The Economy of Peace

Humanity has been longing for peace for a very long time. The quest for peace seems to have been a constant quest.  War however always took over. The main reason has been that enemies came from outside.   Now that the globe has been entirely settled danger can only come from within.  That fact makes this civilization crossroad unique.  It allows for higher levels of awareness to become management principles instead of remaining prophetic visions.  Again, we are confronted to the same sort of facts.  We have the opportunity to change the way we address them.  We have postponed doing that for a very long time.  Deprived from true risk from chaos coming from outside, management comes in question first. Hence renewed merit for pacifism, which easily points to its lower costs and higher productivity rewards.

Great risks come from the inside because poverty is not addressed.  The threats are very real and very powerful because technology allows it.   Peace can only be guarantied if everyone has an opportunity to grow and fulfill its Life's mission.  Every human being needs to be able to eat, to be healthy, to have some form of housing and to have opportunity to develop knowledge and skills.  Only when people are placed beyond hunger, disease, homelessness and illiteracy can the true essence of their existence develop to its true value.  Personal and collective peace depends on it.  This is not new, it has been recognized as "good" by morals and ethics from all cultures around the globe.

The point I am trying to bring is that it is not just a matter of morals and charity on the part of the "rich" but also, and may be primarily, a matter of sustainable development, a matter of economics.  Life does not like to waste its energy.  Life ought to be understood as precious.  Human life, just like animal and plant life ought to be understood as valuable.  That is what I mean when I say that Life is capital, The Capital.  That we forget about the true value of Life does not preclude it to be a wonder, a miracle, a mystery from which all value derives.

I like very much the Quakers view that "there is that of God in every one".  One can just as well say that there is that of Life in every one. One can also say that there is that of Life is everything.  That approach seems quite unifying since it does not contradict religious principles while not requiring belief.  It is a simple fact on which we can build.   That there is something valuable in everything alive is the kind of factoring that economic calculation ought to include.

Working on helping people get out of poverty is more than fundamental; it is a key to solving most problems, including overpopulation and a way to create continuous economic growth. I feel we can convince everyone of the merit of eradicating poverty.  The four pillars of poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness and ignorance need be addressed to help our society grow towards higher productivity.  High levels of Human Development Investments (HDI) are required.  These are not to be thought of as a burden and costs but as valuable investments because HDI are responsible for economic growth before private capital investments play their role.  It is everyone's interest, including people in power and today's rich people.  

Of course human development investments are made first by people at home, within their families.  Government had been thought to compensate the greatest disparities.  Unfortunately history has demonstrated that when left alone, governments put their own population or any population they can put under their might into slavery and coerced work.  It is therefore very important that the other major human development investor besides people and their families, namely the non-profit sector, be a partner to government in its decision making process.  An image I like to use to illustrate the kind of relationship, which forms between the governmental sector, and the non-profit sector is the one given by Jonathan Swift of Gulliver held by the Lilliputians.  All together they hold Gulliver, government, in check but no Lilliputian, non-profit organizations, is powerful enough to threaten Gulliver.

There are plenty of examples in history of the economic role of non-profit organizations.  One is given by the role of churches which have always provided help to the poor, as demonstrated by its role in the Roman and Byzantine Empires, or in the antique Jewish state through the Temple and places of worship all around the Jewish Diaspora.

One of the main features of the non-profit sector is its associative role. The legal frame, which saw the development of monasteries in Europe, provided a refuge to pacifism after Constantine's conversion to Christianity.  Christians gained influence but its pacifist root was distorted to become a military tool.  Monasteries, because of the exemption placed on them attracted a lot of people who did not want to be drafted.  Monasteries acted like big farms, opened new fields, built capacity, and generated a powerful economic growth which benefited all of society. 

Associativeness within the non-profit sector underlines the powerful impact of compiled volunteered work hours within an organization.  Volunteered rather than coerced work hours are much cheaper to manage and more productive.  Its accrued value can be calculated, so can the input of an hour.

