War has been institutionalised. Giant military industries, formed from thousands of companies and employers, ensure that every old generation of war profiteers is replaced by a new one. Admirals, generals and senior defence officials demand that trillions of dollars are funnelled every year into the coffers of arms companies. People whose careers depend on the cycle of arms and warfare, insist that any break in funding is some kind of betrayal or national humiliation. Manipulated by vested interests, mainstream media justify increased military spending with spurious appeals to patriotism.
In 2017, the world spent all time high $1.7 trillion on its uniformed fighters. That’s equivalent to about a thousand dollars per family on the planet. Yet all these weapons have not made the world less violent. In 2015, violence cost the global economy some 14 trillion dollars, a surge of 15% from 2008. That number might seem high, until one considers the escalating inequality, famine, pollution, disease, collapse of public services, environmental damage and climate change that follows in the wake of war. Institutions endure. They can outlast the people that create them. The question asked by this book is, How can peace be institutionalised?
The book finds that the institutions of war need to be matched by institutions of peace. For every department of defence, there needs to be a department of peace that allocates public resources to forestall violence and militarism, by measures of pre-emptive conflict resolution rather than waiting for it to occur and then deploying violence against it. Such departments of peace will be distinct from foreign and development ministries, compromised as they are by espionage, export-promotion and securitisation of aid. By opening peace / social centres / franchises, in each city, town and village, the Peace Department can contain violence and foster a culture of peace. Fundamental to all this is the pressing need for institutionalised Peace- a network of self-sustaining peace centres and social enterprises / companies, governmental peace departments and commentators that have peace as their core mission, in the same way that arms manufacturers and defence ministries institutionalise conflict. The book shows how the establishment of Departments of Peace and Peace Centres worldwide will result in saving of trillions of US dollars which governments can utilise in jobs creation, healthcare, education and peace building. Only by institutionalising peace at many levels of society, can the peace movement become powerful enough to face-down the many commercial and official networks that have a vested interest in armed violence. A better world has less violence and war. That is what this book aims to achieve. The time for action is now. There may not be a tomorrow to wait for.