Joe Scarry | A Globally-Connected Peace Movement: What’s Stopping Us?

The biggest obstacle to a truly global peace movement may actually be the structures upon which we’ve leaned for so long . . . .

By Joe Scarry  Joe Scarry’s Blog  December 28, 2016

move to end violence
A globally connected peace movement?

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I wrote several weeks ago suggesting that the “Internet of Things” could be a useful framework for thinking about how to network the global peace movement.

To accomplish this, I think we will need to take a step back from things (devices) and even programs and data structures, and begin with the question: what is the problem we might hope to solve?

I was reminded of this in a community organizing meeting recently, when the participants quickly got off and running with talk of websites and databases and user accounts and administrators, and lots of ideas about what we could do, until we realized we were all talking about different things because we had not yet reached a shared statement of what the problem was that needed to be solved.

In my earlier post, I referred to the nuts and bolts of peace work — the conceptual components, or what computer science people sometimes call “objects.” For a long time, much movement activity — at least the most organized parts of it — has centered around a few objects: organizations, campaigns, supporters, actions. For a long time, these were the objects that the available technology could best support. (To a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.)

I have noticed that more and more people are finding the strength in peace and justice work that is found in affinity groups. That seems to me to be a reminder that the formal attributes of (often rigid and relatively static) organization are actually less important than the powerful benefits that people get from informal, flexible (and often highly dynamic) affinity.  I think there’s a lot more to be said on this subject.

For now, I’ll tee up a proposal for what is the problem we might hope to solve:

Given the size, global spread, and enormous diversity of the community of peace advocates worldwide, how might we help people to maximize the benefits of affinity, while minimizing possible costs or burdens?

(Put another way: how can our work for peace go viral, without getting bogged down in national or organizational or other differences?)

Vote on resolution to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017 (L-41)
Green – Yes (123, 76%)
Red – No (38, 24%)
Beige – Abstained

Here’s a practical example: peace advocates in every country in the world have the opportunity to work for global nuclear disarmament in 2017. How can we harness the available technology to get everyone plugged into what will necessarily be a massive effort? Many people will channel their efforts through the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and its partner organizations. But I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg . . .

To be continued.


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