In order to address development problems while integrating nature and tame over-population it is necessary to offer structure and investments. Things that may not have seemed to matter will show that they are valuable.  

Society cannot be governed from the stock exchange pit.  As a matter of fact even in the USA the compiled value of public companies does not equate the compiled value of small companies, the great majority of which has less than ten employees.  An economic glasnost is required to keep trust in corporations as well as to measure economy.  Reasons for joining underground economy ought to be minimized and accountability, at least when public funds are involved or when publicly traded, ought to be the enforced rule.  

Many aspects of economy ought to be re-thought.  The main component is to acknowledge how peace provides for continuous economic growth. Peace makes more money longer. It is very important to underline in financial terms how violence is expensive to administer as well as expensive in its negative consequences that are most of the time long lasting.  

Peace is the way.  It has been longed since humanity's dawn.  For the first time since dawn it is reachable now.

My good friend William Woodard, an archeologist specialized in Minoan, Mycenaean and Bronze Age noted in conversation a few days ago that there are certain indications which lead to think that there may have been peaceful civilizations in pre-historical age.  He pointed to Thera, Knossos and early pre-Indo-European invasion settlements in the Balkans because, among other major clues, in spite of their vast constructions they did not have fortified cities.

Modern archeological work1 tends to make us understand that the Bible ought not to be taken literally as historical facts but as symbolic clues to the erratic development of the first (may be the first) monotheist, abstract, revealed religion.  We should try to discern in them tales of our difficulty to rise to higher levels of awareness. 

Contrary to the accepted notion that Judaism kept its notions of a wrathful God, scriptures show pacifism rising within Judaism.  The concept of a God destroying Israel's enemies, herem, is replaced with the notion of trust in a merciful, forgiving and loving God who will resolve the conflict, hesed.  This happens gradually with Amos, Zechariah, Isaiah and then with Jesus, the epitome of the peace movement2.  There are indications that Jesus wanted old Jubilee practice founded in Mosaic laws to be put to use again. André Trocmé shows that Jesus had a financial and social program aimed at jump-starting the economy of Israel under Roman occupation. 3 Jesus would have convinced the Sanhedrin to adopt again the use of the Jubilee, which would have canceled the debt of poor Jews and freed indentured Jewish people from their servitude.   It was a split decision by Jewish authorities of Jerusalem against the prophet.  Jesus died but problems continued to develop. Pacifism, associated to Jesus within the synagogues could have grown within the Jewish religion. It did not because Jewish authorities opted for violence and terrorism as way to deal with the Roman Empire's occupation.

Some scholars think that St Paul did not start by creating a new church.  He went to Greece and the Aegean Sea where powerful commercial cities attracted culture and wealth within the Roman Empire.  St Paul convinced Jewish authorities of Jerusalem to accept uncircumcised gentiles as members.  They were attracted to the Jewish religion because of its community services, and because of its more intellectually appealing theology.  The trade-off was that it allowed Paul to raise funds through the Aegean network of synagogs to support Israel then under military occupation.  Economic depression multiplied the effects of corruption.  All over Israel there were bands of armed thieves harassing the commercial routes.  It is while bringing back funds with a group of Aegean Jews to Jerusalem that Paul was arrested and brought to Rome where he found his death.  

Even though there is proof that Christian followers did create some unwanted tension in Rome's synagog as early as 49 AD5, it is plausible that a definitive split occurred within synagogs to form a separate, non-violent group, which became the early Christian church between the first (66-70) and the second Jewish War under Adrian (130). The split was likely to have been over the matter of the use of terrorism or rather non-violent means to address the problems posed by the Roman occupation.  Pacifists, followers of Jesus the Jewish non-violent prophet, decided to have a separate place of worship as an unequivocal way to show the Roman authority all around the vast empire that they were not a threat, neither terrorists nor Zealots.  A significant clue to this resides in the fact that within the Gospel negative connotations about Jews only come with the evangelist John, after the first Jewish War (66-70).

