"[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state -- what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations -- what we can call civil society. ... In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does. ... Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force." ~ Ed Crane
U.S. Peace Government: A Solution or an Oxymoron?
On July 4th Dr. John Hagelin will inaugurate 'a new, knowledge-based U.S. Peace Government' which he insists will bring a 'prevention-oriented, problem-free administration to America.' Dr. Hagelin is identified on his website as (take a breath) Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management, and Minister of Science and Technology of the Global Country of World Peace. You may remember him as the Natural Law Party's candidate in the 2000 presidential election.
Dr. Hagelin insists that the U.S. Peace Government will not take over the responsibilities of the present government. I assume he means the Federal version of Leviathan. He characterizes these duties of the existing government as 'crisis management.' This is kind of humorous considering that the present Federal State is directly responsible for, or a major party to, virtually every non-natural crisis that has come down the pike in modern American history. It manages crises by making them worse and/or creating new ones. The Hegelian Dialectic is familiar to those who study The State's efforts of domination over the individual. Rather, Dr. Hagelin insists that the U.S. Peace Government will be a 'second government,' which 'will promote scientifically proven programs to effectively prevent problems in health care, education, defense, economy, energy, agriculture, and the environment.' How so, you ask? Is this just another utopian project pushed by people with too much time on their hands? Examining the proposal inspires many such questions.
Dr. Hagelin declares that 'the U.S. Peace Government is more than just a gigantic policy think-tank, because it will directly implement proven programs for the prevention of problems and the promotion of peace in cities across America.' Does direct implementation involve force? Are individuals forced to cooperate or is this action voluntary?
'Moreover,' Dr. Hagelin adds, 'the U.S. Peace Government will actually govern the country in the crucial area of national consciousness, by addressing and alleviating the acute social stress that fuels violence and conflict.' This rather spooky statement seems to imply that this new government will control, direct and even rule, collectively, thought processes of individuals when deciding personal choices of morality. Yes, stress is certainly a contributing cause of violence. But what initially created the stress? And is it necessary to mess with people's brains in a coercive manner to achieve this goal?
By convincing people to live in the context of Natural Law the U.S. Peace Government will, according to Dr. Hagelin, 'prevent crime, improve health, and thus elevate the destiny of the nation.' This may be true but will giving The State the power, instead of individuals, through interaction and persuasion, bring the desired result?
The cornerstone of this initiative appears to be an approach to preventing terrorism and other assorted acts of violence called Invincible Defense Technology which 'calls for the establishment of a permanent group of 40,000 experts in 'technologies of consciousness' to neutralize the acute ethnic and religious tensions that fuel violence and social conflict, effectively disarming terrorism at its basis.' After wading through the theory behind this 'technology' (which is quite interesting) the actual method appears to be a movement of mass concentrated meditation to achieve a 'hypo-metabolic, physiological state.' Dr. Hagelin claims this will 'diffuse acute social stress'including the acute religious and ethnic tensions that underlie most violence and fanatical acts of terrorism.'
I'm not going to argue the potential effectiveness of this technology but rather the immediate red flag that pops into my head when I read the term 'Peace Government.' Isn't this an oxymoron? The State is the dominant creator and purveyor of war and the idea of using it to bring peace is about as silly as asking a chronic kleptomaniac to end stealing. Any action of The State also involves coercion. What other method could be used to involve potential angry terrorists in this technology before they initiate acts of violence? Dr. Hagelin admits on his website that, 'Terrorist reprisals are all but certain now that the U.S. has launched its military global campaign to eradicate terrorism.' Wouldn't it make more sense to first eliminate the bullying, arrogant aggression of this odious campaign and then, later, work for a collective bliss? Also, if this technology is as effective as claimed, I shudder to think what evil implementations could be devised by State agencies such as the C.I.A. and individuals the like of the diabolical Donald Rumsfeld.
The fund raising efforts for the IDT appears to be directed toward private sources which is good news. How long it will be, if ever, before extorted taxpayer funds are pursued remains to be seen. Maybe that begins when the Natural Law Party is the majority in Washington. Dr. Hagelin would probably receive more support if he replaced 'Government' with 'Initiative' and kept far away from State involvement. The fact that the 'G' word is used may indicate a statist view that 'government' must be involved to promote and implement a successful solution to societal problems.
Disagreements produce conflict. Stress arises from this conflict. Individuals, acting as individuals, tend to resolve conflicts peaceably because it is in their best interest to do so. It is only when State power and its monopoly of force is involved that perceived injustices arise leading to desperate countermeasures, i.e., terrorism. Relieving stress will not change the fact that the perceived, causative injustice still exists. The supporters of Dr. Hagelin's idea should not forget that individual lives void of liberty and choice, harassed by State-sponsored war, destruction and property theft (State terrorism) will find it difficult, if not impossible to simply calm down and relax to work toward solutions. The answers proposed here are a classic example of treating the symptom and not the disease.