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Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Live! »

Technology and Peace (1966)


NOTE: This lecture is made up of excerpts from Peace Corps (1966), Lectures 1 and 2

And if you go to India and serve two years, it would be foolish to think that the fruits of what you are doing can be seen after two years. It cannot be seen after four years.

You know when it could be seen? If the people with whom you have lived will tell their grandchild that one day this grandchild should go to the United States, and look it over what this queer country was from which such a plant had arrived, then you would be successful.

—July 15, 1966


{ } = word or expression can't be understood
{word} = hard to understand, might be this

... The world is too small. You fly in 89 minutes around the globe and for this simple reason -- any other country's harm is our own harm. And -- however, this has not been formulated. The Peace Corps is the first attempt to formulate this experience, you see, on a -- on a worldwide level. And there are many implications which I think even leaders in this movement haven't thought through. It will be a -- some hundred years before we are functioning well.

I say all this only to make you see that there is a break, a decided break. After the two world wars, and after the bomb has been -- fallen, and after we shoot to the moon, the self-interest of a government never suffices for justifying any international measure. Why that is so, it is so. And it was not the same way in 1840, when Palmerston could declare war on the Chinese, because they wouldn't allow the Chinese to be ruined by the buying of opium. That was the only reason for this -- for this opium war, that the English said, "You cannot forbid our tradesmen, our businessmen to import opium into China."

We don't do these things so crudely now, with opium. But I think there are other damages -- going on. It hasn't even been investigated how much harm we do by exporting the New York Times.

This new epoch, the new period of which I am -- try -- shall try to speak, will not be just fair to the Chinese, as this very beautiful book by Mr. Waley, who was the greatest expert on the Chinese in the whole of England, through his life. He lived from 1889 to 1966. W-a-l-e-y. And I think he deserves even your memory, because he stands out as a man of great gentleness, and great sympathy. And he can show the two sides of the coin. In this book, you understand why the English acted as they acted and why the Chinese acted as they acted. Now if -- it is already quite something if an educated person can see two sides of an issue. You people cannot be satisfied with this. As long as China is China, England is England, America is America, no Peace Corps effective. The condition of your existence is that there is something third possible. And what this could be is -- will be my task now to find out with you -- or for you.

It has been my concern to put it into such blunt and such simple terms that even children can understand it, because only if the children -- your age group -- of course you are already senior citizens -- if you don't grasp this, your elders will not grasp it. They have been educated in such a clear-cut map-reading that here are the United States and there is China, that they even believe that God created these frontiers. You know very well that He didn't, that by this terrible mischief that the Pilgrim Fathers la- -- landed in the United States, you see, we now have this -- these separate United States. They didn't have to be separated. In 1608, it was just a part of -- of a general { }. The -- our -- your map is so dogmatic that you actually believe that China is China and the United States is the United States. I challenge you on this. It's just an invention of the devil. God created the globe. It's a very round world, and you have established all these custom duties between them, the parts of it. But wouldn't it be interesting to look what is common at this very moment, without treaties, without laws, without any fuss about our principles, our constitutions, our religions. How can the fact that here are Christians, and there are -- there are ancestor-worshipers, how can this be enough to say that there is China and there is the United States for good, for opium, or for tea? It isn't so simple. God does -- doesn't let us -- get away with murder so easily.

We have introduced something divine into our existence in the last hundreds of years which I think makes Mr. Waley look obsolete, and even the president of the United States of 1905, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, only a pioneer. And you -- we all have to adopt what he reasoned out, that it was not in the interests of the United States if any other country, you see, came to harm and was weakened.

We have learned to invent inventions. That is to say, down to my youth, into my middle age, when an invention was made, we all believed that the invention was to stay with us. To give you an example: in Vermont, on Sunday the last train carrying persons stops running through Vermont. The train between New York and Montreal. Now in 1890, 10 miles from here, there was a meeting of 3,000 people trying to persuade each other that -- should build a new railroad which has never been built, between Vershire and Tunbridge, on Brockle Bank Hill. Well, you can say fortunately it wasn't built. Probably you wouldn't be here if it had been built. But this was the plan, and these 3,000 people marched up this mountain, had a picnic there, and decided to put out shares to build this railroad. They meant that if the railroad was built, it would go on forever.

The great inventions of the 19th century had all the character of finality. Everybody believed this was, like an automatic razor, going to stay with us, you see. Where would we be? We can't go back to knives, you see, to -- to razor blades. So, this is no longer so. While I -- when I was young, believed that the -- an electric tramway in the streets of my hometown, in Berlin in Germany, was the latest invention and would go on forever -- and my parents moved from this terrible street where now an electric car was commuting, because you couldn't live with this new monster, you see -- today we drive cars. The electric -- you see, the electric train was given up. And the same is true, this -- this train between Montreal and New York ceases to exist. We are waiting for the next invention, when we all have our own helicopter, you see. And nobody will drive a car on the highway, because that's too -- that's too many accidents, you see. I still wait for my own helicopter. It's still a little too expensive. But it will come.

In other words, we have invented to invent. And this is changing the whole picture, because in any community, in any town, in any country, any such new inventions -- invention re-arrange the people. If you have to pump the water from your well, or if you have to draw the -- the water from the town water supply, it makes quite a difference. First of all, the second is chlorine, and it tastes very poorly. And then it may be closed for hours. And you have to ta- -- pay regards to your neighbors with whom you have to arrange things, as they do in the South. If you have ever been in Arizona, there are days and hours where one man can draw the water and the other cannot.

