You are currently browsing the daily archive for February 9, 2021.

02.02.2021 – Independent Media Institute

This post is also available in: Italian

How Community Solar Power Projects Support Homeless Housing and Fight the Extractive Fuel Industry
(Image by BlackRockSolar via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

New Mexico’s efforts to solarize local venues paint a vision for a future of community energy self-sufficiency.

By April M. Short

Homelessness has been on the rise nationwide due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, and in New Mexico it was already climbing prior to the pandemic. New Mexico experienced a 27 percent rise in homelessness between 2018 and 2019, which is the “largest percentage increase” in homelessness in the country according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.”

One effort toward sustainable solutions to homelessness in New Mexico comes in the form of a unique community effort and fundraising campaign, which is working to bring solar power to Santa Fe’s 12-bed, 2.5-acre permanent housing for the homeless, Casa Milagro. The organization was founded in 1995 and works to bring supportive, therapeutic and safe housing to people who have experienced homelessness in New Mexico and beyond.

“We are part of a coalition of people who are responding to displaced people,” said Desirée Bernard, executive director of Casa Milagro, in a fundraising video about the project.

Casa Milagro helps house community members who have experienced homelessness and face mental health challenges and offers them support services. The effort to solarize the space seeks to make another part of the organization’s mission real: sustainability.

The plan is for the local solar company, Positive Energy Solar, to install a 16-kilowatt solar array at Casa Milagro. This installation size will cover the annual electricity usage of the home and eliminate the organization’s monthly electricity bills, allowing the organization to dedicate that portion of its budget to provide direct care and support for the residents.

In the beginning of the fundraising video, a resident named Cris is shown talking about how the Casa Milagro residents are “thrilled” that the home will become energy independent.

“We haven’t always been welcome in this community,” he says. “Now, the whole feeling toward Casa Milagro has changed and they’re looking to us for some sort of leadership, almost. They want to know how we did it, and how we turned a bad situation into this thriving, solar-driven community house. We are headed for the stars; we are going solar.”

Another resident, Nic, says in the video that “it’s about feeling safe and secure. You don’t feel that when you’re homeless because you don’t have family members. One of the first things to go is [the] trust of people, because how, in a society such as ours, can we even afford to have homeless people? Poverty at that level is violence. One of the things that this place [Casa Milagro] does is [it] pulls you out of the cauldron of fear. It makes you safe. It validates your existence as a human being, and it gives you free range to be a contributing member of society in a way that makes you feel good.”

The initial fundraising campaign to solarize Casa Milagro hoped to raise $57,000 in grassroots donations in 57 days. However, the day after the fundraising efforts were set to launch in March 2020, New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the first COVID-19 emergency orders, so the initiative paused. At the time of publication, Casa Milagro had succeeded in raising about a third of its funding for the project, according to Mariel Nanasi, the director of New Energy Economy (NEE), which is a New Mexico-based organization that supports alternatives to the exploitative models of energy generation. As part of the campaign to solarize Casa Milagro, NEE has been helping raise funds for the project, which is part of its larger SOL for All! effort that brings solar power to local community venues via grassroots fundraising initiatives.

“Desirée does such a beautiful job. They [Casa Milagro] have an organic garden, they have art, they have community, and offer all the ways that are healthy for people to live,” says Nanasi. “It’s a model place, and that’s why we wanted to support them.”

Since 2011, NEE has organized solarization campaigns across New Mexico annually, including projects for the Crownpoint Chapter House on Navajo Nation, the Taytsugeh Oweengeh Intergenerational Center at the Pueblo of Tesuque (including their senior center), the Hahn Community Center at the Pueblo de Cochiti, small farms, and multiple fire stations in the Santa Fe area, among others. Nanasi says the solarize projects serve a dual purpose as they demonstrate the viability of energy alternatives to the public and bring awareness to local communities and organizations to shed light on important social and environmental issues.

Nanasi says getting fire stations and firefighters on board with solar has helped to change some political attitudes and influence policy shifts around energy in New Mexico. After they solarized the Tesuque Fire Station in 2013, the station’s electricity bill dropped from more than $115 a month to $8.65 a month. After three months, the utility company sent the station an $11 check because they had overproduced solar energy. This piqued the interest of Santa Fe County officials. The county has since applied state funding toward solarizing fire station after fire station. In 2013 the commission also passed a resolution supporting community solarprojects.

“It’s not only that these projects are great in and of themselves, but that they have really led to policy changes,” Nanasi says. “And I will tell you this: the only solar project that former Republican Governor [Susana] Martinez ever allowed for capital outlay was Santa Fe County’s solar project because the firemen asked for it.”

After each solar installation is complete, a community celebration takes place, and Nanasi says those celebrations, as well as other opportunities for community engagement that solar projects offer, have had a ripple effect when it comes to solarization projects.

“Once you do one [solar project] and people can see it, it exposes the vision of what’s possible, and then people are like, ‘Let’s do another one, and another one,’” she says.

New Energy Economy’s next solar energy project is the Montessori-influenced, nonprofit Keres Children’s Learning Center. The center is oriented around teaching Cochiti Pueblo children and families their Indigenous language of Keres, and preserving their Indigenous culture and heritage, and teachings. Nanasi says these solarization projects lend themselves well to schools, since they use electricity primarily during the daytime, when solar power is strongest. She can envision local solarize projects cropping up across the country and beyond and says since the model their organization uses is centered on crowdfunding through Indiegogo, it lends itself easily to replication.

In October 2020, the UN warned that continued inaction on the part of world leaders to reverse the climate crisis will result in the planet becoming an “uninhabitable hell” for millions of people. Given the worsening climate crisis, the necessity for an alternative, less extractive and damaging sources of energy is dire, and Nanasi says their organization’s theory of change is a combination of fighting against the expansion of the oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries, and demonstrating the vision of what’s possible at the local scale to move society toward 100 percent renewable energy.

“We’ve won cases in court to fight the utility [Public Service Company of New Mexico] here,” she says. “They’ve asked [for permission] to build new gas plants three times, and we’ve beaten them every single time. We’re focused not only on saving people money, but also opposing more investment in fossil fuels. We have to resist extreme extraction, which is what our country is still, unfortunately, doing in every way. Not only are [energy companies] literally extracting uranium, coal, gas and oil from the ground with demonstrable devastation and destruction, but they’re extracting the wealth of the people and giving it to the one percent. Energy companies are [some of] the wealthiest companies on the planet. They have more money than most countries, even countries combined. And what do we get from that? We get not only climate destruction, but we get the undermining of democracy.”

