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Professor, Earlham College, Peace and Global Justice Studies
I want to use the holocaust to sort out, at least in part, what might appear to be an ambiguity in Patomaki's argument. On the one hand, he finds support for his own views in the empirical evidence supplied by Deutsch et al's careful historical case studies. They support the conclusion that peace can be established by creating reliable and effective institutions for achieving peaceful change in the directions most people want: more rights and liberties, more equality, more prosperity. On the other hand, Patomaki finds much to criticize in the methodologies which use the statistical analysis of datasets to confirm theories (most notably Kant's) which lead the authors to predict that, "Peace will prevail throughout a region when all the states there are democratic." (28) Patomaki might appear to be saying yes to Deutsch and no to Singer when they use similar methods to arrive at similar conclusions. A short discussion of how one might try to understand the holocaust may help to clarify this ambiguity, and also to provide another example of why attention to basic structures has both methodological and practical importance.
My mother's brother, Jack Darwin McCune, a second lieutenant in the United States Army, was one of many who gave their lives to prevent tragedies like the holocaust from happening again. But tragedies like the holocaust have happened again: in Indonesia, in Argentina's Dirty War, in Cambodia, in Biafra, in Chile, in Rwanda, and in other places. Many scholars have sought to further through peace research the cause Uncle Jack sought to further by volunteering to fight Hitler. They have sought to learn how to prevent holocaust-like tragedies by understanding their causes.
A Humean scholar who seeks to discover the causes of events like the holocaust is faced with the initial difficulty of deciding what to count as "like the holocaust." Using a Humean methodology, one would have to identify a class of phenomena, "holocausts," and then seek to determine what other classes of phenomena are constantly conjoined with it --or frequently conjoined with it at a high level of statistical significance. The choice of what to count as a tragedy like the holocaust would already reveal the scholar's ethical orientation and telegraph the sorts of policy recommendations likely to emerge from the research. If the choice is to focus on anti-semitism, then the class of similar phenomena to be studied will include pogroms in Russia, Poland, and other places. If the choice is to focus on the systematic killing of members of an ethnic group, then holocaust-like events will be defined as genocides. If the choice is to focus on the systematic killing of any group of people, who are considered to be unworthy of life and deserving of death by other people who have the power, as well as the will, to destroy them, then Indonesia in 1965 and all of the tragedies mentioned above would count. If the choice is to focus on rage out of control, or on the intelligent and systematic implementation of cruelty, or on the ideological construction of the other as evil, then still different datasets will be defined.
On the other hand, one can take the view that there was only one holocaust: It happened in Germany and in German-occupied areas in the early 1940s. Its victims were Jews, Communists, socialists, labor leaders, gypsies, homosexuals, and some others condemned to die for miscellaneous reasons. On this last view, one might give up trying to understand the holocaust with the methods of social science, understood as methods that measure the impacts of variables on variables. "Holocaust-like event" would not be a variable. There was only one. There would be no class of such events to count, rank, or scale, in order to give a variable a numerical value. One might then revert to trying to understand the holocaust with the methods of history, conceived as methods for studying unique events.
Unless one studies the holocaust as a unique phenomenon, defining the class of holocaust-like-phenomena excludes information. Any member of the class of such tragedies will have characteristics other than and different from other tragedies lumped together with it in the same class. Further, there is no reason to suppose that the boundaries marked by assigning a name to a class of events correspond to any fault lines along which causal powers move. Assigning a name to a class of phenomena, thus operationally defining a variable, provides no guarantee whatever that one has grasped forces at work in reality. As Knorr Cetina reminds us: "a stable name is not an expression and indicator of stable thinghood." (29)
Whatever does not count for the purpose of operationally defining the class to be studied will not be counted at all, insofar as the class, and not its individual members, then becomes the object of study. The class, so defined as an object of study, may and may not have some real relationship to causal powers.
Such considerations lead to a reason why Patomaki can repose more confidence in Deutsch's studies than in those conceived in the Singer "Correlates of War" tradition. Patomaki emphasizes that classes are never causes. To calculate "the impact of X on Y" where X and Y are variables (classes) is never to give a causal explanation. Causes must be sought among things, not among the names of the classes used to put things in categories. Further, the very process that puts a number of historical phenomena into the same category in order to define a variable is a process that loses information about things. Deutsch et al with their extensive case studies of particular transitions from armed mutual suspicion to peaceful security community, with their complex and qualified conclusions, with their methodological caution, and with their use of only very elementary mathematics, lose comparatively little information. They are comparatively less likely to surreptitiously treat classes as causes, or to treat measurements of quantitative relationships among classes as tests of causal hypotheses.
Of course, Patomaki goes beyond Deutsch in proposing a critical realist methodology for peace studies. Patomaki recommends an approach that is explicitly not Humean. But, on the other hand, Patomaki's critical realist approach is not restricted by the doctrine that since world political events are unique no causes producing them can be identified.
This does not mean, however; that in place of the positivist notion, according to which once the values of the independent variables are known the value of the dependent variable can be predicted; and that in place of the notion found in some versions of Marxism, according to which the laws of the accumulation of capital ultimately decree one inevitable result; that there is now a third, realist, notion which authorizes social scientists to predict the future. No. Meanings are causes. They are causes because they explain human action. But it is characteristic of human action that the actor could have done otherwise. Critical realism and idealism merge in the human actors who are able to transform the meaningful contexts of their actions. It is realistic to say that the ecological niche of the human species is to be the cultural animal, and that cultural animals create social structures. As Roy Bhaskar writes, "If there are social explanations for social phenomena (i.e. if a social science of social forms is to be possible), then what is designated in such explanations, the social mechanisms and structures generating social phenomena, must be social products themselves; and so, like any other social object, they must be given to and reproduced in human agency.... society is itself a social product." (30) Bhaskar goes on: "...society is at once the ever present condition and the continually reproduced outcome of human agency: this is the duality of structure." (31) Although it may well be the case, as neo-realists maintain, that in the past it has not been easy to change the rules and principles of global order except by military means, there is nothing in the nature of things that makes this necessarily the case. Peaceful change is in principle possible.
The question how to prevent the recurrence of holocaust-like events becomes, for critical realism, less a question of measuring causal factors that are associated with violence, and more a question of learning how to produce positive structural change, which, in turn, facilitates the creation of cultures of peace where ethnic hostility is in remission. In Patomaki's somewhat esoteric terminology, the question is about the self-transformative capacities of contexts. It is less about the crimes of Adolf Hitler and more about how to move beyond the unreliability and ineffectiveness of the Weimar Republic. It is less about the immediate conditions that triggered the outbreak of war World War II and more about the failure of the Treaty of Versailles to establish a viable international peace after World War I. It is less about the crimes of General Suharto and more about the weakness of the fledgling social democracy that was declared in Indonesia when the Dutch departed in 1955. Such is the thrust of Patomaki's last chapter, "Beyond Nordic Nostalgia." The last chapter is about how to reverse the decline of Scandinavian social democracy. Apart from the fact that it is natural for Patomaki, a Finn, to be especially concerned with his own part of the world, the concerns of the last chapter are a logical outcome of the argument of the book. All the world needs models of reliable and effective peaceful change, of the kind the Scandinavian social democracies used to provide.
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