Chapter XI


Peace is associated with the idea of satisfaction and contentment among the masses of people. Man is not prone to want such peace violated by war. He will be found wishing peace to continue wherever he has adequate food, housing, and clothing; wherever his labors to win these are not onerous; wherever he enjoys a sense of security with the expectation of adequate care in sickness and old age; wherever his hunger for gratification of the instinct for love and home is supplied; and wherever he is not coerced in slavery or under a dictatorship, but enjoys freedom of expression and the feeling of self-respect that comes with voice and participation in the affairs that govern his life. Under these circumstances he will make every effort to maintain peace.

Satisfying physical needs as an essential to peace is illustrated in the animal world by studies of behavior. It is shown that predatory animals of different species which habitually prey upon one another will live in peace and play together where once they fought, provided that their chief needs are supplied. When they are fed regularly and abundantly, are assured protection and comfortable living, and are made accustomed to the society of one another, they live in peace. A bear and a lion play and paw one another to their mutual satisfaction. A cat suckles infants of a rat. Man-eating sharks, contained in a tank, refrain from molesting a diver who swims among them.

The spending of two hundred billion dollars by the Government of the United States incidental to World War II made it possible for the majority of the population to be fed, housed, and clothed. But this expenditure must later be paid for under the prevalent business system, and perhaps be followed by dearth of food, housing, and clothing. When the period of scarcity comes then the conditions essential to peace fade away. So long as less than half the people are in want, they can be controlled by subsidies. But let the number exceed one-half, and the country is in danger of war. Its political rulers take it to war to compel patriotism, to supply employment and incomes for all, and to substitute profligacy for want. This must be paid for by future generations, to serve as the promoter of the next war, as the destroyer of peace.

Peace, it is said, has its victories no less than war. But peace, as the world knew it in the 40's after World War II, was but a period in which wars were brewed. This is not peace at all. Peace should be a lasting victory over war. Both victors and vanquished now tend to employ the period called peace to make ready for the next war. In the United States each period following a war has witnessed greater expenditure for war than during the period before the war. Each period of peace has been utilized for war purposes; and war naturally came. The anatomy of what is called peace today is pathological anatomy.

The theory of militarists is that peace is best preserved by military strength; if we are strong enough nobody will attack us. After a naval battle off the coast of Java in 1618 in which the Dutch defeated the British, the Dutch report asserted: "Without war you can nowhere in this world arrive at secure peace. Nature teaches that war creates peace." Three hundred and thirty years later after constant wars throughout the period, the Dutch were still at war in the East Indies, and destined to lose their last colonial possessions. British Prime Minister Churchill said in 1946, "We need an overwhelming balance of security." Great Britain once had it; but, while Mr. Churchill spoke, Great Britain, despite "overwhelming balance of security," was losing her last colonies as well as her international potency.

General George C. Marshall in 1945 wrote what Hitler had already said before him: "Peace can only be maintained by the strong." By this he meant the physically strong. Certainly war can only be maintained by the strong. This philosophy leaves the world to the physically strong. Were that true there could be no such thing as civilization and we should train our youth in the fighting ring rather than in the school of justice and ethics. General Dwight D. Eisenhower told a committee of the United States Congress in 1945: "The greatest single motivating force for world peace today is the organized military potential of the United States." This military potential at the time Marshall and Eisenhower spoke was essential not for purposes of peace but it was essential for the purpose of stopping the westward advancement of Russian communism. It will be discussed in a subsequent paragraph. Here war and peace and not politics, are being examined.

A nation which spends nearly ninety percent of its income on war and the preparation for war is headed for bankruptcy as well as war. But what is perhaps more important, such a nation is skimping on expenditures for food, housing, and clothing for its citizens; and it is failing to provide educational facilities, adequate medical service, art, music, recreation and the multitude of things that are essential to civilization. This is the vicious result that awaits the using of peace for war ends. Germany made herself the strongest military power in the world. No nation dared attack her. Germany was prepared. History teaches that the hazard to world peace is the nation that is best prepared for war.

Denmark became prosperous and led the world in ways of civilization after it had been defeated as a world conqueror, renounced war, and settled down to the arts of peace. Japan had been a peaceful and prosperous nation for a thousand years until it adopted the teaching of the West and devoted itself to preparation for war. After its humiliating defeat, impoverishment and demilitarization in 1945, it settled down to a program of peace. In building peace, the peaceful countries after World War II made use of the cooperative method. Their cooperative associations expanded and continue to grow and to become more and more of a factor in the lives of the people. When Denmark became the most highly cooperatized country, it became the most highly civilized and most prosperous.

The idea of peace through power has always been promoted by those who sought preferment, promotion, and profits through war and the preparation for war. Results have been the same throughout history. Powerfully armed countries did not keep peace. They fought wars. To maintain the results of victory, more power was needed. Their armies grew. Taxes increased. High cost of living created discontent and disorder. Every great victorious nation that followed the power program in time has suffered weakening. Most have been destroyed by enemies from within and without.