She says fighting against what’s wrong is only half of what’s necessary for change.

“We also need to expose the vision of what’s possible,” she says. “We’re a tiny little nonprofit, but we’ve been doing these solar projects year after year because we want to go to localized, decentralized energy that creates self-sufficiency.”

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

09.02.2021 – Beyond Nuclear International

No nukes in Asia…or anywhere
(Image by beyondnuclearinternational)

Groups call for a nuclear power ban and no radioactive water dump at Fukushima

By No Nukes Asia Forum Japan • Citizens’Nuclear Information Center • Friends of the Earth Japan

On the 10th Anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, groups in Japan have initiated an international signature campaign against the discharge of contaminated water and calling for the discontinuation of nuclear power plants now! Please join this campaign by signing the petition.

The Japanese government is planning to release Fukushima’s radioactive contaminated water into the ocean. Japanese citizens, from Fukushima Prefecture and beyond, are strongly opposed to this plan.

The Fukushima Prefecture Fishermen’s Association, with the backing of the Fishermen’s Association from all over Japan, have submitted an opinion of opposition to the government. The Fukushima Prefecture Agricultural Cooperatives and Forestry Associations along with 43 local governments in Fukushima Prefecture also participated in this campaign, and 450,000 citizens from across Japan have signed a petition against the government plan.

Fishermen from all over Japan, as well as a huge groundswell of Japanese public, are strongly opposed to the proposal to dump radioactive water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site. (Photo:Matthias Lambrecht/Creative Commons)

The threat of the release of contaminated water has triggered much concern and opposition among citizenry overseas as well, including those from neighboring countries.

Contaminated water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant has already exceeded 1.24 million tons. We are deeply concerned about the adverse effects the water will have on the human body by way of consuming fish and shellfish, which are staples in the region’s diet.

We demand the Japanese government keep the contaminated water stored in the tanks until the water’s levels of radioactivity are significantly reduced. The government could also adopt mortar-induced radioactive waste solidification technology.

Meanwhile, in neighboring South Korea, the government has advocated for denuclearization with its energy plan on paper but has not ceased to build new nuclear power plants (NPPs). Serious safety breaches have been reported repeatedly, including (but not limited to) the recent tritium leak at Wolsong NPP in Gyeongju and the disclosure of an air gap in the containment building at Yeonggwang Hanbit NPP.

Serious safety breaches have been reported repeatedly at South Korea’s Wolsong nuclear power plant. (Photo: IAEA/Wikimedia Commons)

In Taiwan, the government is ostensibly advancing forward to become the first nuclear-free country in Asia under the slogan of “Zero nuclear power generation in 2025.” However, the Taiwanese government plans to hold a referendum on resuming the construction of the 4th NPP in August 2021.

The construction of NPPs continues in Turkey and India while other countries, including the Philippines, seek new opportunities to build NPPs.

Debates over safe storage and disposal of nuclear waste that will affect future generations for hundreds of thousands of years continue in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia.

Ten years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster yet attempts to maintain nuclear power linger on in Asia and other regions of the world. However, at a time the world is turning to renewable energy, we are becoming increasingly aware the time of nuclear power has expired.

We demand that:

·The Japanese government stop its plan to discharge Fukushima NPP’s contaminated water into the ocean;

·The Korean government disclose information on the actual state of radioactive leakage at Wolseong NPP;

·All governments abandon plans to build new NPPs and instead focus on expanding renewable energy;

·All governments discontinue the operation of hazardous NPPs and drop plans to extend their life spans; and

·Stop building nuclear waste facilities without explicit consent of residents.

The petition was initiated by24 countries (255 organizations)

【Australia】Friends of the Earth Australia、Marrickville Peace Group、People for Nuclear Disarmament、Port Adelaide/Semaphore Amnesty International Australia Action Group、Remembering and Healing、Sydney Peace & Justice Coalition、Uranium Free NSW

【Austria】Independent Salzburg Platform Against Nuclear、Wiener Plattform Atomkraftfrei

【Belarus】Institute of Radiation Safety(BELRAD)

【Belgium】Fin du nucleaire、Nucleaire Stop Kernenergie

【Brazil】Coalition for Brazil free of Nuclear Plants、International Uranium Film Festival

【Bulgaria】Za Zemiata (FoE Bulgaria)

【China】Blue Dalian

【Czech】Javorice

【Finland】Women Against Nuclear Power、Women for Peace、

【France】Bure en Retz、CCOA-ADN75、ECHO-Echanges、Editions de Fukushima、Fukushima blog、Fukushima informations 福島新たな原子力、Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11、Pectine Nonuke、Reseau Sortir du Nucleaire、Sortir du nucleaire Sarthe、Sortir du Nucleaire Tregor in Brittany、The Fukushima Voices、Vosges Alternatives au Nucleaire、STOP NUCLEAIRE DRÖME ARDECHE、よそものネット・フランス(パリ)

【Germany】Aktionsbuendnis Energiewende Heilbronn、Arbeitsgemeinschaft AtomErbe Neckarwestheim、Buendnis Fukushima-Neckarwestheim、Buergerinitiative GegenGift Heilbronn/UnterLand、Bund der Buergerinitiativen Mittlerer Neckar、Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz、さよなら ニュークス デュセルドルフ

【India】National Alliance of People’s Movements、Indian Social Action Forum、Indigenous Perspectives、Jharkhandi Organisation Against Redaition-JOAR-JADUGODA、Poovulagin Nanbargal、Socialist Party、SUTRA(Society for Social Uplift Through Rural Action)

【Indonesia】MANI(Indonesia Anti-Nuclear Society)

