it is more rational to disarm, because two disarmed nations facing each other are at least as safe from each other as two armed nations and, in addition, are freed from the burden of armaments.
Professors of international relations sometimes recognize the force of this argument, but this insight does not seem to affect the defense policies of major powers. These policies are still dominated by "strategic analysis" and by the mentality of the power struggle, that is, by geopolitics, which is the global version of Clausewitz's conception of international politics. This mentality makes arms races appear "rational" and frequently leads to war.
The theory of games was the other source of influence on my thinking about peace research. Strategic analysis, which is formalized in the theory of games, provides a key to the mentality that has long dominated and presently dominates international politics. It provides also an antidote to the poison generated by this mentality by disclosing the traps and fallacies of strategic thinking. The direction in peace research that I have been following during the past twenty years has been predominantly that of analyzing the fallacies and traps inherent in strategic thinking. The principal aim of this research is to promote changes in people's thinking about policy decisions that seem "rational" from the point of view of national interest of each nation but are collectively irrational and make our planet a dangerous place to live in.
Now I have described two directions of peace research based on two different conceptions of international conflict, the systemic and the strategic. My first book dealing with international conflict was entitled Fights, Games, and Debates or "Three Modes of Conflict." I have just described the first two and will come to the third presently.
A systemic conflict is like a "fight," driven by emotions such as fear and hatred. The participants in a fight are deprived of a capacity to make rational decisions based on anticipation of consequences. A strategic conflict, on the other hand, is like a game of strategy, where not the mobilization of energy driven by emotions or passions is decisive but rather reasoning and calculations.
One could say that the objective in a fight is simply to hurt or to scare the opponent, while the objective in a game is to outwit the opponent. In a fight the stronger or the braver or the fiercer one may come out the "winner." In a game, strength and bravery are not important. It is the more "clever" one who presumably has the advantage. Of course in both fights and in games, both participants may be the losers. In a fight both may be maimed or killed. And we have just seen an example of a "game," namely, Prisoner's Dilemma, in which although both players reasoned perfectly "rationally," both lost.
There is still a third mode of conflict, in which the objective is neither that of hurting the opponent nor of outwitting him but that of convincing the opponent, that is, changing his way of thinking. This sort of conflict I have called a debate.
At one time I thought that the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was primarily about ideological issues. Today I no longer think it is so. The rulers and the diplomats of the two superpowers appear to be much more concerned with a global game of strategy than with ideology. Nevertheless the conflict is frequently depicted by the politicians and by the propaganda media of both sides as an ideological one. Throughout the Cold War, the publicized issues were "the preservation of our way of life" or "the containment of communism" on the American side and "the ultimate victory of socialism over capitalism" on the Soviet side.
In my book, Fights, Games, and Debates, I posed the question of what would happen if the ideological issue between the United States and the Soviet Union was made the subject of a debate instead of a war of words. Let me explain the difference. By a debate I mean a discussion, where opponents direct their arguments to one another rather than at third parties. In this sense, the verbal duels between opposing attorneys in courts of law or between leaders of government and opposition in parliaments are not genuine debates. Whatever arguments are presented in these encounters are directed by the opponents not at each other but at third parties, such as judges or juries or electorates. Moreover such arguments are not made to change the opponent's way of thinking. Certainly no one expects the outpourings of the Soviet propaganda machine, whatever effect it may have on the Soviet population, to convince American or Chinese politicians that the Soviet cause is just or that Soviet intentions in international politics are entirely peaceful. The same goes for all other propaganda. It is directed predominantly at people who already accept what it maintains, not at opponents with the view of convincing or re-educating them.
How then should a genuine debate be conducted? In order to convince an opponent at least partially that one's own perceptions are realistic or one's own claims are just, one must make sure that the opponent understands one's own point of view, quite aside from whether he agrees with it or not. Therefore a pre-requisite in a genuine debate is a complete understanding by each of the opponents of the other's position. The criterion for such understanding must be not one's own feeling that one has understood the other's position but the other's feeling that his position has been completely understood. In order to ensure this kind of understanding, a rule must be introduced into a genuine debate. There is nothing radically new in this idea, since all formal debates are conducted in accordance with specified rules.
