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Although there were two nominations for president at the 2003 business meeting, both have since withdrawn their candidacies.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.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V23

Murderous Dichotomies by Wendy Hamblet

Hamblet, Wendy (Adelphi Univ.) “Murderous Dichotomies: Exposing the Logic of Violence.” CPP Newsletter Vol. 23, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Fall 2003).

Most people would agree that the murder of one’s own kind is an evil act. Yet the history of humankind on earth stands as overwhelming proof that people somehow have always managed, and still today continue to manage, to stomach perpetrating such “evil” acts upon others of their species without even the risk of bad conscience. And contrary to facile understandings of violence, very few cases of radical evil involve the least degree of sadistic pleasure for the agent. These stark simultaneous facts—that murder continues to happen, but people do not suffer bad conscience, nor do they enjoy murdering—suggests a well-evolved ability, developed throughout the millennia of human time on earth, that enables perpetrators to redefine their “evil” acts as “otherwise than evil.”

Scholars of diverse disciplines direct their research toward unraveling the mystery of understanding the continuing violence in a world that pretends the loftiest of ideals of peace and justice and human community. Clearly an immense gap divides the lofty intentions and ideals of human beings from the bare facts of bloody history; a history that, despite our increasing understanding of the forces that propel and legitimate violence, has only grown bloodier over time.

Plenty of reasons have been discovered to explain why societies have grown more violent over the last century—the alienating effects of modern industrial societies, the breakdown of family values, and even, in many minds, the erosion of religious values (a questionable factor since religious nations, including those of the “enlightened” West, tend to be the most violent societies in the world). Violence increases over time, concomitantly with another growing reality—the gap between rich and poor. The disparity between the living standards in rich Western nations and those in Third World countries gapes wider every year. Even within the rich Western nations, more people fall below the poverty line each year. These economic free-falls across the globe create pockets of frustration and resentment that linger in festering bitterness until they finally manifest themselves in violent outbursts.

The fact that Just War Theory exists to guide leaders in their assessment of the rightness or wrongness of conflicts proves that many people find some forms of communal violence legitimate, and others illegitimate. This demonstrates that there must exist some mysterious way of thinking about intraspecies murder that permits us to see it as sometimes fair and just. Under certain historical conditions, then, people must find it possible to redefine murder as good, or at least as the best available option.

Peace activists refuse to go that far, holding that no war can be just. To take up mass murder, even as a tool against another evil, is to join the ranks of the enemy and betray one’s moral reasons for action. Martin Luther King, Jr., neatly articulates the paradox that gives rise to the peace activist’s insight: “Nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence. The murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue.” Philosophers tend to focus upon definitions, so this redefining that turns murder from a crime to a heroic virtue, when the “face” of the victim changes, is a source of discomfiting fascination. And wars, over the last century, have increasingly targeted the “faces” of innocent civilians, with less and less concern for the growing number of civilian casualties, and more and more impunity for the officials that sanction those deaths.

We don’t do body counts,” states General Tommy Franks of the USA military. More and more it becomes crucial that philosophers seek to clarify and illuminate the logic that permits this redefinition to occur. It is essential that we understand how the very symbols by which we understand self and world come to be ordered such that these redefinitions permit conscience-free murder. How is it that people find themselves capable of defining the same act as, in the one case, criminal, and in the other, heroic?

Anthropologists, those students of human truth, have been exceedingly instrumental in helping us to understand how violences were justified in the dawn of human time. Walter Burkert, René Girard, and a host of other experts on human culture, religion and violence, tell us that the first human communities made sense of their environments by employing violence as an important ordering mechanism. Early hominoids ordered their chaotic and threatening worlds by positing “dual containers” into which they sorted the confusing empirical data of their experiences: friend/ foe; good/ evil; divine/ demonic and so on. One container for the nice experiences, the other for the threatening.

The logic that ordered the symbols was simple—help friends and murder enemies. When something new appeared on the horizon of the lifeworld, something unknown that could not readily be embraced within the comfortable understandings of the community, it would be placed in the “evil” container to be dealt with through ritual violence—murder sacrifice, metaphorical murder of torture, or expulsion from the community. The communal murder of some visibly different other (the village idiot, the physically deformed, an unlucky stranger—anyone who is both inside and yet an outsider, without social resources to avenge his death) brought conflicted parties within the social group together. Murder, when shared by the entire community, could be a very unifying and consolidating event.

This archaic method of making sense of the world and ordering the group proved most effective, providing the community with what Walter Burkert calls a “common mental world,” and so it came to be repeated at any time that the community fell into social chaos. Over time, the murder ritual evolved to serve the manifold functions of communal life, eventually spawning the full spectrum of prohibitions and prescriptions that composed the legal, political, economic and social customs and institutions that structured the lifeworld of the social group. The symbols were simple: what was not ours (good) was alien and threatening (evil). And the logic ordering the symbols was simple: help friends and murder enemies. The symbols and logic, tell the experts on violence, remained constant over time, conveyed and reinforced from generation to generation through repetition of the murder rituals. Over millennia in the early history of the human species, these rituals were pervasive.

Though intelligent people today have overcome the tendency toward oversimplified, radically polarized understandings of self and world, at a very deep level of our being, in our assumptions about right and wrong, good and evil, that tendency remains a latent potentiality. Thus there lingers the constant danger that, during times of social upheaval, people may revert to this archaic way of making sense of the confusing data of experience. This is largely because this logic very effectively serves a double benefit: it renders the chaotic starkly clear and simple, making reality easy to understand, with no thinking necessary. Easy sortings of phenomena into “good” and “evil” illuminates the source of social chaos for easy murder, even as it simultaneously purifies the community of responsibility and guilt by projecting the chaos at work within the community onto alien (and usually defenseless) others.

In my curiosity to discover how popular the two containers remain, how many people still revert to simple dichotomies as a way of making sense of the world, I went to the world wide web and searched the phrase “two kinds of people.” I got 2,018,504 “hits.” Many of these, as the anthropologists of violence have asserted, are consistent with a “religious worldview.” It seems St. Paul uses the simple dichotomy to understand the human struggle against sin. How one manages this struggle gives rise to two possible courses of life to be lived. St. Augustine posits two kinds of people according to two kinds of love, giving rise to two kinds of communities, (the good heavenly city and its evil earthly counterpart). Then there was what I will call the more “Protestant” dichotomy of two kinds of human beings—the hard-working, honest and reliable, and those others who are shiftless and worthless. Then there was the distinction between “spiritual seekers” and “domestic cleaners.” Apparently, people are seeking something to fulfill their spiritual needs, and then, once they feel they have found something fulfilling, they spend their energies cleaning and polishing it. Another dichotomy separates the world into those the god talks to and those he does not. The former group splits again into the Jerry Falwells, the Oral Roberts’s and the Pat Robertsons, over against the paranoid schizophrenics (though I am not convinced that the latter is a legitimate split).

