The Alternative to War


                                                               Reprinted from;

                                                                                  Gandhi Marg, April 1971

                                                                                   The BEACON, Sept. 1972


F OR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY PEOPLE ARE SERIOUSLY questioning the viability of the American Constitution; many fear a police state, and others welcome a dictatorship or violent revolution. The family has long been in trouble, with increasing divorce and marital infidelity. Organized religion is charged everywhere with inadequacy and irrelevance. . Educators are the first to admit that they are confused about their role in society. Philosophers wander in a labyrinth of words, finding no meaning for our age. . Psychologically, our Bufferin culture is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, feeling insensitive to all values and an anomie about life itself. Sociologically, we see the increased slavery of Man to the machine and computer, so that he has become mechanized and dehumanized.


This feeling is not new, of course, for prophets of doom like H. G. Wells and also Oswald Speiigler were telling us such things before the First World War, and they were joined by a host of Cassandras between the wars. The point is that their worst predictions have been borne out; the breakdown is worse than they ever imagined. ‘The idea is beginning to sink down in to the masses of the population that our culture may not recover, and increasing numbers of moderate persons speak of revolution as inevitable if not already here.


I have not mentioned the most striking evidence of the disintegration of our civil-ization, war. Not only is war becoming such an everyday part of life that we hard-ly know what peace is. but it is getting more devastating and cruel. After the unprecedented slaughter of the Napoleonic Wars, each. World War. escalated the number of killed, the extent of devastation, the financial cost and the damage to the very fibre of civilization. Every panacea to end war has been tried: arbitration, the world courts, mediation, prohibiting it, cooling-off, disarmament, neutrality, balance of power, leagues of nations, and alliances, but with no visible sign of peace. Students of international relations are more and more persuaded that mere surface palliatives such as these will not cure war, and that something more basic is required.



The latest American panacea, used since the fifties, is the cool application of “the national interest’’. This has brought us a ceaseless arms race, innumerable limited wars and finally the war in Vietnam, the longest in American history with deaths and casualties matched only by the bloody Civil War. To end this President Nixon brought in the best that the scholarly world could provide, Professor Kissinger, a student of Metternich’s balance of power. But the nation is now deeper in the mire of Cambodia. With no end 0f the war in sight. we find ourselves more in sensitized to civilized values, as shown recently when the Pentagon announced with a straight face that our bombing of Cambodia would continue despite the danger of civilians. because their death would be “less than the danger of being overwhelmed by the Vietcong’’. We are beginning to realize that these Machiavellian devices of the national interest and balance of power are more than ineffective nostrums, they are the poison of war itself.


What is required is a fundamental shift in attitudes of the entire culture that will make war impossible. . In effect, we need a revolution of the spirit. A surprising number 0f thoughtful people have shown that the basic attitude under-lying a peaceful culture must be love. It was Benjamin Franklin who said , “He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the earth’’. But as far as I know no one has dealt with this possibility in a systematic way.


I propose to set forth here the basic outline of how love would be applied to international relations. The first problem is the inadequacy of the English language, which uses the one word love for a wide range of emotions. if we exclude the erotic sense of lust we are left with something like altruism. But that is too cold a term, and what we mean is more than mere friendship or liking, but an active, warm emotion of brotherhood and humanity. The term used in the New Testament was agape, a love that flowed from God to Man, and which he was capable of passing on to his fellow man, no matter how strange or estranged. This love was particularly meant for enemies and foreigners. The hardest problem is proving that love can be applied to international relations. I come at this from the three ways of knowing: intuition, reason and observation. Perhaps the first is the easiest. It is by intuition that each of us knows the truth that one must love all human beings. We naturally hate war, and love peace, and do not wish to kill. And subtly we sense that if all men would be loving indeed we could abolish war. This, 0f course, is what all religions have been about, whether you take our western tradition, where you find it in the Old Testament and the New, or the Eastern religions. The idea of love is basic in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, and was pronounced by all the great Chinese sages, Confucius, Mencius, Lao-tze and Mo-tze. It is at the core of Islam, and if you look you will find it in every other religion, whether that of the American Indian or the African tribes. And what the great interpreters of religion have been saying since the first revelations is that we must love all our brothers. In our Western tradition this was the great message of Saints Paul, Augustine, Bernard, Francis, and of Erasmus and the great Protestant reformers. The same is true of the interpreters of the Eastern religions, like Suzuki for Zen, al I-Iallaj for Islam and Aurobindo for Hinduism. And now the modern theologians arc rediscovering the principle. Take the titles of their Works of Love (Kierkegaard) Love, Power and Justice (Tillich), Agape and Eros (Nygren), The Mind and Heart of Love (D’Arcy), and Love and Justice (Niebuhr). And isn’t it this kind of love of all men that our young artists are calling for—in Joan Baez’ impassioned protest against the war, in Rod McCuen’s poems, and when the producer of Hair speaks of the message of love?


