The call from Sälen

Peace on Earth – Peace with the Earth

The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a hint of what happens to society when a global crisis strikes the world. An economic crisis is developing; In the United States, unemployment has reached higher numbers than in the 1930s. IN Sweden’s GDP fell by 8 percent during the second quarter of 2020, and is expected to shrink by 2.8 – 4.0 percent for the full year.

But Sweden is facing threats that are much more serious. The military rearmament of the Arctic which is driven, among other things, by the search for oil and minerals, places Sweden at the center of tensions in the world. Sweden’s security is threatened by expanded military cooperation with NATO, such as using Swedish territory for large-scale military exercises and the building of capacity for space wars using satellites (and military equipment) in orbit around the earth.

Extensive activities are underway to break Sweden’s traditional peace policy, which is characterized of freedom from alliances during peace and neutrality during a war – a policy that saved the Swedish people all those horrors which the First and Second World Wars entailed.

War against nature

The whole earth is in a kind of war against nature that no living creature can escape. Nuclear arms are present in such quantity that they can obliterate all higher lives. Nuclear armaments have gained new momentum and current agreements on armaments restrictions have been terminated – first unilaterally by the United States and then also by Russia. Sadly, Sweden’s deeply popular line of peace is under attack. The Swedish government has allowed itself to be influenced by one of the nuclear powers – the United States – not to sign UN Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This despite the fact that Sweden was a driving force for this Convention, and voted for it at the UN in 2017.

Sweden contributes to the negative development through extensive exports of munitions to warring countries in violation of applicable laws. The war in Yemen that is carries off unimaginable quantities of human lives is a clear example of this. The military activity contributes greatly to the destruction of environment and climate. Only US military operations have a major negative environmental and climate impact than about fifty countries, and the total military impact in the world is of course significantly larger.

Incredible strain

In addition to the risk of nuclear war, climate change is the most widespread threat and is completely intertwined with the other threats to the future existence of humanity and nature. The almost total destruction of our forests, where the basis for life in the form of biodiversity lies, the impoverishment and poisoning of our agricultural lands and not least the internal colonization with increasing inequality between city and countryside has taken us beyond the limits of what the ecosystem can withstand. This development also increases the risk of pandemics, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. No one doubts anymore that this will bring tremendous strain on our societies in the future.

Central to all crises in recent centuries has been the pursuit of cheap energy and minerals, mainly in form of oil. It is the oil that enables the extreme overconsumption we live with in the rich part of the world, comprising about 12 – 15 percent of humanity. It is mainly the consumption of oil and coal that cotribute to greenhouse gas emissions. It is also oil that makes wars possible – which is the world’s largest military authority, the Pentagon, confirmed in a report.

Sweden an environmental culprit

The free play of forces that lead us in the direction of these threats is due to a great deficit of glbal democracy Sweden is a country that has previously distinguished itself as equal, democratic and peace-loving. We have also lived in the view that we are good at protecting the environment and welfare. The fact is that class differences are now increasing fastest here. Even though income inequality in Sweden still is relatively low, Sweden is now in global 3rd place in the Gini index of the most unequal countries in the world regarding the distribution of society’s riches. All this as a result of the neoliberal politics. Sweden is one of the worst environmental criminals if you take into account the environmental impact our consumption creates in Asia, where the goods are often manufactured.

Military rearmament is gradually increasing. Sweden is heading in the wrong direction and international policies appears to be both unenterprising and paralyzed. The Paris Agreement, which was concluded to stop the negative climate change, is not implemented by some countries and in others it goes too slowly. The same applies to other agreements, such as the previously concluded Kyoto Protocol.

Care for the earth tenderly

The thin membrane around the earth called the biosphere must be cared for with tenderness. Today it is consumed and destroyed at a rapid pace despite the fact that man himself is a part of it. The topsoil is being abused with large emissions of greenhouse gases as a result. Agriculture must be made fossil-free quickly and food must be produced in systems that contribute to increasing biodiversity and to increased carbon storage – that is, that carbon dioxide is returned to the plants.

We want to see a program for a fair transition to a resource-conserving society. A change from a society that steals future living space and destroys finite resources to a society that reuses resources over and over again and supports the life-giving ecosystems. One adjustment that counteracts the growing contradiction between center and periphery both within the country as a whole and within metropolitan areas, as well as the growing contradiction between those who have and those who have not. Such a change must also mean that Sweden also works for peace through relaxation and disarmament, and that trade and financial systems enable all countries to supply their own people with food and develop their own industry.

The new million program

We support a new million program (refers to a Swedish building program 1965-75) where a new village system is built on sustainable principles, where folk high schools are given funds to train new farmers and breeders. We hope people who want to contribute to this development are also moving to the countryside. To stimulate activities in accordance with these sustainable principles, an annual basic deduction of SEK 100,000 must be granted. Such peace-work with the top-soil creates sustainable local communities that can flourish in peacetime and stand strong in bad times. Concrete peace-work according to these principles is already underway. A diversity of local food producers are the future, not industrially produced food. The question is not whether we should carry out a restructuring of our production of necessities of life, but when it will happen.

City and countryside – hand in hand

The transformation of the countryside must be met by a corresponding change of the city. A new urban life must be built on sustainable principles in balance with the surrounding countryside and nature. Such a balance between city and country that focuses on a fair social construction creates more robust communities that cope better with crises. Peace is also about strengthening local communities in cities and sparsely populated areas with a functioning infrastructure in the form of services, schools, roads, hospitals and knowledge production at all levels.

Widespread self-education can play a central role in the transformation of Swedish society in the one described the direction. We need to strengthen civil preparedness rather than military. That means a strongly increased degree of self-sufficiency concernig our food supply, but also medical preparedness and readiness to deal with climate change. The countryside plays a key role in this.

Create hope

We welcome the call from the International Peace Bureau, which is the world’s oldest international peace organization, that broad cooperation should take place with joint actions in April 2021 for universal disarmament for peace, environment and welfare.

Fundamental societal changes must be implemented. We must assemble as people and start the processes as citizens. Now some initial political steps must be taken that can create hope and commitment. Examples of such are:

Sweden must:

  • tear up the host country agreement with NATO.
  • sign and ratify the UN Convention against Nuclear Weapons.
  • stop the military’s environmental crimes and turn the commenced military rearmament into disarmament.
  • lead to a sharp reduction in Swedish arms exports in accordance with current regulatory systems, without derogations being able to nullify existing restrictions. In the long run, all arms exports will prohibited,
  • tax large companies for fair conversion.
  • reduce the use of fossil energy faster than according to the Paris Agreement.
  • use solar power more, save energy and ensure equal access for all this.
  • give nature legally binding rights.

Peace on Earth – Peace with the Earth!

The call from Sälen was adopted during the conference Folk och Fred (People and Peace) in Sälen on 11 January 2021.

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