Opposes U.S. development of missile defense system
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PSR) advocates research into, and the utilization of, peaceful conflict resolution in international matters. According to its mission statement, this group "uses psychological knowledge and skills to promote peace with social justice at the community, national and international levels." PSR's stated objectives include the following: (a) "Apply the growing body of knowledge about conflict resolution and violence prevention"; (b) "Facilitate positive changes for victims and survivors of personal, community, and civil violence"; (c) "Advocate for basic human needs -- including actions that decrease poverty, ensure ethnic and gender equality, increase work opportunity, promote healthy and sustainable environments, and achieve a wiser balance between human needs and military budgets"; and (d) "Ensure that relevant information from psychology is used in local, national, and international public policy."
PSR has eleven separate “Action Committees” that carry out its organizational activities:
Conflict Resolution: This committee has produced an “Enemy Images Manual” addressing “enmification in our post 9/11 world.” The underlying axiom is that the United States, as a society, is psychologically predisposed to perceive the existence of external foes and threats even where they do not exist in reality.
Nonviolent Social Change: Established in early 2000, this committee’s objectives include: “building a directory of activists who have been involved in nonviolent social change and who would be willing to advise and assist others” seeking to do the same.
Global Violence and Security (GVS): This committee strives “to highlight the essential contributions of psychology to reduce military violence and to improve global security”; to “explore root causes of, and optimal responses to, global violence”; and “to understand the particular social-psychological factors” that contribute to what it deems American “militarism and corporate globalization.” Opposed to U.S. development of a missile defense system, which GVS characterizes as “the militarization of outer space,” the committee also seeks to “reduce military budgets.”
Universal Health Care: This committee seeks to organize psychologists and other mental health professionals to advocate for taxpayer-funded, government-run health care for all Americans.
Peace Education: “Current projects include developing a collection of syllabi and other resources for teaching about peace and conflict in college courses, completing a ‘conceptual framework’ for applying psychology to peace education, and creating a brochure on school-based violence prevention and conflict resolution programs.”
Poverty and Discrimination: Founded on the premise that in the United States, “discrimination on the basis of ethnicity/race directly affects economic opportunity through a complex set of institutional effects,” this committee seeks to “mobilize psychologists to transform social institutions in ways that reduce racism and poverty.” It further asserts that “racism is also a factor in mental health and access to appropriate services,” and that “racism and poverty are … connected to the high rates of incarceration of ethnic minority individuals in U.S. prisons.” Deriding what it casts as America’s vanguard role in the “globalization of corporate consumerism,” PSR cites U.S. greed as a major cause of the plight of “the one billion [people] who live on less that $1 a day.” This PSR committee’s Web page also features a running tally of how much the U.S. has spent thus far on the Iraq War, asserting that the money would have been better spent in the form of aid to the world’s poor.
Psychology Students for Social Responsibility: This committee is “committed to building cultures of peace by mobilizing students for involvement in [PSR] activities and other initiatives that promote peace and social justice.”
Status of Women: “The psychological aspects of gender issues at the local, national, and international levels are concerns of the Committee. Gender issues include areas in which women, men, or cross-gendered people are vulnerable or treated unfairly because of their biological or social status.”
Environmental Protection and Justice: “The EPJ Action Committee works to advance peace and social justice by promoting sustainable use of resources, healthy habitats, and environmental justice. Human activities on a global scale are clearly threatening ecological systems … Global environmental devastation is driven by desperation of the world’s poor, and over-consumption by the world’s rich. Unprecedented rises in human population and consumption patterns stress the planet’s carrying capacity. … And because environmental problems are not equally distributed, but are experienced more frequently and severely by the poor, environmental degradation intersects with injustice, sowing seeds for conflict. … On a global scale, the planet is experiencing a clash of cultures brought on by the growing divide between the world’s haves and have nots. Afflicted groups commonly experience their unfair treatment as an attack on their group identity. When group identity is threatened, people suffer group polarization, they blame out-groups, and they increase their hostility and resentment. Violent conflict is frequently the outcome. Populations rapidly increasing in size and desperation endure economic and ecological injustice, and are easily recruited to violent means of response.” As a means of checking population growth, the EPJ Committee supports “federal aid to organizations that actively promote the use of abortions as a method of family planning.”
Trauma, Resilience, and Social Reintegration: This committee “has been established to provide a forum through which individuals working in this area can share information and resources, initiate new projects to further our scientific understanding of these topics, and provide expertise to [PSR] in its efforts to address real world issues in this field.”
International Peace Practitioners Network: “Building peace requires psychosocial intervention — changing people's minds and hearts and improving intergroup relations must accompany political and economic reforms for peace. … Since peace cannot exist without justice, psychologists should help to build equitable social systems ..."
To spread its message, PSR publishes a quarterly newsletter and sponsors rallies and seminars whose focus is rarely limited to anti-war themes. Unmistakably anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, and anti-American threads run through the fabric of these events. PSR also sponsors numerous online discussion groups where members can exchange ideas about peaceful conflict resolution and the other matters of interest to the organization.
“[T]he war in Iraq," says PSR, "has destroyed any United States claim for moral superiority and authority. The war, with all of its deaths, torture, and obvious persecutions of Muslim people, has fashioned a global perception of the U.S. government as selfish, arrogant, and immoral, incapable of grasping the shared human challenges the world faces -- incapable of being a force for law, incapable of being a force for justice.”
According to Psychologists for Social Responsibility, America has incurred, over the course of its history, a karmic debt whose roots long predate the current conflict in Iraq. Says PSR, the United States will never “be able to escape our collective sense of guilt and culpability for the slavery of Blacks and the destruction of American Indian populations.” “No subsequent admissions of error,” adds PSR, “no subsequent confessions of guilt, no subsequent apologies by government leaders … will erase the permanent stains on … the soul and psyche of the United States."
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