【Italia】Centro di documentazione(Semi sotto la neve)、日伊の架橋-朋・アミーチ

【Japan】会津放射能情報センター、Friends of the Earth Japan、核燃サイクル阻止1万人訴訟原告団、柏崎刈羽原発反対地元三団体、柏崎巻原発に反対する在京者の会、上関原発止めよう!広島ネットワーク、9とよさかピースの会、熊本・原発止めたい女たちの会、グリーン・アクション、グローバリゼーションを問う広島ネットワーク、玄海原発プルサーマル裁判の会、原子力教育を考える会、原子力行政を問い直す宗教者の会、原発事故被害者団体連絡会、子ども脱被ばく裁判の会、これ以上海を汚すな!市民会議、Citizens’Nuclear Information Center、原水爆禁止日本国民会議、原発いらない福島の女たち、原発おことわり三重の会、原発さよなら四国ネットワーク、原発とめよう!九電本店前ひろば、再稼働阻止全国ネットワーク、さようなら柏崎刈羽原発プロジェクト、さよなら玄海原発の会・久留米、さよなら島根原発ネットワーク、さよなら原発神戸アクション、さよなら原発なら県ネット、市民放射能監視センター(ちくりん舎)、ストップ秘密保護法かながわ、ソーラーネット、高木基金、脱原発アクションin香川、脱原発福島ネットワーク、たまあじさいの会、たんぽぽ舎、とめよう原発!関西ネットワーク、豊橋いのちと未来を守る会、虹とみどりの会、No Nukes Asia Forum Japan、浜岡原発を考える静岡ネットワーク、ピースボート、東日本大震災避難者の会 Thanks & Dream、フクシマ・アクション・プロジェクト、ふくしま地球市民発伝所、プルトニウムフリーコミニケーション神奈川、ベクレルフリー北海道、放射能から豊中の市民・子どもを守る会、放射能ゴミ焼却を考えるふくしま連絡会、緑の党グリーンズジャパン、緑のハーモニー、緑ふくしま、みやぎ金曜デモの会、みやぎ脱原発・風の会、モニタリングポストの継続配置を求める市民の会・三春、若狭の原発を考える会

【Korea】韓国脱核市民行動、キリスト教環境連帯、労働者連帯、Green Party、Green Korea、大田脱核希望、仏教生態コンテンツ研究所、仏教環境連帯、サムチョク核発電所反対闘争委員会、市民放射能監視センター、子供コープ生協、エネルギー気候政策研究所、エネルギー正義行動、霊光核発電所安全性確保のための共同行動、ウォルソン原発隣接地域移住対策委員会、正義党、政治するオンマたち、済州脱核道民行動、参与連帯、天主教男子長上協議会正義平和環境委員会、天主教イエス会社会使徒職委員会、緑を描く、脱核慶州市民共同行動、韓国YWCA連合会、韓国天主教女子修道会長上連合会、ハンサルリム連合、核のない世界のための高敞郡民行動、核のない社会のための大邱市民行動、 核のない社会のための忠北行動、核のない世界光州全南行動、Korean Federation for Environmental Movement、環境正義

【Philippines】ABAKADA-MAPALAD KA、Nuclear Free Bataan Movement、KILUSAN Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya、Coal Free Bataan Movement、Young Bataenos Environmental Advocacy Network、KILUSAN Bataan、Nuclear Free Pilipinas、PEACE WOMEN PARTNERS

【Romania】TERRA Millennium III Foundation

【Russia】Socio-ecological union international

【Sweden】Naturskyddsforeningen i Alvsbyn、Swedish Antinuclear Movement

【Taiwan】台湾環境保護連盟(Taiwan Environmental Protection Union)綠色公民行動聯盟(Green Citizens’ Action Alliance)地球公民基金會(Citizen of the earth)媽媽監督核電廠聯盟(Mom Loves Taiwan Association)守望文教基金會(Taiwan Watch Foundation)台灣蠻野心足生態協會(Wild at heart Legal Defense Association)北海岸反核行動聯盟、看守台灣協會(Taiwan Watch Institute)PAPA非核陣線(papa nonuke front)環境法律人協會、台灣環境資訊協會、彰化縣環境保護聯盟、主婦聯盟環境保護基金會、台灣媽祖魚保育聯盟、台灣千里歩道協會、台灣永社、人本教育基金會、新北市愛鄉協會、林口社區大學、台灣同志諮詢熱線協會、綠色和平、綠黨(Green Party)

【Turkey】Nukleersiz.org、Nukleer Karsiti Platform(NKP)Istanbul、Mersin Nukleer Karsiti Platform(NKP)、Sinop Nukleer Karsiti Platform(NKP)、Elektrik Muhendisleri Odasi(EMO)、Yenifoca Forum、Sinop Cevre Dostları Dernegi、Emek Partisi Sinop il orgutu、Sinop NKP Der、Sinop Kent Haklari Dernegi(KENT SAV)、Egitim İs Sinop Subesi、Egitim Sen、Sinop Tip、Sinop Tukoder、Gerze Halkevi ve Gerze Bilim Kultur Sanat ve Spor Dernegi、Ataturkcu Düsünce Dernegi Sinop、Çağdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi Sinop、Yeryuzu Dernegi、Yeni Insan Yayınevi、Samsun Cevre Platformu(24assoc)、Mersin Cevre ve Doga Dernegi、Bakirtepe Cevre Platformu、Kazdagi Dogal ve Kulturel Varliklari Koruma Dernegi、Divrigi kültür derneği、Mezopotamya Ekoloji Hareketi、Amed Ekoloji Dernegi、Hevsel Koruma Platformu、Burhaniye Cevre Platformu(BURCEP)、Dogader、Artvin Cevre Platformu、Soke Cevre Platformu、Ordu Cevre Dernegi、Antalya Ekoloji Meclisi、Kusadası Cevre Platformu、Yesil Artvin Derneği、Mardin Ekoloji Dernegi、Aydın Cevre ve Kultur Dernegi(AYCEP)、Ekoloji Birligi、Her yer Kazdaglari、Kazdaglari K、ardesligi、Mugla Cevre Platformu、Datca Kultur Sanat Dayanismasi、Doganın Cocuklari、Cesme Cevre Platformu、Ayvalik Tabiat Platformu、Agonya Doga Koruma Girisimi、Munzur Cevre Derneği、Gokova Ekolojik Yasam Dernegi、Cine Yasam Platformu(CIYAP)、Bozcaada Forum、Munzur Koruma Kurulu(DEDEF)、Troya Cevre Derneği、Karadeniz Isyandadir、Didim Cevre Platformu、Ege Cevre ve Kulturr Platformu(EGECEP)、Karaburun Kent Konseyi、Yarimada Yesilleri ve Çesme,Urla,Seferihisar,Karaburun Cevre Platformu、Kazdaglari Istanbul Dayanismasi、Didim Egitim ve Cevre Dernegi、Yenisehir Cevre Platformu、Yalova Platformu、Validebag Gonulluleri Dernegi、Emirdağ Yaylalari Doga Platformu、Yasam Ve Dayanisma Yolcuları

【UK】Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament、CND Cymru-the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Wales、JAN (Japanese Against Nuclear)、Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group、South Lakeland and Lancaster District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament、Suffolk Coastal Friends of the Earth

【USA】able、Beyond Nuclear、All-African People’s Revolutionary Party、Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition、NO Nukes Action,California、Nuclear Information and Resource Service、Nuclear Watch South、Samuel Lawrence Foundation、the Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World、Veterans For Peace – NYC Chapter 34

Sign the petition here. For more information, please contact: Nukes Asia Forum Japan sdaisuke@rice.ocn.ne.jp

Headline photo: Japanese protest flag, by Matthias Lambrecht/Creative Commons.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

08.02.2021 – BERLIN/NAYPYIDAW – GERMAN-FOREIGN-POLICY.com

This post is also available in: German

Coup in Myanmar
Image by cc Wikimedia Deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (left) and General Min Aung Hlaing (right)).

