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How is peace created?

War is contempt for life
Forfatter: Linn. Stalsberg
Forlag: Res Publica (Norge)
PEACE WORK / War is contempt for life came at a time when peace thinking and oppositional thoughts are in worse shape than they have been for a long time.


I have several books about fred lying at the time of writing. As the anniversary book for Johan Galtung's 80th birthday. But at the top is Fredrik Heffermehls The Real Nobel Peace Prize – A Squandered Opportunity to Abolish War. And Gunnar Garbos War is also terror. They form no line, no hierarchy, have no coherent perspective. A frame surrounds them, that they express personal experiences, philosophical thinking, statistics, morals – something that pulls them in different directions and tells us that peace literature is diverse.

Then Linn Stalsberg's book lands War is contempt for life. An Essay on Peace on my table.


But first: When Johan Galtung discovered in the 1950s that there was no such thing as peace research, he brought friends with him and founded PRIO – The Peace Research Institute Oslo – and the discipline of peace research was created. That's the short story.

They wanted to systematize or scientificize the search for and understanding of the concept of peace. How is peace defined? What is peace? How is peace created? The relationship between conflict, peace and war. What threatens peace where it exists? I don't know if PRIO today has any Galtungs well over 100 books in its library, but the giant organization this has become is probably far from what Galtung and his friends envisioned at the time. Today, there is rather close cooperation with the American Pentagon and the institutions of the Norwegian Armed Forces. Who would have thought that in the 1950s? More the authorities' lap-dog than watch-dog? The financing comes from state budgets. What effect does it have in the long term? On topic selection, on priorities and ideology? Can it be imagined that research is conducted on topics that violate official policy, with the country's defense objectives, with the ideology of the allies? Their rearmament strategy? Is research being conducted on the institution's own self-censorship in order to make researchers aware, correct and ensure independence? I ask these questions because peace themeone today is often linked to such institutions – because you do not write with impunity if you are not wary of unwritten laws and restrictions.

That Civita reacts to the book with the thumbs down in Dagsnytt 18 is a good sign.

Peace thinking and rearmament

Linn Stalsberg's book does not pretend to be research. War is contempt for life came at a time when peace thinking and oppositional thoughts are in worse shape than they have been for a long time. Since 24 February 2022, hardly one article has been printed in major Norwegian newspapers that points to the need for disarmament, disarmament, reconciliation, intercultural understanding, negotiations or a ceasefire. Rather, one thinks of 1940: If we had had a large army in 1940, what we could have done with it! 'The other' has become a foreign word. Then the allocations to the Norwegian military have also reached heights we could hardly have imagined just a few years ago. The parties Rødt and SV's critical stance towards NATO is drowned in "send more weapons". Armament is pushed, and voices of peace are met with contempt and condescending smiles
- but most often with pure silence.

I start reading Stalsberg's book and can hardly put it down. It draws in material from the many areas that have touched the field of peace: politics, economics, philosophy, poetry, history, ethics. About famous people, powerful people, who have been pacifists and even military refusers, and about the history of the creation of NATO and the meaning that the two the world wars acquired Norwegian culture of peace and war. All together are important points that will inspire readers to search further, to Gandhi, Tolstoy, Gerhardsen, NATO. As mentioned, the references are genre-wide, with statistics, novels, philosophy, poetry. Everything is easily accessible and free of intricate foreign words and technicalities. Much familiar, but also some new and important.

'The story behind'

But could the fear of meeting the wall of NATO's and defense friends' mainstream media in the last two years have had an impact on the book's choice of theme? About Ukraine, for example. It would perhaps be a different book, but here there is no attempt to put things into context. Russias invasion keeps coming up, but never the Maidan and the US coup that preceded it, never anything about the 2014 civil war that cost 14 lives, and which Putin at least said was a driving factor in his action on February 000, 24. Never something about all countries' need to feel security and meet respect for it, including Russia – so crucial in any peace process. Especially in today's debate. Although who dares to quote Putin today.

Armament is pushed, and voices of peace are met with contempt.

But the 'story behind' can never become irrelevant. Nazi movement in Ukraine, Azov, Krym, Bandera, and the civil war between the east and west of the country is conspicuous by its absence. Likewise, Kiev's promises to crush its own inhabitants, the 'beasts', in the east. If one is to speak authoritatively about peace in 2023, one cannot avoid addressing these phenomena. Nor all the voices that we know today from sources other than those controlled by NATO, those who openly talk about the Pentagon's plans and advice with Ukraine provocations to "destabilize Russia". Because here lies the seed for understanding war and for seeing the solutions for peace. The choice between the war and the peace we are in the middle of today. It is relevant.

War is unnatural

For me, the book is like a rag rug, many beautiful little pieces sewn together, but which could have had a clearer and more unifying line that would have lifted it. Because Stalsberg's commitment and seriousness are convincing. The cause of peace has been strengthened, and the book will inspire many. That Civita reacts to it with the thumbs down in Dagsnytt 18 is a good sign. It's always easier with a gun for those who live in the boys' room.

You can safely buy and read this little book. It will inspire with its unpretentious and straightforward message: Peace is natural. War is unnatural. Not least the ending gripped me, where the author stands behind the poet of "Deilig er jorden", the words I recently heard in Fredrik Heffermehls funeral, which assures that this line is not a glossy Christmas dream, but an imperative, a command: "Make the earth delicious!" Because the cause of peace is action, and it is we who have the hands.


See our other review of the book as well.

John Y. Jones
John Y. Jones
Cand. Philol, freelance journalist affiliated with MODERN TIMES

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