PEACE STUDIES on the "Psychological Interpretation of War"
Special Issue of the PEACE REVIEW on:
"The Psychological Interpretation of War"
Editors, Richard Koenigsberg and Wendy Hamblet
-------------------------------------------------------------PLEASE SEND US YOUR ABSTRACT:
Please send a two-hundred word abstract proposing your essay to the PEACE REVIEW EDITORS, Richard Koenigsberg, Ph. D. and Wendy C. Hamblet, Ph. D. to arrive no later than December 31, 2004 to the e-mail address shown below.
Horace wrote that “it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.” This thought has echoed through the centuries, punctuating the battle cries of those who dream of righteous conquest and holy war. Warfare has been perpetuated to the extent that struggles on the battlefield have been linked with ideals such as honor, duty, and loyalty.
Yet these words cannot nullify the reality of warfare, which is death, destruction and devastation. Gwynne Dyer captures war's essence when he contends that, by becoming soldiers, “Men agree to die when we tell them to.”
In the twentieth and twenty-first century, vast numbers of civilians have joined soldiers as victims of war. Brzezinski describes the last century as the “century of the megadeath,” estimating that more than 87 million lives were lost in the wars of the past one-hundred years. In the First World War, nine-million people died--more than twice as many as had died in wars in the previous two centuries. Yet the Second World War produced a death toll of even greater magnitude, estimated at well over fifty-million.
How can we make sense of the ritual of death and destruction in warfare? What does it mean? What is its continuing appeal? What does its persistence say about us? This special issue of the PEACE REVIEW on “The Psychological Interpretation of War” will address these and similar questions, exploring the human tendency to embrace warfare--in spite of the misery it creates and disillusionment that follows in its wake. Though warfare is often thought of as normative if not normal, we shall seek to lift the idea of war out of the realm of the self-evident and to view it as something extraordinary.
This special issue will raise vital questions relating to the psychology of war. For example, how do motives such as fear, humiliation, anger, and the wish for vengeance become linked to the ideology of warfare? If war indeed is a socially constructed institution, upon what bases do we construct it? By virtue of what mechanisms do we turn human "others" into enemies? How do we come to believe that killing is "necessary" to the creation of a better world? What is the relationship between the notion of a sacred ideal and the willingness to kill and to sacrifice one’s own life?
To move toward a world not dominated by warfare, one must do more than advocate peace. We must begin by interrogating the sources of war’s appeal. In this special issue of the PEACE REVIEW, we seek to publish outstanding papers that explore the mystery of the human attraction to an institution whose primary product has been suffering and death.
The Peace Review
Peace Review is a quarterly, multidisciplinary, transnational journal of research and analysis, focusing on the current issues and controversies that underlie the promotion of a more peaceful world. Social progress requires, among other things, sustained intellectual work, which should be pragmatic as well as analytical. The task of the journal is to present the results of this research and thinking in short, accessible and substantive essays. Recent contributors include Richard Rorty, Stephen Zunes and Drucilla Cornell.
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