||Seville Statement on Violence||By David Adams
As far as I know, it continues to be true that half of all young people in the world believe that it is useless to work for peace because war is intrinsic to human nature. This was what was found when studies were done around the world in the 1960s and 1970s. And when I was still doing academic research, we did a scientific study which showed that those students who believe that war is intrinsic to human nature are actually less likely to take any action for peace. In other words, their attitudes are translated into their actions, or more precisely, lack of action.
To address this issue I helped organize a conference that brought leading scientists from around the world to Seville, Spain, in 1986. They responded, from the standpoint of their scientific disciplines to the question,
Does modern biology and social science know of any biological factors, including those concerned with the biology of violent behavior of individuals, that constitute an insurmountable or serious obstacle to the goal of world peace
In the Seville Statement, after showing scientifically that war cannot be explained by inheritance from our animal ancestors, or by genetics, brain mechanisms or evolution, or by any particular instinct, the scientists concluded:
Just as 'wars begin in the minds of men', peace also begins in our minds. The same species who invented war is capable of inventing peace. The responsibility lies with each of us.
A history of the resulting Seville Statement on Violence was published by the Journal of Peace Research and is available online.
The analysis by the scientists at Seville continues to be supported by more recent scientific research. I continued working in the field after the Seville meeting, and my research is summarized in The Aggression Systems which is available on the Internet. Of special importance is the analysis of why men rather than women are warriors and why this is socially rather than biologically determined.
When I wrote the UNESCO brochure on the culture of peace in 1991, I gave it the subtitle "Preparing the Ground for the Constructing of Peace". This reflects a phrase in the conclusion of the Seville Statement that "We conclude ... humanity can be ... empowered with confidence to undertake the transformative tasks needed in this International Year of Peace and in the years to come."
I still consider that the Seville Statement on Violence is needed to "prepare the ground" so that one can begin to work for a culture of peace. As our research has shown, if you believe that war is intrinsic to human nature, you are not able to work effectively for peace.
When the Seville Statement on Violence was adopted by major scientific societies such as the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association and the American Sociological Association, I expected that it would be covered by the mass media and hence could enter into the consciousness of young people.
However, as I describe here in the section on the mass media, I was shocked by the refusal of the media to cover it, and I came to realize that the question of war and human nature is a key part of a psychological warfare, in which the mass media helps to justify the military-industrial complex. Dissemination and study of the Seville Statement on Violence is a very important part of this "warfare."
Since war is not caused by our biology, why has the culture of war and violence been so dominant in human history? For an answer to this, I submit, we must turn to the nature of economic development.