Welcome to the
President of Soka Gakkai International,
Peace Proposal 1989
Towards A New Globalism
In commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the SGI
The establishment of a "U.N. Conflict Prevention Center."
The holding of a "War and Peace" exhibition throughout the world.
The holding of a "NGO Peace Summit"
Japan should establish a "Ministry Of Culture."
On the occasion of the fourteenth SGI Day, I would like to put down some of my ideas for the realisation of a just and lasting peace.
Thirteen years have elapsed since the founding of the Soka Gakkai International (SGl) in 1975, and thus we stand at the midway point in our journey to the twenty-first century. It is a great joy to see how, over the years, the efforts and activities of our members have made it possible for the SGI to establish itself as a viable force for peace in the world. There are many signs that the efforts of our members to contribute as good citizens to the prosperity of their societies-based on the Buddhist philosophy of life with its inherent respect for the culture, history and traditions of each country-have begun to bear fruit.
For example, in 1988 Nichiren Shoshu of Brazil (NSB) was honoured with three awards representing the highest degree of commendation by the Brazilian Society for Education and Integration. These awards are as follows: the Order of the Merit of Education and Integration in the Degree of Grand Cross, the Order of the Merit of Education and Integration in the Degree of Grand Officer and the Order of the Merit of Education and Integration in the Degree of Commendator. Each was given in recognition of NSB's role in the promotion of education and culture in Brazilian society. Particularly noteworthy was the participation of 10,000 NSB members in the celebrations commemorating the eightieth anniversary of the first Japanese immigration to Brazil.
Also last year, I received the United States Congressional Award "International Peace Through Youth". I felt greatly honoured and believe that this award was, in effect, a recognition of the contributions which Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai Of America (NSA) has made over the years to the development of American society and to the spiritual growth of American youth. I regard this award as a symbol of appreciation for the SGI's efforts to promote peace, culture and education. The same can be said of the Anuvrat Awaid for International Peace presented to me by India's Transnational Center for Peace and Nonviolence.
In Singapore as well, the Singapore Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist Association (NSS) was officially invited to participate in the parade held as part of the country's National Day program. The performance of 5,000 members of NSS beautifully adorned this commemorative event, and NSS was presented with a letter of thanks from the parade's organizing committee.
These are but a few examples of how the SGI members are contributing around the world, and of the wide recognition their efforts have won. These achievements demonstrate that people are beginning to appreciate the role of our organization and that our movement has begun to take root in many societies.
With this confidence, the members of the SGI are determined to continue their efforts toward the realization of a lasting world peace and the promotion of humanistic education and culture. I will continue to travel extensively this year to encourage SGI members in different parts of the world and to fulfill my mission of finding ways to strengthen the foundations of peace.
Looking at the world around us, I cannot but feel that humanity is in an unprecedented period of transition, one that wiil eventually open the way to a new era. In the realm of international politics, for example, the past several years have brought about a number of dramatic events that indicate the imminent collapse of the US-Soviet cold war framework that has dominated the postwar world.
The new movement for disarmament, which casts a ray of hope on the future of humankind, also marks this as a period of transition. At the same time, howeve; we hear warnings about the development of weapons of far greater destructive power than those currently deployed. Thus we can say that there are two competing trends in the world today, one toward disarmament and the other toward an ever-escalating arms race.
In a little more than a decade, the twenty-first century will be upon us. We must make the best use of the remaining years of this century to prepare ourselves for the next. More than anything else, we must now cultivate, as we put the "finishing touches" on the present century, the kind of dynamic and flexible thinking that transcends established values and frameworks.
The chief reason for this great transition is the giving way of the bipolar axis of U.S.-Soviet relations, which, having influenced world politics since the Yalta Conference, is now being replaced by a more decentralized and perhaps more confused "multipolar" world order.
More than ten years ago, former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, remarked that while militarily the world was divided along a bipolar line of U.S.-Soviet confrontation, economically the world had five poles or centers-the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Japan and Western Europe-and that politically the situation was even more complex and fragmented. As the trend toward disarmament gains momentum, I feel certain that multipolarization will accelerate.
It is important to accurately assess both the positive and negative aspects of this trend toward the decentralization of power. While, on the one hand, it might lead to the formation of a new world order, it could, on the other hand, lead to chaos. Although the so-called Pax Russo-Americana has been sustained by force and beset with contradictions, it has nevertheless provided an order of sorts. It is only natural that the weakening of that order should bring new elements of instability to international relations. What is needed now is a grand design or vision with which to formulate a new world order, based on interdependence and untrammeled by the conventional East-West and North-South frameworks.
