Friday, January 20, 2012

Conflict, Peace and Security: A Perspective with Special Reference to Marxist and Gumplowicz-Ward Theories -Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Conflict, peace and security, all the three, are, in fact, connected subjects to one-another. It is evident that in the state of conflict there is no possibility of peace. Peace itself is a state free from conflict, dispute, war-like situation or a war. Similarly, freedom from worries caused by conflicts, in other words security from them and then construction of peace is inevitable so that the existence remains safe and human being steps forward on the pathway to development. He could make his life meaningful and simultaneously contributes to the progress of society also, of which he is himself an indivisible part. Therefore, it can be said that conflict, peace and security, is a chain, which cannot be segregated from the reality of human life. All the three of this chain –conflict, peace and security, are important for man and society. They therefore call for their critical analysis in historical perspective by having the main and usually accepted concepts presented from time-to-time by thinkers of repute in the centre so that the pathway to progress could feasible to each and every one. Every individual could step forward on the pathway to development.
Conflict: Due to jealously and competition –the two temporary tendencies of man, selfishness, appetites and violent passion develop within him. To satisfy his desires man wishes to become the master of others, which give birth to the state of conflict at local, regional, national and global levels in all walks of life –in social, political and economic spheres in particular. The source of conflicts is the two temporary human tendencies, which is the part and parcel of human life; it is impossible to avoid it. For this reason, it has been rightly put forth, “Conflict, like cooperation, is inevitable in human society; it is but natural in day-to-day human practices.” [Kumar, Gandhian Thought: New World, New Dimensions, New Delhi, 2008, page 20]
Peace: Generally, peace is considered to be a state, free form conflict. Moreover, when an atmosphere free from tension, struggle, war and violence prevails, it is termed as the state of peace. Despite this, peace is not static or the motionless. It is not a situation of the status quo or perpetuity. In the state of peace it is hoped that human beings with harmony and cooperation will step forward towards development in larger welfare of humanity. Hence, peace is an active and dynamic state. In this regard, the statement of Vinoba Bhave in which he says, “Shanti [peace] means something dynamic, something that develops the force of the individual, which develops the dynamic strength of the people to a degree that they enable to meet any situation” , [Ravindra Kumar, Towards Peace, New Delhi, 2007] is worth quoting here.
Security: A degree or active step taken in protection from fear, loss and violence-born crime is the security in general. Undoubtedly, security is a subject of practice; therefore, it is dynamic. Moreover, it is a process and a condition of transforming conflict and bringing peace in society. It is the essence of security in brief. However, words like challenge, counter or threat etc. are also linked with it, in socio-political and economic spheres at national-international levels in particular. But, again it can be said with certainty that security is a measure connected with protection and transformation of conflict, and the establishment of peace. It plays a decisive role in clearing the pathway to development. In the process of security, people while remaining active make constant efforts to encounter conflicts and violence. In short, security is a subject of practice; therefore, it is an action.  
From the brief analysis of conflict, peace and security, which we have had from the meaning and purpose viewpoint in particular, it is evident that among all the three, conflict is the foremost. We also categorically observe that conflict is a subject related to men; therefore, to human society. That is why; all of the concepts related to conflicts in one way or the other stay within the scope of social studies or social sciences and as is believe by many, in sociology in particular.
Main Conflict Theories: Among the main conflict-related concepts, which have particularly emerged in the West, although the Marxist theory occupied the foremost place in social-classical theories, however, there has been a chain of other views emerged in the contemporary and modern times and all of them are worth consideration. Among them the Feminist theory introduced in scientific manner in sixties and seventies of the Twentieth Century especially by Janet Chafetz, related to gender inequality; the Postmodern theory, propounders of which, particularly Ihab Hassan and Jean Francois Lyotard, making the crime the basis of their view are of the opinion that it [crime] could emerge due to economic inequality, difference of culture, ideologies, religion, race or ethnicity or struggles related to status; the Colonial-Postcolonial theory introduced particularly by Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty and Frantz Fanon, focusing on people struggling for indigenous rights, language, nationalism, development etc. in non-Western counties; the Structural functionalism  theories, popularized by Herbert Spencer, Talcott Parsons, Kingsley Davis, Wilbert Moore, Robert Merton, Gabriel Almond and Bingham Powell in particular, stressing on change bridging the gap of inequality; the Queer theory developed by Michael Warner in the late  Twentieth Century, which relates to sexual orientation and gender identity; and the World systems theory developed mainly from the three schools of thoughts –the Annales, Marxism and dependence theory by Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, Andre Gnder Frank, Immanuel Wallerstein, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Volkar Bornscier, Janet Abu Lughod, Thomas Hall, Kunibert Raffer, Throtonio dos Santos and Hohn Meyer in particular, focusing on analysis of society in historical perspective as well and emphasizing the change, are of particular mention. Moreover, ideas related to the Game theory of Anatoly Borisovich Rapoport [1911-2007], Myerson, Felix Edouard Justin Emile Borel [1871-1956] and John von Neumann, and the ideas in the root of concepts like that of the Phronetic social science, social defeat, conflict theories or the Sociology of peace, war, conflict and the Conflict management, are also significant from the resolution viewpoint in particular. Further, many of them are connected to one-another and therefore may be the subject of study and analysis. 
