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A Hero for Our Time: Book Review of Elise Boulding
an article by David Adams

We need heroes. This is no less true when we are adult than when we were children. And it is especially true if we work for peace, because throughout our lives from the educational system and the mass media we have been subjected to war heroes instead.

Elise Boulding is a true hero for a culture of peace in every respect, and this is masterfully shown in the new biography of her by Mary Lee Morrison. Elise has educated for power through nonviolence. She has shared information, not only with adults but also with children on an equal level. She has worked for democratic participation both at the grass-roots level and at the level of international non-governmental organizations. She has promoted international understanding and tolerance among all peoples, including indigenous peoples and all religions. She exemplifies the equality of women, including through her landmark book, "The Underside of History: A View of Women through Time". And she has written an excellent book on the culture of peace, "Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History." By the way, both of these books need to be reviewed by CPNN.

Mary Lee Morrison's biography provides both intimate details, made available through personal interviews, and extensive research documenting the rich public career of Elise as a sociologist, activist and organizer at both the local and international levels. She played key roles in the development of many of today's peace institutions including the International Peace Research Association, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Peace Teams.

I have a special respect for Elise because she helped draft the first call for a culture of peace as a member of the editing team for the outcome document of the Yamoussoukro Conference in Côte D'Ivoire, Africa, in 1989.

If you have a chance to meet Elise, by all means take advantage of it as the highest of priorities, because, as she says at the end of the Morrison book, her journey has arrived at the "country of old age." But if that is not possible, the next best thing is to read and study this authoritative book on her life and teachings.

Details of the book: "Elise Boulding: A Life in the Cause of Peace" and it is published by McFarland & Co, Jefferson, North Carolina and London, copyright 2005.


Question(s) related to this article:

What are the most important books about peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Johan Galtung is indeed the most perceptive peace researcher of our time.

Not only did he predict the fall of the Soviet Union quite precisely, but he has also predicted the fall of the American empire.  Here are excerpts from his 2004 article,
On the Coming Decline and Fall of the US Empire

The prediction of the decline and fall of the US Empire is based on the synergy of 14 contradictions, and the time span for the contradictions to work their way through decline to fall was estimated at 25 years in the year 2000. There are more contradictions because the US Empire is more complex, and the time span is longer also because it is more sophisticated. After the first months of President George W. Bush (selected) the time span was reduced to 20 years because of the way in which he sharpened so many of the contradictions posited the year before, and because his extreme singlemindedness made him blind to the negative, complex synergies. . . .

Here is the list of 14 contradictions posited in 2000:

I. Economic Contradictions(US led system WB/IMF/WTO NYSE Pentagon)

1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger

2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work

3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming

II. Military Contradictions (US led system NATO/TIAP/USA-Japan)

4. between US state terrorism and terrorism: Blowback

5. between US and allies (except UK, D, Japan), saying enough

6. between US hegemony in Eurasia and the Russia India China triangle, with 40% of humanity

7. between US led NATO and EU army: The Tindemans follow-up

III. Political Contradictions (US exceptionalism under God)

8. between USA and the UN: The UN hitting back

9. between USA and the EU: vying for Orthodox/Muslim support

IV. Cultural Contradictions (US triumphant plebeian culture)

10. between US Judeo-Christianity and Islam (25% of humanity; UNSC nucleus has four Christian and none of the 56 Muslim countries).

11. between US and the oldest civilizations (Chinese, Indian, Mesopotamian, Aztec/Inca/Maya)

12. between US and European elite culture: France, Germany, etc.

V. Social Contradictions (US led world elites vs the rest: World Economic Forum, Davos vs World Social Forum, Porto Alegre)

13. between state corporate elites and working classes of unemployed and contract workers. The middle classes?

14. between older generation and youth: Seattle, Washington, Praha, Genova and ever younger youth. The middle generation?

15. To this could be added: between myth and reality.

This report was posted on February 23, 2006.