Articles CPP Newsletter Online V24

Thank God for the UN! by Julian Korab-Karpowicz

Korab-Karpowicz, Julian (Bilkent University, Turkey), "Thank God for the UN!" CPP Newsletter Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2004).

The plurality of sovereign states is a disturbing puzzle for the political philosopher. As individual human beings, we live in political communities, subject to their laws and enjoying the security they can provide. Yet, as members of diverse political communities over which we do not have any common authority, we live in a sort of Hobbesian ‘state of nature’ – a condition which puts all nations in a constant disposition to war. We are, in essence, placed in the middle of a potential or actual battlefield created by an international anarchic environment.

Political philosophy offers two different classical solutions to the problem of insecurity caused by the situation of the absence of a ruler, literally an-archy, on the international scene. These correspond to the idea of raison d’état (reason of the state), developed in the tradition of political realism, and to the idea of the universal empire.

In the tradition of political realism, as associated with Machiavelli and Hobbes, the impulse of states to power and self-preservation is a timeless feature of international relations. No state can be permanently secure in an international environment marked by ongoing conflict. Therefore, the attribute most essential for a state to possess is power, that is to say, the ability to maintain itself among other states. Perhaps the greatest problem with realism is that it has a tendency to slip into an extreme version. In the extreme realism of power politics, the state’s egoism and power become glorified, instead of their being merely recognized and kept within reasonable limits. In the writings of Hegel, and in nineteenth century historical thought, power politics is idealized, war is praised, and power acquires a moral dimension. In its extreme version, realism develops a violent tendency that, in the case of Germany, led to the affirmation of Machtpolitik and subsequently to two world wars.

Reflection on the conflicting character of international relations can lead to the conclusion that peace among nations can only be secured by bringing international anarchy to an end. Another solution to the problem of world insecurity is to establish a world state comprising all nations on earth. Advocates of this idea believe that what is needed to save the world from destruction is a radical transformation of the existing international system. They base their argument on an analogy with domestic societies. They assume that the conditions of an orderly social life are the same among states as they are among individuals in a Hobbesian state of nature, and conclude that what is needed for perpetual peace is to employ the social contract and to transfer the sovereignties of individual states to a global authority – one which would be as sovereign over individual nations as the individual states are over their respective territories.

Opponents of a world state have argued that the condition of states in the anarchic international system is not as desperate as that of individuals in the state of nature. States can cooperate in anarchy and are not as vulnerable to violent attacks as individuals are. They conclude that there is thus no parallel between nation states and individuals concerning their security, and hence also no need to bring international anarchy to an end. Furthermore, what is missing from the history of the formation of a world state is an account of identity change. It assumes that actors are merely rational, self-interested, utility maximizers. It does not take into consideration cultural, religious, and national identities that, when suppressed under the umbrella of a world government, could suddenly erupt in the form of revolutions and civil wars. It is therefore doubtful whether life under such a government would be good, or even tolerable. However, perhaps the greatest problem with the idea of a global authority, as it has recently been promoted in writings of Thomas Magnell, is that it tends to diminish today’s world problems and their real solutions, as they can be provided by the existing international organizations.

For the self-styled realist Hans Morgenthau, who was, at the same time, a supporter of the idea of a world government, and whose book Politics Among Nations has had a lasting influence on the theoretical framework of American foreign policy, the value of UNESCO and other agencies of the United Nations lay not in themselves but in what he believed to be their final cause, namely, the evolution of a global authority. He saw in them a means to creating a world community, “a community of moral standards and political action,” and, in his realism, he believed it was necessary to sustain a world state. He denied that any state that was expected to endure could be created by way of a social contract or a mere constitutional convention, and believed that, just as the community of the American people antedated the American state, so, also, a world community had to antedate a world state. He feared that without the support of a world community, a world state would be “a totalitarian monster resting on feet of clay” and torn apart by civil wars and revolutions.

However, if it is the case, as Morgenthau believed, that, through the work of international organizations, the interests and lives of all nations can be gradually integrated and the world order can be maintained by collective political action, then the domestic analogy that lies at the foundation of an argument for a world state no longer holds true. Anarchy, which is the central fact of international relations, cannot be identified with the Hobbesian state of nature. It was the aim of Hedley Bull and other members of the English school of international relations, whose lessons remain largely unlearned today, to show that international anarchy was unique, and could not be compared with the Hobbesian anarchy. In the anarchic international system, states could be linked to one another by mutual obligations. They could thus form an international society, a great society of nations, the fullest, practical expression of which is the United Nations.

The United Nations organization has been devised to ensure common security, and is therefore a system in which all member states undertake a common action against any country that threatens the security of another state. The logic of collective security is flawless, provided that all nations subordinate whatever conflicting interests they may have to the common good defined in terms of collective defense of all member states. In practice, however, the system of collective security of the UN can only function where there is a consensus among those major powers that are permanent members of the Security Council.

For most of the first forty years of the history of the United Nations, the principal member states did not share such a consensus in large part because of the immense ideological differences and disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union. A green light for more efficient functioning of the UN was the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the “de-ideologizing” of international relations. In March 1987, the five permanent members of the Security Council agreed to make joint efforts to end the war between Iran and Iraq. This was followed by an agreement in the Security Council on the UN plan for Namibia’s transition to independence and on the plan to bring stability and peace to Cambodia and, in 1990, by the decision to repel by force Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

The charge frequently raised against the UN is that, despite its well-considered principles and concepts, it was not, for most of its history, very effective in realizing its objectives. Any criticism of the UN is, however, unfounded if it does not consider: 1) The limitations inherent to the structure of the organization, whose work is based on a process of collective decision making, and, 2) Possible alternatives to it.

To begin with the latter, in the dangerous world in which we live today, an alternative to the UN cannot be a state driven by selfish interests, however strong it may be, which violates the norms of international community. To put our trust in such a state is to go back to the Machtpolitik of the nineteenth century with all of its possible negative consequences. A world state is also an unacceptable alternative, since it can only amount to “soulless despotism,” (Kant) or, as noted earlier, “a totalitarian monster resting on feet of clay” (Morgenthau).

Perhaps the greatest value of the United Nations is not its practical successes in peace-making or peace-building in various parts of the world, or in providing humanitarian relief from disasters, but its contribution to the growth of the universal consciousness of humankind. The force of universality that it promotes is a challenge to national particularism. It provides us with a sense of universal moral obligation to other humans, an obligation that transcends the limits of national communities. Without the UN, the world in which we live today would be even more dangerous.

Therefore, attempts to undermine this organization by affirming individual state sovereignty and idealizing power politics are harmful to the world community as a whole. What is needed to keep the world maximally secure is not the transformation of the present society of sovereign nations into a world state, nor corruption of individual states through egotistical actions on the part of dominant ones, but, rather, the strengthening of global society by the voluntary limitation of the exercise of national sovereignty on the part of the dominant states. And, this should be done in conjunction with international institutions, and in keeping with commonly accepted obligations, and good customs.

The uniqueness of the UN lies in the fact that it can make the world safer by enacting multilateral measures. With the increased interdependence of peoples and states, international security has come to mean both protecting people from natural disasters, civil conflict, and massive violations of human rights that may occur within a given state, and, also protecting one state from attack by another. This idea of protecting states and peoples from harm can be put into practice only through sustained cooperation and an increased community of interests on the part of all major powers. It is only within a society of states that the individual state, however strong, can prosper in the long run. An international society in the form of the United Nations is the best antidote to the dangers that may pose a grave risk to humankind.

Dr. W Julian Korab-Karpowicz teaches political philosophy at the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University in Ankara. The text is a revised version of his paper presented at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA, Washington, D.C., December 27-30, 2003.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V24

For Global Federation by Thomas Magnell

Magnell, Thomas (Drew Univ.) “For Global Federation.” CPP Newsletter Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 2004).

We live in an increasingly dangerous world. Without putting too fine a point on it, something of the sort could have been said at many times in the past. On a large scale, people have always been subject to three types of hazards: natural disasters, diseases, and war. Floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can have frightening majesty in their power. But awesome as natural disasters may be, they have not been sources of increasing dangers. For the most part, natural disasters have struck at similar rates, and until very recently with much the same destructiveness. Today, all but the most serious natural disasters are less devastating than before, largely due to technological advances. Increases in danger have mainly come from diseases and war. Until the nineteenth century, the degree of devastation brought on by diseases grew fairly steadily throughout recorded history. Ever greater population densities, especially with the growth of cities, gave advantage to viral and bacterial scourges. With the advent of concern for sanitation in the nineteenth century, and medical advances, particularly through developments of vaccines in the twentieth century, dangers of unintended epidemics receded. Yet, microbes must remain a serious source of concern, as the recent spread of AIDS has made evident to even the most sanguine observers. This is not a subject on which we can afford to be complacent, but if medical understanding through empirically based research continues to improve, and medical practice continues to develop throughout the world as it has for the last two centuries, then unintended epidemic risks are likely to continue to recede. That leaves war as a source of large-scale risk.

