Paradigm Explorer 2017/3 – Book review by David Lorimer
Book review by David Lorimer. Taken from Paradigm Explorer 2017/3.
BUILDING A WORLD WITHOUT WAR
■ THE BUSINESS PLAN FOR PEACE
Peace Direct, 2017, 184 pp., no price given – ISBN 978-1-9998164-0-7
Available on www.scillaelworthy.com
Scilla Elworthy has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Oxford Research Group in developing effective dialogue between nuclear-weapons policymakers, scientists and military, and she has been an active peacemaker for decades. I imagine that many readers would like to contribute to peace building themselves, and this brilliant and strategic book spells out exactly how you can do this in the context of a continuing war economy based on mutual fear and threat. We can all step out of helplessness and apply our skills to the challenges we face and, in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.’ The book is in three parts: the problem of war, how war can be stopped, and who can do this and how. A key initial insight is that humiliation is a key driver of violence, and respect is the strongest antidote to humiliation and the fastest way of reducing a conflict; also that power is essentially human beings making decisions, and in that sense we can all exercise a degree of power.
The global interest in stopping war is in fact a no-brainer, even though we find it difficult because we are suffering from centuries of revenge, terrorism, floods of refugees, not to mention children maimed for life. Syria is perhaps a good example of intractability, where more than 470,000 people have been killed and 12 million people driven from their homes. All this violence is very expensive, totalling an estimated $13.6 trillion in 2015 as compared with UN peacekeeping expenditures of $8.27 billion in the same year – really an unanswerable argument for spending more on peace, all the more so since militarism cannot address future security threats in terms of climate change, migration, water shortage and inequality. Needless to say, the cost of addressing these issues is peanuts beside the annual $2 trillion spent on war or preparing for war.
The psychological drivers of war are aggression, greed, fanaticism, ambition, fear or threat. Global military expenditure has increased by 64% in the period between 1999 and 2016, with annual global arms sales running at $94.5 billion. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the top five arms sellers, and it is an outrageous scandal that the UK has sold arms to 22 of 30 countries on its own human rights watch list since 2010 – notably to Saudi Arabia where UK arms were used to attack Yemen and create a severe humanitarian crisis. Hypocritically, sales approved to these countries are said to be ‘essential for our security and prosperity’ – they should have said that they help perpetuate a vicious cycle of inhumanity and insecurity. Underlying all this is the prevailing defence establishment narrative of security through dominance, and it is revealing to learn that almost all these people are privately educated men advocating what Scilla calls a hardware rather than a software approach, which would involve ‘dealing with people, developing trust, finding common ground.’
Encouragingly, though, we do know how to prevent war and resolve conflict, and there is good training available to develop the requisite skills, the most essential of which is mutual listening where inner power replaces domination power.
This is all explained in the second part dealing with basic principles of dialogue, prevention and early intervention, strategies for building peace, and costing the business plan for peace. Critically, this involves intervening in the cycle of violence so that the anger generated by an atrocity does not lead to further revenge and retaliation. Scilla gives 25 diverse strategies, explaining the principle of each, giving an example, and how to plan for its replication. In a number of these, the role of women is crucial, in spite of the fact that 90% of negotiators and those in policy-making positions on peace and conflict are men. One proposal is for 2.5% tax on current annual arms sales, which would yield more than enough money to fund diverse peace initiatives, as costed
in the next chapter. Here, she notes that political will is critical in order to pressure on ministers.
The business plan for peace is a first, and it is based on systems that effectively prevent conflict and build peace at local, national and international levels. Each component is explained and costed over a ten-year period, and the total is just under $2 billion as compared with 2016 global military expenditure of $1,686 billion! The essential new approach is understanding how safety and security involve preventing violence at source instead of waiting for conflict to break out. Government thinking is so narrowly and pragmatically based, that we the people have to take things into our own hands, and the third part of the book explains how. The rising generation is more familiar with the shift from me to we, representing the application of feminine intelligence and the bringing into balance of masculine and feminine principles. Scilla suggests many potential causes of action for readers to espouse at local, national and international levels, including supporting Simultaneous Policy – see my review of the recent book about this in Books in Brief.
In terms of skills, Scilla has learned from experience that inner work is a prerequisite for outer effectiveness, because the quality of our awareness directly affects the quality of results. This means moving beyond self-righteousness, working with emotions and the shadow, and developing our capacity for deep listening. In an alchemical process, aggression can be replaced by presence and integrity. Scilla also gives good practical advice on taking a stand and concludes that ‘the most powerful and lasting way to counter war and violence is to build a culture of peace’, living together and celebrating differences, transforming society from the inside out. This remarkable book distils a lifetime of practical wisdom and provides readers with a comprehensive toolkit including the necessary figures to make the case for building a world beyond war while at the same time creating a truly sustainable society.
Resurgence & Ecologist – May 2017
Scilla’s article Working for a World Without War was published in the May/June issue of Resurgence & Ecologist. In the article Scilla considers why war continues, how peace can be built, what it will cost, and who can do it. The broader topic of the May issue is ‘Real Wealth’. Read Scilla’s article here.