The intuition of our good senses will not satisfy most people in this skeptical age, which demands reasons why love would abolish war. Yet when we study what is at the core of the ideas of the most prophetic philosophers, like Camus, Hocking, Huxley, Jaspers, Maritain, Mumford, Northop, Radh Akrishnan, Russell and Schweitzer, we find them saying that reason tells us that hate does not make peace, but war; only love can create peace.


Still that will not satisfy us until we have the evidence of our senses. For those who must know by experience, science proves that love brings peace. At the most basic level of human biology there is a debate between the popular delusion of the struggle for existence and those who believe life is based on the cooperative principle. The popularizers of the animal aggression ideas of Konrad Lorenz seem to have shown new evidence for the evil in man, reviving all the lore of Original Sin and Social Darwinism. But if I read correctly what the biologists themselves are saying it is that there is as much life as there is because living things cooperate. Nature is not naturally bloody, and war is exceptional and not built into our genes. British zoologist John H. Crook says “There is.. ...no effective evidence for a genetically determined appetite for aggressive behavior, for aggression in human society is thus largely a cultural attribute”.’ Agreeing with this, American physiologist Stuart Mudd concludes, with Lorenz, that the solution is “love and compassion.”    The science of psychology lends support to this, and the extensive study of aggression and causes of war since World War If shows that love is the basis of the healthy mind, that war is insanity, and if we wish to live in peace we must learn to love. Psychiatrist Jerome Frank writes “Humans generally would rather love than hate. . Survival today depends on redirecting the drive for power and the impulse to violence and fostering the countervailing drives toward fellowship and community”


The anthropologists, most human of the scientists, are almost totally agreed that human society is based upon love, and point to the many harmonious and peaceful societies that have been created by maximizing the principle. As a student of the Australian aborigines says “Society is based on love, in fact is but a developed form of love”. So he concludes that to save mankind we must completely reorient our values to “those of humanity, of cooperation, of love”.


Sociologists have long led the field in insisting upon altruism as the basis of society and all its institutions, from the family to the state. One thinks particularly of the work of P.A.Sorokin, founder of the Department of Sociology at Harvard, who devoted a quarter of a century to his Centre for the Study of Altruism, turning out a dozen books proving the necessity of love in all parts of our culture, including international relations. A lifetime of brilliant work is summed up in his speech to the International Sociological Congress at Nurnberg on “The Mysterious Energy of Love” in which he shows that love has tremendous power, even to stop war and catastrophe, but that history had “given man an ultimatum: Perish by your own hands or rise to a higher moral level through the grace of creative love”.


Economics, unfairly called the dismal science, has its practitioners who point out the truth that all economics is reciprocal exchange, which sonic arc willing to admit might stem from human cooperation if not love. A few, like Barbara Ward, Ben-jamin Higgins, Daniel Hoffman and Vinoba Bhave, have stuck out their necks to say that we should try love. Kenneth Boulding says. “we’ve got to tell scientists that they can go totally wrong and totally to pieces unless knowledge is redeemed by love”.


Even political science, which seems so bogged down in quantification and comput-erization, has a few theoreticians who say that love must be applied to international relations, among them Joan Bondurant, M .Q. Siblev , and a surprising number of younger scholars. Theodore Lentz, known as the grandfather of peace research wrote ‘‘The crisis 0f our culture calls for faith in the merging of curiosity with compassion. of love of truth with the love of man’’.


But what is more astou nding is the number of practical politicians who venture a good word for love in international politics, among them the Prime Minister of Japan. Adlai Stevenson, Danilo Dolci. Sargent Shriver, and J .P. Narayan. United Nations Secretary General U Thant speaks for all mankind when he reminds us, as he often does, to follow the polities of Gandhi in practising nonviolence based on love.


Historians have long told us that civilization is founded upon love and warned us that the progressive drying up of love in our culture could only bring death and the destruction we see about us. The names of Herbert Butterfield, E.N.Johnson, John Nef, Shotwell, and Schubart occur to me. The concluding volume of Toynbee’s famous Study of History asserts: “if the first step on Man’s road to sainthood is the renunciation of Man’s traditional role of being his brother’s murderer, the second step would be the acceptance of Man’s ’s new role of being his brother’s keeper.”


All of this theoretical support for the idea is of little comfort, says my critic, if it doesn’t work. As Emerson said, “The power of love, as the basis of a State, has never been tried” ( Essay on Politics). Not quite true, for historical research since Emerson’s day has uncovered the following striking facts. War is more charact-eristic at higher levels of civilization, so that utterly peaceful societies arc not at all unusual among primitive people. To cite a few: the Malayan aborigines, Bontuks, Matitras, Batuas, Kariaks, Yuroks, Curctos and Paumaris. At “higher’ levels, wars become more destructive, but there arc many cultures which have had far less war than others: Early Mediaeval Europe. Hundu, Sinic, Irish, Ncstorian. Minoan, and others. if we seek the reasons we find a very strong ethic of love at the core of the moral system.


