rn: Creating a Culture of Peace in an Age of Globalization


Jan Slakov

Here are the notes for a speech WILPF (Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom) president Bruna Nota made in Michigan in April.

I really like this piece (even though we can't have the graphic which went
with it). It's partly that I can almost hear Bruna speaking when I read it
(and she is a special friend). But it's mainly because I think any of us,
even people who have been fighting corporate globalization for years, can
learn from it, and yet this analysis and vision is something even someone
who doesn't know what the DC/Seattle protests were all about could relate to.

all the best, Jan
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 11:20:55 -0400
From: Bruna Nota <•••@••.•••>

X X  Michigan WILPF April 2000  X X
by Bruna Nota - WILPF International President

Dear friends and colleagues, 
Thank you for inviting me to be with you today.  

I would like to start to ask you to join with me in acknowledging the 85th
anniversary of WILPF.  

In 1915, over a thousand women from about a dozen countries, many at war
with each other, gathered in The Hague to protest against such barbaric way
to resolve differences, and to ask for a stop to the fighting.  They were
not successful, but then as now it was evident that durable peace cannot be
achieved if the root causes of war are not addressed: social, economic and
political injustices continue to be at the root of all the fighting and
violence in the world.  A durable peace seems to be even more remote today
as economic globalization has created a deeper than ever divide between
'have' and 'have not'. 

A clarification: 
When we talk about globalization today, what we really mean is "corporate
globalization".  The protests this week in Washington, as last fall in
Seattle, are addressing this blight.
We do want to continue to work to 'globalise', 
- to make universal the charter of human rights, 
- to fully understand the inter-relatedness of all humans and all aspect of
- We want to continue to use the technology that allows us to express this
inter-relatedness and which can help build a culture of peace. 

With this in mind, let us look, first at two of the most devastating and
interrelated manifestations of corporate globalization.
1) Globalization and the loss of democracy
2) The linkage between militarism, consumption and globalization
Then we will look at 
3) Alternative way of organising our society to achieve a culture of peace
that alone can bring about the social transformation necessary for social
and political equality and economic equity for all. 


One of the least talked about, and most pernicious aspect of corporate
globalization is the loss of democracy that it has caused.  

The beginning of the end of course came when in 1886 the US Supreme Court
ruled (in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad) that corporations are
persons under the law.  
Women had asked for recognition as person in 1875, but their request was
denied until 1920.  

In reality, corporations have none of the characteristics of persons. They
are a legal entity, created for the purpose of making money. They are not
'citizens'. They do not have a 'social conscience' or 'social
responsibility'. These are feel good labels that obfuscate the fact that
corporations have, as their sole goal, the multiplication of profits for
their shareholders.  This of course includes the requirement to create
forever-new needs for products that we would not otherwise dream of
wanting.  To achieve this profit aim they obstruct democracy at every turn,
by manipulating language, ideas and culture, by buying the persons in our
governments that will best serve the essential profit interest that they have.

In realty, governments create corporations by granting them charters. In a
democracy, blood and flesh citizens create governments and therefore WE THE
PEOPLE must exert both our responsibility and our right: we must demand
from our government that the conditions for granting corporate charter be
much more stringent and that, charters must be revoked when not complied
with.  We must debunk the myth that corporations are persons.

At present, not only do we not revoke the charter of corporations; we
extend their powers.  

Here is an example.  Barely six weeks before the Millennium Round meetings
in Seattle, the deregulation of the US banking system was approved by the
US Senate. The new legislation favours an unprecedented concentration of
global financial power. In the wake of lengthy negotiations which concluded
in the early hours of October 22nd, all regulatory restraints on Wall
Street's powerful banking conglomerates were revoked "with a stroke of the
pen". This legislation has repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, a
pillar of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" which was put in place in
response to the climate of corruption, financial manipulation and "insider
trading" which led to more than 5,000 bank failures in the years following
the 1929 Wall Street crash.
In other words, a handful of financial conglomerates will gain effective
control over the entire US financial services industry. These financial
giants oversee the real economy worldwide, they are creditors and
shareholders of high tech manufacturing, major oil and mining consortia,
the defence industry, etc. Moreover, as underwriters of the public debt,
they also have a stranglehold on national governments and politicians. 