Then some people split the world into the have’s from the have-nots; that one I found particularly convincing. Others see the world as a dichotomy between those motivated by freedom and those motivated by security, reminiscent of the famed article by Jonathan Z. Smith, separating people into the adventurous and fearless (the Greeks are the example cited), and those shivering behind the walls of their fortressed cities and practicing elaborate war rituals (like the Babylonians). One wonders whether the choice of examples does not reflect an ethnocentric bias, since the Hellenic ancestors of the Western imperialist spirit, though a culture equally lush in war ritual, come out ahead as colonial heroes rather than butcherous and fearful barbarians Despite the remarkable number of “hits,” some dichotomies didn’t make the list. Peace activists, for example, make a distinction between those with actual intelligence and those with “military” intelligence, those who support just war and those who just support war, those who love freedom and those who love their freedom, and those who believe in the right of free speech over against those who believe in free speech until someone says something they don’t like.

So it would seem that even in the rational, scientific, allegedly secular modern world, the employment of simple dichotomies reminiscent of the archaic worldview remains extremely popular as a means of making simple sense of a disordered world. Simple polar dichotomies have in fact risen in popularity in the past year and a half, triggered, as always, by a chaotic event—the September 11th crisis. They have, in fact, been publicly promoted because they have proven highly politically functional in the chaotic aftermath of the crisis, giving terrified people a quick and easy way of making sense of their threatened world, while conveniently dispensing with the usual need for rational inquiry and debate.

The popular dichotomy began with Mr. Bush’s war cry to his people and the world: “you’re either with us or against us.” The cry soon morphed into a more demonizing form: “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” This logical tactic was so quickly popularized that it soon spawned the grander dichotomy that took the form of a conflict of civilizations—America as the “beacon of freedom and opportunity” over against an “axis of evil”—a move that, in one fell swoop, posited the USA as an innocent victim over against the dark and hazy world of terrorism, focused in three “evil” geographical locations. This new dichotomous worldview effectively alienated a large mass of the world’s population. In reality, however, it attempts to posit a cosmic truth, as does any worldview—the enlightened, scientific, rational, democratic, freedom-loving West over against a decadent, backward, poor, repressed, ignorant uncivilized otherness—mostly an Arab otherness, but the Koreans could be thrown in for good measure, (though the Koreans make a less functional scapegoat since their murder doesn’t pay off in any coveted treasures and they are not without those “familial resources” that would mitigate against the assurance of murder without reprisal).

Despite the thousands of Afghani civilians sacrificed to the cause of vengeance, the good crusaders failed to “get their man” in the caves of Afghanistan. Now, through some wondrous miracle of conceptual fraud, a new demonic face has replaced that of Bin Ladin, and this has permitted a new war to be launched by the avenging forces of good. The dust has barely cleared from the cluster bombs that ravaged Afghanistan and the corpses of their innocent civilians have barely been laid to rest, when a new war against a new evil has spawned a new dichotomy: “You’re either with the war against Iraq or you’re against the USA troops.” This too is an utterly false dichotomy. Putting aside the fact that the voices who are now calling for “support of the troops” are the same as those who knowingly and in conscience-free fashion exposed previous Gulf War troops to deadly depleted uranium, it is clear that those who really are concerned about the welfare of the troops would remove them from the way of physical and moral harm, by removing them from the site of a dangerous, illegal and unjust war.

However, rational arguments count for little with terrorized people, and the American people, constantly bombarded with red and orange alerts and panicked warnings of anthrax and other threats, have been kept in a state of terror since September 11, 2001. So it has been easy for the powers manipulating their fears to keep them locked in the oversimplified, radically polarized worldview that continues to legitimate murder rituals by carving up reality into two neat little parcels—the good guys and the evil others. It seems that Oscar Wilde was right when he said: “There are two kinds of people—those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who don’t.” For people who believe there are only two kinds of people, chances are that one of those “kinds” comes up acceptable, and the other comes up wanting. Such dichotomies remain faithful to archaic conceptualizations of world and continue to convey a logic that legitimates the murder of alien others from a position of purified belongingness.

The fact is that the convenient dichotomy of pure good over against pure evil is refuted by everyday experience. Evil is an altogether common event but it rarely arrives on the earthly scene unmixed with the good; even the gods are busy perpetrating “natural evils” in earthquakes, floods, aging, disease, and death. Human evil can occur in the best of families, as the overzealous parenting and the overbearing control that manifests itself in physical and emotional scars. And evil can show up in the best of nations under the sacred rubric of patriotism and national security. Terrorism and racism, imperialisms and fascisms can take deep root in a culture that sees its innocence under attack by evil others. Add a vengeful god into the logical mix and you have a recipe for conscience-free massacre.

Evil can hardly be separated, let alone purified, from the human condition. In fact, that little of evil that is avoidable generally comes about as a result of the moralizing gesture that demonizes difference in order to purify those spaces of innocence. The language and the logic of demonic contamination are very, very old, very insidious, and very seductive. They creep into our psyches when we are feeling most vulnerable and point the bloody way to order and security, while assuring the purification of the moralizer.

The first step toward breaking the false dichotomy of good versus evil and frustrating the consequent, moralizing gesture, comes with the classic philosophical move of self-examination—locating the sources of evil in the ambiguities of the self and in the sites of its deepest loyalties. It is difficult to remain self-righteous and moralizing toward others once one is exposed to the fact of one’s own morally ambiguous histories. And all people, all families, all villages and nations, no matter how elaborate their myths of innocence, have skeletons in their historical closets. Exposure of those dark secrets can be humbling to the individual and to the social group.

At this point in history, when the logic of the demonic other has found such ready reception in the hearts of so many Americans, stoking the fires of an unhealthy patriotism and rallying the god behind wars of revenge, it is important that voices within the academy not fall prey to the demonizing rhetoric, and take seriously their duty to their students—to supply them with a language and a conceptual framework that will allow reason rather than terrorized emotion to configure their thinking about current affairs. Recent histories of American foreign policy serve well this humbling rethinking of American myths of innocence. Many voices of conscience, from Noam Chomsky to Howard Zinn have been warning that America’s moral high ground has long been eroding. John Stockwell, high ranking CIA official turned critic-informant, has publicly exposed what he calls the CIA’s “War against the Third World,” one of the bloodiest and goriest wars in history directed at the poor peasants of Third World countries.

