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The Main Argument in “Peace Cultures” by Elise Boulding Essay

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Updated: Jan 6th, 2022

Elise Boulding in her book Peace Cultures made a significant attempt to show what the process peace building is. She argued that the culture of peace has been viewed from a wrong perspective. In her book, she made an effort to define peace as “an action concept, involving a constant shaping and reshaping of understandings, situations, and behaviours in a constantly changing life world, to sustain well-being for all” (1). The author was strongly opposed to what she referred to the inactive nature of peace as has been depicted by various opinions. She did not believe that peace is inactive and dull. In order to argue her case out she structured the book in a manner that showed peace as an active process.

Elise Boulding appreciated the fact that the society is highly diverse, she wrote “nature never repeats itself” (2), resulting to numerous levels of interaction. She further argued that through such interactions there were ever-present conflicts which came up. She then made a suggestion “it is how we deal with difference that determines how peaceable society is” (2). The author was of the opinion that mankind has a huge potential for peace which, against the opinions of many, is still strong. In her book, she plunges the readers through a long story of civilization to the present time to prove her argument.

In the first part of the book the author used three chapters to give a quick historical overview of the potential of mankind to make peace. The order that the chapters took was: war, thinking about peace, and making peace. In the first chapter of the first part, the author showed how literature has wrongly depicted the nature of human beings. The author in the first chapter showed how the past war history has recurred in the present time. She wrote about how the society looks back to the history of glorious wars and embraces them as part of their culture and history. The author goes on to give examples of how wars have been glorified and praised throughout history even to very recent times of “Rambo” in the states. In the second chapter the author brought up the potential in human beings to make peace. By giving several examples the author showed that there is a potential for human beings to embrace peace in the society. She argued that there is a change in views of what war is “a social invention not a biological necessity” (27).

In second chapter the author consolidated her argument by showing that truly the society has the potential to make peace. He showed the development of Utopianism in the society as proof of the potential of human being to make peace. The author reviews several examples which were carried out in form of experiments, for instance the Cuban experiment, the Spanish experiment among others (40-42). The author showed the struggle for acceptance of the utopian ideas which was followed, in chapter three, by the movements for peace.

In the second part of the book the author showed how peace is not an inactive process but rather a very active process. She showed how peace culture is in action in the society through new grounds and partnerships. She strongly argued her case out by showing that since conflict arises from interaction of various partners in the society; it was only wise that all those partners are incorporated in the process of peace making. In this manner the author achieved to show the fact that peace can be achieved by incorporating new partnership in the process of making peace and thus making the process vibrant. The author meditated on a time when all the members of the society will be included in major decision making organs and laid emphasis on partnership.

Partnering, whether among adults or between children, is on the basis of shared responsibility and shared respect, in a relationship of equality that does preclude alternating roles of leading and following, teaching and learning. A good partnership relations implies murturance, whether the relationship is marital, parent-child, work-related, or civic. (Boulding 147)

The author showed the significant role the youth and females play in the process of seeking for peace thus proving that indeed peace culture is a diverse and active process which requires the input of all the players involved in the society. The author believed that peace culture will develop when the world will transit to “a world ordered by mutually respectful problem-solving partnerships across ages and genders, which sow the seeds of gentleness with the earth and peace with one another” (Boulding 157).

In the opinion of the author, there are some structures which ought to be uprooted to make the process of peace culture wholesome. She argued against the systems which were aloof from society but yet were the determinants of how the society operated. She pointed this in regard to the process of globalization where there is a need for decisions to be made by people who are constantly in touch with what was taking place down at the ground level within the society. I concur with her opinion and believe that if decisions are made in such a manner then the likelihood of conflicts arising will be minimal. The author believed that prisons could be obsolete and that the society could be easily centred on justice and harmony.

In conclusion, I view the argument of Elise Boulding that human beings have a potential for peace culture as a strongly presented in her book Peace Cultures. She started by searching for traces of such a culture existing which showed through the utopian thinking and the peace movements. She then went ahead to show how the process is active and not dull that is through the involvement of new partnerships and finally completed her argument by pointing out the obstacles standing in the way for peace culture development.

Work Cited

Boulding, Elise. Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2000. Print.

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