Presbey, Gail (Univ. of Detroit-Mercy). “CPP News” CPP Newsletter Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2004).
Since the 2003 annual conference, CPP has been active, presenting panels at the Eastern, Pacific, and Central Divisions of the APA. I could not attend them all, but will report briefly on those I did attend.
Our CPP panel at the Pacific Division started with Kelly Candaele talking about Ireland’s “ripening” of the time for peace. Certain conditions were finally present which helped the transition to peace. Jerry Adams and others realized that they were at a military stalemate: neither side could win militarily. Sinn Fein then placed a greater emphasis on politics, and internationalized their support. Spirituality also played a role in helping break through a culture of pessimism. Wendy Hamblet followed with an analysis of perversions of democracy, reflecting on contemporary times in the light of Aristotle. She explained that in her analysis, “capitalist democracy” is an oxymoron. My paper followed, with an account of recently developed “technologies of surveillance” and how the Bush administration tries to fit them into narratives of meaning so that they will be acceptable. An attempt to pair “the good life” with surveillance was recently made in the Dean Koontz film “Black River” which was analyzed in the paper. This panel was organized and chaired by Ron Hirschbein, who added his witty commentary after each presentation.
Let me comment briefly on the larger context of the APA at Pasadena. There were several good panels looking at the War on Terror and questions of Just War. Lionel McPherson, Kai Draper, and Virginia Held were on one such panel. Eduardo Mendienta, Ronald Sundstrom and Tommy Lott addressed issues of racism and genocide. The main APA conference was immediately followed by a conference on Social Justice sponsored by the Journal of Ethics. Soran Reader, Larry May, Lisa Portness, and Tim Challens had an interesting panel on War, Criminal Justice, and military tribunals. J. Angelo Corlett was on a panel which scrutinized his recent book on terrorism. James Sterba, Dale Jamison, Robert Goodin and Thomas Pogge discussed global poverty. It is heartening to see so many philosophers turning their attention to these issues.
During the social justice conference, three CPP members were on a panel exploring non-violence as a means of social change. Greg Moses explored the writings of an early immigrant to “New Amsterdam” in 1658 named Plockhoy, who, while critical of Cromwell back in England, became concerned about the group’s need to defend itself against Native Americans. Ironically, the whole town was destroyed, not by Native Americans, but by the British army. Moses concludes that an America which is too concerned about its dark skinned enemies, doesn’t realize that their own built-up standing armies are actually their greatest threat. Jose-Antonio Orosco shared his paper on Cesar Chavez’s commitment to nonviolence, and his reasons for eschewing violence against property. I followed with a paper about the role of nonviolence in the South African struggle against apartheid, and the debate within South Africa on whether violence or nonviolence is to be given the credit for the struggle’s successes. Several of the philosophers present at the Social Justice conference showed interest in joining CPP, and we hope that they can join us at our upcoming conference.
At the Central APA in Chicago, Harry van der Linden organized a well-attended panel which discussed aspects of the Iraq War. Ann Cudden spoke of ways in which women in Iraq are suffering during the U.S. Occupation. In the 1980s, Iraq was one of the more progressive Middle Eastern governments. For example, women could run for elected office. Women’s rights began to be eroded throughout the nineties. Now, men, whose honor was wounded in war, want to regain their honor by lording over their women. There is a fight within the Iraqi Governing Council regarding the defense of women in the future Iraq constitution. James Sterba argued that the U.S. should pull out of Iraq immediately. Not only was the invasion not justified to begin with, but in addition, things are worse the longer the U.S. remains inside Iraq. Dick Peterson explored whether there could be a defensible neo-colonialism, in which occupied and occupier have some kind of reciprocity between them. Harry van der Linden argued that a justified humanitarian intervention may be followed by an unjust aftermath, or vice versa. He argued that the U.S. lacks occupational authority in Iraq. The audience participated in a lively question and answer session, despite the late hour.
Other Central APA sessions touched upon issues of peace in our world. One session organized by the APA Committee on the Status of Women was called “Making Peace in a Time of War.” One participant was CPP member Laura Duhan Kaplan, who analyzed the role that Jessica Lynch played in the media, and how Lynch herself did not want to be the media’s pawn. A panel on Sandra Bartky’s recent book Sympathy and Solidarity raised issues of conscience, guilt, complicity, and resistance to war, as Bartky referred to the slogan, “Not in my name,” to express a person’s ability to distance themselves from the complicity in their government’s wars. The Committee for International Cooperation hosted a two-part international dialog about challenges to peace in the Middle East. I would like to thank Laura Duhan Kaplan and Eddy Souffrant for organizing other CPP panels (at Eastern and Central) that I was not able to attend. I think the project of maintaining a presence at the APA meetings is important for CPP as an organization. It helps us to recruit new members, and engage a broader audience in the issues we raise. Please make a point, when you are attending an APA conference, to attend our CPP panels. Often they are in the evenings (the Group sessions are not at the most convenient times), but please make that extra effort to cut dinner short (or postpone sleep) and meet with other philosophers to analyze these important issues affecting peace in our world.
Having said that, I want also to emphasize that it’s important to come to the annual CPP conference as well. We can get lost in the bigger APA sessions, but the annual conference is where we can get together and find out what each other is thinking, give our feedback, and help to clarify our ideas. Please submit your paper ideas to the organizers at University of North Carolina-Charlotte for what promises to be a great gathering. And please remember to pay your dues and vote for a new President (see pages 22-23). We will be hearing a Presidential address from our winning candidate at the fall conference.
Booking Massai Dancers
Some of you may remember that two years ago at the CPP conference at Walsh University, there was a group from Kenya called the Simba Maasai Cultural Performers who shared some of their culture’s traditions with us. The group is particularly of interest to philosophers of peace, because the group addresses the peace-making aspects of their tradition. In fact, Francis and John ole Sakuda have created a “Peace Tree Museum” near their rural homes, where they document the role of plants and trees in peace-making rituals as well as medicinal uses. Francis has come annually to the U.N. Indigenous People’s forum, and is well-versed in the topic of the fight of indigenous peoples around the world for their rights. The group has been doing an annual tour of the U.S. each September and October. Please consider hosting them at your university. They perform traditional dances, songs and rituals, as well as lectures. They need travel expenses and housing covered, and an honorarium. Hopefully your university may have resources for such performances and lectures through a Student Activity fund. You’ll find that compared to local performers, their costs are quite reasonable. And, all of the proceeds they receive from their honoraria go straight to their nonprofit organization to further development in their area of Maasailand. If you are interested in hosting them this fall, please write me.