Age of Dialogue
It we take a hard look at the world today, we can discern a new current already at work beneath the violent waves of changes. As I see it, we are on the threshold of a new age of dialogue. The joint statement issued at the end of last years superpower summit in Moscow emphasizes the importance of dialogue as follows:
"The two leaders are convinced that the expanding political dialogue they have established represents an increasingly effective means of resolving issues of mutual interest and concern They do not minimize the real differences of history, tradition and ideology which will continue to characterize the U.S.- Soviet relationship. But they believe that the dialogue will endure, because it is based on realism and focused on the achievement of concrete results. It can serve as a constructive basis for addressing not only the problems of the present, but of tomorrow and the next century. It is a process which the President and the General Secretary believe serves the best interests of the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union, and can contribute to a more stable, more peaceful and safer world. "
For years I have been calling for genuine dialogue among the top leaders of major powers. They ought to meet for frank and constructive exchanging of views, rise above their differences of ideology and social system, and free themselves from preconceptions. Only then can the foundations for peace in the twenty-first century be laid.
Washington and Moscow will continue their dialogue this year through summit talks between President Bush and General Secretary Gorbachev. Also, a Sino-Soviet summit is scheduled to take place in May. It is my fervent hope that this series of summit meetings will further accelerate the global trend toward the easing of tensions
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of dialogue, for I believe that the propensity for logic and discussion is the proof of one's humanity. In other words, only when we are immersed in an ocean of language do we become truly human. In Phaedo, Plato astutely associates hatred of language (misologos) with hatred of man (misanthropos). To abandon dialogue is in fact to abandon being human; and if we abandon our humanity, we cease to be the agency of history, relinquishing this authority to something of a lower order, a kind of bestiality. We know only too well that history is filled with tragedies where bestiality; in the name of ideology or dogma, trampled upon humankind with brutal force and violence.
Concerning the American Revolution, Hanna Arendt wrote, "The end of rebellion is liberation, while the end of revolution is the foundation of freedom." E. H. Carr evaluated the Russian Revolution as "the first great revolution in history to be deliberately planned and made." Underlying these appraisals is the perspective that humanity, through debate and dialogue, must control animality. Of course, whether or not and to what extent the two revolutions realized their intended objectives is another story.
I believe that an Age of Dialogue can also be an Age of Humanity, and that the significance of active dialogue at all levels-from citizens to heads of state-cannot be emphasized too much.
The "seismic shifts" I spoke of earlier do not refer simply to the collapse of Pax Russo-Americana. We are now at a stage where we must make a fundamental reappraisal of the state-system, which, since its inception in mid-seventeenth-century Europe, has been the principal political force in the international arena.
It would be unrealistic to expect the nation-states to disappear overnight. That does not mean, however, that we cannot free ourselves from established concepts and conventional wisdom. In the mid-nineteenth century; for example, who in Japan would have predicted that the Tokugawa shogunate could be toppled so easily after almost three hundred years of tight control of the country? We should also remember that historically nation-state is a relatively recent phenomenon, which reached its peak in the nineteenth century and began to show signs of weakening and decline around the end of the First World War.
Further, with the development of nuclear weapons, many began to question whether or not nations have the sovereign right to wage war-although this right had long been taken for granted. Clearly, we are entering an era when the nation-state can no longer be considered the only effective unit of political integration and action.
In this regard, it has become clear that the solution to such global issues as the threat of nuclear warfare and of environmental destruction require new approaches that transcend national boundaries. Effective action to assure the survival of humanity cannot be taken as long as our thinking is bound in the narrow confines of the sovereign state A way of thinking rooted firmly in a truly global outlook is the most pressing need of our times.
Although there are a number of other contributing factors, including growing economic interdependence and the advent of "borderless economies," I see the relative decline of the nation-state as primarily responsible for ushering in the Age of Dialogue.
In the New Year's messages exchanged between the U.S. and Soviet heads of state, Mr. Gorbachev said: "In principle we are one family, and I'm sure that, we have enough wisdom and goodwill to open together a truly peaceful period in the history of all mankind?'
In his message, Mr. Reagan applauded the improvement in U.S.-Soviet relations by saying that through their talks the two nations have found common ground.
For the ordinary citizens of the world, there is perhaps nothing extraordinary in this kind of global thinking. The fact is, however; that the realm of international politics has until now been sadly lacking in such common sense. So statements of this kind by the heads of the two superpowers-long in confrontation with fingers on the triggers of their respective nuclear arsenals-are all the more pregnant with meaning for humankind. Now that both the United States and the Soviet Union clearly see themselves as "members of the global community," they can begin to move in a new direction, transcending the cold war doctrine.
Almost thirty years after Daniel Bell first coined the phrase, "the end of ideology," we are finally witnessing the burgeoning of a new perspective that, going beyond differences of system and ideology, considers the earth as a single, interconnected whole, Messrs. Reagan and Gorbachev, through their summit meetings, have confirmed the existence of common interests whose importance outweighs that of ideology. They have reached the conclusion that their countries have no other choice but to assure their mutual survival and join hands for the peace and prosperity of all hurnankind.
It is said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt attending the Yalta Conference, was determined to follow Emerson's admonition; "The only way to make a friend is to be one." I, for one, believe that when the political world loses sight of the Emersonian kind of idealism and poesy, it is destined to degenerate into the world of beasts that Plato envisaged.
As the Reagan-Gorbachev joint statement pointed out, dialogue must be rooted in realism. A realist is well aware that unqualified optimism based solely on the present mood of detente between the superpowers will lead to serious errors in political judgment, The current historical trend is still weak, and there remain in the world any number of grave problems to be dealt with.
