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Mikhail Gorbachev - World Without Wars

Manifesto - World Without Wars




Throughout human history war has always been
present as the greatest source of pain and suffering.


There are those who are interested in creating armed conflicts. They argue that violence is a natural form of human behavior. By 'natural' they imply that this is something that cannot be transformed by human intentions, that it will be this way for all of human existence. Others have gone even further and have argued that violence is a 'necessary evil.'

The human edifice has been built thanks to the work and creativity of generations, and through the interchange and solidarity between them. It is true that on occasion an individual, group or even an entire nation acts violently and produces the opposite. However, there are always conditions that precede an outburst of violence and this is precisely where we must act in order to deflect the enormous forces that have been unleashed.

Non-violence is neither weak nor soft nor cowardly -- quite the opposite. It is an attitude which, from our point of view, does not exclude the right to self-defense. Non-violence is something we can choose, and its a choice that today is not only possible but necessary. Through this choice an individual, a group or an entire nation demonstrates, to their contemporaries as well as to those who will follow in the course of history, their moral strength and their level of consciousness.

Violence is an 'error of response,' not an expression of evil intrinsic to the human race. Either every human being born on this planet carries the pathological features of this peculiar mental infirmity, or we must conclude that wars are not a mechanical, uncontrollable natural phenomenon like hurricanes and earthquakes. Wars are linked to the interests and intentions of concrete individuals and groups. War is considered, planned and decided on by a handful of people who are sick with cruelty and the craving for power and money. Through arguments that are as immoral as they are invalid this small number of individuals involves entire peoples in the fulfillment of their plans. This immorality has its consequences: desperation, loneliness, illness, destruction, hunger, mutilation, insanity, destruction and death.


Threats of confrontation are increasing, and the outbreak of local wars continues to grow. In many areas other forces have started to act, sometimes taking the form of nationalist or ethnic struggles and sometimes religious ones. These are all situations that prevent human development from taking place within a context of peace, interchange and brotherhood.

The negative impact of war is greatest in those countries whose resources are most limited. Funds that should be invested in education, health, science, and culture are diverted towards defense and armaments. Time and again it has been shown that many governments invest more in defense than in health and education. On the other hand, for many countries increasing exports of weapons and military technology means that wars act as sources of foreign exchange.

To cite only one example, numerous studies have demonstrated that world hunger could be abolished with only 10% of what is spent on armament and research for exclusively destructive ends. It's difficult to imagine what could be done if 30, 50 or even 100% of these resources were used to promote life, not death -- to help surpass physical pain and mental suffering, instead of adding to them.

We live in a world in which it is no longer legitimate to claim: 'These are other people's problems. We don't have any conflicts here.' Today's rapid process of globalization is accelerating and what occurs in one place has immediate repercussions in others. If a stock market collapses, a chain reaction of crises affects the economy of countries and entire regions. Programs of 'adjustment' almost instantly transform the way of life of hundreds of millions of people and in turn lead to social explosions, and the phenomenon of massive migrations.


We might naively suppose that, regardless of what we do, wars will magically cease -- even if we don't do anything; that one day the media will announce that 'peace is here to stay.' But we are not dealing with something inevitable; we can end war, but that is not the same as claiming that 'war will end by itself.'

At the personal level the image of ending war may be so immense and complex that it ends up paralyzing rather than mobilizing us. After uncounted centuries of violence it seems difficult to imagine that war can end. However before international political strategies and local plans are established, the image of a planet without war will have to live within each of us as our own personal vision and commitment.

This is the key point, the starting point for the whole issue. If the majority of human beings do not want wars, but at the same time believe that it is impossible to stop them, then the first change we must bring about is in our own heads. We must change our belief in this supposedly immutable reality. We must change the idea that 'it's not possible' because many times it is only what we believe about 'reality' that keeps us from transforming it.

What is human history, if not the history of the overcoming of limitations? From the moment that the human being emerged, from the very first rudiments of civilization, hasn't the human being rebelled against 'the natural,' against 'the given'? Isn't this what has made it possible for us to feed ourselves, increase our knowledge of our own bodies, cure our diseases, navigate and learn about the ocean depths, communicate instantaneously across the planet, explore the universe? Isn't this what makes it possible for us to use nature's resources to our own advantage?

This is the meaning of history: the constant effort to overcome pain and suffering -- both personal and social; the constant effort to attain happiness, freedom and life's joy. The uninterrupted millennial struggle, to transform the natural environment into a place fit for human life, to transform the social environment into a place worthy of human development without limits.


We have the possibility and moral responsibility of deciding whether we want to keep on living and under what conditions we wish to do so. It is our privilege to act now, for ourselves, for the generations to come and for the generations that preceded us. We have the privilege of doing our part and reaching the highest goal: the eradication violence as a way of relating, transforming ourselves and transforming the world into the dwelling place for a new humanity -- and to achieve this within our lifetime.

We want to resolve the problem of war and we think that this will be possible if there is an unwavering intention that spreads and generates ambits of organization and participation. As more and more people join this campaign, completely new ideas, plans and strategies will arise, opening roads that today are still unimaginable. It is preferable to risk falling short of the goal than to never make an effort in this direction.

Ending war is not a new idea. Innumerable people have, at various times and places throughout history, worked inspired by ideas of peace, non-violence, solidarity, non-discrimination, tolerance and respect for diversity. And many are doing so now. But this is not enough. What is needed is a powerful common action -- an action capable of sweeping away the concepts, prejudices, groups and organizations that are trying to keep us living in prehistory, under the rule of brute force, in an environment dominated by prejudice, discrimination, brutality and nihilism.


We want Peace. We want to live in a truly and decisively human world. We want to see people bursting with joy on the day when wars stop. This is our aspiration and we believe it is possible. We have faith in ourselves and in other human beings.

We declare our love of life. We declare that all life is sacred. We declare that every child, every person young and old, every man and woman regardless of color, religion or nationalilty has the right to build their life without the fear of death that others choose for them.

We proclaim that the human being is the highest value and that nonviolence is the most worthy attitude. We invite everyone to define their position in regards to this most fundamental theme.

We affirm that the most urgent work today is to rescue the human being from violence. We invite others to participate in this worthy cause, preparing the way for a new humanity.


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