But what Emerson meant, perhaps, was that love hadn’t been applied to national politics. I wonder if be had forgotten William Penn’s not entirely unsuccessful experiment in Philadelphia which achieved remarkably peaceful international relations with Indian neighbors. I have found a number of successful applications of love by mediaeval Christians such as Leo I and Louis IX. In other cultures there is the striking example of the Indian ruler Asoka and the five Chinese rulers cited by Mo-tzc. But the fact is that the most impressive examples have occurred since Emerson’s time. William Lloyd Garrison’s anti-slavery movement was consciously based upon love and he got the state to apply it. The greatest practitioner of love in politics has been Gandhi, in South Africa after 1906 and his successful liberation of India. He has been followed by numerous disciples like Ghaffar Khan in Pakistan, Vinoba Bhavc in India, Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy in America. and Kwamc Nkrumab and Kenneth Kaunda in Africa. There are probably more examples of applied altruism in American politics than we arc willing to give ourselves credit for in this age in which morals have been thrown out of politics. But there is a growing number of cases of applied political altruism to which the citizen can turn for guidance. A convenient casebook of these is in William R. Miller’s Nonviolence: A Christian Interpretation (New York, Schocken 1964).


At this point my reader may say “Well, you’ve persuaded me that it’s worth trying, but I don’t see how it would work’’ . Part of the problem is deciding just where to begin. The culture as a whole certainly needs pacification, but that seems beyond our ability. Even starting with institutions is too big, for we realize that all of them need it: the family must teach love, our state and local governments must be alturized, we must put love into our Schools, especially into the teaching of international relations. We must improve all our associations from clubs to religious groups, and above all, we must make our national and international institutions in to loving ones. But we arc constantly pressed hack to the necessity of reforming ourselves, for love must begin with the individual. Unless we practice it in every day life we can not transform those institutions to which we belong, let alone the culture as a whole. What I am asking is a spiritual revolution, of the heart. This is a tall order, but I think the revolutionary age in which we live is making people aware of the need of a fundamental change. They see more clearly that mere tinkering with the machinery is no panacea, and that time-worn palliatives of the balance of power. police force, revision of the United Nations Charter or world conquest are no solution. But they cannot see clearly what kind of world this would be.


Let me suggest how altruism would be applied in international relations. The general concept of love or brotherhood of all men leads to three major principles: nonviolence, human rights and teaching of love.


In the first principle love demands that we shall never injure any other man, phy-sically or psychologically, if we wish to change institutions, including those that kill and main, we must learn to do this without killing and maiming. Gandhi and Martin Luther King have shown us the way to do this: through satyagraha , litterally the power of love applied to political action. Actually. sociologists like Sorokin have proved that love is far more powerful than violence, for the simple reason that violence generates resistance. Love, on the other hand, evokes the best qualities 0f the opponent, and converts by persuasion rather than force. Needless to say, most people don’t stay forced very long.


At the practical working level of international relations, satyagraha would mean the following policies: (1) Non-aggression, strictly applied, so that nations neutralize their politics, renounce war, and suppress all war propaganda and incitement of hatred of rival ideologies. (2) Non-intervention, a doctrine hallowed by the Good Neighbour Policy and Wilsonian self-determination, but more honoured in the breach than in practice, as our recent invasions of Cambodia, Cuba and the Domin-ican Republic have shown. (3) Disarmament, not merely to the tenuous balance of terror achieved by arms limitation, but a deliberate reduction of reliance upon arms, conscription, standing armies, navies, and strategic bombing forces, and cutting down financing of arms and war taxes. (4) Non-violent change. I realize that by listing the above policies I have already raised the spectre of the greatest enemy of peacc, the fear of the other aggressor. We already know that the traditional methods of impeding aggressors by threat and attack create only war. We also know that there are alternatives, most of them already built into the world constitution: techniques of peaceful settlement, arbitration, adjudication, cooling-off and mediation, but we fear to use them. Love commands us to employ them rather than sink to the stupidity of using the past weapons of hate and retaliation. But we must find ways of dealing with aggression by applying the gandhian principle of satvagraha to international problems. We have been too fearful in trying to interpose neutral forces between fighting parties; we have been too un-imaginative in creating an international police force, let alone the more promising nonviolent force based on the power of love. Nor have we utilized effectively the tremendous sanctions of world public opinion against such evils as racism in Rhodesia and South Africa. The fact is that we are timid when it comes to applying love, and constantly use the weapon of the meek, which is violence.


