American Friends Service Committee
Sara Burke, Managing Editor
Sam Diener, Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as
a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice
and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary
to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience
and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building
and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local
community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation,
introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and
issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the
generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices
of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
"Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless
struggle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle
in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than
has the latter. But I have always held that, if he (sic) who bases his hopes on
human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward.
And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable
gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions."
- Neither Victims Nor Executioners by Albert Camus, 1946
Camus wrote these lines sitting on the ashes of a charred and shattered Europe,
having himself endured tuberculosis and hardship as a member of the French resistance
to the Nazis. We would indeed be fools to ignore the unspeakable crimes of the
last 100 years. Yet, as Camus hoped, we have also helped create and are continuing
to witness a surging global wave of nonviolent action. In addition to overthrowing
over a score of governments through nonviolent insurrections in the last 25 years,
nonviolent action is revolutionizing gender roles and our relationship with other
species on the planet.
Just as surely as waging war turned Europe, North Africa, and much of the Asia/Pacific
region to rubble during World War II, neglecting the scourge of AIDS around the
world threatens entire generations. Global NGOs are mobilizing in unprecedented
ways to confront this nightmare. In this issue, the Health Global Access Project
describes the elements of a truly constructive global agenda against HIV and AIDS.
In the last few months, two remarkable nonviolent insurrections have succeeded
in overthrowing entrenched governments despite threats and repression: one in
the former Soviet republic of Georgia, one in Bolivia. Gene Sharp, the historian
of nonviolence, has often remarked on how much nonviolent action has achieved
even when people thought they were inventing it anew each time, and how much more
could be achieved if populations trained and prepared for mass nonviolent struggle.
As Jim Schulz describes, Bolivia’s mass movements developed their capacity
for nonviolent mobilization through struggles against privatization. The Georgian
opposition used the mass media to highlight the methods Serbians used to overthrow
Milosevic nonviolently, coupled with large-scale nonviolent direct action training,
to prepare for and carry out their insurrection. These examples prove Sharp right.
Unfortunately, though these new regimes took power through nonviolent action,
they are not necessarily committed to governing nonviolently.
The article on Bolivia introduces a section on nonviolent campaigns in the Americas,
from Colombia’s brave activists defying all militaries in the midst of civil
war, to Brazil’s indigenous movements and new foreign policies under President
de Silva. As Andreas Hernandez describes, President de Silva is at the forefront
of governmental efforts against corporate globalization. Meanwhile, Liana Foxglove
describes challenges facing protesters, most recently in the streets of Miami,
working to build a movement capable of stopping global corporate attacks.
In addition to Free Trade Area of the Americas protesters, those of us engaging
in nonviolent civil disobedience against the war in Iraq are starting to win surprising
legal victories at home, and John Dear provides us with a dramatic example of
a peaceful "Army of One."
It is the individual conscience combined with collective action that provides
us with our best hope of transforming our country and planet. US Labor Against
War is beginning to turn the US labor movement away from 90 years of relative
quiescence regarding US militarism and sponsorship of union-busting regimes overseas.
Iraqi women are also speaking out against attempts to impose a repressive version
of Shari’a law in Iraq.
Even as we work to end the war in Iraq, the devastating war between Eritrea and
Ethiopia threatens to flare again. It is vital that we work to prevent wars before
they begin, as Katherine Gun so bravely tried to do.
Good naturedly crediting J. Edgar Hoover as the (inadvertent) founder off the
US anti-nuclear power movement, Harvey Wasserman reminds us of the power which
can be unleashed to preserve our planet through small acts of nonviolent resistance.
As Camus recounted so vividly, observing violence scars us all — unless
we can transform our scar tissue into sinew through bearing compassionate witness,
and this is the subject of Common Shock, reviewed here by Fred Marchant. Finally,
the nonviolent example of Bishop Robinson, through his open love of another man,
implicitly threatens the cultural and theological roots of violent masculinity.
Despite the contumely heaped upon him, he continues to reach out to his opponents
with a healing hand. With such examples to guide us, I believe we can make Camus’ formidable
gamble pay a thousand-fold.