views updated May 21 2018


Subinternational peace plans

International peace systems

World peace systems

Peace movements


Social science has uncovered more knowledge about war than about peace, just as psychology probably has yielded more insights into negative deviance (such as mental illness) than into positive deviance (such as creativity). Unfortunately, studies tend to be focused on wars as units of analysis rather than on periods of peace, and there is a tendency to define peace simply as “nonwar.” Thus, peace thinking has had a tendency to become Utopian and to be oriented toward the future; it has been speculative and value contaminated rather than analytical and empirical. It is conceivable that this might change if research were to be focused more on peace than on war.

Two concepts of peace should be distinguished:negative peace, defined as the absence of organized violence between such major human groups as nations, but also between racial and ethnic groups because of the magnitude that can be reached by internal wars; and positive peace, defined as a pattern of cooperation and integration between major human groups. Absence of violence should not be confused with absence of conflict: violence may occur without conflict, and conflict may be solved by means of nonviolent mechanisms. The distinction between these two types of peace gives rise to a fourfold classification of relations between two nations: war, which is organized group violence; negative peace, where there is no violence but no other form of interaction either and where the best characterization is “peaceful coexistence”;positive peace, where there is some cooperation interspersed with occasional outbreaks of violence; and unqualified peace, where absence of violence is combined with a pattern of cooperation.

The conception of peace as “nonwar” is neither theoretically nor practically interesting: as used, for instance, in describing the relationship that obtains between Norway and Nepal, it can often be explained in terms of a low level of interaction resulting from geographical distance and thus will hardly be identified by many as an ideal relation worth striving for. For peace, like health, has both cognitive and evaluative components: it designates a state of a system of nations, but this state is so highly valued that institutions are built around it to protect and promote it. It is the concept of positive peace that is worth exploring, especially since negative peace is a conditio sine qua non and the two concepts of peace may be empirically related even though they are logically independent.

In the absence of what one might call solid empirical research and a coherent peace theory, the concept of peace can best be explicated by means of an examination of peace thinking. Just as there has been no lack of attention paid to war (Sorokin 1937-1941; Wright 1942; Richardson 1960a), so there is no scarcity of peace plans (Wynner & Lloyd 1944; Hemleben 1943; Doob I960; Hinsley 1963; Murty & Bouquet 1960), and an extensive typology would be needed to do full justice to most of the latter. The approach here will be to present the outlines of such a typology, and to bring the insights and knowledge of social science to bear upon some of these ideas. For peace is a problem of social organization, and the theory of peace and war will someday be subsumed under the general theory of social organization.

A typology of peace plans . A major axis for the classification of any peace plan is the level of organization that it singles out for reform. The problem of peace, in the mind of a person proposing something, can be located at any of five levels: the level of the isolated individual; the level of human groups; the level of human societies or nations; the level of the international system of nations; and the emerging level of a world state. For simplicity, the first three can be collapsed, leaving only three levels of peace plans: the subinternational, the international, and the level of the world state.

Of these three major types of peace plans, the first is not oriented toward the international system at all, whereas the other two are, but in very different ways. Plans that focus on the international system seek to preserve the essential characteristics of the present system of nation-states while organizing it in such a way that it will be stabilized at some level of interaction that can be characterized as “peaceful.” Those who seek a world state take for granted that some kind of integration is a necessary condition and ask how this integration can be stabilized in favor of peace. Obviously, the world-state approach is oriented toward both positive and negative peace, whereas the focus on the international system asks less of the system in terms of positive peace as long as only negative peace is obtained.

Within each class of models there are a number of more specific ideas; we shall mention some of particular importance. All of them take their point of departure from one specific variable used to characterize the system, and the model is identified with one particular value of that variable.

Subinternational peace plans

There are several well-known approaches at the subinternational level, and although they play a minor role in contemporary thinking about peace, they should be mentioned because of their prevalence. The basic idea of intrahuman approaches to peace is that intergroup, and also interhuman, conflicts are nonrealistic conflicts (Coser 1956) and, more particularly, projections of intrahuman conflicts. Hence, if man could be freed from more of his inner conflicts, he would behave in a less aggressive manner at the international level. Past generations’ techniques of freeing individuals from internal conflicts depended on religious conversion, whereas in contemporary societies psychotherapy is more frequently called for—if not for the whole population, at least for its leaders, and if not for its present leaders, at least as a screening device for future leaders (Klineberg 1964).

Interhuman approaches to peace emphasize the idea of projection of interhuman rivalry onto higher levels of human organization and, more positively, the idea that training in peaceful conflict resolution at lower levels may be transferred to higher levels, including the international level. Life in the family, at school, at work, or in associations may be seen as possible training grounds, particularly for those who are to become world leaders.

Likewise, intrasocietal approaches to peace emphasize the idea of projection: societies that are especially conflict-ridden will use external aggression as a means to force internal cohesion. This approach also includes the idea that some political systems are more peace-loving than others; more particularly, great importance is given to a fair distribution of the wealth of a nation to its inhabitants.

The major objection to these subinternational approaches is, of course, that there is a confusion of levels of analysis. Wars between nations take place at the international level; this level is sui generis and requires analyses and reforms at that level. Lower levels may be of some importance, but their impact is likely to suffer a quick decrease as one moves into the foreign offices and other centers of international policy decision making. This is not to deny the possible importance of screening applicants for key positions in the international system in order to prevent an accumulation of frustration that may be converted into aggression among important decision makers. This proposal assumes that clinical psychology is further advanced in diagnosis and prognosis than in the cure of the mental deviant. And it is probably also true that the best training ground for desired types of behavior is in real-life situations that approximate the kind of situations in which decision makers work.

As for the intrasocietal approach, a study by Michael Haas (1965) shows that it has so far failed to produce very significant correlations between intrasocietal structure and external behavior. There is some evidence that democratic societies are less belligerent and also that more developed societies are more belligerent. The latter is confirmed by a study from the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, based on Quincy Wright’s data (Broch & Galtung 1966). Moreover, there is nothing that seems to confirm the widely held idea that a major increase in the standard of living of the world population or a fairer distribution of the fruits of man’s labor would contribute significantly to a more peaceful world. A better distribution may solve internal problems but at the same time free resources for external aggression.

International peace systems

Various suggestions for international peace plans are both theoretically and practically more promising than those that focus on the subinternational level.

Based on distribution of power

Most peace thinking has centered on the problem of how power shall best be distributed among the nations of the world. Theories relating to this are usually marred by the neglect of other kinds of power than coercive power; influence potential in its most general sense is rarely considered. If we stick to this tradition of studying the distribution of military power, there are four major models of peace.

The first model is that of minimum equality,which is based on the theory that the international system is best served by making power the monopoly of one nation or system, just as it is monopolized by some statuses in the intranational system. Examples are the Pax Romana, Pax Ecclesiae, andPax Britannica—and the contemporary efforts to establish a Pax Americana or a Pax Sovietica before the stalemate was crystallized in the idea of a system of peaceful coexistence.

The second model focuses on maximum equality,or what is usually referred to as a “balance of power” (Kaplan 1957), in the sense that no nation or alliance is strong enough to defeat another nation or alliance. A modern version is the “balance of terror,” in which a nation may defeat other nations, but only at the risk of being completely destroyed itself. War becomes impossible under the balance of mutual destruction of a Pax Atomica: the risks are too great.

A third model views military powers as stabilized at a low level; this refers to all kinds of armscontrol efforts, especially those that have taken place from the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 to the present day, including contemporary thinking that aims at subtracting from a Hobbesianhelium omnium contra omnes both some means of violence and some objects of violence. The idea is to rule out general and complete war.

Finally, there is the model that views power asstabilized at a zero level; this refers to the general (all nations) and complete (all weapons) disarmament advocated by pacifists. Pacifism asserts that this state may be obtained unilaterally by the effect of example, because weapons become meaningless when they do not encounter similar weapons, and by the refusal of soldiers to use arms, as well as by governmental decisions.

Where the model of minimum equality is concerned, there might perhaps be agreement among nations about the appointment of a police nation in the world but not about its consequences—i.e., that coercive power usually will be accompanied by other kinds of influence. The police nation, it may be feared, will abuse its power and impose its value system and sociopolitical system on other nations. This would be acceptable if there were a general value consensus, in which case the system would be close to one of the many world peace systems described below.

The major difficulty in the model of maximum equality seems to be that the system, although in momentary equilibrium, is not in stable equilibrium. It is based on the relative evaluation of two power potentials, and since military power is manydimensional (because it consists of many weapons systems), this evaluation may be far from consensual. There will always be room for the idea that one’s own power is not sufficiently developed. Thus, the basis is laid for arms races, and it is difficult to see any good theoretical justification for the thesis that there will be points of stability—for instance, that major technical breakthroughs will not occur (Richardson 1960a; Galtung 1964a). The need for sufficient retaliatory power after an enemy’s first strike also makes the terror balance unstable. Overkill capacity in peace is no argument against a continued arms race; what matters is what is left after the first strike.

One major difficulty in the model that focuses on arms control is the arbitrariness of all border lines between permissible and illegitimate weapons. For such border lines to be consensually accepted, they must be protected by some kind of discontinuity (Schelling 1960), such as the clear line that existed between conventional and nuclear weapons before the overlap in destructive power became too conspicuous with the introduction of the variety of tactical atomic weapons. Thus, such agreements are likely to be highly technical, difficult to understand, easy to evade, and difficult to supervise.

Where the model of general and complete disarmament is concerned, one major objection is its failure to consider the need for countervailing power. One evader of an agreement may dominate the total system if he has an absolute weapon at his disposal. For this reason, general and complete disarmament can preserve peace only if the distribution of power in the system accords with the minimum-equality model (or with one of the world peace systems, discussed below), or if provision is made in the system for the effective use of nonmilitary forms of power (economic sanctions, nonmilitary defense systems, etc.) against those who evade disarmament agreements. It should be emphasized, however, that there is no reason to believe that weapons, once they exist, will have to be used. Any city has in its hardware stores and its pharmacies more than enough weapons and poisons to provide for overkill capacity, and this weaponry is usually not very well protected. Nevertheless, it is not usually abused, and the reasons for this may also become operative at the international level.

Based on organization of conflicts

The second general type of international peace plan focuses on the organization of conflicts. The basic model here is the crisscross model, which is based on the idea that a system is strengthened, not weakened, the more conflicts it harbors, provided all these conflicts do not divide the units the same way. If two nations are allies in one conflict (for instance, between East and West, in the language of the cold war), they may nevertheless be antagonists in another conflict (for instance, between rich and poor nations), and this subjects them to cross pressures. The effects of cross pressures are a tendency toward withdrawal and neutrality, or nonalignment; the development of multiple loyalties that prevent complete identification and involvement in any conflict; and a tendency to serve as a channel of communication between the groups that are not exposed to cross pressure.

A major weakness of this theory is that one conflict will probably be defined as more salient than the other, so that the crisscross effect will be reduced. Another weakness is that if both conflicts are concerned with struggle for rank (for instance, political and economic rank), then nations that are high on one and low on the other will be in “rank disequilibrium” and will probably feed much aggressiveness into the system (Galtung 1964b).

Based on individual loyalty conflicts

Whereas, according to the crisscross model, peace is obtained when nations are caught in cross pressures, other peace models imply that the violence potential of nations is reduced when divided loyalties are induced in individuals. One such plan seeks to manipulate multiple national loyalties: the idea is to impede conflict polarization by institutionalizing, preferably across potential conflict border lines, secondary and primary relations between individuals from different nations. In practice, the suggestions are many: for example, mixed marriages, exchanges of all kinds (children, youths, students, professionals, politicians), and increased knowledge and empathy.

A second plan seeks to build crosscutting organizational loyalties. The division of the world into about 130 nations and territories provides, roughly, an exhaustive and mutually exclusive division of mankind. But it is also divided into nearly two thousand international organizations, which provide many individuals with other focuses of identification, although this division is far from exhaustive (and not exclusive either). With increased communication, geographical distance decreases in importance; thus, organizational identification may gradually gain in importance relative to national identification and eventually provide a multiple loyalty that would make it difficult to organize individuals in wars against their peers.

Probably the only major objection to the idea of multiple national loyalties is that it may be of relatively low significance, given the conformity of most people to the calls of their national leaders. However, the idea of crosscutting organizational loyalties raises some important theoretical issues. An organization is built around values but may span a wide spectrum of geography—possibly the whole world. Conversely, a nation is built around a territory, usually based on geographical contiguity, but may span a wide spectrum of value orientations if it is of the pluralist variety. However, there is also the classical idea of the nation-state, which is both homogeneous in values and contiguous in territory and in which the inhabitants are protected against violent internal ideological conflicts because of cultural homogeneity. (Belgium and India provide examples of what may happen when this condition does not obtain.) This internal homogeneity is bought at the expense of heterogeneity between nations, which means that complete identification with the nation-state yields a tremendous conflict potential. And this is also the case with complete identification with the organization, as long as geographical proximity means something. People seem to want others to share their values, and in a world divided into organizations they would not be protected against the proselytizing efforts of rival organizations by the walls set up by the nation-state. Hence, where identification is concerned, the most peaceful world is probably found at an intermediate point, with most people sharing their loyalty equally between the two focuses or some identifying with the national focus and some with the organizational.

Based on degree of homology

Homology between nations—the extent to which they are similar in social and political structure, so that each institution and status in nation A has its “opposite number” in nation B—has been singled out as a factor of importance. There are two models of peace based on this concept. In the models ofminimum homology nations are as different as possible, in the sense that they have different value structures; thus, they will not compete for the same scarce values but can establish a very specific pattern of interdependence—a kind of symbiosis based on complementarity. On the other hand, where maximum homology prevails, nations are as similar as possible in social structure and value structure, thus facilitating diffuse interaction and creating a value consensus. It is argued that the more similar nations are in terms of their culture (including language), the lower is the probability of misunderstanding. The theoretical basis is the thesis of “value homophily”—i.e., that similarity tends to produce liking and interaction.

Again, it is difficult to see that there is any guarantee for peace in any of these theories. In particular, there is no basis for equating value consensus with absence of conflicts: value consensus means that the same objects are valued positively, and if the objects are scarce, the probability of conflicts is higher, not lower. Misunderstandings may cause conflicts, and they may also conceal them. And where minimum homology is concerned, as between the European powers and the political systems found in Africa and America at the time they were opened up to European penetration, it seems quite likely that one nation will prevail over the other—militarily or culturally—and unlikely that the symbiosis will be stable. But again there may be a curvilinear relationship at work: it may be that at a very high level of mutual penetration, values are shared to the extent that a basis for cooperation in pursuing the same goals, such as high productivity or happiness, may be present. To the extent that this is the case, it means that on the path to maximum homology there is a danger zone to pass, where the pursuit of goals has still not been coordinated and the goals are both consensual and scarce.

Based on international stratification

We may assume that international stratification—that is, the ranking of nations as high or low on such rank dimensions as size, population, power, natural resources, income per capita, cultural level, social level, and urbanization—is multidimensional and that there is a tendency toward rank equilibrium,in the sense that nations tend to divide into those that are high and those that are low on most or many dimensions. The problem, as for systems of individuals, is how the interaction between nations is regulated; there seem to be two models that focus on regulating “class conflict” at the international level.

First, there is the feudal type of system, where there is a high level of interaction at the top and alow level at the bottom—that is, the international system is tied together at the top by trade, diplomacy, and all other kinds of exchange. Although there is very little interaction at the bottom, there may be some from top to bottom. This system is easily controlled by the wealthy nations; if there is a consensus among them, the system may achieve a stability similar to that of the caste system or of slave societies.

By contrast, in what may be called the modern system there is an equal level of interaction at the top and at the bottom: the “underdogs” unite in organizations that make it possible for them to countervail the influence of the “top dog” nations. Thus, one might envisage a kind of trade union of small nations that is able to strike against the big nations, organize embargoes to obtain better prices for raw materials, etc., and thus force upon the world a more equitable distribution of world output. Over time the importance of class lines may then decrease in the international system.

