Is the peace movement interested in innovation?

Innovation is a keyword, or catch-word, in many areas of life. We see it in technology, IT, communications, transportation, security, finance, green solutions, energy solutions, education, business models, medicine, music technology, etc. One can be forgiven for thinking that, if not the whole world, then at least all domains and spheres of life are into, or at least interested in innovation.

It doesn’t look like that to me.

I have been a “domainaut” in my life, traveled from one domain to another, acquainted myself with music (my first and original domain), philosophy and politics.

My latest domain is paxology, or peace work. And here — just as in politics where words and promises shine but reality lags behind, if it doesn’t totally contradict the words — I see a frightening lack of interest in innovation. Or let’s say thinking outside the box. Let’s make it even simpler and say “real thinking”.

Real thinking is different from just mouthing and repeating established phrases, ideas and memes. Unfortunately, in the peace domain I see overwhelmingly precisely this: old stuff, old professors, old words, old dusty phrases that have been repeated so many times that they now only illicit an attack of coughing. Ahchoo…!

This view is based on my personal experience of the peace domain, which I entered around two years ago in earnest. (Before that I actually worked in it without  knowing it, namely in my musical-philosophical (“melosophic“) work. )

So far my experience of the peace domain has been negative. Yes, it could be a case of coming across non-typical features or having a statistically insignificant selections. Here, nevertheless are my current impressions, partly a private complaint, partly trying to get a birds eye’s view of the domain.

I set up my domain for The Venusian Peace project (you are reading it right now) around a year ago. I got myself a Twitter account and learned relevant hashtags for peace. I created a Facebook page and a YouTube account. It would be a mistake to call me an innovation-resistant Luddite.

That, however, seems to me as an apt term for the peace domain!

I am an independent researcher, doing original research, something I see very little of in the peace domain. Not only that, I don’t even see an interest in basic research. Which reminds me of the Wikipedia bias.

Albert! You've been doing original research again!

Peace people ask me: What is your peace activity? (“Activity” seems to be a central word here.) Do you arrange peace workshops, concerts, conferences, marches, festivals, tours, or print T-shirts?

This question is itself a warning sign. In domains where innovation is of genuine interest innovators are not asked to DO things, not in this crude sense. One understands that an innovator needs to sit as his desk, jot down notes, stare at the wall and contemplate strange clouds. That’s how innovations are born, out of thin air or the mental sea. As Paul Erdös said: “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.”

This is much less understood in the peace domain where a kind of busy-body mentality reigns. There “activity” means something more than or different from mental activity.

My main work is mental, but unfortunately many folks don’t see that as activity at all. Thinking deep and long about the problems and possibilities of peace, its relation to war — and not least to music — is regarded as a kind of child’s play, a kind of nothing. (Of course it helps that I am not an academic but a freethinker.)

One must understand that an innovator is at work every working (and many a sleeping) hour of the day. He cannot be a 9 to 5 person, he needs to be receptive to insights at any hour. He can never say “Inspiration, come back at office hours!”. He may seem dreamily absent at his café table, but he does more substantial work than most paper-shuffling bureaucrats.

So my main activity is being mentally awake and probing and searching. One of the results of this is my “Peace map“, a model that not only throws light on peace but also indicates a path to better peace (and we need a much better peace concept than we currently have).

The rest of my work is trying to reach out and spread my findings, to “sell” them. On the main website, on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. I also sometimes answer questions about peace on Quora. The aim of all this digital, online work is of course to go analog, to reach out to non-virtual people, give talks, lecture tours, concerts, etc.

So far the sowing.

What has been my harvest so far, the reception of my research and innovation? (And forgive me here for being slightly personal, even rant-y.)

“Reception” is overstating things. It seems some people have read some of my texts. I have “likes”, maybe a few hundred on social media. My Twitter account has 14 followers. My three videos on YouTube have 44, 19 and 93 views respectively. I have one (1) patron on Patreon.

That’s a meager harvest.

Looking back on my political years (I’ve had 4-5 political parties of my own) the experience was interesting, and frustrating. Out of the different domains I’ve tried – music, philosophy, politics – politics was definitely the stiffest. A members only-club; Homo novus not invited.

