Sunday, October 21, 2012

Peace History

By Lisa A M Bauman

* A summary of chapter 6: From War to Peace by Kent D. Shifferd

In chapter six Shifferd presents evidence of a long history of peace. First, he explains that unlike war, peace has not been taught as a record of history. He compares this missing history to the lost records of women’s and African American history (pages 112-113). In 1964 peace history formally gained recognition at the founding of the council on Peace Research in History (page 114).

The history of peace falls into three broad periods until 4000 BC (Long Peace of Prehistory), from 4000 BC to the present (Peace in the Long Darkness), and the last 200 years (The Dark Light of Dawn).
Historians tend to believe that pre-agricultural people of the Long Peace Prehistory tended to be peaceful and that even after the invention of agriculture culture remained relatively peaceful (pages 116-117). Peace in the Long Darkness begins around the fifth millennium. Wars were recorded but even in the midst of violence, truces were made and literature praising peace was produced (page 120). All cultures and religions had ways of honoring the ideas of peace. Shifferd cites Jewish, Roman, Christian, and Greek literature that praise the value of peace.

Early Christian churches seemed to understand peace in literature and practices, but in the fourth century the church became patriarchal and war-based (page 122-123). Augustine even said “For true worshipers of God even wars are peaceful, not waged out of greed or cruelty, but from zeal for peace, to restrain evil or to assist in good (page 123).” The medieval, renaissance, and the sixteenth century was filled will wars. Despite this, history shows that peace was present. The Quaker movement supported passivism. William Penn, a famous Quaker said that “we are taught and commanded to love one another and not to do harm or mischief to one another [and] … that we may always live together as neighbors and friends.” Eventually, after the Napoleonic Wars, there was a rise of organized peace movement in the nineteenth century (page 125).
It is now evident since peace history is being recorded that peace has a rich past. Shifferd summarizes his ideas about peace history in this statement:

“There has been opposition to particular wars, dedicated non-violence as a way of life, peace with nature, the development of world-order models, literary works on peace, activists who organize for an end to war, philosophies of peace, environmental protection, human rights, conflict resolution, peace as a theme in arts, and, at long last, the work of peace historians (page 114).”

Shiffered, K. D. (2011). From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years. Jerfferson, NC. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishing.

** For Cr399U, Intro to Peace Studies, Portland State University, Fall Term, April 2012-2013

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Positive and Negative Peace

By Lisa A M Bauman

* A summary of chapter 4: From War to Peace by Kent d. Shifferd

Shifferd says that we should not be asking “What if you didn’t fight the Nazis or Al Quieta, or other enemies of the time.” but “What if we didn’t have to fight?” Truly decades have been filled with wars and warring, but in the last 100 years the growth in peace endeavors have increased greatly.
We have both negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace describes the absence of war. As great sounding is, it holds some unfavorable traits. Negative peace can only be enjoyed if war first exists. It describes the silence between battles that is held only because the guns are aimed in case the enemy oversteps his agreement (page 105). It does not result in equal justice or security because of its nature; the most powerful entity is the one most able to protect his peace therefore creating an imbalance of justice. Negative peaces is also a drain on resources. As the resources dwindle the power does too (page 106).

The empire is obsolete. Communication and world awareness make imperialists unable to subjugate. Shiffered explains that “the great historic empires began to collapse in the First World War (page 107).” Stationing military bases over the world to maintain power is too expensive. For example, America is losing power because it spends more than $658 billion annually to station soldiers worldwide to more locations than ever before. This cost is running up the deficit and creating a collapse of power which is necessary to maintain this type of negative peace (page 107-108).
With the ability to communicate worldwide the opportunity to connect with like-minded persons territories cannot be contained as in the past. This is why we need positive peace. Positive peace recognizes interdependence; it is a partnership society (page 109 and 111). We must move past anger and imagine the world as a “web of relationships that includes our enemies,” embrace differences and creativity, and accept the risk of attempting peace (page 109-110). “Creating peace means creating a whole culture” that branched from internal thoughts, state and region practices, and global attitudes (page 110). “In a peace system, war itself is the enemy (page 111)”

Shiffered, K. D. (2011). From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years. Jerfferson, NC. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishing.