Again, there are many objections to these models. Most people today would probably object to the feudal system on a purely ideological basis. There is also the important difference between intranational and international levels of organization: the upper class in a national society is often marked by solidarity in its relationship to the lower classes, whereas upper-class nations in the international system have a higher tendency to fight among themselves (which is just one more expression of the lack of value and system integration at the international level). Thus, the international system tends to be divided into subsystems, each of which consists of one big power and its satellites, with a feudal structure both within and between these subsystems.

The modern system seems more promising, but that may only be because it has never really been tried. One objection is that it lends itself readily to international class warfare of poor and small nations against rich and big nations. A likely variant is that one big power will try to win over as many as possible of the satellites of the other big powers and become the leader of these satellites in such class warfare. Another objection is that the modern system will probably have less rank equilibrium, that is, there will be more nations that can be ranked high on one dimension of the international stratification system and low on one or more of the others. This will increase the potential for international aggression.

The latter objection, at least, seems consistent with current developments: the “revolution of rising expectations” that is taking place has lifted some lower-class nations over temporary disequilibria, such as being rich but not powerful, toward new positions of equilibrium at a higher level, such as being both rich and powerful after capital has been converted into weapons and weapons into territorial gains. Thus, as in the case of models based on degree of homology, there is probably a curvilinear relationship at work between the system elements, which could mean that the period ahead will be a particularly difficult one.

Based on degree of interdependence

Some models of peace are based on interdependence between nations. Interdependence, or interaction where some kind of positive value is exchanged between the parties to the interaction, may vary in frequency (how often), volume (how much is transferred), and scope (variety of value exchanged). Trade between two nations is a good example of how all three can vary independently. There are two principal models based on this concept. The model of minimum interdependence envisages a world where each nation is autonomous and self-sufficient and no nation intervenes or interferes in the affairs of any other nation; this is a clear case of negative peace, where positive peace is explicitly ruled out (Burton 1965). On the other hand, in the model of maximum interdependence all pairs of nations have maximum interaction in terms of frequency, volume, and scope. The idea is that all pairs of nations would be protected from rupture and violent conflict by the web of affiliations spun between them; positive interaction with other nations would be built into each nation in such a way that wars would be too costly. Thus, all nations should enjoy relations somewhat like those between Norway and Sweden.

A major difficulty with these two models lies in their failure to deal with the essential characteristics of violence. Violence in interindividual relationships seems to be at a maximum under the conditions of either maximum or minimum scope of interaction. In the case of maximum interaction, which sociologists would refer to as “diffuse interaction,” conflicts may lead to extreme patterns of violence, as seen in civil wars or in enmity between former friends (Coser 1956). In the case of no interdependence, empathy serves less as a protection against application of extreme violence. In general, most violent conflicts are both preceded and accompanied by polarization of attitudes (Coleman 1957); in this case polarization is already built into the system. Thus, we are probably justified in assuming a U-shaped relationship betweenscope and intensity of conflicts, which would mean that precisely the two values singled out in these two models—that is, the values of minimum and maximum interdependence—are the most dangerous ones.

The probability of conflict, however, may be highest when the interaction is specific—that is, limited in scope but not down to zero—but in that case conflicts are most likely to be regulated by contract and rational calculation, so that they will be less intense. With very diffuse interaction between nations, conflicts along one dimension of interaction may be dampened by the other dimensions, but they may also be reinforced and escalated; moreover, even if this is improbable, the disutility of open conflict is high. This does not mean that there does not exist a level of interdependence so high that the probability of all-out conflicts is almost zero, but on its path toward that point the international system will have to pass through dangerous zones of nonzero probability and high intensity of conflict. Moreover, statistics on wars show that they are highly correlated with the degree of interdependence between nations (Wright 1942); only rarely are wars directed toward complete strangers. Finally, it should be emphasized that much of what is called “economic development” is an effort to obtain self-sufficiency and hence to reduce the need for interdependence.

Based on functional cooperation

Interaction or interdependence that implies only some kind of exchange should not be confused with functional cooperation, which implies that the parties together produce something they may then share. Coproduction is one form of functional cooperation, as when several nations combine resources in order to produce something really big, such as a supersonic commercial airplane or a gigantic development project. There is good reason to believe that, at the level of individuals, functional cooperation on equal terms is one of the factors most efficient in producing integration (Berelson & Steiner 1964, p. 513). This hypothesis of functional cooperation has often been put forward in connection with nations (by President Kennedy, for instance, in connection with the moon race). The idea, then, is that any specific cooperation provides training for more comprehensive cooperation.

World peace systems

All of the following models of world systems have in common a certain resemblance to a nationstate, usually one held to be successful by the person who puts forward the proposal. The idea is that since many nation-states have obtained reasonable security and equity for their inhabitants, there must be something in their structure that is worth copying at the world level. Proposals vary, but they all have in common the idea of a center of decision making with means at its disposal to obtain compliance from the constituent units. Of the many dimensions that can be used to describe such models only three will be discussed.

First, models of world systems can be described in terms of the type of unit on which the system is based. When the basic unit is the individual, the world system is conceived as a world state, with a very low level of autonomy for intermediate levels, such as the nation. With nations as units the world system becomes a confederation, with the nation as a political level interposed between the individual and the government. Congruence between the authority structures of nation and confederation may have a stabilizing effect on the system as a whole (Eckstein 1961).

The difference between these two models is rarely argued in terms of their relevance for peace. Rather, the world confederation is seen as an intermediate step in a more gradualist approach toward the world state or as a system with the built-in protection of some internal autonomy. Also, there is the idea that border lines should be preserved to some extent, precisely because they slow down cultural diffusion and influence and thus contribute to the preservation of sociocultural pluralism—which many fear might disappear in a world state because of the homogenizing effect of a strong nucleus of decision making. But cultural differences in a pluralist system may serve as focuses of conflicts or, at least, as focuses for prejudices and mild forms of discrimination. The costs of pluralism would therefore have to be calculated in terms of potential for conflict.

Models of world systems can also be described in terms of their scope and domain. By “scope” we refer to the variety of needs satisfied by the world system; and by “domain,” to how many receive need satisfaction from the system.

Classification in terms of these two system functions produces two basic models. The first rates high on scope but low on domain. It is the form taken by the regional federation, which gives much in terms of scope to its members but is exclusive in terms of membership; a leading example is the European Economic Community. The second model rates high on domain but low on scope. It is the form taken by the functionally specific organization, which sets no limits, at least in principle, to the number and type of people whose needs it may serve but is able to do this only because both the needs and the type of service provided are of a limited type; an example would be any specialized agency of the UN.

A true world system has to rate high on both of these dimensions because it cannot exclude any class of units, whether nations or individuals, if it wants to be universal, and it also has to offer a wide variety of goods and values if it is to be seen as a source of gratification. Thus, the two models just described must be seen as steps on the road toward a closer analogy with the nation-state (E. Haas 1964). The world system would rate high on domain and high on scope; it would be a true world state or federation, which excluded nobody and tried to satisfy a wide variety of needs that were formerly satisfied at subordinate levels (Deutsch 1966). No agreement exists on whether the regional or the functionally specific model bears more promise as a step toward this full-fledged world system. There is the pragmatic point of view that the regional model is needed as a training ground in systems that are low on scope, and the functionally specific model in systems that are low on domain. But there are also the arguments that the bigger the unit, in terms of number of members, the bigger will be the wars involving that unit and that regionalism is likely to unite upper-class nations (because they have the most interaction experience) and thus contribute to a feudal world pattern.

Nature of compliance systems

A political system is meaningless unless there is a relatively high degree of compliance with a high proportion of centrally decreed norms. According to Etzioni (1961), there are three basic types of compliance mechanisms: the normative, the contractual, and the coercive [SeeSocial Control, article onOrganizational Aspects]. This typology can usefully be applied here.

Normative compliance means simply that there is an internalized desire to comply; behavior that is institutionally necessary is internalized as a need disposition in the personal system. The many suggestions for a world system based on this type of compliance focus on two main ideas: creating loyalty to the central agency on the grounds that it provides many services; and creating loyalty on a more ideological basis by a suitable use of symbols, such as the idea of the brotherhood of all men. A basic idea here is the democratic idea that normative compliance is promoted by a pattern of representative and direct democracy on the world level; another idea is that of creating a “welfare world” after the model of the welfare state.

Contractual compliance, by contrast, is built into the institutional structure by making compliance pay, just as an employee is motivated to perform his tasks because he knows he will receive a salary. In the same way, it is argued, nations and individuals can be motivated to perform services for the international community, provided that the latter gives them something in return. They may or may not combine this with a subjective feeling of loyalty; what is essential is that they should perform according to a quid pro quo principle. The system is based on exchange, and disagreements can be resolved by mediation, arbitration, and adjudication, as well as by a suitable clearing system for the exchanges.

Coercive compliance is, of course, compliance based on the use or threat of force, especially against members defined as aggressors. At the international level the model is the deviance-detection-con vie tion-adjudieation-sanctioning scheme borrowed from the control systems of national societies. International peace based on coercive compliance is enforced by such institutions as those provided for in the UN Charter: observer corps, peace-keeping forces of different kinds, the World Court, and sanctions of all kinds built into a system of international law.

Particularly important is the search for sanctions, whether economic or diplomatic, that stop short of war (Galtung 1965). This is the legal approach to the problem of international conflict management; it presupposes a nucleus of global institutions and is inconceivable at the purely international level unless one nation takes upon itself the task of acting as a third party in the international system. The problems of the legal approach, which is essentially an effort to obtain predictability by codifying international behavior, can also be analyzed in terms of the three modes of compliance. Thus, for legal rules to be adhered to, normative compliance is not strictly necessary, but some element of internalization built around important symbols in the system is an important positive contribution. To obtain contractual compliance, legal rules must be equitable and reasonable; to coerce, they must be institutionalized by means of credible negative sanctions.

To be implemented, all of these ideas need a central agency, whether it takes the form of the concert of Europe, the League of Nations, the United Nations, or some other form. The central agency will have to do what is needed to build up a basis for all three types of compliance, whether it takes the form of information or propaganda and manipulation of symbols, the administration of services in such a way as to buy loyalty, provision of a clearinghouse of exchanges of all kinds in order to make interdependence under a central organization pay, or the administration of enforcement mechanisms. Crucial for all three types of compliance is the extent to which the central world agency is able to compete with other levels of organization, such as nations, which provide the same kind of basis for compliance but possibly also promote compliance with norms that conflict with those of the world government. It should also be pointed out that any political system will probably need all three types of compliance. Normative compliance alone may not be enough in the long run; the value of a “good conscience” will show a rapidly diminishing return. The right behavior must somehow be made to pay, and if the system runs out of resources for rewards, it may have to resort to force. But force without some basis in normative commitment is tantamount to terror, and terror is notoriously ineffective in the long run.

Peace movements

The tremendous disparity between the different approaches to peace that have been described may be interpreted as a sign of basic confusion in thinking on the topic. But it is more likely to be a reflection of the complexity of the problem itself. It may be that, in this respect, peace is somewhat like health: the phenomenon is extremely difficult to grasp as a whole, and one’s approach therefore tends to be determined by the kind of peace—or health—he is interested in obtaining. Clearly, there are good reasons for these differences of interest; in fact, a peace plan can be classified not only according to its content but also according to who put it forward. This may be a person or an organization, located either in the decision-making nucleus of the world system or in the center of a society or on the periphery of a society. If the last is the case, the proposal is likely to bear some of the imprints of marginality: an absolutist and moralistic, as opposed to a gradualist and pragmatic, approach; a tendency toward single-factor, as opposed to multiple-factor, thinking; and a tendency to confuse organizational levels, so that the training and capacity of the plan’s author are made to seem more important than the possible merits of the plan itself (Galtung 1966). Thus, psychologists will talk about personality and aggression, sociologists about conflict-inducing social structures, educators about the school as the pivotal element in peace building—and the result is the well-known collection of single-factor theories, around which one may construct an organization and rally together people who share the belief. Thus, almost all the theories referred to above have found their organizational expression.

On the other end are the decision makers in the center of society, who have a gradualist, pragmatic approach and employ multiple-factor thinking. In their effort not to confuse organizational levels their approach becomes so slow, so careful, and so withdrawn from the public eye, that the tension between center and periphery becomes high enough to produce impatience and conflict, leading to demonstrations, party formation, and other forms of protest. The result is the traditional dialogue between center and periphery. The periphery gradually becomes like the center as it gains in power and leaves a certain imprint on the total system; however, in turn, a new protest movement is created at the periphery. In other words, peace movements, like other social movements, follow the “church-sect” cycle. Since the periphery—the peace movement—is split into single-factor organizations, the world does not get a multiple-approach impact from the movement.

Historical development

The fact that there are around 1,500 groups working for disarmament and peace (International Peace/Disarmament Directory [1962] 1963) suggests, among other things, an enormous democratization of the struggle for peace; even though their total membership may be small, these organizations do provide open forums for expressions of public opinion. Such forums are relatively new. Although the organized peace movement can be said to have begun in the United States in 1815 (Angell 1935), it was not until 1843 that the first international peace congress was held (in London). The Nobel peace prize (instituted in 1897) also stimulated much interest in the problem of peace. The history of the award repays study. The Nobel Foundation Calendar of 19631964 (see Nobelstifteltsen, Stockholm, Prix Nobel)listed 59 prizes, of which 13 went to the United States, 8 to France, and 7 to Britain; thus, 3 countries took 46 per cent of the prizes, 12 other countries took 40 per cent, and the remaining 8 prizes went to institutions, such as the Red Cross. There is thus a Western bias in the geographical distribution of the Nobel prizes, and it is not surprising that the socialist countries have instituted their own prizes for peace, the best known being the Lenin prize.

The peace movement received a terrible shock when World War i proved how much stronger was attachment to the nation than adherence to internationalist and pacifist principles and how much stronger was the fear of the sanctions of one’s own government and compatriots than of the sanctions of fellow members of organizations. The resolutions passed at the Universal Peace Congress in Geneva in 1912 and at the congress of the Second Socialist International in Stuttgart in 1907 were strongly pacifist, but the weakness of the peace movement then is also its weakness today: loyalty to the peace movement is based on normative compliance alone, not on contractual or coercive compliance. In times of crises, only extremely idealistic or very peripherally located people are likely to remain faithful to their ideals. World War n provided the peace movement with a new abundance of examples of this fact. However, this does not mean that the peace movement has no impact. Indeed, it serves as an imperfect substitute for a foreign-policy national assembly, since public opinion probably has less influence on foreignpolicy than on domestic-policy decisions in many countries.

Peace research

Since the late 1950s and early 1960s there has been an intensification of the more academic study of peace and a drive toward profession alization of the peace movement (Galtung 1963). The Repertory on Disarmament and Peace Research Institutions lists close to one hundred institutions in twenty countries as being active in the field; and two scientific quarterlies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution (edited at the Center for Conflict Resolution, University of Michigan) and the Journal of Peace Research (edited at the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo), are devoted to research in this interdisciplinary field.

One major difficulty with peace research is the problem whether the future will be a continuous extrapolation of the past or qualitatively different. For instance, it can be argued that the model for the disarmament process currently under discussion—the model that presupposes balance and control —probably has few, if any, counterparts in the history of the past. Another set of models for peace preservation, namely, balance-of-power models and collective security systems, have shown very severe limitations in the past. But can one assume that if a structure has not appeared in the past, it is because it is not viable or that if a structure has failed in the past, it will also fail in the future? Or if one studied how city-states and nation-states have successfully reduced their armaments in the past (probably more through normative and contractual than through coercive compliance), could this be a guide to future action? Acceptance of this simple inductive approach might mean that peace research would become merely a scientific-sounding pretext for imposing the past on the future.

Johan Galtung

[Directly related are the entriesDisarmament; International Conflict Resolution; Pacifism; War, article onThe Study of War. Other relevant material may be found inConflict; Diplomacy; Foreign Policy; Systems Analysis, article onInternational Systems; and in the biography ofRichardson.]


Angell, Norman 1935 Peace Movements. Volume 12, pages 41-47 in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences.New York: Macmillan.

