Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677), was born to a Dutch Jewish family of Portuguese extraction, and grew up to become one of the foremost of the 17th Century Rationalist philosophers who exerted such a strong influence on the 18th Century Enlightenment. His fame was limited during his short life, and he worked for the most part as a humble lens grinder. His ideas led to his expulsion from the Jewish community in Holland, and the condemnation of his works by the Roman Catholic Church, but however one may view his standpoints on relativism, materialism, and determinism, he was no doubt a sincere and brilliant thinker seeking after truth. The quote above is proof of that.
“Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” Baruch Spinoza
If history teaches us anything it is that there can never be any lasting security in an imposed peace. The people on whom it is imposed will sooner or later rise up against the injustices they would never have accepted voluntarily. This historical lesson is particularly pertinent in the business world today.
Peace is an ideal that can never be achieved until justice is achieved. Justice, of course, is a particularly challenging goal for human beings for the mere fact that unless it applies to everyone, it doesn’t really exist. Justice is either for all of us, or for none of us. The problem is compounded by the academic difficulty in defining the concept. I say “academic” because none of us really has too much trouble in recognising injustice when we see it.
The Rawlsian interpretation of justice as fairness suffers by dint of its semantic pliability and the consequent openness to abuse by ideologues. Perhaps we are obliged to stay with the Platonic definition: “giving each person his or her due.”
When there is justice, society (the contractual entity built on rights and obligations), becomes community (the shared thing built on respect and compassion). Leaders are required to be builders of community – in the home, the neighbourhood, the workplace, and the nation – misleaders will continue to be proponents of the imposed peace.