Peacemaking Criminology & Terrorism
A RECIPROCAL APPROACH TO PEACEMAKING CRIMINOLOGY: BETWEEN ADVERSARIALIM AND MUTUALISM was published in Theoretical Criminology Vol. 9(2): 131-152 2005
In the process of characterizing the dialectics of adversarialism and mutualism, a case is made for a reciprocal approach to peacemaking. As part of the rationale for a reciprocity of making war or making peace, critiques are leveled at both “peacemaking” and “warmaking” criminology. The purposes of this article and of my reciprocal approach and its critique are, on the one hand, to help reinvigorate a peacemaking criminology that is often too isolated and marginalized from hegemonic interaction to influence struggles for positive peace and social justice. On the other hand, the article seeks to expose the kinds of reflective thinking and social analysis that a peacemaking criminology must confront if its goals of overcoming or neutralizing a warmaking criminology are ever to materialize at home and abroad.
.An Introduction to Peace and Peacemaking Criminology
A distinction has been made between “negative” and “positive” peace. The former is viewed as stemming from the
mere absence of adversarial conflict and violence; the latter, from the presence of humanism, mutualism, and the
freedom from oppression. Notions of positive peace convey political and economic arrangements “in which
exploitation is minimal or eliminated altogether, and in which there is neither overt violence nor the more subtle
phenomenon of structural violence” (Barash, 1991: 8). In other words, for positive peace to exist as a prevailing
social reality, the dominant sources of violence—alienation, humiliation, shame, inequity, poverty, racism, sexism,
and so on—would have to be substantially reduced, if not done away with (Barak, 2003).
Of course, the question still remains: “How do we get from a world dominated by negative peace to one dominated by positive peace?” A radical transformation of this magnitude depends, in part, on criminologists and other people developing a fundamental appreciation for the dialectics of war and peace, violence and nonviolence, and injustice and justice. It also depends, almost totally, on developing the appropriate strategies and policies of social exchange that flow from the dialectical analyses of adversarialism and mutualism.
In contrasting the perspectives found within and without criminology that advocate an alternative, pluralistic, and postmodern “peace” on crime as opposed to those that advocate a traditional, modernistic, and technological “war” on crime, John Fuller (1998: 88) has argued quite simply that the peacemaking points of view have the potential to provide lasting solutions to the problems that lead individuals to commit harms because: “The war on crime perspective, with its emphasis on punishment and retribution ensures that offenders will strive only to commit their crimes in a more efficient manner so as not to get caught. The peacemaking perspective on the other hand, seeks to address the conditions of society that foster crime and to address the problems of [both] the individual offender [and the victim].”
In speaking of “peacemaking criminology,” Richard Quinney, Harold Pepinsky, Larry Tifft, and Dennis Sullivan, among others, maintain that it is a philosophical approach to crime and justice or to violence and nonviolence grounded in humanism, mutual aid, and the spiritual worlds of existentialism, Buddhism, pacificism, and socialism. Quinney explains that at the very foundations of peacemaking criminology are compassion and love: “A love that not only allows us to identify ourselves with others, but allows us to know that we are one with another, that we are one with each other. Such love makes a different world, a world without crime” (Quinney, 2000: 25). It also constructs a world, and a peacemaking criminology, whose purposes are to promote peaceful and just communities and societies.
In assuming an intersubjectivity of social reality and by approaching peacemaking from an interdisciplinary and integrative stance, Quinney (2000) articulates that for his imagined world without crime or violence to become a reality, there has to be an:
interconnection between the inner peace of
the individual and the outer peace of the world.
The two develop and occur together. The struggle
is to create a humane existence, and such an
existence comes only as we act peacefully toward
ourselves and one another (21).
Efforts or acts by the state that, for example, coercively punish or control others are viewed as violence encouraging rather than violence discouraging in The Struggle to Be Human (Tifft and Sullivan, 1979). And, as Tifft wrote in the foreword to Sullivan’s The Mask of Love (1980: 6): “the violent punishing acts of the state and its controlling professions are of the same genre as the violent acts of individuals.” Accordingly, peacemaking criminologists argue that rather than “escalating the violence in our already violent society by responding to violence and conflict with state violence and conflict in the form of penal sanctions such as death and prison, we need to de-escalate violence by responding to it through forms of conciliation, mediation, and dispute settlement” (Lanier and Henry, 2004: 329)
Going beyond the traditional debate of objective and subjective reality, Quinney maintains that it is existentialism that allows us to entertain the ambiguity of our existence, with its uncertainty and the fear of life and death. The novelist Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) referred to this as “the wisdom of uncertainty.” In the absence of such wisdom, humans have created worlds that are cruel and oppressive. As Kundera (1984: 7) has observed: “Man desires a world where good and evil can be clearly distinguished, for he has an innate and irrepressible desire to judge before he understands. Religions and ideologies are founded on this desire.” Unfortunately, as Kundera underscores, we humans have an inability to tolerate the essential relativity of things human, “an inability to look squarely at the absence of the Supreme Judge” (Ibid.). Quinney (2000) underscores further that the modern law and the administration of criminal justice are also products of our collective inabilities to tolerate the essential relativity of things human. In the larger scheme of things, the inability to accept these social ambiguities represents what Stanley Cohen (2001) refers to as various kinds of “states of denial.”
In a similar way, Erich Fromm (1965), in discussing “a godless religion” and in his pursuit of a nontheistic perspective, offered up his vision of social humanism. In its most basic form, Fromm claimed that social humanism was the belief in the unity of the human race and the potential of human beings for self-actualization through their own individual and shared collective efforts. He further assumed that the urgent issue in the world was the establishment of peace, and that this was inseparable from the realization of the human development project. Fromm (1976) argued in his last book, To Have or to Be, that radical hedonism—seeking maximum pleasure and trying to satisfy the desire to possess—and egoism—selfishness and greed—are products of the economic contradictions of capitalism that promote a having mode of existence over a being mode.