Berelson, Bernard; and Steiner, Gary A. 1964 Human Behavior: An Inventory of Scientific Findings.New York: Harcourt.

Broch, Tom; and Galtung, Johan 1966 Belligerence Among the Primitives: A Re-analysis of Quincy Wright’s Data. Journal of Peace Research 3:33-45.

Burton, John W. 1965 International Relations: A General Theory. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Coleman, James S. 1957 Community Conflict. A publication of the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University. Glencoe, 111.: Free Press.

Coser, Lewis A. 1956 The Functions of Social Conflict. Glencoe, III.: Free Press.

Deutsch, Karl W. 1966 Power and Communication in International Society. Pages 300-316 in Ciba Foundation, Conflict in Society. Edited by Anthony de Reuck and Julie Knight. London: Churchill.

Doob, Leonard W. 1960 Becoming More Civilized: A Psychological Exploration. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press.

Eckstein, Harry 1961 A Theory of Stable Democracy. Center of International Studies, Research Monograph No. 10. Princeton Univ., Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Etzioni, Amitai 1961 A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organizations: On Power, Involvement, and Their Correlates. New York: Free Press.

Galtung, Johan 1963 International Programs of Behavioral Science Research in Human Survival. Pages 226-247 in Behavioral Science and Human Survival.Edited by Milton Schwebel. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science & Behavior Books.

Galtung, Johan 1964a Balance of Power and the Problem of Perception. Inquiry 7:277-294.

Galtung, Johan 1964b A Structural Theory of Aggression. Journal of Peace Research 1:95-119.

Galtung, Johan 1965 On the Meaning of Nonviolence. Journal of Peace Research 2:228-257.

Galtung, Johan 1966 Attitudes to Different Forms of Disarmament. Pages 210-238 in International Peace Research Association, Studies in Peace Research.Assen (Netherlands): Gorcum.

Haas, Ernst B. 1964 Beyond the Nation-state: Functionalism and International Organization. Stanford Univ. Press.

Haas, Michael 1965 Societal Approaches to the Study of War. Journal of Peace Research 2:307-323.

Hemleben, Sylvester J. 1943 Plans for World Peace Through Six Centuries. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Hinsley, Francis H. 1963 Power and the Pursuit of Peace: Theory and Practice in the History of Relations Between States. Cambridge Univ. Press.

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Kaplan, Morton A. 1957 System and Process in International Politics. New York: Wiley.

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Murty, K. S.; and Bouquet, A. C. 1960 Studies in the Problems of Peace. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

Nobelstiftelsen, StockholmPrix Nobel. → Published since 1901.

Richardson, Lewis F. 1960a Arms and Insecurity: A Mathematical Study of the Causes and Origins of War. Edited by Nicolas Rashevsky and Ernesto Trucco. Pittsburgh: Boxwood; Chicago: Quadrangle.

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Schelling, Thomas C. 1960 The Strategy of Conflict. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Sorokin, Pitirim A. (1937-1941) 1962 Social and Cul- tural Dynamics. 4 vols. Totowa, N.J.: Bedminster Press. → Volume 1: Fluctuation of Forms of Art.Volume 2: Fluctuation of Systems of Truth, Ethics, and Law. Volume 3: Fluctuation of Social Relationships, War, and Revolution. Volume 4: Basic Problems, Principles, and Methods.

Wright, Quincy (1942) 1965 A Study of War. 2d ed. Univ. of Chicago Press.

Wynner, Edith; and Lloyd, Georgia (1944) 1949 Searchlight on Peace Plans. New ed. New York: Dutton.


views updated May 21 2018


PEACE . In a negative sense religious traditions speak of peace as freedom from war and unrest. Peace can also take a positive meaning of well-being and fulfillment as goals of religious and social life. In ancient Greece the word for peace, eirēnē, meant primarily the opposite of war, and even when personified as a goddess, Eirene had no mythology and little cult. The Roman Pax was also a vague goddess, scarcely heard of before the age of Augustus and then taken as the representation of quiet at home and abroad. The Pax Romana expressed the absence of internal strife, although Seneca remarked that whole tribes and peoples had been forced to change their habitats.

In ancient Hebrew thought, peace (shālōm ) was not only the absence of war but well-being if not prosperity. A famous passage that appears twice in the Bible (Is. 2:24, Mi. 4:13) describes all nations going to Jerusalem to learn the divine law, beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, abandoning their swords, and learning war no more. Micah adds that every man would sit under his vine and fig tree, an ideal picture of a small landholder in a tiny state between rival superpowers. In expectation of a better future the ideal Davidic king is called Prince of Peace, and his government is described as having boundless dominion and peace (Is. 9:67).

The Israelites used the Hebrew word shālōm to refer to material and spiritual conditions that were joined together. Psalm 85 envisages God speaking peace to his people, righteousness and peace united, and the land yielding its increase. It is not only war that destroys peace but also covetousness, false dealing, and priests and prophets who practice abominations and say "Peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). To the Israelites peace was a social concept; it was visible and produced a harmonious relationship in the family, in local society, and between nations. The salutation shālōm expressed the positive aim of encouraging friendly cooperation and living together for mutual benefit, and such a greeting, in use from the times of the judges and David, was later employed by both Jews and Christians.

The Arabic word salām, meaning "peace" or "health," has been in general use as a greeting or salutation since the time of the Qurʾān. One of its oldest chapters speaks of the coming down of the Qurʾān on "the Night of Power" and concludes that "it is peace until the rising of the dawn" (97:5). God calls people to the "abode of peace" (dār al-salām ), both in this life and in the next (10:26).

It is as a salutation that the Qurʾān has most to say about salām. The prophet Muammad said "Peace be upon you" (al-salām ʿalaykum ) at the beginning of a message, and this was reckoned to be the greeting given to the blessed when they entered Paradise. It became the common salutation in the Islamic world, and the Qurʾān recommends its use. The salām formula, thought to be used by angels, is uttered after the names of previous prophetsNoah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the like.

In Islamic ritual, the prayer for the blessing of God and peace on the Prophet, the worshiper, those present, and pious servants of God precedes the confession of faith. At the end of formal prayer the worshiper turns to the right and to the left, invoking the peace and mercy of God. Liturgical use helped to make the peace formula characteristic of Islam, and it is recommended to return the greeting with an additional blessing, following the Qurʾanic verse "When you receive a greeting, respond with a better" (4:8688).

Islamic eschatology, in popular tradition, has held to the hope of a future deliverer who would rule according to the example of the Prophet and give stability to Islam for a short millennium before the end of all earthly things: The Mahdi, "the guided one," would descend from heaven and fill the earth with equity and justice.

In the New Testament both the Gospels and the epistles use the Greek word eirēnē for "peace," although Jesus must have used the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew shālōm, and eirēnē is given the positive sense of the Hebrew. When the apostles were sent out they were instructed to say "Peace be to this house," on entering any house, and, "If a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you again" (Lk. 10:6). The peacemaker was blessed, and the struggling early church was exhorted to "follow after things which make for peace, to edify one another" (Rom. 14:19).

The reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles was sought through Christ: "He is our peace, who made both one" (Eph. 2:14). For those under external pressures, peace was a spiritual calm as well as a social benefit, as promised by Christ in his parting words, according to John, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, not as the world gives it" (Jn. 14.27). This led on to Paul's view of the peace of God that passes human understanding, and the "fruits of the Spirit" included peace among virtues such as patience, kindness, and forbearance.

In New Testament eschatology there is little detail of the future, except in the Apocalypse of John (Revelation ). Instead there are general statements about the ultimate triumph of good, when "God shall be all in all." Meanwhile the kingdom of God is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).

In the history of the church peace has been seen on the one hand as calm for the soul and on the other as social and political reconciliation and the establishment of a just order. This has led to doctrines of a just war or to judgments on social change, but more general statements speak of individual and communal well-being. Augustine of Hippo in his City of God (De civitate Dei 413426) remarks that peace is the purpose of war between nations, for no one would seek war by peace, but as the peace of humankind is an orderly obedience to the eternal law of God, so the peace of God's city is "the perfect union of hearts, in the enjoyment of God and of one another in God" (19.13). Peace is our final good; eternity in peace, or peace in eternity, for the good of peace is the greatest wish of the world and the most welcome when it comes.

The salutation Peace is frequent in the New Testament, and it entered into the liturgy. In the traditional canon of the Latin Mass the priest said or chanted both "Dominus vobiscum" ("The Lord be with you") and "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum" ("The Peace of the Lord be always with you"). In modern times there has been a revival of "the peace," or "giving the peace," in many churches. For example, the peace may be given throughout the congregation with the words "the peace of the Lord," and this is often accompanied by the shaking of hands or even kissing in peace.

Both social and personal ideals of peace have been important concerns of Chinese religious leaders and thinkers. The Daoist classic Dao de jing comments that one who seeks to help a ruler by the Dao will oppose all conquest by force of arms. Not only will the Daoist be against war and weapons, but will object to imposed rules and government, even to morality and wisdom, because the Daoist believes that in simplicity and fewness of desires evil would disappear.

The Daoist should adopt a peaceful or passive attitude, "actionless activity" (wuwei), and by such wordless teaching will control all creatures, and everything will be duly regulated. Colin A. Ronan (1978) has noted that Joseph Needham rejected the customary translation of wuwei as "inaction" (p. 98). The Daoist, he maintained, is not idle or passive, but is natural. He or she should refrain from acting against the grain, from trying to make things perform unsuitable functions, from exerting force when a perceptive person would see that force must fail. There is support for this view in The Book of Huainan (120 bce), which criticizes those who claim that the person who acts with wuwei does not speak or move or will not be driven by force. No sages, it says, gave such an interpretation, but the proper view of such quiet activity is that no personal prejudice should check the Dao, and no desires lead the proper courses of techniques astray. Nonaction does not mean doing nothing; it means allowing everything to act according to its nature.

In popular Daoism the ideals of a past golden age of peace, and of one yet to come, were expressed in the Taiping Dao, the Way of great peace, which arose about 175 ce. Some of its doctrines had been stated in a lost scripture decades earlier, the Taiping jing (Classic of great peace). Its writer, Yu Ji, was a preacher and healer in Shantung province who was executed about 197, although his followers believed that he had become an immortal.

The new movement, the Way of Great Peace, was established by Zhang Jue, who founded in 175 ce an organization of which he was the "Heavenly General." He held vast public ceremonies at which the sick confessed their sins and were healed by faith. What is just as important, Zhang Jue sent missionaries to convert people in central and eastern China to the way of peace and healing. Crowds flocked to this movement, probably because the troubled times of warfare gave rise to the longing for a millenarian era reminiscent of the mythical golden age of peace. There was also dissatisfaction with the coldness of state Confucianism, and a yearning for a more personal religion and a more just society.

The Way of Great Peace became very popular, and eight provinces were converted by its missionaries. The central government was alarmed and prepared countermeasures. The Daoists were warned, and on the day that the governmental action began they decided to revolt. The rebels wore yellow kerchiefs on their heads, thus giving rise to the movement's other name, Yellow Turbans. Zhang Jue and his brothers were caught and executed, but it was many years before the rebellion was finally suppressed.

In the nineteenth century the Taiping Rebellion swept across China and almost destroyed the crumbling Manzhu dynasty. It raged from 1850 to 1865 and was put down only with the help of foreign powers, notably the British, and with a catastrophic loss of some twenty million lives. The leader of the rebellion, Hong Xiuquan, sought to establish the Taiping, the Great Peace, under a purely Chinese dynasty, but he was inspired by both Chinese and Christian ideas. The Taiping would come in the cycle of history but would resemble the kingdom of heaven, where all people would worship the heavenly father.

Hong proclaimed his regime the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace and himself took the title Heavenly King. Nanjing was captured in 1853 and renamed Heavenly Capital, but internal divisions and external attacks led to its collapse. By 1864 Hong had despaired of his cause; he took poison and died, and his followers were overwhelmed. Later Chinese attempts at reform and peace through strength occurred, but not all were inspired by Daoist ideals.

Indian views of peace are both personal and social, positive and negative. Many sacred Hindu texts open with the sacred syllable o, followed for invocation and meditation by a threefold repetition of the Sanskrit word for peace: śānti, śānti, śānti. (These three words appear at the end of T. S. Eliot's famous poem The Waste Land, 1922.) The peace invoked in the Sanskrit texts is one of tranquillity, quiet, calmness of mind, absence of passion, aversion of pain, and indifference to the objects of pleasure and pain.

In the Bhagavadgītā the despondency of the warrior Arjuna, with which the poem opens, comes from envisaging the destruction of human beings and order (dharma ) that war would bring. Arjuna is moved by compassion, declares that he would rather be killed than kill other beings, and lays down his weapons. His charioteer, the god Ka, gives several answers to Arjuna's problems, the chief one of which is that a soldier may kill the body but cannot kill the soul, or self, which is indestructible and immortal, without beginning or end. This answer ignores the question of Arjuna's compassion. The true yogin, whether he be a warrior or not, should be detached; he should act but remain unmoved by the result of his actions. Thus he can "attain the peace that culminates in nirvāa and rests in me [i.e., God]" (6.15). Kindness to all beings is occasionally suggested in the Gītā, but the general picture is one of peace and tranquillity unmoved by the affairs of the world.

The Jains in India have been noted for their advocacy of nonviolence, or not killing (ahisā ), and some of their temples today bear the inscription (in English as well as in Sanskrit), "Nonviolence is the highest religion." They teach that nirvāa is an indescribable and passionless state beyond this world, at the ceiling of the universe. The Buddhists, contemporary with the Jains, have also taught nirvāa and have done so in negative terms. A Buddhist compendium of teachings, The Questions of King Milinda, agrees that nirvāa cannot be indicated in form or shape, in duration or size, by simile or argument. Yet it does exist: "There is nirvāa "; it is lofty and exalted, inaccessible to the passions and unshakable, bringing joy and shedding light.

Positive social efforts for peace were illustrated in the words and actions of the most famous Indian ruler, the Buddhist emperor Aśoka, in the third century bce, as revealed by extant inscriptions on pillars and rocks. After thousands of people had been killed in his war against the Kalingas, Aśoka felt remorse, renounced war, sought reconciliation, and wished that "all beings should be unharmed, self-controlled, calm in mind, and gentle." Fighting was forbidden, as was all killing of animals for food or sacrifice. Medical services were provided for human beings and animals, useful herbs were planted, wells were dug, and trees were planted along roads to shelter people and animals. Local rulers were instructed to tour among their people and teach the dharma of obedience to parents, generosity to priests, prohibition of killing, ownership of "the minimum of property."

In modern times Mohandas Gandhi (18691948) was noted for teaching ahisā, but not just as a negative way to peace and justice. He coined the term satyāgraha (literally, "truth insistence"), defining it as "soul force" or "the force which is born of truth and love or nonviolence." Gandhi sought to follow the New Testament injunction to return good for evil as well as to follow the Jain command of nonviolence. He argued that soul force was the only method by which home rule could be regained for India and that it was "superior to the force of arms." Further, in a message to Hindus and Muslims on communal unity Gandhi insisted that politics should be approached in a religious spirit. He ended his speech with these words: "I ask all lovers of communal peace to pray that the God of truth and love may give us both the right spirit and the right word, and use us for the good of the dumb millions."

See Also

Ahisā; Nonviolence; Taiping; War and Warriors, overview article.


Biblical teaching about peace can be found in many books, and useful articles are included in A Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (London, 1983) and A Dictionary of Christian Ethics (Philadelphia, 1967). Islamic texts are listed in the Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (1953; reprint, Leiden, 1974). Indian and Chinese teachings with selections from texts are easily found in Sources of Indian Tradition and Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York, 1958 and 1960), edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary and others. Daoist movements are described by Holmes Welch in The Parting of the Way: Lao Zu and the Daoist Movement (London, 1957), and informative chapters on Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism are included in Colin A. Ronan's Shorter Science and Civilisation in China (New York, 1978), an abridgment of Joseph Needham's text from volumes 1 and 2 of the larger work.

