The second half of the book is an examination of the major ideas behind peace movements, ranging from religion and philosophy to democracy and social justice. While [David Cortright] reviews the doctrines of various religions Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam - his focus is on Christianity, especially social Christianity, and in particular the theological debate between Reinhold Niebuhr and John Howard Yoder. For Cortright, Niebuhr was the pivotal figure in the evolution of a more practical pacifism. Since he is often misunderstood as a narrow political realist, the author is determined to rescue him "from the militarists, while acknowledging his critique of pure pacifism and his insistence on a more pragmatic and contingent understanding of the prospects for peace" (204). Yoder countered the thrust of Niebuhr's challenge - the complete rejection of human perfectibility - with the argument that the ethical goal "is not perfection but a less imperfect world." But even he admitted that "the logic of Niebuhr's argument pointed toward nonviolent action as a bridge between injustice and moral purity" (207-8). Niebuhr's endorsement of Gandhian nonviolence became, in Cortright' s words, "a force more powerful" (211).
| Reviews | PEACE A History of Movements and Ideas David Cortright Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. $29.99 paper (ISBN 978-0- 521-67000-5) What exactly is peace? Is it more than the absence of war and yet not necessarily the absence of conflict? And what about all those people who campaigned for peace down through the years only to have been dismissed as misguided, unpatriotic idealists? Have they not been judged too harshly? These are just some of the questions that peace scholar and activist David Cortright analyzes in his latest book Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas. From the first few pages it is clear that he sees peace as a proactive phenomenon, a “dynamic process” of resolving disputes without violent conflict and transforming the conditions that cause war (8). As for pacifists, he believes they have been treated unfairly, so he attempts “to set the record straight” and give them and the cause of peace their “day in court” by reexamining the historical evidence (1). Cortright divides the book into two parts. The first is a historical survey of peace movements, including those for internationalism and disarmament, beginning with the early peace societies of the 19th century and continuing up to the current war on terror. While this is familiar territory, Cortright gives it a fresh perspective in the same way that feminist scholars have revised history by reinterpreting standard sources. The core of his argument is that peace advocates, including some doctrinaire pacifists, far from being irrelevant dreamers, have been pragmatists. They have often offered realistic assessments of conflicts and their causes and have even called for resistance to aggression, most notably during the 1930s when leading figures, including Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Bart de Ligt, and Vera Brittain not only condemned fascis
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