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Understanding Peace Holistically

From the Spiritual to the Political

Scherto Gill and Garrett Thomson

Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.

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Chapter 10: Peacefulness in an Economy

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Peacefulness in an Economy

What is peacefulness in an economy? An essential ingredient of economic violence is that it causes harm in ways that dehumanize and instrumentalize people and nature. That is, an economic system is violent insofar as it harms and, in so doing, it both fails to treat persons as having non-derivative value, and it treats nature merely instrumentally, as a resource. Put positively, an essential ingredient of peacefulness in an economy is that it is consistent with respecting the intrinsic value of persons and appreciating the natural environment as constitutive of our being-well. In the case of economics, this ingredient pertains to good work and meaningful consumption, which are both integral to well-being. In effect, an economy is a manner of coordinating good work with meaningful consumption. A peaceful economy is one in which the intrinsic value of persons and of the activities of working and consuming are respected in the coordination, which brings synergetic benefits justly.

A main theme of this chapter is that economic peacefulness is a characteristic of the structural features of a society. Assigning peacefulness (or the lack of it) to a social structure isn’t the same as characterizing the peacefulness of the human relationships that occur within that structure.1 In short, structure isn’t reducible to relationships between individuals. Because of this, peacefulness involves a new characterization when applied to political-economic←185 | 186→ structures.2 For this reason, we shall answer two types of questions. The first...

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