Parliament of Humanity
This is precisely why I urge each and every one of us to do the utmost in his or her own way to reinforce and expand this trend. Active involvement and sustained efforts, not the cold, "objective" critique of a detached observer, are what is most needed now.
In this connection, it is important to note the rapid progress being made toward the peaceful resolution of various regional conflicts - reflecting, it is certain, the easing of superpower tensions - over the past year.
These include: the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the cessation of hostilities in the Iran-Iraq war, and the efforts being made toward the settlement of the conflict in the Western Sahara and in the Angolan civil war. In the Middle East, also, the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to existence and the holding of direct talks between the United States and the PLO have raised new hopes for the resolution of long-standing disputes.
The role played by the United Nations over this past year toward the construction of peace has been crucial. In the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war, in particular, the United Nations' mediation efforts, spearheaded by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, have been most effective.
It is also highly significant that the United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and that the world is giving greater recognition to the United Nations' peace-keeping functions. As one who has taken every opportunity to call for support for the United Nations as the Parliament of Humanity, I find this new recognition deeply gratifying.
It goes without saying that the United Nations was established to prevent armed conflict and ensure that humanity would never again suffer the tragedy of war. Its underlying philosophy concerns the importance of building an orderly, lasting world peace based on the voluntary cooperation of sovereign nations.
However, during the postwar period, the systern of collective security; as laid down in the U.N. Charter; proved only too fragile before the fierce vicissitudes of East-West confrontation. The history of the United Nations has heen one of trial and error, marked by the failure to effectively assert itself as a force for peace. For this reason almost none of the conflicts brought before the Security Council or the General Assembly for arbitration have been successfully resolved.
In such areas as economic development, the protection of human rights, and humanitarian relief programs, the United Nations has accomplished much. But, as we look back over the past forty years we find that its effectiveness, whether in relation to the problem of development, or to that of peace, has been severely hampered by the limited problem-solving capacities of the sovereign nations that compose the international organization.
The United Nations was originally created as a medium through which nations could work together for the peace and welfare of humankind. The sad fact is that the member nations have not been able to make adequate use of the organization's potential. In 1988, the role of the United Nations in solving regional conflicts at last began to draw renewed attention; its capacity for diplomatic mediation and the usefulness of the U.N. Pcace-Keeping Force have been reconfirmed. The world has finally come to realize how indispensable the United Nations is in order to maintain peace in the world.
In his address last December to the U.N. General Assembly, Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev expressed his high expectations regarding the United Nations' role in the world, stating:
As a result, at a certain point the authority of the United Nations diminished, and many of its attempts to act failed. It is highly significant that the reinvigoration of the role of the United Nations is linked to improvement in the international climate. It is the only organisation capable of merging into a single current their bilateral, regional and global efforts.
Additionally, China's Foreign Minister Qian Qichen emphasized the need to establish a new world order centered around the United Nations, declaring this to be one of his nation's main diplomatic objectives
In my past proposals, I have repeatedly advocated that the powers of the United Nations be broadened and strengthened so that it could become a central pillar in a new system of global integration. If the United Nations could develop into the chief international organization responsible for maintaining world peace, and if the networks of military confrontation could be replaced by workable mechanisms for the prevention of war and conflict, the prospects for the twenty-first century would be bright indeed.
In our increasingly fragmented and multi-polar world, I think that the idea of building a new economic and political order centered around the United Nations is now the most, and perhaps only, realistic approach available, The original purpose of the United Nations was not, after all, to establish a world order dominated by a few great powers; rather it was created as a forum and medium through which all nations large and small-could work together to build a peaceful world.
When we review the process by which the United Nations came into being after the end of the Second World War, we are struck by the wide difference of opinions among leaders in the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union concerning the character of the new world body. Sir Winston Churchill was firmly committed to a policy of a balance of power under the dominion of a few, Joseph Stalin, too, is said to have stressed the need for the continued leadership of the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain.
In the midst of these calls for great power dominance, then US. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, made a decisive move, putting forward the idea of universalism - that all nations,regardless of size, should be represented in the post-war international peace organization.
Hull's plan to establish an international body based on the principle of the equal rights of all peace-loving nations was announced in the Moscow Declaration issued at the conclusion of the October 1943 meeting of the foriegn ministers of the United States, Great Btitain and the Soviet Union. It was the first time the great powers had formally acknowledged that the lesser powers, too, would he invited to join a postwar international organization.
Hull's philosophy might also be called globalism, in that his plan was designed to forstall the danger that the postwar world would fall prey to regionalism, breaking up into antagonistic blocs. It is said that Hull's passionate dedication to these ideals influenced President Franklin D. Roosevelt so that he shifted from his earlier position in favor of a regionalism based on the great powers to a position more in favor of the kind of universalism that ultimately guided the United Nations' establishment. Thus the United Nations was born of the strong determination to never again repeat the tragedy of war and to secure for humankind a real and lasting peace.