The dirty wars and covert actions that have, for more than five decades, been supporting American big business interests in the Third World through the most despicable of means (funding and training death squads, hiring Mafia and Nazis for secret assassination plots, payrolling drug lords for decades, deposing democratically elected leaders, and massacring its people if they attempted to nationalize their own resources) has eroded world confidence in American “innocence.” This “War against the Third World” has thus far taken the lives of over six million people from every continent of the globe, but its costs have been far greater than a corpse count can indicate: it has damaged American prestige in the world, it has cost global confidence in the purity of American intentions, it has cost the trust and admiration of friends and allies and, now, it has undermined the viability of the United Nations to effectively deal with global injustices.

One might wonder how is it that Americans have managed to maintain their myths of purity while the facts of their dirty dealings in the Third World have been coming to the fore in world news for decades—in the exposure of the Tonkin Bay fraud, the My Lai massacre, the Church Committee of 1987, and now the depleted uranium scandal of the first Gulf War? There is an easy answer to this mystery: the powers that have stood behind those dirty wars are aligned with the powers that control the media. Together they have kept the people distracted by keeping national attention focused—on the sins of others.

The average American knows well every blow by blow account of the O. J. Simpson trial, every illicit sexual encounter in the Oval Office. But she knows little of the ties between Reagan, Bush and the infamous drug lord Noriega, jailed in the USA for having the audacity to turn upon the hand that fed him and entertain southern leaders that sought to limit American interests in their nations’ affairs and resources.

The current invasion of Iraq may look like a new confrontation triggered by a new demon, radical Islamic terrorism. However, the present war has distinct consistencies with the string of atrocities committed in the name of murdering similar convenient demons in the Congo, Vietnam, Laos, Campuccia, Chile, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, and, my personal favorite of the horror stories, Guatemala.

The new dichotomy of “beacon of freedom and opportunity” over against an “axis of evil” is also not so new. It stems from a much older dichotomy, one that served the CIA well in rallying support for their bloody schemes, since the end of World War II. This is another utterly false dichotomy that has yet to receive the scholarly attention it deserves, largely because historians of American history continue to teach purified forms of American “history” that keeps the seductive dichotomy intact and so its dangerous symbols grow more and more rooted every year, even in the academy.

The older dichotomy claims that there are two kinds of communities, based on two kinds of economic logic–capitalist and communist. Capitalism is associated with freedom, democracy, wealth, decent living conditions and enlightenment, while communism is associated with Russia and Stalin and oppression and torture and general poverty. This dichotomy served American (business) interests well. But demonizing communism served an important function: it purified the meaning of capitalism. Capitalism became the epitome of all good, free things over against its evil repressive opponent.

This too is an utterly false dichotomy. Not simply because we have never witnessed true communism instituted in the world, but because communism is not the antithesis of democracy; communism and capitalism compose two forms of “democratic” institution (from the Greek demos, the people, and kratein, to rule—that is, rule by the people). One could argue that communism, could it be effectively instituted, would be more democratic and more free than capitalism, since capitalism invariably signifies a hierarchy of wealth where inequalities compose the very structure of the system, and where the many struggle without adequate shares in the “common wealth” of the nation, one can hardly call a people free.

The myth that capitalism ensures freedom remains forcefully and functionally intact to maintain the false dichotomy of capitalism versus communism in the minds of many Westerners. However, capitalism is no guarantee of freedom for the people under its thrall—not economic freedom for the mass of people, not political freedom (as was made clear in America’s last presidential [s]election); not legal freedom (or the POW’s of Guantanamo Bay would be protected by their rights under the Geneva Conventions to receive humane treatment); not freedom from racial prejudice (or 12,000 Arabs would not have been detained September 12th without due process and without due cause beyond their racial profile); not freedom to speak, meet, act, express difference of opinion, enjoy right to privacy (or the freedom-defining amendments to the constitution would not be under attack by the Patriot Act).

Capitalism is not dedicated to the freedom of people; it is dedicated to the freedom of capital, the freedom of big business. Capital is freest when it moves about without obstruction, unencumbered by the pesky concerns of human rights (decent wages and conditions for workers), or national rights to ownership or ecological safeguards. Capital flows more freely when rules and regulations, taxes and tariffs don’t impede its flow. And where does it flow? The route is clear: capital travels from the poorest of the poor countries, to the richest of the rich countries, stopping en route to reward the leaders of each who protect its flow.

I have just repeated another dichotomy: I have posited rich Western nations over against poor Third World countries. This too is an utterly false dichotomy. Third World countries are not poor; they are rich in resources, a reality proven by the fact of their colonial rape in centuries past, and their continuing neocolonial rape in the global economy. The fact that big business is interested in them at all shows that it is not the countries that are poor. It is the people of those countries that are poor, because their countries’ resources and their labor potential are being strip-mined by rich Western corporations. This is happening because there are no safeguards protecting ecological and human interests; all the safeguards governing world trade are directed toward the free flow of capital, not the interests of those without capital.

It is our task as educators, as parents, and as responsible citizens of a country where, at least for now, we can continue to speak freely, to break these false dichotomies and help our young wards to develop an alternative language and a healthier conceptual framework that will enable them to think more rationally about current affairs. We must help them to understand the true roots of terrorism, not in the demonized religions of foreigners, but in the frustration and humiliation and the hopeless poverty effected by the neocolonial stranglehold of Western corporate hegemony.

Wherever people’s lives are rendered unlivable, there festers a hotbed that breeds religious fundamentalism, which preaches martyrdom, holy war, and death to infidels for the price of a better world for their children and the heavenly rewards of a transcendental gift system that promises greater justice than its earthly counterpart. If we want to break the cycles of violence that now engulf the globe, it is crucial that we expose the real cause of terrorism, the huge gap between the have’s and the have-not’s of this world, instead of rallying terrorism to increase that gap and justify the big business of war against demonized others.

