political revue


Year XXVI, 1984, Number 1 - Page 9




War Culture and Peace Culture
1. – A premise concerning the question of method. Political science and political realism. The search for a guiding thread to establish a connection among both war and peace facts.
I do not intend to examine the problem of peace from a strictly scientific standpoint. When we consider major political problems, if we claim to provide the analysis with a rigorously scientific method, insuperable difficulties arise. In the present situation of uncertainty of political science and sociology, in order to attain this goal it would be necessary to justify almost every term used, and it is clear that, therefore, it would be impossible to focus properly on one single theme (whether peace or another subject). Thus, I shall limit myself to saying that the problem of peace ought to be looked at from four viewpoints (the non existence of a peace culture, the situation of peace, the existence or otherwise of a process working towards this situation, the way in which peace is conceived in political action) and also to tackle here the first aspect which to my mind seems crucial when studying peace as an aspect of cultural process, while trying only, as far as my way of approaching the question is concerned, not to depart from the tradition of political realism. As regards my own outlook, I must say that it entirely coincides with the outlook of those who deem that peace should be made the supreme goal of political struggle, since war is now equated with the possibility of self-destruction of mankind. I must say too that the various difficulties that I have encountered have affected the style of this paper. The first difficulty lies in the fact that what we are acquainted with (bekannt) – war and peace – is indeed not properly known (erkannt) (we believe we know what war and peace are, but beyond the empirical evidence of a few isolated facts, there is no acceptable theory, and therefore no effective technique for avoiding war, etc.). The second difficulty lies in the fact that both war and peace are collective behaviour, i.e. events and situations which not only relate to theories, but also to beliefs, customs and so on. It follows that we must examine collective ways of thinking, i.e., in the last instance, cultural facts. And it is precisely here that the difficulty becomes clear since war culture does not exist as a specific view of the world but it exists as a certain connection between institutions, facts, beliefs, customs, fragments of ideas, etc., which are not always as such consciously related to war. The problem lies in searching for a guiding thread to establish a connection among all the facts of the sphere of war – regardless of the form they take in common thought – and, as far as possible, all the facts of the sphere of peace. Naturally this entails a certain degree of abstraction. And there is a further complication. As a guiding thread emerges, many historical and political problems appear in a new light, but, in order to avoid breaking the continuity of data to be connected to establish the guiding thread, these problems will be analysed separately in the notes that follow (also in the form of clarifications).
2. – The lack of a peace culture. Kant’s philosophy of history as the historical explanation of the non-development of a peace culture.
I believe that we are making no mistake when we state that a peace culture does not as yet exist. The dominating idea of the state as a closed national exclusive and armed society certainly does not belong to the world of peace. Nor should we overlook the fact that liberalism, democracy and socialism (Marxism too), which make up a great part of modern political thought, were, particularly in their creative periods, openly hostile to peace as a priority. That peace is denied the status of a priority is often apparent even in Utopian thinking (Thomas More in certain ways and Proudhon in other ways, and so on). Indeed, it can be reasonably argued that beyond this denial, there is little left. There is, to consider it properly, only the traditional pacifism, i.e. a Utopian viewpoint, lacking metaphysical vigour or historical sense, easily converted into a purely individual denial of war (conscientious objection) or the Manichean decision to fight war with war, which always finds an alibi in the idea that one’s own war is the last war.
The reality underlying this situation of political thought was analysed very clearly by Kant, who is very often wrongly included in the ranks of ingenuous pacifists. Peace is certainly one of the major themes of his political philosophy, but it should be recalled that he believed a radical change in the form of the historical process to be a presupposition of peace, and conceived this change as the transition from the state (still current) of a process exclusively guided by the natural characteristics of mankind to a process controlled by the will of all humanity (on the basis of the «equality of all reasonable beings»).
Kant’s statements and conjectures about war and peace are very terse. He placed peace in a future context in which «civilisation (God knows when) will have reached perfection», the only time when «a permanent peace would be possible and salutary for us». He held, indeed, that, «given the degree of progress which human civilisation has reached, war is an indispensable means to make it advance». Without war there would be neither the transition «from barbarism to culture, which consists in the social worth of man», nor the constant development of human society («the danger of war is the only factor that mitigates despotism»). Finally, he stated that it will put an end to itself, causing the «lawless state of savages» in the relations among the states to be overcome, «after at first inadequate and tentative attempts», through a «union of peoples (Völkerbund)».
3. – The culture we have inherited is a war culture. Clausewitz and the incapacity to conceive the unity of politics and war. Logic and forms of war culture.
I have recalled this usually neglected aspect of Kant’s thinking because of the clear way in which it outlines the historical picture of the non-development of a peace culture. However, this is what most concerns us here. If it is true that no peace culture exists then it is also true that the culture that we have inherited, the one within which political and social forces think and act, is a war culture and a war-masking culture, i.e. a culture incapable not only of thinking peace, but also of bringing into the sphere of knowledge, in their true nature, all those facts which, though not having yet the external form of war facts, are nevertheless related in a non-fortuitous way with war.
Among these the first fact that needs to be taken into consideration is that war is always present in one way or another. It is not always present, of course, as a current war. (Every current war is a unique event, sited in a particular place and time, an episode). But it is always present in the shape of the world of war, i.e. as a situation that makes this series of events (single wars) possible and inevitable. This situation has never been interrupted and is very clear and easy to see. War is always present in the shape of military preparation, as defence expenditure, as a constitutional obligation and so on, i.e., briefly, as one of the permanent and basic aspects of everybody’s life. And it must be said that this trivial observation takes on its full meaning, and poses problems that are far from resolved, if it is formulated more carefully, namely if we say that war is always potentially and often actually present, because the world of states (as well as the entire world of politics, in a sense to be established in a more precise manner) is based on war: it is the world of war. War is really, and so far always has been, the means by which supreme decisions, affecting the fate of nations and humanity itself, have always been taken.
The joint presence of politics and war is certainly one of the major causes (perhaps the greatest) of the difficulty there is in fully understanding both. I believe that this difficulty appears in a very precise manner, even at the verbal level, in the most advanced attempt at conceiving war: the attempt made by Clausewitz. What is meant by the phrase war is the continuation of politics by other means? Does it signify that politics no longer resorts to its means and therefore is substantially no longer politics but only war? No, according to Clausewitz, because he always emphasises that war is the means and politics the end and he does not fail to point out that it is impossible to conceive the means without conceiving the end. But why then «other means» and not, simply, one particular means (or a specific set of means)?
