Category Archives: Intellectual Solidarity

Intellectual solidarity, peace and psychological walls

Today’s international landscape is full of mental or senti-mental walls, which stand in the way of sustainable peace building.
The academic freedom of conflict and peace researchers is curtailed by forces outside and inside universities and think thanks.
Epistemic violence is the active or passive inhibition of knowledge and knowhow that could be used for international cooperation and sustainable peace building.
Intellectuals must join forces and strengthen intellectual solidarity to fight the gods of conformity, apathy, hubris, fear, despair, unsustainable growth and exploitative power.

To deal with the interlocking crises in the 21st century, drastic changes in the human behavior are needed . The building of sustainable peace is sine qua non. Many people however (especially in the rich countries) still take peace for granted because they fail to understand what sustains it.

The re-search community has a key responsibility. It needs to address sensitive issues and strengthen intellectual solidarity. Intellectuals should express themselves more on issues of public concern and be more active in the new ‘forum humanum’. Reflecting on the controversies in the domestic or international environment, the public intellectuals may express their dissatisfaction with the existing state of their country, region or of the international system and seek to steer the society into better alternative futures.

Efforts are needed to stop the debilitating impact of the political and academic environment (academization, specialization, reductionism, methodological fundamentalism ,etc) on the independence of intellectuals, drastic changes in the

In all fields of study, role models of public intellectuals, should be studied. In ‘The economic consequences of peace ‘ , the economist Keynes was prescient and warned the decision-makers of the negative consequences of a revengeful peace . He had the capacity for mischief39. Barbara Tuchman, a historian, highlighted, on the base of case studies, the phenomenon of governmental follies or the pursuit of policy of contrary to the self-interest of the constituency or state involved. Jared Diamond, a scholar of many disciplines, including physiology, ecology and anthropology, pointed out the reasons why in history societies chose to fail or succeed. Another example of a role model is Jürgen Habermas , who recently commented on the debate in Germany about the Islam , the ‘ Leitkultur’ and the claim that Judeo-Christian tradition distinguishes us from the foreigners.

Intellectuals must join forces and strengthen intellectual solidarity to fight the actual gods of our time –the god of conformity, as well as the gods of apathy, hubris, fear, despair, unsustainable growth and exploitative power40. They should lead from the future and help people to develop a deeper awareness of the dynamics of change. This requires, according to O.Scharmer, the intelligences of an open mind, open heart and open will. An open mind is needed to recognize our own taken-for-granted assumptions and to start to see things that were not evident before. Premature judgment inhibits open mindedness. An open heart allows a deeper level of attention, one that allows people to step outside their traditional experience and feel or sensing beyond the mind. Cynicism stands in its way. An open will implies a readiness to let go dysfunctional relations or systems, and to create a country or world that could survive in the future-and only together could this be done41. Fear closes the way to an open will.


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The power of intellectual solidarity

Without sustainable peace building, it will be close to impossible to prevent and resolve the interlocking crises in the 21st century.
Intellectual solidarity is of vital importance; it’s necessary to reduce and eradicate epistemic violence.
Epistemic violence is furthered by: (1) the existence of a rough and unleveled playing field, (2) a reductionist research process, (3) gaps in the research, and (4) efforts to block critical research and restrain academic freedom.

Each century has its up’s and downs, its crises and achievements. The 21st century will be very different. First, because of the relentless ongoing globalization of trade, financial transactions, information and communication and of awareness. The increasing global awareness gives raise to clashes between different perceptions and feelings and to changes in the global political- psychological climate. The relative deprivation and the double standards cause considerable tension. A deeper understanding of international relations demands more attention to these soft realities. Dominique Moïsi , for example ‘ points to three emotions that characterize today’s international landscape : hope in Asia; fear in the West, and humiliation in the Muslim community. Second, we are confronted with several interlocking crises, which could transform into a mega crisis. They relate to competition over resources , weapons of mass destruction , terrorism and anti-terrorism , militarism and weaponisation , financial transactions , population , food shortages , climate change , water, and the marginalization of the majority . The lack of sufficient international cooperation and of good governance at the global level make the prevention and management of a mega crisis very difficult. Third, it is becoming clear that there are limits to growth, warfare, aid, free market, liberal democracy and to scientific analysis. It took decennia before the message of the Club of Rome was put on the political agenda. The limits of warfare to remove unfriendly regimes and control energy and water resources are now patently obvious in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. These wars are fought by rich and powerful democracies. The latest financial debacle exposed the defects of an uncontrolled free market. The imposition of liberal democracy on the third world contributed to weak and failed states, anocracy, instability and internal violence. The limits of scientific research will be discussed later in this paper.


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