Strictly speaking, has nothing to do with a demand ...
No matter how you look at it: “Peace” has no other political content than a negative: “no war.” What really happens, positively, between wars are the nastiest things: economic expansion up to the point of “economic warfare,” exploitation of people to the point of mass unemployment, extortion of foreign states to the point of the ruin of their people, armament buildups to the point of the worldwide superiority of the “free west.” All these are the actual contents of our nice peacetime. Anyone who demands peace need not be surprised when the unconditional consent to everything that happens up until the next war is presented to him as a counterclaim.
The demand for peace is apparently so strong because it is so indisputable. Who wants non-peace? One even quickly finds agreement with politicians, for whom the threat of war is a normal diplomatic tool. The wish for peace is not at all surpassed in moral force – and that’s exactly why it is so completely ineffectual. It obliges the bearers of state power to nothing – that is to say, to an ideal which can never be disputed as the ultimate noble motive for their action anyhow. It is the other way around for the subjects of state power in their desire for peace, which implies the duty to recognize the politicians as responsible agents of state power. By glorifying the rule between wars as peacetime, one has not exactly denied them their political freedom of decision. And much less the freedom to decide on war and peace!
The demand for peace is therefore, however one decorates it, nothing but a subservient plea for mercy. The masters of national politics are therein by no means contested in their rule, on the contrary: they are called on to exercise their business of rule more responsibly. A subject can’t profess his will to a responsible subservience any more emphatically.
It is no wonder that this sort of petition is in the best hands with churchmen and culture clowns. These characters are professionals in the foolish delusion that one possesses, as a well-behaved citizen, in of all things and just one’s own subject-morality, a tremendous weapon against the “despotism” of one’s masters. With their servile or rebellious bellyaching: “Give us peace at last!” they caricature this conceited peace morality … beyond clear recognition!
What is staged in the name of the wish for peace in “acts of resistance” also then betrays the handiwork of priests and artists. Sitting down in the mud in front of barracks or missile factories in militant humility only to let themselves be carried away or beat up amounts to nothing but a symbolic martyrdom – at worst it becomes an actual martyrdom when a soldier or a riot cop goes crazy – which achieves only one thing: faith has procured proof of its indestructibility and self-gratification for itself. At best, one more part of the general public is persuaded that such faithful friends of peace must be really good people: good-hearted – and damn stupid, as a normal citizen always thinks of self-confessed idealists!
Marxistische Gruppe, January 1983