Arrows of desire*

ImageThank you for putting in some of my letter in the last issue (PN 2544). I am sorry that you could not find room for the first half of it, so here is an attempt to add these ideas about why I am revolutionary pacifiste.

I have great sympathy with Buddhism but I cannot go along with some of its main precepts.

I think lust and desire are good things. That they give meaning and describe life itself. However these are only good if they are not at the expense of anyone else.

I hold to the quote from Tennessee Williams’ Iguana that: ‘nothing human is disgusting except that which is malicious or violent’ (I would add ‘or coercive’).

However lust and desire can lead to greed and competition and they are often considered as a corollary to desire.

Now greed usually does mean that it is at the expense of others. It is the feeling leading to competition for the desired commodities or any ‘things’.

It directly leads to desire for power which is an expression of the frustration at not being able to fulfil one’s greed: true greed is ‘un-satisfiable’ (it is not able to be satisfied which is a little different from being insatiable). The power is usually held in wealth and money or control of money (please see Bertrand Russell’s Power).

All desire for and the exercising of power is an expression of inadequacy and frustration (please see Wilhelm Reich’s Hey Little Man), and of course that is only exercised and backed up by violence.

Violence and the threat of taking of life is the ultimate power over someone else and denial of their freedom.

Competition and the extension of state politics into war is frequently said to be human nature. I do not believe that it is so. The earliest single cells created in the primeval soup clung together, co-operating so they could survive, helping each other with their different attributes, thus when the earth cooled down and there was no longer scarcity, the blossoming of the huge diversity of life could happen, leading to us Homo sapiens (please see The Social Gene by Richard Frost and the evolution writings of Kropotkin).

We should strive to build a real alternative society based on co-operation and federation of communities that can supply the needs of ordinary people.

The only question is whether it can be done before the collapse of capitalism as we know it and the resultant, probably violent, post-holocaust scenario.

Maybe Greece will again show us the way towards true democracy and freedom.


Hail harmony

ImageAt the risk of creating conflict, I must take issue with George Lakey in his mainly-excellent interview (PN 2544). He implies that the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR) is about ‘only harmony’ and that means ‘death’; in fact, he argues, we need conflict.

But FoR was was born out of the violent conflict of the First World War so it’s natural that to work for ‘reconciliation’ was seen as a better way to solve differences. Ever since, that work around the world has inevitably meant nonviolent opposition to war.

Some FoR members at times have worked and lived with conflict because of their beliefs. Some have been imprisoned. Whilst polarisation and conflict faces every person on the planet, perhaps it is in creating a space where violence is not inevitable that the work of reconciliation begins.

Secondly, finding a degree of harmony and common ground is a way to allow people to hold different views on matters which still divide them, without resort to violence. And that’s not the end of the work, for conflict continues whether we like it or not.

I understand that George is a respected member of FoR USA, and has a wealth of experience and understanding to bring to the subject.

As an FoR member and working-class pacifist, who can barely dream of being middle-class in a socialist utopia, I agree with the main points of George’s arguments.

I just don’t recognise what he says (albeit briefly) about FoR. Perhaps he’ll expand when he comes on tour in July.


Biased bike worship

ImageOh dear, not another diatribe against the evil motor car! Obviously my letter in your February issue (PN 2542) had no effect.

Patrick Nicholson’s article (PN 2544) makes it sound as if all society’s woes are caused by cars (fine, if you ignore militarism, injustice, inequality, poverty and a few other evils).

There may be some harmful aspects in some people’s enthusiasm for Top Gear’s car worship. But many of us (for example, the disabled, the elderly) depend on cars to get us to places which we otherwise cannot reach on foot or by bus or bike. And motor vehicles have proved extremely useful as ambulances, fire engines, and even as devices to get people to the Peace News Summer Camp.

I am in my seventies and, when I tried cycling a few months ago, I fell off into the road, making the rheumatism in my hip quite a bit worse.

Patrick Nicholson is lucky to be healthy enough to cycle. Millions of us are not so lucky.

Video games

ImageCommentators in Peace News often refer to the video game culture that pervades the war in Afghanistan. The video game industry is far bigger than the music and film industries. The big sellers consistently feature high body counts or reckless driving (which turns up later on the roads). So what are we doing to change the culture? Is it beyond games designers to create exciting games based on the real bravery of fire fighters, lifeboat crews, etc?