Fromm argued thusly that it was imperative that individuals and societies be based on the being mode of existence. For him, it was simply a matter of human survival. Moreover, for Fromm and many of his followers, the key to their philosophy of life has been the belief that “love” is the essence of being human. In The Art of Loving, he argued that it was love that opens us to the fullness of our being. Love is about activity not passivity; it is primarily about giving rather than receiving. In the opening chapter, “Love and Its Disintegration in Contemporary Western Society, Fromm (1989:75) observes that love is difficult to find and to practice:
No objective observer of our Western life can
doubt that love—brotherly love, motherly love,
and erotic love—is a relatively rare phenomenon,
and that its place is taken by a number of forms
of pseudo-love which are in reality so many forms
of the disintegration of love.
At the same time, this reality of pseudo and disintegrating love also seems to characterize contemporary civilizations in the East, especially in the contexts of late modernity and globalization.
The establishment—East and West, North and South—of authentic love and positive peace in the construction of a peaceful criminology can be derived, however, from the awareness, consciousness, and compassionate sense of the interconnectedness of all things, including people, animals, plants, clouds, and stones. As Quinney (2000: 25) points out, the truth of our interbeing is “beyond the dualistic thinking of the Western mind.” Likewise, Fromm (1976: 28) discusses the illusive qualities of truth and the pathways toward achieving such knowledge when he writes:
Our understanding of the quality of knowing in
the being mode of existence can be enhanced by
the insights of such thinkers as the Buddha, the
Hebrew prophets, Jesus, Master Eckhart, Sigmund
Freud, Karl Marx. In their view, knowing begins
with awareness of the deceptiveness of our common
sense perceptions, in the sense that our picture of
reality does not correspond to what is “really real”
and, mainly, in the sense that most people are half-
awake, half-dreaming, and are unaware that most
of what they hold to be self-evident is illusion
produced by the suggestive influence of the social
world in which they live…Knowing does not mean
to be in possession of the truth, it means to penetrate
the surface and to strive critically and actively in
order to approach truth ever more closely.
Moreover, the search for truth, peace, well-being, and nonviolence as well as the retreat from “false consciousness,” competition, war, and violence involves a recognition of the impermanence of everything and everyone and, at the same time, a recognition that actual knowledge begins with the shattering of illusions—with “disillusionment.”
Stated differently, “everything is everything else” and “everyone is responsible for everything that happens in life,” or “when you produce peace and happiness in yourself, you begin to realize peace for the world (Hahn, 1988: 51-52). Hence, Quinney (2000: 26-27) like A.J. Muste (1942) or Gandhi (1957), argued that peace is the way:
Social action—our service—comes out of the
informed heart, out of the clear and enlightened
mind. We act with an understanding of our own
suffering and the suffering of others. If human
actions are not rooted in compassion, these actions
will not contribute to a compassionate and peaceful
world. “If we cannot move beyond inner discord,
how can we help find a way to social harmony? If
we ourselves cannot know peace, be peaceful, how
will our acts disarm hatred and violence?” The
means cannot be different from the ends, peace can
come only out of peace.
Similarly, in The Geometry of Violence and Democracy, Pepinsky (1991: 323) has held that it is “crucial to peacemaking that confrontation and anger not become violence and punishment.” In the context of the Vietnam War and the Iran Contragate Affair, for example, Pepinsky writes about how he didn’t want to see our political leaders go to jail for their various “crimes against humanity.” However, he didn’t believe that he would “object to their going through a few years of mediation sessions with all the people whose fears they have increased and reinforced, or with the countless families of the countless victims U.S. officials and their private allies have killed” (Pepinsky, 1991: 323). Moreover, Pepinsky (Ibid.) stressed:
The object is neither to obtain revenge nor to
minimize the true suffering caused by…
crime. Once one recognizes the magnitude
of crime, retribution becomes absurd. If we
give a president with a life expectancy of
twenty years a life sentence for first-degree
murder of say 2,000,000 people (the number
of Vietnamese killed in our war), how many
microseconds of jail do we give a kid for
stealing a $400 stereo from someone’s
home? Do we then do nothing about the
In comparable fashion, Sullivan and Tifft, in Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives (2001), prefer mediation, conflict resolution, and mutual aid rather than various forms of coercive punishment. That is to say, such forms of punishment as deterrence, retribution, revenge, retaliation, or vengeance are not viewed as ways of doing and moving toward peace. On the contrary, these punitive responses are fueled by anger and hate, the antitheses of love and compassion. These responses to violence, for example, are simply other forms of violence.
Positive peacemaking, by contrast, as a pathway to the actual reduction of violence is quite different. It is not about the punishment of certain forms of violence and the valorization of other forms, nor is it about the absence of terrorism and war. Rather, positive peacemaking is affirmative. It refers to the affirmative absence of those conditions that foster harm and violence before they occur. More specifically, making peaceful relations recognizes the holistic nature of crime and justice, criminals and victims, violence and nonviolence, war and peace, and so on and so forth. Peacemaking criminologists, working with the notions of “oneness” and “otherness” are unable to separate the perpetrators of crime and punishment from the institutional relations of everyday life. Michael Bracewell (1990) talks thematically in terms of “connectedness,” “caring,” and “mindfulness/inner peace.” Similarly, Fuller (1998) articulates a vision that incorporates interpersonal problems with local and global concerns alike, and a practice that recognizes the interconnectedness of the issues of criminal justice and the issues of social justice.
Critique and Application of Peacemaking Criminology
The ideas and philosophies of contemporary peacemaking criminology have probably met with greater resistance and denial from those that advocate warmaking or adversarial justice than have, perhaps surprisingly, some of the actual peacemaking practices of “restorative justice” that have been adopted worldwide (Sarre, 2003). Criticism of peacemaking criminology has come from both mainstream and critical criminologists. Such critics have contended that the approaches to crime and justice in peacemaking criminology are idealistic, unrealistic, closed to empirical testing, contrary to Marxist and feminist ideas, and precarious in terms of expanding the powers of the state (Akers, 2000; Cohen, 1985).
In contrast, my critique does not disagree with the tenets, sentiments, and philosophical orientations of peacemaking criminology articulated in the previous section. It also does not generally agree with the criticisms leveled by such vastly different criminologists as Ron Akers and Stan Cohen. Moreover, my critique has to do with reconstructing the vision of peacemaking criminology so that it incorporates into its frames of analysis, reference, and work, the sources and operations of both mutualism and adversarialism, in order that a more holistic and practical approach to violence and nonviolence, war and peace, injustice and justice, etc., may emerge and develop.