In fact, war presents the greatest risk of disaster today. With the other two types of hazard no greater than in the past, and in the case of diseases more and more under control, war is what makes the world increasingly dangerous. Weapons have grown in destructive power with advances in technology. In the twentieth century, they moved into a category of mass destruction, making short shrift of the lives, property, and cultural products of hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of people at a time.

The ever-increasing destructiveness of weapons throughout much of history, but especially in the twentieth century, has been well noted. What has been less often appreciated is the ever-decreasing cost in manpower and money of increasingly destructive weapons, with weapons of mass destruction becoming cheaper in the recent past and giving every indication of becoming even cheaper in the near future. In the middle of the twentieth century, only the most industrialized or militaristic nation states could afford nuclear bombs. Today, a country with as low a gross domestic product per capita as India, and a country with as low an absolute gross domestic product as Pakistan are nuclear adversaries. There is serious reason to believe that Iraq and North Korea will shortly have nuclear capacities, if they do not have them already. Neither nation will have required anything like the Manhattan Project to achieve nuclear parity with the arsenal developed by the United States within the memories of many people alive today. The costs of biological and chemical weapons have declined as well and are likely to continue to decline in the future. Killing has gone from retail to wholesale. What once took huge armies of individual soldiers prepared for combat became a matter for far fewer people from large economic bases. In the years ahead, as the wholesale price drops, weapons of mass destruction will be within reach of middling nation states, mundane criminal organizations, or non-governmental religious and ideological groups. This is not some wildly speculative thought for the distant future, but a real prospect that we must have the courage and intelligence to face.

The underlying problem that must be addressed is a predicament of vulnerability. People have always been vulnerable to aggression by other individuals and foreign attack. Nation states were a response to the vulnerability of individuals. Prior to the development of weapons of mass destruction, the protection provided by a nation state was roughly directly proportional to its military power. National security became a straightforward matter of prudence, with bigger and more powerful weapons providing protection against external aggression. Even with the development of weapons of mass destruction, the basis for national security remained much the same, as long as rational fears could be directed at a few readily identifiable nation states. The decline in costs of weapons of mass destruction is bringing about a change in the effectiveness of the protection that was afforded by national military might, if it has not done so already. Nation states are entering into conditions not unlike the conditions Hobbes described for individuals in a state of nature.

Despite differences in physical strength and intelligence, individuals, Hobbes argued, are equal enough in one respect to rationally fear each other. By the sword, stealth, or strategic agreements with others, just about anyone can maim or kill anyone else. We are equal enough in this respect to be equally threatening. For many reasons, people sometimes perceive it in their interests to maim or kill others. This makes us all vulnerable to individual aggression, equally so or nearly enough. We do not have to accept this unhappy predicament, however. By recourse to reason, we can remove ourselves from the anarchical situation by effectively establishing a central authority to mitigate, if not eliminate, the aggression we are otherwise right to fear. Some central authorities may be better than others, but considering the unhappy predicament without a central authority, Hobbes maintains that just about any central authority is preferable to none.

This last point gives voice to the view that survival is paramount, inasmuch as it is a precondition of any goods we might pursue. It is questionable that it is such a sweeping precondition, but even if it is, it does not follow that we should value it so highly. There might well be occasions where we should not rank our own survival above a number of morally relevant goods. But it does not follow from this that survival should not generally be valued highly; and clearly, as a precondition of pursuing many goods, it should be.

Whether or not any central authority is better than none, we may still make value judgments among alternatives for a central authority. If we can determine some to be better than others, it would be silly to argue for one of the worse alternatives. Our serious choice, then, would be to decide between one of the better alternatives or none at all. None of this need be dispiriting. It would be, if we could not remove ourselves from the unhappy predicament, or if even the best of the alternatives for a central authority could only be otherwise described as a bad alternative. There is no reason to think our situation as individuals so dismal.

With this much behind us, the prudential argument for global federation is easy to outline. The more affordable weapons of mass destruction become, the more nation states and groups not limited to nation states will afford them. With weapons of mass destruction in many hands, the likelihood of large-scale war increases significantly. Beyond a threshold of risk, soon to be passed if not already surpassed, all nation states are vulnerable. They share a near equality of vulnerability, in one respect at least. All nation states are vulnerable enough to large-scale warfare to make a fear of such a disaster rational. The unhappy condition of anarchy among nation states is a predicament of vulnerability that can only be addressed by instituting a global authority. Among the alternatives for a global authority, a global federation of nation states to which military power and authority is transferred is best. If global federation need not be describable otherwise as a bad alternative, then our situation is tractable, and in any case, something less than dismal. It should go without saying that a great deal must be done to fill in this outline in order to have a full, working proposal for global federation—more than enough for many people on many occasions.

Four Questions Regarding Global Federation

If we have indeed crossed the technological threshold of risk placing us in the predicament of vulnerability, or are shortly about to do so, we have grounds for global federation. Four pertinent questions naturally present themselves: Can global federation remove us from the predicament of vulnerability? Is global federation a more promising way to address the predicament of vulnerability than the alternatives? Is there scope for freedom in global federation? Can global federation be achieved? Here are the briefest of answers to each question, some of which have already been adverted to in passing.

By transferring military power and authority to a global federation, we take weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the growing number of nation states bent on having them, some with unsavory regimes. With sufficient power and authority, a global federation can intervene to keep what would otherwise be predictably rapid proliferation among current nation states and even non-governmental religious and ideological groups. Of course there is no guarantee that it would be completely successful. It must be acknowledged that even one or two rogue states would present dreadful dangers. But this must be acknowledged by advocates and critics of global federation alike. The dangers of one or two rogue nation states or groups with weapons of mass destruction are no less dreadful without global federation. Moreover, if this must be acknowledged, it would seem plain that the current situation, with weapons of mass destruction in many hands, is more dangerous still, which is the predicament of vulnerability. But with sufficient military power and authority, the risk can be greatly reduced, if never completely eliminated. The American experience is again instructive. The fifty states within the federation, large and small, original and recent, could instead be independent nation states. There would then be nothing to stop them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and many of them would surely do so. It is hard to see how anyone could think well of this. As Tom Lehrer quipped at the end of his prescient piece of satire, “Who’s Next?”: “We’ll try to stay serene and calm when Alabama gets the bomb.” Why does Alabama not have the bomb, and is not likely to even try? The practical reason is that in the end, any attempt to acquire military power on that order would be thwarted by the Federal government of the United States. It is not that the fifty states are without all military power and authority. They each control state militias that carry considerable fire-power. But it is limited. With the knowledge that the Federal government would prevent any state from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, every state can co-exist without seeking such power. Though without the security of apodictic guarantee, which human affairs do not permit, the fifty states and everyone in them are beneficiaries of federation.

There are three alternatives to global federation: maintaining the status quo, promoting systems of alliances, and accepting the hegemony of a powerful nation state, presumably the most powerful at any given time. The status quo gives us the predicament of vulnerability which is so dangerous that it grounds the prudential argument for global federation at issue. In terms of the argument, it cannot but be worse than global federation. Only if the technological threshold of risk has not been crossed and is not about to be crossed any time soon might the status quo be acceptable. But then the prudential argument would lack evidentiary support. The actual state of nation states is a premise of the argument.

Systems of alliance, including loose leagues and weak confederations, might ease the predicament of vulnerability for a short while, but they presuppose cooperation over time among nation states for which no warrant can be found in history. This is an historical judgment, but one, in the nature of the case, that is not difficult to make. Alliances can fan the flames of war, when regional conflicts spread through allies committed to mutual defense, as happened in World War I. Alliances can provide combustibles for war when false assurances of defense become transparent, as happened in World War II. While weapons of mass destruction are in only a few hands, alliances may prevent their use through deterrence. But alliances have not done much to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction among nation states within the alliances. It is hard to see how they would end proliferation outside the alliances, whether among nation states or religious or ideological groups. Again, with the declining cost of weapons of mass destruction, the serious risk to be addressed lies there. Systems of alliances are not likely to be up to the task and no better than the status quo for the long term.

The hegemony of a powerful nation state, like systems of alliances, can provide stability for a period, though competition for hegemony generally provokes increases in demands on and for military power. In an era of declining costs for weapons of mass destruction, the prospect of hegemony by one nation state is likely to spur other nation states to procure similar weaponry that they might not otherwise have sought. Few of us need reminders of rationales for arms races, and declining costs for weapons of mass destruction only exacerbate the problem. This applies to limited attempts at regional hegemony, no less than attempts at world-wide hegemony. Once more, if the predicament of vulnerability is as serious as I have maintained, and if addressing proliferation of such weapons is a matter of some urgency, then the alternative of world-wide hegemony by one nation state falters in the attempt at realization, though under certain conditions it might provide welcome relief on an interim basis. The history of regional hegemony is mixed, with China offering instructive considerations along with Rome, Great Britain, and the United States.