Following Monday’s coup in Myanmar, the EU and the USA are considering imposing new sanctions on that country. Already on Monday, US President Joe Biden declared that he would immediately review the reintroduction of coercive measures. The EU announced yesterday that it will “consider all options at its disposal to ensure that democracy prevails.” For a long time during the Cold War, the Federal Republic of Germany had cooperated closely with the Myanmar military regime for geostrategic reasons, including arms exports. Germany, like the West as a whole, had been disengaging from the country since 1990, again seeking better relations only after China began initiating important geostrategic projects – such as the construction of a transport corridor from the Indian Ocean to southwest China to bypass the Straits of Malacca that Washington can easily block. The West’s attempt to outmaneuver Beijing in Naypyidaw has failed. Aung San Suu Kyi, the de-facto head of government ousted by the military yesterday, had recently intensified cooperation with China.

Bonn and the Generals

The relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Myanmar’s military had varied over the years. During the Cold War, the FRG had maintained good ties to the generals, who had seized power in 1962. Their country had been an important ally in the confrontation of systems. At times, the FRG had been the country’s most important non-Asian trading partner and donor of development aid. According to an expert on Myanmar, Andrew Selth, the FRG had been “the major source for arms technology and a key player in the development of the country’s domestic arms industry.”[1] The military regime was also licensed to manufacture the Heckler & Koch G3 assault rifle. The relations changed, when the confrontation of the systems ended. Myanmar lost its former geostrategic significance with the fundamental transformations taking place from 1989 to 1991. The regime, which had massacred thousands of its opponents and ignored the outcome of the 1990 parliamentary elections, was used by the West as an example to legitimize sanctions with human rights. Over the years, the West has imposed all sorts of coercive measures on Myanmar.[2]

The Burma Road

The interests again shifted in the new millennium. In 2003, China began systematically seeking alternative transport routes for its imports of raw materials from Africa and the Middle East. To a large part, they had to be transported by ship through the Straits of Malacca between Aceh in Indonesia and Malaysia respectively Singapore. Because in case of conflict, the Straits can easily be blocked by the USA, Beijing also developed plans for a transport route directly from the Indian Ocean through Myanmar to the southwest China’s Yunnan province. The “Burma Road” served as a historical blueprint. Constructed between 1937 and 1939, it was leading from Burma, a British colony at the time, to China to supply the country during the war against Japan. After several years of planning and construction, a gas pipeline was commissioned in 2013, followed by an oil pipeline in 2017 leading from Myanmar’s coast to China. The complementary construction of a railway line for high-speed trains is also under consideration. Myanmar’s strategic significance for China, which over the years has become the country’s most important economic partner, has renewed the interest of the western states in their power struggle with the People’s Republic, since the new millennium.

The Deal with the West

Accordingly, Washington began holding talks with Myanmar’s military regime – at first secretly under cover of the humanitarian aid in the wake of the 2008 Nargis Cyclone – then also officially beginning at the end of 2009. The negotiations ultimately led to a deal, which, on the one hand, provided for a degree of the country’s overture for western commerce and political contact, and on the other, the country’s cautious democratization. Myanmar’s generals have always insured their political control of the process. Therefore, the military has constitutionally insured that one-fourth of the seats in parliament as well as the ministries of the interior, of defense and of border issues are reserved for the military. At the same time, they have enormous economic influence with corporate conglomerates such as the Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (MEHL).[3] The leading figure for the country’s cautious democratization was – and still is – Aung San Suu Kyi, who during the military dictatorship had been held under house arrest for a total of 15 years, to then become the de facto head of the government as “State Counselor,” following the formal end of the military dictatorship. The majority of Myanmar’s population still regards Suu Kyi as a popular leader.

“Not Reform Oriented”

From the western perspective, the aspired breakthrough in its power struggle against China has, until now, remained unsuccessful in Myanmar. In spite of strong initial interest,[4] German commerce with and companies’ investments in that country have remained modest. In the spring of last year, Germany’s Minister for Development decided to end the cooperation with Myanmar that had been reinitiated in the summer of 2012. The reason given was insufficient “reform orientation,” in Germany’s view.[5] And politically, as well, it has proven impossible to roll back Beijing’s influence in Naypyidaw. In September 2018, representatives from China and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a transportation corridor connecting Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest metropolis in the center of the country, with Kunming, the metropolis in the southwest Chinese Yunnan Province. The CMEC will become a link in China’s new Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative – BRI). Experts are saying that Aung San Suu Kyi is the main force behind further reinforcement of cooperation with China, as a means of promoting Myanmar’s quickest possible development.[6] The generals, on the other hand, are said to worry about Beijing gaining too much influence.

The Next Round in the Battle for Influence

With their putsch, early Monday morning, Myanmar’s generals have retaken full power in Naypyidaw. Suu Kyi and numerous politicians of the National League for Democracy (NDL), along with other adversaries of the military have been arrested or placed under house arrest. The western powers have protested against the coup. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for example, declared on Monday that he “strongly condemns the seizure of power and the accompanying arrests by the military in Myanmar.”[7] US President Joe Biden has, meanwhile, mentioned a new round of sanctions against Myanmar. In Germany, the FDP foreign policy maker, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff demanded that economic coercive measures be taken against that country.[8] The EU, in turn, declared yesterday that it will “consider all options at its disposal to ensure that democracy prevails.”[9] Sanctions against the armed forces’ corporate conglomerate are also in discussion. At the same time, however, they are careful not to drive Myanmar “tighter into China’s embrace.”[10] The question of sanctions is, thus dominated – as usual – by strategic considerations.