Trying to get a hearing in politics was like trying to enter a club with big hulks guarding the door, enforcing a draconian (not dress but) thinking and speaking code (TASCO) — a code which I of course could not conform to.

When I think of politics I think of squares.

■ This is what politics is ■
■ This is how politics is done ■
■ This is the type of person we recognize as a “politician” ■

■■■  If you cannot accept and conform to this, go elsewhere! ■■■

Now if I were the Emperor of the world and wanted peace, wanted to know where to look for it, find the people most fitting for understanding, planning and achieving it, I sure wouldn’t turn to politicians, a group which has this incredibly long entry on Wikipedia:

Political corruption.

So far the political domain.

To my regret I now find that the peace domain is not very different. Sure, it is “softer”, just as peace is supposedly softer than machine guns or drones (or money).

But soft is not automatically a virtue, soft can also be woolly and wishy-washy. For example, I find the following supposition (entertained by both laymen and professionals) to be precariously “soft”:

Peace is the work of 1) organizations and 2) politicians.

Politicians? What a blunder. Don’t expect the people who set fire to the building to put out the fire. That’s naive in the extreme. Or maybe one should say desperate; one does not know where else to go and who else to ask for help. Trapped in a small box…

The peace domain also seems to have guards. They might not enforce but at least recommend that you conform to the TASCO. Which I of course don’t, just as I didn’t conform to the political TASCO. I would be a poor free-thinker if I did.

Anyway, I’ve had a bit more success in the peace domain than in the political field.

I stumbled upon a small organization that seemed interested in my work. They have a kind of peace “bank” where I saw myself as a given, a good investment. I suggested that they take me in. There was some initial resistance, “we don’t really take in individuals, unless they are musicians or entertainers”.

(This also is a big mistake: relying on organizations for peace and discounting, not seeing the value of, individuals.

Organizations always suffer from the weakness of group-think and conformism, plus the closeness to politics. The hope for innovation and greatness — in art, music, philosophy, literature, science — always lies with the individual. Not understanding this is a blunder.)

Anyway, after some nudging I was allowed into the peace bank. I was given the title “peace promoter”. Of course I was that earlier, too, but now it was official.

I am out of the solitary closet,  I thought. Finally there can ensue some dialogue, conversation, co-operation, a dynamic flow of energies to and fro. I looked forward to sharing my findings with more than 79 people, to lecture and spread my “Venusian” thoughts to interested paxological parties.

Well, dream on. The only thing that has changed is that I now have a formal title to add to my CV (which I never use). I continue my work, promoting peace my own solitary way, but who is promoting the promotor? Who wants to hear innovative thinking about peace?

Yes, I keep getting some “likes” for my posts on social media, but that’s as far as it goes. I feel like I’m in a non-violent Western: For a Few Likes More.

(That’s not me in the picture. I never wear a poncho.)

You can accuse me of being somewhat bitter here, and subjective. That’s fine. But there should be a place for submitting a complaint and, more importantly, point out the poor place innovation has in the peace domain — versus the elevated place it holds in many other domains (not in politics, obviously).

To put it mildly, there is no abundance of innovative, non-academic thinking about peace. Which brings us to a final, harsh, but I think just question:

Do people in the “peace movement” and workers in the peace domain really believe in peace? Do they really want to create peace? Are they prepared to think not only outside the bomb but also outside the established, dusty ideas and concepts about peace?

Or are they actually content with just going through the peace motions, which gives them a certain status, a certain idealistic aura, a certain pay, and simply something to do?

I sure hope that the answer to the last question is NO, but I am not sure of it.

(Another, related take on the same subject can be found here: Peace by committee.)

Peace by committee

When we well know that the most important scientific inventions, philosophical breakthroughs and musical or literary masterpieces have all come from individuals – from a Leonardo, Einstein, Beethoven, Goethe – why then do we believe that peace, one of the most difficult things on Earth, is going to be created by committee?

My reason for saying this: I have been domain-traveling throughout my life. My starting point was and is music, a wonderful domain, much more valuable and precious then most of us understand.

Then philosophy, a so-so domain. After that politics, a real stiff one.