The rule I have in mind is the following. Before each opponent is permitted to present his own case, he must state the case of the opponent to the opponent's satisfaction. This means that when one side has presented the other side's case, the other side must be asked, "Has your side been presented well?" If the answer is no, another attempt must be made and another until the opponent says, "Yes, now you have presented by case fairly."
This procedure accomplishes several things. It ensures that each opponent has really understood the other's position, as the other sees it, and in the process gives each opponent an idea of how it feels to espouse the opposing point of view. Second it gives both opponents the feeling that their own point of view has been understood. This assurance induces some measure of respect for the opponent. Finally, the procedure induces the opponent to say "Yes." Many conflicts are incapable of resolution simply because neither side can be induced to say "yes" to anything the opponent says. Under the proposed rule, the opponent must ultimately say "yes," because he must agree with his own arguments if they are well presented. And they must be well presented, otherwise, the first opponent will not be permitted to state his own case. The opponent must eventually say "yes," and this is a matter of great psychological import.
The conduct of a genuine debate requires one additional rule. Each opponent must state the conditions under which the other point of view would be justified. It is always possible to find such conditions regardless how absurd the contention of the other side may seem. If some one says "White is black" I can say, "Yes, this is so if you are speaking of a photographic negative.
Only after one of the opponents has stated the other's case to the other's satisfaction and after he has stated the conditions under which the other's point of view would be justified, is he allowed to proceed with stating his own case. In many cases, the arguments that will be left are arguments about whether the conditions that justify the other's position are really satisfied. This reduces much of the debate to matters that in principle can be checked by facts. It is much easier to agree on facts than on feelings about what is "just."
It is not expected, of course, that all debates can be reduced to disagreements about facts that can be resolved by examining reality. But the procedure suggested tends to focus the issues on "reality testing," which is a principal component of rationality and even of sanity.
In the last chapters of Fights, Games, and Debates (Three Modes of Conflict) I pictured a debate between a proponent of American ideology (or rather of the best features of it) and what the Soviets profess to be their ideology (again of the best features of it.) I did the same thing in the last chapters of my next book on a related theme, Strategy and Conscience. The three modes of conflict suggest three approaches to peace research, the systemic, as represented by mathematical models of arms races and more generally by models of international equilibrium and disequilibrium; the strategic, which concentrates on the analysis of traps inherent in military and geopolitical thinking; and the ideological, aimed at promoting better understanding among people who, for historical or cultural reasons, are committed to different conceptions of social reality or different ideas about social justice. None of these directions is more important or more promising than another. If peace research is to contribute to the hope of establishing a durable peace on this planet, all three directions must be synthesized into a science of peace.
The world of geopolitics has always been insulated from the world of ordinary human lives. Today this insulation has become completely opaque.
(Comments on discussions at the Conference on European Security Requirements and MBFR Talks held at Toronto May 6 – 7, 1985)
There have been sharp differences of opinion expressed here, but it can be assumed that persons of good will represented all sides of every diversion of views. Opponents usually shared a common ground, and it is generally supposed that where both good will and a common ground exist, debate can be constructive.
Even though it pains me to do so, I must introduce a jarring note. There are situations where good will and common ground assure a constructive debate, but where serious questions arise about where a constructive debate leads to. Let me spell out my meaning in the context of this conference.
I take the good will of all the participants for granted in the sense of a sincere desire to contribute to European security and to advance the cause of peace. The common ground which most of the participants shared is embodied in the tacit assumption that security, whatever else it entails, includes also a military component. Opinions diverge as to the nature of the military component that best enhances security, whether, for example, it should be defensive in the strict sense, i.e., without any offensive potential, or whether it should be "defensive" in the broadened sense, where the dictum that an offensive potential is indispensable for a defensive posture is accepted. Actually, everyone agrees nowadays that "defence" is the only justifiable rationale for military capability. In fact, since World War II, all the ministries of war have become ministries of defence.
If the assumption that military capability is essential for defence remains unchallenged, then all the arguments about the role that military capability should play in providing "security" make some sense. This is what I mean when I say that a constructive debate is possible on this common ground. In a debate of this sort, expertise can play a vital role. For instance, in arguments about what constitutes "parity", given good will, agreements can be arrived at by appeals to detailed knowledge about potentialities of weapons, about logistics, etc. Appeals can be made to objectivecriteria. Calculations can be checked. These are the ingredients of a constructive debate.