So you suddenly belong to this community of Arizona, and instead of having only to care for your family. But if it goes further, and you pump up the whole Colorado River, as they try to do now, it's {a great} -- will even be more so that you depend on the legislature in Washington, and on the council who takes care of this interzonal, interstate organization. And what the town can do, or your own -- can do in your own family is nons- -- is -- is of no value whatsoever. All of a sudden, all your familiar ties with people who work with you cease to be important and you suddenly depend on others. When we founded this Camp William James here in the neighborhood, we had to set up a council of nine townships, because the interests of nine townships seemed to be involved. And there was not one town who either cared or would have understood what we were trying to do, establish a Peace Corps, you see, for Vermont. And therefore we were driven to re-organize the po- -- people in this town. We have here two witnesses of this fortunately tonight, Mr. O'Brien from Tunbridge, and --

(Clint Gardner.)

-- Mr. Clint Gardner from Nor- -- from Norwich. It is a great pleasure for me to have two witnesses of our doings 25 -- -6 years ago, 25 years ago. And they know that already at that time there was a leak in our self-government. It didn't function. The village of Tunbridge, or the village of Sharon, you see, could not carry the brunt of this whole enterprise. They didn't understand. And the antagonistic interests were, of course, as they all are in a small town, couldn't be won over except by bringing in fresh blood. People -- the best men in every town will understand something new, you see, but not the majority.

Now every minute today, where something new is invented, we need a new administration for it. If you have electricity in your house, instead of an oil lamp, or a candle, obviously you suddenly depend on the electric power company. And therefore you have to pay regard to the problem of: who is this electric power company? How will they treat me? Thirty years ago, they treated Vermont very badly. The power company situated in Vermont took the liberty of charging higher prices for electricity to the farmers in Vermont than to the block in Boston. And when we talked to them, the power company -- committee of the Legislature -- I had some talks with them on this -- they said, "Well, we sell to one block in Boston more electricity than to the whole village of Vershire together. So why should we not ask less money from the block in -- in -- in Boston, you see, than we charge here?"

Now, I told them that in Sweden they had solved this problem long ago. And that the whole country of Sweden was just one electric block, and you couldn't charge any difference in rates in Haparanda than you did charge in Malm” or -- or Stockholm.

Well, these blockheads didn't see it that way. Well, they made the president of this -- who resisted us, they have made him in s- -- in -- in the meantime president of a university. There he can't do any harm, you see. There is so much electricity anyway.

But this is very important. May I ask you to -- to see one great law of technical progress, which is revolutionizing the universe at this moment, and in whose wake what you are doing suddenly is vested with great importance, great urgency, and great dignity. And unfortunately the do-gooders don't know this, the charitable people, that this is not a charity, this Peace Corps business. It's not a -- just a beneficiary. It is inevitable. It is indispensable, because any technical innovation expands the space in which we move, shortens the time in which we can achieve the change, and destroys a familiar group -- a family, or a village, or a town, or a country. This simple rule, which I have preached for the last 20 years, is quite inaccessible it seems to philosophers, who don't see the forest for the trees, but it is also inaccessible it seems to so-called -- well, I won't give names. You can observe it, however, yourself and then you will understand what you are up against: why you have to go to India, why it is not a charity that we go there, because we destroy. Technical progress destroys cardels of life, structures of togetherness, of solidarity. It must, because any technical progress allows you here to put on the lights, you see, without much ado, whereas before you had to -- perhaps to -- to use a stone, you see, and -- and go to great lengths before the -- the spark would occur. This is no longer true. We have in- -- we are inventing all the time things. You call this press-button civilization. I think it's not dignified enough. The term is -- it is a much deeper achievement which technical mankind is looking for and seeking for. It's the unity of all the forces of the universe which we are trying to bring about, which is a tremendous task for which we are speaking, for which we are living, for which we are breathing. That's why we are on this earth, to unify the creation.

Now, would you kindly take down these three sentences? Every invention, or every technical progress, or every technicality -- or you can call it as you please -- every gadget enlarges the space which we dominate; it shortens the time which it takes to dominate this; and it destroys the old group in which this before was achieved. You needed the community to have the water, perhaps, you see. Now you don't know it -- need this community any more, because the company, the water company -- that's the whole Colorado River. It's the whole Mississippi River. So what do you care for the man in the village there? He's a little cog on the wheel, only. But it is true of any other invention. Take the telephone. Obviously, as long as you have to send a messenger -- to the next village, you see, these people are very important. You have to have trustworthy messengers. Even -- even the mail still is a very human thing. But as soon as you get the telephone, or you get radio, you -- it is impossible for you to know to whom you are talking.

We telephoned the other day to Australia. You just ring up and San Francisco answers, you see, and said, "Yes, I'll go and connect you." And there was Australia, you see, in two minutes' time. It's a good example, you see, of the foreshortening of the time element, you see. It would take two months to go by ship there, and bring the -- ship there by surface mail -- the letter there by surface mail. And it widens the space in which we can act, because within two hours, the answer was there from Australia, and so you dominate this whole space. This is one.

But the last thing is the people with whom you used to correspond and to talk, to converse in the village -- they are very little interest to you, because you can have a conversation with your best friend in Australia. And you prefer this, because he is more interesting to you, and he has more to say to you. He shares your interest. He's another, you see, frustrated poet.

