“Quelques pistes pour la nonviolence ” : 1- Où va-t-on ?

We transmit to you the study “Some clues for nonviolence” by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:

1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.

In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.

Here is the first chapter: Where are we going?

1 – Where are we going?

This production includes a series of reflections related to the theme of violence, in order to propose avenues towards non-violence.

I intend to begin by offering a brief context of the global crisis we are experiencing today, based on the ideas of eminent thinkers.

In an interview for the magazine Les Raisons de l’Ire in 1997, the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry Ilya Prigogine said: “Mutations are always preceded by fluctuations that indicate the complexity of phenomena [1]”. Given the incessant complexity of today’s world and the strong fluctuations that shake it, we can think that humanity is in the process of mutation. But the fluctuations do not seem to be over; the American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky said on 12 September 2020: “The world is at the most dangerous moment in human history because of the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war, and the rise of authoritarianism [2]”.

The French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin, in his work The Violence of the World [3] wrote in 2003: “We are obliged not to continue on the same path and to imagine a beginning, but the question is to know how”. In this book, he proposes “two principles of hope in despair: the metamorphosis of society, taking the example of the caterpillar that transforms itself into a butterfly by self-destructing while building itself into a new being”; and the appearance of the improbable, as has already happened in history, referring to events that change the course of history in a favourable direction; and concludes with these words: “Let us try to have some faith in the improbable, but let us also try to act in its favour”.

In 2006, the Argentinean thinker and writer Silo, in an interview with the Colombian humanist Enrique Nassar, noted his concern about psychosocial changes: “Behaviours can be changed individually, but at the collective level, the systems of representation are too variable… Only myths that translate the signals of the profound spaces of the human being can produce profound changes”. On another occasion, stating that a new myth was being formed, he said: “The only myths capable of generating a mystique are myths that translate signals from the profound spaces. Rational myths belong to the space and time of the self and have no way of entering mystical spaces. Myths coming from the profound spaces undoubtedly influence rationality, but this is not the case, on the contrary. You cannot get to the heart of the people from a social doctrine, but you can, from a myth, get to the heart of the people and from the heart of the people get to the social [4]”.

The direction to take seems to be this: to search in our deepest interiority for the signs of the new times. We do not see those who decide our destiny today capable of giving a direction to move towards a positive mutation and yet, despite the convulsions, we feel that the world is changing favourably, it is in the air! We are experiencing this paradox: we live in a world that is dying and being born at the same time.

In 2006, Dr. Olga Borisova said at the end of her lecture Violence and tolerance in the Arab-Israeli conflict: “It is naive to think that the existence of more than two hundred states is possible without any conflict; but there are different ways out of critical moments. If each of us strives to establish more tolerant relations, first and foremost with our immediate environment, it is possible that more civilised methods of conflict resolution will become a frequent phenomenon at the state level as well [5].

This statement brings us back to ourselves, to the role and contribution that each of us can make to society to see a new world emerge, which was the theme of the last symposium of the World Centre for Humanist Studies, held in May of this year 2021.

We all feel how the troubling turmoil of today’s world and the Covid-19 health crisis, added to the other disturbances, have caused a shockwave that has had an impact on all continents and cultures. We are now definitely aware that as humanity we are one body.

Soon, the powers that be, through the official media, announced in a tone intended to be reassuring, that once the pandemic was eradicated, things would return to normal. Many began to think: “Let’s hope not!

The clamour blew like a breeze of hope, and those in control soon felt that the wind must not be allowed to turn, that order must be restored, and that we must remember who the rightful decision-makers are on this planet. At the same time, this health crisis was an opportunity they did not miss. It was an opportunity to tighten the screws a little more, to control more, to repress the slightest incipient rebellion, to limit dangerous freedom without abandoning the use of all forms of violence that are so effective in living in peace.

However, the questions cascade: can we continue…, with the masquerade of today’s democracy…, with the infamous disregard for the rights of children, women and men…, with the institutional hypocrisy towards immigrants whose land was plundered and who are now treated as criminals (the world turned upside down)…, with the recurrent intolerance of religions that discredit true spiritual research…, with the arrogance of multinationals that plunder and sacrifice the planet to anonymous shareholders? …, to name but a few examples.

Human beings are pure intentionality and have the power to preserve or destroy their own home, the earth. If he treats himself and his people badly, he treats the environment in which he develops badly, so it is imperative to be careful about the direction in which he directs his actions.

Since the fate of the planet is in its hands, it must become the centre of gravity with two imminent imperatives: 1) to be responsible with the nature that shelters it, 2) to clarify its definition since different currents have appropriated the term and have placed other values above the human being, diverting its etymological definition.

The project of eradicating violence can only be possible if the human being becomes the main value, at the same time distancing itself from the arrogant model of which Jean-Paul Sartre spoke in his book “Existentialism is a humanism [6]”, where he denounced the cult of humanity of Auguste Comte’s positivism, which could lead to fascism.

New Universalist Humanism claims the human being as a central value and concern. To this precondition it adds: all human beings must be considered equal, people and cultures must be recognised for their diversity, knowledge must go beyond what is accepted as absolute truth, everyone must be free to choose their ideas and beliefs, all forms of violence and discrimination must be rejected.

In this context, I propose here, in all modesty, some avenues for reflection which, in my opinion, are the first steps towards a change towards non-violence. These synthetic notes are descriptive and are made with the aim of being expanded, developed, discussed, clarified, questioned, thanks to the contribution of the most knowledgeable, as well as the humblest, because the latter have a great deal of experience in the matter and many contributions to make to the whole.


[1] Interview with Ilya Prigogine: Encounter of two cultures: the humanist and the scientific, for the French magazine Les Raisons de l’Ire, February 1997.

[2] New Statesman (British political/cultural magazine).

[3] La violencia del mundo, Edgar Morin and Jean Baudrillard, Ediciones Paidós, 2004.

[4] Silo-Enrique Nassar Conversation, Mendoza, Argentina, 26 November 2006.

[5] Violence and Tolerance in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Lecture by Dr. Olga Borisova, Scientific Seminar, World Centre for Humanist Studies, Moscow, 2006. Olga Borisova, Chair of World History, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow.

[6] Existentialism is a humanism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Edhasa Publishing House, 1992.