What Nobel Really Wanted Review of the book written by Fredrik S. Heffermehl. The Nobel Peace Prize. Alfred Bernhard Nobel (21 October 1833–10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel (21 October 1833–10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist,engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer.
He was a world magnate in the industrial and financial field.
He was an internationalist: “My house is where I work, and I work everywhere”.
Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous.
His father was arms constructor for the Russian czar, and many of his inventions were conceived in the military field, too.
In his last (and third) will, written in 1985 without the help of any lawyer, he used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes.ALFRED NOBEL
The world-famous, super-rich inventor was unmarried and had no children. He suffered from loneliness and depression.
Many people contested the will (relatives, employees), even Sweden’s King Oscar II, who thought he was “unpatriotic” and feared the money would go out of Sweden.
However, actionsagainst the will were very difficult.
However, Nobel appointed Sohlmanas responsible for putting into effect his last will. This man, who Nobel had just known a few years before, outsmarted the authorities brilliantly and solved the very complex arrangements.NOBEL’S LAST WILL (1985)
The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital (…) shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed used in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics, (…) one part to the most imortant chemical discovery or improvement, (…) one part to the domain of physiology or medecine, one part to the domain of literature (…); and one part to the person who shall have done the best work for brotherhood between nations, for the abolition or reduction of the standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.
Alfred Nobel’s will, signed in Paris on November 27, 1895Provisions on the five Nobel Prices
Due to the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize is the world’s most important price (therefore, very visible and prestigious)…
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has come under increasing political, geopolitical and commercial pressures ( INAPPROPIATE AWARDS?)…
On many occasions, this brushes aside the visionary intent of Alfred Nobel’s will (it is still a legal binding duty!)HOWEVER…
The choice of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is often controversial. Critics often call them dubious and driven by politics.
Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin were joint winners of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.
Part I of the book is called “PEACE IS DISARMEMENT”, as the essence of
Alfred Nobel’s will in 1985.
Part II of the book is called “WAR IS PEACE”,
as the essence of Barack Obama’s
Nobel lecture in 2009.
The author affirms that “all but one of the last 10 Peace Prices are illegal”.STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK
Each inhabitant of the globe spends nearly $200 per year, but… how secure do we become as a result?
Every year, the world spends on military security 3 or 4 times the amount it would take to assure every citizen of the planet a decent standard living.
The expenditure of the US has increased on 45% in 10 years (1999-2009).
Domination of weapons industry on politics.
Media do not lead the audience in the right direction.
Fight against militarism contributes decisively to rescuing the environment.
Funds for other good causes would be saved up: battle against hunger, poverty, disease…On MILITARY SECURITY…
Can his intentions for the Peace Prize be realized still in the 21st century? How?
His ideas have to be translated from 1985 to the present time.
Nobel Committee ignores the expression “Champions of Peace” used specifically by Nobel (unauthorized change of his mandate?).
The execution of Nobel’s will (views, thoughts, conceptions and feelings) can be mapped through his correspondence and friendship with Bertha von Suttner.
Her book Lay Down Your Arms (1889) gets a high recognition from his part.
Their correspondence shows a great concern on peace issues and their sympathy for peace movements.INTERPRETING NOBEL’S WILL
The strict secrecy (list of nominees, minutes, votes) as an obstacle to evaluate the Nobel’s Committee work.
The veil is lifted only after 50 years.
This leads to uncertainty (though it might may be regarded as formality).
Political antagonism: at some times, members resign from the Committee.
In the first four decades, 85% of the prizes were justified; however, after 1944 only about 40% are sufficiently justified → drop off the respect to the will in the postwar period.
Moreover, a legal evaluation of some awarded Prizes is too far away from his will (Al Gore, Wangari Mathaai…): Are there many roads to peace???
After WWII: Politics distorting the Prize.
After 1990: Corporate and business control.THE EXECUTION OF NOBEL’S WILL IN DANGER
Political changes + strong promilitary sentiment (committees much less willing to implement the will).
Death or retirement of the veterans (lost of knowledge).
Some secretaries rewrote Nobel history by considering that his will towards peace was open (misunderstandings).
“All periods read history to suit their purpose”.
LEGAL QUALITY CONTROL NEGELECTED
FUNDAMENTAL LINK WITH PEACE MOVEMENT OBSCURED
NORWAY’S FOREIGN POLICY INTERESTSAfter wwii: Parties in/ Peace Politics out
THE PEACE MOVEMENT: “STARVING BUT PERSISTING”From 1990: political and business control
NEED OF SELECTING A QUALIFIED, INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE
Did Nobel ever get the Committee he wanted?
Democracy, transparency and abuse of majority.2008-2009: IN SEARCH OF THE LOST NOBEL