Whether or not benign in intent, world-wide hegemony, even if achieved, holds little promise for resolving the central problem. The control of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world by one nation state calls for enormous resources and resolve. The resources must come from the dominant nation-state alone or from the subject nation states together with the dominant nation state. If the resources are to come solely from the dominant nation state, the costs it must shoulder are unlikely to be sustained by it indefinitely, or if continually borne are likely to weaken it to the point where its hegemonic status is challenged. In either case, the predicament of vulnerability is renewed. If, instead, the resources are to come from the subject nation states as well, this really is tyranny, with the power lodged in one dominion paid for to a large extent by those subject to it without any controlling authority. The predictable irritation can be expected to undermine the effectiveness of the hegemony, bringing back once more the predicament of vulnerability. The dominant nation state must retain implacable resolve for a global responsibility which the subject nation states do not share. The competing interests of the nation states without that responsibility are sure to create pressures against warranted interventions and pressures for unwarranted interventions by the dominant power. Divided responsibility and authority is never wise and here renders the alternative of the hegemony of a powerful nation state no better than systems of alliance, apart from relief it may provide on an interim basis.

Freedom is among the most important human values. Like continued existence, it is a precondition of realizing many goods. It is also a necessary condition of autonomy, itself a high value. Any means of dealing with the predicament of vulnerability requires power. With power comes potential for loss of liberty. The potential is always there. Historically, most people have been ready to give up liberties for all manner of promised goods. Socialism, for instance, has traded on this readiness, and even in societies with hard-won freedoms, intellectuals have shown unabashed willingness to jettison even basic freedoms, often in the name of compassion. Global federation need not be particularly constraining. The scope for liberty in global federation is as broad as we set it. Federation is systematically tiered, with some powers and responsibilities delegated to the federal authority, and others left to the federated states. Just what is to be assigned to each level depends on how the federation is constituted.

Here too, the American experience is instructive. For a continental nation with a population today fully one-third the size of the world population at the time of its founding, freedom still rings true, if sometimes a little muffled. The growth of Federal power in the twentieth century may be disquieting, but it took place within a framework that continued to give considerable scope to freedom. One of the strictures of the framework which I have suggested would be desirable to reproduce in a global federation is the Tenth Amendment, restricting federal control to powers set down in a written constitution. Only slightly less striking and also desirable to reproduce in a global federation would be the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Of course, more than that would be needed and much more work would have to be done to specify the powers of a global authority in a global federation. But significant limits on power at the federal level are possible, and if freedom has the value I have suggested, significant limits on federal power are desirable.

If there are indeed prudential grounds for global federation, then global federation can be achieved. Self-interest may not govern all actions, but it certainly governs many. Here, where there are no less solid moral grounds, if the prudential argument is correct, there is no want of motivation. But as a matter of self-interest, nation states are more likely to enter into federation, the less they have to give up; and less likely to enter into federation, the more they have to give up. The ability to achieve global federation, then, is inversely related to the extent of the powers of the global authority, consistent with the powers needed to adequately address the predicament of vulnerability. It does not follow from this that global federation can only be achieved for the most minimal global authority, but it does lend practical support for limits to federal power. The prudential argument for global federation is not utopian. It does not address all ills. It does address the predicament of vulnerability, and, in doing so, is a source of hope.

Note: This discussion is drawn from Thomas Magnell, “A Reply to Three Critics of Global Federation,” in Immortal Longings, eds. Samuel M. Natale and Anthony Libertella, University Press of America, 2003. For additional discussion of the central issues see Thomas Magnell, “Vulnerability, Global Authority, and Moving Away from a Local Maximum of Value,” Journal of Value Inquiry, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2002. and “Life and Liberty on a Global Scale," Journal of Value Inquiry, Volume 37, No. 1, March, 2003.


1759 Thanksgiving Sermon Against War Available Online

In 1759 French-born Philadelphian Anthony Benezet delivered a Thanksgiving sermon in which he argued that Christians cannot give thanks for war, even when they win.

The text of the sermon is available for download in pdf format at

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V23

Istanbul by Gail Presbey

Presbey, Gail (Univ. of Detroit-Mercy). “Istanbul: Days and Nights at the World Congress.” CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

I really enjoyed my stay in Istanbul at the World Congress of Philosophy. The conference was so big, and there were so many sessions, surely one person can’t give a complete impression of what went on. What follows is my account of the panels I heard.

But let me begin by describing a conference that met in conjunction with (actually, just prior to) the World Congress, on August 8 and 9. The conference was organized by George McLean of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and his organization, Council on Research and Values in Philosophy (CRVP). Its theme was how intercultural dialog could help resolve world problems. A couple hundred people were there; it was really an international crowd with extensive representation from Southern countries. For example, I met Stephen Omondi Owino from Kenya, he teaches at Kenyatta University, who was quite young, but George and others were impressed with his paper. Sessions were held at the Culture University.

One day began with a panel that included Tamara Albertini, a Swiss woman who grew up in Tunisia and now teaches in Hawaii. She wanted pluralism in Islam, and criticized the Saudis for insisting that Muslims must become more uniform in their practice. She also argued that fundamentalists were misinterpreting Islam. Whereas Islam originally categorized acts in five ways, as obligatory, recommended, permitted, discouraged, or forbidden, fundamentalists had overemphasized the obligatory and forbidden to the detriment of the middle categories. She also said that in Islam obligatory acts could be of two kinds: either required of each individual, or required of at least some persons in the community.

Fundamentalists, and even bin Laden she argued, emphasized the former, for example saying each individual must engage in jihad. In addition to several folks from Kazakhstan who debated the possibility or desirability of a national philosophy, an Indian woman, Dr. Habrani, argued in favor of religious pluralism.

In the afternoon there was a session on globalization. Dan Smith presented a paper, where he argued that we need to establish a new “hegemony” (the catchword of both conferences) based on a new idea of development. He appealed to Habermas’s idea of “will formation in common” and uncoerced consensus as models for his idea, and he suggested that sage philosophy could be a methodology to help us reach this goal. Quite an impressive debate started, spurred by Dan’s presentation. Most supported Dan’s critique of
globalization. Several especially agreed that the “academy” is part of the problem, being located in the “center.” Both in Dan’s session and the concluding panel, participants raised the issue of whether dialog could solve world problems (as the conference theme had suggested).

Professor Blanchette argued that dialog with the “masters” does not get very far, and he cited an anecdote in which Cheney agreed to meet with protestors, since they had a right to speak, but clearly he didn’t listen to what they had to say. Near the end of the day a debate ensued – do ideas lead the world or not? Someone cited the example of Vaclav Havel as evidence that ideas do shape the world. Others said we can’t rely on ethics alone, we have to address power issues.

August 10th was the beginning of the WCP, on the theme, “Philosophy Confronting World Problems.” The conference center was huge, the auditorium was packed with thousands, and the whole place surrounded by police, metal detectors and x-ray machines. Media cameras rolled. The President of Turkey, Ahmet Needet Sezer, talked. He said very nice things. He said the goal of education was to produce creative and free individuals who can question basic principles, become active subjects, and reach their own truth. He then made claims that philosophy could help do this, which would then make Turkey powerful and prosperous.
Well, let’s hope he’s right.

Ionna Kucaradi gave her speech. She started out, in that unmistakably philosophical fashion, “What is a world problem?” She said philosophers had to search for a common cause of seeming independent events, in order to give their diagnosis. She cautioned philosophers to not confuse causes with outcomes. She also spoke against the fundamentalists, who she said took advantage of the guarantee of freedom of speech as well as respect and tolerance for religions, to propose their own views which go against freedom of speech and human rights. (This tension with the fundamentalists resurfaced at her closing speech).

My session was the first session of the conference after the opening (there were about 12 sessions at once). There were supposed to be six panelists on philosophy in Africa, but I was the only one who showed up. Even the Chair was missing, so Kwasi Wiredu was volunteered all of a sudden to chair. Hountondji attended, and even Habermas! There were about 25 people there. I spoke for 40 minutes, and I took questions and answers for 1 hour ten minutes. The paper was on sage philosophy.

F. Ochieng’-Odhiambo (Formerly of University of Nairobi, now teaching in Barbados) divides Oruka’s sage philosophy project into three categories – early, middle and late. He then makes implicit arguments that the first stage is the best. He prefers “philosophic sagacity” – the first stage – because it clearly fights against ethnophilosophy, whereas by the third stage ethnophilosophy “fits comfortably” into sage philosophy according to him. I disagree that Oruka’s project incorporates ethnophilosophy, while I agree it does incorporate folk sages who would then represent the culture philosophy of their community. These are fine distinctions I realize. I then argue that the third stage of the project is the best, because its motivation is broad and means to be helpful to Kenyans in their own identity search.

I got a lot of good questions, such as: does the analytic/ phenomenology split in philosophy affect the sage philosophy project? Who has a right to speak – does sage philosophy address power relations? How do Oruka’s earlier works like Philosophy of Liberty and his book on Punishment and Terrorism fit into his life’s work? What is my role when I interview sages, particularly when I raise issues about their position on gender equality? People’s interest in African philosophy was sparked by the debate.

In the afternoon there was a session on Gandhi with Fred Dallmeyer, Doug Allen and Joseph Prabhu. It was held in the military museum across the street from the conference center, so the Gandhians were getting a kick out of the irony. The building was lined with lots of old cannons, and even had some old missiles out in front. The halls had famous sayings from Turkish military leaders over the years. I thought the panel covered a lot of obvious ground in their speeches, as if they purposively aimed their papers at a general audience.

