Ascent of Conflict and the Death of Resolutionby Wasif Rizvi

Courtesy to "Vimukt Shiksha"

It seems ironically befitting to elaborate on the theme of "conflict resolution" in the closing months of the 20th century — which happens to be by far the most violent and the bloodiest in human history. More than 80 million people have been killed in direct warfare in this century, which roughly amounts to about 2200 violent deaths every single day for the last 100 years. More than 3/4 of these fatalities have directly involved Europeans/Americans. The great proponents of peace, conflict resolution, and human rights have conveniently ignored this glaring contradiction when carrying out their foreign/domestic policy agendas.

While brutal violence has grown as a regular instrument in promoting exploitative and racist agendas, the so-called ‘timid’ ideals of peaceful dialogue, respect, and magnanimity have been reduced to garnishing meaningless UN resolutions. In this article, I argue that the numerous conflicts that are emerging are a direct result of the existing Global World Order. Most of these conflicts around the world don’t just naturally happen, but rather are manufactured. I begin by analyzing the historical intellectual roots of this GWO. I then examine how this intense pathology continues to manifest itself in the contemporary world through institutions such as the United Nations and factory-schooling. Finally, I conclude with some ideas on how to initiate societal processes for empowering new capacities and spaces to transform conflicts.

Historically, many social, political and economic theories have glorified war and genocide on ‘scientific’, ‘pragmatic’, or even ‘natural’ grounds. According to the ‘Enlightenment’ scholars, moral principles of justice, dignity and solidarity were unknown to human civilizations until three centuries ago (which, of course, conveniently coincides with the ascendancy of Western powers as dominant global forces). In their expansionist quest to ‘civilize’ their little brown and black brothers, Europeans and North Americans proceeded to engage in the worst forms of deceit, fraud, brutality, theft, slave trade, and destruction of indigenous societal structures. The extermination of millions of Native Americans and Aborigines, the enslavement of many millions of Africans, and the colonization of Asians was further justified through Darwin’s doctrine of survival of the fittest. This theory of ‘natural order’ was bluntly applied to silence the murmurs of anyone who dared to question such barbaric actions on ethical grounds.

I should clarify that I do not claim the world was a peaceful Utopia before the European invasions, but everywhere the Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, and Dutch went, they raised the level of violence to an extraordinary degree. As a historian of the East India Company describes, "warfare in India was still a sport, in Europe it had become a science."

After exterminating millions of innocent people and hammering a large chunk of humanity into submission, the great ‘civilizers’ turned their attention towards building great bastions of fascism and repression in their own homelands. After two monstrous wars, in which millions of people were slaughtered, the civilizers decided to create an international body to resolve conflicts. Though overt European imperialism had collapsed, good old Darwinist principles had found a new home in the United Nations i.e., countries possessing more brute force than others would now be legally allowed through the international agencies and ‘independent’ nation state structures to continue their agendas of exploitation and extraction of resources from the powerless.

It is important to note that more than 80% of the world production and sales in arms (including weapons to those so-called ‘terrorists’) is carried out by the voting member countries of the UN Security Council. These sales still account for a significant portion of their economic stability and growth. It is also interesting to note that the U.S. is far in the lead in vetoing Security Council and General Assembly resolutions -- when these might challenge their own puppet dictators in different countries. Despite what we are made to think, the decisions taken by the UN are not in interests of justice or peace for humanity; but rather stem from the cold, calculating logic of geopolitical and economic interests.

The UN typically uses international aid/debt as its soft tool of coercion but when this doesn’t work, other approaches can be called upon to silence disobedience. The massacre of the Iraqi people by the United States, in order to ensure its supply of cheap oil reserves, represents one of the most abhorrent displays of the obsessive pursuit of mass destruction and total disregard for both human life and for possibilities of peaceful resolution of conflict. As observed by The Times of India, the Iraq saga reveals Western civilization’s "unrestricted appetite for dominance, its morbid fascination for hi-tech military might, its insensitivity to ‘alien’ cultures, and its appalling jingoism." Most recently, as the U.S. and Britain disregarded the UN process when bombing Iraq, CNN and the New York Times assured us that ‘the world’ was united against Iraq. Kofi Annan was reduced to a spectator in this most ghastly horror show.

For the Third World, the message of the new Global World Order has been simple: Don’t raise your heads, because "What we say, goes." Or otherwise loosely translated: ‘we are the masters, you shine our shoes, and don’t you ever forget it.’ Those who follow are rewarded; those who don’t are punished. Such examples serve to highlight America’s arrogant claim on being the judge, jury and executioner for the world and the limitations that sincere resolution efforts face in this global environment of unparalleled hostility and hypocrisy.

To pull us out of this morass, a serious strategy must include: 1) unmasking and seriously reflecting on so-called ‘historical truths’ with a view towards reconciliation and regeneration; and, 2) generating a new sense of social and intellectual consciousness and confidence amongst individuals and communities. Such a generative critique will also require us to closely examine how rld.

In these bleak times, educators face a monumental moral and intellectual challenge. They must ask themselves, "What kind of consciousness does schooling really create? Does it produce a conglomerate of self-indulgent, competitive consumers? Indifferent, soul-less, confused citizens? How must schooling be transformed to facilitate a public consciousness imbued with confidence, a desire for justice, a sense of deeper meaning, and respect for all life?" To answer these questions, we cannot look to testing, teacher training, textbooks, or to other mundane details of school management.

Instead, creating the answer will depend on rediscovering and reclaiming our faith in those elements which are integral to our humanity — our inherent capacities to trust, to love, to hope. It will also call on us to challenge the Global World Order (and its local counter-parts) by questioning and exposing the agendas behind such notions as ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘nationalism,’ ‘liberalization’, and ‘progress’. Lastly, it will require that we break away from the formal mechanisms of conflict resolution that are left over from our colonial masters and work to create new learning spaces, societal role models, and knowledge systems for engaging in more meaningful and just interactions.