When under Emperor Constantine by 313 the Roman Empire absorbed Christianity for its own it made Christianism lose its pacifism, its social reform impulse and its grass roots appeal.  Pacifism disappeared from Christianism within the Roman Empire. 6 By 438 one had to be Christian to be a soldier!  The church then even developed the notion of "Just War" raised by Cicero with St Augustine of Hippo or St. Ambrose.7

It is Islam, which filled the vacuum left by the absence of a pacifist doctrine.  That is likely why SLM, Salaam, like Shalom, Peace is the root word of Islam.  Unfortunately Islam too was later perverted into the use of violence. The word Jihad originally meant an inner struggle to reach peace within.  That notion was later abused and transformed in the 10th century into an outer struggle, a fight against enemies of Islam.  It was yet another political subversion of religion.   Jihad as war is just as un-Islamic as Crusades are un-Christian.  Jesus' teaching is pacifism, so is Mohammed's.

Sadly and until today pacifism looks like a big failure. We have not yet grasped ways to use higher levels of awareness to address the issues which were before us two thousand years ago and more.   It is not over yet.

The reasons and the conditions of pacifism's own rise from what has looked like total loss in the past may give clues as how pacifism will prevail in the end.  If these words sound prophetic-like it is because they are.  Peace and the New Jerusalem cannot be dissociated.  The sacred scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam do not hide that the reign to come is to be a reign of peace.  The reign of God is always portrayed as a reign of peace.

In the 12th century Pacifism sprouts again in Europe with the Lyon merchant, Pierre Waldes.  Then still within the Holy Roman Empire in Bohemia with John Hus, who was burned to death in 1415.  We have to wait for Chelciky's book, the net of faith to see a pacifist book.  (it was later read by Tolstoi).  This gave birth to the Brethrens. The 16th  and 17th centuries show the rise of rather small but persistent pacifist Christian groups such as Mennonites, in Germany and Friends, in England.  

The main difference between now and previous era is the vessel.  The limit of the earth has been reached. Everything is global.  The Earth cannot be invaded from the outside and people of the world have to share the planet, like it or not.  Unfortunately global institutions do not exist yet and neither our US government nor the governmental community have seized the opportunity given by the end of the "Cold War" to establish a world order of peace and prosperity, even though population have demonstrated longings for it for quite a while and especially after 1918 and the terrible massacres of the first war for the world.

Economy does not require looting and slavery, violence and war to develop, quite the contrary.  Peace is needed for business to develop.   Poverty, disease, homelessness, ignorance keep the ills alive.  Productivity rises when coming out of them.  Even overpopulation problems will be solved with human development investments and care for the rest of Life, the creation out of which we come that feeds and harbors us.

Contrary to widely accepted economic notions, human development investments and natural resource management are not a cost to the economy, but an investment with good returns.  Poverty, disease, homelessness, ignorance are not what makes productivity rise, quite the contrary.  Signs of awareness about theses economic matters seem to come up here and there.

I know of people like Frances and David C. Korten founders of Yes, Magazine who are promoting such thoughts here in the USA.  High-level academics like Partha Dasgupta and Armatya Sen (Nobel Economic Prize recipient 1998), both colleagues at Cambridge University in Great Britain, also with the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economy in Sweden, are aware of this and are creating new economic indexes that include human development and natural resource factors.  Germany' s Schroeder government announced a reversal of politics on nuclear powered electricity after having "factored costs in". 
Awareness about theses economic matters seems to come up erratically as well. For example, in August 2000 a group of high-level students of mathematics working on economic models at Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, France, signed a petition and an open letter denouncing the "autistic economy" for which they were working.  In august 2001 it was the turn of a group of Ph.D. in economy of Cambridge U. to request "an open discussion" on economy.  Truth is that it is necessary to "factor things" that were discounted before.  

