A Nonviolent Strategy to End War

Quit Stupid War. Photo - David Owen-Flikr

Robert J. Burrowes

There is a long history of anti-war and peace activism. Much of this activism has focused on ending a particular war. Some of this activism has been directed at ending a particular aspect of war, such as the use of a type of weapon. Some of it has aimed to prevent a type of war, such as ‘aggressive war’ or nuclear war. For those activists who regard war as the scourge of human existence, however, ‘the holy grail’ has always been much deeper: to end war.

There is an important reason why those of us in the last category have not, so far, succeeded. In essence, this is because, whatever their merits, the analyses and strategies we have been using have been inadequate. This is, of course, only a friendly criticism of our efforts, including my own. I am also not suggesting that the task will be easy, even with a sound analysis and comprehensive strategy. But it will be far more likely.

Given my own preoccupation with human violence, of which I see war as a primary subset, I have spent a great deal of time researching why violence occurs in the first place – see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’ – and by taking or teaching strategic nonviolent action in response to many of its manifestations.

Moreover, given that I like to succeed when I work for positive change in this world, I pay a great deal of attention to strategy. In fact, I have written extensively on this subject after researching the ideas of the greatest strategic theorists and strategists in history. If you are really keen, you can read about this in The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.

However, because I know that most people aren’t too interested in scholarly works and that nonviolent activists have plenty of worthwhile things to do with their time, I have recently been putting the essence of the information in the book onto two websites so that the strategic thinking is presented simply and is readily available.

One of the outcomes I would like to achieve through these websites is to involve interested peace and anti-war activists from around the world in finalizing the development of a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to end war and to then work with them to implement it.

Consequently, I have been developing this nonviolent strategy to end war and I invite you to check it out and to suggest improvements. You can see it on the Nonviolent Campaign Strategy website.

If you are interested in being involved in what will be a long and difficult campaign, I would love to hear from you.

You might also be interested in signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ where the names of many nonviolent activists who will work on this campaign are already listed.

Ending war is not impossible. But it is going to take a phenomenal amount of intelligent strategic effort, courage and time. Whether we have that time is the only variable beyond our control.

Biodata: Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

  • War has obviously outlived its usefulness. Primitive wars had the evolutionary purpose of organizing societies and engendering cooperation by following a chief executive (who would often put his life on the line in battle). Modern wars do not do this, in modern wars it is the civilians who now pay the highest price, more so than combatants. In modern wars, the weapons of war are now so indiscriminate that we risk destroying much of the human race if a global thermonuclear war occurs.

    The abolition of war will have to involve looking at what problems war tries to solve and then finding non-violent ways of solving the same problems. Nationalism is the chief cause of war and without some kind of global, democratic world constitution, bill of rights and government, wars will continue. Without the capacity to arrest and prosecute individuals who start wars, whether they be kings, prime ministers, presidents, generals or non-state actors, wars will continue. And without a global legal system that can resolve conflicts in a court of law between nations, wars will continue.

    Nationalism, as it is practiced today, involves the very destructive idea of absolute sovereignty, which is the core reason wars exists. Nationalism breeds empire, and empire thrives on violence, subjugation, conquest, aggression and domination. The United Nations was born with the lofty purpose of ending war. But to get serious about such a desired goal, a new consciousness is required, a sense that one’s national identity is secondary and our primary identity is as individuals and global citizens.

    War is a destroyer of civilization, it is not a builder of civilization. War is organized murder, murder by the group. Murder on the individual level is criminal, but humans are seemingly unwilling to outlaw murder by the group. Whatever good war may have accomplished in the past, it is no longer capable of doing. Business, industry, trade and cultural exchange are far superior ways to interact with other nations. We must not make the mistake of glorifying war because it is in fact an animal-like and primitive reaction to conflict. If we cannot overcome war, our species may self-destruct to such a point that tens of thousands of years of cultural evolution could be wiped out. Only an extraordinary belligerent and bellicose species would do this to itself. As long as war exists, civilization will be in a partially-evolved state. True civilization engenders civilized, non-violent conflict-resolution strategies and techniques.

  • jiggy123

    Wars will always exist on earth, because what causes them is human egoism. Human thoughts and feelings of antipathy. If we all went around with the belief to treat our neighbours with compassion and held peace in our hearts as the bible teaches then they wouldn’t occur. On the other side there needs to be forces of evil and good, because opposing forces had, is and always will be necessary for evolution and man to progress. Destruction and decay are inevitable because the earth and human beings in their physical form will not live forever unlike the immortal human soul and spirit therefore evil must be on earth so human beings can freely choose good and find the immortal path of Christ. And whether one chooses to believe it or not it is evil that serves the higher good and shows us the way to the divine, to heaven. It is misplaced influences from spiritual beings who fell behind evolution who influence the perceptions and feelings of man which then appear as evil on earth. This is where true freedom lies, to be aware of such negative influences and detach oneself from them.Also, according to prophecies we are approaching in evolution a war that is a war against all. It means that in the future there will be wars not just between nations and terrorists, but also smaller groups of people where war will rage between different races, classes etc. Thumbs up to the comment below regarding nationalism. Nationalism is the domain of egoism, it creates antipathy and throws out any possibility of compassion and unification. Ukip are a political party that creates division and conflict, so congratulations brexiters for failing to realise that nationalism is a re t ar d a t I o n of civilization and what in fact should be happening is a willing unification rather than a forced one or isolation.

  • Marie Beckett

    The nucleus of the cancer is the Rothschild banking cartel. There will always be conflicts on a micro scale………………..but these “world wars”………..no way! And to say otherwise is utter stupidity. Arron Russo told many with his documentary. However, many going backs 100’s of years already knew.

  • Polly Thurkettle

    War persists because it’s big business for the western military-industrial complex and the bankers who get to finance both sides. Notice that most of the foreign wars of conquest are instigated by the US against alleged foes under false pretexts. The only way to stop it is to stop voting in the same politicians and parties over and over again. The corruption that sits beneath the noses of all Americans is staggering yet the western media is the first to point the finger at various small, despotic regimes yelling “corruption”. The US government, the lobbyists in the EU and Washington and the revolving door between government and corporations makes Corazon Aquino look like the fairy princess.

  • Neb

    As long as we (people) use money as our main tool for prosperity there will be no way to stop wars and many other terrible things that are devastating our World.

  • MCB

    I totally agree with Neb, Polly Thurkettle & Marie Beckett!!!!

  • Leland Mellott

    When the power of generosity is being practiced worldwide and daily, peace will have come to our earth.

  • rob mowrey

    Those who vote to go to war should be signed up right away , they maybe to old for the front lines but they tell us how smart they are — grate bomb removal . Generals should lead the troops in the field not an office and they say corporations are people so they should be first to be conscripted ??