I reject the assumption that military capability is a necessary component of security in today's world. On the contrary, I submit that the burgeoning growth of military capabilities has been the chief source of insecurity. Military capability remains associated with security in the minds of most people because of images that are carry-overs from a context in which they once had some relationship to reality into a context in which this relationship no longer exists.
A context in which security could be reasonably thought of as enhanced by military capability was that of the system of sovereign states that emerged in Europe at the close of the Thirty Years' War, provided "security" referred to the "national interests" of those states. These "national interests" were embodied almost entirely in the ambitions of princes. Whether these ambitions were grandiose, for instance, strivings for glory and conquest, or modest, for instance, to secure what was held, a military establishment was clearly an indispensable instrument in the pursuit of these ambitions. Note that ordinary concerns of ordinary people, that is, matters pertaining to protecting self and loved ones from the elements, from hunger, disease, and indignities, entered nowhere (but nowhere) in what constituted international politics of those days. The content of international politics was embodied in dynastic considerations, control of territory, alliance structures, none of which had the slightest relevance to the above mentioned ordinary concerns of ordinary people.
To be sure, with the rise of patriotism and nationalism in the nineteenth century, the concept of "national interest" was "democratized" in a sense. Broad publics in European countries identified with the ambitions of their ruling elites, so that the contention that issues related to those ambitions had absolutely no relevance to "ordinary concerns of ordinary people" could no longer be supported.
Although historical experience showed otherwise, it was still possible to believe that a war could be fought for something that made sense at least to a sizeable sector of populations comprising the nation states.
This belief reached the zenith of credibility in World War II, when it appeared that the onslaught of states bent on enslaving large portions of
humanity could be checked only by armed might. It was that experience that allowed the idea that armed might is essential to "defence" and to "security" to grow deep roots in mass consciousness. The idea persists in spite of the fact that it is no longer anchored in reality.
None of the time honoured extra-military war aims are worth a war fought with modern weapons of total destruction: not conquest of territory, not trade monopolies, not the imposition of an ideology, not the enslavement of a population. The material costs of modern war must exceed by several orders of magnitude any material benefits. Since the Arab conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, there has been no instance of imposing an ideology (e.g., a religion) as a consequence of a successful war. At any rate, these arguments are superfluous, because most persons engaged in war planning today know all this and, if pressed, would freely admit it. Only one rationale for war potential remains: defence. But defence against what? Standard answer: defence against an attack that would be likely upon a country without military capability. But an attack to what end, if none of the time honoured aims of offensive war can be rationalized today even against a militarily helpless country? In the days when conquest of territory meant acquisition of docile labour power that went with it, this aim was understandable. Does it make sense today? One hears of "take over," say of Western Europe by the Soviet Union. Just what specifically would such a "take over" entail? I do not want to hear a glib answer. I am asking for a reasonably credible scenario describing in detail concrete operations, backed by practical logistics, and so on. How would countries "taken over" be governed and what would be the advantage of governing them with all the problems that subjugation and pacification entail as compared with developing extensive cooperation in mutual trade, cultural exchange, etc.? Why does not the United States "take over" Canada or, for that matter, Mexico? It can be argued, of course, that the United States already dominates Canada economically. But what would a large military capability avail Canada in resisting this sort of domination?
None of the hypothetical aims of an offensive war bear critical scrutiny under contemporary conditions. Such aims are invoked for one purpose only — to provide a rationale for military establishments, to make military and geopolitical expertise relevant. And so the only sense that can be made of a "defensive" war is that the military capability of the adversary is a "threat". Why and under what circumstances the adversary would use that capability remains vague. In the thinking that dominates international politics, that the adversary intends to use that capability has always been axiomatic. It remains axiomatic.
In only one context does the rationale of military preparedness as a way of coping with threat make sense, namely, in the sphere of "pure" military thinking. By "pure" military thinking I mean the complex of concepts, assumptions, technical expertise, and strategic calculations that is generated by the theory and practice of war itself, quite unrelated to anything outside that realm. In military thought, an adversary, real or hypothetical is given. It is not necessary to establish that he is indeed an adversary, much less why he is an adversary any more than it is necessary to raise such questions in the theory and practice of chess; any more than it is necessary to raise questions in the theory or practice of medicine why the patients must be cured rather than poisoned. In complex civilized societies, people work in milieus where certain imperatives are divorced from all other aspects of life. There is plenty to occupy their attention, to utilize their energy, and to nurture their self-esteem within these imperatives. Things are not different in the world of defence. This world includes, of course, not only people in uniform, increasingly not even primarily these, but also the entire infrastructure of science and technology, of institutes, enterprises, educational institutions, and so on, where activities all converge on the final product — the modern war machine.