Geoffrey Parrinder (1987)


views updated Jun 08 2018


Humans have always prized and sought peace. The conditions believed to foster peace and the very conception of peace, however, have varied in different periods and cultures. In this article, we examine contemporary scholarly understandings of peace and how to achieve and maintain peace (Barash 1991; Galtung 1996; Stephenson 1994). In particular, we discuss the views of American sociologists and other social scientists who regard themselves as engaged in peace studies, peace research, conflict resolution, and related fields.

The concept of peace is contested. Some analysts use the term "peace" in opposition to war; this is negative peace, defined as the absence of direct physical violence. Other analysts stress positive peace, defined as social relations marked by considerable equality in life chances, by justice, or even by harmony. Some writers use the term "peace" to refer only to relations among global actors in a world system, while others include relations among persons and groups as well as among countries. Finally, some observers regard peace as a stable condition and others think of it as many never-ending processes.

In this article, we discuss certain aspects of positive peace, while focusing on negative peace. Furthermore, we emphasize international peace, but also consider large-scale relations within societies. With these focuses, we examine three categories of peace processes: (1) building peace, developing processes that prevent the emergence of destructive conflicts; (2) making peace, developing processes that contribute to deescalation and settlement of conflicts; and (3) keeping and restoring peace, fostering processes that help maintain peace and construct equitable relations.


The analysts providing the research and theorizing examined here and in the next sections vary in the relative importance they give to variables and conditions from different sources: from within one or more of the contending parties, from the relationship among them, and from their social context. Each is discussed in turn.

Internal Factors. Considerable work has been done about the processes and the conditions within countries that contribute to international peace or war and within large-scale groups that contribute to societal peace or destructive conflict. One such body of work stresses the role of self-serving elites in arousing, sustaining, and exacerbating antagonisms against other countries or groups. For example, during the years of the Cold War, many observers analyzed the existence and effects of a political–military–industrial complex in promoting the arms buildup in the United States and in the Soviet Union (Mills 1956; Sanders 1983).

More recently, peace workers have been directing their attention to political and intellectual elites who develop and promote ethno-nationalist ideologies. The way such ideologies are based on a socially constructed history and shared community is the subject of considerable analyses (Anderson 1991). In addition, many analysts stress the contribution that such ideologies make to the emergence and exacerbation of bitter fights and of genocide (Anthony Smith 1991). Finally, observers often examine how military, political, and intellectual leaders promote such ideologies for their personal benefit.

Peace workers believe that analyzing such processes demystifies them and their products. Furthermore, they believe that such unmasking undermines the effectiveness of those seeking to mobilize followers to wage struggles that deny legitimacy to their opponents. This kind of critical analysis is a major form of peace research.

Another large body of writing about building peace examines the education and socialization of members of a society or group in ways that promote peace. This includes research and theorizing about the ways this has been done and about the ways that it might be done. The feminist scholarly perspective is an influential source for important contributions to this body of work. For example, using this perspective, the invisibility of women in studies of conflicts and peace processes becomes apparent, and feminist scholars provide new insights into international and domestic conflicts by paying attention to the roles women play in such conflicts (Enloe 1989). Furthermore, considerable research demonstrates consistent differences between women and men regarding support for the use of military means in international conflicts. The popular expectations, however, tend to exaggerate the degree to which men and women differ in their conduct in conflicts and negotiations (Stephenson 1996; Taylor and Miller 1994).

Feminist work tends to emphasize that the gender differences that do exist result significantly from past socialization of males and females into gender roles and from patriarchal social structures. Men learn to be relatively competitive and hierarchical, while women emphasize integrative relations. The feminist perspective fosters a vision that social relationships could be less patriarchal and therefore less unjust and less prone to destructive conflict than they generally have been.

How language and imagery are used to give meaning to conflicts helps frame conflicts and thus affects how they are waged. For example, analysts examine how the mass media and films contribute to an overreliance on violence and the threat of violence to wage conflicts (Gibson 1995). Such work also illuminates the processes of dehumanization of opponents in social conflicts, as well as revealing how such dehumanization contributes to the destructive escalation of struggles.

Since conflicts are inherent in social life, the role of social structure and culture in shaping how conflicts are waged is highly significant for building peace. Analysts are giving increasing attention to variations in the repertoire of methods used to conduct conflicts, including constructive ones, that are available for different people in different historical periods (Tilly 1978). Efforts to study and to train people in the methods of nonviolent action and problem-solving conflict resolution methods therefore contribute to building peace internationally and domestically (Kriesberg 1998).

Relational Factors. Several aspects of the relations among global and among societal actors affect the likelihood that those actors will interact peacefully. One long-standing area of peace studies has been the effect of integration between societies and of sectors within societies. Integration is indicated by the high rate of exchange of goods, peoples, and ideas across societal and group lines, relative to exchanges within. Research findings support the generalization that such integration enhances mutual security and reduces the probability of countries' waging wars or threatening each other's security. Increased integration not only creates greater bonds of mutual interest and identity, but also improves communication and exchanges that parties regard as equitable. Furthermore, research on ethnic and other cleavages within societies also indicates the importance of integration, cross-cutting ties, and shared identities in preventing such cleavages from manifesting themselves in destructive conflicts (Dahrendorf 1959; Kriesberg 1998).

Considerable evidence has been reported indicating that democratic countries do not make war against each other (Gleditsch and Heegre 1997). Although the finding and particularly its interpretation are contested, the finding seems robust, given particular definitions of democracy and war. The finding may be explained by the tendency of governments in democratic societies to accord legitimacy to each other and credibility to each other's claims. Furthermore, negotiating differences may tend to be regarded as more acceptable and more skillfully practiced in democratic than in nondemocratic societies.

Contextual Factors. The social context within which possible adversaries interact certainly affects their relations. The context includes the social system within which adversaries interact, including the overall level of integration, the nature of institutional structures, the likelihood of external intervention in conflicts, and the kind of norms that are shared. The concepts of positive peace and structural violence help in understanding the relationship between social context and peace. Unlike personal violence, structural violence is indirect. It refers to the "avoidable denial of what is needed to satisfy fundamental needs" (Galtung 1980, p. 67). Thus, structural conditions may damage and cut short people's lives by restrictions of human rights or by malnutrition and illness, while other people using available knowledge and resources do not suffer the same deprivations. Such inequities are built into the global order and constitute negative peace. This influential idea has stimulated various studies, particularly regarding conditions in peripheral or underdeveloped regions. The literature about the development of the world system and of colonialism obviously bears on this matter (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997).

The expansion in the number, scope, and size of international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) is a subject of growing sociological attention, reflecting INGOs' increasing global importance. Many kinds of transnational organizations perform activities and are arenas for interactions that supplement or even compete with states and with international governmental organizations. INGOs include multinational corporations, religious and ideological organizations, professional and trade associations, trade union federations, and ethnic associations. These groupings provide important bases of transnational identity and action (Smith et al. 1997).

Critical analysts view these developments as part of a new global order in which a transnational elite exercises hegemonic domination. Their work stresses the increasing global inequality and the development of a transnational elite that fosters globalization and profits from it. From this perspective, the U.S. government's promotion of democracy throughout the world is a method of maintaining order while promoting free markets and capitalism. Democracy, in this context, means polyarchy, a system in which a small group rules and mass participation is limited to choosing leaders in managed elections (Robinson 1996, p. 49).

International and supranational governmental organizations are also taking on increasing importance; witness the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations after the Cold War. Social scientists, including sociologists, have examined the conditions in which such institutions emerge and survive, how they serve to improve the quality of life, and how they may help to prevent conflicts from erupting and escalating destructively (Etzioni 1965).

The people of the world are already highly interdependent and are becoming increasingly so. This is true at the societal and at the global level. The flow of goods, capital, labor, ideas, and information is ever faster, ever less expensive, and ever more extensive. Consequently, the people of the world share problems relating to environmental threats, governmental abuse and brutal conflicts spurring large-scale refugee flows, dislocations resulting from rapid social change, and challenging social relations among groups that are culturally different.

These phenomena contribute to the growing homogenization of the world. More and more people share images, ideas, and norms relating to consumer preferences, forms of entertainment, the protection of human rights, and economic development. But these phenomena also generate particularistic reactions and threaten destructive conflicts within and between societies. Experiences with these phenomena around the world and within each society are not the same for everyone. Some people reject the spreading secularism and the dominance of Western, particularly American, ideas and power. The empirical contradictions and the moral dilemmas arising from these developments are increasingly matters of inquiry among peace workers (Boulding 1990).


Recent peace work has focused on limiting the destructive escalation of conflicts, fostering transitions toward deescalation, and conducting negotiations that help end conflicts constructively. Internal, relational, and contextual factors contribute to these ways of making peace.

Internal Factors. Among internal factors, sociological work attends particularly to popular forces that pressure governments to move toward accommodations with external adversaries. This interest combines with the growth in theory and research about social movements to generate many studies of peace movements (Lofland 1993; Marullo and Lofland 1990). Analyses of campaigns against nuclear weapons and other evidence indicate that, at least within the United States and western Europe, public opinion and organized public pressure have influenced governments, often in the direction of peacemaking (Joseph 1993; Klandermans 1991).

In addition, certain internal structural factors can help leaders to recognize the needs of the other side and to communicate responsiveness. Such factors may include leaders who are accorded legitimacy, openness to considering alternative courses of action, sources of good information about outside groups, and norms limiting intolerance. Such factors and specific policy-making procedures can help limit escalation, manage crises, and negotiate settlements (Wilensky 1967).

Relational Factors. Most work on peacemaking focuses on the relations between adversaries, including analyses of tacit bargaining, formal and informal negotiations, and providing mutual reassurance about security. The relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union, and their alliances during the Cold War, has been the subject of considerable study. Contributions have been made about the extent to which that conflict and the proxy wars associated with it were based on misunderstandings and on processes of dehumanization that fostered conflict escalation (Gamson and Modigliani 1971).

Other writing has drawn from and contributes to studies of problem-solving conflict resolution and conflict transformation. This work includes the analysis of ways of waging struggles constructively so that escalation is limited, and so that possibilities of reaching mutually acceptable accommodations are not foreclosed. This is an argument examined in studies of the use of nonviolent action, as in the American civil rights struggle and in many other conflicts (Powers and Vogele 1997; Wehr et al. 1994; Sharp 1973).

Work on relational aspects of peacemaking also includes analyses of conciliatory gestures and other initiatives to deescalate conflicts, of the management of crises, of the transformation of intractable conflicts into tractable ones, and of strategies and techniques for negotiating mutually acceptable agreements (Patchen 1988). It also includes the efforts by persons in one camp to exchange information and possible options for peacemaking with their counterparts in the opposing camp, through conferences, dialogue groups, and ongoing workshops.

The ending of the Cold War illustrates the success of some of these methods (Kriesberg 1992). Specifically, such methods include negotiating mutual assurances that vital interests would not be threatened, as was done in the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, resulting in the Helsinki Accords, signed in 1975. Included in the Accords was a shared commitment to norms, for example, about protecting human rights, which fostered increased mutual exchanges. In addition, the American and Soviet military alliances established confidence-building measures and later restructured their military forces to be less provocative. Nonofficial channels such as the Pugwash meetings and the Dartmouth conference assisted in reaching agreements that helped to transform the Cold War. These developments have served as inspirations for efforts to limit or transform other regional conflicts.

The transformation of the conflict in South Africa about apartheid is another important illustration of the effectiveness of some of these methods (Kriesberg 1998). For example, the African National Congress (ANC), with the leadership of Nelson Mandela, consistently pursued nonracist goals, thus offering assurance that whites were and would remain recognized as South Africans. The means used in the struggle to end apartheid were considered in that light; they were initially nonviolent, and even when the decision to wage armed struggle was undertaken, terrorism was excluded. Informal and unofficial communications prepared the adversaries for working out an agreement that was acceptable to all the major adversaries in the seemingly intractable conflict in South Africa (van der Merwe 1989).

Of course, in some cases when challengers initiated nonviolent struggles, they were repressed or the conflicts escalated destructively. Such cases, as in China and in Northern Ireland, deserve and have received attention. However, there are many case studies and quantitative analyses indicating that reliance on violence and threat of violence is frequently counterproductive and often mutually destructive (Vasquez 1993).

Contextual Relations. One important aspect of a conflict's context, affecting its transformation and its peaceful settlement, is the involvement of intermediaries. Analysts using a sociological approach give attention to the role of nonofficial persons and groups as well as official intermediaries. Such intermediaries often provide a variety of mediating services, including helping bring adversaries to the negotiating table, facilitating meetings, aiding in developing new options, building support for an agreement, and helping to implement and to sustain an agreement that is reached (Burton 1990; Laue 1973). Persons and groups providing such services vary greatly in the way adversaries understand their role and in the resources they bring with them. For example, unofficial mediators with relatively few material resources may be able to provide exploratory services relatively well, since their engagement generally involves low risks for the antagonists. Mediators with a major stake in the fight and with great resources can provide compensations and assurances that are relatively important in closing negotiations and implementing them.

The U.S. government and U.S. private citizens have played important mediating roles in many international and even internal conflicts in other countries (Kriesberg 1992). American mediation in Israeli-Arab conflicts has been particularly extensive and often crucially effective. U.S. secretaries of state and U.S. presidents have conducted major mediating efforts, often using considerable resources to induce the negotiating parties to conclude an agreement and to implement it. Among the notable agreements reached are those mediated by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974 between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Syria, and the 1978 Camp David agreements between Israel and Egypt, mediated by President Jimmy Carter and leading to the two countries' signing a peace treaty.

Nonofficial persons and groups from the United States have also provided mediation services, for example in the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Nonofficial channels have been particularly important due to the long-standing refusal of the Israeli government to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinians. Jewish and Palestinian Americans have often had the knowledge, interest, and contacts to provide useful channels for exploring possible options and ways of taking steps toward official mediation and negotiation.

Mediation efforts, obviously, do not always succeed. Many efforts never result in agreements. In some cases, agreements are reached but not ratified or not implemented. On occasion, agreements are followed by disastrous breakdowns, as happened in Rwanda in 1994. Of course, failing to mediate probably would not have yielded better results. Nevertheless, this indicates that we need to know much more about the type of mediation that tends to be effective at each stage of various kinds of conflicts.

Among the many other relevant contextual factors, we note only a few. First, changes in prevailing norms and understandings sometimes embolden one party in a conflict and undermine the faith of its opponent. The result is that a conflict that has long persisted can move toward resolution. For example, changing views about human rights and democracy contributed to ending the civil wars in Central America and apartheid in South Africa.

The context also includes a wide range of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, with varying capabilities of contributing to peacemaking. The mass media are also increasing the global attention to especially terrible events at particular times. Finally, the increasing availability of weapons of all kinds enables more and more people to challenge existing conditions, as well as enabling those in authority to resort to violent means of control.


The recent transformation and settlement of protracted international and societal conflicts and the radical transformation of previously authoritarian and repressive societies have heightened attention to the challenges of building postconflict relations that are enduring and just (Lederach 1997). Changes within one or more antagonist camps and between former antagonists are crucial in meeting these challenges. In recent years, analysts have given particular attention to the role of intermediaries, standards of human rights, and other elements of the antagonists' social context.

Internal Factors. A fundamental change in ways of thinking among members of one or more antagonistic sides can be a powerful factor in producing an enduring peace between them. This does sometimes happen. For example, most Germans after the defeat of Nazism repudiated what they themselves had believed and done; instead, they welcomed beliefs, values, and institutions shared with the victors. To some extent, a similar transformation occurred among Russians as the Cold War ended. As a result of the American civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s, most southern American whites became convinced that they were wrong to resist ending the Jim Crow system of discrimination. Similarly, most South African whites would now concur that the ending of apartheid was right and just.

Changes in internal social structure also are frequently crucial. Countries that have had internal conditions engendering overreliance on military means and goals that threatened vital interests of other countries may reduce their external threat only after undergoing a fundamental internal restructuring. The restructuring may entail civilian control of the military and the development of a civil society and democratic institutions. Peaceful accommodations in postconflict relations within a country may also depend upon fundamental changes in one or more sides of the past conflict. This occurs as governments change or as the leadership of an ethnic, a religious, or a class movement undergoes change.

