Development and Peace

For genuine development Schumacher commented, it is first and foremost important to remove the illusion that ‘development and universal prosperity is the strongest foundation of peace.’ This is an erroneous concept that is often propagated by the State and people in power. Through such propaganda they effectively and efficiently succeed in pacifying the people and in delaying the peoples struggle for ‘justpeace.’ In doing so the state succeeds in maintaining and safeguarding its own interest. 

This fatalistic proposition suggests that: First, that universal prosperity is possible, Second that its attainment is possible on the basis of the materialist philosophy to “enrich yourself” and Third, that this is the road to peace. Schumacher goes to say that the foundation of peace cannot be laid by universal prosperity in the modern sense because such prosperity if attainable at all, is attainable only by cultivating such drives of human nature as greed and envy, which destroys human intelligence, happiness, serenity and thereby the peacefulness of human. 

Paul Hawken adds that ‘many thought that change would come about through insight, logic, compassion and reason. Increasingly, it seems that change will come about after we have exhausted every other theory of greed and gain and the winds of change are no longer metaphorical … and when we have relearned how remarkably obtuse humankind can be when dazzled by monetary and material gain…’

It may be important to state that the rich seem and ‘claim’ to have regularly been more ‘peaceful’ than the poor, but it can also be argued that the rich have never felt secure against the poor; and that their aggressiveness stems from this fear. It could also be that the rich treasure peace more highly than poor people, but only if they feel secure – which is a contradiction in terms as the rich depends on making inordinately large demands on limited resources which inevitably puts them on an unavoidable collision – not primarily with the poor but with other rich. 

Therefore why do the rich go to war? This is a critical question that needs to be addressed. Is it not the poor, the exploited, the oppressed that have noting to lose but their chains most likely to do so? The argument that the road to peace is to follow the road to riches only concludes that the road to riches is not peace but war. Schumacher adds “the hope that the pursuit of goodness and virtue can be postponed until we have attained universal prosperity and that by the single-minded pursuit of wealth, without bothering our heads about spiritual and moral questions, we could establish peace on earth is an unrealistic, unscientific and irrational hope.” 

Maybe it’s about time that people channelized some of their energy and resources in the search for the need in developing alternative sustainable systems based on relations of partnership and equality – before they are forced by time and human destruction to do so. It is quite essential to recognize that no system is absolute and that though our actions for an alternative may be small, the impact of our actions can reach far beyond us. I believe an egalitarian system will facilitate the stepping-stone for fullest growth of peace and human development. Till then we have to ensure that we ourselves don’t loose our humanity in our struggle to regain our humanity and freedom.