chapter  2
19 Pages

The 50% solution

Ours is an age of negotiation. The fixed positions and solid values of the past seem to be giving way, and new rules, roles, and relations have to be worked out. The hard lines and easy cognitive recognition systems of the Cold War have first multiplied and then melted, revealing the necessity and the possibility of talking things over and out. Even lesser conflicts whose issues used to be nonnegotiable and where friend and enemy once were easily identifiable – such as those of the divided nations, the Indians and the Pakistanis, even the Arabs and Israelis – are showing themselves susceptible to discussion. It has been asserted that ideology is waning, which means that dogmatic formulas, strong feelings of righteousness, black-and-white perceptions, beliefs in historical inevitability, and disinclinations to compromise are all being softened. Instead, people become aware that they share both goals and problems, and that a useful way of achieving separate as well as joint ends is through discussion and bargaining. People and nations who, it was said, knew their place, before are questioning that concept, and individuals and countries who were inclined to put others in their place in the past are no longer sure of their power or of the proper order of things. New orders must therefore be defined.