Democratic-Peace and the Lesser Peace

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Morgan

Democratic-Peace and the Lesser Peace

Postby Morgan » Mon Mar 07, 2005 7:41 am

While being careful not to directly associate the Baha'i Faith with any current system of government, recent developments in international politics - especially in the Ukraine and Middle East (Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt) - have caused me to consider the possibility of a parallel between the Democratic-Peace 'theory' and the Lesser Peace.

Any thoughts?

Tony

Postby Tony » Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:39 pm

Morgan,

Baha'is believe that the necessary conditions for permanent peace are set out in "The Promise of World Peace" http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_prom ... peace.html

The word "democracy" doesn't seem to be in there.

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Mon Mar 07, 2005 8:17 pm

Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?
Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be held up as the example of future government--that is to say, each province will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which promotes despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of international peace.

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Univeral Peace, p. 167)


That the international community should support this process by applying a certain degree of external pressure is discussed here in this statement of the Bahá'í International Community from 1995:

III. Defining a Role for the UN Within the Emerging International Order

A. Resuscitating the General Assembly

1. Raising minimum requirements for membership

The minimum standards for conduct by a government towards its people have been well established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international covenants, collectively referred to as the International Bill of Human Rights.

Without an unshakable commitment to regular and periodic elections with universal participation by secret ballot, to freedom of expression and to other such human rights, a member state stands in the way of the active and intelligent participation of the vast majority of its population in the affairs of its own communities.

We propose that there should be consequences for member states that violate these standards. Similarly, nations seeking recognition should be denied membership until they openly espouse these standards or make recognizable efforts to move in that direction.

(Bahá'í International Community, Turning Point for All Nations, Section III.A.1)


best wishes,
Brett

Morgan

Postby Morgan » Sat Mar 12, 2005 7:09 am

So, it's necessary to look beyond "democracy" and "Republican" forms of government to the essential issues of "cast(ing) aside centralization which promotes despotism" and establishing universal sufferage.

The problem is that while many governments, including some permanent members of the UN Security Council, are not evolving systems of universal sufferage no recriminatory action is being taken against them and international human rights issues are being reduced to meaningless mutual finger pointing exercises between governments.

So, is the establishment of universal sufferage a prerequisite to the establishment of the Lesser Peace and, what can be done to promote universal sufferage in states which do not appear to be ready or willing to change politically?

Tony

Postby Tony » Sat Mar 12, 2005 10:43 am

Morgan - As you can see from the quotation above, posted by Brett, ‘Abdu’l-Baha answered the question indirectly by referring to centralisation promoting despotism, and stated that the global federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states “may not be a republican or democratic form”.

The question was about universal peace, and it’s surely significant that the Baha’i teachings seem to refrain from endorsing political democracy in this context.

We might also note that during the near-century since ‘Abdu’l-Baha spoke those words the world has witnessed the popular election of a number of leaders who have turned out to be anything but peace-loving.

The benefit of a due measure of democracy to the development of civil society (and thence to Baha'u'llah's World Order) is a different issue, and I would say that Brett’s other quote relates to this rather than to the immediate requirement for universal peace (19 years ago - October 1985 - the Univeral House of Justice stated that a formal peace convocation was “long overdue”).

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Mar 13, 2005 8:10 pm

The problem is that while many governments, including some permanent members of the UN Security Council, are not evolving systems of universal sufferage no recriminatory action is being taken against them and international human rights issues are being reduced to meaningless mutual finger pointing exercises between governments.


The current permanent members, the U.S., France, U.K., China, and Russia, I think thankfully all do have some basic mechanisms going toward universal suffrage (though it is by no means complete and there may be some signficant temporary setbacks). China, for example, has in recent years been cultivating democracy (even teaching it in schools), at the local level.

But, yes, the absolute veto power conveyed by "permanent membership" is not a just one both in its curtailing the will of the majority of the peoples of the world (through the General Assembly), as well as being an instrument for hiding from human rights criticisms (though as long as dictatorships also wield control in the General Assembly, in some cases accusations may be more likely fabricated or exaggerated)...