Now, as we stand at the threshold of a new chapter in history, with the cold war structure crumbling about us, we must recall the spirit in which the United Nations was originally conceived and renew our efforts in search of systems that will effectively protect global peace. It should be remembered that the worldwide multilateral diplomacy that the United Nations makes possible has been an indispensable adjunct to bilateral negotiations. We must bring together all our intellectual resources to explore ways to strengthen and expand the unique function of this world body.
Six years ago, on the occasion of the eighth SGI Day; I proposed the establishment of a Nuclear-War Prevention Center that would mediate between the United States and the Soviet Union. Washington and Moscow have since agreed to create a center to prevent the accidental occurrence of nuclear war. This is a profoundly significant development and I wish to express my full support. I hope that a similiar mechanism will be set up within the framework of the United Nations to deter the outbreak of local and regional hostilities.
A U.N. Office for Research and the Collection Of Information, responsible directly to the Secretary-General, was opened in March 1987. The office monitors and analyzes data on a worldwide scale so that any signs of conflict in the making can be brought to the Secretary General's attention, enabling him to act as quickly as possible. I would like to suggest going one step further and strengthening the function of this new office by establishing a U.N. Conflict Prevention Center.
In response to present urgent needs, various programs designed to promote disarmament are being carried out in different parts of the world. The United Nations has already established Regional Disarmament Centers in Nepal, Togo and Peru. One possible function of the proposed Conflict Prevention Center could be close communication with and coordination among these regional centers.
Looking at the United Nations' role from a different angle, we ought not to underestimate the role of the NGOs in supporting the United Nations' work for a peaceful world order. As long as the U.N. General Assembly continues to be just a showcase of conflicting national interests and superpower chauvinism, it will never become a Parliament of Humanity. Let us recall again that the Preamble of the U.N. Charter begins with "We the Peoples of the United Nations..". If the United Nations is to function as a truly democratic organization and an effective peace-keeping force, it must have the understanding and support of the citizens of its member nations.
In recent years, the United Nations has come to serve as a transnational forum for the presentation and exchange of ideas on and proposals for the survival of the human race. Entrusting this critical task solely to nationstates whose interests are bound to be in conflict, will get us nowhere. If the United Nations is to become a Parliament of Humanity in the true sense of the term, it must bring its "human face" to the fore, leaving behind the importunate "face of nations".
Programs for Peace
For these and other reasons, the activities of NGOs are attracting greater attention; their importance is being recognized at long last. As an NGQ the SGI has cooperated with the United Nations in holding the "Nuclear Arms: Threat to Our World" exhibition in twenty-five cities in sixteen countries between 1982 and 1988. A sense of urgency regarding the threat of nuclear war has motivated us to undertake this project. Wbile it would be wishful thining to imagine that this threat has disappeared, we do feel the need for a new and more comprehensive approach that would focus not only on nuclear weapons but also on all the latest high-tech weapons. To understand the materiels and strategies of war in this century; and, more broadly, the nature of war itself, is to come closer to understanding how to make a world free from strife in the twenty-first century.
At present we are working on plans for a new exhibition that will recount the history of war and munitions in the twentieth century and address environmental problems and human rights issues. With the Cooperation of like-minded NGOs, we hope to hold this "War and Peace" exhibition throughout the world in coming years.
Needless to say, the oonstruction of a new U.N-centered world order is not possible without popular support, and that is exactly where the NGOs come into the picture. They must pool their resources to influence world opinion. To that end, I would like to propose the holding of an NGO Peace Summit as one means of focusing popular wisdom and energy on the question of how to build such an order. In addition to NGO representatives, the proposed conference ought to include peace researchers and activists. The SGI is prepared to extend its full cooperation, while remaining in close consultation with the other NGOs of the world, toward the realization of such a meeting.
In 1957 six countries of Western Europe formed the EEC, or the Common Market, thereby restricting some of their sovereign rights for the benefit of mutual growtb and prosperity. Their move toward economic integration has also contributed to regional security. For example, despite their long and tragic history of repeated invasion and armed conflict, it is highly unlikely that France and West Germany would, as fellow members of the European Community, ever again engage in hostilities.
The historic experiment in which each country of the European Community has risen above its own narrow framework of national soverenity in favor of a larger, common goal has proven successful and goes on producing positive results. In 1992, the twelve nations of the European Community are scheduled to begin to integrate their market. The rest of the world should learn from this valuable experience and try to apply it in each region. The free trade agreement between the United States and Canada, designed to remove tariffs and other trade barriers, is one significant move in the direction of a goal beyond purely national interests.
It would be incorrect to dismiss these moves toward economic integration simply as the formation of economic blocs. We are already in an age of borderless economies, and economic interdependence is deepening by the day; We must strive to establish a linkage between this economic trend and the political movement toward a world without war.
Although there is still instability, it is to be hoped that the tide of peace will go on spreading throughout Europe, Asia and the Pacific. Tragedies of internal strife and regional conflict continue to plague the Third World, but our world today is blessed with a growing potential for peace.