The new twist was that they used Gandhian ideas to address the contemporary problems of terrorism, but I thought the leap was rather quick, along the lines of “Gandhi wouldn’t approve of terrorism, state terrorism, starvation and inequality etc.” However, we had a good discussion with the audience. I myself leapt upon the example of Joseph Prabhu when he said that in fact Gandhi made an exception to his general counsel against war and agreed that the Indian army should fight the Pakistanis in 1948 over the invasion of Kashmir. Allen and others agreed that what he said there was inconsistent with other passages where he counseled non-resistance and non-cooperation with invading armies. They then got engaged in some apologetics about it, such as how could Gandhi be so inconsistent, must be because he is human like everyone else. But what I really wanted was an outline of the actual reasons he gave, to see if they were criteria or not.

Karsten Struhl was also sharp in noticing problems with Doug Allen’s definition of terrorism which, since it emphasizes the intention of the terrorist, could rule out much of structural violence (which Allen had said was also terrorism) since perpetrators are not necessarily intentionally trying to terrorize (they might just be pursuing self-interest, with terror in the form of fear of starvation or unemployment as an unintended side effect). There was also an interesting debate about coercion – does it have a role in nonviolence or not? Can
there be such a thing as moral coercion, as Prabhu suggested, or is it an oxymoron?

On the 11th there was a plenary with Habermas, Vottimo (of Italy) and Wiredu. Habermas was hard to understand but interesting. In a nutshell, he talked about how Kant emphasized the rights of world citizens in a cosmopolitan age. He didn’t foresee the rise of nationalism in the 19th century. Nationalism emphasized instead the sovereignty of states based on their exclusive control of territory and immunity from prosecution by other states.

The problem of the nineteenth century was that only a small number of nations considered themselves to be peers of each other, bound by international law, whereas they considered themselves able to colonize other weaker countries. Now in the twentieth century the United Nations has been based on the idea that international law is a law among sovereign states who have rights to non-intervention. This idea is now being challenged by those who want an international criminal court that will override immunity to prosecution. Also there is the push to override sovereignty in the name of international security against terrorism, as well as to bring justice to criminal states and order to failed states.

Recognition of sovereignty is now dependent on one’s compliance with human rights and security guidelines. Habermas seems to approve of these challenges to sovereignty insofar as they come closer to Kant’s cosmopolitan ideal, but he fears that the current context, where one superpower dominates, brings a harsh asymmetry to Kant’s ideal. He therefore approves of Europe’s attempt to become a counterweight to the USA. Since values change from country to country it will be hard to judge what justice among nations would be. He
prefers a legalization, rather than moralization, of war, since he fears that a moralized war cannot be kept within limits (as Karl Schmidt cautioned). I was left with the question of whether Habermas could be consistent in approving of abridgement of sovereignty in the case of the World Court while still condemning
ways that the “war on terrorism” ignores sovereignty of nations in its ceaseless search for security.

Gianni Vottimo addressed the topic, “The End of Philosophy in the Age of Democracy.” He noted that the end of metaphysics (citing critiques by Popper, Nietzsche, and Heidegger against claims of absolute truth in ontology) coincides with the re-emergence of democracy. The infallible philosopher is a thing of the past. (I realize this account is too brief.) And then it was Wiredu’s turn. I was a bit concerned because the Chair of the session introduced Wiredu as the one who would provide the perspective of “the Other.” (In the end, this Chair quite inaccurately, almost oppositely, summarized what Wiredu had said). Wiredu interrogated the word “dialog” and asked what it meant to have an intercultural dialog. When we enter dialog we cannot be overconfident and think that we cannot err. We must make clear at the beginning what the different cultures bring to the table, and the contributions to dialog must be taken or rejected on independent considerations. He argued that we must cast away both relativism and religious dogmatism in order to have true dialog. Relativism presumes that there are irreducible differences, whereas Wiredu only thinks that there are possible impediments to intercultural understandings. Wiredu then reiterated his famous claim that traditional African
religions did not used to be dogmatic (because they had no institutions to enforce dogma like Western religions). He thought that resort to God’s “revelation” by anyone did not help intercultural dialog. The Chair then misunderstood and said in his summary that Wiredu was advocating relativism.

In the afternoon was another plenary with Agnes Heller, Robert Bernasconi, and Thomas Pogge on “Inequality, Poverty, and Development.” Bernasconi argued that people have a right to charity, and if they aren’t given
what they need, they have a right to take what they need to survive. Bernasconi noted that this right came into conflict with Locke’s notion of property and money, because property was defined as what no one can take from me without my consent. Bernasconi argued that addressing the poverty issue is the true task of philosophy today. The current idea of development forecloses all novelty in searching for solutions to poverty. He suggests that statistically it can be shown to be rather easy to lift the lowest wage-earners from one to two dollars a day, but that system would still be unjust. Pogge showed the problems with the definitions of poverty used by the World Bank. He argued that their statistics were by any account unscientific and arbitrary. Pogge asserted that according to his studies, one third of human deaths are due to poverty-related causes. Forty six per cent of humans live on less than two dollars a day and own only 1.5 per cent of the world’s income. He raised the issue of personal responsibility – what are any of us required to do? His answer was that we must do enough that if everyone were to do the same, it would solve the poverty problem (regardless of whether others do so or not). While some blame corruption in Southern countries for their poverty problems, Pogge pointed out the role of Northern countries, who basically send the message that regardless of how rulers take over power, once they do so they will be rewarded with lucrative business contracts and loans.

Heller followed up with a more theoretical discussion. She said that we needed to focus on the two pillars of modern ethics: the good person and the good citizen (with a just constitution). The latter’s main virtue is solidarity; the former’s virtue is authenticity. As citizens we must freely found our constitution and take up our responsibilities. As individuals we must found our own ethics in our own self-certainty. We cannot rely on reason to decide for us, because reason hits antinomies. For example, Socrates argued that it is better to suffer evil than commit it; but another reasoner could prove the opposite. So-called self-evident truths are self evident only to the signatories, she asserted. We must decide our own destiny, she asserted. Heller also concluded with some criticisms of how the other two speakers had addressed the issue of poverty in a statistical way. She argued that it is not easy to talk of those who die of poverty and separate them from those who die of violence, because the two overlap. Also, one shouldn’t just say for example that a certain percentage of the world’s population dies of violence – one must mention the specifics, who is killed where and why? When the Jews are killed in Germany does it help just to say that three per cent of the world’s people died violently? So these overarching statistics obscure much important information.

Later in the afternoon there was a panel on “Reconciliation and Forgiveness” with two speakers who held opposing views. Leonard Harris argued that tolerance is a virtue only for a justified purpose. He notes the irony that some countries that promoted tolerance also practiced terrorism, and gave as examples apartheid
South Africa and the United States and other slave societies. He argues against the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of South Africa which holds that tolerance is better than resentment and expects Africans to forgive their victimizers. He claims that wealth accumulation is still racist in South Africa and that there has been no perceptible change since the end of apartheid. Instead of forgiveness of injustice, black South Africans need compensation. Resentment has a function; it helps one to be vigilant against future wrongs. He argues that the virtue of forgiveness is more like courage than honesty – it should be voluntary, not required. He argues that justice must exist institutionally before individuals can be expected to forgive.

This position was countered by a German philosopher named Klaus-Michael Kodalle. Kodalle argued that forgiveness is incorporated into formal rule of law of societies in transition. In fact the spirit of forgiveness is a precondition for establishing a rule of law. He gave several examples of the psychological benefits of forgiveness and how they later led to the normalization of relations. By dragging atrocities into the open as in the TRC, the deeds can be expressed and recognized as an injustice, and only then can they be “decontaminated” and even forgotten. He cautions that we cannot reconcile too quickly before fully remembering. Each of us must also recognize our own evil, so that we can see how we somehow resemble the “enemy.”

This panel inspired a lot of questions. The first audience participant argued cynically that most governments go through reconciliation as a matter of expediency. Others were concerned that amnesty was used as a weak surrogate of the spirit of forgiveness. Iris Young questioned Harris, wondering if he was counseling resentment as a virtue? She suggested that maybe indignation or anger would be better. Harris argued that he saw virtues as instrumental, not intrinsic. While he didn’t counsel resentment, he thought that if people happened to experience it, they should not be obliged to give it up. Eduardo Mendieta suggested that forgiveness was a compound virtue based on the simpler virtues of self-respect, humility, and magnanimity. Workineh Kelbessa suggested that traditional African elders had already mastered the techniques of reconciliation, but Harris upheld that reconciliation is not necessarily a virtue. Kodalle responded to questions with reference to Arendt’s emphasis on political forgiveness in her book, The Human Condition. He mentioned several cases of individuals or groups of persons whose identities were so caught up with being victims, that they couldn’t forgive and forget, and that eventually destroyed

That night on the rooftop of the Sari Konak Hotel, Bob Stone and Betsy Bowman hosted a Radical Philosophy Association (RPA) party. About thirty people up there on the roof! They were all discussing whether they wanted to join Bob and Betsy in starting a “radical” retirement community in San Miguel, Mexico. Even Enrique Dussel was there. The debate at one point centered on the question, “Why Mexico?” Globalization is a problem in a lot of places. This later morphed into the idea that maybe the Russians and the Turks would set up similar “points of resistance” in their countries that would be in loose collaboration with the Mexico group.