Effectively Clausewitz’s formulation brings us to the crisis point in war culture: the fact that we recognise the unity existing between war and politics empirically but we are unable to reproduce this unity with clarity of thought. The first datum (unity of politics and war) shows that it is the normal political behaviour of all men that gives rise to the world of war and keeps it going. The second datum (the imprecise translation into thought of the unity of politics and war) shows that the limit of war culture lies in the incapacity both to specify what aspect of political behaviour it is that connects politics to war, and even to pose the problem in these terms. The ensuing obscurity makes it impossible not only to act effectively for peace but also to decide whether a world of peace is feasible or not. There is in fact no real possibility of establishing whether the world of war is an inevitable fate inexorably affecting men and their behaviour or whether, at least under certain conditions, it depends on man’s will, until we know what aspect of the political behaviour lies behind war.
The logic and forms of war culture derive from this obscurity where thought, at least in part, loses contact with facts. If thought dwells upon the event “war” then it can only conceive it as a necessity, natural or metaphysical, because, as we have seen, it cannot ascribe it to any defined form of political action (at the limit: if in thought there is war, then there is not action); on the contrary, if thought dwells upon the event “action”, then it must mask the world of war, because it cannot ascribe it exclusively to the principles of political action without perverting them (at the limit: if in thought there is action, then there is not war). In their concrete manifestations these forms of thinking entail, to a certain extent, a splitting of consciousness, an oscillation between two poles (either by nature or because of other people’s fault wars always occur under the guise of necessity) as well as self-mystification. It should not, however, be overlooked that these forms of thinking (as long as we use them in a critical and realistic way) make it possible to recognise and examine real aspects of the historical process and politics, aspects which are, moreover, of great significance for the problem of peace.
In fact, with the idea of action, i.e. with the cultural heritage of the great traditional ideologies – liberalism, democracy, and socialism – history is viewed as an unceasing transformation of political behaviour and its social base. Equally the growth of the collective capacity to orientate individual actions with such values as liberty, justice and equality can be seen. What needs to be emphasised here, however, is the relationship of these values to war and peace. In a certain sense, these values belong to the realm of war, without which they could not have emerged historically against despotism and subordination of political power to class privileges. In another sense, however, they belong to the realm of peace inasmuch as they are a premise to it (peace cannot be constructed nor, indeed, pursued while despotic powers and class privileges exist, which can only be removed by war), and inasmuch as they inevitably suffer a process of nationalistic degeneration that may reach the excesses manifested by Fascism and Stalinism, unless universal peace is assured.
On the other hand with the idea of raison d’état which is the most advanced theoretical expression of political realism, the world of power can really be seen for what it is. It becomes apparent that there is no authority placed above the states, and that, therefore, World Reason is the raison d’état, and that the world is governed by war and by force. It also becomes apparent that even negotiations belong to the sphere which culminates with war because they are based exclusively on armed force relations between states, allow only decisions which are compatible with the scale of force relations, and therefore reduce the independence of medium and small states, if not completely to a mere fiction, at least to something not far short of this. Finally, we can see in the world political process the true force, still blind, on which all political events and the internal constitution of states itself depend.
4. – The practical basis of war culture. The coincidence of national behaviour with normal political behaviour as a connection between politics and war.
The recognition of the limitations of war culture makes it possible to establish the practical basis of this culture. In view of that we must return to the point at which the capacity of this culture to understand runs low and try to proceed further. As I have already remarked, war culture never poses itself the question as to what aspect of political behaviour it is that connects politics to war. It is, however, sufficient to pose this question to get the reply that this aspect is the national aspect (indeed it is not possible, with reference to this aspect, to find any solution of continuity between politics and war). And when we get to this point, it is sufficient to demonstrate that the national aspect is always present in the political behaviour of all human beings in order to resolve the problem put forward by Clausewitz, i.e. to establish that there is a continuity between politics and war (taken as a single event) because there is coincidence between customary political behaviour and the world of war (the world of states as closed, exclusive and armed national societies).
Before providing this proof, however, it is necessary to remove a verbal complication that hinders our discourse. It was appropriate at the outset to ask what aspect of normal political behaviour connects politics with war because it is unreasonable to think that politics, in all its aspects, is connected to war. Nevertheless, if it is true that the national aspect is present in all political behaviour, then it is also true that to keep close to the facts it is both permissible and necessary to use the expression "national political behaviour" as a general frame of reference, and after that to specify other aspects present from time to time in actual manifestations of this behaviour. Indeed, with this frame of reference one is always in a position to specify who is acting and in what way, whereas that is not possible with frames of reference of the type “liberal” or “democratic” or “socialist behaviour”, etc., because in reality these types of behaviour do not exist, but only liberal, democratic or socialist aspects of national behaviour. Having stated this, I would like to say the following about the proof. If we break up normal political behaviour into its component parts we find: (a) that the formation of political will is always concretely manifested only as the formation of national will (i.e. as the will to resolve in this or that way national problems of government, of the regime and social structure); (b) that the general political line is always in actual fact developed merely as the analysis of the national balance of power and as the planning of national actions; (c) that the actual, and not merely apparent, mobilisation of forces always, in fact, concerns national forces only, and always stops at the boundaries of individual states without ever crossing them. It is, moreover, obvious that foreign policy never in any way goes beyond this national boundary. In this sphere of action there are no real international seats of decision-making, nor international means for the formation of common will. Foreign policy is decided in national bodies, is designed to safeguard national powers (independence) and provokes changes in the international situation only when there are changes in the national policies of states.
If I am not mistaken, it is thus proved that normal political behaviour coincides with national political behaviour and hence with the world of war. The usefulness of this specification lies in the fact that it enables us to identify the point at which an inversion of the trend of the political process is to be caused if we really want to attempt to eliminate war and construct peace. An example serves to illustrate this. Many writers – in Italy Luigi Einaudi with particular clarity – have repeatedly stated that the actual distinction between the friends and foes of peace corresponds precisely to that between those who are willing, and those who are not willing, to sacrifice part of the sovereignty of their state including military sovereignty. In the last analysis this is true. But it is not enough. This truth has not become popular knowledge. Pacifists – and likewise, albeit with a different spirit, all those who believe they are acting “realistically” on behalf of peace – do not take this truth into account, and go on cherishing the dream of eliminating war without destroying the world of war, or believe that they are changing this simply because their purpose is to introduce more liberalism, democracy and socialism in their own nation state. The fact is that if normal (i.e. national) political behaviour coincides with the world of war the very distinction between the friends and foes of peace is between those trying to change normal political behaviour with a view to removing the aspect that connects it to war and those who do not wish to change it for nationalistic reasons, or only because they do not realise that this change is necessary, and thus effectively support the world of war in what they do even though they sincerely desire peace.