In 1989 we can expect to see reductions in East-West stockpiles of nuclear and conventional weapons. If the Sino-Soviet summit succeeds in easing tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, there would be reason to hope for progress this year toward a resolution of the Cambodian situation as well as North-South dialogue on the Korean peninsula.
In his New Year's address, South Korean President Roh ~Tae-woo said that 1989 would be "the watershed year that will determine whether or not we achieve our long-cherished goals of democratic prosperity and unification". He further stated that it would be "a decisive period in creating a turning point toward tearing down the walls of confrontation that separate North from South and toward realizing peaceful unification". In the same speech, Mr. Roh expressed his hope that "having experienced the bitterness of war between the people of the same nation, the north-south partition of Korea remains as the final legacy of the cold war. If a breakthrough can be made toward understanding, and free movement of people and trade can begin, reunification will be upon us before the end of the twentieth century.
As a fellow citizen of Asia, I can only pray that President Roh's hopes will come true in the near future. I have always welcomed all signs of progress toward North-South dialogue on the Korean peninguia and hope that a summit between the two Koreas will materialize as soon as possible. Doubtless, numerous obstacles will have to be overcome before a summit can take place, and much patient and persistent effort will he required. For the sake of the Korean people, however, I hope that this year will witness a major breakthrough toward this eventuality.
Seen in this way, the potential for new progress toward peace exists in Asia, North America and Europe. The challenge before us is how to link these separate moves into a continuum extending to other continents and eventually encompassing the entire globe.
One possible stumbling block in our pursuit of peace will he the question of ethnic and racial identity. While this is caught up in the problem of nationstates, historically it goes deeper and is more complex. In multiracial societies like the United States and the Soviet Union, the legitimate demands of ethnic and racial minorities can literally shake the nation from within.
While the Pax Russo-Americana was ultimately based on the military preponderance of the two superpowers, at the same time, both nations placed great emphasis on the idelogical universalities underlying their respective systems and their respective claims to globalism. Insofar as the superpowers had to offer justifications of this kind for domination based ultimately on the weight of arms, the latter half of the twentieth century is perhaps more "advanced" than the age of imperialism.
Be that as it may, the universalism and globalism of the United States functionally took the form of anti-Communism, as spelled out in the Truman Doctrine, which was in effect the American declaration of the cold war.
Toward a New Globalism
In my proposal of two years ago, "Spreading the Brilliance of Peace Toward the Century of the People;" I discussed the positive and negative aspects of American-style universalism. The humanitarianism and idealism that traditionally informed American universalism turned under Truman-and was magnified by Soviet behavior and reactions-into a policy of confrontation, This confrontational ideology-which sought as its professed goal to help people maintain their institutions and their integrity against aggressive movements that would impose upon them a totalitarian regime-was a reactionary metamorphosis of idealistic universalism. Thomas Paine, influential thinker of the American Revolution, wrote that "the cause of America is in great measure the cause of all humankind;" a principle of equality that relates to fully self-confident universalism. This messianic doctrine cannot be said to have contributed to the establishment of the kind of universal values that transcend races and nations, and in instances such as the Vietnam War and the Iranian Revolution, found itself in direct conflict with the fierce energy of nationalism.
In terms of the gap between internationalism and nationalism, socialism is beset with more fundamental contradictions. This is because Marxist-Leninism, putting forward proletarian internationalism as the ultimate value and goal, positions itself at the opposite pole of nationalism.
One of the central themes of the Communist Manifesto is that "working men have no country". The authors of the Manifesto declare simply that when conflict and exploitation between classes is eliminated, antagonism and exploitation between races or nations will naturally disappear. In other words, as a motivation for the realization of the universal value of the international proletariat, the yearning for national or ethnic self-realisation is ranked below class consciousness and class-based aspirations.
In actual fact, however, ever since the Russian Revolution failed-despite the predictions of Lenin and others-to trigger a world revolution, this hope that radal and national differences would be submerged in class struggles has grown faint with the passing years.
Further, the use of military force to suppress the movements for freedom and independence in Eastern Europe during the post-war era is still fresh in many minds, During the military intervention in Czechoslovakia the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine of "limited sovereignty" justified, in the name of class interests, the suppression of aspirations to ethnic and national autonomy. In light of this history the efforts of General Secretary Gorbachev to promote, as part of Perestroika, the equality; autonomy and self-determination of peoples, both at home and abroad, is welcome indeed. Even since the introduction of Perestroika within the Soviet Union, there have been serious disturbances caused by ethnic and national differences in such regions as Armenia, Azerbaijan S.S.R., and the Baltic States. It is yet to be seen how the General Secretary will handle these issues, but we trust he will save them with his characteristic political acumen and leadership.
The pent-up energies of nationalist and ethnic aspirations have time and again proven resistant to the force of arms and ideology and have often proved powerful enough to expel their oppressors. The strength of indigenous nationalist sentiments derives from the combined power of traditional customs, culture and religion.