Let me skip now to Wednesday August 13. We had two sessions for Concerned Philosophers for Peace in a row. These were sessions organized by Bill Gay in conjunction with the Russian Philosophical Society led by Alexander Chumakov. The Russians had all come to Istanbul on a big boat and they were docked in a port in Istanbul, so the boat doubled as their hotel. The sessions were crowded with about fourteen people listed, but in reality about eight people presented each two hour session. I was charged with sitting in front of the speakers and holding up a two-minute warning sign after six minutes, and a stop sign at 8 minutes, and then the translator had time to give a summary translation. Bill Gay chaired the first session and Alexander Buzgalin chaired the second session. Deb Peterson and John Bryant were the other Americans from CPP presenting.

I presented in the second session. I will not mention more details because Bill said he will submit a summary (please see “With Russian Colleagues” in this newsletter).

In the afternoon there was a panel with on “Pragmatism, War and Peace” by the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. Omar Dahbour and John Shook were talking about the pragmatists’s stance on war. Shook went into some detail about how Dewey changed his stance on war during World War I. He was against the war before it started, but once it had begun, he thought he had to make the best of it. It is always a “pragmatic temptation” to find some use for war, Shook cautions. So Dewey tried to control war rather than eradicate it. He considered war a human institution that was capable of being reconstructed.

Dewey saw war as an opportunity for education. Instead of succumbing to war hysteria (a temptation in democracies where masses must be mobilized) or sentimentality, people should instead look at moral arguments for when to go to war, and what means to use. A lively debate ensued afterward, with Omar Dahbour raising the question of whether so-called “pinpoint bombing” is an example of humanizing war, or if it too easily makes intervention palatable. Others wondered how the emphasis on precision bombing could be reconciled with the recent “shock and awe” strategy used by USA forces in Iraq. Dahbour also thought that supposed human moral progress was “toothless” in the face of rapid technological advances. Shook conceded that while Dewey had insisted that democracies could control war, nevertheless even the USA is a
very imperfect democracy by Dewey’s criteria.

Thursday there were two big plenary sessions, one with Peter Singer and Iris Young, and a South African named John Pendleberry. The latter argued that poverty is avoidable and compromises people’s individual autonomy. Both Singer and Young addressed the Iraq war and I thought their papers were good.

Singer began by noting that technology had now developed to the point where “enemies” could wreak large scale havoc cheaply, and so nations can’t exercise “containment” as they did during the Cold War. Instead, the USA’s “National Security Strategy” argues that the state must act pre-emptively against “immanent threats.” In this way the USA has as its goal to possess military strength beyond challenge. However, Singer points out that moral rights don’t adhere to one nation alone.

According to the criteria by which the USA acted against Iraq, North Korea could justify a pre-emptive attack against the USA, since the USA has weapons of mass destruction and has been threatening to use them against North Korea. Singer argued that the National Security Council of the United Nations should be reformed. Why should the war veto power belong to four countries that are Christian, and none that are Islamic? Why doesn’t India get a vote – based on its size? Singer also finds an interesting precedent. When the USA was trying to gather votes for its own position on attacking Iraq, it suggested that the French veto should be disregarded, that the important thing would be to see if the USA had a majority vote from the Council. Singer says that if this is the case, then the USA should agree to try to dismantle the veto system altogether, in favor of a democratic vote.

Iris Young offered her “Modest Reflections on Hegemony.” She argued that people are living under a global dictatorship. The USA dominates the world, yet most people do not live in the USA and so did not have a chance to vote in that government. However, she hopes that another world is possible. Referring to Locke’s notion of the state of nature, in which a person who serves as her own judge of cases cannot protect the judgment against her own bias or error, she argues that the USA currently faces the same problem. Without
submitting itself to a World Court, the USA will not be able to make fair judgments of when other countries are in danger and in need of help or intervention. The USA should instead see itself as engaged in relational autonomy and mutual obligations. Young argues that it is necessary to withdraw cooperation from this world dictatorship. We must isolate the USA and the international corporate powers allied with it. We need debt cancellation, a global tax, and a surcharge on financial transactions to slow capital flow. Finally we must develop a transnational military force that can challenge USA military might.

Not everyone in the audience agreed with the speakers. Seyla Benhabib challenged Young, saying that Bush was not yet a dictator, he could be voted out. She thought that Young’s use of sixties rhetoric of anti-imperialism was unhelpful. Young aptly responded that while the USA is a democracy, it can still exercise dictatorship over other countries (and in fact, imperialism practiced by “democratic” countries did just that). One audience member challenged Singer, saying that some evil regimes in the world deserved to be overthrown. Singer agreed but asked, who should decide which regimes should be overthrown? Perhaps a reformed U.N. Security Council could make those decisions.

A late afternoon session on Global Institutions and Global Responsibilities brought together a large number of panelists into a roundtable of sorts. Nancy Kukoch of International Relations, University of Toronto, focused on unarticulated issues of fairness that crop up in WTO meetings, the Kyoto agreements, and other international bodies. She called for a systematic treatment of fairness, which would be more aware of differential burdens and benefits. According to the WTO’s own principles, it is committed to “fair trade” – but
questions arise: what is unfair protectionism? What is fair sanction? Other panelists brought up the question of human rights. Otto Hotte who teaches at Tubigen argued that we can separate questions of the legitimacy of rights from their origin – in this way, advocating universal human rights even if their origin is Western. For Matthias Kaufmann, hegemony destroys the idea of equality of all humans.

On Friday afternoon CPP and Bill Gay had another session with the Russian philosophers, in which Dan Smith was presenting. When Kai and I got there, we saw that the Russians were not there – it turns out there was a scheduling error and a bunch of them were presenting elsewhere at the same time! So suddenly Dan was the only speaker, similar to how I had become the only speaker in the first session. There were about ten of us and we had a discussion until 7:30.

On Saturday, the conference was hosting a performance of a local famous dance group. They mixed traditional Turkish folkloric dance with modern dance called “Magic You Ney.” There were at least fifty dancers, all young and beautiful, and they changed into so many different costumes, the dances were so energetic and lively! They had a raised platform in back where some highly costumed dancers would do dances in the interludes (while the others were changing costume I presume) including a Sufi dancer, a mermaid, two old women spinning tin plates on sticks, an old Sultan who falls in love with a bride in white, etc. The auditorium was packed, I ended up sitting in the balcony because all the main seats were filled and people had neglected going up to the balcony. They were actually excellent seats up there. The only complaint was one politically incorrect dance where some male dancers put on African masks and shirts to make them look black, and they danced around a lone white woman who seemed to be in distress. I think it was as if the African men were her nightmare that she had to wrestle with. But the woman was incredibly flexible. She could bend in half backwards!

I will leave coverage of the closing party, and closing sessions, to someone else to describe. All in all I will say that it was heartening to see so many philosophers apply their skills to shedding light on the world’s problems and putting forward sound judgments and practical analyses. It was easy for this CPP member to feel at home in the discussions and debates of the conference. If only all philosophy conferences were this meaningful!

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V23

With Russian Colleagues by William Gay

Gay, William (Univ. of North Carolina – Charlotte). “With Russian Colleagues At the World Congress.” CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

For over twenty-five years members of Concerned Philosophers for Peace have worked closely with Russian colleagues. One form of cooperation has been holding joint sessions by CPP and the Russian Philosophical Society (RPS) at the World Congress of Philosophy. At the XXth World Congress of Philosophy, held in Boston in 1998, three joint sessions were held. Most recently, at the XXIst World Congress of Philosophy, held in Istanbul in August 2003, we again held three joint sessions.

The theme of the XXIst World Congress of Philosophy was “Philosophy Facing World Problems.” The joint sessions conducted by CPP and RPS were on the general theme of “Philosophy and Globalization Problems.” These sessions were organized by Alexander Chumakov, the First Vice President of the Russian Philosophical Society, and by me, on behalf of CPP. Two of our sessions were held on August 13, and the third was held on August 15. The sessions were on the following topics: “Philosophical Problems of Individuals and Nations in the Global System, “Philosophical Problems of Security in the Global System,” and “Philosophical Problems of Sustainability in the Global System.” Members of CPP who gave presentations were John Bryant, Deb Peterson, Gail Presbey, Dan Smith, and myself. At our sessions, translation from English to Russian and from Russian to English was provided by Nikolai Biryukov of Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO-University) and Alexander Buzgalin of Lomonosov Moscow State University.