5. – National thinking as the cause of war being regarded as an inescapable fate or masked. The transition from war politics to peace politics as a strategy to face the challenge of our time.
These considerations are, however, only the first step towards outlining the framework for the transition from war politics to peace politics. We know what is the world of war and what we must not do in order not to perpetuate it, but we do not know yet what is the world of peace, nor if there is any sign that makes it possible for us to say whether we are experiencing a process that could be guided towards the world of peace. Before trying to face these matters, I would merely like to note that the recognition of the principles of action, which constitute the world of war, makes it possible to enlarge the field of our knowledge. In particular we can now state that war culture is the culture of national behaviour, and thus we can stress the fact that the theoretical limit of this culture (inability to conceive the unity of politics and war with the result that this aspect of reality becomes an inescapable fate or is masked) depends on the practical limitations of this behaviour (reduction of world politics to the sum of national politics, i.e. something that everybody undergoes but which nobody determines). But what is even more important is that by abandoning the viewpoint of national political behaviour, and by attempting to adopt the viewpoint of the struggle for peace, it is possible to start to perceive the essential political features of to-day’s world darkened by war culture.
Humanity has never been in a position like the current one. Technological development has already led the human race to the verge of the physical possibility of self-destruction through war or ecological catastrophe but, despite this, there has been absolutely no change in the way politics is carried out, is conceived of and studied. There are scientists designing increasingly destructive weapons and scientists attempting to make the world realise what the appalling dangers really are. But beyond these studies and information about the technical features of weapons there is nothing, and nothing about the political fact that building and exploiting them is a matter of political decision. The fact is that war culture, by anchoring thinking to ideas which no longer have any sense, nor evolutive character, nor even reality (the national state and its armed defence), has the effect of feeding thought with ghosts and prevents thinking from ascertaining that the radical change that has occurred in military technology is, ipso facto, an equally drastic change in the moral, political and institutional situation of all mankind.
Despite this, the state is still thought about with the conceptions of the time (the whole of past time) in which it was unthinkable and unforeseeable that mankind would have become completely his own master, albeit negatively and for the worse, i.e. capable of self-destruction. The result is that the frightful degeneration of states goes unnoticed, a degeneration that is transforming states from being life defence organisations into organisations that are deliberately creating (hegemonic states) or passively experiencing (satellite or neutral states) the risk of the extinction of the human species. If we accepted this as a permanent fact of the political world (and no political party has so far rejected this degenerate form of the state), deterioration into barbarity would certainly be unavoidable. Education, the feeling of social solidarity, and every moral and cultural value would, indeed, no longer have any sense or credibility.
Similar considerations are true for the other global aspect of technological development, the positive one. It is becoming increasingly apparent that productive development with unceasing technological innovation is leading mankind to the verge of the complete elimination of purely physical and repetitive work and is providing mankind with the power to replace this type of work with intelligent and creative activities. But politicians, still confined to the national horizons of war culture, are only capable of projecting national policies (or “international” policies with national powers, which is the same thing) when the real task is to build progressively a world power and world policies designed to develop the Third World, policies which ought to be coordinated with the economic and, above all, the political and social transformation of the already industrialised countries.
The consequence of this is that good fortune – more things produced for less work, the achievement for everyman of the material possibility of spiritual freedom – is turned into the misfortune of corporativism, protectionism, unemployment and the uncertain future of the Third World.
But what is not possible with war culture may become possible in the political and moral context of the construction of a peace culture. Taken from this viewpoint, we can already see that we are not faced with two different tasks, but merely one. War cannot be abolished, nor can the risk of ecological catastrophe be eliminated without control over military and ecological aspects of the production process (the only worthwhile disarmament is controlled disarmament). And if we achieve this sort of political control, this sort of power in other words, it is evident that we also achieve the capacity to govern the world market and organise society not only in view of market efficiency and production (i.e. merely economic considerations), but also with a view to quality of life, solidarity, freedom of an emancipated mankind, as is vital today if we are to base full employment on its only possible foundation and if we are to use human labour for the purposes of defending and protecting our ecological and cultural heritage.
Peace culture is a new culture and a new culture is a new world, that mankind will learn to understand as it is built (if it is going to be built). In this respect, I would like, however, to point out that Kant’s philosophy of history already makes it possible to state that such an epochal transition is thinkable. Kant, as I have already recalled, held that it would be war itself, by becoming more and more destructive, that would pose the problem of its abolition. And we can in fact see that mankind has reached this point. Kant also thought that only a civilisation that had reached perfection would have been able to abolish war. And if we bear in mind that in these passages of Kant civilisation is culture as man’s social value, we can in fact remark that mankind is entering a historical epoch in which politics can aim to completely develop the social value of every man and realise perpetual peace. Whether this will happen, we cannot say, because what is thinkable is not what is real. But we already know that man’s will can and must make this choice because the alternative is catastrophe.
[i] The problem of political science.
The first problem of political science is whether a political science already exists (otherwise the space dedicated by the literature of this discipline to epistemology rather than to itself would be inexplicable). It seems reasonable to think that our time is still that of its foundation, rather than that of its normalisation (cumulative development, practical applications, etc.). It is not easy to assert the contrary. For example, Sartori, a scholar who asks the question clearly and answers in the affirmative, recognizes nevertheless that «no scientific knowledge was ever born without having ordered its language and given it precision, because it is terminology that supplies the legs on which a science then walks»; and he notices that «a babel of languages spreads through the social sciences to the point where we can hardly understand each other».