Kosmos – May 2017
The Spring-Summer 2017 edition of Kosmos asks us to re-examine our notions of ‘activism’ and consider the fabric of our lives and all our actions as opportunities for conscious engagement.
Scilla contributed with an article titled Dealing with the Darkness of what Humans do to Humans. More info about the issue and how to gain access is found here.
Kompass – November 2016
“In an unprecedented overall strategy to prevent violent conflict, Dr. Elworthy develops a whole systems approach to the building of peace worldwide, from the local level to regional and national and global levels.” The article was published in the first edition of Kompass, a magazine dedicated to cultivating a culture of peace.
OpenDemocracy – April 2016
In the article “Love in a Time of Hatred” that appeared on the website OpenDemocracy Scilla formulates a compassionate, determinate and courageous response that aims to build peace in the face of hate. It describes the importance of unity, building bridges and empowering local people as well as the important role that women need to play to establish this.
Independent Publication – February 2016
This 7-part Intensive on Love and Values at Work was prepared by Scilla and Hein Dijksterhuis, as a result of a Learning Lab entitled “Strengthening Inner Perspectives In Leadership Development On Love and Forgiveness”. It took place at Vista Allegre, Brazil, in April 2015, and was funded by the Fetter Institute.
IPPR – January 2016
International Public Policy Review
After her lecture at UCL last December Scilla made time for an interview with International Public Policy Review. Scilla and Alex spoke about social entrepreneurship, the power of social media and the relevance of autheticity and real stories to be heard. Read the full interview here.
Forbes – October 2015
A Nobel Spirit
Forbes magazine wrote a wonderful article about one of the projects Scilla visited last summer. Read the article here to learn more about Bobby Dekeyser’s inspiring project and Scilla’s impression when visiting the village project in Barangay Bagalnga, the Philippines.
Tea After Twelve – 15th July 2015
Scilla elaborates on her perspectives on the role and significance of Millennials in an interview that was conducted just before her keynote to the Deutche Welle Global Forum in June 2015.
“Millennials feel that the moral compass has disappeared. Many express the need for a sense of purpose at work, and to align what they do every day with what’s happening in the wider world. They say they want to make a contribution, to feel there is meaning in what they do.”
Iran Review – 8th July 2015
On the final day of the Global Media Forum 2015 and while I had only a couple of hours to pack my luggage and depart from Bonn to Frankfurt and catch my return flight to Tehran, I got the chance to talk to a leading British peace-worker and women rights activist for a 15-minute interview for Iran Review.
Deutsche Welle – 19th June 2015
In her book “Pioneering the Possible,” Scilla Elworthy seeks to empower readers to be agents of change. Elworthy, a keynote speaker at the Global Media Forum, talks to DW about consciousness, inner power and values.
Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation – 6th June 2015
Fostering peace within is more important than ever for young people, particularly when you’re growing up in a world that seems to be without it.
The Huffington Post – 8th March 2015
“International Women’s Day may be celebrated every year, but in this year of 2015 we women need to wake up and start thinking about what – worldwide – we can do about violence against women.
What do women endure?”
Co-authored with Anne Baring.
The Guardian – 7th January 2015
Working with leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, Scilla Elworthy has learned that inner work is the most important prerequisite for effective leadership.
The Guardian – 16th December 2014
Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr Scilla Elworthy, says rethinking the definition of success encourages businesspeople to devote their skills to the good of the planet.
Network of Wellbeing – 4th December 2014
Living in alignment with our own values is important for our personal wellbeing, and can also help us to have a more positive impact in our wider communities and on the natural environment too. Being mindful of how we embody our values is also a vital part of leadership; having the potential to inspire others to follow suit. In late November, some of the NOW team attended the Natural Leaders Now conference in London, which explored many of these themes. In this post Research Volunteer, Nicola Round, reflects on her experience of the event.
Huffington Post – 10th October 2014
True pioneers are fuelled by their vision of how a new world could be, and dare to take on what has never been done before. Now, when so few people have any vision at all of the future, the pioneering spirit embodies the kind of leadership so deeply needed on the planet.
Times of India – 20th June 2014
Dr Scilla Elworthy, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize will speak about her forthcoming book on inner power for effectiveness in the world at the festival.
Western Morning News – 13th June 2014
And international peace-building at the highest level in the modern world will be revealed by Dr Scilla Elworthy, founder of conflict resolution NGOs, Oxford Research Group and Peace Direct, as well as advisor to Nelson Mandela’s The Elders.
Huffington Post – 23rd April 2014
In April 2014 at the conference on “Love and Integrity in Governance” in Iceland I presented 10 values or norms that have governed our (Western) actions for centuries, and which have contributed to the state of the planet today, and then proposed that we can replace each one with the kind of values that could enable better decisions — decisions that could get us out of the mess we’re in.
Journal of Holistic Healthcare, Volume 11, Issue 1, Spring 2014
“Authentic Leadership: ten values we have to change”
I analyse the current leadership crisis and propose ten necessary shifts in perspectives and values.