My general critique of “peacemaking” and “warmaking” criminologies is that both are relatively one-sided or one-dimensional in their approaches to crime and justice. In brief, I charge the former with ignoring the social reality of adversarialism and the latter with ignoring the social reality of mutualism. In either case, the adherents of one or the other, fall victim to the characteristic thinking or logic of Western dualism. As a result, instead of meeting head-on the historical worlds of mutualism and adversarialism in relational, interactive, or dialectical terms, the “idealistic” peacemakers and the “realistic” war makers-- criminological or otherwise-- tend to both conceptually entrap themselves, though with very different consequences. Nevertheless, the common pitfall of both perspectives is that each operates essentially from mutually exclusive paradigms where only one of the two underpinning value systems of opposition or competition as well as the behavioral and interacting ways of organizing individuals, groups, and entire societies, are seriously engaged.
Hence, most adversarialists without much difficulty deny the realities of pacifists or nonviolent activists and their representations of the world; most mutualists similarly deny the realities of warmongers or vengeance seekers and their representations of the world. My point is simply that both of these realities and the inextricable relationships between them must be addressed if the subordinate or alternative realities and ideologies of mutualism are ever to become earnest contenders going toe-to-toe so to speak with the hegemonic realities and ideologies of adversarialism.
For example, in creating a humane existence is it only about the mutualistic attributes or values of acting peacefully and nonviolently toward people like Quinney asserts? Or, is it also about the ability to interact in opposition to, or with, the adversarial attributes or values of conflict and violence? Or, in addressing the contradictions of capitalism, such as the escalating inequality and privilege in the consumption of goods and services, the rising exploitation and super-exploitation of workers and non-workers, and the increasing oppression and repression of a swelling number of people worldwide, is Fromm correct when he identifies the social pathology affecting us all as primarily a case of the having mode triumphing over the being mode? Or is it also, once again, about coming to terms with both the “having” and “being” modes of existence, and finding or discovering some kind of “homeostasis” between them?
In the context of trying to incorporate the paradigms of both mutualism and adversarialism as well as the having and being modes of existence, the rest of this article develops the case for a dialectical or reciprocal approach to peacemaking criminology that operates across the spheres of making war or making peace in general, and of making war or making peace on crime and justice in particular. Applied to the institutions of warmaking (violence) and peacemaking (nonviolence), a reciprocal framework grounded in the context of the two fundamental ways of organizing human relations allows us to conceptually: (1) understand where our adversarial and mutual responses come from, (2) assess our political, economic, and social policies locally, nationally, and globally, and (3) attempt to transform the social realities far and near with respect to a peacemaking realignment that struggles to maximize peace and justice while it also struggles to minimize harm and violence.
Apocalypse or Civility?
There is a tendency in peace and conflict studies to view and discuss power primarily in terms of social groups and material interests. However, it should be noted that these social, political, and economic relations are also psychological. For example, many of these relationships or interests that tend to be quite personal in nature, are experienced as unresolved psychic conflicts and desires. In other words, these personal and political conflicts or desires are often as, if not, more emotional than they are physical. Whatever the exact case may be, these unsettled public and private matters have consciously and unconsciously promoted, in the name of peace and justice, both violence and injustice.
As a consequence of these contradictions, a basic principle shared by advocates of both peace studies and models of nonviolence has been the fundamental task of humanity learning how to handle its individual, social, and global strife in more constructive and peaceful ways. Conrad Brunk (2000: 12) underscores this point: “Rather than continuing to rely on entrenched procedures, we need to find less destructive, less violent ways of dealing with conflict at every level, from the family and the neighborhood all the way up to the community of nations and states.” The alternative is the perpetuation of negative peace at best, which according to positive peace, is no peace at all. Of course, the same argument applies equally to the case for negative and positive justice.
Seen from the perspective of reciprocal peacemaking, references to nonviolence and peace are made here in the context of an alternative practice and vision to the paradigm of adversarialism, and as an expression of the shared practice and vision of the paradigm of mutualism. Once again, in the contexts of social action and political praxis, I argue that both of these paradigms need to be taken seriously and that each needs to be continually reevaluated and reconstructed in light of the evolving human condition. For example, as Gordon Fellman (1998: 6) articulates in Rambo and the Dalai Lama:
I see the shifting of relative emphasis from adversarialism
to mutuality as essential to the survival of our species, of
other species, of nature itself. I am not predicting that in
the face of possible human-engineered extinction, we will
opt for life; I am only suggesting that with the proper
analysis and appropriate behaviors that follow from it, we
can find our way to renouncing the predominance of
adversarial ways and creating a fully elaborated mutuality
as an essential piece of a survival strategy.
Stated differently, each of these paradigmatic models for viewing human behavior, provides plenty of meaning and orientation to the world. In the adversarial view of the world, human interaction is based primarily on conflicts of interests, wars, and the opposition of people to each other and to nature; in the mutualistic view of the world, social organization is based primarily on cooperation, nurturing, and loving. Historically, the model of adversarialism has been the dominant one and the model of mutualism has been the subordinate one. When it comes to the contemporary omnipotence of adversarialism over mutualism, Robert Lifton (2003: 11) argues in Superpower Syndrome that:
The apocalyptic imagination has spawned a
new kind of violence at the beginning of the
twenty-first century. We can, in fact, speak of
a worldwide epidemic of violence aimed at
massive destruction in the service of various
visions of purification and renewal. In particular,
we are experiencing what could be called an
apocalyptic face-off between Islamist forces,
overtly visionary in their willingness to kill and
die for their religion, and American forces
claiming to be restrained and reasonable but no
less visionary in their projection of a cleansing
warmaking and military power. Both sides are
energized by versions of intense idealism; both
see themselves embarked on a mission of
combating evil in order to redeem and renew
the world; and both are ready to release untold
levels of violence to achieve that purpose.
Or, in the words of Charles Derber from the 2004 edition of his soon to be a classic book, The Wilding of America:
The U.S. and its terrorist enemies function like
spouses in a long and hostile co-dependent marriage.
