by the

     The Society of HumanKind is not, either in principle or practice, opposed to war. The Treatise on Justice says that " ...adherence to its Principles can properly lead the Society to support the waging of war on those who, by wilful action or neglect, truly threaten the survival of our species and who cannot by any other means be prevented from doing so." However, the Treatise on Peace ends by saying "...the establishment of the Society of HumanKind ... will provide every member of our species with both a means and a powerful reason to live at permanent peace in their environment, and with all their neighbours."

     The Society reconciles these seemingly conflicting conclusions by the two conditions it attaches to its approval of war. The first is that the purpose must be to ensure the survival of the human species. And the second is that no other means to achieve that objective is available.

     To support war the Society will need to be convinced that it is, indeed, the survival of the human species that is at stake, not just a particular way of life, form of community, or ideology, no matter how strongly supported such patterns of human society may be. The Society puts its hopes for salvation, and those of all past, present and future generations, in our own hands. Those hopes exist only so long as we do.

     Equally the Society will require those in favour of war to demonstrate that no other means to prevent our extinction is available. It will make that demand under the conditions of ultimate uncertainty of all human knowledge and understanding set out in the Treatise on Knowledge . That is a hurdle only the most careful and comprehensive process of consultation and consensus of all humanity can hope to clear.

     Taking the present proposals to wage war on the nation of Iraq as an example, an application of its conditions for the approval of war will lead the Society to two conclusions. First, that on the available evidence the risks of declaring war on Iraq and of not doing so are about equal, i.e. that the number of unnecessary deaths and the threat to our social and natural environment is likely to be much the same whichever option is taken. Given that conclusion and turning then to the degree of risk involved in those options the Society may further conclude that such evidence as there is indicates that neither presents any immediate threat to our survival as a species. Accordingly, should the Society be consulted, it is likely to conclude that war against Iraq does not meet its first condition for approval, and that it therefore has no need to consider if means other than war are either available or appropriate.

     The position of the Society is less clear-cut on the question of what action, if any, should nevertheless be taken to deal with what is widely perceived to be improper or inappropriate behaviour by the present government in Iraq. On such questions the Society will use the general principles of moral judgement set out in the Treatise on Morality . The double moral gauge described in that Treatise requires that, when faced with any decision as to its action in any particular case, the Society should ask, first; what decision will best serve to ensure the infinite survival of our species, and, where that requirement is met, then second: what decision will then best serve to maintain the social conditions that will allow continuous growth in human abilities, skills and knowledge?

      The first part of the moral guage of the Society has already been resolved by the earlier discussion of this Comment. With regard to the second part of the guage, the Society will note that those advocating action against Iraq have declared their purpose to be to destroy, or fundamentally change, the present structure of Iraqi society. The general view of the Society on that proposal is well summarised in the Essay on Politics . There it is noted that, '...Politicians may wish to change a well-established and stable social system because they disagree with the form of its structure. The Society however, would oppose that action as an unnecessary disturbance of our social order whose benefits are hardly ever likely to justify the risk.'

     However, on the present evidence it is highly likely that the World Council of Elders, the ultimate source of authority in the Society , would nevertheless accept that action is needed to alter some aspects of the behaviour of the Iraqi regime. Specifically, the Council will consider that steps should, and can properly, be taken to protect the Dogma of the Society, i.e. to prevent the government of Iraq from threatening its perceived enemies with violence on the one hand, and to encourage it to develop the full potential of all its citizens on the other.

     Given their commitment to the establishment of peace and unity as the basis for all human society, and their aspiration to develop the full potential of every member of the human species the Elders of the World Council will want to begin by gaining some independent and reliable indication of the true wishes of the Iraqi people for their own future. The World Council will then use that information as the basis for moral, economic, political and, if necessary, military pressure on the present Iraqi regime to amend its present policies and practices so as to bring about the conditions desired by its own people. The World Council may well conclude that the existing presence of weapons inspectors and associated surveillance facilities in Iraq is a sound basis on which to develop the required international pressure.

     Once those necessary changes in Iraqi society have been achieved (with the aid and support of other nations and commnunities where required) the World Council will seek to initiate a process of discussion, negotiation and compromise to find a permanent reconciliation between the newly established needs, interests and aspirations of the people of Iraq and those of its neighbours, both friend and foe.

     In following that path toward a resolution of the difficulties presented by the regime in Iraq the Society will do no more that follow its general approach to the search for solutions to the unending problems of human communal life. By focussing on the future of humanity rather than on its history, the Society of HumanKind seeks, as the last words of the Discourse to its first founding book 'Foundations' recommend, to '…lead humanity out of its childhood into its maturity'.

 Previous Comments top  Society homepage

©Lawrence Thornton Roach
    November, 2002 AD