But, what common in the theories of the West could be observed is all of them in one way or the other accept social inequality, a state in which an individual or groups of individuals do not have equal status in society including political rights such as the right to vote, freedom of speech or expression, property or wealth, education, health and discrimination in the name of caste, class, ethnicity, gender and race, and also the denial of social justice to individuals or particular groups of individuals, as the central point of conflicts. Political and economic inequalities are essentially included in it as all the three –social, political and economic walks of life are connected to each-other; they are inseparable part of one system; hence, cannot be separated from one-another. Moreover, structural functionalism –a comprehensive interpretation of society and its function as a whole, i.e., role and function of its customs, norms, traditions, values and different institutions –more or less emerges as the basic point in all of them. In it, class domination, i.e., control of the so called upper classes over the middle and lower classes of society in different form, and on the strength of this domination former’s exploitations of the others. At the cost of others these particular classes constantly attempt to achieve power and prosperity, and when in their attempts they step forward, conflicts take place as reaction from the others.
This view categorically strengthens my opinion in which, I have put forth that individual, or group of individuals makes efforts to subjugate others. To satisfy selfishness, appetites and violent passion, men, or group of men desires its mastership on others; resultantly, sooner or later the state of conflict emerges.
Social-Classical Theories: Among the two main social-classical theories of the West, particularly related to conflicts, one undoubtedly relates to Marxism, which is known as the Critical theory, while the other one is associated with Gumplowicz and Ward. Both these theories are the most important and subject of study and critical analysis here.
Marxist Theory: In the academic world, in socio-political studies in particular, Marxist theory pertaining to conflicts occupies a foremost place. Karl Marx having the dialectical materialism as the nuclei in his ideas interpreted the human history. Making economic states of the ages the basis, he established that the two classes of people namely slave-master, oppressed-oppressor or exploited-exploiter had always existed in the society. That state had been responsible for inequality between the two resultantly for internal tension leading to conflicts, some times of fierce nature. The slave, oppressed or resource-less [the proletariat] for their freedom from the master, oppressor or exploiter, and to attain equality in society, went forward to fight –hidden and open, both. Finally, through a radical change, revolution by the proletarian, situation became normal, conflict-free. To quote from the Communist Manifesto [1948], “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Thus, according to Marxism a bloody revolution was inevitable and essential in this regard.  
Conflict-related Marxist theory for years remained not only important, but some of its aspects are still worth consideration. Further, the manner the Marxist theory accorded a new dimension to the socio-political thoughts, the West in particular, and also to the classical thinking tradition of Europe; millions of people all over the world impressing by it in the Nineteenth Century –the Century in which this theory was established, and also in the Twentieth Century, stepped forward to actions, the importance of this multiplied many folds. Therefore, study of those features of this philosophy is indispensable, which made it worthy and important.
The first and the foremost important feature of Marxist theory of conflict could be observed in its interpretation of human history in economic perspectives. This interpretation is quite systematic and fully in scholarly manner. Secondly, the argument pertaining to the role of economic aspect in class struggles and in the domination of a particular class, which occupies and controls the economic structure of society, on socio-political system is also worth consideration. It is imperative and as we all know, importance and role of economic aspect in the making of socio-political structure of a society or the nation cannot be underestimated. Despite other working system of governance the experiences of democracies all over the world well prove this fact. Thirdly, Marxist viewpoint of accepting inequality as the cause of class struggle stands sound. It is a reality; none can deny it.
Predominantly for these three features the Marxist concept related to conflict in society became important and emerged as one of the leading theories pertaining to it. This theory, as mentioned before, drew the attention of millions of people all over the world, impressed them and prepared for a radical change. It can be said with certainty that among the theories, which played the vital role in the entire human history in bringing about fundamental changes in societies, Marxism occupied a foremost place.