This is very astonishing that a very -- such a simple law has -- is never mentioned. I'll tell you why. All our viewpoints in school, and paper -- newspapers and radio, and Parliament, and Congress of course are restricted to the national boundaries and -- or the local boundaries, or the county boundaries, or the constituency in which we elect our senators. Now all these people are every day diminishing -- give us diminishing returns because our more important acts are always some connection with -- with the universe, with the five continents, you see. Not just this one. And for this, the senator of Vermont can hardly help us. He is in the same predicament as we. He also wants to telephone to Australia, and he has no more influence in Australia than we have. And therefore we both look in the same direction and ask ourselves, "What can we do to live with these -- with these people so that where we really see our tomorrow, we can have some influence, we make -- can make ourselves heard?"

May I repeat quite pedantically this one rule, because I think a new era really will dawn as soon as people -- legislators and educators begin to understand what is happening. When I was young and when Brockle Bank Hill was planned as a railroad, everybody believed that inventions were going to stay. This is no longer true. If you organize the school district of Vershire today, you must be ready to admit that 10 years from now, it may have to be re-organized. It will be all wrong. And every town in this state at this moment faces this fact that you may do something for the next 10 years. You may still go by railroad, or you may not go by railroad. But you cannot be sure that 10 years from now you will not completely -- be completely obsolete.

That is, the future of our own inventions today is in jeopardy, whereas in the 19th century, in the days of the first great inventions of the exhibitions in Paris, when the Eiffel Tower was, you see, disc- -- was built, people thought this exhibition, it's the dernier cri. That's the famous French word, you see. That's the last thing in the world. And you still can see in the French movies that the Eiffel Tower is still treated as the white elephant, you see, of the future, pointing to the great time of economic progress. Today, when I see Ren‚ Claire movie, you see, with all the Eiffel Towers in the world together, I begin to yawn. That's not my fault. It's not Ren‚ Claire's fault, who is the great -- a great man with his movies on Paris. But it is true that we no longer can rest on laurels and say, "This is the dernier cri." There is no -- no dernier cri. And this is quite upsetting to most people. ...

(Aren't you overrating technology as working toward some kind of peace, whereas I think I would contend that technology is one thing which is keeping the world divided and which unless -- unless it would explode in some kind of a -- some kind of a war...)

Well, I have -- pass no judgment in quantity or quality on any of your theses. I have only -- found, for example here in Vershire, that this town has been destroyed by technology, and still is a dead corpse, despite your presence. And so I haven't measured this in quantity. But one of the biggest issues which faces us is that you come to a town, the municipality doesn't function. The church doesn't function. You ask why. A hundred years ago, it has functioned. Officially there are still selectmen. There are still ministers. There is still Sunday service. But it's all dead. And you ask why, because they cannot function because they have electric light. And the electric light comes from an electric power company, whereas before, the candles were made in the village. So the people who made the candles and who bought the candles knew each other, and now you don't know each other. This is a -- simply a fact, Sir. If you haven't observed it, because you probably live in a big city, you see, you are the victim of your own blindness and deafness. And you think that nationalism -- anything. I have yet to find a nationalist who is not the best friend of every other nationalist. You take a French nationalist, a German nationalist, Italian nationalist -- they got on beautifully. They only despise the people who are not nationalists, you see. In every country that's the state. They will kill the non-nationalists, as the Goldwater people would like to kill some other people here, you see.

This is all so primitive, I wouldn't think that a man like you could -- could be so without experience, between the words that -- people intoxicate them, and the things that as strangers -- you must draw a line. What these people have in their minds, that's the result of the emptiness of their souls and of their opportunity. If you lived in Vershire, you would also go crazy from inop- -- lack of opportunity. And then you would become a Goldwater man, of course.

I mean, we -- we are talking about daily -- daily processes that eat the marrow out of our daily life, of out our work, out of our friendship. This has nothing to do with what's going on in your head, Sir. And -- I mean, nationalism is -- is -- is bubbles, soap bubbles. Of course, if you have no blood in your brain, you have instead air -- hot air.

(Well, perhaps I misinterpreted the -- the universality of some of your statements in -- in going from -- referring to very wide historical periods and very...)

But I haven't. I haven't. I haven't. I'm speaking of electricity. That's not a very far period, Sir. And of the fact that the trains have ceased to go on Sunday. Last Sunday the last train went through Vermont. Where are my large periods? You are living in dreams. I am not.

(Well, I...)

You don't mention -- you see, in your political thinking the fact that there are no trains now running through Vermont doesn't exist. You have never given it a thought. I tried to show you that is one of the most important political events of the last four weeks. And since I cannot convince you, I have to shout at you and say, "Wake up! And look where the real events today take place." They don't take place in nationalistic heads. Mr. de Gaulle is quite unimportant. Absolutely unimportant. He's a holdover. The -- leave this to the poor French. They want a -- some sem- -- semblance of power. But the fact that you have to fly now, and don't go by boat to France, that's a very important fact. The -- all the -- all the pi- -- the -- the sea- -- sailors in the harbor of New York, and the sailors in Maine, and the sailors in New- -- Nova Scotia have lost their jobs. There are 7,000 farms to be had in New- -- Newfoundland -- or no, Nova Scotia -- at this moment, because they were all shipbuilders, and they no longer can build ships to go to -- to Europe, you see. And all of a sudden, this -- absolutely empty country. You can buy one of these 7,000 farms at -- at preferential rates.