[1] See also Ein alter Partner der Militärs.

[2] See also Erfolglose Sanktionen.

[3] Michael Peel: Myanmar: the military-commercial complex. ft.com 01.02.2017.

[4] See also In Chinas Einflusszone (II) and Der Deal der Militärs mit dem Westen.

[5] Rodion Ebbighausen: Deutschland zieht sich aus Myanmar zurück. dw.com 14.05.2020.

[6] Hunter Marston: Has the US Lost Myanmar to China? thediplomat.com 20.01.2020.

[7] Außenminister Maas zur Machtübernahme durch das Militär in Myanmar. Pressemitteilung des Auswärtigen Amts. Berlin, 01.02.2021.

[8] Putsch in Myanmar: Lambsdorff fordert Sanktionen. presse-augsburg.de 01.02.2021.

[9] EU droht nach Militärputsch in Myanmar mit weiteren Sanktionen. sueddeutsche.de 01.02.2021.

[10] Till Fähnders: Wie ist Myanmars Militärregime beizukommen? faz.net 02.02.2021.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

24.01.2021 – US, United States – Independent Media Institute

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War Is Not Innate to Humanity—A More Peaceful Future Is Possible, Says Historical Anthropologist
Rock paintings in Tadrart Acacus region of Libya dated from 12,000 BC to 100 AD (Image by WikiCommons)

Brian Ferguson’s research on the origins of war, going back to the beginning of human history and our closest ape relatives, suggests war is not part of our evolution.

By April M. Short

War and all of its brutality is attention-grabbing and memorable. Recollections of war and conquests tend to stick around and take up the spotlight in historical records. However, a war-centered narrative paints an incomplete picture of human history—and human nature. While there is a popular opinion in the anthropological community that war is an evolutionary, inborn tendency of humans, there is also pushback to that theory. There is a growing argument for a human history that predates war altogether and further points out that war is not innate to human nature, but instead, is a social and cultural development that begins at certain points around the globe.

However, once war takes place, it tends to spread, explains historical anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson, who has spent more than 40 years researching the origins of war. Ferguson, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, notes that war is not the same thing as interpersonal violence or homicide. War implies organized, armed conflict and killing sanctioned by society and carried out by members of one group against members of another group. Ferguson argues that current evidence suggests that war was not always present but began as a result of societal changes—with evidence of war’s origins appearing at widely varying timestamps in different locations around the world. He estimates that the earliest signs of war appear between 10,000 B.C., or 12,000 years ago.

“But in some areas of the world you don’t see any signs of war develop until much more recently,” he says, noting that in both the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains there is no evidence of war until around 2,000 years ago.

Ferguson wrote an article in the Scientific American in 2018 titled, “War Is Not Part of Human Nature,” in which he details his take on war. In the article, he summarizes the viewpoints of two anthropological camps, dubbed hawks and doves by late anthropologist Keith Otterbein. The hawks argue that war is an evolved predisposition in humans dating back to when they had a common ancestor with chimpanzees. Doves, meanwhile, argue that war has only emerged in recent millennia, motivated by changing social conditions. In the article Ferguson writes:

“Humans, they argue [doves], have an obvious capacity to engage in warfare, but their brains are not hardwired to identify and kill outsiders involved in collective conflicts. Lethal group attacks, according to these arguments, emerged only when hunter-gatherer societies grew in size and complexity and later with the birth of agriculture. Archaeology, supplemented by observations of contemporary hunter-gatherer cultures, allows us to identify the times and, to some degree, the social circumstances that led to the origins and intensification of warfare.”

Ferguson has studied the anthropological and archeological records throughout ancient, and sometimes into more modern, human history. He says there is a lack of evidence of war or large-scale violence, in many places around the world throughout various periods of history. He has spent four decades researching and historically contextualizing the various origin points of war around the world. He has also contextualized incidents of group violence in humanity’s closest ape cousins, chimpanzees. He argues that war is not innate, evolutionary nor inevitable behavior for humans.

Ferguson spoke with Local Peace Economy correspondent April M. Short about his findings and theories surrounding war and human history.

April M. Short: The big questions are: have humans always gone to war, or is there a point of origin for war? And, is war innate to the human species (or maybe just men)? Is there an evolved predisposition to war or is it a social, learned behavior that emerged with particular organizations in societies?

Brian Ferguson: There is a great deal of interest regarding this in anthropology in particular, and in archeology, and political science as well. It’s been a very active field and they are many different issues that are involved [here] that are connected to each other.

To mention one issue about whether war has always been with us, there is the related question of how war was affected by the expansion of colonial systems. In particular, related to Western Europe, but other [colonial systems] as well. I maintain that colonial expansion generally led to more intensive warfare than a lot of the fighting that we’ve seen around the world in the past few hundred years, from the Age of Exploration onward. This is not a reflection of human nature but a reflection of circumstances, or the contextual situation.

But, even before the beginnings of colonialism, war was quite common around the world. War leaves a number of different signs, which is indicative of violence in the archeological records, the most important of which are skeletal trauma and settlement data of different sorts. There are other indicators as well, but if you have a lot of information on those two things, then if war is present, it will show up.

AMS: Another, related question is whether there is evidence of a clear starting point for war?

BF: Everybody wants to know when war began. It’s difficult to give an answer that will satisfy people because you have to ask where you’re talking about. Evidence for war appears at different times in different locations. And, once war began, sometimes it went away for a while, though that was not the case most times. Oftentimes war would spread, and it would change over time as political systems changed. It’s a very complicated field.

But the question people really want to know the answer to is [whether] war [is] human nature? And in one sense, the answer is definitely yes, because humans make war, we’re capable of making war, it’s one of the things humans do. But I think the more meaningful question that people are trying to get at is: is there something that has evolved in human beings, or maybe just in men, that makes them inclined to try to kill—or at least to act with extreme fear to—people outside their own group. Is it a natural human tendency or predisposition to kill outsiders? That is what has been argued by a lot of people. [cognitive psychologist and science author] Steven Pinker is one, there are many others.