Relational Factors. Traditionally, efforts to restore peace after a conflict ends include policies to redress the grievances that were viewed as the conflict's source. For communal differences within a country, this may entail more autonomy for citizens with different languages or religions and provisions for popular participation in determining the form and degree of autonomy. For example, during the early 1950s, the status of Puerto Rico in relationship to the rest of the United States was being reconstituted. A Puerto Rican nationalist group resorted to violence in seeking independence. The suppression of violent attacks while avoiding general repression, the availability of a legitimate electoral political process, social and economic improvements, and programs of integration and autonomy, including cultural nationalism, combined to produce a generally peaceful relationship in which alternative arrangements are contested within the established political system.

In the United States, a wide variety of methods and strategies are employed to redress grievances and increase equity; they include programs of affirmative action for women and minorities. Such programs, however, have become subject to challenge and have been reduced. This demonstrates the ongoing nature of conflicts related to socially constructed differences between citizens.

In recent years, peace workers have been giving considerable attention to fostering mutual understanding and tolerance among peoples with different cultural backgrounds living in the same society (Weiner 1998). This attention extends to reconciliation between peoples who perpetrated gross human rights violations and peoples who suffered profound losses during periods of repression or of violent struggle. Reconciliation is complex, variously combining several processes: (1) acknowledging the truth of what happened; (2) administering justice for past misdeeds, and ensuring future justice and security; (3) extending forgiveness to members of the group that committed wrongs (sometimes in response to expressions of remorse); and (4) accepting responsibility by those who committed wrongs or failed to oppose them. In postapartheid South Africa, for example, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission represents one way to deal with these postconflict issues.

A variety of recent developments contribute to reconciliation among the different peoples making up the United States. The truth about discrimination, violent repression, and other injustices regarding Native Americans, African Americans, and other groups has been more frequently acknowledged; this is evident in the mass media, in scholarly work, and in governmental statements. In addition, religious and other community organizations, corporations, and local governments have promoted or provided education programs, workshops, training, and dialogue groups to help persons of different communities learn about each other's experiences and perspectives.

Furthermore, long-standing policies have been instituted to strengthen a shared identity as Americans. The conception of Americans as belonging to a single ethnic group or an assortment of people melting into a single ethnicity, however, is changing. Instead, the multicultural character of America is increasingly accepted and even celebrated.

Contextual Factors. International organizations are increasingly expected to play critical roles in keeping and restoring the peace. United Nations and other peacekeeping forces have undertaken many more such tasks since the Cold War ended. Regional organizations and individual countries, particularly the United States, have intervened to restore and sustain peace (Moskos 1976; Segal and Segal 1993). Even after an agreement ending civil strife has been reached, the continuing engagement of external governments is crucial for the survival of the agreement and its implementation (Hampson 1996). International nongovernmental humanitarian and advocacy organizations have grown greatly and are often helpful in restoring and maintaining peace (Lederach 1997). They may support the development of civil organizations that sustain peace. Even in the postconflict reconstruction of what was Yugoslavia, some success may be found. For example, many governmental and nongovernmental activities have helped the people in Macedonia manage external threats and the dangers of internal strife.


Peace work and the ways of thinking about peace have greatly expanded in recent decades. Peace is increasingly understood to be multidimensional and dynamic. Consequently, the ways of promoting peace are also manifold, and they vary in different settings for different actors. Theory and research about aspects of peace and their promotion draws from and contributes to social theory and social practice.

Recent applied and scholarly peace work is based on past experience, but the realities of the current world necessitate fresh thinking and innovative practices. New approaches and ideas are developing, combining knowledge and experience from many new interdisciplinary fields, including conflict resolution, feminist studies, security studies, and international relations.

Much more work needs to be done to understand the nature of peace and how its various aspects can be promoted. Peace is not easily advanced, is never total, and is never wholly secure. Whatever peaceful gains may be made must be energetically defended against the inevitable threats arising from new challenges.


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Louis Kriesberg


views updated May 21 2018


The peace concept has a long history both in the Western and Eastern intellectual traditions. While Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ideas regarding peace have expanded and changed over time, this is not so much the case in Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist thought.

Ancient and Early Christian West

For the ancient Hebrews, shalom signified a state of prosperity and well-being as well as security. The Greek word, eirēnē from which we get the word irenic, also denotes the contentment and fruitfulness that comes from concord and harmony. Order (tranquillitas ordinis ), quiet (quies ), and repose (otium ) inhere within the Latin word pax, which Romans sought and maintained as a higher good. Altars to peace were erected by both Greeks and Romans, and the Stoic view of the universe visualized an intrinsic natural harmony, which the virtuous endeavored to restore. In all of these ancient conceptualizations, there was a belief that an Eden-like time of peace had existed before war and disorder disrupted it. Peace, then, was understood mostly as a cessation of the chaos of the created disorder, including war. While it may have been the natural state of humankind at one time, in the early twenty-first century it is an idyll that can only be approximated by a good government that can ensure the security necessary for the achievement of concord and personal well-being.

The corresponding development of just-war ideas provided a program for realizing peace, or the restoration of order. Strict guidelines were erected in an attempt to prevent any behavior, especially by governments, that would be disruptive, unless it resulted in the ultimate acquisition of peace. While the earliest Christian writers eschewed war altogether, seeing it as contrary to the "way of love" taught by Christ, by the third century some Christians were fighting in Roman wars without compunction. Augustine of Hippo (354430) did much to establish the components of the just war that would affect subsequent attitudes toward war in the West; but he also more fully defined what peace meant in a Christian context. For this early church father, peace was largely a spiritual concept. In his famous City of God, as well as in other works, Augustine incorporated the earlier Greek, Roman, and Jewish elements and contended that peace is essentially a right relationship with God that, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, will advance love and concord among human beings. The earthly city is a fallen one and original sin will prevent temporal peace from being established fully; thus, only when Christ returns to judge humanity will true, lasting peace be possible. By removing true temporal peace from the realm of possibility, Augustine bequeathed to the European Middle Ages a concept that was relatively idealistic and millennialistic, even as he sought to mitigate the horrors of warfare with a rigorous just-war doctrine.

Western Middle Ages

The medieval period produced elaborations of Augustine's idea of peace within the context of crusade and feudal politics. The fall of Rome in the late fifth century led to the foundation of numerous bellicose Germanic kingdoms, which struggled to create a new basis for social and political order while adopting gradually much of the culture of antiquity, especially as the Germanic peoples converted to Christianity. The Western Church in the early Middle Ages required exacting penances for the shedding of blood, which were enhanced in early Carolingian laws (eighth century). In this context it was often difficult to distinguish between war and peace, and peace came to be viewed mostly in practical terms as simply a respite from fighting, sometimes even being depicted as the goddess of victory. The Peace of God (pax Dei ) movement around the turn of the first millennium attempted to regulate warfare through strict papal restrictions on times of fighting and types of weaponry used, violations of which could lead to excommunication or interdict. As feudal relationships came to provide a new negotiated basis for order and peace by the twelfth century, the emerging chivalric code incorporated just-war theory, and set as one of its objectives the perpetuation of order or peace. The inclusion of the Augustinian motivation of love as necessary in any just war helped to ensure that the Christian spiritual ideal regarding peace would remain the goal even if in practical terms it would always remain elusive. The Crusades became the ultimate expression of the just war in continental Europe, but the barbarous actions of the knights who journeyed to the Holy Land compromised the church's credibility in fostering peace, since plenary indulgences seemed to excuse all kinds of violence and manslaughter in this supposedly sacred cause. This situation also created the intellectual climate for the first real investigation of peace as an idea, coming as it did on the heels of charges of corruption against the clergy.

While there were new investigations of peace in continental Europesuch as Dante's (12651321) vision of a Christian emperor in Monarchia (c. 1315), who established a one-world government that would provide true peace and orderthe concept of peace itself underwent little change. Only in England during the Hundred Years' War (13371453) is there found a protracted military enterprise provoking extensive criticism of warfare as an institution and, subsequently, suggesting a more complicated notion of what peace itself means. By the 1380s, writers such as John Gower (1330?1408), Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 13421400), William Langland (c. 1330c. 1400), Thomas Hoccleve (1368 or 1369c. 1450), John Bromyard (d. c. 1390), John Lydgate (c. 1370c. 1450), and John Wyclif (c. 13301384) all were attacking the justifications for wars, and the insincerity behind the putative goal of restoring order and peace. A new typology of peace emerged from this crucible of war and critique that would remain the basis for understanding peace right up until the modern period. First, the original Augustinian idea of personal, spiritual peace remained, along with its association with mercy, love, and patience. But for the critics of war, it was no longer enough to expect spiritual renewal to end the killing on a one-to-one basis. Relying on personal forbearance did not seem to reduce incidence of war at all. The other, older view of peace as order, including its affiliatesquiet, rest, concord, and lawnow took on new resonance as writers excoriated the behavior of knights who supposedly followed a strict, peace-loving code of arms.

Two new elements of peace, however, which had been introduced by the early fifteenth century, proved to be more practical. First, Wyclif and the Lollards, who could easily be termed pacifists, emphasized the un-Christlikeness of war, and thus attempted to return to an early Christian ideal of peace as reflecting the image of Christ (imago Christi ), demonstrated through acts of love. Unlike the Augustinian concept, here, to live like Christ is to work to stop war and to promote peace, not just in one's spiritual journey, but in society at large. The idea is that Christ believed that peace was possible, and in fact the Gospels say the angels proclaimed peace at his birth. Regardless of whether a cause seems just or not, war is always wrong and it must be a matter of conscience for all Christians to oppose it. By undercutting just-war arguments as inimical to God's way of peace, the concept for the first time emerged from the cloak of impossibility and became an obligatory pursuit. Issuing from this was the related idea that peace offered many practical benefits, thereby stressing its pragmatic nature. Lydgate, Hoccleve, and works such as The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye (c. 1436) equated temporal peace with economic well-being, personal security, and the growth of learning. From the late fifteenth century the value of peace was located increasingly in the language of political economy with its complex associations to the public good, which war was less likely now seen to promote.

Renaissance and Reformation

Renaissance humanists, especially those in northern Europe who had spent time in England, took the peace imperative and fashioned it into an ethic based on a dedication to the public good, or commonwealth. Desiderius Erasmus (1466?1536), Thomas More (14781535), Juan Luis Vives (14921540), and John Colet (1466 or 14671519) all published works hostile to war, promoting all four meanings of peace elucidated above. Within the context of emerging nation-states in western Europe, Erasmus, in his Complaint of Peace (1517) and many other works, argued that spiritual peace, embodied in the virtuous Christian prince, would be the foundation of a true and lasting temporal peace. His somewhat Stoic view of the kinship of humanity emphasized the concordia aspect of pax, which would lead to a personal closeness to God, Christlike behavior, an absence of strife, and the practical rewards of greater happiness such as the promotion of learning and economic prosperity. While events tended to make humanist pacifists appear idealistic in their own day, their endeavors enshrined peace as an uncontested value and its advancement a virtuous pursuit.

The Protestant reformers, many of whom were also humanists, came to stress the obligations to pursue peace as well through their literal interpretation of the Bible, although they were less optimistic concerning the depraved nature of humankind. One group, however, the Anabaptists, took Christ's words literally when he said "blessed are the peacemakers," and their devotion to all forms of peace became one of their most distinctive characteristics. Not since the time of the early church had a Christian position been so unilaterally in favor of peace; and later groups, such as the Quakers, also came to adopt this position. For these "separatists" peace continued to be understood as both a spiritual condition and a way of life, in all of its practical applications leading to a harmonious and godly society.

The Modern West

The peace concept in the Western tradition from this point onward changed very little in meaning. In the modern period, however, a humanitarian ethos largely replaced the once Christian foundations for valuing peace, but the growing interdependency of nations also produced new concerns about the survival of human existence. By the eighteenth century, many intellectuals opposed the unreasonableness and barbarism of war, and as a result, construed peace as a rational pursuit by enlightened peoples. The philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804), in his Perpetual Peace (1795), argued that a world order built upon reason and prudence, which is basically enlightened self-interest, will produce a peaceful society, and bring with it all that is good. The nineteenth century witnessed few large-scale wars in Europe, leading some to believe that Kant's admonition had become a cultural reality. Attempts at balances of power up through the early twentieth century seemed to prove that the West had found the practical solution to the problem of war, and that temporal peace could be realized and perpetuated by sophisticated diplomacy and the careful and humane study of international politics. This rather hegemonic view of peace recalls the ideas of Aristotle and of later officials of the Roman Empire, both of whom believed that empirethat is, rule by a presumably superior civilizationwas best positioned to ensure peace. Peace took on the additional nuance then of a planned arrangement for cooperation among nations, even as its moral and practical elements remained prominent.

World War I, the rise of fascism, and the development of nuclear and atomic weapons, all in the twentieth century, left the West once again arguing for peace more from an ethical stance. Since diplomacy and international institutions devoted to peace (such as the United Nations) often fail to prevent wars, the survival of humanity may depend more on people recognizing the moral necessity for keeping peace. This outlook tends to reduce the peace idea to its most basic meaning as the guarantor of continued human existence, a good for which there is universal agreement and support across cultures.

By the early twenty-first century, especially in Western societies, the concept of peace was most often linked to notions of justice and fairness. The modern ethical paradigm for peace espoused by most pacifists assumes that only when economic and political inequities are minimized or eliminated can we provide a basis for real and lasting peace and the consequent guarantee of prolonged human existence. Many contemporary intellectuals, such as Peter Brock, Peter Calvocoressi, Martin Ceadel, Michael Howard, and Charles Chatfield, have explored creatively the implications of this connection and have tried to offer specific and practical means for achieving true justice and, successively, peace.

Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Traditions

The Arabic word salam, a cognate of the Hebrew shalom, means "making peace." For Muslims, one comes to a purest state of peace by submitting to the will of Allah (isalm ), and anyone who has accomplished this is a muslim. Salam is even one of the ninety-nine names of Allah in the Islamic religion. In the Koran, anyone doing the will of God and giving all to exalt his sacred name, including the making of holy war (jihad ), will receive the divine blessing of peace and eventually live with God in that perfect state. Peace also can become an earthly state, in that good Muslims desire temporal peace, not war, realizing that only through an Islamic polity, serving Allah faithfully, can people prosper and live in harmony with one another. Thus, in Islam, ultimate peace, both spiritual and temporal, harmonizes within a submission to the divine will.

In eastern intellectual traditions the spiritual and practical elements of peace have cohered much more intricately and consistently than they have in the west. The Chinese word for peace, heping, is comprised of two characters meaning harmony and level (or flat), which suggests equalizing and balancing. (This type of peace may be inherent in the famous Taoist cosmic principles of yin and yang, which when symmetrical restore order and oneness to the universe.) The Japanese cognate hewa means much the same.

In classical Sanskrit shanti is the word closest in meaning to peace, usually denoting tranquility, calm, bliss, eternal rest, and happiness, but usually in connection to destruction or death. The term is often synonymous with sandi (association, combination) and the opposite of vigraha (separation, isolation, hostility). Peace here is contrary to the "absence of isolation" (vigrahabhava ) or the "absence of strife or war" (yuddhabhava ). From earliest Hindu thought it became the goal of the individual to escape from the necessity of being reborn, which was accomplished through deep meditation and the avoidance of bad karma, thus bringing ultimate peace. Another Indian concept, ahimsa, which is found first in the sacred Upanishads (c. eighth century b.c.e.), means nonviolence to animals and humans, and is based on the assumption that harm to living creatures produces bad karma by endangering or killing the soul of another. All life is one, and any animal could contain the soul of a relative who has been reincarnated, and so harming it is wrong. Mahatma Gandhi's (18691948) pacifism owed a great deal to this tradition of peace. By the time caste distinctions separated the ancient Indians, and led to warfare and strife, the famous meditation known as the Bhagavad Gita found in the epic classic Indian poem, the Mahabharat offered another means for achieving ultimate peace. Krishna tells the warrior Arjuna that in honoring the conditions of caste/race he brings honor to himself, and since souls return to new bodies after the old ones die, death does not matter. But one must reject all greed and anger, and therefore one can, even in the midst of battle, have peace within. Peace is ultimately an inner state that will beget positive ramifications as well for society as a whole.