(Well, to give me a chance to rebut -- I think that we're...)

That's -- is --

(...talking about two different frames of reference. I was under the impression that you were making -- making -- making some of these statements as some kind of universal law.)

Of course. Of course.

(I think -- I think...)

Since -- since Prometheus sto- -- stole the fire, you see, we live in this -- under this great inconvenience, that every new invention dislocates men. And this -- has not been taken into account. I do speak in historical terms, Sir. But I just defend myself against your saying that the other things are more important, because the destruction which you yourself, by raising chickens here, are going to work on -- on poor India will be quite enormous. And that's very serious. You have to find out tonight and tomorrow night -- or -- well, as long as you are here -- where you will be -- a destructive force or a productive -- and constructive force. That hasn't been decided, yet. The next war can well be started by the Peace Corps. Well-meaning people are always the most dangerous people in the world, you see.

(Well, I think that...)

Pardon me, I have to speak so roughly in order to wake you up to see what I'm really trying to say. I haven't said any of these things yesterday which you have insinuated to me.

(Yes, well I was under the impression that you were formulating some kind of a theory of universal history, or some such thing as that, by which -- where the world is inevitably moving toward some kind of unity of mankind. And I think that this idea about technological progress breaking down boundaries -- family boundaries, clan boundaries, racial boundaries possibly also. I think this is -- this is perhaps very true in a -- a homogeneous culture like America. But I'm not so sure it works that same way in something like the -- like the world. You're talking...)

In which town are you at home, Sir? In which town are you li- -- do you live?

(Pardon me?)

What's your hometown?

(My hometown? Wellesley, Massachusetts.)


(Wellesley, Massachusetts.)

With all the girls there? Well. Of course, that has turned his head.

Let me say once more. I have formulated a universal law of which I am very proud, because I have formulated it as a first, 15 years ago. And you can observe it in -- in action every day. And it is not yet decided whether the Peace Corps, as it is established in the United States, will function on any one side of this law, or will counteract it, which it should be -- should probably. And therefore, your aversion against universal truth is -- is -- I don't know where it comes from. Perhaps it's a Freudian complex. I don't know why you are -- why should I teach you -- and attain you with lies or with not-truths? I have not come here to speak of something that is not true. No. I want to say something that is true. Wh- -- what's the objection against some fact you can observe every day yourself, Sir?

(Well, in Massachusetts, there are universal truths with -- such as this...)

Well, I have exposed myself to your criticism. Refute that it is true, that's {served}. But to say because I have tried to formulate a universal truth, it must be false -- that's funny.

(This isn't what I'm saying. This is- -- this wasn't my objection, you know, { } opinions and formulations. I'm just -- just arguing with your thesis.)

Ja, but give me -- give me some counter-thesis. How -- how do all these dislocations -- how are they brought -- about? In which way are they bro- -- are they brought about? Why does -- doesn't -- our villages not function, our schools, our churches? Why are they empty and void of spirit? Why do we have to have now Washington interfering, when we -- in Hanover now want to have a bridge? There is a law in 1962 passed in Washington to protect the local people who no longer have the means to protect themselves against the state highway department. There sits a man in -- an ombudsman in Washington already. You have heard of the ombudsman in Sweden, perhaps, who has to righten the wrongs of the bureaucracy, you see. And now there is in Washington, of all cities, somebody to righten the wrongs of the bureaucracy. And if they had -- this Vermont state highway department makes a plan, we can go to Washington to complain. That would never have happened 50 years ago, because 50 years ago, the citizens of Norwich would have been sufficiently virile and articulate to fight anything that goes on in Montpelier. And this is no longer true.

(Well, Mr. Huessy, on this -- on this front, do you think that life is further unified by the fact that you now need a man in Washington to -- to work out your grief between here and...)

I'm only describing. I have -- the scene is so desperate. The schools are run from -- from Washington, as you know, because our tax system is impossible. I have to pay 11 times as many taxes as I paid when I built my house in my town 30 years ago. And that's quite something, 11 times as much.

(Now -- now it seems to me...)

How shall I pay it? So if the United States government isn't kind enough to support one-third of the ta- -- of the school bill, we cannot have the school. Very simple.

(It seems -- it seems to me that these have been very divisive influences.)


(It seems to me that these have been very divisive and dividing influences brought about by an increase in -- in technology, an increase in communication, and a further centralization of power in -- away from -- where, you know, away from the grassroots. And I don't see why you think the technology...)

Well, look at grassroots here. Grassroots -- this road here up and no grass grows here. I mean, what are grassroots? That's a sentimental term. I don't accept this, with the grassroots, you see. Who is grassroots here? Not one of us -- you. Don't talk grassroots when we have lost our grassroots.

(All -- I -- I would agree. I think we have lost our grassroots and I think this is why technology...)

Ja, but that's -- you are too young to be so sentimental about it. We have to draw -- learn to draw -- to live without grassroots. The -- this is all sentimentality or romanticism just to complain. I don't. I have said soberly we all are responsible to make up for the destruction brought by the technological pro- -- change. That's all.

({ } still think {we're} beginning an answer to {my} question. What, if anything, do you see as an antidote to the...)

Pardon me?

(What, if anything, do you see as an antidote to the relentless operation of the { }?)


(Awareness of it, for one thing?)

