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May 15, 2020

Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. For those who seek an end to intergroup violence, it might seem natural to embrace peace as a universal ideal. MURAD IDRIS cautions, however, that in practice peace as a moral ideal has been widely deployed to vilify enemies and justify extreme measures against them – that is, to lay the groundwork for war. In his book, War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought, and his discussion with Oberlin professor Matthew Berkman, Idris examines the specific formulations of peace as a Western ideal, dating back to Plato, and how these have underwritten various forms of collective violence. He suggests alternatives that, while not so lofty, might do more to curtail ongoing conflict and injustice. Berkman and Idris also discuss how war and peace are used metaphorically during the current coronavirus crisis.