Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University




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Concept: InfoPeace

Information peace (infopeace) is the production, application, and analysis of information by peaceful means for peaceful ends. Starting with Gregory Bateson's definition of information as 'any difference that makes a difference', infopeace seeks to make a difference in the quality of thinking about the global contest of will, goods, and might. Measuring information in terms of quality rather than quantity, and assessing quality by the difference it makes in the reduction of personal and structural violence, infopeace opens up possibilities of alternative thought and action in global politics. Unabashedly utopian and pragmatic, it counters a 'natural' state of war with a mindful state of peace.

A mindful state of peace posits the eventual abolition of violence as a global political option. Peace-mindedness ranges from the prevention, admonition and mediation of violence, to the outright disavowal of violence as a political option for the resolution of problems in the international arena. It draws on a long tradition of peace-thinking, exemplified in early Christian pacifism and Eastern philosophies, in which the need for peace begins internally and proceeds outwardly. It starts by embracing a wholeness of the individual, and expands to families, communities, countries, and beyond. The notion of Gaia, as a self-regulating biosphere, contributes to the rhetoric of peace thinking; but it is the networked reality of an expanding infosphere which makes peace an attainable and evermore vital necessity.

Infopeace seeks to prevent, mediate, and resolve states of war by the actualization of a mindful state of peace. Following Gilles Deleuze's insights about the virtual possessing a reality that is not yet actual, infopeace stresses the actualization of peace through the creative application of information and technology. Critical imagination is the best antidote to the kinds of technological determinism that increasingly circumscribe human choices.

Infopeace integrates a strategy in which difference, conflict, and antagonism are recognized as essential aspects of human relations. It aims to develop an awareness of how these aspects can be addressed by non-violent means. Infopeace accepts the Augustinian paradox that the actualization of peace might entail (limited) violence, yet seeks to apply alternatives means of securing the self, the group, or the state. In short, infopeace is utopian in intention, pragmatic in application.


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