The answer is that your Peace -- you Peace Corps people will have to decide in your work and in your service whether you are on the side of the destructive process or whether you are already an antidote. I hope you are an antidote, because for my -- during my whole life, I have tried to think up this antidote, this means of filling the gap between the old order and the new -- how would you say? -- void that is being created. And it isn't yet -- we mustn't be too optimistic. Mere charity and mere good will doesn't always alter the facts of life.

And therefore I've tried to put you a little bit on -- make you curious the last time. I tried to say that there is something to be done of which nobody ever speaks. Nobody says that technological problem -- progress destroys groupings, you see. And this is very important. You don't find it in any textbooks, Sir. This is not admitted. The old-timers say it isn't necessary. So they form societies to protect the grassroots. They'll be -- they will -- buy magnifying glasses to see the last grassroots, you see. And they think that's a counter-action of the development. I say, if you see that the grassroot disappear, you have to plant elsewhere. And this is what the Peace Corps should stand for, might stand for, but I'm not so sure that you will stand for with your ideas. It's not yet -- it is not yet decided. In 10 years perhaps, we may know whether this has been very harmful and led to the next war between India and the United States, or whether it has really made for peace. It isn't -- absolutely not -- not safe to say. You are a dangerous people. That's what I try to say. And I tried to wake you up to this de- -- great -- your own dangerous position.

And there- -- why don't you then talk of nationalism? I don't understand it.

(No, I think you're -- you're imputing something which I think is true, to be -- some -- to be a goal. I mean, I think -- I think you're translating my view of what objectively exists into something which I'm trying to bring about, or trying to perpetuate. In other words, because I -- I think that technology does not unify the world, you seem to -- you seem to feel that my goal is to keep the world disunited, as if it were possible that I could do this by myself. I -- I don't think it's possible, yet.) When I went home yesterday, I felt, of course, because of your question, quite puzzled. And then I comforted myself with the sentence, by Napoleon -- he was asked how one wins battles. And he said -- to the great amazement of the generals, he said, "On s'engage et { } en voir." One gets going, you see, one gets involved, as the people say nowadays in existentialism, and then one s- -- looks around and sees how to do best, you see. A very simple answer, a very modest answer. And so I also hope for something, you see, to get engaged. Now you have s- -- offered this wonderful possibility, you see, of getting angry. That's always the first thing for a good plan of strategy. It is better to get angry -- I think more comes to one's mind -- than if one is very sweet.

(Well, possibly, but it also blocks out the possibility of open-mindedness about something. It's very hard to {be able} to see the possibility the other person might { } and being angry tends to narrow your -- your scope of your viewpoint, very often.)

Well, you have a point. Let me tell you that I decided on the -- on making today peace the topic. And so as late as possible, let us make peace. Postpone this a little bit.

I received, and that was what I tried to -- what I would like to say -- this morning a pamphlet, which comes out every -- every three months. It appeared since 20 -- for 20 years now. It's a fr- -- written by a friend of mine in Germany. It's called Reconciliation and Peace. And it's filled with articles on war and peace, and the -- the alliance of -- for reconciliation on the civil -- service in -- in Switzerland, which works in Al- -- Algeria, just as you're going to work in India. It's an old establishment. A very fine man, Pierre {Cerezolle} founded this in reaction to the World War I in Switzerland, 1919. Have ev- -- ever- -- anybody heard of the -- they call it Zivildienst, which is strange way of calling an international enterprise: "civil service." You wouldn't think with the word "civil service" that it was an attempt to coloni- -- or to help in Algeria and Morocco. And they have done very well.

The whole -- this whole pamphlet is filled with oc- -- with narratives about peace. There are exclamations and proclamations by physicists and by churchmen and -- against Siam, of co- -- of course, and Eirene, international Christian service for peace, the campaign for disarmament. And I think it's a good way of showing you that belonging to the era that has passed -- to the -- I would call it the ideological era -- there is a deep feeling that today peace has to be manufactured, proclaimed, shouted -- talked about in all forms. All these are people who you would rate with the conscientious objectors, perhaps, and with the pacifists, with the protesters against S- -- Vietnam. And I have tried and this perhaps explains your difficulty of understanding me, Sir, I have tried to take your attention away yesterday from this style of effort for peace and anti-Vietnamese proclamations. I am not interested in these. They have never done anything in my estimation, achieved anything. Whether they are 50 physicists who suddenly write, "We shouldn't throw the bomb," or something like that.

I have tried to tell you that we enter a -- a new era in which not the living side-by-side of the countries and then provoking misunderstandings and opium wars, as between India and China in 1841, will play the havoc, or will play -- will be the provocateur, the -- the spur for action -- but that simply your daily progress in having a television set will force you to join a peace corps, to -- to reconcile the rest of the world to this infamy of yours to have a television set.

That's what I have tried to say, that the consumers of the technological progress -- you, Sir -- that you are guilty of making war. This has nothing to do with nationalism. It has nothing to do with ideology. It's a fact that we, by using all these new produc- -- means of production, you see, we are making for war against the -- former groupings. We destroy them. You and I do. We are aggressive, Sir. This you haven't gotten from my statement. I only formulated this law -- an emphatic word for something very simple -- to bring it to your senses and to say, "You cannot improve your gadgets every day without changing the order of life." That's very serious. We are responsible for all these tensions in the world, for all the coffee riots in Brazil, because we drink this coffee.

