Home / Globalizing Americana: Part 26 – The Organizational Structure of Peace Movements

Globalizing Americana: Part 26 – The Organizational Structure of Peace Movements

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In the last section of this analysis I discussed how the central ideology of nonviolence manifests in a diversity of peace organizations, which differ in aim and focus. Differences in purpose also account for organizational differences, as, for example, the purpose of an antiwar movement will differ from that of a pacifist movement.

The organizational structure for a peace movement is similar to that of any other organization, but there are at least four key distinctions differentiating its structure from most others. First, for those with an antiwar aim, ease of recruitment is ironically facilitated by war, which presents a particular structural problem during peacetime.

Second, since the central ideology of nonviolence is shared by every other peace organization, it is difficult for organizers to distinguish their goals and motivations from the goals and motivations of other such groups. For this reason, peace organizations have the added difficulty of succinctly identifying and differentiating their particular purposes.

Third, since peace activists are typically active in other social movements as well, movements with clearly defined objectives, it is imperative that the objective for each peace organization be clearly outlined. It is also important that the objective be based on a quantifiable goal that can be attained within a given timeframe. Otherwise, the integrity of the organization will be reduced by subjective interpretation of success and accomplishment.

Finally, like all organizations, peace organizations depend on the ability to attract new and sympathetic members. The appeal for new members, however, cannot simply be based on an antiwar stance, as the integrity of the organization will inevitably be challenged by peacetime. Thus, recruitment must be based on the subjective narratives of former soldiers, wartime survivors, and victims of violence. These narratives enable those sympathetic to peace to form the emotional attachment, both to the group and to people within the group, necessary to incentivize their continued participation.

The most important caution that any peace organization must take is to ensure that its members avoid dehumanizing those who have participated in violence. War is a fact of our political existence, though I would argue that it is not a necessary fact, and wars require soldiers. Thus, the organization cannot endorse or facilitate blame at any level. Rather, the organization must allow open discussion about the particular experiences of violence. Doing so goes a long way towards ensuring the organization's viability and expansion.

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About Jason J. Campbell