Introduction to IJWP, June 2013
This issue of IJWP has articles on three different topics: Political stability in Chechnya, treatment of women in Pakistan, and bullying in U.S. schools. While these are quite different topics, they all relate to the general issue of rights and abilities.
Our global culture promotes concepts of human rights and democracy through the United Nations, the mass media, and many NGOs. However, human rights and democracy cannot be obtained without the ability to design structures of governance and the abilities of people living in a society to produce the things they want. Many people demand rights without having the necessary abilities to achieve them. The United Nations promotes rights, but cannot provide people with the ability to achieve them.
Introduction to IJWP, March 2013
“Do not ask for transparency from others unless you have provided transparency to them.”—Anderson’s Golden Rule of Transparency(1)
This issue of IJWP has articles on three different topics: Transparency in government, competition for energy resources, and peace in the Qur’an.
Transparency is a major issue for all social institutions, not just government, because it is an essential aspect of legitimacy in an age where there are many large, complex, and impersonal social institutions. In the family, the most basic social institution, transparency is not a serious issue because the interpersonal relationships are so close that everyone knows what everyone else in the family is doing. If little sister is sick, Dad loses his job, or big brother drives home in a new Mercedes, it is difficult to hide this information from other family members. The same is true in small towns, like my hometown, which had a population of fewer than 300 people. When I delivered the newspaper to nearly every house, and stepped into nearly every kitchen on Saturday to collect for the paper, I knew who was sick, who was on welfare, who was distraught, and who was cheating on their spouse. This “natural transparency” does not exist with the impersonal relationships in large cities or modern bureaucratic social institutions, whether they be governments, corporations, or churches. Impersonal distance creates opportunities to hide secrets in a church, to defraud government programs, to cheat on mortgage applications, to use corporate revenues for private purposes, or to engage in insider trading.
IJWP, December 2012
Introduction to IJWP, December 2012
Conflicts are produced when great powers or international organizations draw arbitrary state boundaries over areas occupied by tribal and national cultural groups. When this happens, homogeneous groups that have lived together for many generations, and that have had their identity formed by shared values and laws suddenly find themselves divided and forced to live with other tribes or national groups that hold different values. Imposed abstract state boundaries divide natural nations, disrupting normal interactions, and even separating families.
Such divisions are particularly evident in post-colonial Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where Europeans drew administrative districts on maps over areas of land without much thought about the national self-identity of the peoples living in that territory. Such divisions are the cause of much anguish, strife, and even genocide in our world. The process of absorbing different national groups has followed conquests throughout history, and leaders of empires often left local rulers with some autonomy that honored the local values and customs. Today we are particularly aware of the after-effects of European colonization of Africa and Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries because, as Europeans withdrew, the states left behind were composed of non-natural cultural groupings not predisposed to live peacefully together.
Introduction to IJWP, September 2012
This issue examines three states where there is political instability; Xinjiang province, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Xinjiang province is in Western China bordering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The largest ethnic group in the region is the Uyghurs, a Muslim group found in Central Asia, but Han Chinese are the majority in the cities. As in the case of the Tibetan Buddhists, tension exists between the Uyghurs, who do not feel they can freely practice their culture, and the Han Chinese who are increasingly populating the region.
Since 9/11, the Chinese have convinced the U.S. to label the Uyghur separatist organization, ETIM, as terrorists, based on their proximity to the Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan and supposed links to Al Qaeda. The first article, by Christopher Cunningham, asks whether the Uyghurs are a terrorist threat or whether Beijing has preyed on the international fear of terrorism to suppress the religious freedoms of an indigenous nationality that is defending its right to self-determination. He concludes that Beijing has likely overstated its case and the U.S. supported Beijing’s attacks on the Uyghurs to garner support for its own war on terror against Al Qaeda. Continue reading
Introduction to IJWP, June 2012
This issue looks at the thorny problem of how social ideals and rationally grounded moral principles can guide the structures and institutions of governance. This is no small feat in our age of political realism, power politics, national self-interest, and the general temptations of power and money. Washington DC lobbying, US elections, geopolitical nuclear politics, suicide bombing, and corrupt governments around the world are all signs that rational principles, such as those framed in the US Constitution, are failing to guide social policy. Rather we see power and money being used to dictate social outcomes biased towards those who have wealth or political power.
Our first article, by Leon Miller, begins by noting that the entire field of peace research is based on the premise that scientific research and humanistic values should be applied to institutions and structures of governance. This field is indebted to the Enlightenment emphasis on reason, the vision of Immanuel Kant outlined in Perpetual Peace, the communication ethics promoted by Karl-Otto Apel and Jurgen Habermas, the peace research writings of Elise Boulding, the economic theories of Kenneth Boulding, the political science of Quincy Wright, and the social theory of Johan Galtung. These figures played a prominent role in the interdisciplinary worldview of the International Peace Research Association and peace research centers like the University of Michigan.