Skimming old books at a friend's house, I found a troubling historical note:
Peace societies are springing up all over the world. A half million Englishmen and Germans met in one day in London and Berlin recently to protest against being fooled into a wholesale slaughter of one another in the interests of those who profit by the sale of war material; to protest against those who foment strife that they may coin the mis-spent valor, the agony, the blood and the tears of mankind into money—into unholy gain; they met to proclaim the brotherhood of man.
The book* was published in 1913. Apparently, a half million people in England and Germany saw the possibility of "wholesale slaughter" and cared at least enough to hold a mass protest--a year or two before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that, our history books tell us, was the trigger for WWI.
It is argued by some that peace movements in England and France detracted from the ability of those countries to engage in a necessary war against expansionist Germany. But according to the above quote, Germany had a peace movement also!
A half million people would be a large protest even today. If half a million people on both sides saw WWI coming and could not stop it... what hope do we have today, to avoid problems that may be plainly apparent, but that require solutions that may be unprofitable or inconvenient for existing interests?
CRN has always tried to find reasons for each powerful interest group to self-interestedly do the right thing. For example, our early proposals for nanofactory policy include arguments that promoting Open Source-style abundance will create more opportunities for commercial profit than restrictive policies would. Our military analysis attempts to highlight pitfalls such as unstable arms races that will make all countries less secure unless less belligerent solutions can be found.
But will even that be enough?
*The book is Talosophy: The Art of Making Happiness Epidemic by William Vernon Backus, copyright 1913, The Appreciation Publishing Co., Engineers' Building, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. The quoted text appears on p. 70.)