The anatomy of peace after World War II presented unique and peculiar conditions. The one-party coercive political system had been established in Russia. It had been attempted and had collapsed in Italy and Germany. Force had been used to destroy it in the two latter countries. Its existence in Russia was a threat to the rest of the world because of the Russian purpose to impose it upon other nations by propaganda, intrigue, dishonesty, and force. The westward march of Russian communism recognized only force as an obstacle. For this reason, western nations opposed to communism, were compelled to put up a show of force, or come under the communist yoke. The United States was the surviving power among them that could maintain a force adequate to stop the communist threat. It was with this in mind that Marshall and Eisenhower spoke of military power as an agency of peace. But agency of peace it never was. It was an agency to check the enslavement of mankind by a totalitarian regime. This was well expressed by Vera W. Spooner, a pacifist, who favored military power to stop Stalin: "I would rather be killed by a Russian bomb than die in a Russian concentration camp." When the choice is military power, which might lead to war, or peace under communist slavery, most thoughtful minds prefer to take a chance with military power. The world has to thank the military strength of the United States for stopping the westward movement of communism in those fateful years immediately following the war. Unhappily the only way this could be accomplished was by a show of force; and it fell to the lot of the United States, a peaceful nation, to violate its peaceful ways for what seemed a larger good. This country had entered the war to stop the advancement of nazi-fascism. In time it found itself called upon to stop another threat to democracy. And the people of the United States were willing to pay this price to save their civilization, even at the cost and danger of building up a military machine which might, in time, itself violate the cause of peace. Communistic enslavement they would not face.

In 1949 the western European nations joined with the United States and Canada in the North Atlantic Pact. Twelve nations agreed to unite in coming to the assistance of any one of their number that was attacked by a military power. The purpose of this agreement was to prevent Russia from moving westward and subjugating other European countries as Czechoslovakia had been subjugated. The general feeling was that this agreement should ultimately come under the control of the United Nations Organization where it naturally belongs.

The great mistakes were antecedent to this. Communism should never have started. It was possible in a land of ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, and injustice. It spread to other countries where great injustices prevailed--and because great injustices prevailed. Given the conditions that prevent war, set down in the first paragraph of this chapter, and communism also is prevented. The best way to stop communism is not by military force but by creating a soil in which it can not grow. Military force, though sometimes necessary in an unwise world, is the best solution of no problem, and ultimately threatens always to become a calamity.

There is a prevalent belief that peace is normal and war is abnormal in present day civilization. Still in the past 2500 years, peace has prevailed one year in twelve. The world has enjoyed 200 years of peace and 2300 years of war. This bloody business has back of it ignorance and cupidity. Could honest history be written, could students be taught the costs of war, could they be permitted in peace time to learn how war might be prevented, could they know how the prevalent methods that are relied on to keep the peace are often the methods that make war, peace might be preserved. Youth can be shown that prevention of war costs money; but prevention can be accomplished at less cost than waging war. Such honest teaching must characterize peace.

Freedom of trade, freedom from tariff discriminations, elimination of passports and visas, the treating of other nations generously and sympathetically, attitudes of friendship toward neighbor nations such as the individual practices toward his neighbor across the backyard fence, are indications of ethics and gentleness which are the obverse of the thing called force; and incalculably cheaper.

Hunger for things and for material gain in peace time is expressed in international profit trade, along with the desire for markets, subject peoples, territory for expansion, and international privileges above those of other nations. Hostility toward other peoples, nationalism, and chauvinism can not be conspicuous in the peace catalog.

After World War I the people felt that peace had been won. They did not realize that the very conditions imposed on the conquered nations and the quest for business profits that had caused the war guaranteed another war. Absence of an international peace policy and the dependence on power politics showed the lack of vision that prevailed among the victors. The peace failed because the old commercialism was restored. No attempt was made to base a peace on good will, sympathy, benevolence, and justice. No program to preserve peace was enacted that made for elimination of the crass and brutal commercialism among nations. Peace, it was assumed, had been won and everybody could go back as before to engage anew in practices that had caused the war.

Peace is a state of society in which fear of war should not prevail, for fear of war does violence to peace. Fear of war breeds preparation for war, and readiness for war is the arch promoter of armed conflict. This fear produces moral depression on the one hand and economic depression on the other. Preparation is expensive. Mankind could rise to heights of happiness now beyond the imagination if fear of war could be removed from the periods of peace.

People who are stirred to action only by fear, whether to save their souls or their bodies, are scarcely worth saving. The nation that fears other nations, and invokes that fear alone among its people to save it, is not going to be saved. Disaster awaits it. Justice is the only guarantee of peace. The fundamental difficulty is that, while there is much talk of justice, nations seem not to want justice to prevail among the nations. Their talk about justice among nations makes a hollow sound. Each seeks privileged power over others.