This babel of languages, which in my opinion ought to suggest a negative reply to the question of the existence of a science of politics, is anyhow what forces us to redefine the meaning of every important term we use, if we aim at taking it out of common language and bring it into the language of science. This was indeed Giulio Preti’s suggestion when he proposed using in this context the method of explication, theorized by Carnap and Hempel (a kind of real definition of the terms already in use, achieved by restricting their vague and ambiguous meaning for the purpose of making them «suited to an unequivocal and rigorous scientific speech»). But Preti points out also that «explication ought to make it possible to formulate a sound theoretical system». Thus he entirely recasts the problem of the foundation of the science of politics, because a theoretical system cannot be built up by means of a haphazard collection of explications (however, these remain very useful, and necessary when the question is about exploring the ground whenever the issues are clearly circumscribed). See Giovanni Sartori, La Politica, SugarCo, Milan, 1979, pp. I and 45, and Giulio Preti, Preface to F.E. Oppenheim, Dimensioni della libertà, FeltrinelIi, Milan, 1969, pp. XII-XIII.
Political realism.
Political realism is a cultural datum that has a clear-cut physiognomy only in the field of the history of ideas (in that of the history of political theory it has a less clear identity). In this respect, there can be no doubt that with Machiavelli there began a new, independent way of looking at the specific nature of politics, and that this way of thinking has had some historical development, albeit amidst considerable uncertainty, with the idea of raison d’état (and with the criteria of Realpolitik and the balance of power). But in every other cultural context, the question of political realism is still quite open. At one end of the spectrum is the fact that political realism (which was the same thing as political science until well into the last century, and which is still to-day one of the most significant streams of thought of academic political science in the field of international politics) in no way presents the characteristics of a science (taken in a broad sense, as including, for example, economic science) nor those of an ordered set of well elaborated concepts. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the fact that, despite this, when it is adopted as a standpoint (i.e. when one adopts the trend of thought of its major authors, first of all Machiavelli) it is possible to describe, explain and sometimes foresee some important aspects of the political process which are otherwise concealed or obscured. Ascertaining this becomes so much more important if we keep in mind, as Waltz asserts in a greatly esteemed handbook of political science, that «from Machiavelli through Meinecke and Morgenthau, the elements of the approach and the reasoning remain constant (Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Relations, in Handbook of Political Science, vol. VIII, International Politics, ed. by Fred J. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachussets, 1975, p. 35. This essay by Waltz is also very useful as to the question of the existence of the science of politics).
Perhaps the most reasonable thing that can be said (and which is at the same time a criterion for good usage) is that political realism is closely identified with the century-old effort to achieve a positive and practically effective knowledge of politics; and that it still does not have a satisfactory theoretical arrangement (in much the same way that the academic science of politics, which tries to use a rigorous terminology, still lacks an adequate power of description and explanation) precisely because this course of thought has not yet achieved results that are at least equal to those achieved by Adam Smith in his understanding of economic facts.
As regards the terminology used in my essay, I should like to point out that, if we take on a pattern of political realism, then we have to use our  terminology  with  greater  freedom  than is allowed  by  contemporary methodological thought.
War and the risk of the extermination of the human race.
However one may try to play it down, the fundamental fact is the following. There is no mechanism preventing wars, and none forcing the belligerents not to use nuclear weapons. It follows that either wars are abolished or else we live with the risk of war, which, in its turn, entails the risk of the destruction of the human race. Every other consideration is secondary and irrelevant. There are essentially two loopholes: either it is suggested that not everybody would die in a nuclear war or that nuclear weapons will never be used because of the effectiveness of the deterrent.
The first loophole, apart from being wrong, is revolting. It is revolting because the experts who support this thesis put forward horrendously large death figures, and when they present them they act as if the violent death of tens or hundreds of millions of people were a normal war prospect that is acceptable. And it is wrong because, while all (or nearly all) agree that the stock of nuclear weapons is sufficient to destroy mankind, nobody is able to foresee the way a nuclear war would go, the number of weapons used, and so on (war is the least controllable of all human situations, and nuclear war is by hypothesis even less controllable, since it removes the very idea of victory, and hence the essential operative criterion). On the other hand, these experts do not take into consideration two essential factors. Firstly, they fail to realize that we must not merely count the one or the other stock of weapons, but that we need to think of the capacity to produce them. Secondly, they fail to appreciate that the destructive potential of these weapons (and of others, like biological and chemical, weapons, and those of other kinds) is constantly increasing, because international politics compel every state to maximize its power, and will always compel every state to do so, until it becomes possible to achieve by peaceful means what can now be obtained only by weapons (like independence, etc.).
The second loophole is deterrence. In this case it is argued that nuclear weapons will never be used, because the intended purpose is not to use them, but to make people fear that they will be used. There is an obvious lack of logic in this argument; if it were positively certain that these arms would never be used, then the deterrence itself – i.e. the possibility of exploiting, in order to discourage a nuclear attack, the fear that they would be used, would disappear too. The truth is elsewhere. The real deterrent factor is independent of any strategy and concerns both the first strike, the second strike and any other assumption of desk strategists, because it resides only in the harsh immediacy of the fact, i.e. in the diabolic nature of the decision to carry out a nuclear strike (whatever the so-called defence or attack situation). And when this is clear, it is easy to conclude that this guarantee (the presumed impossibility of such a diabolic decision) is not sufficient. Indeed it is clear that it is foolish to accept a situation of this kind and not to aim at changing it, i.e. at removing the danger of war once and for ever. Only with this purpose can the prospect of deterrence be made reasonable, both because of its transitory nature (the risk would only last for a limited period) and because the decision I called “diabolical” would become much more difficult, and perhaps quite impossible, to take in a world directed towards the creation of perpetual peace and international justice in a credible way.
One other observation. The problem of nuclear war should never lead us to forget both the barbaric nature of total war (which in our century has reached inhuman levels, without which fascism would have had no possibility to develop and seize power in Italy and Germany) and the relation of political and cultural continuity between total war and nuclear war. This too confirms that the true problem is the complete abolition of war.
Regarding the term “culture”.
The term “culture” is often nowadays used inappropriately. But where the most important orientations in human society are concerned I feel that it is appropriate to use it because in these circumstances what is at stake is the collection of beliefs, knowledge, customs, etc. Naturally the exact meaning of the term depends in every case on the context in question because the idea of the unity of culture (or of society and so on) has not the value of a scientific theory, but only of a limiting concept, a regulatory criterion and not an accepted theoretical situation. In the case of this essay, which deals with peace and war, the term “culture” refers to beliefs and the like, inasmuch as they have the effect of orientating men towards war or peace (effective influence on social processes), and does not imply that where there is an orientation towards war there is only a war culture.