In addition, a special meeting was held on August 13 to release the Global Studies Encyclopedia in its English and Russian editions. This encyclopedia, with 430 articles by 278 authors from 28 countries, was also the result of cooperation between CPP and RPS. At the special meeting for the release of the encyclopedia, comments were given by V.S Stiopin, President of the Russian Philosophical Society, by Chumakov, and by me, and translation was provided by Anastasia Mitrofanova of the Institute for Contemporary International Studies (in Moscow) and Associate Editor of the encyclopedia. The encyclopedia has two Russian and two American sponsors: the Russian Philosophical Society, the Russian Ecological Academy, Concerned Philosophers For Peace, and the Paideia Project of Boston University. [I.I.Mazour, A.N. Chumakov, and W.C. Gay, Editors, Global Studies Encyclopedia (Moscow: Raduga, 2003), 592 pp. ISBN 5-05-005719-1 for the English edition and ISBN 5-05-005661-6 for the Russian edition.] For more information on the encyclopedia, go to: <; and click on English version.

A very valuable aspect of our meetings was the opportunity to establish direct personal contacts, especially after each of our joint sessions. Another very enjoyable opportunity resulted when RPS invited CPP members and others to attend a gala reception aboard the “Philosophical Ship” (the “Maria Ermolva” that brought many of the Russians to Istanbul) to celebrate our cooperation. The Russians were glad to hear CPP members expressing criticism of recent U.S. military actions, and we appreciated their applauding our criticisms which was a welcome alternative to the response we often receive at home.

Book Reviews CPP Newsletter Online V23

Weigart and Crews’ Teaching for Justice by Gail Presbey

Presbey, Gail (Univ. of Detroit – Mercy). “Just Education: A Review of Kathleen Maas Weigert and Robin J. Crews, eds. Teaching for Justice: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Peace Studies. Washington, D.C.: American Association for Higher Education, 1999.” CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

This book is filled with good practical advice on how to use service learning to help students gain a deeper understanding of the field of peace and justice studies. In what follows, I will highlight the key ideas that it conveys and conclude with an evaluation. As Weigart explains in the introduction, the goal of a peace and justice course is not just to master certain materials, but to help students become committed to action that will make the world a better place (9).

The service-learning placements make students cross over from theory into practice, possibly starting a lifelong good habit. Peace and Justice studies is not a “value free” discipline; rather, it is in favor of peace, justice, equality, and the meeting of people’s basic needs (12). Weigart cautions that the term “service” sometimes carries the connotation of “noblesse oblige” (16).

So Elise Boulding begins with an important clarification in the preface: she argues that service learning should be an experience of partnering with communities, not a case of do-gooders who go out and give and expect to receive nothing in return. Michael Schratz and Rob Walker argue that “People learn from the experience of being placed in unfamiliar settings,” especially when they are expected to become competent at some task. Disrupting students’ lives can cause learning to happen more rapidly. People are “polyphasic” in their learning, which means that they learn more than one thing at a time. Asking someone to leave the comfort of their own social setting and encounter a new culture or micro-culture amounts to encouraging them to become ethnographic researchers of sorts.

While their “plunge” into the new context can never be complete, since they will always be seen as outsiders at the margins of the culture, they can still take the role of “legitimate peripheral participation” just as ethnographers do. They will notice many small things that are different in the new context in which they have placed themselves. They will have to read people’s facial and body gestures to try to grasp power dynamics between the people they meet and work with. But, upon first exposure, students may not always correctly grasp these things.

Like travelers, they may not know when they have acted inappropriately, been misunderstood, or transgressed defined boundaries, until after it happens. Being put into a new context also challenges our own self-identity, as we notice different things about ourselves than we otherwise would. Students might feel forlorn as they long for more familiar surroundings, but despite their temporary discomfort, real learning can begin to take place.

Schratz and Walker argue that people learn more in “critical incidents”; which are situations that happen to themselves, often connected to loss, and requiring readjustment; than they do under the conditions of their normal routines. While this sounds painful, it can also have a transforming effect, since it requires that people rethink issues central to their lives (33-38). Schratz and Walker explain that students start out service learning from the position of incompetence, unconsciously or consciously. They will hopefully move to competence in the new setting, but likewise, their competence may be conscious (as they struggle to find a way in which to fit in and work), or unconscious (if they just happen to fit in without being quite aware of how).

The authors suggest that service learning should become a collaborative effort between students rather than an individual one. Students need each other to keep one another from tumbling from the heights of idealism and sinking into cynicism. Their attempts at service might lead them to confront the, “emotional warfare, naked ambition, and exploitation found in some volunteer agencies dedicated to radical change” (42). Students naively entering into service work may not be prepared for such possibilities. It is important for students to process these insights together. They need to publicly question the institutions they are working within, themselves, and their teachers. Encouraging them to do so requires that teachers also take risks, but according to the authors, there is no shortcut to learning.

Experience, and group reflection on the experience, is necessary to learning (39-44). David Whitten Smith and Michael Hasl continue in this line of pedagogical thinking by drawing upon Paulo Freire, whose idea of “revolutionary praxis” involves: 1) Changing your world view, 2) Broadening narrow frameworks, and 3) Recognizing people are active agents in history, and becoming one yourself! (55)

They describe the dialectical “circle of praxis” as having four stages. First, there is the personal experience of inserting oneself into a situation of poverty, violence, or injustice. The authors note that students must share with each other their experiences of those who are marginalized, to ensure that such experiences do not simply reinforce stereotypes. Studetns are asked to write out their expectations ahead of time, and then to check their current experiences against their original expectations.

Secondly, they engage in the descriptive analysis of how the culture of the host organization historically and currently operates in its social, economic and political context. This could include the questions: “Who is making the decisions here? Who is benefitting from the decisions? Who is paying the cost?” Students could also ask, “Why does such poverty exist?.Why can’t we organize our society to meet everyone’s basic needs? Is there some larger flaw in our systems that defeats our efforts to organize,” for instance, jobs for all who need them?

Thirdly, they work out a normative analysis of the situation, which identifies the moral values at stake, and imagines how the situation could be changed to be more morally satisfying. The authors suggest assigning students to write a Utopia. They argue that “Utopias help people break out of the ordinary, recognize the damage caused by structures normally taken for granted, and see new possibilities.” After that assignment, students are then asked to write a “Possitopia,” which is a realistically achievable improvement of current reality.

Fourthly, they develop an action plan, which involves identifying the skills, strategies, and policies needed to make the desired transformation. Students should do something constructive to help ameliorate the situation in which they were placed (57-61). Sue Marullo, Mark Lance, and Henry Schwarz argue that service learning is especially important at Jesuit universities.

In 1995, the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus insisted that every Jesuit ministry, including universities, support social justice. This can be done in several ways: “a) direct service and accompaniment of the poor; b) developing an awareness of the demands of justice and the sense of social responsibility necessary to achieve it; and c) participating in social mobilization for the creation of a more just social order.” (48) The Jesuit approach emphasizes how peace and justice depend upon each other.

Positive peace (not just temporary cessation of hostilities) requires social structures that are fundamentally just. Service learning can help students gain insights into the underlying causes of social problems – problems which, when magnified, often lead to war and violence.

Teaching for Justice is filled with practical advice about how to create guidelines, assignments, and evaluations of service learning. Faculty from Georgetown University explain that their senior theses projects in service learning include empirical research, normative reflection, action programs, and conceptual analyses (50).

Robin Crews outlines basic procedural guidelines for his courses in nonviolence and these seem like they would be effective in any course that relies heavily on discussion. Firstly, we must respect each other and therefore agree to disagree. Secondly, we must listen carefully to what others in the class say. (Perhaps the counseling strategy of paraphrasing what we think the other person said, and asking them about our accuracy before responding to their remarks, could help us to be sure that we really did understand the other person’s point). Thirdly, we must seek to understand each other and therefore check our immediate impulse to prove others wrong and ourselves right. Fourthly, we agree not to interrupt others (30).

What can peace studies accomplish? Robin Crews shares his experience as founding executive director of the Peace Studies Association. He admits with seeming dejection that Peace Studies has not even sufficiently affected academia, let alone the world. Financial constraints and reactionary downsizing have resulted in dwindling support for such programs (24-5). His concerns were echoed throughout the book.

Faculty at Georgetown University note that they constantly face the problem of limited resources and challenges to the academic legitimacy of their programs (52). Faculty at Roehampton Institute note that colleagues often think of service learning as “lightweight, soft-headed, or escapist” (103). With these kinds of financial and ideological attacks leveled against Peace Studies, it is a wonder that we still have opportunities to teach Peace Studies. And, yet, the need for courses such as these has not diminished.

The expansion of the military budget and increase in interventionary wars is rather an indication that peaceful alternatives are being neglected, and that they are now more needed than ever. With the increase in the military budget comes a decrease in funds for programs to help our nation’s poor, and hence, also, a need for more volunteers. As poverty increases there are more opportunities for students to witness first-hand the suffering of others and to be of service to them, while simultaneously reflecting on the social conditions which foster such disparities in distribution of wealth.

Peace Studies courses, tailored as service learning courses, are therefore especially imperative at this point. The authors of this collection have charted helpful road maps, and the strength of these essays lies in the careful attention given to the stages of emotion and insight through which students pass during their service learning experiences. The guidelines provided on how teachers can shape assignments so as to avoid common pitfalls are also particularly valuable to the beginning teacher.

