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Volume 5

Expanded Contents

1: Perspective And Summary
2: What is Peace?
3:Alternative Concepts of Peace
5:The Social Contract Model
6:The Global Convention of Minds
7: The Just Peace Principles
8:The Just Peace
9:Implementation of a Just Peace:Incrementalism
10: Principles of Conflict Resolution
11: The Positive Peace Principle

Other Volumes

Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field
Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix
Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace

On What To Do

An Enlightened Foreign Policy

Principles of Conflict Resolution

Positive Peace Principle

Other Related Work

Conflict And Violence page

Democratic Peace page


Chapter 12

The Grand Master Principle*

By R.J. Rummel

The more prohibitions there are,
the poorer the people become.
The more sharp weapons there are,
the greater the chaos in the state....
The greater the number of statutes,
the greater the number of thieves and brigands.

----Laotse (Lin Yutang, 1948:265-266)

The theories, analyses, and conclusions of previous volumes were distilled into a number of principles given in Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (Chapter 20). These were further synthesized into four master principles, each specific to a level of analysis for understanding conflict and peace. Table 12.1 presents these master principles. In Chapter 10 I have discussed three principles of conflict resolution and in Chapter 11 the Positive Peace Principle.

Table 12.1

What, finally, do all the previous principles, including the four master principles, imply?1 Whether regarding individuals or societies; families, organizations, or nations; or intergroup or international relations, what normative principle distills these volumes on peace and conflict? It is this.

Promote freedom.

Why? The answer is contained in three corollaries that I will consider in turn.2

Corollary 1: Freedom maximizes the happiness and dignity of the greatest number.

Each of us is an individual, whether citizen, group member, leader, or ruler. Each of us has our subjective world, our own perspective, our unique interests and values. Others cannot know our wants and values, what affects our self-esteem. Our priorities, our ordering of desires, is personal.

Only through interaction and trial-and-error adjustments can each of us estimate what another wants and can, and will do and establish some kind of mutually reliable expectations--a structure of cooperation, of peace.

Thus, freedom is necessary. For freedom allows the maximum trial-and-error adjustments.3 It enables individuals to best use what they know to achieve the best balance with others that will mutually satisfy their values and purposes, their justice.

This freedom to learn, to adjust to our learning, to assert ourselves, and to thereby establish our own social equilibrium with others, provides the greatest happiness, self-esteem, and dignity--happiness in that each of us is free to pursue and achieve our balance with others our own interests; self-esteem in that each of us is free to achieve to the limits of our capability and will; and dignity in that each of us is largely responsible for our achievements and failures.

Corollary 2: Freedom maximizes social justice.

One cannot be unjust to oneself, although others can. As individuals freedom of choice empowers each of us to best achieve our own justice, and minimizes the power of others to treat us unjustly, as may a religious, business, or intellectual elite who controls the instruments of government coercion .4

Moreover, freedom maximizes social justice in the sense of promoting social conditions that foster the welfare, quality of life, and equality of groups. Freedom drives social and economic development, reduces inequalities of wealth and rank, helps overcome discrimination, and furthers the progress of knowledge and understanding.5

Corollary 3: Freedom maximizes peace from violence.

And finally, freedom minimizes the likelihood of collective social violence. Freedom does not eliminate violence, but, compared with societies in which freedom is largely constrained by authority or coercion, free--exchange--societies have about the least that our understanding of ourselves and our behavior can realistically expect.6


The descriptive conclusion of these volumes is that freedom best promotes justice and peace. The resulting prescription is the grand master principle: if you wish a just peace, promote freedom.

Peace with justice, therefore, requires no idealistic vision of a future society. No utopia has been constructed here. Rather, peace is a process; justice, a continuum. We move toward greater peace and justice by reducing the restrictions on freedom that exist in and among individuals and groups, whether within or between nations. At the national level this means incrementally reducing government power. Where this reduction should end is a pragmatic matter. But it is clear that most of the world is not free, and even where the most freedom exists it now is constrained by governments much too large.

And at the international level, a just peace means gradually empowering the United Nations to guarantee all people a freedom of choice, to resolve conflicts and keep the peace, and to prevent aggression.

In sum, promote freedom. This is nothing new. To quote Charles Moore (1951:437):

All schools of ethical thought insist on freedom and on our responsibility for our action and destiny


* Scanned from Chapter 12 in R.J. Rummel, The Just Peace, 1981. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.

1. The remainder of this chapter is a revision of Rummel (1979a: Chapter 30; [book republished as The Conflict Helix]).

2. For useful and relevant works on freedom, see Adler (1958-1961), Friedman (1962), Hayek (1973-1979), Hook (1967), Mill (1956), Nozick (1974), Oppenheim (1961), and Polanyi (1951).

3. This and the following paragraph give the essence of Section 8.3.

4. This paragraph states the essence of the Just Package described in Section 8.1.

5. This paragraph summarizes Section 8.3.6.

6. This is the conclusion of Vol. 1: The Dynamic Psychological Field, Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix, Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective, and Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace. See Section 7.4.2 and Section 8.2.

For citations see the Vol. 5: The Just Peace REFERENCES

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