Can we have true peace without truth about the conflict it is supposed to put an end to?
An excellent example is World War One. It caused World War Two, because the war did not expose the truth. Instead the lousy peace of 1919 nurtured bigger lies, and tolerance for horrendous war crimes. On the German side. The mistake was not renewed in 1945. In 1945, truth was allowed to crush a lot of (German) lies. (Lies made in the USA, or UK, were allowed to prosper, though…)
On August 1, 1914, the fascist German dictatorship headed by the so-called “Kaiser” Wilhelm II, had attacked, by surprise, the world in general, and the French Republic in particular (knowing full well Britain was going to declare war, but hoping to crush France before Britain could raise an army, and before Russia against which it had declared war to, became a problem).
In 1919, the Peace Conference in Paris brought no prosecution for the so-called “Rape of Belgium” (it was worse than rape, as it involved, well documented examples of the most atrocious crimes, such as deliberately Prussian troops killing Belgium toddlers, after an immensely costly counter-attack of the French army, which had strangely infuriated the Teutonic invaders).
After attacking France, Luxembourg and Belgium, the German empire proceeded to deploy a whole panoply of war crimes (the Allies answered in kind for gas attacks, but only for gas attacks: the first gas killed thousands of French troops and would have caused a hole in the front, had the Germans been more ready for it).
This lack of prosecution for German war crimes was not just a lack of prosecution of criminals, but also a lack of pursuit of truth.
All what German military personnel retained from the non-prosecution of their horrendous crimes, starting with war of aggression, was that the Allies did not mind war crimes. Adolf Hitler himself wrote that the Armenian genocide had been well accepted, and that the will of democracies and Christians was too weak to do anything for this sort of things.
One of Gandhi’s Errors:
Most of the following quote is entirely correct. Yet it is poisoned with an insidious error. Contrarily to what Gandhi thought, the truth is not about “You” always. The truth is not just about “being you“. All sorts of fanatics were very much about being themselves all too much, throughout history. Sometimes, being “You” is a disease. And a contagious, lethal one.
Truth & Reconciliation Commission Saved South Africa:
Mandela’s stroke of genius was to enable the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Truth & Reconciliation allowed South Africa to defuse great racial exploitation and its attending hatred, and the potential for terrible vengeance. (Contemplate Rwanda, or Shri Lanka for a different approach: terrible war and crushing victory.)
How did truth do it in South Africa? How does truth reduce aversion?
Whenever truth is revealed, and comes to rule, minds are changed. However changing brains requires energy, thus effort, pain. And any system of truth is related to a socio-economic order, a hierarchy. New and improved truth threatens existing hierarchies. They often resist, using whatever it takes. Thus the rule of new and improved truth often brings blood, sweat, and tears.
Thus we see that truth can (momentarily) augment aversion, emotion, even passion. So how can it improve matters? By changing “You”.
Some specialists have claimed that a terrible civil war such as seen in Cambodia (superficially caused by a sort of left wing fascism), was facilitated by a (Buddhist inspired) aversion to truth.
Therefore any mentality which privileges aversion to aversion above anything else, will see no reconciliation with truth. Searching for better truth is a war against one’s own past and present perception of reality.
However, if one is not reconciled with truth, one keeps strong aversions inspired by past tribalism, something antagonistic to a globalized world.
The truth is that racism, the aversion for people of different color or origin, is not just unjustified, but a source of harm.
In the case of South Africa, the USA, people had to learn that truth. Forcefully. And fast. How does one learn the truth? By being exposed to the truth. Generally people who have done something wrong, or who are wrong, have a strong aversion to truth, as it will expose them to loss of privilege, or punition.
The Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, removed the element of punishment, and thus the main reason for NOT telling the truth. So the truth blossomed.
Truth Saved Germany After 1945:
When Germany got denazified after May 1945, a similar process was engaged (this time by an exterior agent, the occupying Allies). The Germans themselves, in the following decades, learned to embrace the process of finding the truth about Nazism.
I am glad that, in an exchange in Scientia Salon, “SocratesGadfly” found me “not all wrong about Gandhi“. However he cautioned that “even if these gentlemen, Jesus, MLK, etc., weren’t perfect, they still stood out above the general crowd, and there’s still things to learn from them.”
What about things NOT to learn from them? Although I have no complaint about Martin Luther King. Jesus, though, apparently willing to teach violence for no good reason, has also things to teach us NOT to imitate.
Nowadays, at least 99% of people in the West do not think that killing people just because they are not Christian is justified, so we have got out of the Jesus trance. However, in the Middle Ages, the (“Christian”) establishment thought “heresy” (“exerting a choice”) was worthy of the death penalty.
What I reproach to Gandhi was to view the minor problem (getting the British exploitation of India to stop) to be major, whereas obviously the major problem was the 1,000 war, inside India, with Islam.
Confusing a major problem, and hiding it behind, a minor one, is a primordial cause of aversion. That Gandhi and his followers may only understand when nukes start exploding over South Asia.
In general, as the quote from Gandhi above shows, Gandhi failed to realize that truth starts, first as an effort against oneself. Finding new truth is never about protecting one’s old self.