Cindy Sheehan Challenges Peace Movement

On her blog, Cindy Sheehan confirms that the International People’s Declaration of Peace (see The Picket Line for ) is a work-in-progress that is just about but not quite ready for final release. They plan to do the roll-out in time for the upcoming demonstrations at the White House.

She also has this to say about the anti-war movement and how it might get its act together:

If only we the people could finally realize that it is not up to our governments to end war. Our governments and the War Machine are locked in a violently greedy mutual stranglehold and could not care less about our opinions or our children.

In my opinion, our struggles are in vain when we try to organize each other and ourselves to go begging the Robber Class to reform itself. It’s not ever going to happen. Throughout history we have repeatedly and to no avail begged for our few crumbs of prosperity and peace and look where it has gotten us… in the midst of an economic depression that is further fueled by the blood of our troops and the blood of strangers thousands of miles away.

The Capitalist system of military conquest to perpetuate itself will never go without a fight. So, we need to forget about our governments and their masters, we need to reach out to each other to make firm promises that we will never allow our governments to use us as weapons of mass destruction to kill or oppress each other again.

That is why I am working so hard on the International People’s Declaration of Peace (IPDoP). It proclaims our essential and intrinsic values as human beings and our basic human right to not be subjected to state sanctioned violence.

We can pour our hearts out in marches, elections, and petitions to beg for what is right and rightfully ours, but it won’t be effective if we avoid the real struggle: the revolution of values and the paradigm shift of peace through rejecting the status quo.

In the final section, section thirteen of the first book of The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle prepares the way for the following books by asking what is virtue, or what are the virtues?

For one thing, virtue is the main topic of politics, at least according to Aristotle, who must read different news feeds than I do.

Virtue seems to have both a rational and an irrational component. For instance, you can have a virtuous will and a virtuous wisdom, which are conscious and deliberative and rational. But you can also have virtues like tolerance and liberality that seem more like subconscious character traits that are less under rational control.

This brings us to the end of Book One, in which we tried to figure out what the good is. The good is the ultimate end of our activities, what we’re aiming at in all of our day-to-day actions with their subordinate ends. That good is eudaimonia, within which is mixed virtue and a purposefulness that is based on our natures as uniquely rational beings. Politics is the pinnacle of human activity, as its proper aim is to maximize this purposeful, virtuous eudaimonia in society.

He had me up to that last bit. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone taking seriously the idea that politics is the science of promoting virtue and well-being. Maybe Aristotle had an idealized idea of politics in mind, or maybe politics were much better-conducted back then at the small scale of 4th century B.C. Athens, or maybe he was just hoping to exercise a positive influence over the policies of folks like his student Alexander the Great by asserting as true what he hoped would come to pass.

Index to the Nicomachean Ethics series

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics