AFK-EuPRA – 20: Beyond ‘Liberal Peace’: Western and non-Western Approaches to Peace Theories and Practices: Epistemologies-Concepts-Tools-Findings

AFK-EuPRA – Panel 20:
Beyond ‘Liberal Peace’: Western and non-Western Approaches to Peace Theories and Practices: Epistemologies-Concepts-Tools-Findings

The concept of ‘liberal peace’ has recently been criticized within peace and conflict studies, particularly from postcolonial perspectives. This panel brings together theoretical reflections on ‘liberal peace’ with political practical debates on alternative concepts of peace, namely referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of non-violent action. Maximilian Lakitsch argues that non-emancipatory tendencies of liberal peace building and its failure to overcome multi-dimensional injustices in post-conflict societies can be traced back to basic arguments of liberal theories (e.g. Hobbes, Rawls). Thomas Daffern refers to global philosophical studies in a broader way and discusses what concepts of peace building they provide, moving beyond established liberal ideas. Rajiba Lochan Mishra and Sandeep Kumar Meel, in their papers, investigate Gandhi’s strategies for social transformation by non-violent action. They argue that non-violence is, at the same time, a theoretical and practical means to achieve what liberal peace fails to: social transformation under the condition of structural inequalities within societies based on race, class/caste, and gender.

Chair: Havva Kök Arslan (Hacettepe University, Turkey)


Thomas Daffern (The International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy, Scotland): What Role for Global Philosophy in Peace and Conflict Studies?

Based on over 30 years advanced study and research (at the University of London and elsewhere) this paper will ask the question: what role is there for global philosophical studies in the search for peace and the resolution of conflict in today’s complex mulltipolar world ? First the paper will attempt to define global philosophy, namely the comparative study of different philosophical systems, from all parts of the world’s diverse cultures, civilisations, nations and linguistic groupings; from all parts of the world’s religious traditions, including their denominational sub-divisions, and diverse lineages, sects, prophetic traditions, textual variants and hermeneutic complexities; from all epochs including contemporary and reaching back into Early Modern, Mediaeval and Ancient history and prehistoric time as far as possible. The paper will propose as a working tool for mapping this complex matrix of diverse philosophical and intellectual traditions, the Periodic Table of the World’s Religious and Philosophical Traditions, and will explain something of its history and protocols.

The paper will then identify about 30 or so contemporary civil wars and conflicts raging on the the planet, or in recent history, and will identify which aspects of philosophical conflict/paradigm clashes/ideological differences/religious struggle are relevant to these conflicts.

It will be argued that to properly solve and heal these conflicts, in depth comparative global philosophical research is indeed a sine qua non for the successful resolution of these ongoing conflicts. This is not to say that other causal factors (economics, militarism, political, diplomatic, gender) are also relevant, but the paper will conclude that if we leave out the philosophical and ideological dimension, we will continue to prove unable to solve conflicts in which they are playing an important role.

The paper will further propose the methodological took of transpersonal history to provide a scientific way of identifying, mapping and comparing the various rival ideological, philosophical and religious systems currently at war in various overt or covert conflicts underway in today’s world.

Finally, the paper will suggest that the European Union set up the European Union Mediation Service (EUMS) to tackle practical conflict resolution in regions bordering onto the European sphere, and that the EUMS should recognise the importance of offering practical conflict resolution outreach taking on board the importance of global philosophical research findings.

The paper will conclude by talking about the Interfaith Peace Treaty and its provenance as the first attempt to establish a lasting philosophical and interfaith peace agreement between warring ideological, religious and theological blocs.

Maximilian Lakitsch (University of Graz, Austria): The Hobbesian State of Nature in its Relevance for Peacebuilding

The latest history of assisting post-conflict countries in fostering comprehensive and lasting peace in their societies has been far from successful. Most strategies of peacebuilding are pursued according to the concept of ‘liberal peace’. The presentation assumes that the tendency of liberal peacebuilding not to achieve its emancipatory intentions of overcoming the inequalities and cleavages in post-conflict societies can be traced back to fundamental arguments of liberal theory. Thomas Hobbes planted the seed for crucial flaws that are perpetuated in John Rawls’ conceptions of liberal theory. However, it is Thomas Hobbes’ concept of the State of Nature that can provide a way to overcome those identified deficiencies and translate liberal theory’s emphatic ideals into the reality of a war-torn society: in its application as a tool, the State of Nature serves as a guide for (re-) building an egalitarian society from the bottom up without ignoring the significance of specific group identities for peace and conflict.

Rajiba Lochan Mishra (Neelamadhab Mahavidyalaya, Kantilo, India): Gandhian Non-Violence: An Approach to Conflict Resolution & Peace Evolution

While conflicts can be managed and resolved to the extent of peace keeping, evolving to state of peace and peace society is a far larger and challenging experience. The armed forces by definition and global practice are nurtured and trained to violence. However, it takes a lot more time and enough maturity and strength for a non-violent struggle.

Mahatma Gandhi- the icon of global peace, nonviolence and freedom movement in India not only symbolized the most efficient and alternative equivalent to violence, he practiced nonviolence as a mechanism of enlightened conviction and strength which virtually decapacitated the formidable British military ability.

Mahatma Gandhi pursued nonviolence and practiced ‘Satyagrah’ throughout his life and political resistance movement which, hitherto unknown in the political resistance vocabulary, empirically stand today as a practical and successful method to attain not only political freedom but moral direction to peace and peace society.

Gandhian nonviolence and Satyagrah was not an abstract philosophy of intellectual enlightenment but a practical as well as philosophical method and action plan to self order and mechanism to higher experience of peace.

Gandhian nonviolence and Satyagrah is a tenfold mechanism to peace building and peace society. It has so far not been replicated elsewhere. However, given the rising global intolerance, sectarian and ideological divide and growing divisiveness, Gandhian nonviolence and Satyagrah stand to be one of the finest tools to construction of peace societies.

Gandhian approach revolves around his doctrine of Truth, Non-violence, Creative self Suffering, Faith in Human Goodness, Fearlessness, Accommodation, Non-violent Coercion and the Dialectics of Satyagrah followed with a methodology of Satyagrah to experiment conflict resolution and peace execution.

Social incompatibilities being the major source of conflict, Gandhi perceived Truth as ‘Soul Force’. Nonviolence and truth being intertwined, if pursued with fearlessness accompanied by moral strength for Creative self Suffering, they will invariably deliver the goal of conflict resolution and open path way to peace. Driven by the soul force of truth, Satyagrah as a methodology shall non-violently coerce the opponent and help rekindle his/her human goodness to respond to peace options.

The United Nations Charter of peaceful settlement of disputes is set forth in Article-2, Paragraph-3 and member States being signatory, commit to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that peace, security and justice are not endangered. In spite this global commitment, peace is almost eluding. This international commitment may have to be repackaged into a Gandhian non-violence approach and methodology to convert it into an action plan towards global peace. Policies do not make peace but practices do. Peace cannot be left to the whimsical notions of statesmen, militarists and nuclear scientists of our age. It has to be evolved through truth, nonviolence, accommodation and ability to creative self suffering through nonviolent practices.

Dwelling on Gandian Peace experience and methodology, this paper proposes methodology to global conflict resolution and peace evolution.

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