CPP News CPP Newsletter Online Past Conferences V11.2

CfP: CPP Fifth National Conference

Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 11.2 (Fall 1991)

The fifth annual conference of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace will be held in Charlotte, NC on October 16-18, 1992. The theme of the conference is “Power and Domination.” Papers which reflect the conference theme are strongly encouraged, but papers which discuss other topics related to peace and war are welcome. Papers on the conference theme may discuss the phenomena of power and domination operating at any of a variety of levels: international politics, national politics, interpersonal relationships, gender issues, race and class issues, ecology and institutional politics within such institutions as families, schools, peace groups, military organizations, prisons, etc. Papers on the conference theme may discuss how power and domination (or our conceptions of them) work and/or how power and domination (or our conceptions of them) may be transformed. Presentation time for papers will be limited to twenty minutes. Papers are due July 1. Please send three copies of the paper and one copy of an abstract of no more than 150 words to: Laura Duhan Kaplan, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223.

Concerned Philosophers for Peace
Department of Philosophy
The University of Dayton
300 College Park Avenue
Dayton, Ohio 45469-2260

CPP Newsletter Online Notices V11.2

Santoni Serves as Delegate at UN Conference

Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 1.2 (Fall 1991)

Ronald E. Santoni (Denison University) was a delegate at a special UN Conference for Peace Messenger organizations. Co-sponsored by the Soviet Peace Fund, the conference was held in Dagomys, Sochi, USSR on June 10-14 and focused on possibilities for peace in the 21st century. Santoni was a delegate for IPPNO and was selected to be “rapporteur” and spokesperson for a special working group of the conference concentrating on International Peace and Global Security. He also addressed the plenary session on “Nuclear Weapons: Moral Grounds for Their Abolition.”

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V11.2

Reflections on ‘Soviet Union’ by James Sterba

Sterba, James P. “Reflections on Recent Events in What Used to be Called the Soviet Union,” Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 1.2 (Fall 1991)

I was in the Soviet Union in August of 1991 when the military coup occurred. Later I will recount for you some of the experiences I had at the time, but I would also like to put my recent visit to the Soviet Union in the context of the other visits I have made to the Soviet Union going back to 1989 because they have been for me a developing teaching and learning experience. In 1989, I was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Latvia in Riga and my family and I got to witness the development of the independence movements in the Baltic republics and elsewhere in the Soviet Union. At the time, I was looking for topics to lecture on that might be useful to the faculty and students, and I began to notice parallels between the political movements to be found in various Soviet republics and the feminist movement in the United States. First of all, people in the Soviet Union were interested in getting a correct view of their own history, for example, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in 1939 which led to the incorporation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the Soviet Union. People in the Soviet Union had just been able to publicly speak about this pact for the first time when we got there. Similarly, feminists in the United States are interested in uncovering the role of women in our history which has certainly not been given much coverage in our history books. Secondly, people in the Soviet Union were interested in giving proper recognition to native writers whose work was previously ignored or suppressed. Similarly, feminists in the United States are seeking to give proper recognition to women writers whose works were previously ignored or devalued because, for example, they focused on aspects of human life that men found uninteresting. Thirdly, people in the Soviet Union were pressing for greater rights, particularly vis-a-vis the central government. Similarly, feminists in the United States are pressing for greater rights for women. Yet surprisingly there was no feminist movement in the Soviet Union.

I argued that this inconsistency undermined the political movements that were underway in the Soviet Union. Later, in arguing this point in the Baltic republics, I used a remark from Prime Minister Prunskiene of Lithuania before she resigned her post. She said, “I am the only woman of rank in the government. And sometimes I look around me and think that the shape of democracy and the process of democracy might be well served if there were more women involved.”

In 1990, I again visited Moscow and Riga. In Riga, I argued that it was important for leaders of the Popular Front Independence Movement to exchange views and reach agreements with ethnic Russians living in Latvia. These Russians, I claimed, needed to be convinced that they would benefit from future economic prosperity and that they would have full civil and political rights. As a strategy for dealing with Moscow, I proposed that local leaders present arguments, if they could, that either independence for the Baltic republics would not lead to independence for the other Soviet republics, or if it would (as it has), this would have beneficial effects overall. I must say that at the time, although there was considerable support among Latvians for including ethnic Russians in their independence movement, few showed any concern for the impact their independence movement would have on the rest of the Soviet Union.

Now this past summer I again planned to visit Riga and Moscow. I had received invitations and had planned to lecture in Riga on the implications of environmental ethics for Baltic independence, and in Moscow on the relevance of feminism. I traveled to Riga by way of Moscow arriving late on August 17. On the 18th, I toured the countryside with my hosts, visiting the ruins of 13th Century castles and enjoying the lush green landscapes. But on awakening on the 19th, the first thing I heard from my hosts was news of the military coup in Moscow. That day I was to have lectured on environmental ethics at the University of Latvia. Later that day when one of my hosts and I walked to the university to officially cancel my lecture (despite its long term importance, in the middle of a military coup, environmental ethics did not seem like a very pressing problem) military helicopters armed with missiles circled overhead, but surprisingly, except for children, people did not seem to pay them much heed. Upon returning to my hosts’ apartment, I was also surprised to find the local TV station broadcasting CNN and simultaneously translating it into Latvian. I was told that since the recent attempted crackdown in January, CNN had been carried for one half an hour every evening without translation, but now with the coup it was being broadcast continuously with translation. At one point, I saw the news conference of the coup leaders covered by CNN in Moscow. Here Russian was being translated into English and the English into Latvian all virtually simultaneously. I was impressed. Around this time, one of my hosts suggested that I should fly home directly rather than through Moscow. She was worried and so was I.

Around 6:30 P.M., the local TV station was occupied. By 7:30 P.M. the international telephone station and headquarters of the Popular Front Independence Movement had been seized. In each case, the number of troops involved was small; fifty occupied the TV station and four Black Berets seized and then abandoned the headquarters of the Popular Front. The international telephone station was near my hosts’ home, and we heard gunfire about the time that it was announced over the radio that the station had been occupied. Nearby, Black Berets shot two people in a radio van, killing one and critically wounding the other who later died as well.

We heard reports that tanks were approaching Riga and that bridges to the city were cut. The leader of the Communist Party in Latvia, who had been previously excluded from power by a coalition of non-Communist parties, claimed that he had formed a committee that would carry out the orders of the committee formed in Moscow. There were also reports from the duly-elected Latvian government leaders saying that all was calm, that there was no need for emergency powers, but that people should surround the parliament building.

In general, in Latvia and in the other Baltic republics, the strategy was not to confront the military, the opposite of what was being done in Moscow and Leningrad. This was because most of those in the military forces in the Baltics were Russian, not Lithuanians, Latvian or Estonian, and so most of them had little sympathy for the local independence movements.