Book Reviews CPP Newsletter Online V23

Orizio’s Talk of the Devil by John Kultgen

Kultgen, John (Univ. of Missouri – Columbia). “Harder the Fall?: A Review of Ricardo Orizio’s Talk of the Devil: Encounters with Seven Dictators. Trans. Avril Bardoni. NY: Walker & Co., 2003.”; CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

Interviews with seven deposed autocrats are the substance of this work. “I deliberately chose those [tyrants] who had fallen from power in disgrace,” writes author Ricardo Orizio, “because those who fall on their feet tend not to examine their own conscience.” In his introduction he asks, “What goes through the mind of someone who has had everything, lost everything and has time to start again? How does a one-time dictator, whom the history books describe as ruthless, immoral and power-crazed, grow old? What does he tell his children and grandchildren about himself? What does he tell himself?”

Unfortunately, the responses of the interviewees are sketchy and do not answer either these questions, or many others, that we would have liked Orizio to ask. The accidental nature of the sample he has put together makes it risky to draw lessons from it, and he avoids doing so. He simply provides the cases and lets the reader learn from them. In what follows, I will suggest, however, that a few generalizations might be drawn from this work. They would, however, need to be tested by reflection on further examples of modern autocratic rule before they could be accepted.

First, here’s a list of the dictators with whom Orizio spoke:

Idi Amin Dada, Uganda (I971-1979), was deposed by Tanzania after a failed invasion of that country. He was given refuge as a Muslim by Gaddafi in Libya and then granted permission to stay Saudi Arabia on an “extended pilgrimage.” He lived comfortably with his family in Jeddah on a stipend provided by the Saudi government until his death in August 2003. At the time of the interview he was still dreaming of a return to power — and this even though he is accused of killing up to 300,000 people during his reign and committing acts of personal barbarism such as presiding over the execution of enemies and eating their flesh.

Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Central African Republic (1966-1979), was first installed and then deposed by the French. He is accused of killing up to 100,000 of his subjects and, like Amin, engaging in acts of barbarism and cannibalism. He was prosecuted, convicted, imprisoned and condemned to death and subsequently pardoned by new government of Central Africa. He continued to live in the capitol city Bangui until his death in 1996. Although he was a Muslim, he claimed that the pope had anointed him as the Thirteenth Apostle during his reign. He evidently wore the white robes of a saint for his interview with Orizio.

Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland (1981-1990), who, as premier of his country, declared martial law and attempted to suppress Solidarity, claiming that these measures were necessary to prevent Soviet intervention during collapse of the Eastern bloc. He was voted out of office in a free election. He lives in Warsaw on a government pension as former head of state. He has successfully defended himself against prosecution on a charge that he ordered troops to fire on demonstrators during a time of unrest.

Enver and Nexhmije Hoxha, Albania (1944-1984), ruled over a tightly regimented closed society for four decades until Enver retired due to ill health. He died in 1985. The pair ruthlessly suppressed opposition and kept Albania isolated from the world, including other communist countries. Nexhmije now lives modestly in Tirana, sternly guarding the memory of her husband and their reign together.

Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, Haiti (1971-1986), was installed as President for Life at age 19 by his ailing father, Papa Doc. He was ill-suited to rule, even dictatorially, and during his time in power was dominated by his wife Michele and her associates. With the assistance of Tonton Macoute, they continued the Papa Doc’s practices of suppressing opposition and looting the country, and were eventually ousted by the mulatto elite of Haiti with help from US. Duvalier now lives comfortably in southern France on what is left of his fortune and has a new wife. He trusts that either exiled supporters, or voodoo gods, will return him to power.

Mengistu Haile-Mariam, Ethiopia (1974-1991) came to power in a military coup. He is rumored to have personally strangled Haile Selasse, and attempted, with the assistance of the USSR, to put an end to feudal tribalism and create a rigorous socialist state. Unwise wars with Eritrea and Somalia and failure to provide relief during a catastrophic drought led to death of hundreds of thousands. These were the result of over-extending his powers and of mismanagement, rather than of a genuine effort to suppress opposition, though he attempted that as well. He was deposed by another coup when USSR collapsed, and since he had not amassed a personal fortune, he now lives modestly in exile in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Slobadan Milosevic and Mira Markovic, Yugoslavia/Serbia, (1989-2000). Slobadan was a banker who was pushed into politics by his professor wife Mira, a dogmatic Marxist sociologist. It is not clear whether the couple was motivated more by ideology, power, or the desire to enrich themselves. He was deposed by the Serbs themselves after the NATO response to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo and is being tried for crimes against humanity in The Hague. Mira continues to be politically active in Belgrade.

In each of the chapters of the work, Orizio first describes his efforts to arrange the interviews, then reviews some of the details of the dictator’s reign, summarizes the interviews themselves, and reports the testimony of others connected with the subjects. The portion of the narratives devoted to each of these varies. Large portions of the chapters on Idi Amin and Mira Markovic are devoted to the author’s difficulty in catching up with his subjects. In the case of Hoxha and Milosevic, Orizio had to settle for interviews with the wives rather than the front men, though the wives had been deeply involved in their husbands’ activities and were plausible surrogates.

The interviews themselves occupy only a few pages and most are not very informative, even when the subjects (e.g. Bokassa, Mengitsu) happened to be garrulous. Amin could not be brought to talk about his atrocities or even his grandiose gestures when in power, though he displayed a hearty and jovial personality and seemed well thought of by those in Saudi Arabia who knew him. Bokassa appeared to Orizio to be mentally ill, while Jaruzelski, Hoxha, and Markovic gave the impression of being austere and defensive, but still willing to debate ideology, at least on a superficial level. Mengitsu was evidently somewhat more loquacious, but still neither particularly revealing nor penitent in any way. Finally, Duvalier’s present wife, Veronique, seems to have dominated the conversation which Orizio had with him, and hence relatively little important information seems to have been revealed in this case as well.

As far as any sort of examination of conscience goes, it is hardly surprising that most of the deposed autocrats deny they did anything wrong. Not only do they not indulge much in self-examination or critical reflections about their pasts, but they claim that, if they used harsh measures, it was for the good of their country, and also that they lost power not because they abused it, but because they were betrayed by disloyal friends, overwhelmed by circumstances, or defeated by unscrupulous enemies. Several were still under the illusion that they would be returned to power by loyal supporters – and, among these, Amin and Duvalier expected that such a change in their circumstances was imminent.

Naturally, deposed despots are not happy with their present circumstances. But they consistently deny that the course they chose when they ruled was responsible for their condition. They only remember the joys of absolute power and want it back, and express no regrets, but only anger at the tides of fortune and the perfidy of their enemies. Plato’s contention that absolute tyrants are made miserable by their insatiable appetites and lack of reliable friends appears, at first read, to be confirmed by testimony of these individuals – until one reflects on the fact that they are thoroughly deluded about their current life circumstances, the causes of their being deposed, and their ability to regain a hold on the power they once had. They enjoyed power and the wealth it brings and now they miss it – once again, the matter seems entirely straightforward until the reader realizes the level of self-deception and delusion that colors their present states of mind. And, unfortunately, it is this question that Orizio has not addressed — either in the context of his interviews with these people, or independently of them. It is perhaps equally unsettling to think that many of the rest of us might feel and act in a similarly unreflective fashion given the opportunity – and Orizio also does not, unfortunately, extract from his conversations with these “devils” any relevant lessons on this, either.

The talents of self-deception, pretense and rationalization seem to be as strong in deposed dictators as they are in those still in power. In fact, the acts of self-deception and deceiving others, respectively, seem to be interrelated in a sort of vicious cycle leading to ever greater perversity. In other words, the practice of self-deception further enhances the skills these people already possess with regard to deceiving others. Once they had control of the instruments of propaganda, all of them enjoyed ardent support of privileged groups under their rule and at least the passive acquiescence, if not loyal support of the public. Only the European tyrants (in Poland, Albania, and Yugoslavia) were deposed by anything like a popular uprising — and this only after a systemic collapse had occurred elsewhere (in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc). In Africa and Haiti, they were deposed either by neighbors (in Uganda, by Tanzania) or internal factions with the aid of outsiders (in Central Africa, by the French; in Haiti, by the Americans).

One thing which the author did which may be questionable was to lump those dictators driven by ideology, or at least those using it as a cover (Jaruzelski, Hoxha, Mengistu, and to a lesser degree Milosevic) together with brutal thugs interested only in power, wealth, self-indulgence, megalomania, and cruelty (Amin, Bokassa, Duvalier). It was particularly inappropriate to include Jaruzelski with the rest. He makes a good case that he did the best he could for his nation under impossible conditions, and claims that if he made mistakes, they were indeed mistakes, not cynical maneuvers for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. Mengistu might claim this for himself, as might Hoxha and Milosevic, much less persuasively; whereas, the most Amin, Bokassa and Duvalier could claim is that their countries are not significantly better off now than when they were under their rule.

The thought that these addicts of power were all deposed, some sooner, some later, provides little consolation for the horrors they inflicted. In fact, several of them were replaced by others like them and many parts of the world are still under the rule of their peers.