Much has been said about the profit motive as a prime mover in this world. It is probably an important factor in societies where profit is an essential ingredient of most social activities. But I don't think that its existence is crucial. In modern societies, whether "capitalist" or "socialist," professional competence is a most powerful source of motivation and satisfaction both for the ambitious and for the selflessly dedicated practitioners. For this reason, it is practically impossible to convince an expert in any field that his expertise is an important strand in the fabric of social life only because of persistent delusions.
It is difficult to believe this, because in human affairs many delusions are integral parts of social reality. Thus, it is not unrealistic to say that the United States and the Soviet Union are adversaries. They are, but only because the decision makers and the defence professionals on both sides take it for granted that they are adversaries and act accordingly. When two paranoiacs confront each other, both are realists.
Now one of the most important reasons why these perceptions persist is because they provide the raison d'etre for sophisticated expertise. This expertise is real enough. It stems from accumulated experience with battles and campaigns, logistics and geopolitics, knowledge of conditions under which one or the other side is likely to have an "advantage" and ways of counteracting it, and ways of enhancing one's own advantage without making it appear that one is doing it, and ways of seeing through such deceptions, and so on and on, driving the expertise to ever higher levels of sophistication.
These considerations comprise the whole content of arms control negotiations and of so called "disarmament" negotiations. People of good will on both sides may hope that some day the deception will be eliminated and both sides will be genuinely concerned about the "security" of the adversary as well as of their own and will work together toward assuring it. But let us remember that in this still far off Utopia, "security" will still be defined within the paradigm of military thought, based on the maxim that neither the intentions nor the preferences but the capabilities of the adversary should be the point of departure in designing a system of security. "Parity" will still be regarded as a synonym of "fairness" and elaborate provisions will be made to preserve it. This is the best of a11 worlds that the military mind can imagine. By the military mind I do not necessarily mean the mind of a militarist, who has a positive attitude toward war. I mean the mind of someone who may well be a person of good will but who accepts the givens of pure military thought: the perpetual presence of an adversary and the necessity of keeping him in check. It is this perception that is no longer anchored in reality. It is a carry-over from eras when the desires, fears, and ambitions of princes governed relations among states, and this was regarded as normal.
It seems to me that only in this way can the absurdity of present day ideas about "security" be explained. Experts still count divisions and compare calibers of guns, assuming that an "advantage" of one side over the other will inevitably induce the stronger side to attack. This conclusion is compelling in the military mode of thought. From there it diffuses into political thought. In our day when the burgeoning growth of technology pervades all human activity and is most dramatically visible in the vistas opening up to the military profession, the hegemony of military thought in international affairs is firmed.
And so it comes about that the key words in all discussions of security, such as "defence", "deterrence", "stability", and "security" itself are used in their military meanings and evoke images that make good sense in the military sphere.
If, however, we stop to reflect for just a moment, long enough to shift the focus of our attention to the vast regions of life outside the military sphere, we cannot fail to see that these words are completely deprived of the meanings ascribed to them.
Defence? Whom do military establishments defend? There were, to be sure, eras when armies defended their countries, in the sense of defending the populations of their countries, from marauders and rapacious invaders. This may have been true in antiquity, when pillage was an attractive war aim. It was true in World War II, when Germany went on a murderous rampage. But throughout most of the modern era, this was seldom so. Armies, when they were on the defensive, defended primarily themselves, not populations. Populations were frequently victimized by their "own" armies as well as by the enemy's.
Given the reductio ad absurdum of all time-honoured war aims, "defence" in its military sense has only one meaning. A defence establishment is concerned with defending itself — its own potential vis-a-vis other defence establishments. Nowhere except in the absurd projects of civil defence against nuclear attack is there any mention or concern with defending populations.
One must conclude that the function of the word "defence" is a public relations ploy. It has become difficult to sell war. This is why all ministries of war have become ministries of defence.
Security? Whose security are we talking about? If increased destructive potential enhances security, one must conclude that people are more secure today than they were thirty years ago. Are they?