Other people have argued something a little different than that, which is: maybe there isn’t any inborn tendency to want to kill outsiders, but war will happen naturally unless you have some kind of system in place to stop it. That’s sort of what Thomas Hobbes was talking about in Leviathan, right? He didn’t know about genes and this was before [Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution]. He wasn’t saying people had an “evolved” predisposition to kill outsiders. He just said that people pursuing their own interests, without some kind of larger civil society, will naturally turn to violence to further their own interests, and that will lead to war. And what that means is war is a natural condition of human society. So, is [war] part of human nature or is it the nature of humans in society?

The bottom line is, in one view, humans have always made war since they’ve been humans. But what I have been arguing for some time now is that if you look around the world, in the archeological records, the earlier remains don’t have evidence of war.

Now, when we go very far back—say 30,000 years or more—there is almost nothing to indicate the humans were even there. Maybe you have a stone tool or something, but you can’t say based on evidence whether there was war or not. But, when you come closer to the present and you look at the material evidence, you do not find evidence of war for some time.

What you find is a global pattern. At different times in different places around the world, if you go from the earliest archeological evidence [and move] forward, there will come a time when evidence of war will start to appear. Those changes occur without a dramatic increase in archeological recovery. It’s not like we’re starting to get good [evidence in] archeology, [or] good data, and only now are we starting to see [signs of] war. We hadall of it but there weren’t any signs of war. Then signs of war started to appear.

A colleague of mine, Doug Fry, works in this area and has been making a bigger point about this, and it’s a very good point. We’ve been accumulating a number of cases from the archeologists who work in particular areas, and archeologists themselves aren’t interested in the question of when war began, they’re just digging their own digs. They’re generally not interested in making global comparisons like I am. But we find that when archeologists provide summaries of the evidence of interpersonal violence of a deadly nature, more and more of them are showing that war has a starting point.

AMS: You mentioned this is the pattern everywhere you look, is it the global pattern?

BF: In the Americas alone, which I’ve been working on lately, [the pattern of evidence of war emerging during a given time in the records] includes the Andean region, it includes the Oaxaca region in Mexico, it includes the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada, Northwest Alaska, the Eastern Woodlands, the Great Plains. I’m not sure whether you can say the same for Western California, because Western California is unusual for having a lot of violence that goes back very far, so I’m not sure whether you can say there’s clearly a time before you have evidence of war there. But it’s the case in all these other places. I also looked at the patterns in Europe and the Near East where you see the same thing: you don’t have any evidence of war, and then war shows up.

One more note on this: it’s often said that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so if you don’t find evidence of war, that doesn’t mean war [didn’t happen] there. For any particular case, any particular [archaeological] dig, that is absolutely true. But if you are talking about a larger region with multiple excavations, that is not a scientific statement, because it cannot be challenged, it cannot be falsified. If you’re saying: “Even if you don’t find evidence of war, war probably [still happened] there,” how do you disprove that? But if I’m saying that in these different areas you’re not going to find any evidence of war before certain periods of time, because no war took place there, that’s easy to disprove. You just find the evidence.

It’s a little tiring to me to have the phrase repeated, “just because you don’t find the evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t there,” because the pattern of seeing [war] start-up is so clear in so many places. It’s time to consider the possibility that, really, war wasn’t there at all before a certain point.

AMS: Why do you think the popular theory has been that war is innate to humans, or we’ve always had war?

BF: That’s a great question, and it’s a difficult question to answer. If I’m talking about whether there are signs of war in Europe in a particular year, I can talk about that in terms of evidence. But when you get to the question of why people tend [to lean] toward either the theory that “people are innately belligerent” or “people are innately good,” (which is often suggested to be the Rousseau versus Hobbes point of view), some of it is individual variation in opinions. But I also think when you look at the prevalence of these ideas, they’re time specific.

Back in the late 19th-century when Darwin’s work was new, there was a real emphasis on this struggle for survival. There was a racial part to it too, which was the idea that some races are superior to others, and the struggle and fight [between the races leads to] the superior ones conquering the inferior ones. That whole Social Darwinist ideology was very common, and it fed into other theories back then, which were a bleak view of humanity. Freud was very bleak. Early psychologists were very bleak and would talk about humans having instincts, and one of the big instincts was the instinct of pugnacity. Pugnacity is a word we don’t use much anymore, but pugnacity was said to be the instinct in which people just wanted to fight. So, if you wanted to know why wars exist, it was because we had the instinct for pugnacity.

World War I provoked a kind of revulsion against war. There was a change in how people looked at things. There was a 1915 study that was really revelatory, titled, “The Material Culture and Social Institutions of the Simpler Peoples: An Essay in Correlation.” It looked at a number of different societies around the world (in what today would be a very crude method). It said that the simplest societies may have some war, but they had less war than more developed societies. It began to seem like war wasn’t part of human nature, it was part of developing larger-scale, hierarchical societies. It came with that political evolution.

Time went on and in the 1960s there developed a very strong intellectual argument for war being innate. There were several writers who were key in [the development of] this [argument]. One was an Austrian ethologist (ethologists are people who study animal behavior) named Konrad Lorenz. He was on the German side during World War II. He was of the view that if you play a martial tune, men will drop everything and go off to war. He wrote the book On Aggression that was very influential.

Then there was Raymond Dart, an Australian paleobiologist (though they didn’t use that word at the time) who found early skulls and remains, and was convinced that in every skull he found he saw evidence of a violent death and cannibalism. Dart’s work was picked up by a very gifted writer, Robert Ardrey, who wrote several books, including African Genesis and The Territorial Imperative, which were part of his Nature of a Man series. That was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” If you’ve ever seen the beginning of that film, these proto-apes had something changed in their minds by black obelisks from outer space, and they start killing each other, and that’s the beginning of human creativity. That’s what Ardrey basically believed to be the truth about humans, and he popularized it.

And then, there was the famous book, Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Golding came up with this idea that people were just real pieces of work. All of these concepts were part of the popular culture in the 1960s, and it was very influential. It became the accepted wisdom that that’s the way people are.

The Vietnam War made a big difference. Anthropologists had not really been interested much in the study of war before Vietnam. The Vietnam War went on for a long time, and demonstrations against it were very big on college campuses, which is where anthropologists are. I was a draft-age student back then and that’s really when the anthropology of war as a field first developed. It grew from there and different perspectives developed. Some of them held that war has always been with us, some said it was a biological instinct, some argued that war was a cultural product, and a relatively late development. Margaret Mead [cultural anthropologist] was one of those, who said “Warfare is Only an Invention, Not a Biological Necessity.” And I think she was right. Since then, this argument has continued on in a more scholarly way, with people producing evidence. Now we’ve been doing that for a couple of decades and we’ve got a lot of evidence.

