THE FUTURE OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT
1. Wars are likely to continue because, for the most part, their economic causes remain as strong as ever: 1) cyclical crises of overproduction and unemployment, 2) exploitation of poor colonial and neo-colonial countries by rich imperialist countries, 3) economic rivalry for foreign markets and investment areas by imperialist powers, 4) the attempt to stop the shrinkage of the "free world" - i.e. the part of the world that is free for capitalist investment and exploitation, and 5) financial speculation and short-term profit making of the military-industrial complex. The fourth factor is not as prominent since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there is still evidence of this factor at work: for example, the attempted overthrow of the government of Venezuela in spring, 2002, was apparently linked to its developing ties with socialist Cuba, especially in terms of its oil resources. Although the coup d'etat failed, there was a risk of plunging Venezuela into warfare, especially considering the increasingly internationalized war next door in Colombia. Although the "war against terrorism" in Afghanistan, Philippines, etc. and the associated military buildup is usually justified as revenge for the attacks of September 11, there seems little doubt that there are economic motives involved as well, including the control of oil resources from Central Asia as a supplement to those of the Middle East. At the same time, the massive expansion of the military-industrial complex in the U.S. appears at some level to be intended as an increase in government spending to hedge against declining non-military production, unemployment and financial crises in the stock markets.
2. The American peace movements have been reactive in the past, developing in response to specific wars or threats of war, and then disappearing when the war is over or the threat is perceived to have decreased. In fact, this observation at the macro level is mirrored by an observation that I have made previously at a micro level: participants in peace movements have been motivated to an important degree by anger against the injustice of war. This dynamic seems likely to continue. Governments, worried about the reactive potential of peace movements may attempt to engage in very brief wars, just as the U.S. government cut short the 1991 Gulf War after several weeks to avoid an escalating peace movement. In the future, peace movements need to be broadened by linkages to other issues and by international solidarity and unity; otherwise they risk being only temporary influences on the course of history, growing in response to particular wars and then disappearing again afterwards. The world needs a sustained opposition to the entire culture of war, not just to particular wars.
To be fully successful, the future peace movement needs to be positive as well as negative. It needs to be for a culture of peace at the same time as it is against the culture of war. This requires that activists in the future peace movement develop a shared vision of the future towards which the movement can aspire. I have found evidence, presented in the recent revision of my book Psychology for Peace Activists (note 17), that such a shared, positive vision is now becoming possible, and, as a result, human consciousness can take on a new and powerful dimension in this particular moment of history.
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