Image by Loco Steve on Flickr
March 1, 2023
In Europe, North America and a few other countries that feed themselves with information from the western media, it can have escaped no one’s attention that we are actually on the march towards World War III.
The similarities with the 1930s are terrifying:
- Multiple fronts of military activity are opening up; one in Ukraine and two more on the way in Iran and Taiwan.
- Extreme nationalism is on the rise, together with violent scapegoating of migrants of all kinds and, in fact, of anyone who is not a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, male.
- A deteriorating economic situation is leaving vast swathes of people impoverished, even in the world’s “richest” countries,
- Propaganda is spewing from the media of all factions, dehumanising those who live in countries on the other side of the conflict, and,
- Any attempt at raising voices for peace and negotiated settlements to conflicts is silenced or vilified, and those who attempt to do so are labelled as “appeasers”.
Yes, all the ingredients are here for the outbreak of an all-out world war from which human civilisation will not survive.
At this critical juncture in human history, we find the “peace” movement in the west to be totally fragmented and unable to give a clear and unified response. In the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003, millions of people around the world marched against a war that they understood would never affect them personally because it was too far away geographically. Now when we are on the brink of a war that will affect the entire planet, the world is silent!
We can identify two tendencies in this fragmented panorama; those who blame everything on the West, NATO and their military pretensions to global hegemony on the one hand and justify the invasion as an unfortunate but necessary evil; and those who blame everything on Vladimir Putin and his pretensions to re-establish the old Soviet Union. Both sides justify the bloodshed and even go as far as to call for more weapons to be sent to the region. Both factions put the value of “the State” above human life and in both cases, the last thing to be considered is the welfare of the people of the conflict region who never asked for this war, and who are being slaughtered in their thousands. Both sides see this conflict as a zero-sum game; someone must win and someone must lose. Both sides ignore the fact that the end to every conflict is eventually negotiated around a conference table. Both sides would prefer to see mass slaughter rather than negotiate a solution in which further deaths are prevented.
In this context, maybe now is the time to launch a call for a new peace movement that is centred on the welfare of human beings and the planet, first and foremost.
The foundations of a new peace movement
Before asking what would the foundations of a new peace movement be, we must ask, what does the world that we aspire to look like? It is not an abstract question because a world where conflict is not resolved through the armed act of war is not the world we live in today. If we want a world where people behave differently, we need an image of something different, a new utopia, a Universal Human Nation.
Today, more than ever before, ordinary citizens across the planet must come together and stand on a common platform of rights and responsibilities that have nothing to do with gender, economic status, religion, colour of skin, sexual orientation or nationality.
But what would this platform look like? What are the principles, what are the conditions, what are the rights and responsibilities that underpin a world in which everyone can live in harmony?
The need to start from the absolute sacredness of life and the planet
Firstly, it must be clear that the world that we aspire to must be sustainable. We only have one planet. It is illogical and detrimental to the survival of the human species to continue to allow activity that exhausts the planet’s resources. Planet Earth has to be cared for so that all forms of life can be sustained, not just for five years until the next election, but for hundreds of millions of years.
Secondly, however we are organised, there can be no other value above human life and the sustainability of the planet. The Nation State, lines on maps, religions, monarchs, money, the free market and other abstract concepts have all been used as the basis on which to organise society. All of them have resulted in incredible violence and cruelty against both human beings and the planet. A future system of global governance must be based on the principle that human life is the central value.
Thirdly, the right to a dignified life for all human beings must be enshrined in the constitution of a new world. A world which allows individuals or groups of human beings to subjugate other human beings to a life of pain and suffering is what have now and it doesn’t work.
Fourthly, the constitution of the new world must be based on the agreement that war and weapons of war are illegal. We can never again allow a small group of human beings to impose their will on the vast majority under the threat of war and violence. It is unlikely in the near future that human beings will develop the capacity to prevent conflict from happening at source, but we can develop the capacity through a legal framework to abolish violence and the use of weapons as a means to resolve conflict.
Finally, we must recognise that violence is not only the physical act of harming another person. Violence is also economic, psychological, sexual, cultural, religious, moral, etc. Violence in all its forms must be abolished and we must educate the future generations with the tools for resolving conflict through nonviolent personal and social transformation.
The time is now; the situation is urgent.
A massive awakening of public consciousness to the danger that we are threatened with is urgent!
The time has come for all the good people all around the world to reject the violence imposed by the global system in which we live.
The time has come to create the new world that we aspire to and to move in that direction through social organisation.
Perhaps this call to action from Europe for Peace can be a step in the right direction?
Will we be able to do it? The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
Humanist Movement Activist, ex-Director of the Middle East Treaty Organization and coordinating committee member of Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, author of the book “Coffee with Silo and the Quest for Meaning in Life” and producer of the film “The Beginning of the End of Nuclear Weapons.” See his articles here.
Tony – an old friend of TFF – is also an editor at the unique and amazing global Pressenza – an international news agency dedicated to news about peace and nonviolence with offices in Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Florence, Lima, London, Madrid, Manila, Mar del Plata, Milan, Montreal, Munich, New York, Palermo, Paris, Porto, Quito, Rome, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Turin, Valencia and Vienna. (In other words, not the agency referred to by Western mainstream media. But you should consult it on a daily basis and see how widespread nonviolent activism actually is.)