They hate each other but need the marriage because
it serves crucial functions for each of them. While
trying to destroy one another, they also become
increasingly reliant on the conflict between them
to survive and achieve their own aims (Derber,
The fact of the matter is that a “codependent marriage” has developed between adversarial elites in the executive, legislative, and corporate suites of power in the United States and in the various cells and extremist networks of terrorists such as Al Qaeda. In other words, as both seek to destroy each other, they also find each other useful in the promotion of their own ends. That is, the American empire provides Al Qaeda with its most potent tool for rallying Arab support and for undercutting moderate Islamic groups that could make Al Qaeda largely irrelevant. Similarly, Al Qaeda provides American political leaders with their most powerful case for “beefing up” homeland security, for enhanced military expenditures, and for “pre-emptive” wars abroad that may bring billions of dollars of profits to the likes of Halliburton, Bechtel, and other corporate giants.
On the other hand, from the stance of civility, it can be argued that we should also talk of a quieter, less noisy and conspicuous worldwide “epidemic in peacemaking.” As Noam Chomsky in Power and Terror: Post-9/11Talks and Interviews conveys, despite much evidence to the contrary, the world as a whole has become more civilized over the past 40 years. Hence, it may turn out that in the 21st century, the subordinate ideas of mutualism as expressed, for example, in the recent worldwide concern for human rights abuses and violations, may indeed, experience a growth in both its attractiveness and attainability as it becomes more familiar and more routine in the global state of affairs.
The “battle” to develop a fuller and richer mutualism as well as the challenge to reign in and to control our adversarial tendencies, especially when they are destructive of others and ourselves, involves individuals, families, communities, nation-states, and ultimately, the planet, all working together to alter traditional as well as international patterns of social interaction. These struggles for peacemaking and nonviolence over warmaking and violence are not about negating conflict and competitiveness per se. After all, at various levels of individual and collective interaction, conflicts are normal and to be expected. In this sense, conflict can be defined as what results from the existence, real and imagined, of incompatible beliefs, interests, goals, or activities.
There is nothing particularly negative or bad, or even undesirable, about the relationships and inevitably of conflict. Moreover, by itself, conflict is neither bad nor good, though it can and often does lead to misunderstanding, hostility, alienation, and violence. At the same time, conflicts can also be the source of creative thinking and of the “development of new ideas, new technologies, or new forms of social interaction, all of which can make things better for everyone” (Brunk, 2000: 17). Okay, let’s finally turn to the dialectics of these relationships.
On the Dialectics of Adversarialism and Mutualism
During the latter half of the 20th century, empirical evidence for both the realities of mutualism and adversarialism abound. For example, there were more than a few political successes in nonviolent social change, such as the American civil rights movement to outlaw segregation and discrimination in the 1960s, the social and political movement to upend the apartheid structure of South Africa in the 1980s, and the struggle of the Solidarity movement in Poland that led to the peaceful overthrow of one authoritarian regime and the establishment of self-rule, political empowerment, and social democracy in the 1990s. Of course, there were also the failures of popular movements in such places as China, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Mongolia to contest one-party regimes. Despite the political successes and failures, and regardless of the development of the theory and practice of nonviolence and peacemaking, the historical reality was that violent confrontations and deaths grew at an unprecedented rate during this period.
In fact, there are several historians who argue that the 20th century was the bloodiest in recorded history. These claims are surely justified, judging simply from the numbers of people who suffered violent death or the many other terrors of warfare and social strife. The majority of those killed in World War I and World War II, as well as the majority of victims of the many regional wars that followed, were noncombatant civilians. The bloody stories of the last century included border wars between smaller nations and ethnic, religious, and revolutionary conflict in which acts of terrorism, guerilla warfare, and even genocide figured prominently. Moreover, the past half century saw most of the nation-states of the planet, whether part of the First, Second, or Third Worlds, experience a general increase or expansion in acts against property and persons alike (Barak, 2000).
Following World War II and up until about 15 years ago, the geopolitical arrangements were dominated by a “cold war” in which two superpowers, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., threatened substantial deaths (genocide) or mutually assured mass destruction. Although the Cold War came to an end, the weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical, and biological—remain in existence and continue to place the people of the world at risk. There is also the considerable danger that other nation-states will, in the not too distant future, add their names to the exclusive list of countries with such destructive capabilities. The perils of nuclear combat, however, need not mean the end of war or complete annihilation. More likely, wars in which the use of nuclear weapons were/or are considered an option would still involve the use of “conventional” weaponry plus a few limited and targeted nuclear devises—which would still pose an enormous danger to our species and others.
The tendencies to oppose—adversarialism—and the tendencies to connect—mutualism—are by no stretch of the imagination confined to the domains of war and peace or to large-scale social and political conflicts. On the contrary, adversarialism as a paradigm of social interaction operates in essentially all spheres of life and in all human relationships. At the interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels of social interaction, the tendencies to oppose or to compete as well as the tendencies to connect or cooperate, are revealed in ecology, sports, law, economics, education, sex, politics, race, religion, class, consumption, and perception. Although adversarialism is the dominant mode of interaction in “free market” societies, mutualism as the alternative or subordinate mode of interaction is slowly becoming a competitive model that offers a way out of the violence-begets-violence trap. By simply acting on the assumption that peaceful (as opposed to unpeaceful) relations between individuals and nations alike are preferable, the mutualistic paradigm, derivative of communal and basic needs for all, calls for a fundamentally different kind of social organization and delivery of goods and services as well as rewards and punishments.
From the levels of the individual and the interpersonal to the levels of the international and global, the models of adversarialism and mutualism are reflective of opposing assumptions shared by such thinkers as Hobbes and Buddha. As is well known, the former believed that the creation of civil states always and inevitably involves a war of everyone against everyone; the latter believed that “victory” between individuals or nations generates hatred and that “defeat” generates suffering: a lose-lose situation. Accordingly, Hobbes “pessimistically” argues that neither victory nor defeat can be avoided because a war of all against all is a given. By contrast, Buddha “optimistically” argues that, in effect, those who are wise strive neither for victory nor defeat, but for mutually benefiting exchanges. In a fundamental way, life is about the tensions brought about by the contradictory pathways of adversarialism and mutualism, and by the ways in which these are expressed in everyday social organizing.