AMS: You mention in your Scientific American article that the people who argue that war is innate often use the example of chimpanzees being warlike. They point to the common ancestor shared between chimpanzees and humans to argue humans are innately warlike. You have spent two decades analyzing all of the recorded incidents of violence relating to chimps, and you have written a book on the topic, which is soon to be published. In your book, you theorize that chimpanzees are not, in fact, warlike but that their incidents of violence can be attributed to cultural and social contexts, largely involving human interference. Can you share a bit about your work on chimpanzees?

BF: I’m not a primatologist. I’ve never worked with chimpanzees. I’m a historical researcher, so I read the observations by other scholars, and I contextualize those observations. I did that with war, and I’ve done it with chimpanzees.

Back in 1996, a book came out called Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence. It painted a really grim view of human nature, as evolved to kill strangers. And the argument was that chimpanzees do this… not because they’re hungry or they’re in some kind of immediate contest over resources. It’s just: they’re programmed biologically, by evolution, to do it. And the argument was that, then, so are humans because chimpanzees and humans got it from their common ancestors anywhere from six to 13 million years ago.

I started [going through all the literature] in the late 1990s, and now the book is finished. I’ve called it Chimpanzees,“War,”and History. And you’ll note I put quotes around “war.” For the book, I went through every site [where chimpanzee group violence took place]. What I found was that while people would say their [warlike] behavior of looking for outsiders or strangers and killing them is normal chimpanzee behavior, it’s really rare. If you talk about a war as being sequential killings of members of another group, then there are only two chimpanzee wars that take place in a span of about nine years. I mention this in the Scientific American article:

“My work disputes the claim that chimpanzee males have an innate tendency to kill outsiders, arguing instead that their most extreme violence can be tied to specific circumstances that result from disruption of their lives by contact with humans. Making that case has required my going through every reported chimpanzee killing. From this, a simple point can be made. Critical examination of a recent compilation of killings from 18 chimpanzee research sites—together amounting to 426 years of field observations—reveals that of 27 observed or inferred intergroup killings of adults and adolescents, 15 come from just two highly conflicted situations, which occurred at two sites in 1974–1977 and 2002–2006, respectively.

The two situations amount to nine years of observation, tallying a kill rate of 1.67 annually for those years. The remaining 417 years of observation average just 0.03 annually. The question is whether the outlier cases are better explained as evolved, adaptive behavior or as a result of human disruption. And whereas some evolutionary biologists propose that killings are explained as attempts to diminish the number of males in rival groups, those same data show that subtracting internal from external killings of males produces a reduction of outside males of only one every 47 years, fewer than once in a chimpanzee’s lifetime.”

The gist of my argument is that evidence shows deadly intergroup violence is not a normal, evolved behavior pattern of chimpanzees, but a situational response to a local history of human disturbance. That is what the book demonstrates.

AMS: I’ve read that bonobos share just as much DNA with humans as chimpanzees and are not warlike or violent—in fact, they’re practically nonviolent. Do you look at bonobos in your book?

BF: Yes. My book has 10 parts and part eight [is about] bonobos. Bonobos are a fascinating comparison. They’re as related to humans as chimpanzees are. We have, however, never seen a bonobo kill another bonobo (although one killing of an infant is suspected, but very possibly didn’t happen). Another thing that’s different about bonobos is that they have on occasion accepted outside adult males into their groups. Now, chimpanzees have accepted adolescent males to their groups, and they’ve also temporarily tolerated stranger adult males in their groups, so it’s kind of a fine point, but it is a qualitative distinction between [chimps and bonobos].

The saying was chimps are from Mars and bonobos are from Venus. Chimpanzees are partial to violence, aggressive and totally male-dominated; and bonobos are, as the story goes, female-dominated and not as hostile, not as aggressive… I wouldn’t say bonobos are matriarchal, instead, I would say their society is gender-balanced—which is very different from chimpanzees.

And this takes us back to the question of inborn predispositions because if chimpanzees are born to kill, and if the bonobos don’t kill, is that because somehow [bonobos] evolved out of the killing mode? Are they biologically evolved so that they don’t kill?

Other than the two extreme behaviors I mentioned, accepting outside males into their groups and killing, almost everything a chimpanzee has been seen doing, a bonobo has been seen doing. There’s a lot of overlap in what they do. It’s kind of a difference in frequencies rather than cut and dry differences.

… Bonobos don’t have the things that I think make chimpanzees fight, which is a scarcity of resources connected to human impact. Bonobos haven’t had that. And at the same time, they have something that goes against fighting, which is a social organization that’s very different from chimpanzees. I don’t think this is a result of instincts or inborn predisposition.

I spend a lot of time in the book laying out the fact that a young male chimpanzee grows up in an adult world where males dominate females, and females don’t spend a lot of time with other females. Males spend a lot of time hanging out with other males, so they’ve got a sort of boy club there, and this leads them to engage in status competition that’s male-on-male. Very often a group of two or three males together will kind of rise in the social hierarchy by hanging together and attacking any other males as a duo or trio, and that’s how they beat the alpha. And [being an] alpha has a lot of advantages.

For chimpanzees but not bonobos, the second hypothesis in my book is that the unusually aggressive, high-status males may, in some circumstances, engage in what I call ‘display killing’ of helpless individuals, even infants within their own group, in order to intimidate status adversaries.

But bonobos have a tendency of females to bond (which may have to do with the genito-genital rubbing that females engage in, although that’s not entirely clear), and they will attack a male who is too aggressive. If a male wants to rise up in the status hierarchy of bonobos [they need to be less aggressive]… because the society structure is [based on] a bisexual ladder. For a male to rise in the status hierarchy, what they do is they stick close to their mothers. The best ally for a bonobo male in getting access to feeding, getting access to mating and going up in the status hierarchy means being close to a high-status female. The status game is played with mothers, not brothers. That’s how a bonobo male takes care of his own business. It means that they’re attached to females and very often not attached at all to other males.

AMS: For me, just as a layperson coming into this, learning that we are just as related to bonobos as chimps undermines the idea that human warlike tendency is due to the common ancestor with chimpanzees. It’s interesting to consider how much social structures may be influencing behaviors, for humans as well as other apes.