The original intention of the UN Charter in conferring veto power on the five Permanent Members was to prevent the Security Council from authorizing military actions against a Permanent Member or requiring the use of its forces against its will. [21] In fact, beginning with the Cold War, the veto power has been exercised repeatedly for reasons that have [nothing? -B.Z.] to do with regional or national security.

In its 1955 submission on UN reform, the Bahá'í International Community argued for the gradual elimination of the concepts of "permanent membership" and "veto power" as confidence in the Security Council would build. Today, forty years later, we reaffirm that position. However, we also propose that, as a transitionary step, measures be introduced to curb the exercise of the veto power to reflect the original intention of the Charter.

(Bahá'í International Community, Turning Point for All Nations, sec. III.B.1)


Hopefully the push to EXPAND the permanent members (to countries such as Germany, India, etc.) might lead to a reconsideration of the justice (and efficacy) of this system as a whole (just as the push to expand the number of official languages might be seen) whereby even more countries could single-handedly curb the will of the people.

The above-cited document also speaks of the need to see the U.N. within the wider framework of the institutions of the international order and to see its evolution as being (and needing to be) progressive. Perhaps this might also help us to see (if we are despairing of it) of how it may thus be understandable that certain governments feel the need to take it upon themselves to make their own human rights reports. (see also sections IV.B.1, 2, and especially 3 for possible further (justifiable) reasons for their doing so at the present time). Although it is both relatively ineffective and suspect (if not hypocritical), I don't think it has been entirely meaningless or ineffective for the pressure that individual nations have been able to bring to bear by drawing attention to human rights violations as they see them.

However, despite all of this, the permanent members issue aside, I would venture that the lack of action in putting such pressure on member (or would-be-member) states may in many cases simply be due to a lack of leadership (and public insistence) rather than to the exigencies of Realpolitik, and as such could possibly be addressed in the future especially as U.N. reforms are put on the agenda.

So, is the establishment of universal sufferage a prerequisite to the establishment of the Lesser Peace and, what can be done to promote universal sufferage in states which do not appear to be ready or willing to change politically?


The following are my own opinions (though attempting to draw from certain principles in the Writings):

1. Starting locally. It is not as threatening to the powers-that-be to try it with the little fish first. The document above-cited also refers to steps taken in the direction of universal elections. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Secret of Divine Civilization also advises "As for that group who maintains that in effecting these necessary reforms we must proceed with deliberation, exercise patience and gain the objectives one at a time, just what do they mean by this? If by deliberation they are referring to that circumspection which the science of government requires, their thought is timely and appropriate. It is certain that momentous undertakings cannot be brought to a successful conclusion in haste; that in such cases haste would only make waste." (p. 107)

2. Advocate for progressive change through the school system. There was an interesting article in a Chinese magazine (published and distributed in China at least in English) whch described the experiences of a classroom in gaining the experience of being able to vote (Western-style, unfortunately I would say) for the school monitor of their classroom (a student who is kind of a go-between for the teacher and students). (The former monitor, who had become disliked for being too aggressive in enforcing the teacher's rules (he had formerly been appointed by the teacher to whom he was solely accountable), realized he had to be more diplomatic with his fellow-students in the new system.)

3. Promote the advancement of women. It is only natural that once democratic relationships take place in the home, that it can extend to larger spheres.

4. External pressure as already discussed.

5. I might add moral education here too. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá points out in p. 18 of Secret of Divine Civilization: "If, however, the members of these consultative assemblies are inferior, ignorant, uninformed of the laws of government and administration, unwise, of low aim, indifferent, idle, self-seeking, no benefit will accrue from the organizing of such bodies. Where, in the past, if a poor man wanted his rights he had only to offer a gift to one individual, now he would either have to renounce all hope of justice or else satisfy the entire membership."