The case of Teodoro Moneta.
The case of the Italian Nobel Peace Prize winner for 1907, Teodoro Moneta, is an example. Born in 1833, as a boy he witnessed the five-day insurrection in Mi1an and actively participated in all aspects of Italian unification (he had been a member of Mazzini’s and Pallavicino’s Società Nazionale Italiana). Like many other Italians of his time, he associated both the feeling of European unity and the ideal of peace with Italian national feeling. Indeed, he opposed the first Italian expeditions in Africa and in particular the continuation of war after the battle of Adua in 1896. He did not hesitate to recall in public, whether in Italy or abroad, that the pacifist opposition to the war had gone so far as to sabotage the railways so as to prevent the departure of reinforcements for Africa (See L’Italia e la conferenza dell’Aja, a speech delivered by E.T Moneta in Vienna on May 5th 1907, published by the Società internazionale per la pace, Unione Lombarda, Milan, 1911, p.8).
His pacifism, it should be recalled, was not incidental, the result of passing emotions. He claimed a cosmopolitical character for Italian culture, was influenced by Carlo Cattaneo’s federalism and identified the cause of peace with the struggle for «European federation as a step towards a world federation». But in 1911 he not only failed to oppose Italy’s war with Turkey for the conquest of Libya, but even went so far as to support it. Criticised by a number of friends, he defended himself by saying that «after the kind of protectorate acquired by France in Morocco, Italy was compelled to safeguard its future not to become shut off, as had been repeatedly stated, in the Mediterranean» and by reminding people that: «since the world judges peoples by their fortunes in war, so Italy for a long time was judged as a nation that was simply unwarlike. And more than once, apart from what was written in the foreign press, words of scorn were expressed by Bismarck towards Italy. If I have dwelt on these facts it is because the immense pain they induced in me is what has ever since that time been what has decided my entire political conduct ». (See E.T. Moneta, Patria e umanità, Ufficio della Società Internazionale per la Pace, Unione Lombarda, Milano, 1912, pp. 13 and 23).
Moneta’s case has been repeated umpteen times both individually and collectively. It demonstrates that when pacifism, as so far developed without any positive theory of peace, comes to the crunch, it ends up preferring war to peace every time that one’s own nation’s interests are affected. This brings out the latent contradiction between the will to have peace and the limitation of one’s actual political behaviour to the national framework i.e. to the decisions regarding one’s own nation’s future. And we would be mistaken if we were led into thinking that this was a matter of the past. To take an example, Agnes Heller and Ferenc Fehér wrote in relation to the Falkland-Malvinas war «it is a fact that Great Britain, which not a moment before had been the noisiest battleground (together with West Germany) for two apparently identical pacifist and anti-nuclear movements, was suddenly overcome by almost universal patriotic fury. With the exception of Tony Benn’s maximalistic tiny minority, the British anti-nuclear movement did not offer the slightest resistance to Mrs. Thatcher’s war policy» (A. Heller, F. Fehér, «Gli autoinganni del pacifismo», in Mondo Operaio, 1/2, 1983). For the limits of pacifism see Lord Lothian, Pacifism is not enough} O.U.P., London, 1935
World government and the control of the historical process.
There can obviously be no control over the historical process without a world government. This observation is trivial on its own but is otherwise quite useful inasmuch as it enables us to clarify a number of features of the notion of the historical process. When we consider the historical process as it has manifested itself so far, we notice that it has never been wanted, never been planned and never thought of as such. So far its direction has merely been the result of efforts made by each nation (or other historical types of political community) to exploit the international situation to its advantage, i.e. the resultant of the international clash of national wills and dominant national forces. In terms of decisions, nothing more than the unorganized total of uncoordinated national political decisions.
So far with these observations we have pointed out actual facts. But if the idea of a world government is missing, (i.e. if the idea of controlling the historical process is unthinkable) a pseudo-theory (i.e. an unproved and unprovable theory) creeps into this statement of fact because we are no longer merely ascertaining facts but are at the same time led to the idea that this situation is eternal. The historical process thus appears as the blind turning of the wheel of time, as a necessity that thought can only recognize and in the face of which every will must bend. (This is in fact the historical outlook of political realism and the reason why in Machiavelli’s language “necessity” and “fortuna”, in addition to “virtù”, are crucial terms). And if thought attempts to explain this obscure destiny in some way, it is forced to conceive of history as a process dependent on some metaphysical or natural cause (both these explanations are to be found in Meinecke’s thinking: see in particular the introduction to Die Idee der Staatsräson in der neueren Geschichte).
The only alternative to this is not to think, i.e. to remove this reality from one’s awareness and to replace it with an illusion (which is easily done because it is impossible to think of politics, in particular international politics, without setting objectives, nor is it possible to set up objectives without deluding oneself that one is able to control the world situation, with some degree of autonomy). But everything changes if, with the idea of world government, we acquire the possibility of conceiving not only the idea of an uncontrolled historical process, but also that of a controlled historical process. In the latter case the historical process takes the form of a set of co-ordinated political decisions, within which the general will, which now takes shape also at the world level, will no longer be subordinate to necessity (taken as the international clash of national wills). Political will thus passes from the sphere of heteronomy to that of autonomy. And this entails at the same time the passage from history characterised by determinism to history guided by freedom. This transformation was studied as regards its philosophical meaning by Kant, whose philosophy of history has in common with that of Marx the concept of historical determinism for the segment of history reaching up to world government, while remaining very different in its rational, severe and far from uncritical examination of the world of freedom.
After stressing the fact that we cannot conceive world government, i.e. peace, without at the same time conceiving control of the historical process, I would like to analyse briefly the significance of these observations for the theory of historiography. If we ask ourselves, for example, what aspects of the historical process would be directly controlled by a world government, we can reply that, more or less, they would be those that national governments delude themselves that they control. And if, after giving this reply, we recall that among these aspects there are some which have or could take on the character of regularity, of constant repetition, etc. then we can begin to see that a new type of relationship between this type of situation and political decisions begins to emerge.