** For Cr399U, Intro to Peace Studies, Portland State University, Fall Term, April 2012-2013

The War System

A summary of Chapter 3 and 4: From War to Peace by Kent D. Shifferd
By Lisa  A.M. Bauman
Chapter three explains that wars do not really "break out” but occur as a result of a war system. Shifferd quotes Robert Holmes saying “The problem isn’t so much the lack of desire for peace as it is the commitment to institutions that make peace impossible (page 55).”
War occurs through a system that institutes “ideas, values, institutions, behaviors and hardware (weaponry) exercised by sovereign states in a mutually reinforcing relationship with one another so that the normative outcome is war (page 55).” Although war is against human nature, we have approached conflict in terms of military strategy for nearly a millennia (page 56). This institution of war occurs as a consequence of a government’s role in “keeping the peace.” When the job is to keep peace, there is an assumption of potential war and real power. If one government has power, the other does not. The assumption is referred to by Shiffered as a zero sum game (page 57).
The strife for power in this zero sum game creates a system of war on global, state, and inter-governmental levels. On a global level this creates strife for resources and territorialism. Every government has an incentive to increase weaponry and prepare for potential wars. The economy becomes directly linked to the production of weapons, further incentivizing the war system (page 57-59). The goal no longer becomes peace, but “to develop better weapons than its potential enemies (page 60).” Within the state this system is further reinforced by the election of governing officials that promote its own philosophies.  Shifferd cites the Pentagon as an example saying that “This huge interlocking social system is geared toward keeping the war system functioning. It knows no other purpose, never questions the assumptions of the war system … (page 63).” Additionally, there is a military complex where “a mutually supportive relationship between the Pentagon, Congress, and the corporations that manufacture and supply weapons and other war material (page 63).” This alliance is not only true in America either. It is the nature of the war system itself that creates this cycle.
The war system saturates to all levels. Shifferd sites examples of “elements and feedback mechanisms” that appear in educational institutions from grade school to universities (page 66-67). He mentions the news media, movies, television, and even video games (page 67-72). These forms of media are “propagated by the government to push forward the war system (page 72).” For example, the “US Army spent eight million dollars developing a realistic video game that’s free for downloading and makes war entertaining so youth will want to enlist. The Pentagon tracks who scores well, so it can target them for recruiting later (page 72).” Shifferd identifies these forms of media as war toys; they are “positive feedback for the war system” in many cultures. Simular games reach even adults in war reenactments and social clubs (page 73).
Chapter Four begins by describing the war system and the dynamics of religion. Unlike modern hired mercenaries and recruited armys, religious groups fight from internal motivation (page 76, 86, and 87). Arguments can be made for a just war because religious scripture of all denominations “is full of violence and the justifications for violence (page 77).” These justifications are often “hypocritical deviations from the teachings” of the religion, especially since in modern times weapons cannot be used indiscriminately (page 82). Shifferd concludes that people turn to religion to justify their actions of terror and that because of this “those working for peace have much to fear from religion (page 85).”
War harms the environment. Manufacturing weapons create large amounts of pollutants. Toxins are dumped into landfills. Production leaks create toxic sites and wastewater. The US Department of Defense identified over 17,000 sites in our country alone (page 92). In addition, war training causes destruction and precedes laws such as the over use of ozone-destroying chemicals, noise pollution, and wildlife destruction in civilian populations. Some bombing practices are so loud that roofs have been pulled off of US houses (page 91). In war, land is completely devastated. Bombing destroys land and creates breeding grounds for disease carriers (page 87 and 88). Military toxins are dropped into the ocean (page 91). Resources are drained; especially petroleum and minerals (page 90). Agent Orange, a deadly chemical weapon is responsible for destroying over 8 million acres of forest and 3.8 million acres of cropland in Vietnam alone (page 88 and 89). Casualties occur when facilities that contain chemicals are destroyed too. During the 1981-1989 Iran-Iraq war a bombing caused a devastating oil spill from an offshore oil facility that caused near extinction of the dugongs, a manatee-like animal (page 89).
Worst of all, war does not hold its long-term promise to create peace. There is always a losing side and many times both sides sustain such losses that it is difficult to see a winner at all. Shifferd cites the 1981-1989 Iran-Iraq war as an example. Over one million casualties were sustained along with severe environmental destruction (page 94). History shows that wars breed more wars (pages 94-98). “In a war system, the rational thing to do is to strive for global dominance by means of overwhelming force (page 98).” Shifferd argues that by nature this goal will inevitably fail and breed destruction in the process. “It is plain to see that aggression produces retaliation and retaliation produces further aggression. War produces war (page 101).”
Shifferd draws a sharp contrast between what he calls the war and peace systems. In the war system people are looked at as objects and a means-to-an-end while in the peace system people are subjects and value is placed in individual happiness rather than strategic plans for power positioning. Shifferd explains that although the self-perpetuating war system has been dominant for several thousand years, he will show us in the next  chapters  that there is a realistic path to the peace system (page 102).

Shiffered, K. D. (2011). From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years. Jerfferson, NC. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishing.

** For Cr399U, Intro to Peace Studies, Portland State University, Fall Term, April 2012-2013

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lester Beall: A True Artist

By Lisa A. M. Bauman

Beal is very well known for his political posters during World War II and advertisements for the Rural Electrification Administration between 1937 and 1940. Also, in 1937 the Museum of Modern Art in New York honored him as the first graphic designer to showcase an exhibit in their halls.

Beal was educated at the University of Chicago and graduated 1929 with Ph.B. in History of Art. His education lead him to find an interest in Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Dadaism, Surrealism, the Russian Constructivists, and the studies at the Bauhaus (An Architectonic Clarity). What influenced his skill the most was his passion for fine art and study of the human form. There were many accounts of him spending hours in his study producing fine art. Beal himself states that “all through my life as a designer, I have spent considerable time developing myself as an artist. I am constantly drawing, with particular emphasis on the figure, which I find fascinating though difficult in term of evolving something that is not completely abstract but certainly not literal or realistic (Remington).”