BF: It’s a big area of research now, and field research has changed for a number of different reasons. One thing that’s happened in primate field research, and in laboratories too, is that work in non-intrusive studies that look at hormone levels and genetics has expanded. [Researchers] can get their samples by placing tarps under trees and waiting for chimpanzees to pee in the morning. And then they can collect data on the hormone levels and genes.

There is interest right now in the biology of these primates, and the argument in biology has been that chimpanzees and bonobos really are biologically different— genetically, hormonally and behaviorally. It’s a really interesting area that I find complicated because of the nature of these biological studies and the nature-nurture interaction. The idea that biology and environment combine and influence the development of any organism and these changes may be epigenetic and may have to do with the birth environment. The main action of epigenetics, [the study of heritable changes in gene expression] is based on what happens in early life, though epigenetics works throughout life and may be transmitted through generations, too.

The way I put my argument at one point [in my book] is: what if they were switched at birth? If an infant chimpanzee was put in with bonobos and vice versa, what would they grow up to be like? Would a chimpanzee raised among bonobos grow up to act like a chimpanzee with all the aggressive notions, male bonding and all that stuff? I argue that they would follow the local customs [of the bonobos], they would do what they saw others around them doing. Then along came epigenetics, and as it was applied to chimpanzees, it seemed to fit perfectly that the early childhood and the social experience of a chimpanzee and a bonobo at birth is very different.

AMS: To bring it back full circle to humans, how do you argue this idea of nature vs. nurture, epigenetics and socialization, might come into play anthropologically, and in relation to war?

BF: The implication, or lesson here, for humans is that humans are flexible. I think chimpanzees are very flexible, I don’t think that they have innate patterns to do things like fight with each other. I think it’s acquired in chimpanzees and bonobos. And I think that that goes for human beings too. And humans go a lot farther than that in the complexity of culture.

A lot of people will say that chimpanzees and bonobos also have cultures, they will use the word culture for these great apes. I think what chimpanzees and bonobos have is clearly learned traditions. They learn things to do, things that others in their group do. I don’t think that’s the same thing as culture, because culture involves a symbolic and linguistic medium to exist. And that culture exists in our thoughts and our language and our speech. That’s how you learn it. That’s how you communicate it. That’s how it’s passed on.

Human culture has cumulative development—and it needs language and symbols for this. You learn what one generation did, then you can do something on top of that. Everything we have in this world goes back to thousands and thousands of innovations, all of which have been based on the innovations that came before. Chimpanzees do not have cumulative innovations.

For war, I think the difference plays out in that humans do not have inborn predispositions. Some anthropologists will argue that humans have an inborn predisposition to not kill other human beings, that they’re born against doing that, and they have to unlearn that [in order to be violent]. That’s an optimistic way of thinking about human beings, and it certainly goes against the idea that people are natural-born killers. I hope it’s true, but I’m not convinced. I think that could just as easily be a result of the way that we’re socialized in our own societies.

What I’m saying is that, at a minimum, we don’t have a predisposition either way. We’re certainly not predisposed to kill. We’re not predisposed to be xenophobic. Ethnocentric is a little different because ethnocentric simply means at the basic level, that the way you were brought up is the way you think things should be done. Every culture teaches every new infant. Everybody thinks: “My way is the right way to do things.” But going beyond that, to the concepts that other people are inferior, or dangerous enough to be killed—that’s certainly not part of human nature. When we look at tribal people, when the Europeans first showed up, the initial response typically was to look at these strange people with curiosity. It’s not a natural reaction of fear, not this kind of tribal hostility that everybody always talks about, which is a lot of bunk.

The lesson is that humans have a great deal of plasticity. And we can be molded in different ways. We can be molded to be Nazis, or we can be molded to be passivists. Thinking that it is something that comes from the genes, that it’s evolved and that’s the way we are, is not going to help you understand what’s going on, and it’s going to confuse you.

At the end of my book, I summarize all the work I’ve done over the years on war. For the past few years, I’ve been talking about human nature and war. Before that, the big question for me was not, “Is it human nature to make war?” but, “How do you explain the wars that actually happened in tribal societies, and in modern society?” The book isn’t just about debunking theories about chimpanzees, it’s about: If you have this idea of culture that I just described, it leads you to ask a lot of other questions that are a lot more interesting, and probably more meaningful in terms of understanding why real wars happened and why people really get killed.

There’s an article I wrote in 2006 called Tribal, Ethnic and Global Wars, where I summarize my approach to wars that are going on around the world, based on what I know about tribal warfare. In it, I try to show how it is that wars have happened, and the relationship between practical self-interest and the symbolic values people have in a society. That, to me, is where the action is, and it explains what the cause of war is: it’s practical, and it’s also symbolic.

AMS: In this current moment in human history, where we have much more globalized and ongoing warfare than our ancient ancestors—and a more globalized world culture in general, is there hope for a future that’s not so war-inclined?

BF: Is there hope? Yes, absolutely. If you look at the long history of the world as I do as an anthropologist, you see that we’ve gone from having thousands of independent societies on this planet, which at first I don’t think were making war. Over time war developed in more places around the world and spread. Since then, over time we’ve had a consolidation of societies. There are fewer independent societies in the world today—and you’ve got to be independent to go off and make war. I’ve been using Europe as an example now for over 20 years. You would have never expected Europe to come together into the community that it is now [looking at where it] was heading toward [in the past]. The war between Germany and France and England and other parts of Europe was world history for quite a long time. Europe is just one thread, but it’s a strong example of how things have changed.

I wrote an article in 1988 called How Can Anthropologists Promote Peace?, and one of the things I said was that as an anthropologist, you can say that there are other possible worlds out there. The things that we can’t imagine to be possible now could become true. And in this article that came out in ’88, I said that one thing we can say with certainty is that at some point the militarized East-West frontier in Europe will cease to exist. It was hard to imagine that happening then. But the next year [after the article], it went away. So, we don’t know. There’s no general direction toward peace, but I think an important part of it is for people to mobilize themselves, for people to promote peace, for peace to be of value.

It’s important for people to see that a world without war is a realistic possibility. Maybe not now, but a world without war is something we can aspire to realistically, and work toward. If you think that’s something that can never happen, well that fatalism is one of the main props that is keeping war going. It’s good to break out of that mindset.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


April M. Short is an editor, journalist and documentary editor and producer. She is a writing fellow at Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Previously, she served as a managing editor at AlterNet as well as an award-winning senior staff writer for Santa Cruz, California’s weekly newspaper. Her work has been published with the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Salon and many others.

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We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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