Roots of Peace

Eric Shragge, Ronald Babin, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt eds. Roots of Peace: The Movement against Militarism in Canada. Toronto: Between the Lines 1986, $12.95

By Kathleen O'Hara (reviewer) | 1987-10-01 12:00:00

Roots for Peace is an effective and realistic handbook for peacemakers. It is effective because of its breadth: chapter subjects range from détente from below to trade unions and peace. It is realistic because of its analysis: In the introduction the three editors sum up what they see as the basis for Canada's militarism, "U.S.. control over Canada, private capital's shaping of the economy, and the wide ideology and practice of patriarchy." They argue that without dealing with these roots of war "the peace movement will end up only the escalation of the arms race." Instead, it must have its own positive vision and program. For me the most important pieces are those that deal with creating alternatives. Thus Pierre Beaudet says peace movements of the North can learn much from liberation movements of the South. In her "A Feminist Approach," Phyllis Aronoff criticizes the peace movement's "tendency to favor limited unified objectives (such as stopping cruise testing or Star Wars), centralized control, and speaking with one voice." In "Disarmament and Non-Alignment," Dan Smith opposes that same centralized control. He argues that only mass participation can produce the diversity and energy required for effectiveness. Ideally, he says local and regional branches should organize their own actions and set their own priorities and agendas, as well as acting upon those of the national leadership. Smith also notes that the Western European movements have generated their own leaders and stayed away from focusing on electoral and parliamentary politics, which "tends to hand leadership positions to professional politicians."

This tactical problem is one that Dr. Paul Cappon also deals with in his article. Based on his own frustrating discussions with political leaders and several members of parliament, Cappon also advises against too much emphasis on trying to influence politicians. He writes, "More energy should be devoted to internal organization and education than to current appeals to elected representatives." Something to think about.

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1987

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1987, page 42. Some rights reserved.

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