The hopes of most of the people I talked to in Latvia centered on Yeltsin and what he would be able to do in the Russian republic. We were encouraged when we saw Yeltsin speaking from a tank and when we saw demonstrators talking and even fighting with soldiers–all, of course, on CNN. We were specifically encouraged when we heard that a number of tanks and military forces had gone over to Yeltsin and were taking defensive positions around the Russian parliament. Later, from reading reports of these events, I came to the conclusion (even against my inclination) that much of the credit for the failure of the coup has to be given to the Russian army and also to the officers of the KGB who refused orders in the early stages of the coup. This is because it was only later that the people of Moscow took to streets and became a force against the coup. If the military had responded quickly, the people in Moscow and Leningrad would not have had the time to rally their forces, and, as a result, I think that the coup would have been successful, at least for a time. However, there is a further story to tell that ultimately credits the failure of the coup to the actions of individual civilians. It turns out that many military officers in explaining why they refused orders, said they did not want to participate in events like those that had occurred in Lithuania in January of 1991 in which a number of civilians were killed when they nonviolently resisted the military.

To finish my personal saga, I was scheduled to leave Riga by plane the next day at 8:00 A.M. We had heard reports that the bridge that we would have to cross to get to the airport was sometimes cut. So we decided to start for the airport by car at 4:00 A.M. As we approached the bridge, we saw an armored vehicle in the middle of the road with a soldier nearby flagging us down. After checking our papers, however, the soldier let us go. As we crossed the bridge, we heard shots in the direction of the old town, but it was too dark to see anything. Later, as we continued along, a car with local militia in it pulled along side our car, but after staring at us for some time, the car pulled away. At the airport, everything looked normal, and my plane actually departed on time, as did my plane from Moscow to Berlin. Obviously, I felt a certain relief once my plane was in the air heading for Berlin, but I also felt that having shared that day and a night with my friends in Riga, my life was inextricably joined to theirs in ways that are only possible when one lives through such momentous events together.

Let me end by giving a brief overall assessment of the situation in what used to be called the Soviet Union from my current vantage point. Although I have been more pessimistic in the past, my current assessment is basically optimistic. I am optimistic for the future of the republics in what used to be called the Soviet Union and for the Baltic nations in particular. When I first visited Latvia in 1989, people there were hoping that political independence would be achieved in ten years time. When I was in Riga this past August on the 18th, I asked one of my hosts when would the huge Lenin statue that was in the center of Riga come down. This statue was in the middle of what is now called Freedom Street. This street used to be called Lenin Street. Before that it was called Hitler Street. During the period of independence (1919-1940), it was called Freedom Street, and before that it was called Alexander Street after Czar Alexander I of Russia. Pointing to the statue, my host said that many changes would have to take place in Latvia before that statue could come down. The next Sunday on the front page of the International Herald Tribune was a picture of that Lenin statue in Riga, lying on the ground. In the final analysis, it is events like these that make me optimistic about the future of what used to be called the Soviet Union.

University of Notre Dame

CPP Books CPP News CPP Newsletter Online V11.2


Series Editor: Kenneth H. Klein

Issues in War and Peace (1989)
Editors: Joseph C. Kunkel & Kenneth H. Klein

In the Interest of Peace (1990)
Editors: Kenneth H. Klein & Joseph C. Kunkel

Just War, Nonviolence, and Nuclear Deterrence (1991)
Editors: Duane Cady & Richard Werner

Longwood Academic
Hollowbrook Publishing
Wakefield, New Hampshire

Details on the Most Recent Volume

Philosophers on War and Peace

Duane Cady and Richard Werner (eds.)

In this new anthology, contemporary philosophers turn their attention to the issues of war and peace. Using their skills in political and social philosophy, ethical theory, and critical analysis, they debate the morality and logic of nuclear deterrence, the applicability and viability of just war theory, and the ethics and practicality of non-violence. Many perspectives and viewpoints are represented, including those of feminism, political realism, pacifism, and just war theory.

Several of the contributors are well-known for their previous books and articles on war and peace. The contributors include Sheldon Cohen, William Gay, Robert Holmes, Douglas Lackey, Steven Lee, Sara Ruddick, Ronald Santoni, and James Sterba. Most of the articles appear here in print for the first time.

Editor Duane Cady is chair of the philosophy department at Hamline University and is the author of the book From Warism to Pacifism. He presently serves as president of Concerned Philosophers for Peace. Co-editor Richard Werner is chair of the philosophy department at Hamilton College. He presently serves as eastern divisional representative for Concerned Philosophers for Peace.

ISBN: 0-89341-675-4 cloth $37.50 ISBN: 0-89341-676-2 paper $18.50 304 pages

CPP Newsletter Online Notices V11.2

Hypatia Special Issue: Feminism & Peace

Call For Papers

Call for papers for a Special Issue of Hypatia on “Feminism and Peace.” This volume will explore a range of issues concerning the interconnections between feminist philosophy and peace studies. Papers are welcome on a variety of topics, including (but not limited to) the following: the nature of a feminist peace politics or a feminist peace ethic; the relevance and implications of various feminist philosophies (e.g., liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, radical feminism, socialist feminism, ecological feminism, postmodernist feminism) for an understanding of the just war and pacifist traditions; feminist perspectives on the morality of war and the morality of violence; feminist discussions of philosophical connections between the practices and ideologies of militarism, nuclearism, imperialism and violence toward those perceived as “other;” feminist analyses of the relevance of race, gender, and class to discussions of war, peace, and various forms of institutional and interpersonal violence; critical examinations of male gender-biased language in the contexts of discussions of war, peace, and violence toward women; gendered conceptions of the body and sexuality as they relate to issues of war, peace, and “domestic violence;” feminist analyses of prostitution, rape, pornography, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual abuse in the context of a feminist peace politics; ecofeminist perspectives on connections between women, peace, and the nonhuman natural environment; feminist explorations of the philosophical significance of women’s peace camps and non-violent actions; and feminist analyses of Gandhian satyagrahas as strategies of resistance.

The guest editors for this Special Issue are Karen J. Warren and Duane L. Cady. Submissions should be sent in quadruplicate to: Karen J. Warren, Philosophy Department, Macalester College, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101. Deadline for Submissions: March 15, 1993. Publication Date: April, 1994.