Buddhist ideas of peace derived from these early Hindu notions that asserted self-denial was the key to contentment and ultimate peace with the universe of which we are all a part spiritually. Also centered in the idea of ahimsa, Buddhists have believed that true peace and happiness come from the eradication of all desire, including the desire for permanence that creates conflict and division. Through meditative practices, selfish desire can be gradually eliminated until absolute peace, in this case, nirvana, is reached when our state of being ends. Part of this process entails the gradual shutting down of all sensory awareness and feeling, in what is known as sannavedayitanirodha. Since one does not stay in this state of contemplation permanently, this does not provide a lasting peace. Buddha believed that peace (shanti ), both internally and externally, can only be achieved truly when it becomes part of one's conception of the world and of those who live within it. Peace is conditional for Buddha as he taught that the insistence on any type of permanence led to inflexibility, and ultimately, to conflict. This recognition of "dependent arising" forms the path to enlightenment and brings freedom and peace within, but also peace without, since it allows for change and newness.


In summary, while the Eastern and Western intellectual traditions historically have construed peace differently, there are certain characteristics that appear to transcend culture and that are held in common, even if the emphasis varies. There persists a spiritual notion of peace that represents inner calm, wholeness, contentment, and selflessness. The internal condition tends to affect the external so that if individuals are not at peace with themselves, they are unlikely to engender temporal peace. On the contrary, they are more apt to participate in wars, since conflict among peoples usually comes from a dissatisfaction with the current state of being (or affairs) that needs redress, perhaps even violently. In most cultural traditions, peace is the natural state of the universe, and throughout history one of the most universal endeavors of humankind has been the quest to end strife and to restore a beneficial order and tranquility. In linking these various but complementary aspects of what it means to be at peace, peace scholar Gerald James Larson has concluded:

To be at peace with oneself is to accept what or who one is and to have stopped warring with oneself. To be at peace in community is to make an agreement to end hostility, to live together in harmony, accepting the presence of one another. To be at peace in the cosmos is to accept, largely on faith, that the universe is benign, a more or less fitting habitat for the sorts of beings and forces that dwell or operate within it. (Rouner, p. 138)

See also Buddhism ; Christianity ; International Order ; Islam ; War ; Yin and Yang .


Bainton, Roland H. Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation. New York: Abingdon Press, 1960.

Dyck, Harvey L., ed. The Pacifist Impulse in Historical Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. Includes many good essays, including Roy C. Amore's "Peace and Nonviolence in Buddhism," Klaus K. Klostermaier's "Himsā and Ahimsā Traditions in Hinduism," and Charles Chatfield's "Thinking about Peace in History."

Gallie, W. B. Philosophers of Peace and War: Kant, Clausewitz, Marx, Engels, and Tolstoy. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

Johnson, James Turner. The Quest for Peace: Three Moral Traditions in Western Cultural History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Kalupahana, David J. The Buddha and the Concept of Peace. Sri Lanka: Vishva Lekha Publishers, 1999.

Kelsay, John, and James Turner Johnson, eds. Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions. New York: Greenwood, 1991.

Lowe, Ben. Imagining Peace: A History of Early English Pacifist Ideas, 13401560. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.

Rouner, Leroy S., ed. Celebrating Peace. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990. A number of excellent essays, including Sissela Bok's "Early Advocates of Lasting World Peace: Utopians or Realists?," Gerald James Larson's "The Rope of Violence and the Snake of Peace: Conflict and Harmony in Classical India," and Bhikhu Parekh's "Gandhi's Quest for a Nonviolent Political Philosophy."

Zampaglione, Gerardo. The Idea of Peace in Antiquity. Translated by Richard Dunn. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973.

Ben Lowe


views updated May 17 2018


PEACE (Heb. שָׁלוֹם, shalom).

In the Bible

The verb shalem (so both the perfect, Gen. 15:16, and the participle, Gen. 33:18) in the qal means "to be whole, complete, or sound."


The range of nuances is rather wide. That the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet become shalem (Gen. 15:16) means that it is not yet complete. That Jacob arrived shalem in the city of Shechem (Gen. 33:18) means that he arrived there safe. To be shalem with somebody means to be loyal to him (Gen. 34:21; i Kings 8:61; 11:4; etc.), and one's sholem (Ps. 7:5) is one's ally. Although recent translations show a great improvement in this regard, the noun shalom is still interpreted to mean "peace" more often than is warranted. It, of course, very frequently means health and/or well-being: Genesis 29:6 (twice); 37:14 (twice); 43:28. In this sense, shalom is frequently equivalent to a sentence, "It is well," and le may be added to express the English "with"; shalom is used alone in this way in ii Samuel 18:28, and with le in ii Samuel 18:29, 32. In Genesis 43:23 and Judges 19:20, "It is well with you" is equivalent to "Don't worry about that," referring in the second case to a roof under which to spend the night (the last clause in verse 18). That the antithesis in Isaiah 45:7 is not between "peace" and "evil," but between prosperity (shalom) and adversity (raʿ), has happily long been the dominant view (cf. shalom, ṭov, yeshuʿah, Isa. 52:7). It needs to be noted, however, that not "peace" but safety is the meaning of shalom in Leviticus 26:6 (cf. verses 25bb–26: within the land, they shall dwell secure – with never a savage beast or an invader – but only because the enemy will be kept out by dint of successful warfare); Jeremiah 12:12; Zechariah 8:10; and elsewhere. In the above-cited verse Isaiah 52:7, shalom stands in synonymous parallelism with ṭov in the sense of physical good; it likewise shares with ṭov the sense of moral good. Thus ṭov has the former meaning in Psalm 34:13 and the latter one in verse 15 – where it is paralleled by shalom. Translate:

(13) Is there anyone among you who desires life, is eager for longevity and to experience well-being (ṭov)? (14) Then guard your tongue against evil and your lips against speaking deceit. (15) Shun evil and do good (ṭov); seek and pursue integrity/equity (shalom). For the interpretation of Psalm 37:37b, it makes no difference whether or not one reads in 37a shemor ṭov u-reʿeh yosher, "practice probity and cultivate equity" (in light of verse 3 where, conversely, shekhon ereẓ is to be emended to shemor ẓedek (ẓedeq), "practice righteousness," in light of the preceding "do good" and the following "cultivate honesty" as well as the shemor of this verse): 37b must in any case be translated "for there is a happy future for the man of integrity." Similarly, in Zechariah 8:16, in which the second ʾemet is obviously an erroneous repetition of the first, the sense is: "Speak the truth to each other, and judge equitably (lit. judge judgment of equity [shalom]) in your gates." And again in verse 19: "… The Fast of the Fourth Month, and the Fast of the Fifth Month, and the Fast of the Seventh Month, and the Fast of the Tenth Month shall become [occasions of] rejoicing and gladness and happy seasons for the House of Judah – only love truth and equity [shalom]." (Alluding to this verse, Esth. 9:30 characterizes Queen Esther's ordinance for the observation of the new holidays–the Purim of the provinces and the Purim of Shushan – as "an ordinance of equity and truth.") The parallelism alone would not suffice to tip the balance in favor of this meaning of shalom in Psalm 72:3, 7, for in Isaiah 60:17 the context precludes any interpretation of shalom/ẓedaqah other than "prosperity/success" (see *Righteousness). In Psalm 72:3, however, the context points once again to "equity." The prosperity of the country (in contrast to that of the king) is actually treated only in one corrupt verse near the end (verse 16). Finally, Y. Muffs has pointed out that, in light of the Akkadian idiom šalmeš atalluku (maḥar x), be-shalom uve-mishor halakh itti, Malachi 2:6, means "he served me with integrity and equity" (more idiomatically, "loyally and conscientiously" – H.L. Ginsberg). Even apart from the Akkadian evidence, the sense of Malachi 2:6 is clear from the foregoing and from the context: Levi, the ancestor of the priestly caste, saved the masses (rabbim), or laity by his conscientiousness in making torah rulings, from committing ritual offenses; his unworthy descendants, by being lax in this regard, often out of partiality, make the masses (rabbim), or laity, stumble by their rulings (torah).

peace and the like

Of course shalom does mean "peace" too. But first it must be pointed out that it often approaches this meaning without quite reaching it. yhwh's berit (covenant) of shalom with Phinehas (Num. 25:12) and with Zion (Isa. 54:10) were, for pity's sake, neither peace treaties terminating previous wars nor nonaggression pacts to refrain from starting new ones. They were solemn – actually unilateral – promises of divine grace. So too the *priestly blessing (Num. 6:24–26), after wishing yhwh's blessing, protection, friendliness, favor, and benignity, ends not, bathetically, with "and may He grant you peace" but, appropriately, "and may He extend grace (shalom) to you." In Jeremiah 16:5, yhwh's grace (shalom) is explicated as "kindness (ḥesed) and mercy (raḥamim)"; and in light of that passage it is probable that a vav has been lost at the end of Num. 6:24–26 before the initial vav of verse 27, so that shelomo, is to be read "His grace." In line with this is the phrase "intentions of shalom" for "gracious kind, intentions" (on the part of yhwh) in Jeremiah 29:11. A step closer to mere "peace" is "friendship" (or "alliance"), which sense shalom has in Judges 4:17: "there was shalom between King Jabin of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite," so that Jabin's general Sisera, fleeing from the Israelites, believed that he would find safety in the tent of Heber. So, too, one's shalom-men are one's friends or allies; Jeremiah 20:10; 38:22; Obadiah 7. Finally, shalom obviously means precisely "peace" in i Kings 2:5; Psalm 120:7; Ecclesiastes 3:8; Job 15:21, in which passage it stands in antithesis to war or marauding; but the cases in which this sense can be attributed to the word in good conscience are a small proportion of the total number of its occurrences. Thus it is not true that in Deuteronomy 20:10 the Torah required Israel to invite its adversary "to settle the dispute amicably" "before the commencement of hostilities." The Israelite army has already been mobilized, verse 2a, and has already marched up to an enemy city (not necessarily the first), verse 10a, and it now invites the city not "to settle the dispute amicably" but to surrender on ignominious terms in order to avoid a worse fate (verses 10–17). Shalom here means not peace but submission, and the verb hishlim definitely means not "to make peace" but "to submit," not only in Deuteronomy 20:12 but also in Joshua 10:1, 4; 11:19; ii Samuel 10:19; i Chronicles 19:19; and presumably also i Kings 22:45; Proverbs 16:7. *Isaiah's vision of an age where there would be no more war between nations, Isaiah 4:2–4 (Micah 4:1ff.), is unparalleled. It should not, however, be confused with pacifism. The reason for his opposition to alliances is explained in the Book of *Isaiah. It does not mean that he believed that self-defense was wrong. On the contrary, he predicts that in a penitent Judah those charged with defense (so long as defense, despite 2:2–4, remains necessary) will be endowed with charismatic valor (Isa. 28:6).

[Harold Louis Ginsberg]

In the Talmud

With the possible exception of *justice, peace is the most exalted ideal of the rabbis of the Talmud. No words of praise are too exaggerated to emphasize the importance of this ideal. On the statement of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, "By three things the world is preserved, by truth, by judgment, and by peace" (Avot 1:18), the Talmud declares that they are in effect one, since "if judgment is executed, truth is vindicated, and peace prevails" (tj, Ta'an. 4:2, 68a). The rabbis interpret Hosea 4:17 to teach that "even if Israel is tied to idols, leave him, as long as peace prevails within it" (Gen. R. 38:6). The role of the scholars is to increase peace in the world (Ber. 64a), and it is to bring the rule of peace that Elijah will come (Eduy. 8:7). There is not a blessing or prayer in the liturgy, the Amidah, the Kaddish, the Priestly Blessing, and the Grace after Meals, which does not conclude with the prayer for peace (Lev. R. 9:9). "Shalom" is the standard greeting among Jews both on meeting and on saying farewell, so that the phrase for greeting and for answering the greeting is "to enquire of the peace of " and to "answer the peace of " (Ber. 2:1, 4b). Shalom is one of the names of God (Shab. 10b; Lev. R. 9:9). "The Holy One, blessed be He, found no vessel more worthy of retaining a blessing within it than peace" (Uk. 3:12).

It is permitted to deviate from the strict line of truth in order to establish peace (Yev. 65b), and the Talmud declares with regard to Numbers 5:23, "if in order to establish peace between husband and wife the Name of God, which was written in holiness, may be blotted out, how much more so to bring about peace for the world as a whole" (tj, Sot. 1:4, 16d). It will be seen that the ideal of peace encompasses the whole gamut of human relationship, between man and his fellowman, and between nation and nation, bringing about the ideal of universal peace.

*Aaron is regarded as the prototype of the ideal of peace (Avot 1:12; cf. Yoma 71b), and in the parallel passage in Avotde-Rabbi Nathan (12, p. 48) there is a loving and detailed account of the manner in which he used to devote himself to the bringing about of his ideal. In this Aaron stands in contrast to his brother Moses, who exemplifies the ideal of justice. Aaron's assent to the demand of the people to fashion the golden calf is contrasted with Moses' demands as the rival claims of the ideals of peace and justice when they clash, and the one can be achieved only at the price of the denial of the other, Moses maintaining, "Let justice pierce the mountain" (cf. "Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum"), whereas Aaron maintained the love and pursuit of peace at all cost. In a similar vein is the homily of Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai on the injunction that no iron tool was to be used in the building of the altar, which had to be made of "whole stones" ("avanim shelemot" interpreted as "stones which bring peace" Deut. 27:5–6; cf. Ex. 20:22). "Is it not an a fortiori argument? If the stones of the altar which can neither see nor hear nor speak, but because they bring peace between Israel and their Father in Heaven, the Holy One, blessed be He said, 'thou shalt lift up no iron tool upon them'; how much more so he who brings about peace between man and his fellow, between husband and wife, between city and city, between nation and nation, between government and government, and between family and family" (Mekh., Ba-Ḥodesh, ii). Abbaye's favorite maxim was "man should always strive to increase peace with his brother, his relations, with every other man, even with the heathen in the market place, in order that he be beloved on high and well-liked on earth, and acceptable to his fellowman" (Ber. 17a; ser 26), and there is a whole series of enactments and adjustments of the law made "in the interest of peace" (mipenei darkhei shalom).

Nevertheless, Judaism is not uncompromisingly pacifist in its outlook. It sees universal peace as an ideal which will be achieved only in the messianic age, and Maimonides concludes his famous Code with the declaration that in that era there will be "neither famine nor war, neither jealousy nor strife." Judaism believes that war is sometimes morally justified and divides war into "the war of mitzvah," "the obligatory war" (milḥemet ḥovah; the war of the two are sometimes identified), and the optional war (cf. Maim. Yad, Melakhim 5–7; see *Mitzvah). Nevertheless, the whole weight of the ethics of the rabbis recoiled from the glorification of war. This attitude is strikingly expressed in a Mishnah (Shab. 6:4) which lays it down that a man may not go out wearing his arms on the Sabbath, and "if he did so he is obligated to bring a sin-offering." In answer to the opposite opinion that they can be regarded as adornments, the rabbis indignantly retorted, "they are nought but a reproach, as it is written, 'and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks, Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'" (Isa. 2:4).

[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz]

In Post-Talmudic Jewish Thought

The medieval Jewish thinkers discuss peace under the two headings of world peace and of the avoidance of internal strife and contention in the Jewish community. Jews in the Middle Ages had no voice in international affairs. World peace in the here and now was for them a purely academic question. Their discussions of it, consequently, are in a messianic context. Saadiah (Emunot ve-Deot 7:10) points to the continuing wars among nations, including wars of religion, to demonstrate that the prophetic vision of peace on earth can only apply to the messianic age. Maimonides (Yad, Melakhim 12:5) similarly considers the establishment of peace for all mankind to be an accomplishment of the Messiah. David Kimḥi (to Isa. 2:4) states that the nations will bring their disputes to the Messiah for arbitration. He will decide so wisely and justly that war between nations will be purposeless. It has frequently been pointed out that in medieval illustrated Haggadot the wicked son is depicted as a warrior, the wise son as a peace-loving sage.