And there -- well, you see, I cannot follow your argumentation at all, because I wanted only to arouse in you and my -- me the self-consciousness that we, by participating in this technological civilization, are guilty. That's -- are -- what the Bible used to call original sin. That is, we inherit a guilt by using the things invented, done -- all the time. And there is therefore no argument of an ideological nature that -- I have not to judge -- sit in judgment whether nationalism is worse, or this is worse, or this worse. I have only come to my senses to see what I'm doing, without thought, of course. Perfectly thoughtless. Perfectly unideologically.


(It follows then that { } {have} introduced {simply} { }, with very little touch {in} technology, is not so guilty?)

Not for this; he's guilty probably in other respects. He may beat his wife, you see.

(...we may bring this guilt to him. We may involve him in our guilt by -- by spreading it through...)

Oh yes. That's just the -- our danger. We don't know, yet. Quite. Don't you feel that this may be true?

(Yes, {we saw that today}. The -- the question that arises also is: we are -- all right, we're breaking up the old order. Can we get back to the old order? Do we want to get back to the old order?)

No. This is of course why we are here together, and what -- why we have to -- to think out loud: how can, you see, instead of only making a mess of things and how leading -- lending us in the lurch, how -- what can we do?

(Technology won't stop.)

No. Exactly. That's what I try to say.

(Perhaps the {quality} of it is {changed}.)

Ja. Ja. But it isn't yet decided whether you, as Peace Corps, you see -- the name will not protect you. So let me speak today about peace.

It is unknown what peace is. You must think that the United States have not made peace in 1865. They have not made peace in 1921. They have not made peace in 1945. We live in a country in which the three greatest wars have ended without peace. It's only a semblance of peace. The fate of Korea, the fate of Germany has not been settled in a peace treaty. You forget this. And the tr- -- state of -- of the Union, as you well know, they still told you in the South a year ago, "After all we -- we have not lost the Civil War."

It's very strange. We live in a country which has no relation to peace. And it is very funny that this corps should be called not the Corps of Vengeance, but the Corps of Peace. Now that's more than a joke, because peace is a -- impossible to understand in the mentality of the 19th century. In the mentality of the 19th century, a man had feelings, reason, and will. And if you asked him what love was, he would say, "Oh, it's just a form of will." Well, then you get a divorce. If l- -- if love is a form of will, in this whole picture of you -- the humanity, of the idealism of the 19th century -- in the Constitution of the United States, by the way, too -- peace and love have no room, because there is a wrong psychology at work, as though man could will peace.

And let me say this today more definitely. Perhaps you then will see why I am not interested in ideology, Sir, in -- in -- in reasons, you see. Because peace has been omitted from the thought of mankind as a task or as a problem for the last 200 years. It has been replaced by will. Peace will not be brought about by your will. Perhaps by your not willing, by dismissing your own will, you may make peace to your sweetheart -- with your sweetheart and your lover. But the condition is that your will is not law, that you dismiss your will as very incomplete and very defectious, and that you try to find what will take its place.

The greatest German poet was asked to write the play at the end of the Napoleonic wars. There had been wars from 1792 to 1815. All Europe had been ravaged. Finally, you know, Napoleon even went into Russia. And on the way back, the whole German and French troops were destroyed -- bled white by the cold -- by the freezing out. So then came battles at Leipzig, the famous battle of -- at Leipzig when 700,000 people fought. It was the biggest battle ever fought up to that time. And finally Waterloo came and Napoleon was defeated a second time. And so people breathed freely and said "This is now peace," from exhaustion. It's -- they made peace. And the Peace of Vienna, miraculously enough, holds good for 60 years. That's a long time in the history of the world. It was the longest period of peace that had ever existed in the Occident, which was brought about in the year 1815.

When the German poet Goethe was asked to write a festival, to write -- how would you call it? -- yes, a play to celebrate the peace treaty, he did. And the people were disappointed because it was not a nationalistic play. And he didn't glorify the deeds of the Germans at all, not even of these innumerable German princes. And the people began to joke over this play. And then he added a prologue. And the first line of this prologue is the topic today from what I have tried -- shall try to say to you. It says, "Will cannot make the peace." Der Wille kann den Frieden nicht bereiten, if anybody of you happens to know German. That's a very strange sentence. And I tried to dig it up to remind you that good will is very nice, you see, but peace has to come from elsewhere, as it does in the Gospel. Peace to all men of good will. In the Greek text, it says, "Peace to all men of His grace." It doesn't say "of -- of good will."

So on peace, people have stumbled for the last 2,000 years. They don't know quite where it is situated. But I invite you to consider that it is perhaps not cons- -- consi- -- situated in you. There are always, in the ancient world, vain attempts to have the word -- a word for peace. There is no Indo-European word for "war" and no Indo-European word for "peace." So difficult was it even to nominate the things. You would hardly believe this that we cannot find a common root for the word -- for the term "war." If you look at guerre in French, that's a Germanic word, very late. La guerre, you see, the cov- -- has to do with war, you see. The German Krieg is quite different. And so it -- on it goes. I followed it -- this morning through my dictionaries, through the -- the various words. People have great trouble to define whether peace is the absence of war, or war is the absence of peace.

Since the day comes nearer where we probably w- -- won't be able to afford war, it is not a luxury to give this one moment a thought -- our thoughts. In German, the word Friede means the right order inside an undisturbed home, or village, or province, you see. In English -- or in French, paix -- la paix means something established by contract. Pactum -- that's "peace," you see. That is, it is something that has gone through the human mind, and has been rationally then, you see, put over and decreed so that looks as though it could be done; it could be made; it could be manufactured.