In other words, to ignore the relative emphases, consequences, and degrees of saliency expressed by the paradigms of both adversarialism and mutualism is to act naively and irresponsibly. In short, for peacemaking or warmaking criminologists, or anybody else, not to come to terms with these models of social interaction is tantamount to sticking one’s head in the sand. Hence, the rest of this section is devoted to delineating the spheres of influence of these two competing ways of organizing social relations—interpersonal, institutional, and structural.
To begin, adversarial models of social intercourse assume that one engages in antagonistic behavior for three reasons: to overcome another, to achieve revenge, and/or to arouse envy. Adversarialism also assumes that parties oppose each other’s interests more than they share anything in common. Finally, adversarial paradigms assume that conflicts are the essence of life, and living consists of enduring them, winning as many as possible and learning how, when necessary, to live with losing them. Viewed from these vantage points, the adversary school of thought excludes all opportunities but antagonism and battle in one form or another. It also means that self, other, and relationship are defined in terms of conquering and submitting.
Mutualistic models of social intercourse assume that one engages in cooperative behavior because of the experience of deep fulfillment in social connections. Mutualism also assumes that there are pleasures to be derived from sharing and common interests. Finally, mutualism assumes that both individuals and societies can reside in peaceful relationships with themselves and others. Some years ago, Erik Erikson emphasized that the reciprocal relations, for example, between the infant and the mother, epitomize the potential for reciprocal relations between the self and others as well as the self and society. Similarly, when Erikson (1964) used the term mutuality, he was referring to the processes by which two or more persons support and nourish each other, for the enhancement of all.
By contrast, adversarialism, especially the more compulsive forms (i.e., competition for the sake of competition), represents a cultural defense mechanism or system that promotes the denial or circumvention of the necessary work to overcome the unnecessary and destructive tensions in the self and in the larger society (Kohn, 1992). In the process, adversarialism encourages alienation and estrangement while it promotes extreme individualism and isolationism. In spite of the differences between mutualism and adversarialism, Fellman (1998: 25-26) captures the reciprocal relations between the two (that I take up in the next section) when he says:
Adversarialism culminates, individually, in feelings of
rage that can escalate into total hatred and violence.
Mutuality culminates in love…Whereas hatred wants to
destroy, love wants to celebrate, to embrace, and finally,
to merge. Adversarialism expresses Thanatos, the death
force, the determination to separate, to distance, to define
the self in terms of what one is not. Mutuality is Eros; it
flowers in the subtle, caring, loving recognition of parent
and child delighting in each other. Mutuality, like love
that is its essence, expresses the yearning to merge with
something higher. Some people call this spirituality, the
sense that there is a higher, inclusive force in the universe.
This force may be named God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha,
Brahman, spirit, love, transcendence, enlightenment,
nirvana. The names are numerous and reflect the striving,
the yearning for union.
As can be shown, the two paradigms, in true dialectical style, are not really exclusive. That is to say, within each model there may be features of the other model. For example, in war and during other times of intense competition, people take great pleasure in cooperating against those that they oppose. In business, sports, or politics, people coordinate actions with their teammates against their competitors, opponents, or enemies. Together, they enjoy the thrill of victory; together, they also endure the agony of defeat.
At the cultural level, pleasures of cooperation need not be organized, whether they are adversarial or mutual. For illustration, group hatred like racism or sexism that can potentially result in genocide or mass rape is a stylized way of opposing the other as well as of enjoying solidarity with similarly inclined people. By contrast, group love, like holism or environmentalism that may potentially result in healthier communities or more balanced ecosystems, is a stylized way of connecting with the other and of striving for solidarity with all human beings and other species, including one’s “enemies.” At the same time, there is still an aspect of adversarialism in both holism and environmentalism, in that participants are, at least superficially or initially, working against not only individual and organizational adversaries, but also in opposition to some aspects of nature such as diseases involving both animals (including human beings) and vegetation.
The point is that humans construct meanings, including what is possible and what is not. They have also socially constructed adversarialism and mutualism, which is not to deny that both are material products of the human condition. To the extent that one is more true than the other, it is more likely a historical outcome or a self-fulfilling prophecy that has favored adversarialism over mutualism as the preferred model of social interaction. Historically, models by which the world is understood have tended to take adversarialism as the “real” and to take mutualism as the “ideal.” In fact, alternative models to competition, such as those that have advocated cooperative ownership of capital and nonviolence at all levels of social organization, have been marginal both to behavioral science and to the popular understanding of how the world could work. As an idea, concept, or practice, mutualism is not only ridiculed and belittled by the ideologies of adversarialism, but it is also typically viewed with suspicion and a high degree of cynical disbelief, if not, outright contempt.
According to the adversarial paradigm, people are defined as dangerous, as potential competitors, and as inevitable combatants. By contrast, accordingly to the mutualistic paradigm, people are defined as others who can be known partly through knowing oneself, as allies who can be trusted to respect feelings and vulnerabilities alike, and as potential friends. Adversarialism sees human interactions as primarily a series of “zero-sum” games with only winners and losers; mutualism sees these interactions as potentially a series of “win-win” exchanges, or negotiations and compromises, where all parties to a conflict can become benefactors.
Adversarial values tend to give greater importance to battle and tough-mindedness than to friendship and serenity. Nonadversarial or mutualistic values, such as enjoying good health, feeling secure and comfortable in one’s environment, exploring sensuality, caring for others, and finding pleasure in a great range of people and experiences, gives greater importance to peacemaking and social justice . It also gives greater emphasis to flexibility and diversity of mind rather than to structured conformity, vilification, and revenge. In short, a situation of making love rather than making war.