Critical Analysis of Marxist Theory: Despite this, right from the days of its inception, Marxism, particularly its concept related to conflict had been a subject of criticism. Its significance and adaptability in prevailing circumstances of space had been the subjects of argument and disagreement among the scholars all over the world. This situation remains so till today. I have myself been studying Marxism minutely, that too, from my adolescent age. In this regard, the two foremost aspects of this philosophy –economic interpretation of history and dialectical materialism –have been the subjects of my interest in particular.
The Marxist interpretation of history on the basis of economic states of the ages is systematic and scholarly; therefore, an important one, however, the whole history of struggles in societies, or class struggles of the imagination of Marxism, from the origin to the present, cannot be based upon economic factor only. It could be true particularly in context to the West and that too for certain age of history. But, in the whole of the West, and the rest of the world, in conflicts or wars for socio-political supremacy only economic factor has not been responsible. This factor has also not been the vital in wars fought through the ages for years and decades in the name of making civilizations and religious supremacies.
Further, dialectical materialism, based upon a constant process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis in Marxist theory, and of which according Marx capitalism was the last stage. It was further modified by Lenin with the opinion that the imperialism was the last stage of capitalism. Thus, he accorded the place of capitalism to the imperialism. This again was despite seeming scholarly not a complete idea. We know, neither capitalism in its final stage collapsed in advanced and industrialized countries of Europe and America to pave the way for the establishment of the rule of the proletarians as claimed by Karl Marx, nor emerged a situation of the imagination of Lenin after almost the end of imperialism in the world. Further, a completely different situation emerged in China where Mao Tse-Tung made peasantry the centre of revolution in place of the class of proletarians. 
What happened ultimately in other countries of the world where communist rule were established! No equality could be observed among the people. No end of class struggle was perceived there. In many of the countries under the communism people felt boredom of forcefully imposed rule and stepped forward for democracy –the government of the people. In a country like China people are harassed continuously. Human rights are violated time and again. Chinese policy of creating atmosphere of fear and extensionism, another form of imperialism, is also well before the world. It wears a mask of communism, but internal reality is quite different.
Well! Both the Marxist claims about the supremacy of economic factor in context of conflict or class struggle and dialectical materialism, despite seeming scholarly and systematically, and also leaving a comprehensive impact upon people for years, could not passed their acid test as is evident from the series of events of the countries under communist rule for decades. It proved to be momentary; people came to the forefront to end the communist rule!
Gumplowicz-Ward Theory: The two eminent and contemporary sociologist, Ludwing Gumplowicz [1838-1909 AD, who besides being an eminent Polish jurist and political scientist, is recognized as one of the founders of the European sociology] and Laster Frank Ward [1841-1913 AD, a renowned American botanist, paleontologist and sociologist who became the first chairman of the American Sociological Association] while stressing on systematic study and analysis of society, called for connecting conflicts as essential part of it. Both of them were of the view that conflicts and struggles were the subjects of society, connected with the social system; therefore, they must be observed together with the scientific study and analysis of society.
Although both of them never brought out any collaborative work on various issues related to society or the state of conflicts, yet they had the ideological similarity on the subject to a lager extent. Both of them particularly emphasized the need of analysis of society and social issues including conflicts systematically. For their uniformity in ideas they were, and are, put together by subject specialist while studying and analyzing the subject, and for this if their ideas are termed as the Gumplowicz-Ward theory, nothing is unusual in it.
Gumplowicz was of the opinion that ‘the social system should be studied thoroughly by having the state of conflict in the centre so that the reality of origin and root cause of it could well feasible’. Similarly, Ward, stressing on scientific analysis of society, had put forth that ‘sociology is dedicated to study of man and human society; the prime objective of science itself  is the welfare of man and science if, despite its being agree to this, fails to do so, it is not the real one’. Therefore, the state of conflict in society should be observed, analyzed and studied in this very perspective. In this regard he wrote in a preface to Dynamic Sociology, “The real object of science is to benefit man. A science, which fails to do this, however, agreeable its study, is lifeless. Sociology, which of all sciences should benefit man most, is in danger of falling into the class of polite amusements, or dead sciences. It is the object of this work to point out a method by which the breath of life may be breathed into its nostrils.”