We have raised the "shop until you drop" adage to the level of national
duty.  We must keep the economy churning and we must consume.  Japanese
were roundly rebuked for not spending enough in consumer goods.
Corporations have the insatiable need to create forever new markets.  This
is the fertile soil in which the roots of violence and injustice grow: the
soil of greed.  We, in the USA and Canada, represent 15% of the world
population but consume 85% of the world's resources.  

The USA is also the one country that has the highest military power, and we
in Canada are generally quite happy to be following in your leaders' steps
and be protected by your arsenal.  We contribute some, but mostly, we
contribute compliance.

a) Militarism is a way to secure a stable climate for investments: 
The linkage between consumption and military spending is made quite
explicit by the following statement by an apologist for this "New World
Order", Thomas Friedman: 
"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist-
McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the
F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's
technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine

The people whose natural and human richness we continue to exploit and
despoil must be kept under control, so that the depredation of Indonesia,
the Congo, Colombia, Sierra Leone… can continue.  

And we play right along with it.  

We, as consumers protest when the price of oil goes up, we go to war (in
"Operation Desert Storm in 1991) for the protection of our oil supply!
Similarly, we have our armies, and / or our vassals to ensure the continued
supply, at cheap prices of the necessary bauxite, diamonds, copper, coffee,

We, as investors are asking higher and higher returns, regardless of whose
blood pays for these returns. 

b) Militarism is a major player in the global corporate world
The military industry is the most profitable industry of all.  (It also
happens to be the most polluting and the one creating the greater havoc).

As Steven Staples of the Council of Canadians noted in a speech on "WTO and
the Global War System", which he delivered in Seattle on November 29th,
arms corporations derive a double benefit from the WTO system: 
Not only do they profit from the elimination of environmental, health, and
labor standards generated by the WTO process, 
Their own activities in the military sphere -- including massive research
and export subsidies from their home governments -- are EXEMPT from
challenge under WTO rules. Staples cites Article XXI of the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade -- the main WTO governing document -- which
states that a country can't be prevented from taking any action "it
considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests
... relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition, and implements of war and
such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly for the
purpose of supplying a military establishment (or) taken in time of war or
other emergency in international relations."  

This "security exception" gives governments a perverse incentive to invest
in the military sector at the expense of civilian projects.    

Just as car manufacturers were enthusing in the 1980s about the "world car"
with components built in many different countries, in the 1990s weapons
manufacturers and the governments of the major military powers have laid
the groundwork for the "world fighter plane."

Components of Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter plane are now built in a dozen
different countries, including major assembly lines in Israel, South Korea,
Turkey, and Taiwan.  
We know that the ongoing criminal punishment of Iraq, the barely ended war
in Yugoslavia, the violent situation in Colombia, Afghanistan, Turkey, East
Timor, Burma, Iraq, Sierra Leone or the Horn of Africa, are the result of
many and ongoing injustices and acts of violence. Some of them are
exasperated by these countries' departure from the dominant powers' agenda,
while some of them are fuelled by the desire to maintain a regimen that is
favourable to the agenda dictated by greed. This net of linkages explains
the selectivity in our foreign policy and intervention measures. 


How can we, in the face of all this, create a culture of peace? The first,
absolute need is for us to be convinced that we have power over our
destiny, that we are responsible for the world we create or for the world
we allow to be created on our behalf. We need to accept that we must change
our vision, we must 'convert', in the biblical sense, turn around.

As long as we believed that the earth was flat we developed all our
sciences and adopted restrictive behaviors to fit this concept.  The
'conversion' into a vision of the earth as being round has freed us.
If we continue to seek peace within the framework that we have been
transmitted by the presently dominant culture, we will never succeed to
eliminate the root causes of war, or the rationalizations for its
unrivalled inefficacy. We will forever protest after the fact, after new
virulent aggression has occurred, after more harmful weapons have been
invented, produced, traded and used, after fresh atrocities have been
perpetrated.  We will be permanently faced with the solutions presented by
the war experts, as peace is seen as nothing but an interlude between wars,
or a pact that is imposed by the most powerful, and which needs to be
managed by the war machinery and war industry.

We have defined security as "national security". This definition is based
in the patriarchal concept that our identity is linked with the loyalty we
owe to our 'patria', to our soil and to our leaders, the owners (in feudal
times and still today, in practice) of the land.  We owe it to these
leaders/owners to sacrifice everything to defend their sacred soil. 

