Friday, December 8

The challenges of the peace movement in Europe

The Russian occupation of a part of Ukraine, at the beginning of the year, was like an earthquake that strongly shook the world geopolitical board. It had a great impact on European and international politics, the economy, international relations and security policies in much of the world. NATO expanded its membership, neutral countries disappeared and enemy images increased. Structural decisions were also made, such as the general increase in military spending, which directly affect the future of defense policies in Europe and mortgage future security architectures on the continent.

All of this has happened at a time when the peace movement, understood as a social movement, was going through moments of extreme weakness on an international scale, far from having the strength and impact of the 1980s or 1990s. The crisis of this movement, therefore, has coincided with a time when, more than ever, actions, mobilizations, alternative proposals and peace policies are needed, particularly on the European continent, to counteract the warmongering and militarist dynamics arising from the war in Ukraine.

Regardless of this war episode, the work in favor of peace already needed a thorough review, since the challenges that arise in the second decade of the 21st century are not the same as those of four decades ago. A new agenda is needed as well as new ways of acting, and this has to do with the very conception of the term “peace”, in itself something abstract and diffuse, since it is nothing more than the sum of many components.

Working for peace, in any of its aspects, is not at all naive or naive. It is, on the contrary, a real battle to counter various political, economic, cultural, military and social dynamics and structures that must be detected, denounced and reversed. Most of them are systemic and global, so any action agenda will have to deal with giants, demons and powers with a great capacity for influence and dominance. Working for peace cannot be a reformist project, one of simple resilience or minor changes. This is so because it seeks far-reaching changes and transformative processes, revolutionary if you prefer, since it entails paradigm shifts and total alterations with respect to interpretation and action schemes, which, moreover, can only be global.

We need to understand what is happening in the world in order to have a direct impact on the structures that are clearly disastrous, destructive and pernicious for the whole of humanity. We have never had such global problems as in the present, and climate change is an example of this, so any action agenda, with its prior analysis, must have that view of the planet as a whole. Nationalist or statist recipes are no longer valid, sweep home. It is time to think beyond our borders, and therefore draw lines of action that can be shared from anywhere on the planet.

The peace agenda may be different depending on where it is drawn up, as it will include issues specific to a country or a region of the planet. But there are some global issues that, in my opinion, must be common to all agendas, and which are the ones I am going to present here. There will basically be seven aspects: dealing with global warming, promoting good governance, better managing conflicts, returning to disarmament and demilitarization, the development of peoples, human rights, and the fight against violence against women. Curiously, it is quite similar to the “decalogue” of Pope Francis that he made public this October. My proposal includes a certain “demilitarization” of the peace movement, that is, letting militarization be the dominant or monographic issue, to be one more issue on the agenda. This implies abandoning antimilitarism and resistance to war as the central axis, since militarism and war are consequences of specific policies and structures, which are the ones that must be dealt with in the first instance.

Two decades ago the motto “think globally and act locally” became fashionable, although the opposite is also valid, that is, “think locally and act globally”, in the sense that we are facing bidirectional phenomena and that they are compensated when interacting . Social movements, from pacifist, feminist or environmental, among others, can focus on problems close to the people who act, but it is highly recommended to think about whether these problems have a dimension that goes beyond our borders. In the topics that I raise here, it is evident that they have a planetary shape, and that, for this reason, we will normally have to deal with how these problems affect other regions of the world.

Never in history have we had so much access to information about what is happening in the world, nor so many organizations dedicated to the study of international issues. However, the movement for peace is very weak on a global or regional scale, in Europe, for example, and this weak reality collides with economic or technological dynamics of universal scope, which have a great impact on our lives. This divorce should be remedied through the emergence of alliances and horizontal planetary networks. on the issues that make up the peace agenda, which in today’s world should have a very different face than it did, for example, at the time of the fight against Euromissiles in the 1980s. Although the nuclear risk persists and is part of the agenda, today’s challenges are others, some completely new, such as the fight against global warming. For the most part, they are global issues that merit concerted action on a planetary scale. If so, the peace movement should quickly internationalize, sharing goals and strategies.

This aspect leads us to consider the contribution of cosmopolitan thought, which sometimes exceeds its philosophical generalities, without landing enough to contribute to a realistic and pragmatic action program. Furthermore, it often fails to take into account the realities of all regions of the planet by focusing too much on the problems of industrialized countries and consumer societies. In any case, and following the conclusion of a recent book by a person as supportive of cosmopolitanism as Adela Cortina, where she defends a social-liberal democracy, mutual support, care, sanity, lucid compassion, reciprocal recognition and cordial reason, precisely because the challenges are planetary, the answers must come from those affected by them, within a factual cosmopolitanism.

A British journalist once asked Gandhi what he thought of “Western civilization.” His response was that “it would be a great idea”, a very subtle and ingenious way of saying that colonialism is not a civilizing approach, but rather a system of domination. Something similar happens to cosmopolitanism, which is a great idea, very necessary, but unattainable. It is a reason for inspiration, but knowing that we live in a world that does not practice it. I would like to share with Beck his confidence that cosmopolitanism has become the hallmark of the new era, that it has migrated from philosophical dreams and pure reality, where borders have been blurred and coexistence prevails in a cultural hodgepodge, or that the human rights regime allows the regulation of conflicts beyond borders. What more could we want! I am sorry to say that it is a fantasy, a dream, and it would be more realistic and effective to admit that the starting point is less admirable and poses enormous challenges, both in analysis and in mobilization. What the world needs, in my opinion, is to internationalize the campaigns, protests and social struggles carried out by a multitude of people, more or less organized, more or less broad, but all necessary. Take their claims to all corners, and join these noble struggles through continuous, well-coordinated mobilizations and with transformative ambitions.

In this sense, perhaps it would be appropriate to speak of new social contracts on a national scale, or of creating them in countries where they do not yet exist, and along the lines of what was proposed by Minouche Shafik, who, given the failure of the current system and the disaffection that believes in citizenship, advocates establishing social contracts with norms and rules that govern the functioning of common institutions, with an approach that recognizes the primacy of expectations and mutuality, as well as the efficiency and value of collective provision and risk sharing . In his opinion, there would be four general principles to follow: to guarantee a decent life for the entire population, to have the same opportunities, not to bequeath despair to future generations, and to share the risks. The advantage of the social contract approach is that it can be applied at the State level, as well as making an alliance between those who renew said contracts through their public policies, which would be reinforced, and the adoption of demands for accountability of governments. how much they do

Those of us who feel we are citizens of the world, following in the footsteps initiated by Diogenes, must combine this feeling of brotherhood, the Swahili Ujamaa or the Ubuntu philosophy, the “I am because we are”, so close to the concept of “shared security”, and so necessary for concerted and communicative action, with a reflection that makes proposals viable on a global scale, without falling into the temptation of staying with the great principles and ideals, but which can be so far removed from the realities of the world, that, at end, serve nothing more than to please ourselves. What I advocate is quite the opposite, that is, moving away from the great utopias at the moment of acting, leaving them as simple horizons that mark the course, the correct direction, but not the agenda and the strategy, which must be very pragmatic and practical, daring without being reckless, as well as consistent with the means used. It would be very convenient for peace lovers in Spain, in Europe and in the world, to discuss these points, with respect, but without ambiguity, in order to achieve a renewal of the movement, to make it truly effective.