Historically, the establishment of relations of equality and mutual respect between different ethnic groups or races has been much easier said than done- Whether across national boundaries or within a single multiracial nation, the control by one race of another and discrimination and oppression have been the rule, not the exception. But it would be a serious error to imagine that the feelings of resentment of the oppressed minorities could be held in check indefinitely by the use of force. The disintegration of European and Japanese colonialism and then of the Pax Russo-Americana in recent years can be interpreted as the process through which the hopes and aspirations of oppressed and exploited peoples were brought to the front stage of history. We cannot, and must not, try to reverse this historical current. The rights of all peoples must be protected In accordance with, for example, the Bandung Spirit and the Five Principles of Peace, in which the conscience of all Asian and African peoples is beautifully crystallized. In this regard also, and in light of its accomplishments in the past, we must look to the United Nations to take a more active leadership role.
I would like to consider here why nationalism is so much a part of the social fabric and the workings of the human mind. In a nutshell, this problem is closely related to man's need for identity. The question of identity may seem a worn-out subject by now after all the books and articles written on it, but I do not believe that the central issue of how one gains the knowledge of certainty that one is oneself the basis of one's existence-has been resolved. Rather; as we move from the uniform and standardized civilization of the industrial age to post-industrial society, the identity crisis facing individuals, societies and nations is growing more acute. This is one reason why the question of national, ethnic or racial identity has also come to the fore.
Whenever I ponder the question of national identity, I am immediately reminded of the tragic last years of Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. As is well known, Zweig was an author of world renown who was forced to flee his homeland by the Nazi German Anschluss of Austria. He ended his life by suicide in Brazil where he had taken refuge. Zweig's memoirs, Die Welt von Gestern [The World of Yesterday], depicts in wrenching detail, in a style exuding pain and pathos, the agonized mental state into which he fell when driven out of his homeland. The cruel irony is that Zweig had, along with Romain Rolland, been a rare cosmopolitan dedicated to the ideal of the spiritual unification of Europe. The following passage describes his emotional reactions to the loss of his passport.
In whatever form, the act of becoming a refugee is certain to be the cause of a disordering. While this is something that must be experienced to be understood, people, no longer able to walk the land of their owncountry, cease to be frank and straightforward, lose confidence, and begin to harbour self-doubt. I do not hesitate to confess that from the moment I had to carry what should be for me 'foriegn" papers and passport in order to live, from that moment I felt that I had ceased to be the same "me". My ability to identify with my fundamental and original self became permanently disrupted and disturbed... All of my efforts to train my heart to beat as a cosmopolitan "world citizen" were, it would seem, in vain.
Reading this utterly frank and dramatic account of Zweig's identity crisis, one is impressed again with how deeply the "nation" and "fatherland" can penetrate the human psyche.
Shuichi Kato a literary critic and specialist in comparative culture, has pointed out that for an indepth analysis of fascism it is not enough to study the works of such authors and intellectuals as Thomas Mann, who fled the Nazis. It is equally important to analyze the thinking of people like Gottfried Benn, who was at first an enthusiastic, but later a reluctant, supporter of the Nazis. Dr. Kato quotes the following passage from Benn.
Even when things are not going well, this does not alter the fact they are my people. How full of meaning are the words "the German people (das Volk)." Everything about me-my spiritual and economic cxistence. language, life, relationships, my brain - everything is due to the German people.
Though from starkly contrasting perspectives, both Zweig and Benn are talking about the importance of racial and national identity in human life. And it was not just under fascism or Nazism, but under Japanese militarism as well that the nation took on an overriding significance for every indiyidual breathing within its framework.
In an increasingly internationalizing world, however, it is no longer productive or meaningful merely to stress the tenacity of racial and national identity, or its uniqueness. To continue to do so would be to plunge the world into chaos. As I mentioned earlier, the Pax Russo-Americana although sustained by enormous quantities of destructive power, did represent a kind of order, and its disintegration does indeed threaten to revive the specter of nationalism all over the world. This must be avoided at all cost. Neither Zweig nor Kato is bound, in their arguments, by the narrow framework of the nation. The gravity of the problem of nationalism makes all the more pressing the need to over come it. However difficult the task may be, the establishment of principles and ideals that are at once universal in orientation and global in scope is an inescapable necessity if we are to cope successfully with the challenges of the coming century.
In October 1988, when I had the opportunity to meet with the Soviet author Chingiz Aitmatov I was struck by the fact that he repeatedly emphasized this same point. If I may be permitted to summarize Mr Aitmatov 's themes, they were as follows: "universalistic ideas", "ideals common to all humanity", "world religion" and "division and harmony". I was deeply impressed to hear these words from a man whose country is ideologically committed to dialectical materialism, and in them felt the steady and irreversible approach of a new age.
At this point, I wou]d like to propose a methodological concept that I believe would help guide our search for a new globalism. This is the concept of "inner universalism".
Let us first see how this concept can be applied to the individual human being. In his writings, Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282), founder of the Buddhist school on which the SGI is based, said that the inherent dignity of one person serves as an example of all, meaning that all human beings should be regarded as equal. A thorough search into the depths of life itself leads to this realization of the absolute equality and the sanctity of all human beings. Because this view of man is internally generated it leaves no room for distinctions on the basis of such external factors as nation and race.
