Book Review: Peace: A Very Short Introduction

Peace:  A Very Short Introduction, by Oliver P. Richmond

This little book, which is thankfully very short, has at its heart a very deep contradiction.  Not only does it show the peace movement as being like feminism in that in has a lot of different and somewhat contradictory waves and that it has at its core a lot of contradictory impulses.  To put it bluntly, some who profess to be advocates of peace have as their view of peace a redistributive ideal that requires waging class war on behalf of the envious poor against those who are better of.  I happen not to be a pacifist myself, but reading this book made me feel a great deal of anger at the hypocrisy of many people who claim moral high ground as pacifists but then seek internal conflicts on behalf of misguided and mistaken political agendas.  It appears that like so much else, much that people call peace is in fact not peace, and it is very possible that a group of people who all claim a commitment to peace would have very different conceptions by what is meant by the peace that they seek for themselves and the world.  And that is not even getting into the problem of how peace is to be enforced upon the unwilling.

This little pocket-sized book of just over 100 pages is divided into 9 chapters by an author who appears not to realize the self-contradictory nature of the subject he has chosen to write about.  After acknowledgements, a list of illustrations, and an introduction on the multiple dimensions of peace, the author begins the book with a discussion of how peace is to be defined (1).  After that comes a discussion of peace in history (2) as well as peace in modernity (3), with its various waves and conceptions.  The author then talks about the victor’s peace in history (4), then moves on to constitutional peace (5) requiring consent of the governed, and then institutional peace (6) established through the UN and other agencies, and then the civil peace (7) that comes when a realm has internal justice and an absence of exploitation and internal hostility.  After this comes a discussion of various matters like peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and statebuilding and how these aim to help in the establishment of peace (8).  After that the author closes the book with a discussion of hybrid forms of peace (9) along with an epilogue that discusses new agendas for peace, suggestions for further reading, and an index.

To put it very mildly, this book is trash.  If it is useful in any extent, it is in helping the reader to determine the various complex ways that politically manipulative and intellectually dishonest people refer to peace.  The book has fulsome praise for the UN, that organization of nations where the worst human rights violators routinely support hypocritical resolutions against other member states and are chosen for the human rights commissions, and whose craven and cowardly peacekeepers stand aside while genocide occurs.  The author praises different waves of peace, not recognizing that one of the main ways that internal peace in countries is ruined (to say nothing of the well-being of the people of that country) is when theft is viewed as justice, and warfare against productive classes is viewed as peace.  The author has enough contradictions to deal with when examining how the current peace that we now possess is largely one that is thanks to the military strength of the United States enforcing the postwar and post-Cold War order, and that we can expect a lot less peace if other nations (like China) become more powerful.  Save yourself some time and skip this book.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: Peace: A Very Short Introduction

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction | Edge Induced Cohesion

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