Articles CPP Newsletter Online V11.2

War, Gender, Race & Class by Duane Cady

Cady, Duane. “War, Gender, Race & Class: 1991 CPP Presidential Address,” Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 11.2 (Fall 1991)


Let me preface my paper with a few personal remarks; I know this is unusual for gatherings of academic philosophers, but Concerned Philosophers for Peace is an unusual group.

I am both honored and humbled to have been elected President of CPP. I am primarily a teacher of undergraduates. I work in a department of three in a small, liberal arts college. Course variety and load are significant. My writing goes on around the edges. I say all of this to acknowledge that my work has come to light in large part because of this group. I doubt that my book–or even an essay on my war and peace concerns–would have been written and published were it not for many of you who have taken me in and taken me on. You know that our peace interests have been at the margins of our profession; without the encouragement of one another, few of us could persist in work so far from the academic center. I thank you.

While you have helped me take myself seriously, I don’t take myself too seriously. A couple of years ago a colleague of mine observed that she often heard academics account for the presence of a woman or person of color on a panel or program by reference to their race or gender; she wondered when the day would come when a white male would make such a self-reference as an account of his presence on a program. Although she’s not here to hear me, I do know that as a white, male, middle-class American I have had a great many advantages in our culture; those advantages certainly help account for my presence on this program. Although we did not create it, ours is a white-male privileged culture and it’s only fair at least to acknowledge it as such, better yet to challenge and change it. This leads me to my remarks for the evening.

War, Gender, Race & Class

In thinking about Nationalism, Militarism and Regional Conflict, in order to provoke a thought which might become my talk for this occasion, I caught myself reflecting on the chauvinism and arrogance that often accompany nationalism and militarism. From there the jump was small to racism, sexism and what I have called warism. Without pretending to exhaust the relationships between these, I explore some of them in what follows. My thesis is that something like what Marilyn Frye has named “arrogant perception” (Frye, 67) goes hand-in-hand with an attitude of domination which is common to sexism, racism, classism and warism. To me this means that these and other “isms of domination,” as Karen Warren has called them (Warren, 87), are variant manifestations of the urge to elevate or to defend oneself (or one’s race, gender, nation, etc.) by putting or holding others down where the put-downs are based solely on selected and politically structured differences that reflect apparent power differentials.

My effort here is to examine warism and its relations to racism, sexism and classism. I take warism to be the view that war is both morally justifiable in principle and often morally justified in fact.(1) It is sometimes held explicitly, by those who openly and consciously take just-warist positions. And it is held implicitly, by those who take war for granted as, simply, the normal and natural activity of sovereign states. Often warism is encouraged by manipulation and exploitation of ignorance, fears and prejudices of sexist, racist and classist sorts. I will argue that warism cannot be understood without grasping these isms of domination through which it functions and is sustained. Warism synthesizes racism, sexism and classism on a grand scale, holding them in place while depending on them for its own maintenance. Racism, sexism and classism are interrelated in warism; they are interconnected, mutually supporting and inextricably entangled, each with the others. To resist any one of them involves resisting them all; to ignore any one of them involves complicity with the rest.

I will confine my remarks to four aspects involved in maintaining and justifying the power and privilege of the isms of domination of racism, sexism and classism and their synthesis in war: 1) conceptual issues, 2) the institutionalization of race, gender and class identities, 3) epistemological issues, and 4) interconnections between isms of domination. My approach will be to draw from several important contributors to current discussion of these isms of domination to develop and exemplify the plausibility of my suggestion that warism both sustains and is sustained by racism, sexism and classism.

In The Politics of Reality, Marilyn Frye argues that various “cultural and economic structures … create and enforce elaborate and rigid patterns of sex-marking and sex-announcing which divide the species, along lines of sex, into dominators and subordinates.” Acts and practices which reinforce and support these structures are sexist (Frye, 38). For subordination to be efficient it is important “that the structure not appear to be a cultural artifact kept in place by human decision or custom, but that it appear natural …,” (Frye, 34, emphasis hers).

All of us, to varying degrees, reflect our culture’s sex-marking standards through our garments, hairdos, cosmetics, scents, “gait, gesture, posture, speech, humor, taste and even perception, interest and attention [all] that we learn as we grow up to be women or men…,” (Frye, 23-24). And we take these cultural constructs of gender to be reality and thereby to justify the double-standards. The point is not that there are no differences between women and men; there are subtle and complex differences, some of which are just beginning to be understood. Frye’s point is that the differences are largely limited to reproductive function, and, importantly, are exaggerated to suggest two distinct and sharply dimorphic sexes when in reality “people fit on a biological spectrum between two not so sharply defined poles,” (Frye, 25). So, gender is mostly political. But while our consciously chosen political acts explicitly reflect our conceptual frameworks, sexism implicitly does so, reflecting beliefs, attitudes and assumptions of which we may not even be aware. Sexism functions as a normative lens which shapes and filters all that we encounter to fit its contours.

In developing her notion of the pervasive influence of culture on our sense of gender, Frye describes the “arrogant eye,” her name for the sort of perception dominant in Western Civilization. The philosophic question, ‘what is man’s place in nature?’ is answered, ‘everything exists for man’s purposes.’ Those seeing with arrogant eyes organize everything with reference to themselves and their own interests (Frye, 67).

Importantly, most of those in positions of power and privilege doing the theorizing about “man’s place in nature” have been men. In Is Women’s Philosophy Possible? Nancy Holland points out not only that women’s experience has been almost entirely left out of consideration in traditional philosophy; beyond this neglect, male norms from experience “are offered as examples of human behavior” and “function as standards that exclude those with different experiences from the realm of the human,” (Holland, 12). Those falsely universalizing from male experience to standards for humanity may be unaware of “the power hidden in universalization, the power to say who and what other people are, and the power to ignore their self-definitions and their own experience of themselves and the world,” (Holland, 2).

Feminist considerations of theorizing, of philosophy itself, expose the dangers of perceptual arrogance: we may not only be misled about the reality we seek to know, but we may also contribute to splitting humanity into dominant and subordinate divisions. This is so no less of race than of gender.

In a remarkable essay called “On Being White: Thinking Toward a Feminist Understanding of Race and Race Supremacy,” Frye describes her feelings about the dilemmas of struggling against racism: “…racism is so systematic and White privilege so impossible to escape, that one is, simply, trapped,” (Frye, 126).

Frye tells a story of her work with a number of White women who formed a consciousness-raising group to identify racism in their lives with hope to understand and dismantle it. Some women of color suggested that it was racist of them to form a group of White women only, and one Black woman confronted them angrily for even thinking they could achieve their goals working only with White women. It seemed to the White women that doing nothing would be racist, but that whatever they did would be racist just because they did it. Frye realizes that as a White, whatever decision she makes will be an exercise of race privilege.