Joseph Albo (Sefer ha-Ikkarim 4:51) defines peace as the harmony of opposites. There is no virtue in one extreme predominating over another, but only in the harmony between the irascible and the patient, the niggardly and the extravagant, and so on. Peace of mind means the attainment of harmony among the different parts of the soul. Isaac Arama (Akedat Yiẓḥak, 74) holds that the conventional view of peace as a mere negation of strife fails to do justice to the richness of the concept. Peace is a positive thing, the essential means by which men of differing temperaments and opinions can work together for the common good. Pearls of individual virtue would be dim in isolation if not for the string of peace that binds them together and so increases their luster. That is why peace is a name of God, for it is He who gives unity to the whole of creation.

[Louis Jacobs]

Medieval Jewish thinkers suggested three fundamental concepts regarding the way to make an end to war and to bring about a state of peace. According to the first, this can be done by reforming man qua man – that is, by changing the consciousness of the individual. Putting an end to war involves subduing those internal impulses and motives that impel people to violence. Peace will come about as a consequence of the perfection – either intellectual or psychological – of humankind. Maimonides, for instance, viewed the prophetic vision of peace as a natural and necessary outgrowth of the dominion of the intellect over man's destructive impulses. For him, violence and war, the inflicting of harm by people on one another, have their source in irrationality and ignorance. However, the apprehension of truth – "knowledge of God" – displaces man's awareness from his attachment to illusory goods and interests, and completely eliminates the irrational factors that give rise to mutual conflict between individuals, groups, and nations (Guide 3:11: Laws of Kings, 12:1). Similarly, Abraham bar Hiyya describes the peace foretold by the prophets as the consequence of a radical change in human consciousness. However, it is in the realm of interpersonal relations that this transformation is to take place. Man's destructive impulses are to be overcome not by intellect, but by the sense of intimacy and mutual identification that will grow among people once they have all chosen to adopt the same path. The projected utopian peace will be expressed and embodied in the universal effectiveness of the commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself " (Hegyon ha-Nefesh, ed. G. Wigoder, p. 150).

According to a second concept, peace will come about by reconstructing the international framework – that is, by creating a new world order, either through law and justice or through domination and force. The image of world peace described by several medieval commentators and thinkers took the form of a judicial arrangement between the rival nations, a kind of an international court that would mediate their quarrels and conflicts. This vision speaks not of a human society that has risen above all striving; it speaks, rather, of a procedure for conflict resolution presided over by a supreme, utopian judge whose authority and righteousness are accepted by all. For instance, for David *Kimḥi (Commentary on Micah, 4, 3) and Isaac *Arama (Akedat Yiẓḥak, gate 46, 133b), the prophetic tiding "and he shall judge between the nations" (Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3), does not refer to the kingship of God but to the sages of Jerusalem or to the messiah. They therefore granted the judicial institution universal authority. Other thinkers, however, interpreted the envisioned international structure as a kind of Pax Judaica, a single, central government in Zion to which all people would be subject. These portrayals, of a destined universal domination of the people of Israel or the king-messiah rest upon biblical or midrashic sources, but they also reflect contemporary historical reality: living out the present in submission, subject to the gentile powers, thinkers like *Saadiah Gaon (Doctrines and Beliefs, 8, 8) and *Albo anticipate a complete reverse.

Finally, according to a third concept, peace will be achieved by an internal reformation of society – that is, by a change in the socio-political order. Peace will come about as a result of either the annulment or the improvement of existing political structures. Isaac *Abrabanel foresaw a universal theocracy, the kingship of God on earth. Ultimate peace would involve the disappearance of national and political boundaries and the abrogation of political structures through the unification of all humanity in the light of monotheistic faith – that is to say, through the religious perfection of humanity (Commentary to Isa. 2;4, Commentary to Micah 4). Isaac Arama, however, discusses peace and war in relation to the law of the state, the present operative political and judicial order. Unlike the conceptions described above, in which peace was portrayed primarily from a utopian point of view, Arama looks at this issue in light of actual, contemporary historical reality as well. "For if the social order and law (nimmus) are defective and distant from the natural truth […] quarrel and strife cannot but break out amongst them" (Akedat Yiẓḥak, 46). It is thus the task of the lawgiver to ordain a social order that will educe such motives, both on the part of the ruler and on the part of his subjects.

[Aviezer Ravitzky (2nd ed.)]

In Modern Jewish Thought

Modern Jewish thought, without any denominational differences, except possibly on the question of religious toleration, is unanimous on the great value of peace. Morris Joseph (Judaism as Creed and Life (1903), 456–7) is typical of the whole modern trend when he writes that only the peace-loving Jew is a true follower of the prophets, that the greatest sacrifices should be made to avoid war, that a Jew cannot consistently belong to a war party, and that the Jew's religion, history, and mission all pledge him to a policy of peace, as a citizen as well as an individual. A.I. Kook, commenting on the ruling that the office of the priest "anointed for war" (Deut. 20:2–4) is not a hereditary one, remarks that the idea of a hereditary position is to express permanence in human affairs. However, peace is the only state deserving of permanence. Consequently, there can be no question of a hereditary appointment for a functionary connected with warfare, but only for one who operates in times of peace (Zevin: Le-Or ha-Halakhah (1946), 27–28). The Reform Union Prayer Book contains this prayer: "Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift, O Thou eternal source of peace, and enable Israel to be its messenger unto the peoples of the earth. Bless our country that it may ever be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate in the council of nations."

[Louis Jacobs]


in the bible: Koehler-Baumgartner, 973–4; Y. Muffs, Studies in the Aramaic Legal Papyri from Elephantine (1969), 203–4. in talmud: G.F. Moore, Judaism, 2 (1927), 195–7; J.S. Kornfeld, Judaism and International Peace (193ff.); A. Cronbach, in: ccary, 46 (1936), 198–221; M. Wald, Jewish Teaching on Peace (1944); L.I. Rabinowitz, in: jqr, 58 (1967/68), 148 no. 20. add. bibliography: A. Ravitzky, "Peace," in: A.A. Cohen and P. Mendes-Flohr (eds.), Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought (1987), 685–702.


views updated May 21 2018








Peace is a key concept in the social sciences and a central concern in the field of international relations. There is much focus on peace in the world with many entities working to promote or to protect peace. At the same time, there are many disagreements surrounding it. Definitions of peace, traditional explanations of peace between states, intrastate wars, reconciliation, and the role of third parties are discussed below.


Peace is often defined as the absence of violence. However, there is considerable disagreement over what forms of violence need to be absent. This disagreement is reflected in the list of winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, which includes statesmen, such as U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger (the 1973 laureate along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam); spiritual leaders, such as the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (the 1989 laureate); and various international organizations. These actors have made vastly different contributions to world peace, and their recognition as Nobel laureates demonstrates the diversity of opinion on what peace is and how it is promoted.

In the social sciences, some scholars of peace, such as Johan Galtung of Norway, maintain that peace needs to encompass equality, socioeconomic factors, and social justice. In fact, there is a growing interest in the role of nonviolent social movements, particularly in struggles for equality in domestic political situations, in achieving and maintaining peace. A more minimalist definition of peace focuses on the absence of physical, primarily military, violence between political entities, particularly states. This latter definition lies at the heart of the criticism seen in some circles for the choice of Kenyan Wangari Maathai as the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her work in sustainable development and environmentalism.

For the most part, social science research has focused on the absence of military violence when discussing peace. This is particularly true for international relations scholars who were influenced by the tone of the cold war and the major interstate wars of the twentieth century.


Liberalism and realism, the dominant schools of thought in peace studies and international relations, both accept that anarchy (which is defined in international relations as the lack of a central government) is a major concern for states. However, these schools diverge on the implications of this situation on interstate cooperation and conflict. Peace studies also encompasses various lines of thoughts, with such emphases as Marxism (capitalism), feminism (gender), and constructivism (identity and meanings).

One finding that has received much attention is that democracies do not go to war with each other. Researchers trace this argument back to the views of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804) in his essay Towards Perpetual Peace (1795), and today it is identified with the liberal school of thought. This type of democratic peace has received much support in countless empirical studies, as well as consideration from policy circles, particularly in the West. A democratic country is essentially in a state of stable peacethat is, military violence against another democracy is removed as an option from the mindsets of leaders. In some parts of the world, this status extends to entire regions, as illustrated by pluralistic security communities such as exist in contemporary western Europe. Developments in western Europe, specifically the formation of the European Union, highlight other important elements that are identified with Kants vision of what it takes to attain peace, such as economic development, economic ties with other countries, and international organizations.

There is another school of thought where the focus is on the role of alliances, threats, and power. This approach falls primarily within the power politics or realist school in international relations. Thus, in the case of western Europe, external threats and powerful opponents, particularly the Soviet Union, contributed to the coming together of European countries after World War II (19391945). In this view, peace emerges when there is a balance of power. That is, power deters power and in the process maintains the peace. Some have even argued that a world in which more states possess nuclear weapons might result in less bloodshed.


As shown above, the traditional schools of thought have much to say about interstate peace and war. Although some scholars suggest that interstate wars are becoming obsolete, states continue to justify the need to use violence for survival as seen in interactions between developed and developing countries. In contrast, there is little expectation that intrastate warsthat is, civil warsmay become obsolete.

Intrastate wars are more common than interstate wars, and they result in greater devastation. Civilians are particularly vulnerable in intrastate wars, and the international system has been more averse to intervening in such conflicts. Periods of respite after such wars are short, as many actors involved in intrastate conflicts return to fighting because wars leave people with few options. For this reason, there are growing calls for attention to development and institution building after intrastate wars.

Conflicts over control of governments and territory tend to play central roles in warfare. In a positive development, the international community since the end of World War II has generally not recognized territorial aggrandizement attempts. However, international norms change over time and there is no guarantee that this situation will last. Disagreements among major powers over the rules of the game are of particular importance because considerable global violence may occur when powerful countries are no longer satisfied with the rules and act more unilaterally.


There is an increasing focus on improving relations following hostility between political units. In this regard, it is useful to identify varying levels of peace. A low level of peace between former belligerents describes a situation where there is little more than a halt to fightingthat is, a frozen war. In contrast, a high level of peace encompasses institutionalization of relations and mutually beneficial interactions between former opponents. This approach is related to the topic of reconciliation, which involves the study of how harmonious relations come about after extensive violence.

Particularly important in reconciliation is the willingness of former opponents to improve their relations. In this regard, leadership plays a crucial role. Leaders who would rather rally the public against a former foe for domestic political gain certainly do not contribute to the improvement of relations. Leaders in democracies face a tougher atmosphere because domestic opposition can be particularly fierce and hard to ignore. As such, former warmongers have sometimes played important roles in improving relations with an opponent because their credentials lead to the belief that they will defend vital interests. One of the potential reasons for this change in heart toward a former foe is the presence of a greater security threat.

Postwar relations are influenced by the war itself and may set in motion a cycle of violence. Existing empirical research suggests that the contents of the terms of peace treaties influence the prospects for future violence. This is true for both interstate and intrastate wars. However, an important difference between interstate and intrastate wars is that forgiveness and truth-seeking play a more central role in contributing to intrastate reconciliation.

This difference brings to the forefront the positions of morality and power. Can there be peace without justice? Can peace be imposed? The lack of an international tribunal with significant authority limits what can be expected. Justice has been a major issue following intrastate wars, where public trials may occur. Yet the fear of going back to war, weak judiciaries, and the complicated task of determining culprits has resulted in the generous distribution of amnesty, and societies often seem willing to accept less than full justice. After interstate wars, justice is even more tied to power, as the defeated are the only ones on trial. This situation generally arises when one side is able to impose its will on the other, and in some contexts such impositions have been followed by the attainment of high levels of peace between states, as occurred following World War II. Yet an imposition of peace by an imperial force, a party in a civil war, or an international force is generally associated with a low level of peace and an eventual return to arms.


There is a considerable role for third parties. Some countries have contributed to United Nations peacekeeping operations, which have traditionally acted to keep belligerents away from each other after a cease-fire without taking sides and generally with the prior consent of the opposing parties. Third-party military (and police) deployment is particularly important after intrastate war situations where there is much suspicion and where former belligerents are likely to interpret the moves of the other as hostile and take actions to increase their security that are likely to make the other side fear them, a situation known as a security dilemma. While peacekeeping is fairly uncontroversial, such actions have had mixed records. Other third-party efforts, such as peace enforcement, are more hotly debated because they involve coercing the opposing sides to stop fighting through the use of massive force. Most of the time, third-party military involvement occurs after considerable violence has already taken place, but since the 1990s there has been a shift toward preventive diplomacy. Such efforts include the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia, which was deployed in early 1993 before a breakdown into chaos emerged.

Not all third-party efforts involve military might. Nongovernmental organizations play a role in socioeconomic development and in strengthening institutions and building ties before and after violence. In addition, while many entities work out their differences through bilateral means, there are other options, including adjudication and mediation. Yet, as with many other aspects that characterize attempts to foster peace, mediation does not guarantee success, given the array of elements to consider, such as timing and leverage.

Thus, the study of peace continues. Much more is understood about peace as the absence of military violence. At the same time, there is still much to be done in the area of reconciliation and in efforts to formulate a broader definition of peace.

SEE ALSO Nobel Peace Prize; War


Doyle, Michael W. 1997. Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism. New York: Norton.

Galtung, Johan. 1975. Essays in Peace Research. Copenhagen: Ejlers.

Kacowicz, Arie, Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, Ole Elgström, and Magnus Jerneck. 2000. Stable Peace Among Nations. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Kant, Immanuel. [1795] 1996. Towards Perpetual Peace. In Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor, 317351. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Long, William J., and Peter Brecke. 2003. War and Reconciliation: Reason and Emotion in Conflict Resolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wallensteen, Peter. 2006. Understanding Conflict Resolution: War, Peace, and the Global System. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reşat Bayer


views updated May 09 2018

Peace. Perhaps one of the most complex concepts in human history, peace has been used to refer to everything from “absence of war” to “equilibrium” to “a utopian state of spiritual and social harmony devoid of conflict.” These widely differing images are indicators of essential differences in ideology, culture, and perceptions of history. Understanding peace requires an acknowledgment of these different contexts as well as a willingness to explore those meanings with which we are less familiar.

Ironically, the most familiar images of peace are perhaps the least helpful, as they consist of stereotypical assumptions that do not invite further examination of a complex phenomenon. These highly idealistic images generally depict peace either as the condition that exists when wars are suspended or terminated, or, conversely, as a harmonious world devoid of conflict. At best, such images provide faint shadows of peace rather than illuminate its essence. More often than not, they serve to lessen any interest in peace as a desirable or achievable state, either by devaluing it (a simple interlude between wars) or by ascribing unattainable, utopian preconditions to it (a world in total harmony without conflict).

Shadows of Peace.

In the West, a common understanding of peace originates from the Latin pax, meaning “a pact or settlement to deter or end hostilities.” This meaning arises primarily in historical, political, and military contexts, which appear to be closely related. Given the fascination of Western historians with war, it is understandable that many continue to envision human history as a series of wars and respites from wars, and salient historical figures as warriors, military leaders, or heads of state who declare and prosecute wars against other states. Within this context, peace has come to be narrowly understood as the absence of war, the end of war, interludes between wars, or nonwar.

Accordingly, in American military history, the word peace essentially means “the absence of war.” Thus, militaries fight wars to “win the peace”—to bring about periods of nonwar through the use of force. In military paradigms, peace is seen as an ultimate or ideal goal rather than a means to an end. Those engaged in such wars tend to believe theirs will be the last, that the subsequent nonwar period of peace will be enduring, or that moments of nonwar are only interludes that will ultimately give way to future wars.