In my lecture at Beijing University, I characterized the traditional Chinese mode of thinking as one of "arriving at universality via particularity"; and "reaching generality through specificity". This approach has something in common with my methodological concept of "inner universalism". When Joseph Needham dedared, in his 'Science and Civilisation in China', that "We are in the dawn of a new universalism". I arn certain he had in mind this dynamic interplay of the universal and the particular in China's traditional patterns of thought.
By contrast, the kind of universalism that has characterized the confrontational ideologies of the superpowers is external and transcendental as far as the individual is concerned, Both liberal democracy and Communism are by and large institutional concepts, in that they seek to control human beings from outside and/or from above. So while both ideologies go beyond the framework of the nation or the state, they do so in an external and transcendental manner.
What, then, are the basic flaws of this type of universalism? The most serious drawback is that, because of its excessively ideological overtones and neglect of the common denominator of humanity, it is quick to divide the world into "good guys" and "bad guys" this particular brand of universalism also easily takes on a messianic character when it is upheld by superpowers that are eager to help civilize and enlighten peoples that they consider backward and ignorant. While this missionary Spirit can act as a motivating force for creativity and development, it is prone to turn into self-righteousness and what Prof. J.D. Montgomery of Harvard University has called the "arrogance of universalism".
As many intellectual historians have pointed out, messianism has been a prominent feature of American thought ever Since the Revolution. This tradition is an asset when it's informed with the humanitarian idealism of Woodraw Wilson or Franklin a Roowvelt, but when it joins hands with the confrontational ideology of the Truman Doctrine, it becomes a liability.
In the case of the Soviet Union, messianism takes an even more overt form. In The World Of Yesterday, Zweig describes what he saw in that country in 1928 when he was invited to participate in the commemorative events rnarking the centennial of Tolstoi's birth. Presented there is an image of a Russian people brimming with goodwill and naively filled with a burning sense of mission, which derives from the conviction that they are taking part in a historic undertaking for the benefit of all hurnankind. The specter of Stalinism had not yet raised its ugly head, and the Russians were willing to devote themselves to their national mission. Zweig's observations remind one of Dostoyevski's description of the reaction to a speech he made at festivities in memory of Pushkin:
"When I called for the unification of all humanity on earth, the audience, which filled the hall, fell into a sort of hysteria. I don't know how to describe the screams and exclamations that followed the end of my speech. Perfect strangers were embracing each other and sobbing, vowing to become good people, not to hate others, but to love them."
Placing it in the context of the national aspirations of the Russian people, Nicolas Berdyaev defined communism as "a sort of identification of the two messianisms, the messianism of the Russian people and the messianism of the proletariat." This definition aptly applies to the early phase of Soviet communism.
During the postwar phase of Stalinism, this universalistic messianism degenerated into a kind of Great Russian chauvinism, justified in the name of proletarian internationalism Although Moscow labeled the communist parties in other countries, including those in Eastern Europe, as "fraternal parties," it in fact kept them under its thumb, like a domineering big brother ordering little brothers around.
As a methodological concept it, inner universality has a degree of practicality; which in turn dictates a certain pattern of human behavior Here, universal value is assumed to be inherent in each and every person, who must seek and develop it within his or her own life. This value is, by its very nature, one that cannot be imposed by force from outside.
The strategy that logically derives from this concept of inner universality is characterized by gradualism, as opposed to radicalism. Whereas radicalism is driven by force, gradualism is propelled by dialogue. The use of force is invariably a product of distrust; dialogue, by contrast, is based on mutual trust and respect.
Whether the God of the middle ages or the proletariat of the modern era, so long as the universal value is both external and transcendent, it follows that the greatest good lies in achieving the goals set forth in the interest of that value as quickly as possible. Those who obstinately refuse to support those goals will have to be forced to change their allegiance by physical or other means of coercion while those who obstruct their realization will have to be obliterated by force. What emerges here is a typical form of radicalism. From this point of view, one is able to understand why the histories of the medieval Christian church and the modern communist movements are filled with instances in which they resorted to force or violence.
Goethe is known to have had an aversion for the dictatorship and terror that followed the French Revo1ution. By using the evil aspects of radicalism as a "counter-model," the great German poet gives an eloquent formulation to the idea of gradualism in the following passage:
The real liberal [fighter for freedom] uses every means available to him to realize the greatest good. While there may be unavoidable defects, he refrains from quickly destroying these with flame and sword. He seeks to remove public deficiencies [evils] gradually through thoughtful progress. He does not use violent means because these will simultaneously destroy much that is good. This world is, always is, imperfect; he is therefore satisfied with what good there is until time and conditions permit the realization of something better.
Despite the many accomplishments of the French Revolution, and the light of hope that its ideals-in particular, those of its early phases- cast for humankind, its descent into dictatorship and terror came all too quickly. As we stand on the eve of the 20Oth anniversary of the Revolution, humankind is confronted by an alarming increase in the destructive potential of weapons. I feel that the importance of the kind of gradualism expressed in Goethe's words is all the greater now.
