Peace is overrated

I just came back from a talk given by a fairly standard, run-of-the-mill civil servant who’s specialization is the new, over-hyped field of ‘conflict management’.  In the two hours I spend there, I think I must have heard the word ‘peace’ used so much that it lost all meaning.  This got me thinking about how obsessed liberals are with ‘peace’ as some sort of idealized pancea that ought to be sought above all else.

Surely, if we think about it critically, we can realize that, while nobody obviously wants conflict, peace, in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing if it serves to merely solidify other exisiting horrific social conditions.

For instance, one could easily take this current liberal obsession with ‘peace’ and do something radical which liberals are not wont to do: place the subject back 150 years, look at it dialectically, and see what we get.

Well, we get this:


So the problem of the liberal obsession with peace is that, to borrow a quote:

“Peace is over rated. Any slave can have peace. Just pick the cotton.”

So, just as with most liberal thinking, its true absurdity only becomes obvious when you take the time to look at it dialectically and place it within an historical context.

See also:

“Civil Liberty”
The myth of humanity as naturally violent
Propaganda In Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

9 Responses to “Peace is overrated”

  1. 1 KevinG 17 September, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    So, just as with most liberal thinking, its true absurdity only becomes obvious when you take the time to look at it dialectically and place it within an historical context.

    Where to start?

    Perhaps you mean that when placed in a completely different context, even the obvious goal of reducing the human suffering associated with armed conflict can seem absurd. What you are suggesting is that liberals believe that peace is the only goal and that all others are subordinate at all times. I wonder, did anyone actually say this or did the straw-man appear unbidden in your thoughts?

    Here’s a hint. In the taxonomy of political philosophy, liberals are the ones who uphold individual rights and socialists are the ones who subordinate them.

  2. 2 paulitics 17 September, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    First of all, the point, since it obviously wasn’t clear to you, was to illustrate that even liberals shouldn’t actually believe the conflict management field’s sine qua non heuristic device that peace ought to be seen as a virtue in and of itself.

    Second of all, socialists uphold individual rights: we just uphold different rights over the ones you do. For instance, unlike liberal capitalists, we don’t support the individual’s right to use capital to exploit those without capital, while we do support the right of individuals to the necessities of life, food, shelter, employment, education, et cetera. Conversely, liberals historically have been steadfastly opposed to these items since it was Marx who championed, among many other things, universal state-run education and the such (although now liberals have adopted these Marxist ideals and claimed it was theirs all along). So, thanks for your ‘hint’, but sadly, it’s too horribly naive to be useful to me in any meaningful way.

    • 3 Ray 15 July, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Marx was a fool. He based his entire “understanding” of the free market on the loan sharks he was constantly in debt to in London. He was wrong about everything and anyone who follows him is a fool.

  3. 4 Simon A. Dougherty 18 September, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    I agree that “peace” in a narrow sense that suggests the absence of conflict, is very problematic.

    On the other hand, “peace” as a broad and complex phenomenon is a very desirable thing. One doesn’t even need to get too academic about it to illustrate the point. Everyone has heard of “peace of mind” and other incarnations of peace. I’m sure that slaves (both past and present) do not have psychological peace just because physical conflict is absent in their work. “Peace” is also not entirely synonymous with “pacifism.” The list of complexities can go on and on….

    I would advocate reclaiming a complex understanding of “peace” rather than abandoning it with nothing in its place.

  4. 5 Nick J Boragina 23 September, 2007 at 12:57 am

    wow. No offence, but I never thought I’d hear any sence from a leftist… okay, maybe a LITTLE offence :P

    I always remember the parable of kang and kodus. That’s right, the simpsons has a lesson. In one of the treehouse of horrors episodes, someone (probably lisa) wishes for world peace – after which the planet is taken over by aliens and no one can fight back because of world peace.

    While we probably disagree with regards to the Israel-Palestine issue, think about it this way. World Peace means no Palestine. Ever. World Peace means no Kurtistan. World Peace means the US continues thier monitary domination of the planet. These are all causes that leftists can get behind, and show how the idea of “world peace” is not as happy as some people make it sound.

  5. 6 paulitics 23 September, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Nick – “I never thought I’d hear any sence [sic] from a leftist”

    That’s because most people who call themselves ‘leftists’ are merely liberals who’s insipid and uninspiring brand of politics underwhelms everyone else on both the right and the (true) left. :-)


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