Related to this is what the Norwegian peace scholar Johan Galtung has termed negative peace, that is, the absence of war and “direct” violence. Under this kind of peace, many forms of “structural” violence (indirect, institutionalized violence) such as economic exploitation, racism, sexism, oppression, hunger, and poverty still exist.

Such narrow notions of peace say nothing about what peace is—only what peace is not. And they describe what it is not in terms of something with which we appear to be quite familiar: violence and war. Among other conclusions, we might infer from this that our knowledge about peace is at best very limited, since we seek to define it in terms of what it is not rather than what it is.

Related to this is the idyllic image of a world without conflict, pain, suffering, and struggle. Yet at all levels of human existence—from the interpersonal to the global—peace includes, rather than precludes, conflict. Conflict is a basic fact of life; thus, a world at peace will be full of conflict. What distinguishes a peaceful world, among other qualities, is the extent to which unnecessary conflict is prevented and all other conflict is managed in nonviolent ways. This idyllic image often arises out of a fundamental confusion surrounding conflict and violence. Conflict and violence are not synonymous terms: conflict can be violent, but it also can be nonviolent; it can be destructive and painful, but it also can be constructive and useful. Clarification of these concepts allows movement beyond the normative fear of conflict and negative associations with it. The existence of conflict in the future then becomes an understandable and acceptable fact of life, and the idyllic image of peace becomes unnecessary and unrealistic.

Although these shadow images of peace seem antithetical (i.e., they could be easily juxtaposed at opposite ends of a continuum depicting ideological views of peace), in fact, they have much in common with one another. Both types attempt to define peace in terms of (1) what is missing rather than what is present; and (2) one or two basic components (e.g., violence and conflict).

Once outside (Western) historical, political, and military contexts, however, peace means much more than the absence of a specific phenomenon, which it is not. For many scholars in peace studies and peace research, peace is much more than not‐war; it is much more than not‐ violence; and it is never seen as not‐conflict.

Essential Peace.

If, instead, we begin with equally valid definitions of pax—and with pacific (from the Latin pacifico and pacificus, and the French pacifique)—we see a different face of peace altogether: one involving reaching agreement by negotiation (as opposed to the use of force); mediation; reconciliation; amity; calm; tranquility; or order—even “rejecting force as a means of achieving policy objectives.” Here it is important to acknowledge that peace can exist at every level of existence, from the intrapersonal (psychological, spiritual, etc.) to the global (political, sociological, environmental). Thus, generic definitions of peace become extremely problematic. Nonetheless, there is general agreement in peace research and peace studies on the broad parameters of peace.

Some peace researchers approach an understanding of what peace is by identifying the conditions necessary for it to exist. The following ideological and infrastructural conditions are not exhaustive by any means, but represent what many experts believe to be essential for peace to develop in the world: the presence of cultures of peace (vs. cultures of violence); the presence of justice (economic, social, and political); the shared democratic use of power (economic, social, and political) among people who govern themselves (“power with”) rather than the governance of the many by the few who have “power over” the many; the presence of economic and ecological sustainability; the nonviolent (vs. violent) management and resolution of conflict; the development of common security that does not rely on the threat or use of violence; the pursuit of collective and individual ends through nonviolence rather than violence; and the elimination of violence in all its myriad forms (including the “war systems” inherent in many nations). Each of these conditions requires a brief explanation.

The presence of cultures of peace refers to the social and cultural components (values, belief systems, ideologies, philosophies, theories, societal norms, etc.) that undergird and legitimate everyday life and the infrastructures we create to carry us into the future. Wars are not fought without ideologies that tell us that it is acceptable and justifiable to conduct them. The ubiquitous violence that exists in the media, in entertainment, in our schools, in our streets, and in our homes does not exist without belief systems that legitimate and encourage it. Similarly, peaceful relationships among individuals, groups, genders, classes, nations—as well as relationships between human beings and the rest of the nonhuman world—cannot exist without cultural values and ideologies that promote nonviolence, respect, and tolerance for everyone, especially those who are somehow different from us. In a culture of peace, for example, people would not be entertained by violence (nor would they seek to be entertained by it).

A fundamental ideological cornerstone of the violence surrounding us today is the idea that one's identity is primarily related to one's gender, race, national origin, political affiliation, economic status, religious ideology, or socioeconomic class. The result of this kind of identity formation is the grouping of people into “us” and “them.” Once a person or an ethnic group or a country is a “them,” they are less valuable, less important, and somehow less human than “us.” This is the first step toward dehumanizing “the other,” which in turn is the first step toward aggression and violence. Cultures of violence inculcate ideologies that give rise to the formation of these kinds of mutually exclusive identities. Cultures of peace, on the other hand, would embrace “species identity” and other inclusive forms of identifications with humanity, which Elise Boulding and Robert Jay Lifton have so eloquently examined in their research and writings.

The presence of justice at all levels (economic, social, and political) refers to the ways in which individuals and groups are treated by society and one another. While justice is a highly debated term, there is little disagreement that peace can exist without it. In particular, this is true because the existence of injustice implies ongoing structural violence against certain peoples or groups. As Johan Galtung notes, the Greek eirene, the Hebrew shalom, and the Arab salam take us beyond the Roman pax to an understanding of peace that includes “justice.” In this view, peace is not only the absence of all violence (including underlying structures of violence) but also the presence of justice (Galtung calls this positive peace).

The shared democratic use of power is relevant to all personal and social relationships, but especially to those in the arenas of governance, business, international relations, and global security. In his groundbreaking work Three Faces of Power, the American economist Kenneth Boulding identifies three basic forms of power (“threat,” “exchange,” and “integrative” power) and argues that integrative power is the most important of the three, as it is what gives rise to relationships of respect, love, friendship, and so on.

The presence of economic and ecological sustainability is essential because economic or ecological development that is not sustainable assumes dysfunctional levels of injustice and violence in the present moment and ultimately will lead to conflict, violence, and systemic imbalance. A peaceful world requires basic levels of security, which are ensured, in part, by stable economic systems and viable ecological relationships with the natural world.

The remaining four conditions fall within the category of nonviolence. While nonviolence can refer to anything (change, transformation, revolution) that happens not to be violent (as in the case of “nonprincipled nonviolence”), this term is used most often in peace studies to refer to the waging of conflict and the transformation of society through the power of active love. Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolence (ahimsa and satyagraha) was “the pursuit of truth through love.” The strength of nonviolence emanates from an understanding of the origins of power: all power derives from the consent of the governed. The political scientist Gene Sharp carefully explains that known histories of successful nonviolent struggle and conflict resolution date back to the fifth century B.C.

Peace requires the nonviolent management and resolution of conflicts for many reasons, not least of which is found in the shadow of peace, which defines peace as the absence of violence. Violence (from the Latin verb violare) means “to violate.” Violence can be verbal, psychological, emotional, and spiritual—as well as physical. It can be collective as well as individual.

As Duane Friesen makes clear, to do violence to someone is to violate the integrity of that person. Gandhi saw life as one long “experiment with truth,” wherein each person possesses a small piece of the truth and conflicts are the moments in which we learn from one another about our separate and collective truths. Waging conflicts violently, then, is the antithesis of being interested in the truth; it is a means to “win” a conflict temporarily—not to be right in the long run. For most in peace studies, violence cannot be seen as conflict resolution: it is, instead, only the violent waging of conflict for reasons that are legitimated by cultures of violence.

For the same reasons that nonviolent conflict resolution is necessary, peace also requires the development of nonviolent systems of common security; the nonviolent pursuit of collective and individual ends; and, ultimately, the elimination of all forms of violence, whether direct or indirect. Thus, for example, personal growth and individual success, interpersonal relationships, social change and transformation, and the conduct of international relations will need to be reenvisioned as nonviolent means and ends rather than accepted as status quo violent means and ends.

Peace Development.

In the languages of Western culture, peace is a noun, not a verb. It is an object, a goal, a future state of being to be passively wished for and waited upon. No one “does” peace. Yet peace, like war, requires intensive preparation, organization, training, and education. It also requires immense resources and commitment. Peace will not exist without being developed and built from the ground up.

Peace development requires leaders: those who can envision a world without violence and design its blueprints. Peace development also requires actors who will transform the elements of nonpeace into the fabric of peace. The shadow of peace assumes that geopolitical entities called nation‐states are the fundamental units of analysis, and that the political and military leaders of these nation‐states are the primary actors and leaders. The development of essential peace, on the other hand, is not limited to nation‐states and their leaders. Rather, essential peace requires the effort of individuals, communities, local and regional governments, teachers, nongovernmental organizations, international nongovernmental organizations, networks, and the nontraditional loci of nonviolent power.

Since essential peace can exist at all levels of existence, from the spiritual to the global, the paths to its successful development are many: there is no one “right” path to peace and there is no one “right” leader who will take us to it. This awareness allows for everyone to contribute to the building of peace in their lives and in their communities. According to many Eastern religions and philosophies, peace at all levels of existence is interconnected. Therefore, the development of peace in one arena of the world may contribute to the development of peace in many arenas of the world.
[See also Pacifism; Peace and Antiwar Movements; Quakers.]


Louis Fischer , The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, 1950.
Mohandas K. Gandhi , An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1957.
Joan V. Bondurant , Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, 1958.
Gene Sharp , The Politics of Nonviolent Action, 3 vols., 1973.
Ira Sandperl , A Little Kinder, 1974.
Kenneth Boulding , Stable Peace, 1978.
James A. Schellenberg , The Science of Conflict, 1982.
Duane Friesen , Christian Peacemaking and International Conflict: A Realist Pacifist Perspective, 1986.
Ervin Laszlo and Jong Youl Yoo, eds., World Encyclopedia of Peace, 1986, 1989.
Robert J. Lifton , The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age, 1987.
Elise Boulding , Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World, 1988.
Sissela Bok , A Strategy for Peace, 1989.
Kenneth Boulding , Three Tales of Power, 1989.
David P. Barash , Introduction to Peace Studies, 1991.
Michael Shuman and Julia Sweig, eds., Conditions of Peace: An Inquiry, 1991.
Johan Galtung , Oxford Companion to Politics of the WSVW, 1993.

Robin J. Crews


views updated May 11 2018


A state of untroubled tranquility between persons (social) or within an individual's own self (personal). Social peace is dealt with under other headings; this article is concerned only with peace in the personal sense. So understood, it is the tranquil composure of soul that an individual experiences in the absence of a strong conflict of urge or desire between different elements of his own being.

The positive basis of such peace, theologically speaking, is the virtue of charity. In one who has charity the functionings of all the appetites are united in a constant effort of love toward the ultimate point of focus that is God, the Supreme good. This causes a unity of desire within the individual and eliminates the strife or contention that exists when there is contrariety of desire. Peace postulates order or harmony of conation, whereas conflict is always devisive. One cannot have internal peace if he is torn within himself between good and evil desires; such conflicts make personal peace impossible.

Personal peace, since it is based upon or is an effect of charity, can be had only by one who is in the state of sanctifying grace. In other words, there can be no true internal peace except when the appetite is directed to a true good, for an evil object or action, though it may have the appearance of good and thus be able to satisfy the appetite in some respects, nevertheless has many defects, which cause the appetite to remain restless and disturbed. Moreover, even a total dedication to evil could not produce a true peace in a wicked man because evil, unlike good, is not a unifying principle. The completely evil man, if such were possible, would remain a victim of conflict between his evil desires. Thus the peace of the wicked is not true peace, but at most a counterfeit of it (cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 29.2 ad 3).

Although the highest and most genuine personal peace is the consequence of a perfect unity of desires made cohesive by charity and thus directed, at least implicitly, to the Supreme Good, a lesser degree of peace is possible when the intellect and will control and curb the irrational impulses that spring spontaneously from the sense appetite and that would issue in sin if indulged. The occurrence of such impulses indicates a measure of division within a man, but not on the rational or moral level.

Although charity causes peace in the individual by uniting all his desires in the love of God above all else, it also brings about the peace of the individual in relation to other men, insofar as in loving his neighbor as himself, he wishes in some manner at least to fulfill his neighbor's will as though it were his own (Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 29.3). The will of his neighbor thus becomes part of the unity of a man's own desires.

Although peace is directly the work of the essential unitive force of charity, indirectly it is also "the work of justice" (Is 32.17), insofar as justice removes obstacles to peace, for example, the possible conflict of wills concerning the rights that should be conceded to another.

True peace can be either perfect or imperfect. Perfect peace is achieved in the eternal beatitude, which will unite all of a man's desires by giving them permanent rest in one object. Only imperfect peace is possible in this life; for although a person may habitually have his will united to God in love and thus enjoy basic peace within himself, still his will is free and he may fall from grace. Moreover, there are many other things and situations, both within man and external to him, that can disrupt his essential peace and make it imperfect, e.g., the constant threat that his senses and emotions may escape the control of his will or the opposition to virtue of wicked men with which he has to contend (Summa Theologiae 2a2ae, 29.2 ad 4).

Peace is implicitly listed among the beatitudes enunciated by Christ: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Mr 5.9). It is also one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5.23).

Bibliography: t. aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1a2ae, 69.3; 2a2ae, 29, 37, 38, 39; C. gent. 3.34. e. schick and a. auer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 4: 361363. b. h. merkelbach, Summa theologiae moralis (Paris 1949) 1:920, 954. w. r. farrell, Companion to the Summa, 4 v. (New York 193242) 3:104106, 118121.

[p. c. curran]


views updated May 18 2018

peace / pēs/ • n. 1. freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility: you can while away an hour or two in peace and seclusion. ∎  mental calm; serenity: the peace of mind this insurance gives you.2. freedom from or the cessation of war or violence: the Straits were to be open to warships in time of peace. ∎  [in sing.] a period of this: the peace didn't last. ∎  [in sing.] a treaty agreeing to the cessation of war between warring states: support for a negotiated peace. ∎  freedom from civil disorder: police action to restore peace. ∎  freedom from dispute or dissension between individuals or groups: the 8.8 percent offer that promises peace with the board.3. (the peace) a ceremonial handshake or kiss exchanged during a service in some churches (now usually only in the Eucharist), symbolizing Christian love and unity. See also kiss of peace at kiss.• interj. 1. used as a greeting.2. used as an order to remain silent.PHRASES: at peace1. free from anxiety or distress. ∎  dead (used to suggest that someone has escaped from the difficulties of life).2. in a state of friendliness: a man at peace with the world.hold one's peace remain silent about something.keep the peace refrain or prevent others from disturbing civil order: the police must play a crucial role in keeping the peace.make peace (or one's peace) reestablish friendly relations; become reconciled: not every conservative has made peace with big peace for the wearysee no rest for the weary at weary.


views updated May 23 2018

peace if you want peace, you must prepare for war proverbial saying, mid 16th century, meaning that a country in a state of military preparedness is unlikely to be attacked. The 4th-century Roman military writer Vegetius had said, ‘Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum [Let him who desires peace, prepare for war].’
Peace Corps in the US, an organization (created by the Peace Corps Act of 1961) which sends young people to work as volunteers in developing countries.
peace dividend a (financial) benefit from reduced defence spending; a sum of public money which may become available for other purposes when spending on defence is reduced. The term was first recorded in the US in the late 1960s, at a time when the potential benefits of withdrawal from the war in Vietnam were increasingly acknowledged, and gained a high profile again in the early 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Peace Garden State an informal name for North Dakota.
peace in our time originally from the Book of Common Prayer (1662), ‘Give peace in our time, O Lord.’ The phrase was famously used by Neville Chamberlain (1869–1940) on his return from Munich in September 1938.
peace pipe a tobacco pipe offered and smoked as a token of peace among North American Indians.
peace process a series of initiatives, talks, and negotiations, designed to bring about a negotiated settlement between warring or disputing parties; in the 1990s, the term has been used with particular reference to attempts at a settlement in Northern Ireland.
peace with honour a phrase recorded from the 17th century, but used most famously by Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, on his return from the Congress of Berlin in July 1878.

See also breach of the peace, Carthaginian peace, kiss of peace.

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