On the Role of Anger in War and Peace
VI. The Anger of Activists as a Basis for Optimism Page 6

Title Page

I. Introduction
Page 1

II. There is no Instinct for War
Page 2

III. Why There Are So Few Women Warriors
Pages 3

IV. History of Warfare
Pages 4

V. Warfare and Marriage
Page 5

VI. Conclusion
Page 6

Notes and References
Page 7

By those who are optimistic (especially people who are actively engaged in the peace movement), anger may be seen as a positive and essential motivational force for those who struggle for social change. In particular. it is critical for the motivation of peace movement activists.

From autobiographies and from interviews with anti-war activists, I have found that anger against injustice is an early step and a constant motivating force in their work for peace. Consciously or unconsciously, they harness anger to keep them going. Gandhi, for example, remarked in his autobiography that "this talk enraged met but I restrained my feelings 1 contained myself and quietly replied I wanted to reserve my strength for fighting bigger battles."

The importance of anger as a motivating force can help explain why attempts by authorities to suppress movements of social change often serve to enflame rather than stifle them.

Not all anger is positive and constructive. When anger is directed inwards, it can produce depression and inactivity. If anger is directed at colleagues and friends, it can produce isolation and division. If it is directed against social scapegoats, it can support fascism and racism. And if it is directed against a national enemy, it can be used to build support for militarism and war.

It would appear from my preliminary work that anger is positive and constructive for the motivation of peace movement activists when it is collectively harnessed and directed against the agents of militarism themselves or the system of political-economic relations in which they function. As one noted religious pacifist told me. "We must love the good and hate the evil."

It is important to recognize that non-violence as an organizational tactic does not preclude the motivational harnessing of anger. The quote above from Gandhi is one illustration. In drawing on the philosophy of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized that "non-violent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist... this is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight... while the non-violent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active... " (King, 1958).

It is a complex task to study the motivational uses of anger, and a task that needs far more attention than it has received so far. Speaking about the more general question of changing human consciousness, Robert Lifton has recently written. "in fact, we are in considerable ignorance about how significant changes in human consciousness come about" (Lifton and Falk, 1982).

Social change in general, and the abolition of war in particular, can occur through the actions of social movements that engage large numbers of highly conscious and highly motivated participants. By helping to refine and enhance the process of consciousness development and the motivational energy of activists, psychologists can play a helpful role in the peace movement. Anger - its expression, its direction, and its harnessing into collective action - can play a key role and deserves our special attention.

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