And now paxology, peace work, peace research. I’ve been at it now for around three years and what I see makes me confused, disappointed and frankly scared. There is so much muddiness in this domain, so much surface — empty phrases, gestures, cliches and thinking inside the box.

Much feel-good, not much think-good. As somebody put it: peace is about releasing captive white doves by political leaders.

Is it really this simple?

There is also an underlying premise that peace is the job of groups, committees and organizations. Not individuals.

I don’t know where this view comes from and frankly don’t much care. What I do know is that this goes against the insight that breakthroughs and masterpieces never come from groups or organizations. Always from solitary, isolated, not seldom ridiculed individuals. Why should the situation be different when it comes to peace?

In this most difficult of tasks, Groups — until now inert, square and predictable — (supposedly) suddenly bloom and reach genius level, become innovative and find brand new paths. Do we really believe that?

If not, why don’t we look in new, fresh directions?

The peace domain is like Wikipedia that says “No thanks!” to original research.

Of course I am talking about my own work here, no denying it. I have in my relatively short time in the peace domain contributed valuable, innovative material – that nobody seems to be interested in.  I guess it feels… unaccustomed and different.

“War seeds”, musical peace map, Agon and antagonism… what IS all that about? It’s not our usual fare. Vive la similarité.

Meanwhile, many other domains, like the business sphere for example, are SCREAMING for innovation! Yes, much of it is lip-service; what one really wants is a new look or vogue, a new viral term, a hip new costume — but at least one is screaming. It’s a start.

I wish there was more screaming, shouting and excitement in the peace domain. As it  is, it reminds me of this picture.

“All quiet on the Western front.”

Quiet indeed.

Am I saying that peace should be conducted as business? Not really. Maybe as its opposite, as WAR.

War is a by and large a very efficient affair. In spite of obvious blunders it aims at precision; logistics are of prime importance; goals and targets are well defined. Language is highly efficient in order to avoid mistakes, semantic clarity is essential to avoid ambiguities which can have fatal consequences, Roger that!

War hires  (and pays) the best brains; just look at the Manhattan project where more than a dozen Nobel prize winners were involved. (How many Nobel prize winners are working on building peace…?) There are huge amounts of money in war and innovation is constant; always there are new and more streamlined ways of killing our fellow man.

All this is the opposite of the peace domain, where vagueness is okay, where we don’t even need a definition. It’s not really important to pinpoint it, everybody knows what peace is anyway… Perhaps. Until they are asked to define it.

On the other hand, even a small child in the street can basically tell you what “war” is! Imagine the military reasoning in the same vague way.

Ready guys? Let’s fire off some of these old rockets in about THAT direction, give and take a few miles, in the next day or two. We THINK the bad guys are somewhere around that corner. God willing we might actually hit some of them, and hopefully not as many of our own people as last time.

That would be a bad joke, but that is what happens in the peace domain. 
No precision, no hardcore thinking, no innovation. Just a predictable collection of second-hand phrases and goals that are inherited from other eras, other peace organizations.

Maybe I am too harsh, but we do need more harsh now, and less cuddly feel-good. Peace needs precision. Clarity is a precursor of peace.

We need blueprints like this.

Laser guided peace, anyone?

All of this has to do with another big, unacknowledged problem. Namely that very few people (I mean individuals) get truly excited about peace.

–Yes, peace is something fine, lofty and very IMPORTANT;  but right now we want to watch that cool YouTube video and an action movie. But we DO wish the peace organizations all the luck!

This distanced, lukewarm, not my table-attitude is not helpful.  If war, at least in its sublimated forms (sports, contests, competition, debates, etc.) is SO MUCH MORE interesting and exciting (and fun) than peace, then of course peace is going to remain dutiful committee work, nothing for individuals to be excited about and engage themselves in.

As this curve shows…

This is the reason I talk about a specific variant of peace, namely Venusian Peace.

Peace that is not just absence (of war, conflict, poverty, killing) but has actual positive content. Namely the qualities associated with Venus: art, beauty, harmony, music, balance, love.

None of that is boring, none of that is created by committees. Sometimes by composers.

Now please visit the YouTube channel of the VPP   for peace-thinking outside the usual box, and feel free to support the project on Patreon.  Thank you.