Monday, August 01, 2011

No fatalists need apply

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
--Arundhati Roy

The days of clinging to assumptions about stasis and immutable tableaux of life are over. The only stability is in our human and natural networks; the only dependable is change. Is this good or bad? Some of each, wouldn't you agree? It is always nice to rely on what we know, but we've learned that we need to keep on learning. This is the method of advancement in any field and it's no different in my field of Conflict Resolution. Outstanding scholars Oliver Ramsbotham and his co-authors (2011) express it well:

"Conflict resolution rejects determinism, whether in realist or in Marxist guise. Instead, conflict resolution and conflict transformation insist that, although human conflict is inevitable, the path to violence is not" (p. 267).
In short, we have agency. We are moving through the stages of collective structural and normative development as a species, past the worst of the traditionalist while revisiting traditionalism to draw upon its best, strongest, most adaptive elements. We are still thrashing through the end stages of the international state power system, or at least redefining power to go way past size of arsenal and willingness to use it. Many believe we are entering an era of a sort of society of states that will shade into an international community based upon a more global consensus of what authorities and norms are legitimate. Finally, if the trends continue, we will emerge into a sort of nonviolent justice-based world community.

Will it be easy to toss over the Bilderberg Group, The Bohemian Club, Skull & Crossbones and all the elite conspiracies to divide us and keep us conquered? Of course not; if it were, it would be done. Marc Pilisuk (2008) catalogs the norms and assumptions that enable the dominant paradigm and helps us see that we need to cease our individualism and our arrogant domination over nature, amongst other cherished and doomed default settings. Our corporatocracy is well organized to our detriment; we will progress more quickly when we in turn use our organizational abilities from the bottom up.

The fun part is that this is seen in the research, which is finally beginning to resonate with our most advanced philosophies and nonviolent religious traditions. We always had the power; now we are slowly beginning to see it, test it, possibly believe it, and more often use it.


Pilisuk, Marc (2008). Who benefits from global violence and war: Uncovering a destructive system. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.

Ramsbotham, Oliver, Woodhouse, Tom, & Miall, Hugh (2011). Contemporary conflict resolution (3rd ed.). Malden, MA: Polity Press.

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