For Frye, race–like gender– is cultural.

Many people whose skin is White, by which of course we don’t really mean white, are Black or Mexican or Puerto Rican or Mohawk. And some people who are dark-skinned are White. Natives of India and Pakistan are generally counted as White… Whiteness is, it seems pretty obvious, a social or political construct (Frye, 114).

To be White is to be a member of a privileged group which is self-defining. In America, by law, if you are part Black, you are Black, but if you are part White that does not make you White. The privileged group decides who its members are.

Certainly, there are differences between the phenomena of gender and race, even if both are cultural constructs contained within our conceptual frameworks; but the similarity may help some of us recognize ourselves as members of one or more privileged groups. If membership is political–as it must be since the privileged decide membership–then it is not dictated by nature. If the privileges are unwarranted–as surely they must be regarding gender and race–then our advantages come at the expense of disadvantages to others. Racism and sexism are so systemic and their privileges as well as burdens so impossible to escape, that we are, simply, trapped. Or are we? After all, if racism and sexism are cultural constructs, then even if we number among the privileged we have the option of resisting the cultural constructs. Here’s where Frye finds hope:

I have enjoined males of my acquaintance to set themselves against masculinity. I have asked them to think about how they can stop being men, and I was not recommending a sex-change operation. I do not know how they can stop being men, but I think it is thinkable, and it is a counsel of hope. Likewise I can set myself against Whiteness. I can give myself the injunction to stop being White (Frye, 127).

As Whites, we must never claim not to be racist, but only to be anti-racist (Frye, 126); as men we must never claim not to be sexist, but only to be anti-sexist.

A year ago I had the good fortune to meet Katie Cannon, the Black feminist theologian (one of a handful of Black women to hold a Ph.D. in religion) and author of Black Womanist Ethics. Interested as I am in the relationships between varieties of domination and subordination I could not resist asking her how she saw the relationships between racism, sexism, and classism. As a Black woman raised in a working-poor family she would have a privileged access to the interplay between these isms of domination. I was amazed and moved when she related her experience.

She said that as a child she was sure that racism was the fundamental oppression; she hadn’t yet felt the sting of sexism and she didn’t realize how poor her family was until she was older. By the time she got to seminary she was pretty sure sexism was a bigger problem than racism; her peers and professors seemed more bothered by her gender than by her race. Years later, having completed her Ph.D. and having taught for several years in Boston, she made a major presentation before a large and affluent audience. After her talk she met several Black women whose body language and voice inflections seemed to put her down. Confused and hurt, Professor Cannon realized later that the women had heard her working-poor background in her voice; it wasn’t race or gender, but class prejudice which she then felt (2).

Professor Cannon’s own experience had convinced her that it was a mistake–a trap–to be pushed to choose between racism, sexism, and classism. In her mind none could be thought to be more (or less) important than the others. Black Lesbian feminist Barbara Smith took a similar position as early as 1977 when the Combahee River Collective wrote:

The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression, and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking. The synthesis of these oppressions creates the conditions of our lives (Smith, 95).

The synthesis of these oppressions–that is, how they come together–creates the conditions of our lives whether we’re among the privileged or the subordinate when the conditions are cultural. This synthesis is a subtle and complex business; here we are looking only at one of the ways this synthesis is maintained, namely, warism. There may well be a good many other cultural structures which sustain a similar synthetic function: economics, education, history, etc. The analysis of such conditions–that is, how we take them apart–may distract us away from the very synthesis which holds them together to create a network which sustains existing privilege and power. As I have tried to make clear above, recognizing, engaging, and trying to overcome this synthesis is a problem for all of us, not only for those disadvantaged by the status quo.

With “A Fierce and Human Peace,” Sara Ruddick provides a critique of military masculinity as she develops her feminist peace politics. She exposes the ‘male’-defining misogynous and homophobic norms of masculinity invoked by militarists to train, shame, and inspire soldiers. Ruddick notes the use of racial and ethnic slurs in the process and extends her critique to challenge military femininity. Her objective is to urge a sturdy, public suspicion of organized violence even in the best of causes (Ruddick, 3). Applied to regional conflict, each of us can readily cite exploitations of racism, sexism, and classism in various contexts. Popular media coverage of the Persian Gulf War provided innumerable examples. It is important to recognize that “good” wars, if there can be any, would not rest upon such synthesizing of isms of domination. Perhaps better said: the acceptability of a given war may be proportionate to its dependence upon synthesizing isms of domination to sustain itself.

In Philosophy of Liberation, Enrique Dussell points out the ways in which dominant conceptions of geo-political reality reinforce status quo power and privilege at the expense of people of the so-called Third World, extending the considerations of class into a world-wide arena. On Dussell’s model, our present global order consists of a culturally dominant “center” and a culturally dominated “periphery.” Those of influence in the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan constitute the center; the peoples of the periphery include women, children, the aged, the racially and ethnically oppressed, and the populations of Latin America, Africa and most of Asia. Domination of the periphery by the center is political, military and economic, and goes deeper to entrap ideologically, psychologically, spiritually, scientifically. All relationships are contaminated by the center/periphery split.

Dussell asks all theorists to begin anew with the primacy of the other as the foundation rather than to presume objectivity and thus help to sustain the theft of all value from the people of the periphery. The implications are radical and revolutionary: economics becomes service to the other rather than maximization of profits; nature becomes a global home and not mere exploitable matter; choices must respect the periphery and not merely impose themselves onto the periphery from the center, and so on.

Applied to the global reality described in Dussell’s terms, warism synthesizes sexism, racism, and classism on a grand scale to perpetuate the power and privilege of the center. It “justifies” itself by marginalizing the disadvantaged, that is, by arrogant perception. As long as the privileged and powerful perceive the “reality” formed by the isms of domination, the normal and natural thing to do is constantly prepare for, threaten, and undertake war to preserve the status quo. The isms of domination together form a status quo network which is both self-sustaining and oppressive of the periphery.

