August 29, 2006

The True Nature Of Peace

Infidel Rusty reminds us that St. Augustine of Hippo explains in The City of God, Book XIX, Ch. 12 how peace in its ideal form is not what humans desire, but rather a peace to their liking, according to their desires and beliefs, a peace that favors both the individual and the group, usually in opposition to other groups. Often, conflicting views of this precise nature of peace is what leads to the war that ends the old peace structure in favor of a potentially more beneficial peace. Of course, the other side, unhappy with the new situation, may oppose the new peace. Thus, conflict is both inevitable and permanent:
Whoever gives even moderate attention to human affairs and to our common nature, will recognize that if there is no man who does not wish to be joyful, neither is there any one who does not wish to have peace.

For even they who make war desire nothing but victory,--desire, that is to say, to attain to peace with glory. For what else is victory than the conquest of those who resist us? and when this is done there is peace. It is therefore with the desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle.

And hence it is obvious that peace is the end sought for by war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better.

They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind.
Indeed, for Islam, a world of Muslims comprised in the dar al-Islam, the house of submission, represents peace against the dar al-Harb, the house of war. Only when those outside Islam are brought to submission, converted, and the house of war eliminated, can there be peace.

Similarly, two thousand years of Western culture has revealed that democracy, market economies, and inherent human freedoms comprise a package designed to bring peace to those throughout the world (extremely oversimplified to be sure). Communism or "scientific socialism" had its own version of what world peace meant. So did Nazism.

In several eras, peace was enforced by a hegemon, a nation/state with enough power to discourage opposition unilaterally or bring a coalition to bear against potential upstart rivals. The Pax Romana epitomizes this concept, and was succeeded in later times by powers such as Britain or America. Even eras dominated by two rival powers, with their own spheres of influence, recognized that for certain stretches neither side could gain a significant advantage against the opposition, and so a tense but tentative peace existed--think U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and mutually assured destruction.

When peaceniks, anti-American and anti-Israeli activists, and other countries target the West and accuse them of attacks on peace, it is either because the current situation gives them an advantage and the conflict's (Iraq, Israel in Lebanon) potential outcome would harm that arrangement; the setback could represent a serious blow to their envisioned peace scheme (wiping Israel off the map in the Middle East, eliminating the West); or some other such nonsense. Either way--and there are myriad other reasons--"peace" cannot exist in all places and at all times, until rival visions of peace are reconciled and become congruous, or are eliminated altogether.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home