Stability? The word breathes reassurance. The stability of a system depends on negative feedbacks, which counteract disturbances by generating forces opposing the disturbances. But attempts to "restore balance" in an arms race amount to positive feedbacks. These generate forces that magnify disturbances. Nonetheless, each escalation of the arms race is represented as a step toward insuring stability.
Status quo? The cabinet wars of 18th century Europe sometimes ended without any major changes of boundaries or relations among states (status quo ante bellum). The use of this term today is a clear example of a carryover from a context where it made sense to a context where it cannot make sense. In our day, what can re-establishing the status quo after a war in Europe possibly mean? Yet a question was asked at this conference whether if war broke out in Europe, the aim of one of the blocs would be "victory" or a "return to status quo." Even in the absence of war, no reasonable meaning can be ascribed to "status quo". Rapid change has become a pervasive fact of life. Yet it was argued by a participant that the foreign policy of a major power was directed toward the preservation of political conditions allegedly established in 1945.
Deterrence? Deterrence is based on the supposition that the adversary is rational (will refrain from attack for fear of retaliation), but self is not (is determined to retaliate when retaliation has become a futile outburst of rage.)
The world of geopolitics has always been insulated from the world of ordinary human lives. Today this insulation has become completely opaque.
In his book, Weapons and Hope, Freeman Dyson distinguishes between warriors and victims. The warriors are those who live in the world of weapons, strategies, and geopolitics. The victims are everyone else. He goes on to say that his aim is to provide a basis for a dialogue between the two worlds. I have always thought that a dialogue is a good thing and should be encouraged whenever and wherever possible. I am at a loss, however, to see how such a dialogue can begin. I fail to see any common ground between the warriors and the victims. Warriors are concerned with the security of weapons systems; they worry about advantages that an adversary can reap from this or that political development, this or that technological innovation. The victim is worried what is going to happen to himself and his children. The warrior expects the victim to see vital links between his own life and the power of the state in which he lives, between the very life of that state and the destructive might it can wield. But if the victim is at all enlightened, he must see that these links exist only in verbiage, that they are only products of bizarre imagination.
Yet it is difficult to abandon hope that people can still find a common ground on which to establish a dialogue, for without that hope what hope remains? Perhaps a chain of dialogues can be stretched between the victims and the warriors, who, it seems to me, cannot share a common ground directly, because fulfillment for the ones spells the demise of the others. The victims must see the warriors engaged in a monstrous game of strategy in which the victims are pawns or figure as "acceptable" or "unacceptable" casualties. As for the warriors, the victims' concerns are of no more interest to them than the concerns of a French or Prussian peasant were to Louis XIV or to Frederick II.
There is, however, one difference. While there was no way in which the peasant could communicate to the king, much less influence his policies, in our day, ordinary people do have some say about matters of vital concern to them. To be effective, their voices must be heard. To be heard, they must be listened to. In order to be listened to, people must speak a language understood by those they speak to. In our day, this means that people must find intermediaries, who can speak the language of "deterrence," "security," etc., so as to at least stand a chance of being heard. The aim of these intermediaries should be to stay the hand of the warrior as it reaches for the lever that will unleash the final holocaust, to try to apply brakes to the arms race, to gain time, to prepare ground for future defections from the war community, which are already in evidence and which may accelerate as the holocaust becomes ever more obviously imminent.
It is in this sense that conferences exemplified by the present one can play a positive role. As an "abolitionist," I must maintain that no tinkering can make the global war machine "safe" or "stable." Moreover, even the goals of making it "safer" or "more stable" are self-defeating, if these efforts tend to make the continued existence of the global doomsday machine more acceptable, if they bolster the legitimacy of the war system. I must continue to maintain that the concepts of "deterrence," "security," "balance," etc. as used in strategic discussions (even when directed toward decelerating the arms race) have no more relation to objective reality than did the metaphysical concepts of medieval scholasticism or the racist concepts of the Nazis or the concepts of astrology or phrenology. I must also recognize, however, that these present day versions of ideational involution represent a reality, namely, the state of mind of people who think in these terms. These include people of good will, who must be taken seriously, whose efforts on behalf of peace are sincere and who may be indispensable in establishing the chain of dialogue between the victims and those warriors, who may still come to their senses.