I’m also posting tomorrow. But it’s a small one, then I’m done for the week.
For whatever it’s worth I am still thinking aloud at this point and I’m not selling anything. I’m not so sure I’ve sold it to myself. Just had to keep writing.
I should clarify, again, that in these matters I’m especially a layperson. Pinches of salt, everyone.
Flavors of Peace
From an article in the often-excellent Aeon Magazine:
Language conventions speak volumes, too. It is said that the Bedouin have nearly 100 different words for camels, distinguishing between those that are calm, energetic, aggressive, smooth-gaited, or rough, etc. Although we carefully identify a multitude of wars — the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the American Civil War, the Vietnam War, and so forth — we don’t have a plural form for peace.
It makes evolutionary sense that human beings pay special attention to episodes of violence, whether interpersonal or international: they are matters of life and death, after all. But when serious scientists do the same and, what is more, when they base ‘normative’ conclusions about the human species on what is simply a consequence of their selective attention, we all have a problem.
Spurred by a discussion a few weeks ago, I was thinking about how “peaces” would be named. Surely there are many flavors of peace. Some peaces are tainted by varieties of conflict, or by their likelihood to devolve back into war- periods of instability and threatening, denouncing and military buildup, ethnic conflicts or crime waves, economic crises. Others might be defined by the resolution of a war (treaty-enforced peace, alliance-peace, military occupation). Still other kinds of peace are not defined because of how ill-defined the groups involved are (as it’s hard to war without differentiated warring groups) or by the shadow of a shared enemy (I imagine many fraternal states/cultures are forged by common enemies). Peace can also be the result of a shared history or shared military occupation. It could be a lack of interest by one or both parties in exploiting any particular aspect of the other- there’s nothing worth justifying the cost of war. Maybe the trade is too good to ruin things over. Most state peaces in history are probably the result of peer states that have roughly equal resources and power (or are members of coalitions of equal power and resources) and have no strong incentive to disrupt that stability.
EDIT: Jordan Peacock messaged me: “armistice, truce, surrender, ceasefire, union”. All often have proper names for their peace.
But there is definitely a special variety of peace that has been named definitively for centuries now:
Continue reading Peaces