We can consider these aspects from Braudel’s point of view. In this case we find ourselves faced with “longue duree”, and we can, case by case, try to establish whether and how far the “longue duree” depends on political decisions. Alternatively, we can consider these situations from the points of view of historical materialism and raison d’état. In these cases we find ourselves facing the facts made up by the necessary linkages between the relations of production and of the evolution of the world balance of power. We can easily verify that events of the sphere of raison d’état would be superseded by the decision of the world government, and that the events of the sphere of material production could leave an increasing scope for free decisions of a world government and of the other coordinated governments as scientific and technical production replaces classic industrial production.
We should also, finally, consider that world government would put an end to history as the history of wars. And that raises the problem of histories that come to an end and, more generally, the problem of the unity of history as a limiting concept of all histories, to be studied with different criteria in as much as they are dependent on different laws of development.
Kant and the contradiction between human nature and civilisation.
See Immanuel Kant, Werke, Insel Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., 6. Band, pp. 91, 99-100, 38, 98, 42-43. I would like to recall at least that Kant, when speaking about Rousseau, states that «he clearly shows the contradiction existing between civilisation and the nature of the human race» and he goes on to explain: «Indeed, from this contradiction all serious evils are born which cause suffering in human life and which also cause all vices which dishonour life, since civilisation, based on the true principles of man’s and citizen’s upbringing, has perhaps not even begun and therefore is far from being achieved. The inclinations and tendencies that lead us to evil habits, and which are therefore blamed in this account, are, however, good in themselves and, as such, conform to the purposes of nature; but, as they were geared with the state of nature as such, they are impaired by the progress of civilisation and impair it in their turn, up to the point where art, having reached perfection, becomes nature again, which is the ultimate goal of the destiny of mankind». (Op. cit., pp. 93-95).
The reason for the non-development of a peace culture.
According to Kant war belongs not to the world of metaphysics or biology but to the world of history. It exists together with a number of facts, and therefore, at least hypothetically could disappear with the disappearance of these facts. We are, quite clearly, in the realm of conjecture, but of reasonable conjecture that Kant distinguishes from the various vain ones. See Immanuel Kant, op. cit., pp. 85-86, 42-43, 47-49, and generally all works of the philosophy of history. Now I think that only through this historical conception of war is it possible to explain the failure of peace culture to develop. The crucial fact is this: until our times peace has never been a priority because war has always been a necessary means to resolve the problems posed by the historical process i.e. to affirm the values that in turn prove to be possible. The consequence of this on the theoretical plan is evident. Since the elimination of war has never been posed as a practical problem, thought has always been based on war as an aspect of reality, or on the masking of war. In this context when peace appears to the conscience as a practical aspiration (struggle for peace) or as a theoretical problem, it remains quite separate and isolated from any other fact or theory, and never appears as one aspect, one part of the historical process, thus being doomed to abstraction or impotence. This is why not only is there no peace culture, but people are not in fact even aware of its absence. Peace is usually talked of as if it were something well-known to everybody and that without looking at the need to enrich our thoughts with those of great thinkers who have been concerned with the subject.
The refusal to deal with war.
After asserting that war is a feature of human behaviour, Cyril Falls states that aversion to «the brutality and irrationality of war» can be turn «into puerile attempts to minimize its importance and refusal to concern (oneself) with it». (Cyril Falls, Introductory to The Art of War, from the Age of Napoleon to the Present Day, O.U.P., London-New-York-Toronto, 1961. Falls is pointing his sights at English historians of the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, but the observation is more widely applicable). Thus both the influence of wars fought in the past on the customs of peoples and the fact that some sort of war is always planned in all countries (including neutral countries) even when no war is actually taking place, are matters which are left in the shade. In reality, defence is nothing more than a defensive war plan established and constantly adjusted by governments and military authorities with the agreement, active or passive, of citizens without exception (whence the importance of examples of military valour and warlike capacities in the rites of the State, in the nationalistic perversion of history and so on).
There can be no doubt about the existence of this agreement, although it is true that it is manifested more passively than actively and much more unconsciously than consciously. The fact is that generally men, apart from Fascists, although proud of the military virtues of the people they belong to, prefer to think of themselves in a different way. This either removes awareness of individual military responsibilities, i.e. war responsibilities, or when international politics puts these facts harshly within everyone’s gaze, put the responsibility of the tension and the threat of use of force, and so on, onto the foreigners of the rival camp who, since they are enemies, in this way cease to be human beings. When this happens their death may be viewed with satisfaction and even with joy, and does not provoke any feeling other than pride in the readers of apologies or pseudo-histories of national wars.
Unity of and distinction between politics and war.
The necessity to acknowledge the unity of politics and war and the difficulty of conceiving it depend on objective factors. In some ways, politics and war are inseparable: wars are the fruit of political decisions, and the possibility of carrying them out (armaments, military service etc.) is in its turn the result of an ever-present political praxis. In other respects, on the other hand, they rule each other out. Common sense tells us that this is so whenever we hear that wars occur when there is no room left for political solutions. In this case, politics coincides with peace: it is the opposite of war and the means by which efforts are made to avoid it. And what should be noticed is that although this interpretation is denied by the facts (the decision to go to war is always a political decision), it is not entirely arbitrary, at least as a projection on all the sphere of politics of certain characteristics of politics that are, quite reasonably, considered to be essential.
Indeed, it is true that states are a political creation and it is true that within each state politics is precisely the activity by which conflicts are peacefully resolved (just as it is true, on the other hand that, despite a number of steps backwards, history presents a constant tendency towards an extension of the size of states i.e. the transformation of previous war zones into zones of internal peace). Now pushing this interpretation to the limit, politics may be interpreted as a gradual process of elimination of wars; and thus war may be interpreted as the expression of the imperfection of politics, and peace as the expression of the perfection of politics. In this way, it is possible to conceive the historical and present unity of politics and war without arbitrarily assuming the eternal unity of politics and war (which makes it possible to think of all the ways in which politics and war are different). In support of this interpretation is the fact that politics as action towards peace coincides with the most developed aspect of political thought and with the most conscious forms of participation of citizens in political life.
Development and crisis in ideologies.
In the discussion on the crisis in ideologies (now hitting Marxism also) a very pertinent observation made by Lionel Robbins has never been taken into proper consideration. As regards liberalism, he states that «international liberalism is not a plan which has been tried and failed. It is a plan which has never been carried through – a revolution crushed by reaction ere it had time to be fully tested »: and he extends (virtually) this observation to socialism. The adjustment thereby made to the framework of discussion is obvious. If this is the case, the worst evils in our century in international, national and social policy must obviously be ascribed to what is not yet liberal and/or socialist, and not to liberalism and socialism as such, since, because they are not fully developed, they have not had a chance to prove their full validity (they should appropriately be re-assessed only if it were possible to show that their complete development is impossible).