Truth is that economy is only a view of Life through the prism of money.  Economy cannot contradict Life without hurting it.  By the same token Life cannot develop without economy profiting from it.  Humans are part of the natural capital. Everything is integrated. Accounting has to reflect truth. Interestingly truth in accounting has come to the forefront of the media burners with recent scandals involving Enron, a large energy trading firm, and Anderson, one of the five biggest accounting firms in the world.

We have to find a way to account for all of it and to factor "things in".  We need an economic that is free & fair.  We also need an economic glasnost.  We need to be able to measure reality to make good decisions.  Many issues need to be addressed that we don't want to address.  History teaches that problems don't fade away they only accumulate.  One of our problems is that there is a collusion of interest between weapons deals, illegal drug deals and illegal trafficking & money laundering.  
The equation has changed but we have not. Things which were considered limitless are now clearly limited, however large the supply.  In general terms things like clean water, fresh air, natural and human resources cannot be deemed worthless, equal to zero any more on the assumption that there is an unlimited supply.  Actually we have learned that all these things that were thought not having any value are coming back at us with a price. We have to pay to clean air, water, soiled grounds, etc. Machiavel's accounting is only correct if the value of what is sacrificed is not considered. It does not make a profit when all things are "factored in".
It is therefore important to engage in a discussion about economy showing that Peace is the guaranty, the fundamental requirement for moneymaker. The whole matter is that We have to help ourselves & our institutions, especially our governments which are supposed enforce our desire for law and order to abandon violent methods of solving problems.

The economy of peace is under the threat of the economy of war.

There is an economy of war, which acts on its own behalf, with its own market being shielded from the rest of the market's fluctuations because its market is mainly made of public funds and derives from the procurement of what is necessary for war and violent methods to solve problems.  That separation allows the economy of war to act on its own for its own interest.  It looks for ways to increase its share of public funds, regardless of consequences. It acts like a growing cancer feeding on the main body, the economy of peace, and depleting it from its vital energy.  There has been a collusion of interest in the past between nationalism, national security and national defense industry.  That connection does not hold in a global world where nationalism is less useful and where regionalism's importance increases. The corporations procuring for war and violence will supply any nation.  It will do its best to keep conflicts alive as long as possible, especially if they seem contained.  The economy of war is the main reason why there still is poverty on our small planet.

We have to ask for a non-violent path, for moral reasons as well as for economic and practical reasons.  We have to insist that non-violent methods be used to solve problems, especially when public funds are involved.  It is not healthy to leave Governmental organizations do all the work. We have to help our governments perform by joining in with non-profit organizations to which we contribute with work and money. Both non-profit organizations and governmental organizations represent us, the people. Both people and corporations contribute to non-profit organizations.

That is not contradictory.  Governmental organizations address a wide variety of issues, while non-profit organizations address particular concerns only.  Because of its molecular structure, compared to the rather pyramid-like structure of government, and because, just like governmental organizations it is a large investor in human development investments as well as natural resource management, the non-profit sector is perfectly suited to interface with governmental organizations. It can inter-act with government on niche subjects without threatening the government's overall stability.  The economic role of the non-profit sector has to be studied further. The recent attempts, by US government, to split the non-profit sector between faith and non-faith based organizations looks like a attempt to displace the debate.  What seems really important is that the non-profit sector receives volunteered contributions in the form of work.  That contribution is a form of investment made by people, but its value is not well understood. The value of volunteered work and its contribution to capital accumulation is usually simply not considered. It will have to be studied further.

As foretold by Jesus, the pacifist, those who win by the sword will perish by sword.  We should make sure to avoid violent ways to solve problems.  We should not listen to fear because fear is a bad advisor.  The great majority of the world needs peace to survive.  Establishing Peace is our task because we are that which is today.  The good news is that it is reachable now if we want it.  Peace has been longed since dawn.  It is in our grasp at last.

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