Violence, Peace, Peach Research

Topics: Peace, Peace and conflict studies, Conflict theory Pages: 10 (2663 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Journal of Peace Research

An Editorial
Journal of Peace Research 1964 1: 1 DOI: 10.1177/002234336400100101 The online version of this article can be found at:

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On behalf of:
Peace Research Institute Oslo

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What is peace research a It is highly doubtful whether much would be gained by a heavy intellectual investment in semantic clarification to define a field of research, or to establish criteria for priorities. Clarity may perhaps be obtained in the sense that any piece of research can be classified as peace research or not, but such criteria would at best reflect the state of our knowledge and conceptual framework today. There is the danger that strict definitions may throw a shadow of Today into Tomorrow, freezing the status quo by tying us to perspectives and dimensions that may be outworn very soon. One is reminded of such conceptual borderlines as that drawn between moving and non-moving bodies in physics, defining the former as somehow unreal. Or the tri-partition of animals using ’in the water, on the land or in the air’ as the guideline for scientific progress in zoology. Indispensable tools in one phase may become the strait jacket of the next. Empirical and theoretical research, and conceptual clarification, must go hand in hand, in a pattern of mutual fertilization. On the other hand, the flatness of a naive kind of operationalism, ’peace research is what peace researchers do’, is also unacceptable. Constraints on the selection of topics for research may serve to direct the attention towards crucial points of attack. Complete liberty is also complete liberty to waste resources on the irrelevant or at least the peripheral. It may be argued that this is not wise policy today. One needs a vision of a landscape, with certain provisional goals and paths. One such vision might be as follows. Imagine a world which we can call GCW, ’general and complete war’. Under GCW the Hobbesian condition reigns, there is


bellum omnium contra omnes. This has two The world has a completely individualistic structure; there is no group formation with cooperation within and conflict between the groups. And there is no restraint on the choice of means of destruction: everybody uses whatever kind of violence he knows to destroy whomever he wants. Hobbes had the vision, nuclear physics has perfected the means. We know of very few situations, if any, where this state of affairs has existed. Man in extreme deprivation under the conditions of starvation or in a concentration camp may be capable of such behavior. A world with 50 billion inhabitants and nuclear capability well dispersed likewise. But apart from these extremes, two factors keep us away from the Hobbesian world. First of all: Man identifies. He is capable of empathy and solidarity. He sees himself as a member of groups where a norm of reciprocity is valid and cooperation a dominant mode of interaction. Under t GCW there is identification only with one’s self. But in the real world integration is a fact. Man surrounds himself with a sphere of amity and mutual aid. But outside this sphere enmity and mutual destruction may be the rule. But secondly, however bellicose the relations with persons and groups outside the sphere of identification and however incompatible their goals, Man rarely uses all his means of destruction against all enemies all the time. Even the...
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