For sheer survival we must pursue a policy of reconciliation based upon love. There is no sane reason at all for hoping for a war with any country; we can only want friendship with China, Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam, East Germany, the U.A.R., or any other current or future “enemy”. There is absolutely nothing in nature or politics that requires that men have enemies. If we think we need an outlet for our energies, let us redirect our aggression against the common enemies of man, natural and man-made. Nature has provided enough problems of death, disease, poverty and catastrophe to keep us busy. But man has added those of ignorance and insanity, overcrowding and pollution, crime and hatred, and war itself. What love requires is that we seek at once to achieve reconciliation with our enemies. And this means at once dispelling those myths of hatred that we nurse every day about tile evil leaders, the faceless masses and the incorrigible bad guys on the other side.


My second principle based on the principle of love is human Rights, best expressed in Albert Schweitzer’s dictum of Reverence for Life. We must see that our love of all men leads us to defend the social and rights of al, as expressed in the Declaration of Human Rights, especially those of the family and human personality. We must continue to deplore the absence of those rights in communist countries but be quicker to commend when they are restored. We must be even more vigilant not to be hypocritical and fail to criticize our friends whom we can influence in Greece, South Vietnam, South Africa, Angola and a dozen American satellites. But even more important, we must first assure that we set the example of guaranteeing those rights to our own people. whether in our Micronesian colonies or our own neglected ghettos and pueblos. The greatest contribution Americans could make to human rights would be to practice unadulterated love at home.


The second aspect of human rights we must assure is the physical one, caring for the health and well—being of all men. This means not only continuing the tremendous generosity Americans have always shown to foreigners in catastrophe, but expanding our sharing of aid and technological knowledge for development. There has been no cheaper investment in terms of dollars, yet more productive in terms of human development, than the Peace Corps—the best thing the United States has done in the postwar world—a movement based frankly on love. What we need now is to internationalize it so that all men can join that effort and we can share the comradeship of helping together.


But the human right I am most concerned about is that of peace. which Man does not have today . This comes down to the question of how we are to be governed. It takes no great imagination to see that we need some substitute for the anarchy of nation states, something like world government. We have no scarcity of very practical plans and constitutions on how to bring this about; I think of the World Peace through World Law movement. We already know what kind of federal government we want to prevent world dictatorship and assure continued cultural diversity. We know we want a responsible legislature and effective courts, but do we know how to get it? Every scheme for world government bogs down on the problem of motivation . Proclaiming that it is essential has been tried and hasn’t persuaded enough people. We must first give up the forlorn hope that somehow the old tried system of force based upon hate will work. When we have transformed the attitudes of our culture towards love we will find that the institutions of world government will begin to take shape almost spontaneously.


And so we arc driven back again to the problem of how to change men. This is why I feel that the most critical problem is the science of teaching love. Let me outline a few of the essentials. First of all, we must increase our studies of peace. We know too little about it, for our warring culture has studied war for ages in its war colleges and academies. Where are the Universities oi Peace? For that matter. where can a student major in peace? Until recently it was even hard to find a course on peace in any university. Little wonder that we have few persons who can teach about it in high school or mothers who can tell their children about it. Clearly what is needed is a great expansion of the knowledge and teaching about peace at every educational level, from the nursery to adult education. We need world-oriented texts, we need peace curricula, research in altruism, and a Peace University. We need teacher training for peace and love. I see some recent moves in this direction, hut one can be assured that most of the money and effort will go into the study of established trivia like the balance of power and war games, and virtually nothing into the altruization 0f man.


Among the things we need to educate about is learning tolerance, the art of peace through love. Far more effort must be directed toward eliminating racial bigotry, to teaching universal history and the history of humanity. We know pitifully little about the techniques of peacemaking. Ask any diplomat where to find information and he will tell you it is an art that one learns, and few do. This is not deliberate evasion; the diplomat hasn’t had time to tell how he makes peace, and oniy a few scientists like Roland Warren have studied it. The linguistic analyst could contribute much by showing the role of speech in peacemaking. In fact every discipline in the university could contribute a great deal to the understanding 0f peace and love if research efforts were turned to that. Above all we need attention to practical training in the application of love to political change. The experiments of Gandhi and King opened the way and many of our young people arc applying the method and finding new insights into the possibilities of love. The study needs to be used against the inevitable violence that wilt come with the breakdown of the old culture.


I am persuaded that peace is possible and not some utopia. I believe that it can be established if we apply and extend the knowledge that we already have in the social sciences which prove that love can bring peace. We must listen to what the philosophers are telling us, for it supports what our intuition tells us, that we can achieve peace only through love. I don’t pretend that it will be easy, but I don’t think it will be any harder than trying for several millennia with disastrous results. To change our culture we must transform our own American society into that loving ideal we have always held. But basic to all is the reform of our own selves. When we have adopted love in our own lives we will suddenly find that the rest of society has been transformed into one of love and peace.



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