The world depends too much on diplomacy. A function of diplomacy is to win privilege and keep it. Governments employ at great expense and give moral support to an aggregation of diplomatic and political leaders who address themselves not so much to the avoidance of war as to promoting causes of war. Those nations which become most proficient in preparing for war become most proficient in starting war. All the while they feed fat the idea that they are peace-loving nations; but the psychology of hypocrisy is not the medium in which international justice grows. Peace will be nearer when less dependence is placed upon political diplomacy and more upon the interests of the plain people.

Peace requires that every nation shall enjoy the opportunity to supply its people's wants. When war impoverishes a beaten nation and leaves its industries shattered, the spirit of vengeance among the victors opposes recovery. A poor people are poor customers. They promote a contagious discontent, and are not in a position to do business with the victors--neither to pay indemnity nor to buy goods. Peace requires prosperous and contented nations. Victors after any war do wisely to promote the prosperity of the vanquished. Peace demands yielding something on the part of victors. Hating the vanquished tends to be met by similar hatred. Generosity is essential to peace. Revenge is the disturber of peace. The principle of forgiveness is not only good for the soul, it is essential to peace.

There is a logic of peace. It begins with the thesis that peace brings greater happiness to a greater number of people than war brings. It is predicated upon the assumption that we should refuse to regard war as inevitable. It implies that man's economic affairs thrive better under conditions of peace than under those of war. The logic of peace demands that we should find some other way than war as a means of solving problems of peace. To interrupt peace by war with the view of making peace more peaceful has proved a false logic. In time of peace it behooves us to look to our own good nature. Waiting for the leaders of some other nation to conduct themselves with good will is not enough. We ourselves must act in generosity and good nature, and lift dispute to higher levels until peace is assured.

Peace requires collaboration of the common people. The idea prevails that military leaders and diplomats make peace. They do not. International friendship and sympathy can not be handed down from above. There is no peace except where the common man is for peace and thinks and acts peacefully.

Peace requires economic stability. More equitable methods of taxation can make their contribution to the prevention of alternating periods of prosperity and depression. Rental value should be paid as a public tax on privately owned land and for the use of public land. Taxes on industry and on the products of industry are obstacles to thrift. They slow down production, cause unemployment, and deprive consumers of needed goods. The antiquated system of tax on industry is an impediment to the production of goods needed by consumers, an obstacle in the way of profitable jobs for labor and a cause of the discontents arising from unemployment.

The prevalent monetary system of the world spells chaos. It is an impediment to international commerce, and a promoter of great wealth in few hands and great poverty for many hands. Peace and stability are promoted by the issuance of nonhoardable money. That means money that loses its value as time goes on, and must be spent to be enjoyed. Such money needs to be issued freely, but permitted as a monopoly to no government, bank, or individual. The money issued by some cooperative societies for use within the society could wisely be expanded into an international currency.*

Now that the United States has become the dominant nation of the world, peace depends upon its peacefulness and composure. Full employment; a fair relation between income of the masses and the cost of living; adequate food, housing, clothing, and a general state of well-being in the United States are essential to the peace of the world. Economic collapse of this country could become the tragedy of the ages. World chaos and wars great and small could result.

This is the dangerous period for the world because of the pivotal importance of this one country. During the serious days of the early thirties, the United States failed to end the predominance of monopoly capitalism and privilege but did much to move itself on toward World War II, after which it became even more essential to promote a peace-preserving system of business. Not only must this country adopt a peace economy but it must lead the nations toward world unity. The United States has been the melting pot where races mixed. The melting pot itself must now be melted and fused with other nations.

After World War II the world struggles to win peace. The voices that are heard are the voices of political leaders. They are the element which with all good faith promoted the conditions that produced the war. Their incompetence as builders of peace should give us pause in placing dependence upon their methods and abilities. They are pulled and influenced by forces inimical to peace. The element in society that wants peace is the plain people, the masses. Wherever they are united in planned organization, they are discovered interested in promotion of peace. They are found in the multitude of peace societies throughout the world, consumers' organizations, housewives' associations, and a number of bodies devoted to winning abundance for all the people.

Here we are concerned with that one form of organization which in operation typifies the fundamental nature of peace. The cooperative method thrives in the presence of peace. It is adjusted to the conditions of peace. We shall see that the Rochdale methods, under which cooperation operates, are peace-making methods. Democracy and the service motive are among the chief of these. Deviation from these cooperative methods is deviation from the way of peace.

As a condition of peace, necessary goods must be accessible to all mankind, there must be incentives to produce and distribute in abundance. Supplying human needs must be on a friendly basis rather than associated with economic antagonisms. Competition for excellence must prevail rather than competition for money profit, and advantage of the individual must in general be associated with advantage of other individuals rather than with their disadvantage. The cooperative method conforms to these essentials of peace.

In previous chapters it has been shown how the cooperative principle is necessary for peace, how it stabilizes economic conditions at home, breaks down international barriers, eliminates international competition for customers abroad, promotes an international feeling of brotherhood, and sets each nation at work supplying other nations with the things they need to the advantage of each.

*This subject is discussed in the author's book on "The Cooperative Way, a Method of World Reconstruction."


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The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.