The In/Visibility of Peace: Or 'When Did You Last Go to See a Peace Movie?'

39 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013  

Jon Simons

Indiana University

Date Written: 2013


American liberal public culture finds it hard to imagine peace, as is evident in the idealized version of public culture in the TV series The Newsroom and was also the case in the hit musical Hair. There is a persistent gap between the pacific ideals of liberalism and its militaristic practices. Each time liberalism sees peace it cannot help but envision war too. In the founding text of liberal peace theory, Immanuel Kant’s “Perpetual Peace,” the distance between peace as a moral idea and empirical reality is not bridged, leading Kant to justify war against non-liberals who appear as a threat to the security of civil peace. Michael Doyle’s pioneering essay in contemporary liberal peace theory acutely analyzes the distance between liberalism’s internal pacifism and its external bellicosity, but covers it by reducing rational ideas to empirical hypotheses, overlooking the inherent antimony in Kant’s theory. In liberal peace studies, David Cortright repeats the split between empirical reality and moral commitment in Kant’s text, endorsing a version of realist pacifism that practices the policing and pacification of post-conflict societies and non-liberals. In critical peace and security studies (Mac Ginty, Richmond, Dillon, Reid, Shinko) such liberal peace-building is analyzed as a technocratic, disciplinary, biopolitical, governmental peace of the victor that confuses peace with order. While no peace that is not also war is unimaginable on the liberal horizon, a Foucauldian notion of agonistic peace envisions peace as the practice of freedom.

Keywords: peace, Kant, Michael Doyle, The Newsroom, Hair - musical, David Cortright, peace studies, Foucault

Suggested Citation

Simons, Jon, The In/Visibility of Peace: Or 'When Did You Last Go to See a Peace Movie?' (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN:

Jon Simons (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

107 S Indiana Ave
100 South Woodlawn
Bloomington, IN 47405

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