»Language is not the handmaid, but the mother of our thoughts.« This sentence by Karl Kraus stands behind the argumentation of this book. The author argues that certain ideas which language suggests to us (›growthism‹!) lead to war, but making people aware of this may bring about peace. Thus, linguistics may turn human evolution into a new direction, in which the joy about peace surpasses all desire for acquiring more power. Language makes us think that large, fast, strong etc. are good, while small and slow are bad. Another way of thinking which comes from language is thinking in contrasts (large : small, good : bad etc.), which simplifies the world for us by excluding the many stages in between. This leads to a thinking in terms of friends vs. foes. The book also contains chapters on philosophers and peace, e.g. Kant, Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Schumacher (Small is Beautiful), on Religion, War and Peace, and on the role of women in war. Finally, the book suggests using music for avoiding war (Daniel Barenboim’s orchestra West-Eastern Divan!) and practicing sports, which may unite countries but also puts our desire for victory on to a peaceful level.
Alwin Fill was born in the Austrian Tyrol and studied English and Latin at the University of Innsbruck. In 1980, he became professor of English Linguistics at the University of Graz. He spent several years in Great Britain (London, Oxford) and also in the U.S.A. (Ann Arbor, Michigan). He is known as an ecolinguist, but also as a researcher for peace. He has composed several peace songs.