The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
(Hardback: New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003)
(Paperback: New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0805044566 (hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-0805044560 (hardback)
ISBN-10: 0805044574 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-0805044577 (paperback)
DESCRIPTION:At times of global crisis, Jonathan Schell's writings have offered important alternatives to conventional thinking. Now, as conflict escalates around the world, Schell gives us an impassioned, provocative book that points the way out of the unparalleled devastation of the twentieth century toward another, more peaceful path.
Tracing the expansion of violence to its culmination in nuclear stalemate, Schell uncovers a simultaneous but little-noted history of nonviolent action at every level of political life. His investigation ranges from the revolutions of America, France, and Russia, to the people's wars of China and Vietnam, to the great nonviolent events of modern times-including Gandhi's independence movement in India and the explosion of civic activity that brought about the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union.
Suggesting foundations of an entirely new kind on which to construct an enduring peace, The Unconquerable World is a bold book of sweeping significance.
-- Taken from the publisher's website
"In what seems at the moment a quixotic thesis, Schell argues that warfare is no longer the ultimate arbiter of political power and that a maturing tradition of nonviolent political action offers hope for a peaceful future. Schell, an eloquent antiwar essayist best known for The Fate of the Earth (1982), begins with a study of the modern "war system," which he says proceeds from Clausewitz's premise that wars are fought to secure political objectives. As wars grew increasingly devastating, they became unwieldy means to achieve political ends. Since no political goal justifies annihilation, the Cold War nuclear standoff made the war system obsolete. Meanwhile, people's revolutions were also contributing to the demise of the war system. Citing Gandhi's independence campaign and anti-Soviet dissident movements. Schell argues, not totally convincingly, that political liberation can be achieved by popular will alone, through passive resistance and active construction of civil society. As we enter what Schell calls "the second nuclear age," in which proliferation threatens us with a "nuclear 1914," he warns against the Bush administration's 'Augustan' policies of 'unchallengeable military domination.' Schell proposes instead the development of cooperative institutions to promote four goals: banning weapons of mass destruction, using shared sovereignty to settle wars of self-determination, enforcing an international law prohibiting crimes against humanity and creating a 'democratic league.' Hard-nosed realists will consider these ideas naîve pacifism. But at a time when Americans feel insecure despite overwhelming military superiority, Schell's radical rethinking of the relationship between war and political power offers a fresh and hopeful perspective."
-- Publishers Weekly
"At the outset of this lucid survey of alternatives to warfare, the author disavows the label 'pacifist': he is not opposed to the use of force, but he believes that it has become an ineffective tool for achieving political ends. On this pragmatic basis, Schell builds a case for civil noncooperation, which he argues has long played a crucial role in deciding otherwise bloody conflicts (among them the American, French, and Russian Revolutions). Showing how nonviolent action proved successful in ending apartheid in South Africa and in dismantling the Soviet bloc, Schell writes with discipline and urgency. It's disappointing, then, that, once he has persuaded us of the need for peaceful solutions, those he offers—such as shared sovereignty—seem disconnected from the realities of politics today."
-- The New Yorker
"The twentieth century produced the most extreme violence that the human species had ever visited upon itself. It was natural—indeed, a necessity—that people would react against that violence, would seek ways to overcome it, to escape it, to go around it, to replace it. In earlier times, violence had been seen as the last resort when all else had failed. But in the twentieth century, a new problem forced itself on the human mind: What was the resort when that last resort had bankrupted itself? Was there a resort beyond the “final” resort? Nuclear deterrence and people’s war were two groping, improvised, incomplete attempts to find answers to this question."
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction: The Towers and the Wall
PART ONE: VIOLENCE
1. The Rise and Fall of the War System
2. “Nuclear War”
3. People’s War
PART TWO: NONVIOLENCE
5. Nonviolent Revolution, Nonviolent Rule
6. The Mass Minority in Action: France and Russia
7. Living in Truth
8. Cooperative Power
PART THREE: THE CIVIL STATE
9. The Liberal Democratic Revival
10. Liberal Internationalism
PART FOUR: THE SHAPES OF THINGS TO COME
13. The Logic of Peace
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