Historically, it can be argued that women have more experience with mutualism than men do because friendship, nurturance, and compassion have been more central to most female’s socialization in most societies than has been the case of most males. As the subordinate, alternative, or marginal paradigm associated with the naturally alleged affinities of woman-like behavior, the actualization of mutualism requires all kinds of stimuli because in virtually all secular societies it still resides in a political and social state of “arrested” development. To alter these relationships, to live more harmoniously with others, as Fellman (1998: 27) argues, would mean developing the potentials within ourselves to enjoy emotional interdependence: “These pleasures depend on adjusting needs and desires to those of others. That adjustment is possible by virtue of the capacity to take the role of the other, a central form of which is empathy.”
The problem, however, is that such empathy with the feelings of the other is anathema to the adversarial paradigm, with its associated exclusionary practices of dehumanizing, humiliating, and/or denigrating the other as well as through its selective discourses of demonization and vilification. Empathy and identification with the other is not only an inclusive merging act, but it may also be thought of as the dialectical opposite of competition. In other words, the mutualism of empathy reveals the necessary projections of adversarialism, which at their base stem from two constituents—anger and rage—that are essential to the psychology of social opposition.
Without the demonization, or at least, the depersonalization of the other, for example, one is unable to mock one’s enemy in favor of one’s own alleged superiority. And although most people conform more or less with both paradigms in their everyday lives, to date, most people who are compulsive about mutualism have rarely had the influence of people who are compulsive about adversarialism. In the areas of economics and politics, for example, the spirit of adversarialism fumes supreme in the name of winning profits and power at any cost. Part and parcel of the dynamics of winning is the undermining as much as possible of any respect for and trust in someone or something else. In short, desires for justice, safety, and non-exploitation are sacrificed for “victories” of accumulated money and power. In its most virulent forms, of course, adversarialism is violence, murder, war, and environmental destruction.
At its core, mutualism rejects the idea of an adversary impulse or imperative to seek advantage over others as either natural or moral. To enhance the human condition, mutualism assumes that people need to draw from their own subjective histories as well as from objective history and compassion. Specifically, in the context of violence, recovery, and nonviolence, mutualism understands the importance of and advocates that people identify with the hurts of others by recognizing their own hurts and the energies of resentment and rage that are bound up with them. Adversarialism, by contrast, especially the compulsive forms indulged in by “competition addicts,” assumes both material and emotional scarcity, whether one is referring to money, medals, honor, promotions, acceptance, love, or some other icon. Mutualism rejects the adversarial belief in the necessity of competition and the addiction to winning: “As with any addict, the person acting under the adversary compulsion hints at something avoided. Just as the alcoholic is not really looking for yet another chemical high, but rather for peace, so compulsive adversaries do not know what inner issues are driving them to win-lose strategies in politics, business, sport, or anything else” (Fellman, 1998: 44).
Underlying the dynamics of adversarialism are, often, the transferences of unresolved personal problems. For example, anger, if not rage as well, are problematic for just about everyone, even though most people do not succumb to its influences. At the same time, rather than confront these repressed feelings, and rather than dealing in a spirit of mutualism with the anger found in families, at work, or in public life, a spirit of adversarialism redirects this anger at opponents. Hence, anyone or anything can be defined as or turned into a legitimate enemy, including ideas, social structures, subcultures, or selective individuals or groups that are viewed negatively and/or associated with evil.
By projecting anger onto others, such as minorities, police, the media, or pedophiles, people are able to preserve images of themselves not as angry, but as reasonable and moral. This kind of dualistic thinking about “good” or “bad” and “loving” or “hating” denies the fuller and more complex realities of self, other, and society. In short, because individuals and groups are typically not all loving or all hating but rather some combination of the two, it becomes essential that both of these expressions of the individual and collective body are addressed, if some kind of social and political reconciliation between these contradictory feelings is to emerge and develop.
In the mean time, through transference and projection, people are able to avoid facing their own anger as they displace this anger on others. In the process, they often help to create more anger in others, and then they self-righteously congratulate themselves when that anger “blows back” as them. This kind of “sadomasochism in everyday life” (Chancer, 2000) or socially and politically sanctioned displacement, is often effective because those victims of anger, even if unable to confront their own abusers, gain seeming control over their humiliation and anger by dumping these onto others. In turn, their own passive victimization becomes seemingly bearable as they become active victimizers. At its most extreme, for example, the:
gleeful hatred radiated by white racists, the macho
brutality of mercenary soldiers, the sickening obsession
of serial rapists—all suggest not only warped consciences
but overflowing reservoirs of bitterness. Unbound, they
brutalize traditional scapegoats, national enemy groups,
and random passers-by. Societies are fascinated by these
dramatic figures because they caricature “normal”
behavior. Burning a cross on a lawn, raping a woman,
shooting a stranger are but exaggerations of everyday
acts of cruelty and thoughtlessness so normative as to
be unacknowledged by their perpetrators (Fellman, 1998:
On Ritualizing Adversarialism and Mutualism
Rituals represent stylized ways of behaving that cultures adopt for a variety of reasons, such as binding anxiety, enjoying the familiar, celebrating unity, or avoiding new ways of doing things. Rituals can be adversarial as in squabbles and arguments or as in trials by order, combat, or jury; they can also be mutualistic as in friendly greetings and conversation or as in weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Rituals fulfill normative expectations of what will be said or done. At the same time, rituals are mutually reaffirming, serving as a basis of the human need for basic recognition.
Adversarial rituals are used by cultures to bind anger and accusation, defamation and humiliation, subjugation and victory. The value of these rituals is that they sustain hostility in structured and predictable ways. These rituals do something else as well: They represent collective clichés or ways of avoiding possibilities of real dialogue and real change. In examining adversarial rituals, one can distinguish between rituals of coercion and rituals of resistance. The goals of the former are to force, harass, distance, humiliate, or subdue; the goals of the latter are to overcome rituals of coercion. Fellman (1998) specifically identifies four sets of rituals of coercion. I have labeled these—rituals of killing, rituals of undermining, rituals of deprecation, and rituals of denial.
