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May 16, 2006

The Peace Of Freedom--The Positive Peace Principle Part I

That government is best which governs least
----Thoreau. Civil Disobedience, 1849
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall
not lift sword against nation, neither shall
they learn war anymore.
----Isaiah 2:4

Believed desirable in itself, peace has been the great goal of humanity.

But, we also have other values. Truth and beauty. Justice. Love. And these values may be totally lost in the peace of the slave, the captive, the oppressed.

We should keep in mind, therefore, that there are two kinds of peace. One is negative peace. This is peace to be sure, but at the cost of our dignity or self-esteem or other vital interests: we may be tyrannized, or exploited, enslaved or downtrodden, broken or humiliated.

The other is positive peace. This is an order through which we can find happiness, satisfaction. Many of our central values will be gratified, and especially our self-esteem. It is not only peace from violence, but also peace of mind.

Obviously negative and positive peace are black and white opposites, while real life is often a gray blend. But they do exist. The citizens of the worst totalitarian states of the last century were really captives of a gang of thugs. Millions were enslaved in forced labor camps in the Soviet Union, and Cambodia was from 1975 to 1979 (when invading Vietnamese troops brought down the Pol Pot government) literally one border-to-border, slave labor camp. And so is North Korea today. Meanwhile the democracies many can and do achieve peace with dignity, personal satisfaction, and happiness. A fundamental question involved in making, keeping, or fostering peace, then, is how to improve or develop positive peace. The answer is summed in the Positive Peace Principle.


The elements of this principle are:

  • positive peace,
  • government,
  • division and decentralization of government,
  • limitation of government freedom,
  • social justice.

(Continued here)

Posted by Rudy at May 16, 2006 10:34 PM

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