What would happen if our vision was one where we define security as 'human
security". Human security means that all humans have full access to clean
water, sufficient food, appropriate shelter, competent education, health
care and social services; that they can contribute to society according to
their abilities and that there are recognized for their contributions.
Human security that is gained and maintained by a community where the
welfare of every one is important to all, and where the health of the
community as a whole is seen as impacting the welfare of each.

Community harmony and cooperation are the basis for a permanent peace we
need to develop a new agenda for our leaders at the community, national and
international levels.  We need to create the conditions that will ensure
that the communities of the world have the wherewithal to live their
mission.  The questions we ask ourselves then becomes, not how to stop the
arms trade, how to stem the flow of people displaced by wars and
exploitation, how to remedy the havoc created by the latest bombing.  More
fundamentally we will invest our energies to bring about a culture of
harmony, a culture of inclusiveness, a culture of respect.  The criteria
for success for our leaders will cease to be their wealth, their power,
their ability for domination but the harmony, the physical and mental
health enjoyed by the citizens of their communities.  Leadership is not
some rare talent, possessed by an elite.  Rather, the varied talent
inherent in each person is recognized and encouraged. Healing and restoring
the integrity of the individuals and of the community, and not punishment,
will be the method of choice for the redress of the errors, the weaknesses
that are bound to occur.

That this is not utopia is being confirmed also by more and more specific
research on conditions for achieving and maintaining harmonious and stable

It appears that the extent and strength of real democratic processes of a
country or a community are a strong indicator of the propensity for that
country to live at peace within its borders and with its neighbours. Prof.
Rudolf Rummel ( ) and Robert Stewart, director of the Canadian Centre for
Teaching Peace ( ) lists the following as necessary conditions and
characteristics for achieving and maintaining peace:

Ø Regular elections for the major leadership positions,
Ø A credible governmental code of ethics, with a basis in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
Ø A national and international comprehensive system of justice (such as the
International Criminal Court of Justice that the USA, among a handful of
countries, has not yet approved.)
Ø A global sustainable economy, fairly shared among world citizens
Ø Universal access to competent education systems, particularly the
education of women
Ø A compassionate health and welfare system

When a country has a low participation at the polls, joint with powerful,
non-democratic institutions such as the military, the information industry
and corporations in general, its claims to being a democracy are much
weakened.  Its internal and external peacefulness is generally weak.  In
this situation civil liberties and human rights are often neglected or
infringed. The large inmate population in the USA is an indicator of poor
human and community health.  

In our society influenced by, and centred in the Western dominant culture,
we suffer from poverty of vision.  We have put power, not community, as our
reference point.  We have a pyramidal vision of the world and of society,
with the many serving and feeding the powerful few. Therefore all human
activities and institutions are subservient to the attainment and to the
increase of power by the few, who are given an implicit right to dictate
their terms and conditions for a perennially precarious peace.  Its basic
value is one of dominance.

An operative vision centred on the health and prosperity of the community,
a community constituted by humans, animals, plants, air, water, earth, is a
vision of basic equality, of interconnectedness, of interdependency, of
cooperation and mutual support.  Its basic value is one of respect.  Its
outcome is an all-permeating culture of peace.

Here is a rough representation of such a reality where all activity
nourishes and sustains the community in its entirety, a community
constituted by individuals with recognized and respected rights and
To achieve this, what is needed, in a consistent, wide based and
coordinated way is for each one of us to train ourselves and to engage in
intelligent activism by:

Ø gathering accurate and complete information; 
Ø building networks with others; 
Ø contributing, even with small gestures to the development of our
Ø engage in systematic public action to demand that 
-international and national financial institutions be brought under control,
-weapons research, development, production, trade and use be outlawed,
-progressive taxation systems be enacted,
-competent public education be totally accessible to all,
-health and welfare system be comprehensive, just and non-discriminatory
Ø participate fully in the political life of your country and community; 
Ø adopt life styles that tread gently on the earth that allows for
meaningful sharing and does not feed the two-headed monster of capitalism
and consumerism.

This intelligent activism can create an


I would take a moment to describe some of the major characteristics that
would be integral components of an alternative economy that respects and
nurtures life.  )  Such an economy would be self-organizing and
cooperative; it would be localised and adapted to the specific local
reality; it would be enclosed in permeable and managed borders; it would be
frugal and sharing; and it would be diverse and creative. There is a number
of successful Community Economic Development (CED) experiences around the
world who have adopted these characteristics.  Their success confirms not
only their viability but also the need to have these models expanded and
multiplied for the survival of the world and all its inhabitants.