The history of the word "peace" in the Anglo-Saxon world and in the Roman -- Romance languages has been coined, I would say, through the experience of the Pax Romana. The Romans, you see, were able to impose for many, many centuries their peace. And it was of course a peace of the victor over the defeated and enslaved. It was a polite word. A peace treaty was signed, but it was very one-sided. It was the peace of the Romans imposed, as in Vir- -- if you read Virgil, which was the poem for a thousand years of Ro- -- Roman grandeur. It says, you see, "We make war against the haughty ones, and then they have to obey."

So peace in the Lat- -- in your tradition of the word "peace" is a peace imposed by the victor, and obeyed by the vanquished. You will admit that this is too narrow a term for peace. If -- that would be the peace in a house, in a family; and it would be a very outrageous peace, and it would have to lead to divorce, which it does in this country, usually -- after the wife has imposed her will too long.

The word "pactum" which is the pact, which is peace, you see, seems to me to -- to obscure the mysterious character of peace, because it cannot mean what we write into a peace treaty. And it is not an accident that the South and the North have not written this peace treaty here in the United States, that Mr. Byrd has to die before the old victors of the Civil War, you see, go away. It's a very strange story that you have to wait till one man is 83 and the other is 79 before he -- the most important committee in the Senate can be occupied by the vanquished -- not occupied by the -- by the vanquished of the Civil War. It's the strangest country in the world which -- in which we live, in which a -- in which a racist can be the -- the chairman of the judiciary committee in the Senate. That's very serious, Sir, because it means just what I say, that the United States have not been able to conclude a peace after the -- the -- the -- winning the Civil War, allegedly.

This country is unable to make peace with outsiders. And yet in the -- in your village and so, it's the most peaceful and friendly life together. The old word in German for Friede would express this good spirit in a village, which has not to go through reason, which has not to be put into so many paragraphs, which just consists in hospitality and friendliness.

When my wife died, for six weeks there was a luncheon on my pla- -- ta- -- table in the kitchen by neighbors. And I never knew who had cooked the meal. They wanted to provide for me because I was a widower. Now, that's -- isn't that peace? The whole town was at peace, but there was no contract, there was no stipulation, there was not Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, you see, which the word "peace" unfortunately in this country implies, as though there was a pact concluded. There can be peace without this.

So there is a peace right from the start, originating like a plant from the earth. And then there is a high-brow peace concluded by Mr. Rusk, you see, and the Dale Carnegie Foundation. There are two kinds of peace today in most people's heads. And that's why psychoanalysts, and psychologists, and historians cannot agree on hu- -- the nature of mankind. One thinks everything can be done by contract and by stipulation, and by chambers of commerce, and by computers; and the other thinks that everything rationally formulated, you see, destroys the peace, endangers the peace, is already narrowing our life to channels which cannot bear any pressure, any danger.

Well, from your own experiences, wouldn't you say that this is the best peace which cannot be formulated, but inside which we find ourselves, you see, unquestionably, because we see that other people -- do not exaggerate their own will over us. It is the absence of a strong will which enables man to live in peace. If one of them is a monster in willpower, in energy, he will upset the peace. Certainly there will be no successor. You can recognize -- peaces made by writing, or formulation, or by law by the simple fact that they do not bind the successor. When the people who have stipulated this die, there is then -- usually the upheaval follows. Tyrants can very well formulate their will, but they have no successors. The -- that -- the real seriousness of life consists in this fact that we are all mortals and that the order of life has to exist regardless of the strong man in the White House, or wherever it is.

This peace has no -- can go on and has gone on in this country in its settlements for many, many generations. And nothing was stimulated. You find in no book on New England a real understanding of the deep peace that prevailed in any village, because all people built their farm, and their roads, and their churches, and their meeting-houses together. This togetherness, this communism, you see, is not mentioned, and so everybody here gets the impression that this was a -- a country of rugged individualism. It's the only communist country in the world, America -- New England, you see. Everything was here done in common and together. And it's never mentioned, because it is unspoken; it's inarticulate. There was such a deep peace that you didn't have to -- to say, to distribute chores by so many paragraphs and laws. They did it. In my -- on my own land, the stone walls that go there have been not established by the owner of this land, Bob, but by the -- all the people who went into harness and pulled it, instead of horses, which they hardly had.

So peace is something where we do something without getting something for it. You -- peace can only exist where people do something for nothing. We have an order -- official order of society in which -- this was 25 years ago and I think you were present, Bob -- the commissioner of education of the the city of Washington -- that is, of the United States government, who still has his seat in the department of the welfare, health, and education, pro- -- proclaimed in Hanover, New Hampshire, in my presence that a citizen was a -- was a man who was profitably employed.

I said to him, "You make for civil war. If this is a citizen, then there are no citizens," you see. But we have a -- reached such an all-time low in our public thinking, that this could -- could have passed if I hadn't protested. He came home to me and he sat down. I gave him something good to drink. And he said, "Now, you are absolutely right with your protest."

You know what I told him? I said that a citizen is a man who, when the city tumbles and falls down, can refound it. That's a citizen. And -- well, if you think about it, it's so natural. Who else c- -- what else can a ci- - has a citizen to do, but to refound his city?