In “Playfulness, ‘World’-Traveling, and Loving Perception” Maria Lugones takes off from Frye’s notion of arrogant perception to insist on the need to understand and affirm racial and cultural plurality as central to feminist knowing. Her concept of ‘loving perception’ avoids the fusion and erasure of difference characteristic of traditional (false-universalizing) philosophy. In place of the tradition’s ‘unity’ which she shows to be conceptually tied to domination, Lugones offers plurality which celebrates difference and is conceptually tied to solidarity. Noticing and appreciating pluralities turn out to depend on “‘world’-traveling,” “understanding what it is to be [another] and what it is to be ourselves in their eyes,” (Lugones, 17). This is no sentimental, utopian suggestion that world peace will reign when everyone learns to appreciate everyone else. There are ‘worlds’ which we enter at risk, in which we are uncomfortable at best and which have “conquest and arrogance as the main ingredients in their ethos,” (Lugones, 17). But while not all loving perception yields the same in return, at least there is hope beyond the domination of arrogant perception.

In “On the Logic of Pluralist Feminism,” Lugones goes further to argue that plurality must be stressed in the very structure of any theory. Otherwise the theory distorts by missing complexity, and, in its arrogance, offends those it excludes while privileging its simple, narrow source. Humble perception is the antithesis of arrogant perception.

I have tried to show some of the ways in which racism, sexism, classism, and warism are intertangled. Together they create the conditions of our lives whether we are among the privileged or the disadvantaged. If we want to understand any of them we are stuck struggling to understand all of them. They are connected not only as they are exploited and manipulated by the powerful to sustain the status quo ; they are connected as well by the arrogant perception dominant in the prevailing conceptual framework of our culture, the self-determined geo-political center. This means that they are sustained by the systems through which our culture operates.

Racism, sexism, classism, and warism are not identical. Taken independently, each has distinct features of its own. Token together, they perpetuate the established dominant systems which seem to become increasingly monolithic as time passes. These same systems have given the world ever higher levels of carnage, hate, and suffering while fewer and fewer (but increasingly privileged) individuals have significant influence.

Recognizing the interdependencies of racism, sexism, classism, and warism can provoke despair; the scope and complexity of our problems nearly overwhelm. Yet the recognition of these interlocking features of dominant (and dominating) culture also frees us to join in solidarity with people suppressed and subordinated, because we needn’t affirm or help sustain these systemic isms of privilege and domination; we can set ourselves against them. Because they are institutionalized features of culture, they needn’t define us nor need they be accepted as if natural or permanent.

Hamline University


I want to express my gratitude to Katie Cannon, Nancy Holland, Julie Raulli, Sara Ruddick, Karen Warren, and Rick Werner for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this talk; of course the problems remaining are my own.

1) Cf. From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989), especially Chapter I.

2) Small group discussion with Katie Cannon, St. Paul, Minnesota, November 8, 1990.


Dussell, Enrique. Philosophy of Liberation, tr. Aquilina Martinez & Christine Morkovsky (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1985).

Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory (Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1983).

Holland, Nancy J. Is Women’s Philosophy Possible? (Savage, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1990).
Lugones, Maria. “On the Logic of Pluralist Feminism,” in Feminist Ethics, Claudia Card, ed. (University Press of Kansas, 1991).

———— “Playfulness, ‘World’ Traveling, and Loving Perception,” Hypatia Vol. 2, No. 2 (Summer, 1987).

Ruddick, Sara. “Fierce and Human Peace,” in Just War, Nonviolence and Nuclear Deterrence, Duane L. Cady & Richard Werner, eds. (Wakefield, NH: Longwood Academic, 1991).

Smith, Barbara. “Feminist Writers Confront the Nuclear Abyss,” in Exposing Nuclear Phallacies, Diana E. H. Russell, ed. (Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press, 1989).

Warren, Karen. “Towards a Feminist Peace Politics,” Journal for Peace and Justice Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1991.

CPP News CPP Newsletter Online V11.2

Report from Knoxville

Kunkel, Joseph. “Report from Knoxville,” Newsletter of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, Vol. 11.2 (Fall 1991)

CPP’s fourth annual conference was held October 25-27, 1991 in Knoxville, TN. We met on the campus of the University of Tennessee Friday and Saturday, and at the Knoxville Hilton Sunday morning. At the plenary sessions we heard addresses from Henry Shue, Karen Warren, Linda Forcey, and Duane Cady. The theme was “Nationalism and Regional Conflicts.” Sheldon Cohen is to be congratulated for arranging this stimulating conference.

At the business meeting several issues were discussed. The first concerned some difficulties encountered by Duane Cady and Richard Werner in the publication of CPP’s third volume entitled Just War, Nonviolence, and Nuclear Deterrence: Philosophers on War and Peace. The book is a selection of revised papers from the 1990 conference held at the University of Notre Dame. The camera-ready manuscript was submitted to Longwood this past summer. Although the book was not printed in time for distribution at the Knoxville meeting, it is now availble. Meanwhile, Laurence Bove and Laura Duhan Kaplan agreed to begin the editing of the Knoxville papers.

William Gay reported on the progress of the joint venture he is editing for CPP with Tatjana Alekseeva of the Institute of Philosophy in Moscow. The seven American essays have been chosen after a blind reviewing process that involved a number of CPP members. Each submitted essay was reviewed by two to four reviewers. The final selection was made from these reviewers’ comments by an editorial board consisting of Richard Werner, R. Paul Churchill, and Bill Gay. The Soviet essays have been collected by Tatjana and are in the process of being translated into English. If all goes well the English edition will be sent to the publisher Rowman & Littlefield by this Spring.

Next year’s CPP conference will be in Charlotte, NC, with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte acting as host. Laura Duhan Kaplan has agreed to chair the program and make the local arrangements. The conference theme will be “Power and Domination.” (See p. 16 for an early announcement with various subthemes.)

A report on IPPNO was given by Howard Friedman of the University of Conn. at Waterbury. John Somerville has resigned as USA Chair. In his place Ronald Santoni was appointed as USA President and Howard as USA Executive Secretary. Thomas Daffern continues as International Coordinator. The IPPNO name is presently being retained, but with a subtitle of “Philosophers for Global Concerns.” Howard made a strong pitch for cordial relations with CPP. He is hoping to begin an international journal on philosophy and peace, by using computer diskettes instead of paper bindings. IPPNO will also organize a philosophy of peace section at the World Congress on Violence and Human Coexistence meeting in Montreal in July, 1992 (contact Ron at Denison for more details), and at the World Congress of Philosophy meeting in Moscow in 1993.

James Sterba reported for the elections committee on two nominees for CPP president. They are Robert Holmes and Steven Lee. Joseph Kunkel was nominated to run unopposed for Executive Secretary. The ballots will be sent out in the extra January mailing that includes the annual dues request.