Let us look at these characteristics in more detail.

1. self-organizing and cooperative; stake-holders -e.g.: employees,
schools, investors, community at large with various means of
representation- would be owners and participants in the management of the
business, would have autonomy of organization and work in a cooperative
mode with other complementary businesses responding to the real needs of
the community.  

2. localised and adapted to the specific local reality; the enterprise,
composed of all stakeholders would meet local needs, using local resources,
enjoying (or suffering) the consequences of it actions, in conjunction with
the whole community.  The most notable example of these characteristics is
being deployed in the world as citizens (farmers and consumers) are
opposing more and more actively the Genetic Mutation (GM) innovations being
imposed by Monsanto and other industries. A growing number of
agriculturists around the world propose that famine, land despoliation,
water depletion and eventually violence and war can best be kept at bay by
adopting systems that are culturally suitable to the specific regions of
the world, proven, accessible and publicly owned. This is being
accomplishes in large African projects, in East Asia and in India. As an
example, the Deccan Development Society is working in 40 villages with
8,000 women farming eroded land using traditional agricultural methods
complemented with modern environmentally proven practices.  In a decade
they have doubled the number of crops, made degraded land productive,
increased yields by 50% and become self reliant. 

3. Bounded by permeable and managed borders. The self-organizing,
cooperative, localised and adapted economy of nature prospers in a
symbiotic interchange with the environment, not melding into it, but
maintaining its identity.  This applies to communities, regions and
nations. We experience these same characteristics in our own healthy body,
where thousands of different organisms live and prosper and enhance our
life, maintaining, and allowing us to maintain the wholeness of our own
internal process and to protect ourselves from predators.  The rapacious
transnational corporations, on the contrary are creating impermeable,
heavily defended borders around their 'properties' (offices, malls,
inventions), silencing voices of protest.  They are drawing these
inexpugnable borders while demolishing the political borders essential to
maintain the cultural, social and economic integrity of human settlements.
They are accomplishing this through international trade and investment

4. Frugal and sharing. The natural world is highly efficient, continually
recycling energies and resources.  The surplus or waste of one species
becomes the food or resource of another.  We do not need to bring examples
to demonstrate what we all have experienced that the power- and money-based
economy is extremely inefficient, wasteful and exclusive. 

5. Diverse and creative. We only need to look at an unspoiled natural
forest, or even a small piece of land, or a tidal pool to see how the
natural world creates solutions for the most diverse problems, generally
calling on the diverse resources of a large numbers of 'actors'.  By
contrast, we are faced with a society that is more and more fashioned by
models borrowed from the numbing homogeneity and uniformity of military
forces, or of corporate place of business. 


If our hope for survival, for justice, for peace is to be reached, we need
an active and involved citizenship, who feels capable to work energetically
towards another model of life and action in the world; who question
effectively the social Darwinism that we are given as an indisputable
truth. We can do so by choosing the "balanced model" taught to us by the
natural world and adopted by some of the human enterprises. The balanced
model gives importance to the whole context within which decisions are
made, takes into account historical and geophysical realities, and projects
future consequences, it emphasises the importance of these contextual
realities.  It requires that the best possible planning and preparation be
made, and at the same time, that a flexible attitude be maintained to
adjust to the inevitable changes that will be necessary to make to adapt to
the complex reality.  This model requires that the participating actors
bring their full consciousness to their tasks.  It is predicated on the
premise that intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual faculties of
the citizens are well developed and nourished.    

To be successful, it is most important that we maintain the optimism,
dedication and perseverance that come from the awareness that we are not
alone to work for change.  Let's go and do it, and let's be conscious that,
when we are part of a parade we cannot appreciate its magnitude.
[Jan: In other words, sometimes it feels like our efforts amount to nothing,
but something big is going on and we are part of it! And guess what, some of
the best people in the world are with us. We can allow ourselves to be
happy, I think!]

70 Mill Street # 901 
Toronto ON M5A 4R1 Canada
Tel: (+416) 203 1402 Fax (+416) 203 1421

"if you want peace, live peace and prepare for peace"