A Progress Report
|Historical Significance||Page 9|
It would be interesting to compare the present situation to earlier use of racist myths to justify slavery and colonialism. There was a great deal of racist propaganda in mid-19th century US at the time of the abolition of slavery and in mid-20th century at the time of the dismantling of colonialism. Such racist propaganda may be seen as a last-resort effort by those who had a vested interest in slavery and colonialism to defend these institutions by appealing to the vulnerable belief systems of individual psychology at a time when they could no longer justify the institutions by economic or political arguments. Does today's propaganda about the biological basis of warfare derive from a similar effort by those with a vested interest in militarism and who can no longer justify it on economic and political grounds?
If this thesis is valid, then we should expect more rather than less resistance to publicizing the message of the Seville Statement as we succeed in getting more publicity from peripheral sectors of the mass media and educational systems, and as we continue to approach the more resistant and central sectors that are linked either ideologically or financially to the military-industrial complex. The existence of these links only become obvious when they are challenged; for example, when they were exposed in the US Senate hearings of the Foreign Relations Committee at the end of the Vietnam War, the only place that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein could publish them was in Rolling Stone magazine (Bernstein, 1977).
According to this thesis, the psychological, attitudinal issues in disarmament may be more important than usually recognized. We have found that a person's attitude has a significant influence on their activity, and if they believe in the myth that war is intrinsic to human nature, they are much less likely to take action for peace. Further, we have found that the task of providing the opinion of science which challenges this myth is not simply a problem of providing knowledge to people that are uninformed. Instead, we are faced with a more difficult task of engaging in a kind of psychological warfare with certain sectors of the media and related institutions who are engaged in producing the very ignorance that must be challenged. If anything, the difficulty we face may become greater as time goes on, for the more the political and economic justifications for war are discredited, the more we may expect these sectors to fall back on the psychological justifications for war .
To confront this psychological warfare, we need the maximum possible unity of all who are engaged for peace and disarmament. It is no time for competition, if that means insisting that 'we don't support statements if we don't write them ourselves'. It is no time for entrepreneurship, if that means competing rather than cooperating for grants and publicity. Instead, it is time for us all to reach out to each other and build a broad, inter-national, multidisciplinary, non-ideological coalition with one common purpose of peace and disarmament.