I have introduced the idea of "inner universality" in our search for universal values, for I am convinced that we need a new perspective from which to try to resolve the problems of nationalism, one that can turn human beings away from suspicion and toward trust, away from hatred and toward goodwill, away from separatism and toward unity. The SGI is committed to continued efforts to support and encourage the new tide of peace and rapprochement that is now gaining force throughout the world. Cultural exchange and exchange of persons play an important role in this endeavor.
In October last year, I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Arjun G. Astrani, Indian Ambassador to Japan. Mr. Astrani expressed his hope that more Japanese would visit India in order to promote greater mutual understanding between our two peoples. I very much agreed, and suggested that we consider forming a friendship delegation of Japanese volunteers to travel to India
Even before that, the SGI had set up a special committee to study the possibilities of sending cultural exchange delegations to various parts of Asia; including, of course, India. Its launching was timely, as 1989 promises to be a year of even greater, focus on the Asian region. Japan's Keidanren (Federation of Economic Organizations), too, has shown its concern for not only economic affairs, but also for the promotion of cultural exchange by organizing a cultural mission to Southeast Asia. The SGI, too, will further expand its circle of exchange activities throughout the world.
I believe that cultural uniqueness is in no way incompatible with universality. Cultures. that are rich in distinctiveness and originality stir people's minds and hearts everywhere; it is these cultures that move us by their pervasive universality. Indeed, this is why culture has historically spread freely, transcending the barriers of race and nation
The rapid advances achieved in transportation and communications today bring people of different countries into much more frequent contact. Surely there has never before been a time when so many people move across national borders for peaceful purposes while expanding so broadly the network of exchange and communication.
At the U.S.-Soviet summit held last year in Moscow; the two sides discussed promotion of bilateral cultural exchange, and agreed that both would send 1,500 high school students to the other nation as exchange students. It was also decided that the United States would establish a cultural center in the Soviet Union,
Toward Heart-to-Heart Understanding
Especially in order to forge peace among nations that are at odds, dialogue between the top political leaders is extremely important. But at the same time, I think it is worth reiterating that cultural and educational exchange on the grass-roots level can make an inestimable contribution to mutual security. History shows all too vividly the fragility of a peace that is not based on genuine solidarity between the peoples of the respective nations.
In May and June this vear, the SGI will sponsor in the Canadian cities of Montreal and Toronto a "World Boys and Girls Art Exhibition". Part of the SGI's Education for Peace Program aimed at the fostering of healthy; open-minded young people, it includes the works of boys and girls from 107 countries around the world. We hope to promote many more such projects to further heart-to-heart understanding among different peoples.
Last year I met with Sir Hugh Cortazzi, president of the Japan-British Society; to discuss the question of cultural exchange. Sir Hugh was formerly British ambassador to Japan, and is very well informed about this country. We talked about the Japan Festival scheduled to be held in London and other cities in Great Britain in 1991, and I promised the SGI's full support, through the cooperation of our Min-On Concert Association and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. I mentioned to Sir Hugh my concern about Japan's arrogance and the critical voices growing in certain parts of the world. I expressed my conviction that Japan ought to shift to a more modest, culturally-oriented path. Although our country has become a first-rate economic power; its status will be shaky if it does not possess a strong and vibrant cultural backbone.
Having established a firm position in international society as an economic power, it now behooves Japan to make clear what roles it can play in the world and how it intends to contribute to global welfare. Japan is rapidly and irrevocably being internationalized; caught up in this tide, individual Japanese are struggling to break out of the insularity of their culture and to broaden their perspectives.
Material abundance, money, and information are as important as ever; there is no denying that. But materialism and mammonism lead inexorably to the debasement of the human spirit; and this is the poignant and paintful lesson we are learning from trends in Japanese society today. The only antidote for this is to focus our energies on becoming people of character and caliber that the world can genuinely respect and feel affinity for. We must also devote greater effort toward cultural exchange based on the principles of reciprocity, equality, and gradualism.
In my proposal made on the Occasion of the U.N. Third Special Session on Disarmament last year, I introduced the suggestion of an American opinion leader/scholar that a worldwide movement be launched to promote the idea of establishing "ministries of peace" in each nation-as distinct from the traditional ministries of the army, of the navy, or of defense- that would be dedicated to the promotion and realization of peace. Expanding on this idea, I would like to propose further that Japan establish a Ministry of Culture, separating responsibility for cultural affairs from the present Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The matter of what affairs would comc under its jurisdiction may require considerable study, but it would be this kind of resolute step that could help Japan clarify its role in the world today.
The Soka Gakkai International will continue to devote its energies to the promotion of cultural and educational exchange in the cause of international understanding and world peace. As the head of the SGI, I hereby declare my resolve to stand in the forefront of these efforts, traveling the world and dedicating my life to the causes of world peace and globalism.
January 26, 1989
Each year since 1983, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) President Daisaku Ikeda presents peace proposals on behalf of the international lay Buddhist organization, to which Soka Gakkai belongs. In them, he articulates Buddhist ideals and philosophy as a framework for addressing the manifold problems our global society faces in its efforts to realize human security and world peace.
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