The Dialectics and Economics of Peace




Boulding, Elise
Boulding, Kenneth E.

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School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution


If conflict is a basic fact of human existence, then the key to peace must be the management of conflict, not its abolition. An important concept for me is the conflict management continuum; one end represents destruction of the other. The continuum shades from threat through arbitration, mediation, negotiation to integrative processes that bond us to each other. In a profound sense, where on that continuum our own conflict management behavior lies is a matter of day-by-day choice. Peace, then, is a highly charged dynamic process involving constant negotiation at every level of human interaction from local to global. Peace is dialectical, in that each resolution of a conflict, or synthesis, creates the basis for dealing with the next conflict. Applying good conflict resolution skills creates the conditions for increasingly productive conflict outcomes in the future. On the whole, we underestimate our own peacemaking skills. In fact, we negotiate our way through daily life. The differences we confront range from the trivial to the profound.