I don't know the extent to which universal suffrage is expected to be associated exactly with each phase toward a greater peace, but while the governments may vary in form, a government which is not basically in the hands of its people is also going to be more subject to foreign (if not unduly considered domesttic) influence, I would think, and there may be as a result a greater potential for parties within or without to become drawn into a conflicts. Of course there is the counter-example of Hitler having been elected, but he was riding on a great deal of collective pent-up emotion that is probably the exception.

Maybe others have other ideas to add...

best wishes,
Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Apr 02, 2005 11:04 pm

I don't know really... but my sense of the lesser peace was that it would be a defacto world peace that came from a political standstill in agression by sovereign states against one another as a kind of a mix between collective security and transnational corporations with ties to various individual political machines forcing more cooperation between countries.

Now, with the acknowledged threat of global terrorism such a defacto world peace might be furthered by additional international cooperation in indentifying and solving the real problem causing terrorism - economic and social justice, and disabling cultural mechanisms of insititutionalized hatred - through increasing the fairness of international trade and debt schemes which would help distance democratic impulse from materialistic consumerism.

We'll see. I try not worry too much about it. And I try very hard not to be really upset by the decisions of at the world leaders.

For me any contribution I can make that will be of any lasting value to the world is to further the World Order of Baha'u'llah by involving myself more and more intimately into the patterns of Baha'i community life (which has finally really started being outward-looking and embracing) and helping strengthen my Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies.

--jpd

majnun
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Postby majnun » Sun Apr 03, 2005 6:28 am

Dear mister jpd

For trade and debt, possibly your are right.
I would advocate cuting on imports, and
syndicate all those bellow 9 dollars an hour.

They, the slaves who sell away their lives for
peanuts, they are the ones who make the Waltons
of this world richer everyday, and all of us, poorer.
Therefore, syndication of all Wall-marts alike is
unavoidable. A fairly paid nation will enjoy a peace.
A nation maintained in slavery will rebel, automatically,
or will sink into wine and marijuana for a couple of decades,
before rebellion against the slaverist corporations blows up
openly. This is now happening in Canada, people do syndicate,
and the Wall-mart enslavers menace to close down.
This is just the beginning of the rebirth of an old revolt,
wich carry a secret intention in most : Yankees, go home !
As long as slavery is maintained, life is gonna stay
a long drama for so many.

Baha'is are smart enough never to snack at MacDonalds,
and never intake bad stuff either. The Wadys (Valleys)
recommend Sabr (patience in the sense of constance, hability
to endure) to move forward internally. Ounce these processes, or
these ways of thinking (the wadys) start their influence onto
your brain, the inner doors will be open, one after the other,
for you to plunge into it, into this new portion of thy brain.

This speciality however starts after the 3 first levels of pollution
are cleaned, namely valley 1, 2, and 3. After that you will begin
to fly intenally, and whatever happens in the whirl, just happens,
and the internal curved paths injected in the internal recording or our lives
will be erased and become straith. This is called: the Sraight Path.
Is may sound as modern psychology, but it dates from the 1850's,
50 years before Freud published an essay on dreams (wady no 6).
For a Baha'i, neurosis, psychosis, or any thing related to a lack
of communication with his own brain, is irrelevant. The practicing
baha'i may feels all the parts of his brain workin' together.

But before that reunion with the inner friend is realised, that inner friend being the subconcious part witch operate while we are awakened, not asleep, we may feel a bit smarter, for a while, although not entirely "present". Also you may feel dislocated for a while, or live a short
feeling of loneliness, while the others are trying to reach it, but this is a small detail, cause the whirl of dreams will transfer after that.


English translations are not bad, but farsi and arabic is not
that complex.

Enjoy the day

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:47 pm

The Bahá'í International Community is, among other organizations, cited here as supporting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposed Human Rights Council:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdes ... a4bbda.htm

Dawud
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Postby Dawud » Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:34 pm

The spirit of the recent events in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine strikes me as antithetical to Baha'i authoritarianism. (You also have pseudo-elections, remember.) Or perhaps you too will experience some sort of reform movement, a "Talisman's revenge"...?


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