Gumplowicz and Ward, both, more or less, accorded priority to society over the individual. They declared man to be a part of group, ultimately the society and proclaimed that the individual never functioned as individual, but only as a member of a group, and influence of which determined his behaviour. Therefore, social change, and creation of history itself, was the product of conflicts among social groups. The history of all nations was one of the class conflicts [in society], in which the fittest definitely survived and dominated those less fit. Each social group strived to emerge as the controlling and dominating group within the state with the sole motive of achieving self-interest. Similar to the groups in society this principle applied to the behaviour of states. The most natural tendency of states could be observed in their wish to continuous increase of power and territorial expansion. The mighty states tried to control and dominate those states, rulers and people of which were weak and unable to resist. They on the strength of their power and resources ruled them, exploited people in the same manner as within the territorial limit of the state powerful group –the fittest, exploited the others, the less fit.    
Contrary to the Marxist view Gumplowicz and Ward were interestingly of the opinion that conflicts, wars and conquests were the makers of societies; cultural, ethnic-racial conflicts gave birth to civilization –a dimension to the process of development. 
Despite the presence of temporary tendencies like jealousy and competition in man, development is in fact a necessity of individual as well the society, and civilization is the outcome of the process of development.  Gumplowicz and Ward making this reality the basis of their ideas viewed that cultural and racial conflicts were for the making of civilization. One’s domination over the other, emergence of situation of slave and master and also the organization of state-like institution were the consequence of that very process. In the words of Gumplowicz himself, "Every political organization and hence every developing organization, begins when one group permanently subjects another. Subjection of some to the others is the source of political organization, is the condition essential to social growth.”
Critical Analysis of Gumplowicz-Ward Theory: Categorically, contrary to economic factor, the process of development and the making of civilization remained nuclei in the Gumplowicz-Ward theory. This process is dynamic, a necessity human life and a social inevitability. Despite this, similar to the Marxism this concept also remained confined to the European societies, the Western world. Gumplowicz and Ward, despite accepting the process of development as the maker of civilization, declared social change to be the root cause of conflict. It could be true about Europe or the Western world, but not in toto about the East. In the East from ancient times knowledge and spiritualism had deeply affected individuals and societies. Principal human values, the supreme value of Ahimsa in particular played the vital in day-to-day practices of man; hence, in the making of civilization.
About conflict, as they were, and are, inevitable in human society, it can be said with certainty that both the Eastern and Western societies, were, and are, equally within their grab. It was, and is, not possible that any of the two –the West and the East – was less affected by temporary tendencies like jealously and competitions, which are present in man. Gumplowicz and Ward, despite presenting a worthy and scholarly analysis of society and its structure, could not focus enough on this realty particularly pertaining to jealously and competition.  
View of Peace and Security: How to Achieve?
The Marxist concept desiring class equality with the purpose of avoiding conflicts at national and international levels hoped for peace in society, state, and on earth. This was in fact the Marxist view pertaining to guarantee of security of each and everyone. For this, internal and external peace and security, Marxism stressed on action from the state level. The Marxist perception of equal distribution at the state level and equal arrangement of market for states at the global level could be viewed in this perspective. For initiatives at the state level, as a means, this theory proposed a violent action, bloody revolution, so that the rule of proletarians could be established to pave the way for an international order. With the opinion that ‘class-struggle is a terrible and the greatest social problem, and in the whole history of the world not a single problem of class struggle has ever been solved without violence’, Marxism stressed on the state control over the all resources and distribution system, control of proletarians on power; the rule of the Communist Party –the political organization of the proletarians.
Similarly, Gumplowicz and Ward desiring equality among the people by check and balance proposed society’s interference to minimize or eradicate poverty to pave the way to peace and security. Especially Ward desired women equality as essential for peace in society and for this stressed on their awakening through education and empowerment so that they could attain rights and justice –necessary for security, and contribute equally towards social harmony and to the process of peace. They, interestingly, emphasized the need of imparting education among the masses in respect to the welfare of the world in general.
Conclusion: Despite being attractive and seeming effective at certain point of age, Marxism, its concepts related to conflict, peace and security in particular, due to its base on fundamentalism could not succeed. In spite of analyzing economic aspect of life in a beautiful manner, it could not acquire concord with the reality of the law of change and its vital role in the world order. Marxist stress on unnecessary control over human mind and freedom of speech, and using violence for a change in fact brought it to the downfall. It lacked familiarity with the reality of Ahimsa, a permanent attribute of man, fully capable of bringing effective and longtime change in society.
The Gumplowicz-Ward concept on the other hand might seem worth consideration for its call of gender equality or people’s equality in socio-political and economic spheres, and for it in fixing responsibilities of society. It may seem important in current perspective when the process of unity at the global level is going on swiftly, but significance of a concept can be testified from its application or adaptability in current situations of space and demand of time. The end result of an idea in lager welfare of people can only be the acid test of any of the concepts.         

No comments: