Problem of Peace in the Modern World Essay

Two epoch-making cardinal events in the history of modern civilization–the East-West accord on Nuclear-test ban and the complete collapse of the huge Marxist monolith after the official admission, by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, of the ideological cleavage between them–have at least created an atmosphere of thaw in East-West relations and it is expected, rather hoped somewhat optimistically, that mankind would be free from danger of an imminent global armed conflict.

In the past, the idea of perpetual peace might have been a dream of poets, a wish of prophets or a problem for philosophers. But today, and in future, universal and lasting peace is an absolute necessity for the very existence and prosperity of the human race. The world is today divided into two equally powerful blocs-the Russian blocs and the American bloc. Both these blocs are equipped with the most terrible weapons of war, the greatest of which is the Atom bomb. If any war takes place, the Atom bomb is bound to be used, and its use would mean nothing but the complete destruction of humanity. On the other hand, with peace established on earth, scientific planning and organization of all the affairs of life can make the entire humanity prosperous, healthy and happy. The earth which is a veritable-hell at present on account of conflicts and war can be turned into heaven if co-operation, goodwill, and peace are permanently established here. Whatever may be said about the last stages of evolution, the further evolution of humanity towards divinity can take place only in an atmosphere of physical security and peace.

If it is so, why should men and nations fight? Some psychologists, philosophers, and theologians answer this question by saying that men fight, because it is in their very “nature”, to do so. Psychologists give us to understand that “pugnacity”, urge to fight, is an instinct common to men and animals and as such, it cannot be eradicated. Some of the philosophers like Darwin, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Ruskin have regarded war not only as “inevitable” but also as “necessary” for the advancement of the human race. Moltke thinks that “War is an integral part of God’s creation” and “Eternal peace is a dream, not even a beautiful.dream”.

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But this view that war is inevitable and necessary has now been completely exploded, and in the words of Bertrand Russell, it is the confirmed opinion of all the enlightened thinkers that “to abolish war is not altogether impossible.” Neither men nor animals are instinctively and naturally pugnacious or combative. They do fight, i but never for the sake of mere fighting, i.e., for the sake of satisfying . an inborn urge to tight. If it were so, peace would never be loved and liked: it would not, in fact, be possible to maintain it in any group or ..society of animals or men. Man is more of a peace-loving nature than of war-loving. And if he fights it is mostly due to social, economic or political causes. Hence, war is an extraneous phenomenon brought about by certain causes and can be controlled and avoided by the control and avoidance of the causes, Man has the power to do so, provided he wills to do. He need not be discouraged by the past history of his race. History does not necessarily repeat itself. The future of man is in his own hands. Just as knowledge, experience, wisdom and co-operative organizations have enabled men to live at: peace as individuals within a family, as families within a community, as communities and races within a nation, so it is possible that with the growing international understanding and wisdom, born of bitter experience of the last two great wars nations may learn to live amicably within large unit of humanity. To create an atmosphere suitable for the growth of permanent peace, four kinds of conditions are necessary, namely, political, economic, social and cultural.

The political condition for permanent peace is the establishment of a single supreme World Government or State, possessed of great force, and able to impose its will upon any warring nation. According to Sir Norman Angell, war is due to the international anarchy, prevalent in the world. It has not been realized that for international relations to go on smoothly and for the world as á whole to carry on its civilized activities, it is absolutely essential that all the independent states of the world should submit to some kind of international law and order. Each state claims to be sovereign and independent, and, therefore, its own Judge with regard to its relations with other states. It has its own armaments and is free to make use of them against any other state for its own safety and expansion. Every state vies with others in increasing its armaments and so there is a perpetual danger of conflict arising between any two neighboring states. There is no international authority with adequate power at its command to keep the states of the world within control and within their proper bounds The need for some such international organization was felt at the end of the First World War, and the League of Nations was created for the purpose. But it is unfortunate that on account of certain inherent defects in it, the League could not bring about law and order in the international relations. Such a powerful state as Soviet Russia was not even consulted and was totally ignored at the time of its establishment. Even such a powerful and important nations as the United States of America kept out of the League for some reason or other.

The result was that the League of Nations become in course of time “nothing more than a sort of Trust of capitalists imperialists and “colonial governments”, and almost all its activities were primarily intended to maintain the status quo laid down by the Treaty of Versailles which are simply teemed with injustices and errors, The same has been the story of the United Nations Organization. The U. N. O. has failed to show us the promised land simply because it has become like its predecessor “an alliance of vested interests”. And what is desired at present is not an alliance of vested interests alone, hut a union, an organization of all the countries and communities existing on the face of the earth of the basis of full freedom equality, fellowship, and justice, irrespective of the considerations of caste, color and creed. It is a piece of grave injustice that such an important country as China should not be allowed to be a member of the U. N. 0. Justice needs that all countries should be allowed to have an equal share in the working of this international organization.

The second important condition for establishing world peace on a permanent basis is economic Justice. Capitalism, militarism, and imperialism go hand in hand; as long as anyone rules the world the other two cannot be driven away. The easiest way to eradicate all the three enemies of peace is to strive for economic democracy: Prof Laski, a great political thinker of England, writes: “The way of peace is the way of economic democracy; for there is no other method of building social organization upon the basis of reason and justice”. He thinks, and, to a very great extent, rightly that the capitalist organization of finance, industry and commerce leading to a policy of economic imperialism, which thrives on armaments, armies, navies and air forces, is the main cause of war.

Bertrand Russell seems to agree with him and advocates what he calls “Economic Disarmament”. He suggests an “equitable organization of the world’s economic life”. In his opinion, “All ultimate ownership and control. of land raw materials must be in the hands of the international authority”. Places of commercial importance, such as Suez Canal and the Panama Canal, must lot belong to anyone nation-state alone. There must be no private commerce and all harbors must be open to all ships. There must be free mobility of goods by road or rail across the boundary of any country. In the words of Dr. N. M. Butler, we should make all possible efforts to set our international commerce increasingly free from narrow, pretty, prejudiced restrictions and administrative hindrances in order that the population of any nation most easily and most favorably exchange their own products for those which they wish to import.

In addition to tins, there is an acute need of revolutionizing the basic principles of our social structure and our social conduct. Some of the thinkers justly hold that all quarrels, conflicts, and wars originate in our social maladjustment. We should, therefore, learn how to behave properly with others who exist on the earth in the way as we do ourselves. In the pursuit of our goals, we should not ignore the very existence of others and walk trampling over them. Man is a social creature. For his very existence, he depends upon the contribution of others. All our knowledge, culture and civilization are built by co-operative efforts. Mutual give and take, mutual sympathy, and helpfulness, mutual protection from dangers, mutual. love, mutual toleration, and mutual respect are the first essentials of a good and human social life, and without these, peace is only a myth. Our social institutions should be based on the belief that man is a man and in his essential quality as man has worth and value of his own which should not be suppressed in any circumstance. Every state and even the International World-State, on whatever political and economic basis it may be organized, must guarantee certain minimum requirements of all the individuals comprised under them. H G. Wells, a well-known thinker of Great Britain rightly insisted on the declaration of Fundamental Human Rights as the chief basis of permanent international peace.

But all our political, economic and social programmes of promoting international unity and peace cannot bear fruit unless there is a complete and immediate cultural regeneration of human psychology. Just as physical diseases are indications of our wrong – living and the mental ones of our wrong thinking, so war as a disease of our civilization, is an outcome of a wrong philosophy, a wrong faith, and a wrong moral outlook of the present civilization. Unless and until a revolution in our cultural or moral outlook is brought about by proper education through books, lectures, newspapers, magazines, cinema, radio and through other means of propaganda, we cannot expect men, communities, and nations to organize their international life on the basis of equality, friendship and justice. The root cause of war “lies in our wrong outlook on life: peace is the natural outcome of the right view of ourselves, of our relations to others and real values of life. We are yet ignorant of the simple truth that all the material wealth of this world for the possession of which men and nations fight is nothing in comparison to the riches of mind and the treasures of the spirit. We agree, therefore, with what Prof. Wi. G. S. Adams has said,

“To use a familiar word–the root cause of war is a sin. Ignorance, error, selfishness, these are things which bring war. The failure to live up to our moral and spiritual standards—the true guides of life, individual, national and international has brought moral and spiritual anarchy. We have to reaffirm the rights of man, the rule of law and the supremacy of moral and spiritual values. This is the way of peace.”

Lastly, people should be inspired not only with a desire to end the war but with a positive love of peace. Permanent peace is not that which is brought about by a temporary balance of power or by conferences and legal documents. Real peace should proceed from the hearts of the people. Treaties, settlements, and alliances do not secure permanent peace, for they deal with the existing causes of conflict but do not affect the underlying conditions which make conflicts possible. It is no use cutting down the weeds if we leave their roots in the soil which will produce an undesirable growth when there is a favorable opportunity. It will not do it we merely establish the machinery which will deal with disputes as they arise; we have to examine and change, where necessary, the ideals and institutions which we are accustomed to regarding as the foundations of our social life. To lay deep the foundations of true and lasting world peace, we must establish a new social atmosphere in which every man and woman enjoy perfect liberty and Justice, and bears a new outlook on life in which love, fellowship, understanding, and co-operation are the principles of guidance instead of hatred, jealousy, misunderstanding, and competition. No external reform can be of any avail unless we are re-made from within. When the majority of mankind will have realized this truth when the leaders of nations will set out to find out the ways and means of establishing and maintaining perpetual peace and really believe that humanity is one. and that all men and women are brothers and sisters under their skin, only then the angel of peace will descend lightly from heaven and grace us for long.

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