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To reconcile trauma

Ny Tids' now regular columnist, peace researcher Johan Galtung, draws lines between possible reasons why the world is as it is – and solutions to the challenges we face.


The violence pandemic continues unabated, especially in the United States.

We read about horrific incidents in other major countries such as China, India and Russia, but not about massive school and church massacres, about vans dangling random passers-by on sidewalks, about peaceful pedestrians being shot from high-rise buildings. Only in today's United States.

We also see a decline in violence in the United States as the critical group of men aged 18-25 find work. Hopefully not in the military.

How to explain this?

Massive causes

This is something more than the usual American suicide / murder complex.

Is it due to the American cult of violence? Undoubtedly, however, it is changing and now seems to be targeting institutions, not just individuals.

Is it due to capitalism? The system creates winners and losers, especially in the United States, where there is neither a ceiling for profit nor a safety net for the losers.

Is it the media's fault? The over-reporting of violence and the under-reporting of peace make violent crimes appear normal and peaceful acts as criminals.

Is there competition? Becoming a winner in violence can be tempting when regular jobs do not pay off and a career in sports or arts is out of reach.

Is imitation due? Violence seems to be fashionable these days. Join the gang of America's collective individualism.

Is it due to militarism? If my country kills people on a large scale all over the world, why can't I kill all over the country – on a large scale?

Is it due to decline and decay? Is all the killing a normal part of the US decline and fall, and at the same time something you can get a kick off? Adapting as America declines – article in the New York Times, April 23, 2018 – good title, but a bad article.

Five Norwegian "questionable military adventures", all of which were initiated without parliamentary debate. Is Norway a democracy?

All the seven above, and more. Massive violence, massive causes.

Economy and Peace. What can you do about it? The neglect of the above seven causes also completely negates the United States.

Focus on the media: Pope Frans promotes a "journalism for peace", which criticizes violence and promotes peace.

Focus on capitalism: We can promote cooperatives that meet workers 'needs instead of the old employer / employee model, while criticizing companies that run the capital owners' errand.

In the Australian Institute of Economics and Peace study Mexico Peace Index 2018: A comprehensive measurement of peacefulness in Mexico. Peace Plummets Costs 21% or GNP, we can read that the murder rate in the country has increased dramatically to 29 killed a year. This looks more like economy than peace. There is a connection here, and it would be interesting to learn more about how many lives growth in GDP requires.

But why use financial data on peace?

Our thoughts go to the relatives of the 29 dead, who have been deprived of being with their loved ones, not to GDP. For the loss of peace and the loss of togetherness, regardless of the GDP increase or decrease. The focus on GDP makes it seem like it is economics – not peace – that really matters. Peace scientists must bring forth the benefits of peace, not just the cost of violence. Dialogue as a common quest. There is a culture of dialogue which in itself is a form of peace and which is unknown to many.

robber Colonialism

"A tsunami of US debt will hit the markets, and by 2020 we will experience the next global system crisis," a recent newsletter from the Global Analysis from the European Perspective (GEFIRA), claims. Well. It depends on the degree of dependence on the US economy. Other countries must withdraw!

"The world's most productive populations are getting older and will disappear." Sure: People grow older, so do populations, and other people take over. That's normal. The first and second world are getting older – the third is taking over. That too is normal.

Today's EU is in one (of its many) crises: Britain and France demand – in the name of EU solidarity – that Eastern European member states must welcome more African immigrants. But why should they? They know that Africans are largely victims of British and French robbery colonialism and capitalism. And although it is not comme il faut To point it out, it's not so long ago that they fought with the Soviet Union to end colonialism. Obvious conclusion of Eastern Europeans: African immigrants are the UK and France's responsibility, not theirs.

The navel of the world

Les Augustins confessions from the year 397: His problematic God is your problematic mission civilian. You pay tribute to Western civilization, so why not enjoy one of its highlights?

Peace scientists must bring forth the benefits of peace, not just the cost of violence.

The Vietnam War (2017) – a film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick – is the same old story: told only from the perspective of the United States, as if not three million Vietnamese were killed by the United States, and their relatives did not exist. Is it really still possible to launch such a crazy punishment? The Vietnam War from the US perspective would have been an honest title. Millions upon millions of people's views of the United States were changed by this war.

Adding to the US war on Vietnam, economist and socialist Paul Krugman adds to "Trump's war on the poor," in a New York Times article, "which is being fought on several fronts. The decision to cut housing subsidies follows the decision to dramatically increase work requirements for food voucher recipients and Medicaid. "


However, there are two bright spots, both from France.

President Emmanuel Macron's speech to the US Congress was so honest that Trump limited his reaction to brushing dandruff from Macron's jacket. Macron is behaving like a European leader – yes, like a world leader. But it may be "a shortage of partners in Europe and the United States," as the New York Times recently wrote.

The same newspaper recently printed a text by the French existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. She saw beauty with shades of gray in the relationship between men and women – not in black and white as female American writers, and "regarded the United States war on gender as unproductive and alien."

In Norway, a retired brigade, Svein Ødegården, has identified in the Class Fight five Norwegian "dubious military adventures", all of which were initiated without parliamentary debate: "Out of area operations", NATO's bombing of Serbia in March 1999 without mandate from the UN Security Council, the Iraq war in 2003, the attack on Libya in 2012 and the training of non-state militias in Jordan. Is Norway a democracy? This could also affect Norway in the form of revenge actions.

And finally, one small thing: One of my books in German, published by Springer Verlag, was downloaded 31 times through April 891. There is an interest in peace, but not so much interest in doing anything to promote it. And even less for what this article, based on 26 years of experience, recommends: Identifying and resolving underlying conflicts and reconciling the underlying traumas. It is not easy, but possible if only the will is present. A two-point agenda.

Johan Galtung
Johan Galtung
Galtung is a peace researcher with 60 years of experience in conflict resolution. Galtung has been a frequent consultant to governments, companies and to the United Nations and its family of organizations. His relentless dedication to peace since he published Gandhi's Political Ethics has been recognized with thirteen honorary doctorates and professorships and an alternative Nobel Prize. He has generated a unique conceptual toolkit for empirical, critical and constructive inquiry into the subject of peace. The fundamental purpose of the Galtung-Institut goes beyond the transfer of the theoretical, methodological and practical skills developed by Johan Galtung and others in over 50 years of progress in peace research and practice. The overall goal of the GI is indeed to continue contributing to the further development of peace theory and peace praxeology in the interest of a desperately needed reduction of human and environmental suffering.

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