In the horrific aftermath of the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan adopted a new model around disarmament and peace-building which sent reverberations around the world. For a moment in time, global society seemed to be on the cusp of progress. Are there learnings from that era which would help us map out policies for peace today? Or do we need to fundamentally reimagine what peace might look like for our present world?
- Takao Takahara, Professor of international politics and peace research at Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo: https://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/en/about/why/takahara/
- Amy Zalman, Futurist educator and author: https://amyzalman.com/. She is a past president of the World Future Society: https://www.worldfuture.org/
- Daniel Susskind, research professor at King’s College London and senior research associate at the Institute for ethics in AI at Oxford University. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/people/daniel-susskind
Takao Takahara wants global society to adopt a model where even if countries are not in an outright state of war, that does not necessarily mean they are in a state of peace. He urges us to follow the peace researchers of the 1970s who pointed out that issues of hunger and poverty are also barriers to peace.
“Peace and security is different. if you wish to be more peaceful than you will have to think whether others are living in peace or not. That’s the difference.”
Amy Zalman believes that the way that we globally have thought about peace for at least the last hundred years has been anchored in our understanding of war.
“Peace is the thing that you get after war instead of the bland empty white space where nothing happens, and that is problematic. It makes it hard to imagine exciting narratives around peace. So if we go back a hundred years to some of the decolonisation movements or the civil rights movement in the United States, they share a couple of elements.
“One is they have a great story: they’re inspiring; they had drama; they had an apex; they engaged. People began to explain the world to themselves in a way that made it seem inevitable that they had to arrive at a different future than the one toward which they were heading.
“So a great narrative is something that makes a successful peace movement. How do we build narratives that get us excited, that get us thinking ‘Wow we’re going to build something. We have a drumbeat that is driving toward an end.’?”
She says the other problem with this very narrow conception of peace as something that not war is that it doesn’t help us think about all the things that we probably have always needed but might need especially now to help make us secure, happy, fulfilled. The things that we might think of as existing in a thriving and peaceful society.
Daniel Susskind talked about where technological progress is taking us.
“If we’re trying to decide how we ought to steer or change the direction of technological progress we’ve got to have a conversation about what we think a better destination or better endpoint might look.
“I think if we were not to take a more active approach, our direction of travel would be determined by large technology companies. so passivity on the part of the public and on the part of politics in steering these technologies seems to me is likely to lead us to a destination which most people are not going to be particularly happy with.”
Hear the whole broadcast 28 minute broadcast here.