If there is a lesson to be draws from Orizio’s work, it is that merely deposing dictators does not institute democracy, law and order, or even a modicum of justice. In those countries where there is a tradition of citizen detachment from the political process, the instruments of power will simply be passed on to individuals who are equally diabolical – and they will continue to use them to suppress rivals by brutal means and ensure that they control a protection racket with which to exploit the populace.

Orizio’s work also reveals that it makes a great deal of difference whether those who acquire rule are hired guns (Amin, Bokassa, Mengitsu), heirs to power (Duvalier), or products of the bureaucracy and its ideology (Hoxha, to an extent Milosevic and Jaruzelski). In other words, their origins seem to affect both the way they rule and how they are deposed. But, once again, there is, unfortunately, not enough in the author’s accounts of these individuals to justify further comment on these important matters.

The work is an easy read and can be absorbed over a weekend. Its loose organization makes for variety and also adds an element of spontaneity and depth. The narratives give a sense of what it is like to be a journalist in pursuit of elusive quarries — and then to have to determine how exactly to deal with them once one has caught up with them.

The author is sometimes sketchy with dates, so one has to consult other sources to determine the exact chronology of the events he is describing. The various chapters of the book seem to be arranged in the sequence in which the interviews took place.

Talk of the Devil is anecdotal rather than analytical or philosophical. However, it provides some substance for reflection on the uses and abuses of power, and is therefore devoting some time to.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V23

World Events and Responses by William Gay

Gay, William (Univ. of North Carolina – Charlotte). "World Events and Philosophical Responses: My Years Editing the CPP Newsletter 1987-2002." CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

Over the last sixteen years, violent conflicts have been prominent globally. Too often, USA military forces have been involved. Fortunately, philosophers have regularly responded with critical assessments. During the time I have served as editor of CPP Newsletter, we have addressed Operation Just Cause in Panama; Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq; issues of genocide and humanitarian intervention in Bosnia and Somalia, Haiti, and Kosovo; the India-Pakistan nuclear arms race; the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and the subsequent “war on terrorism” that has already resulted in the USA’s military overthrow of governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Between 1987 and 2002, the CPP newsletter spanned volumes 7-22 and published nearly 100 articles, over two dozen book reviews, and a dozen bibliographies for a total of almost 600 pages that include seven special issues. From 1987 through 1992, each issue was 16 pages (32 pages a year). Beginning in 1993, the newsletter increased to 20 pages per issue (40 pages a year) with Judith Presler serving as Book Review Editor. Now, she and I are turning the newsletter over to Greg Moses, Wendy Hamblet, and Deb Peterson. They are a talented team, and we wish them all the best.

Our organization began in 1981, and from 1981 through 1986, Stephen Anderson edited the newsletter. CPP has now been operating for 22 years and is a well-established professional organization. Besides our newsletter, we have an annual meeting, sessions at the divisional meetings of the APA (see notice of upcoming sessions in this newsletter), and the Philosophy of Peace (POP) Special Series that is published by Rodopi. The POP books and other CPP volumes published by Longwood and Rowman & Littlefield already total ten books, and the number is climbing. During 2003, I served as Co-Editor of POP along with Joe Kunkel, who previously was the sole editor. Beginning in 2004, I will become the sole editor of POP. For this reason, I am leaving my post as newsletter editor. I have enjoyed being able to publish timely issues of the newsletter in which professional philosophers respond to world events with critical acumen, passion, and eloquence.

Given my involvement with CPP since 1981, I was invited to write a history of our organization. This history has been published as “Concerned Philosophers For Peace (CPP)” in the Global Studies Encyclopedia, eds. I.I. Mazour, A.N. Chumakov, and W.C. Gay (Moscow: Raduga, 2003), pp. 80-82. Access is also available on the web: go to <;. For those of you who are new to the organization, this history may provide a useful introduction. I am very proud of the accomplishments of CPP. While I am ending my service as newsletter editor, I will remain just as involved in the organization. I think having new editors for the newsletter will add to the strength of the organization. Greg, Wendy, and Deb have my strong endorsement and my best wishes. I look forward to their continuation of the contributions of the newsletter, to their innovations, and to our on-going critical examination of some of the most crucial issues facing humanity.

CPP News CPP Newsletter Online V23

CPP News by Gail Presbey (2003)

Presbey, Gail (Univ. of Detroit-Mercy). "CPP News." CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

Although there were two nominations for president at the 2003 business meeting, both have since withdrawn their candidacies. Please submit nominations via e-mail by Dec. 15 to CPP Executive Director Gail Presbey: presbegm at udmercy dot edu

Treasurer’s report, Jerry Richards: CPP operating budget account has $4,884.88. This is the account out of which comes the funds to pay for the newsletter. We have around 64 dues paying members. The account is in good shape, with dues covering basic expenses. Rodopi PoP budget: $343.92.

New Treasurer: Jerry Richards is retiring from his university at the end of this academic year. So, the Executive Committee met and decided upon a new treasurer, who has agreed to serve. That person is Dave Boersema, and we are grateful for his taking on this important position. Dave will take over from Jerry on Jan. 1, 2004.

Next conference: University of North Carolina at Charlotte will host the next CPP conference. The theme is: “Globalization and its discontents: Implications for War, Peace, and Justice.” Subthemes include: competing definitions of globalization; the rich-poor dichotomy; NAFTA: U.S. – U.N. relations; Global ethics; movements against globalization; world music and culture.

Also, members should be thinking about whether they would like to host the next CPP conference in 2005 at their university.

Website: Dave Koukal has agreed to be CPP webmaster. He will be working on updating the CPP website.

PoP series with VIBS and Rodopi: Starting Jan. 1, 2004, Bill Gay will be the editor in charge, and both Joe Kunkel and Judith Presler will be assistant editors.

Papers from last year’s conference (2002, Walsh University) will be combined with papers from this year into a Rodopi PoP volume. The co-editors are Wendy Hamblet and Gail Presbey.

CPP at APA: Laura Duhan Kaplan has organized two CPP panels for the Eastern APA: one on War, Religion and Ethics; and one on World Federalism.

Ron Hirschbein is organizing a panel for the CPP at the Pacific Division; and Harry van der Linden is working on a panel for the Central Division. See the preview on page 15.

–News submitted by Gail Presbey, CPP Exec. Dir.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V23

Two Scholarly Ideas by Jan Narveson

Narveson, Jan (Univ. of Waterloo, CANADA). "Two Scholarly Ideas for Peace in the Middle East." CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

We were, it seems, somewhere within sight of the road to peace in the Middle East – and then, as so often in the past, more bombs went off and things now look difficult again. Is there a way to get the process back into motion for real? I have two ideas about this.

One: There must be people on both sides interested in trying to get at the truth about the events, especially in the mid-twentieth century, that led up to the terrible standoff that has so long obtained between who we now call the “Palestinians”, together with the neighboring Arab people, and the Israelis.

My idea is that an informal commission be established, with an equal number (exactly equal) of Palestinians (or other Arabic scholars?) and Israeli scholars (or other Jewish scholars?), and an approximately (but not necessarily) equal number of “others”, who should be from places perceived as neutral, if there are any left (the Netherlands? Canada? Brazil?). What this committee would do is engage in much laborious research to sift through the evidence about disputed aspects of important events.

For example, approximately how many (if any) Arabic people were actually forced from their homes by the onset of modern Israel? Were international boundaries violated, and if so, by whom, and what was their claimed justification for doing so? Did anyone, in the war, commit what can incontrovertibly be regarded as “massacres”? And so on. My suggestion is that the people doing this research would be trying, sincerely, to reach agreement about the facts; and if that should prove impossible, to reach agreement about why and precisely where they disagree, and what would be needed to resolve the disagreement.

After quite a lot of such work, or even perhaps periodically as it proceeded, when agreement was reached, this should be publicized, in hopes of encouraging people, who have biased their attitudes toward one or the other “side”, to abandon misconceptions that have been proven mistaken. Possibly this could do quite a lot of good in the way of enabling people to look to the future with a better information base. I also suggest that this committee’s work be funded entirely by non-governmental sources, and secondly by people, again in preferably just about equal amounts, from both sides (with further funding from neutral sources far away, perhaps including Americans.) Perhaps in America, a sort of financial overseeing committee can be set up to enable funds to be secured from both the Arabic and the Jewish communities, again in equal amounts. All the funding, of course, should be handled in such a way that no contributor can expect that research supporting his side of the controversy will be favored.

Two: The cost of the ongoing confrontation, to both the Israeli and the Arabic people in the area, must be tremendous. It would be useful to be able to put real dollar figures on this. To that end, I would again propose a smaller committee, made up of economists from both sides, to make credible estimates of just how much wealthier people on both sides would have been had they been able to live at peace and have normal economic relations all these years.

Even if we just begin with the first year of the Intifada, the figures are surely enormous, probably staggering. People ought to know this. They ought to know that continued support, or even toleration, or those who engage in violence is not free. It costs people jobs and livings, as well as lives. Both of these more or less scholarly type endeavours could, I think, do a lot to promote peace in the Middle East.