In their more extreme and collective form, rituals of killing have traditionally been thought of as war: however; today, wars can also be conducted without the consent or enthusiasm of the masses. In the more limited arenas, rituals of killing would include the state extermination of convicted offenders, mafia murders, gang killings, school shootings, terrorist bombings, and other forms of domestic and international homicide. Rituals of undermining refer to the patterned ways of insulting, frightening, abusing, and unnerving others. Rituals of deprecation involve parties or interests presenting images of superiority and inferiority to others by comparing or contradicting or by constricting feelings of identification. And finally, rituals of denial are perhaps the most complex: They involve mistrusting, blaming, and displacing the other as at fault and identifying the self as innocent and fair in behavior. Each of these sets of rituals of coercion is proactive in the sense that they all initiate fights in one form or the other. Once in motion, these rituals of coercion sustain themselves through the habituated and patterned reactions to the fight underway.
By contrast, rituals of resistance oppose forces that inhibit freedom and life itself, and they can be divided up into adversarial and mutualistic rituals of resistance. The adversarial rituals include revolutions, strikes, and humiliations of one’s opponent. In these forms, resistance tends to perpetuate coercion by seeking to win encounters. The mutualistic rituals include civil disobedience, mass protests and demonstrations, and other challenges that “maintain the humanity and dignity of the other, speak to maximizing integrity of all parties involved, and seek solutions that are least harmful to everyone. The goals of such rituals include efforts to change all parties rather than overcoming anyone” (Fellman, 1998: 7). In these forms, resistance uses cooperation, adopts nonviolence as a framework for action, and mobilizes from a respect for the other and the desire to empathize. Finally, these mutualistic rituals of resistance assume that there is an abundance of “surplus emotionality” waiting only for the constructive appropriation and distribution.
In mutuality, people cultivate feelings of pleasure and joy in all of their relationships. Whatever the context—families, lovers, friends, groups, species, and the cosmos—no one is debased, no one is made to feel inferior or superior. The logic of mutuality is that each relationship can be enhancing; the goal is to bolster others rather than to embarrass, humiliate, or otherwise overcome them. All parties can benefit; all can be strengthened. The desire is to develop selves that are so well integrated that they need not attribute unwanted or unmet parts of themselves to others.
Mutuality does not strive to end tension but to cultivate those tensions that produce growth and pleasure. Indeed, there is also tension in mutuality. But it is not the tension of confrontation and defeat; it is the tension of efforts to expand and to connect. In other words, it is about the tensions involved in finding alternatives to the unnecessary destructiveness fostered by adversarial assumptions and practices. It is also about finding out how to relate to others and nature as friend rather than foe. Ultimately, it is about finding out how to live a “life of balance” rather than a “life of excess.”
Psychoanalytically, mutuality means realizing, directly or indirectly through sublimation, the full range of one’s own feelings, fears, and inclinations. What is required is that individuals and groups alike, connect with their own emotions in an attempt to not only understand them, but to allow for their full recognition and where appropriate expression. To not do so, or to deny the centrality of emotions in organized social existence, is to give virtually free reign to their destructive possibilities. In addition, mutuality calls for a liberation of the self from the tyranny of an overly rigid conscience and from overly rigid people who threaten to disapprove of or punish the self.
Sociologically, mutuality refers to the development of an affinity for the self and the other and their interrelationships, as well as a morality of insight into the compassionate interactions between these. This does not mean that mutuality is about sentimental declarations of unity, idealism, or utopianism; nor does it imply clinging to some kind of internalized authority figures. Rather, mutuality involves the empathetic acts of putting oneself in the place of others, and then, reflecting openly and critically about these relationships. As such, empathy has also been thought of as both a “form of receptivity” and as “vicarious introspection” (Fellman, 1998). By nature, empathy is inclusive rather than exclusive; it is about substituting the mutual and for the adversarial but. In contrast to the distancing and dehumanization central to adversarialism, empathic mutuality connects and unites people.
In sum, mutualistic empathy as contrasted with adversarial projection strives to resist situations in which people attempt to escape or deny their own unwanted feelings by attributing them to other people. The aftermath of empathy is closeness or feelings of common humanity; the aftermath of projection is distance or feelings of alienation from self and other. In other words, empathy allows human feelings to be shared, aired, and relieved through mutual recognition. This kind of empathy in most adult relationships is rare indeed, perhaps with the exceptions of sexual intimacy and close friendships. Even here, numerous cultural taboos work against opening up conversations to the various emotional mine fields, providing safe, and yet not secure, defense mechanisms against fuller ego integration. As Fellman (1998: 158-159) so aptly puts it:
For many people, keeping others away by fighting
feels safer than inviting them to join in feeling
emotions in their complexity, variety, and intensity.
Fighting is protection against vulnerability, against
unconsciously anticipated pain; it means ignoring
the liberation of releasing pain and joining with
another who can acknowledge and accept it. Op-
position of individuals and groups to each other
preserves the isolation of the self on the assumption
that the self really cannot handle all its feelings. This
misconception of ego and reality is understandable
in the child and tragic in the adult. Bad feelings can
be most fully relieved when recognized and accepted
by other people. This happens in love, good parenting,
good therapy, and good friendship. Drugs, alcohol,
nicotine, and other numbing devices like compulsive
television viewing and compulsive consuming all
provide ways of not revealing feelings to other or
self, of trying to stifle rather than deal with them.
On the Dialectical Ambivalence of Adversarialism and Mutualism
Competition can be thought of as a compromise between conflicting desires to merge with others and to separate from them. Unconsciously, ambivalence may underlie mutualism as well as adversarialism; each may be premised on combating others. If psychoanalysis is correct that we are all inevitably ambivalent toward parents, others, self, and life itself, then people are attracted to both positive and negative valences. Thus, people can favor and disfavor both adversarialism and mutualism, and they may endorse or act upon some positive and some negative valences. Whether some behavior, for example, is viewed as “noble” or “crude,” the usual resolution adopted by most people to ambivalence is to admire or decry others who express what they dare not allow themselves. When others act virtuously, admiration is public and disparagement is private. Conversely, when others act despicably, disparagement is public and admiration is private.
The idea that people are fundamentally ambivalent toward people, things, or phenomena about which they have strong feelings helps to make sense of seemingly contradictory behavior. In fact, one common meaning to the psychological opposition of the self is the warding off of the attraction to the virtues or vices of the other. Often in relationships inside and outside of families, for instance, a stylized “picking on” of the other occurs as both a form of intimacy as well as a disguised form of adversarialism, suggesting some kind of unacknowledged ambivalence. The same can certainly be stated about the various forms of “impersonal bullying” involving adolescents, tribes, or nation-states.