Robbins’s reasoning is unassailable. In a nutshell, and put in another form, it can be expressed as follows. He notices that with the current international system, based on the absolute and exclusive sovereignty of national states, any economic plan (in the sense that he ascribes to the term i.e. including a liberal plan) can only be national; and then he shows easily how these plans cannot fail to contain very strong elements of protectionism and corporativism because national governments (i.e. the centres of decision that formulate such plans and handle them) are supported by a balance of power that includes all protectionist and corporativist interests and excludes an increasing portion of the liberal and socialist ones (those which have their seat in the framework of the nation but which can be enforced only on the international plan because their scale of realization is international). The ultimate reason for this lies in the fact that, while the lot of the protectionist and corporativist interests depends exclusively on the respective national governments, that of the liberal and socialist interests in question depends on the contrary on the behaviour of many governments (in the limit of all of them) and not only on that of one’s own, i.e. on a power situation escaping direct electoral control of the citizens. This is why a national vote is effective in the former case, ineffective in the latter. In fact only in the former case do favourable or unfavourable governmental decisions appear altogether as gains and losses of votes and support for the party (or parties) in power. It follows that liberalism and socialism can only develop fully with an international (world) plan, and that an international plan can be implemented only by a world government (See Lionel Robbins, Economic Planning and International Order, MacMillan, London, 1937, p.238 for the precise quotation. See also, by Robbins, The Economic Causes of War, Jonathan Cape, London, 1939 and, for the international failure of socialism, Barbara Wootton, «Socialism and Federalism», in Studies in Federal Planning, ed. by P. Ransome, MacMillan, London, pp. 269-298. I would like to note in passing that the fact that this is not common knowledge is because of the continuance, even now, of errors that the “early liberals” made according to Robbins: i.e. (i) the tendency to describe the liberal market in terms of spontaneity, without giving equal consideration to the liberal plan as the system of political, legal, administrative and economic bonds making such spontaneity possible, and, (ii) the naive trust in the possibility of a liberal international market functioning without a world power).
Robbins’s analysis is important also because it makes it possible to obtain results that in his work are only implicit. One such result is the possibility of distinguishing, for each of the ideologies in question, its historical affirmation (which has already been obtained) from its complete realisation (which has not yet begun), and the consequent possibility of asking whether the complete development of these ideologies goes through identifiable phases. The second result makes it possible to reply affirmatively to this question. It derives from the (already established) relationship between international liberal and/or socialist plan (complete realisation) and world government (peace), i.e. the relationship between peace and the last phase of development of these ideologies; and it lies in the possibility of establishing analogous relationships for the other phases. Indeed, in the same way that we must make assumptions about peace to be able to conceive the last stage of development, in much the same way we have to think about war to be able to conceive the first phase, that of the historical affirmation, as a struggle against power situations based on the forcible and legal exclusion of individual freedom and of the liberation of all classes (absolutism and/or subordination of political power to class privilege). And at this juncture an intermediary phase between the first and the last becomes apparent, that of a (partial) development within a legal framework. In this phase development can neither be complete nor immune from the risk of a relapse into the previous illegality, but it is, nevertheless, as the facts show, sufficient to consolidate the historical affirmation of the ideologies in question to the point where their values become indestructible, at least as concerns ideas. This is why a real revolution, once made, is made for ever. This phase also has a clear relationship with a typical war and/or peace situation: namely the transition from the world of war to peace. This is demonstrated by the fact that war becomes once again a primary objective whenever such values as freedom, justice and equality are trampled on. In this negative rather than positive sense, albeit very real, it may be said that liberalism, democracy and socialism are the premises needed for peace.
This conclusion demands a brief comment. Indeed, the fact that liberalism, democracy and socialism are really the concrete political premises to peace (a different reasoning would be in order if the matter were about religious and moral premises) has led to the erroneous assumption that they are also the means by which peace can be achieved. But rather the opposite is true. In reality, whilst the historical affirmation of each of these ideologies is one of the premises to peace, peace (as world government) in its turn is the necessary premise for their complete realisation and this immediately shows that it is not possible to construct peace by merely strengthening these ideologies. But this aspect has remained in the dark; and this obscurity has brought about both unilateral pseudo-theories of peace (i.e. peace identified with a side’s own success: opposing economic theories of peace put forward by liberals and marxists, and national democratic theories of peace put forward by democrats), and, as regards the field of action specifically, an ideological reflex: the masking of war (which is inevitable since in theory nothing denies liberalism, democracy and socialism more than war).
These consequences – as well as the internal structure of these ideologies and their present situation – can be easily appreciated if we remember that the passage from the historical affirmation phase to the legal development phase coincides with the passage from offensive to defensive. The reasons for this transition are clear. The liberals could not fail to defend individual liberty after they had achieved it by struggling against absolutism, and the aristocratic monopoly of power and the same is true for democrats as regards political liberty and for socialists  regarding economic and social liberty. But what matters most, as regards our theme, is also the fact that these victories were achieved by means of the struggle of one class (on each occasion the class which could not free itself without affirming one of these aspects of freedom and which was at the same time able to support it institutionally) and by means of a specific form of state (the state which was compatible with individual freedom and the liberation of classes i.e. the national state). Hence, by passing from the offensive to the defensive, liberals, democrats and socialists not only respectively defended individual, political and social liberty but also, a class and a form of state.
This class limitation, which has become static as a result of a defensive position, explains the (often observed) fact that democratic action was necessary to enlarge the domain of individual liberty, and socialist action to enlarge the domain of democratic liberty. On the other hand, this state limitation, which had become static in its turn for the very same reason, explains why liberals, democrats and socialists accepted the world of war (even though this took place more through the masking of war than through the recognition of its normality in a world of national states).