Beall’s 44 year career demonstrated original, bold solutions that considered his client’s needs from all aspects. For Beall, art was a form of expression and communication. He believed that the designer “must work with one goal in mind—to integrate the elements in such a manner that they will combine to produce a result that will convey not merely a static commercial message, but an emotional reaction as well (Remington).”

Beal is described as an intellectual artist where “creative work is based less upon spontaneity than upon reflection.” He used multimedia, which differentiated him from other designers. He would use old woodcuts, lithos, drawings, typography, and pieces of paintings.  What is very interesting is Beall’s unabashed mixture of graphic design and photography. He was known for being with a camera at hand at all times (An Architectonic Clarity).

This use of multimedia and refusal to be confined by traditional ideals about graphical design inspire me. He valued art as a form of refined communication between his client and the client’s customer; feeling a sense of duty to convey this message accurately. He said: “If we can produce the kind of art which harnesses the power of the human instinct for that harmony of form, beauty and cleanness … then I think we may be doing a job for our clients (Remington).” He says: “The designer's role in the development, application and protection of the trademark may be described as pre-creative, creative and post-creative (Remington).”

In conclusion, Beall was the ideal graphical artist. He was not constrained in creativity, he was motivated by self-expression, and he was challenged and determined to solve graphical problems for his clients with accuracy.

"An Architectonic Clarity." Estate of Lester Beall , n.d. Web. 12 Oct 2012.
Remington, Roger . "Lester Beall." AIGA: the professional association for design. The American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1993. Web. 12 Oct 2012.

 ** For Art120, Graphic Design, Portland State University, Fall Term, April 2012-2013

Saturday, October 6, 2012

On Murder and Killing

A Summary of Chapter 2: The Psychology of Killing by Kent D. Shifferd
By Lisa A M Bauman

The most interesting thing I read in this book is this statement: " to 'brotherise' is unacceptable in warfare because, if universal, it would eliminate war." This statement was in regard to the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914 where officers "made it clear that further fraternization would be severely punished. Fraternization … it is a Latinate version of the word brother (page 40)."
The Seville Statement of Violence created by 20 prominent social and behavioral scientists states that "biology does not condemn humanity to war." The theory is that the human brain is not designed, drawn to, or evolved for warlike behavior. This is especially evident because war has changed so much over a short period of time. Further evidence shows this because unlike the soldiers who participated in the Christmas Truce of 1914, modern soldiers are intentionally psychologically conditioned to be able to kill and maim in war (page 41).
Shiffered argues that "empathy and the rational calculation of prudence" is what makes humans reluctant to kill each other and that the goal of psychological conditioning is to bypass that part of the brain. For some reason, as humans come closer to each other, the reality of the act of killing becomes more difficult to bear (page 42-43). In fact, the real reason that modern warfare is able to kill so many is that most killings occur by bombings, artillery, and machine guns (page 43). Shifferd writes: "Geographic distance equals emotional distance (page 43)."
Dehumanization is required to make a human able to kill. The first step of conditioning the human psyche like this for warlike behavior is through hate, fear and desensitization (page 40-41 and 44). Formal psychological conditioning is used in modern armies where "stimulus-response, punishment or reward, repeated almost endlessly (page 41)."
Dehumanization begins with desensitization. Methods include renaming sensitive things such as the request to kill another will be called a mission or a duty (page 44). Humiliation will be used to make soldiers "part of a mass, and separate from 'mere' civilians (page 47)." Negative depictions of the enemy will be shown through various forms of media (page 45). All of this is done with repetition and often on the minds of the young since they are more impressionable (page 46).
Of course forcing people against their nature of peace into a nature of violence has its physiological effects. Soldiers experience extreme fear of being harmed, guilt for their actions, guilt for surviving, shame for their own abilities to harm, and more (page 48). "Another result can be psychotic disassociation from reality … delirium, manic depression, and even Ganzer's syndrome (page 48)."
So why do these young soldiers fight and kill against their own nature? Jean Elshtain and others believe that this obsession and devotion to kill in the name of duty to the state is a religious phenomenon. Elshtain sees these sacrifices as a form of "modern state worship" where the state has taken the place of God (page 53). Shifferd argues that there are problems with this theory. He gives several examples of soldiers refusing to war and even committing mutiny despite the threat of death. He believes that "people put up with the insanity of modern war because their cultures provide them with no other alternative (page 54)."
In conclusion: human nature is positioned towards peace. The human psyche must be manipulated or pushed to behave in a warlike manner. Historical acts appear to be spurred on by a sense of duty to the state. Shifferd believes that this occurs because humans in this situation were given no alternatives for peace.

Shiffered, K. D. (2011). From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years. Jerfferson, NC. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishing.

** For Cr399U, Intro to Peace Studies, Portland State University, Fall Term, April 2012-2013