In other words, for at least a minority of the people living in a predominantly adversarial world, affection for its own sake may be experienced as too threatening to bear, especially among highly competitive folk. Consequently, a lot of people find themselves more comfortable opposing than connecting, fighting than caring, hating than loving, ridiculing than respecting, and so on. The point is that by recognizing the ambivalence in ourselves and in our normative adversaries, we are in the position to transcend adversarialism on our way to mutualism—a mutuality of place that allows us to integrate all of our feelings and to experience the full range of our humanity, including what Jungians refer to as the “shadow parts” of our psyches or collective unconscious. Genuine mutuality, then, finds useful ways to express both the “bad” and “good” parts of the self and society, as each is viewed as integral to the human condition.
A reciprocal praxis of mutuality, altruism, and resilience
All models of nonviolence and peacemaking, whether addressing interpersonal, institutional or structural levels of conflict and violence, ascribe to the spirit, theory, and practice of mutualism over the spirit, theory, and practice of adversarialism. Recognizing the brighter and darker sides of humanity, for example, Aaron Beck (1999) in his cognitive treatment of altruism in relationship to anger, hostility and violence, demonstrates how egocentric beliefs and biases can be modified and reshaped to weaken, if not neutralize, the disposition for violence. In a similar vein, Victor LaCerva (1996) in his Pathways to Peace speaks of the overlapping trajectories toward violence and nonviolence that cut across individuals, families, schools, and communities alike. He also discusses how resilience—the capacity to rebound from misfortune, illness, pain or injustice—can be utilized to create psychological mindsets that build hardiness and engagement rather than separation and alienation. Simultaneously, this bounding back capacity helps to establish “arcs of peace” between individuals, communities, and nation-states. The point is that advocates of altruism and resilience like Beck and LaCerva recognize the importance of coming to terms with both our adversarial and mutualistic selves.
The key, then, for peacemaking criminologists and others, if we are going to facilitate the movement from violence to nonviolent pathways, is to confront the realpolitik of both nonviolence and violence. By engaging the processes of nonviolence and violence, peacemaking advocates acknowledge the dialectical or reciprocal relationship between the two. In other words, by adopting a reciprocal approach to peacemaking criminology, it allows not only for a linking of “connectedness,” “caring,” and “mindfulness/inner peace” (Bracewell, 1990) with a vision that incorporates interpersonal problems, global concerns, and the interconnectedness of issues of criminal and social justice (Fuller, 1998), but also for an infusion of the realpolitik of war and peace, and of conflict and cooperation.
To recapitulate, adversarialism without mutualism, or mutualism without adversarialism, may lead to compulsive forms of adversarialism or mutualism; both are regarded here as partial and inauthentic orientations to life. Realistically, most people are neither compulsive adversaries nor compulsive mutualists. At the same time, most people have not confronted their ambivalence toward people who are either close or distant from themselves. As a consequence, a good deal of hostility can be willingly displaces well beyond the psychic contexts that evoked them in the first place. Internationally, nations may package their repressed anger and hatred, and indulge ultimately in wars with enemy combatants as happened, for example, in the US war against Iraq. As an alternative to waging war, the USA could have declared Al Qaeda and its terrorist conspirators “mass murders” for the actions of 9/11. In other words, their terrorist deeds could have been pursued as wanted outlaws rather than as military combatants; this would have helped to differentiate associated peoples, Islamic and non-Islamic, who happen to reside in countries where terrorists have been recruited and trained, from terrorists themselves. |In the process, the USA could have helped to isolate rather than to legitimate the extremist behavior of radical fundamentalists. As a criminal or human rights matter and not as a matter of warmaking, the USA would not have occupied two countries in the heartland of the Arab and Islamic world, thereby inadvertently assisting the spread of bin Ladenism.
At the same time, the Bush administration could have marshaled and mobilized the widely felt sympathy for the United States that was symbolized by the 12 September headline in France’s Le Monde: Tous sommes tous Americains. As an editorial in The Nation pointed out, the US government could have taken the opportunity and responded to the national trauma by stating something like the following to the American people and the world:
We will respond, but not in kind. We will not seek
to avenge the death of innocent Americans by the
death of innocent victims elsewhere less we become
what we abhor. We refuse to ratchet up the cycle of
violence that brings only more death, destruction, and
deprivation. What we will do is build coalitions with
other nations. We will share intelligence, freeze assets
and engage in forceful extraditions of terrorists if
internationally sanctioned (Coffin, 2004:6, emphasis
In other words, with respect to those directly and indirectly responsible for the terrorist acts of 9/11, the President could have promised to do all in the his power to see that some kind of restrained or mediated retributive justice was sought through the rule of law rather than the rule of force. In addition, the USA could have acted toward the terrorist minorities not only within the context of the principles of criminal justice and punishment (adversarialism), but also on the principles of social and economic justice (mutualism) for the non-terrorist majorities. In short, acts of mutualism and cooperation framed within the context of a global community, the United Nations, or some other international body, such as a Global Parliament, can provide the seedling for the reconciliation of disparate economic, social, and cultural interests East and West, North and South.
Similarly, on the domestic front, so-called wars against criminals, drug users, pedophiles, and other immoral threats, or the “cultural wars” between liberals and conservatives over such issues as taxation, racism, abortion or gay and lesbian marriages, also, dialectically, allow for the management and release of inner destructive forces (adversarialism), and for those opportunities aimed at reconciliation and reunion (mutualism). Hence, the choice for warmaking and peacemaking criminologists alike is between engaging in warlike and punitive sanctions that merely reinforce “negative” peace, on the one hand, or seeking out and finding, in addition, those transformative practices of empowerment, self-help, community efficacy, restorative justice, that strive to produce a “positive” peace on the other.
This article represents a revised version of “On the Paradigms of Adversarialism and Mutualism,” delivered as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series on War & Peace, February 12, 2004, at Eastern Kentucky University. The author would also like to thank Lynn Chancer and the anonymous reviewers for their input on an earlier draft.
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