Turbulent Peace, Power, and Ethics

Turbulent Peace, Power, and Ethics

Fredy Cante (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9675-4.ch001
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A situation of turbulent peace is defined as an ambiguous transition from direct violence (which ends by means a fragile and incomplete peace agreement among enemies) to an indirect and subtle violence euphemistically denominated as progress. Indeed, a big rate of economic growth implies growing prosperity, incremented consumption, and increasing investment in the present but, sadly, the consequence of this material progress will be the suffering of future generations because the exhaustion and deterioration of nature in a world where the entropy is worsened by the rapacity of actual generations. The depletion and contamination of natural resources is the inherent cost of material progress and development of “productive” forces. The ideological, coercive and economic power of some organized minorities, and the acquiescence of a big majority of human beings constitutes the root of this problem. The antidote against this power is the critical examination of values by active citizens and the guide of ethics. In the long run this problem can be solved promoting a nonviolent economy.
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A century ago a pessimistic visionary, the author of the Devil’s Dictionary (Bierce, 2004), stated that peace is “… a period of cheating between two periods of fighting”. This significance was referred to the arena of international affairs but also is valid in the context of internal conflict or civil war. Without doubts this accurate meaning is a variation by a minor composer on a theme composed by an original Master. The memorable Heraclitus of Ephesus stated wisely two famous sentences: “Everything flows and nothing stays” and “War is the father and king of all: some he has made gods, and some men; some slaves and some free.”

The turbulence invades the different attempts to attain peace because destructive power and unethical deals are very frequent in the human relationships (and force, fraud and deception are the main strategies of powerful people). Exist at least three kinds of turbulences in the process of peace, namely: a) Peace agreements can be used like a Trojan horse by opportunistic rivals; b) Conflict is an agonistic game among several adversaries and, consequently, peace agreements are partial consensus and, consequently, are source of new unconformity and renovated confrontations (all the sectors of a society want peace but each sector have different views of peace); and c) During and after a flourishing peacetime a reconciled society can promote material progress (unbound economic growth, incessant development of productive forces) which is in an inclement an violent process of creative destruction. Colombia and Iraq are paradigmatic and clear examples of turbulent peace because opportunistic rivals and biased peace agreements, nevertheless the rest of the supposedly peaceful and prosperous nations are carriers of others turbulences because they are promoting destructive progress.

In the recent history of Colombia (IEPRI, 2006) there are three process of turbulent peace, and each one has been cause of new kinds of war, and the next is the synthesis:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Turbulent Peace: A very ambiguous kind of peace which is characterized like a period of transition between a previous situation of war among people toward a new state of struggle by people against nature (and by opulent people against poor persons and future generations). A partial and incomplete peace can be attained among individuals that in the past were enemies, but that peace agreement open the doors to a process of unbound economic progress which generates indirect violence against marginal persons and future generations because the destruction of nature (depletion of natural resources and contamination that is condition to the development of “productive forces”).

Morality: Morality is equivalent to voluntary cooperation, and can be understood like a behavior guided by the accomplishment of duties (which are selfless guidance and non-egoistic power that permit the social cohesion). Morality is the basis of this virtuous behavior and, consequently, the glue of societies. For example, a moral agent could be motivated by duty or by the desire to maximize average or perhaps minimum welfare. And, indeed, a moral agent could be animated by the desire to ensure the protection of certain rights (including the important wish to protect the environment).

Moral: The meaning of moral has been developed by some thinkers like Hirschman, who has said that, sadly, a majority of human beings are wantons or immoral beings because they have only current economic preferences and, consequently, they lack of self-reflexive and critical view about the sense of his or her life, and in relationship with the collective aims of a desired social order. The big importance of moral choices, following the ideas of Sen, Frankfurt, Arendt and Hirschman, can be summarized in the next items: I) a person has the capacity of autonomous and self-reflexive thinking; II) the moral is part of high values: the legendary liberal J. S. Mill understood perfectly the importance of this behavior when he said: “is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”; III) a person has second order volitions (meta-preferences, moral values, ideologies), and, consequently, she or he is a moral agent that takes care about the problems of a society, and in relationship with a desirable social order; IV) a person is a lover of freedom and, consequently has moral dignity (the capacity to disobey absurd, incorrect and perverse orders) and, moreover, has the ability to exert countervailing power.

Ethics: Moral philosophy. The study of ethics constitutes a rescue of the very old academic tradition of economy which goes back at least to Aristotle that, justly affirmed that politics (including economics) legislates as to what we are to do and what we are to abstain from, and that the end of this science must include those of the others, so that this end must be good for man. In this order of ideas, the ethics has two central issues, namely: First, the question about human motivations and behaviors: “How should one live?” and; Second, the complex judgment of social achievement (the god for man, and the god for nature). The ethics, help us to overcome the next main difficulties of moral values and morality, namely: a) there is not a definitive and perfect set of moral values and an absolute and true guidance of morality; b) moral values and morality are circumscribed to cultural traditions and, moreover, they are dependent of the status quo (interest and power) of persons; c) there is not an universal agreement about the best moral values and about the better guidance of morality.

Endosomatic and Exosomatic Instruments: Human beings have a poor endowment of endosomatic instruments (compared with the natural skills and powerful tools of the rest of animals), but they have evolved by means the fabrication of artificial tools (means of production) which are inspired in organs and properties of humans and animals, and that potentiate their work (although consuming a lot of energy). The big increment in the production of this artificial instruments, and the notable sophistication and productivity (high capacity to work, and to produce faster a growing quantity of output), especially during the last five centuries of modern age, has caused dangerous and uncertain effects over nature and the life.

Power: According to K. Boulding the power is exercised when men love, construct enterprise, create theories and scientific experiments, and expands markets, and, of course when they launch wars or compose poesy, in all their conceivable actions, human beings exercise power. The common denominator of these actions is, justly, that in order to attain our objectives we want to exercise influence and authority over our allies, and force and dissuasion over our enemies. To the influent T. Schelling –ideologist of cold war strategies and pioneer of the games theory– power is present in all human actions (love, sex, education, business, etc.) The individuals play games of strategy and, consequently, they exercise power: a player (an individual or a social group) has the capacity to get what he wants by exercising influence (or violent pressure) over his allies and enemies. Even a small baby has the capacity to get a toy because even the baby in arms –like the best actors and convincing girlfriends– uses their crocodile tears in order to exercise influence over his parents.

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