The following then is the situation: once class freedom has been achieved, advances can be made only in the field of the liberation of individuals as such and only by means of a new ideology: the ideology of peace (federalism). It is vital to recall that class freedom has entailed an increase in, but not complete development of, individual, political and social liberty which
is still subordinate both to corporative limits (in the framework of the
dissolution of classes) and also to the supreme negation of liberty by the duty to kill and die for the state (nation). The struggle for peace thus coincides with that for enlarging the sphere of individual, political and social liberty, by means of the full liberty of man as such. This requires liberals, democrats and socialists to overcome their ideological limitations. And it also means that each of them has to develop a positive theory of peace and a strategy  that makes peace, and not merely good fortune for one’s own nation, the supreme goal of political struggle.
Raison d’état and the political system.
A constitution is commonly interpreted as the highest expression of a people’s autonomy, as the basic expression of its character, etc. But the opposite is also true. It cannot be denied that Ranke was right when he wrote: «The degree of independence gives a state its position in the world; and imposes at the same time the necessity upon it, to shape its internal relations in view of the objective of its affirmation. This is its basic law.» But this Commonsense truth is not easy to admit (in spite of its conspicuousness: consider the constitutions of almost all European states after the Second WorId War), simply because, owing to the fact that it partially disagrees with the facts, it is not possible to admit the principle adopted to explain it, namely the primacy of foreign policy over domestic policy.
It is thus necessary, in particular, to recall that, although Ranke had stressed the fact that the constitution of individual states depends on the international balance of power, he did not give up thinking about the state in terms of autonomy. In the very same essay he wrote: «Our country is not the place where we have managed to live best. Our fatherland is inside us and with us... This secret something, which fills both the humblest and highest things alike – this spiritual aura which we aspire to and which we breathe in – precedes any constitution, enlivens and fills all its forms» (My italics. See Lopold von Ranke, Politisches Gespräch, in Die grossen Machte. Politisches Gespräch, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1958, pp. 60, 57 and, for the subsequent passage, p. 58. It should be noted, to avoid any misunderstanding, that according to Ranke it is not the fusion between state and nation that gives this spiritual character to states. He said that state and nation cannot coincide – in his opinion France itself did not include all Frenchmen – and he believed that the state is a «modification of human existence, just as much as it is a modification of national existence»).
Ranke would thus have asserted both one thing (the state’s autonomy) and its reverse (the state’s heteronomy). The real point is that, expressed in this way, the problem is badly posed. In the first place, it is vital to observe that it is not possible to distinguish foreign policy and domestic policy without first having a theory of politics in its unity, i.e. without seeing how both are connected. In the second place, it is necessary to observe that if we do not specify the meaning and context of the discussion about the autonomy and heteronomy of states in relation to the world balance of power, we may end up by attributing to will what from another point of view must be attributed to necessity. We can say for example that a state is able to react to external pressures with valour (autonomy of will) or that it must adapt to these circumstances (necessity).
To escape from this ambiguity it is necessary to consider that the principle of the primacy of foreign policy is merely the poor formulation of the fact that states are not political systems but subsystems, and that there is only one political system, the system of states (which has now been fully realised as the world system of states). When viewed in the light of this criterion, it becomes immediately clear that all political events (whether foreign or domestic policy) modify the world balance of power, and that all states have to adapt to these variations of the whole (as an illustration of this the lucid intuitions of Hamilton, and the historical works by Dehio and Hintze, are examples). Furthermore, it should be remembered that political analysis needs to be restricted to political facts. By this I mean that if we observe the political system, we can ascertain relationships between the variations in the system and the variation in the behaviour and/or in the institutions of states, and nothing more. Any talk about the genius of peoples or their character or their value, if it has any sense at all (and very often it has none: it is amazing that a statesman of the calibre of Schmidt could say that one German soldier was worth three Russian and five American soldiers in the Second World War. See Roberto Ducci, «Colloquio con Schmidt », in Il Corriere della Sera, December 30th, 1982) has sense only inasmuch as it is based on serious anthropological, sociological, and economic analyses and so on. In such cases it is anthropology, sociology,  economics and so on which illuminate  politics and  not vice-versa.
The nuclear danger and human condition.
There is as yet insufficient awareness of the fact that, on the one hand, nuclear arms have shown the limitations of the current form of state, which has proved to be quite incapable of containing the nuclear threat, and, on the other, are causing its complete degradation (even to the point where the state’s function as defender of life is being overthrown). In substance, there is passive acceptance, which gets us to consider as inevitable fate what is in fact a choice made by certain people and suffered by the others. We speak about nuclear weapons, but very little about the fact that political power has acquired the character of being the power to produce, install, and use arms of this kind. The consequences of nuclear war are widely studied and publicised by biologists, physicists, physicians and so on, but what is not considered are the consequences of the acceptance of a political world which has created, and recreates every day, the danger of extermination of mankind. Generally speaking, political scientists keep quiet about this.
There are two facets to the problem. One concerns the way in which mankind is likely to live. This aspect of the problem has been thoroughly studied by Jonathan Shell. He observed that men are by now faced with a choice between the acceptance of the danger of destruction of mankind and the attempt to overcome the problem with the destruction of nuclear weapons and with a political world order which makes it impossible to build them again. He also noticed that this is a choice between two different overall ways of living. He also established very carefully the criterion by which to assess the meaning of the first alternative, fully illustrated by him. He wrote that «by threatening to cancel the future generations, the nuclear peril not only throws all our activities that count on their existence into disorder but also disturbs our relationship with the past generations». And he went on to say: «The present is a fulcrum on which the future and the past lie balanced, and if the future is lost to us, then the past must fall away too ». (See Jonathan Shell, The Fate of the Earth, Avon Books, New York, 1982, pp. 165-166, and, generally speaking, all the chapter called The Second Death).
The second aspect of the problem is political because the choice between these two ways of living is a political choice. It is a question of choosing between two opposing conceptions of power and the state: on the one hand, to-day’s state, which attributes the power of building, installing and using any type of weapon to a number of people, on the other hand a new form of state, articulated and universal, which attributes to all mankind the monopoly over the legal control of physical force (failing which any attempt at disarmament would be destined to failure). This choice concerns the mighty ones of the earth as regards decisions, but also concerns all mankind as regards consent and dissent. And it should be pointed out that the campaigns to ward off this or that immediate risk of conflict or to reduce the number of missiles etc. are not enough. With these actions we remain in the framework of the world which has created, and recreates every day, the danger of nuclear catastrophe, without proposing either to destroy it or to tackle the problem of the new forms of power and state needed to give back to human life a sense of the future and of the past.




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