Communication and peace - A tribute to Michael Traber, Vol. 14 - 2007, No. 4
Along with human dignity and truth telling, non-violence is an ethical principle entailed by the sacredness of life. My purpose in this paper is to examine non-violence from the perspective of religion. Hans Kung argues that all religions agree on the common ethical principle that war and violence are immoral. The ethical system of all major world religions is centered on the non-violence of the golden rule – “do to others as you would have them do to you.” Martin Luther King’s philosophical perspective on non-violence was deeply religious in character. Religious perspectives appear to support and enrich non-violence as a universal principle of ethics. But the issue is inclusiveness. Are religious perspectives only relevant for adherents? The Dali Lama presents a moral system based on universal human ethics rather than on religious principles. That convergence Michael Traber represented also. An approach that sees religious perspectives in positive terms, as enabling a commitment to non-violence, must confront the dilemma that religious beliefs generate conflict more than they promote tolerance. This conundrum is confronted through the principle-practice distinction. An ethics of non-violence that is credible philosophically and religiously gives us leverage for action in the spirit of Michael Traber.
The theory of communicative action is less associated with the idea of peace than with the cultivation of infrastructures for democratic interaction on the model of reasoned reciprocity. The theory is also marked by reflexive and historical attention to its distance from practice, thereby associating the theory with the critical diagnosis of the age. Such associations invite an action perspective on peace as a critical project oriented toward reasoned discourse. The paper explores the contributions of the theory of communicative action by taking one of its fundamental assumptions as a starting point: the recurring theme of mutual recognition. By exploring extensions of this theme into articulations of democratic and rational discourse, the paper off ers mutual recognition as a basis for the theory as a communicative idea of peace for the continuation and development of peace studies.
This essay examines peace-building communication in an adversarial world by pursuing an unlikely comparison between the crisis-managing discourse of President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev in 1962 and the prophetic Christian voice of Jim Wallis’ antiwar dissent since 9/11. It draws from these cases the rudimentary form of a humanising aesthetic, in which political actors – whether resisting the demonology of war as decision makers or dissenters – devise the discursive equivalent of a stereoscopic gaze out of the language of position and vision. This rhetorical exercise in reflexive perspective taking facilitates the perception of a strategic interdependency between antagonists, confounds the projection of evil, and circumvents rituals of redemptive violence.
Developing the means for reconciliation is a necessary context within which peace may be facilitated in posttraumatic societies. This development becomes even more critical among peoples who need to reconcile difference following the affliction of, and the suff ering from, great pain and loss. Walking the paths toward peace requires, among other things, that interested parties, assisted by communication facilitators, create and utilise development of participatory communications media, journalistic practices and pedagogy of intercultural reconciliation in which all actors believe that they have meaningful voices and interests. The more we communicate with one another through respectful dialogue, the more we can discover the universality of our own desires; we are, in essence, one in this Spirit. Communication projects in support of reconciliation efforts must go in two directions in order to be most effective: without and within. Reconciliation between individuals and groups (without) can only succeed the degree to which individuals and groups also embrace reconciliation among themselves (within).
Though traditionally perceived as a more liberal international organisation, the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is part and parcel of the “development machine”. Inspired by poststructural thinking in development studies and Jessop’s (2004) cultural political economy approach, we examine the organisation’s 2005 World Report Towards Knowledge Societies as a text of development construing and constructing particular discourses. First, we introduce the knowledge-based economy discourse and the information society discourse. Then we situate UNESCO’s report as an attempt to provide an alternative to the die-hard information society discourse. Next, we argue that through its allegiance to knowledge-based economy reasoning (concerning education and learning; globalisation and development), UNESCO in this report actually endorse and helps to construct the discourse on the information society. The convergence of information society, knowledge-based economy and neo-liberal thinking has very real material consequences because it provides the ideal discursive context for the ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) paradigm, the newest development craze which may be little more than a reissue of the old modernisation paradigm.
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