And he said, "I -- you are absolutely right. You are absolutely right. I'm sorry I said this nonsense. But if you quote me on this, I shall deny it." At that time, a commissioner of education in Washington had to pretend that everything was economic. And -- he would have made himself ridiculous if he hadn't said that a citizen is a man who is profitably employed.

Now you are in the same boat with your Peace Corps, you see. Do you make for peace because it's profitable what you're teaching these people? If it is, you are making for civil war, or the next general strike. Economic laws don't make for peace. That's an error in judgment. It's widely spread, but it is simply true, that the machinists of the airlines are economically absolutely correct in striking. Only they are not correct with regard to the peace of the land.

No, peace is too serious to leave it to the religionists. Every man born from woman, and every woman have the duty to be involved, to be a part of the peace process. This they can only do if they admit that peace is neither of their will, nor of their reason, nor of their feelings, nor of any of these strange psychological errors in -- into which you have been wrapped.

There is an order of things surrounding us, as the lions know, and the -- the snakes know, and the stars seem to know. There's a course of events which engulfs us, which embraces us, which contains us, which leads us, which goes far beyond you and me, Sir. Although our -- and we only can -- can correct our errors in -- of judgment, so to speak, our own ideas about this, our rationalizations, our philosophies so-called, our theories, our party tickets, our candidacies for the Senate and so. They must all step aside before the simple problem of peace.

A fascist went down to a Southern city 20 years ago. Was very -- he was a good Nazi. {Casper} was his name. You may have heard the n- -- he is still around. And in this Virginia city, there was a great upheaval. All the listeners sat on their seat's edge, because he -- he pounded down the doctrine of Mr. Hitler that the black had to go, and the Jews had to go, and the Catholics had to go. And he would make order here, and he -- he summoned them to -- finally to see to it that white superiority would win.

And there was an old man in the audience, over 80, and the whole -- he felt that the whole city was on fire. The -- the talk took, of Mr. {Casper}. And he got up and said, "Gentlemen, I -- we -- I have lived here all my life. And that's a good town in which the Catholics, and the Jews, and the colored people have gotten along beautifully in peace. But he doesn't seem to understand. So let's all go and accompany our friend to the railroad station."

And so they did. And that was as good as cooking my -- me the meal, you see, and put it on the kitchen table. That meant that this community was at peace. And that's not -- nothing rational. That's nothing you can talk to this man, you see, as an answer. He didn't get an answer. He was only treated royally. He was accompanied to the railroad station.

Peace always invents moves that are not prescribed. According to the -- to the order of parliamentary procedure, somebody had to answer this man with his arguments. This is the wrong way for a peace-loving people. "Don't argue" is the first answer if you have a dispu- -- disputatious fellow in front of you. But do something to him.

And so he was expedited. And I have always loved this story, this -- which really happened in 1946, because it shows how peace is very realistic. It is inventive -- invents something nobody has every mentioned before and probably never mention or formulate after. I tell this story to show you that the one thing that is a -- is -- constitutes peace in any family, for example, is an unforeseen inventiveness. Something must happen that is not on the order of the day.

Your going to India is under the same stars, gentlemen. You will only make peace there if you can do something -- something that is not prescribed by your instructors here. They cannot. They can tell you all about chickens. They can tell you all about Indian dances. But the real problem is: will you find the inventive step that may -- constitutes your experience of peace with these people? How shall I express it? The main point is that peace is not found in us. It befalls us. We may -- we may support it. We may help that it can unfold. But I -- you can't even call it your own plant. It is not like a seed, where we put a seed into the ground, you see, because it takes so many other people's peaceful endowment. It is an act of faith that we know that beyond everybody's so-called personality, a very superfluous term -- I hope I have no personality -- and all these witches' sabbaths of modern psychology, you see, where a man is always described in his own terms, there is something much bigger already around. The peace that transcends all reasoning is waiting for you and me to fit in. And it is not made by us.

And this is all I have to say tonight. Please think in terms of our inability to make peace. We cannot make peace, but it is around us. It is waiting for us. It has to be invented, or it has to be affirmed. All the terms we use from human will, from human reason, from human feelings are already -- what's happened there? Do they shoot?

(Some angels just went by.)


(An angel of peace.)


The Greek word of peace -- for "peace" is a very strange word. You may have heard it in some applications as irenic. A man is irenic, he's full of peace. And it has nothing to do with our root of peace, as in "pact," and -- and Latin peace, or French, paix. It has nothing to do with the German Friede either. The Greeks formulated the word eirene, and it's also a girl's name, of course -- Irene, you see. An empress -- famous empress was called Irene. Played a great part in the history of the Church. The word for "peace" in -- in Greek has to do with aristocracy, and with fitting. It means simply -- eirene is there when everything fits together with everything else. I think that's quite a good description of what peace might be.

So the Greeks avoided our error of judgment that peace can be made by fiat, by the head. It cannot. As you see, the good will was not lacking in the Americans to write a peace treaty in 1918 and to write a peace treaty in 1945. But they have been unable to do it. Will will not do it.

Perhaps I can then say more about this -- tomorrow. I think for -- after our quarrel tonight, it is enough that we have come to peace at this moment. And peace cannot be brought about by will. If you hold this together with yesterday's thesis, that every technological proce- -- pro- -- progress, every progress of technological invention, every technological change widens the space, narrows the time -- or shortens the time, abbreviates the time -- and destroys some former groupings -- I think we have together the elements out of which the -- it can be explained why a Peace Corps is indispensable, and why even its abuse by its members will not stop its -- the desire for having it.