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Johan Galtung: Security does not give peace – peace gives security

Ny Tid has visited the peace research's founder Johan Galtung in his home in Spain. Now he is 87 – and still in full vigor.


At the top of the small town you look up towards marked mountains at dusk. It is reminiscent of Rondane seen from Lake Furus. But it is far from the cool autumn Norway. We are on Spain's solar coast, in l'Alfaz Del Pi, with peace researcher Johan Galtung. Has he escaped Norway just to seek refuge in something similar? "Yes, it looks like Rondane," Galtung must admit. "Isn't it wonderful here?" He gets up at six. He has a tidy desk every morning, but gets the excitement uncluttered at night. Takes his afternoon bath. To bed at ten o'clock.

"One day in 1977 I left Norway," says Galtung. "I got in our van, with my dear Japanese wife, our two children – boy at 7 and a newborn girl – plus my mother-in-law, who was supposed to be 100 years in a month close, as well as my older son Harald. This was truly a Volkwagen! And I remember feeling immense relief as we crossed the border into Sweden. Relief of leaving a Norway that I believed had been completely dependent on the United States. Which of course gave me the label 'anti-American'. ”

Mr. Peace himself. During a visit to the University of Copenhagen a year ago, Ny Tid attended an interesting lecture by former head of the Norwegian PRIO, Stein Tønnesson. The theme was the tensions in the China Sea, and Tønnesson was introduced as one of the world's foremost experts in the field. The dean who introduced the memory that FRED was the main theme at the university these days. "And," he said triumphantly, "next week comes the very founder of peace research, Mr. Peace himself, Johan Galtung!"

Almost 60 years ago, Galtung founded The Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO). He led the institution for 10 years and put it on the world map of peace. He then continued as a professor at the University of Oslo for several years, before taking the course abroad. He has received honorary professorships and honorary doctorates from all over the world. But the diplomas are tucked away in a narrow corridor Ny Tid barely lets in. There also hangs Erik Bye's memorial prize for 2011. He is clearly proud of it – or perhaps more grateful? It is given to one who "over a period of time has shown a fearless and ardent commitment (…) and courage to go against the flow and the fashionable standpoints, to fight uncompromisingly for peace, justice and human dignity.".

"Today I get requests from all the countries of the world to mediate, give talks or talk," says Galtung. "Except for the authorities in Norway and the United States," he adds. He has held professorships in both countries and is constantly returning to meet students, students and activists.

We look at Galtung's websites ( that he holds up Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize from 2005, where the constant quest for truth is the playwright and writer Pinter's lot. The citizen Pinter, on the other hand, must always act according to his insight about what is fair and what is wrong. There's a lot of Pinter in Galtung – the killer imperialism critique included. Central to both of them is that search and insight must lead to action.

Not anti-Semite – on the contrary. The Middle East and the relations of the Jews and Palestinians are of great interest to him. He also calls it "West Asia". The Near East (Balkan states), the Middle East and the Far East are British concepts, and Galtung sees no reason why he should share the British perspective on the world.

Peace is achieved by withdrawing all the countries in the area.

Galtung has had numerous lectures, assignments and mediations in Israel and Western Asia. "I also criticized part of Israel's politics – and immediately got labeled 'anti-Semite.'

After the lecture Ten theses on July 22 at the University of Oslo in September 2011, it stormed around Galtung in Norwegian media. "I was called anti-Semitic also because I had said that if you face prejudice, then you need to make sure you know these prejudices. If, for example, prejudice is expressed in something called The protocols, of course, read these. If you want to fight prejudice you must know them. After all, it's basic for anyone who wants to call themselves an intellectual, "Galtung explains.

However, religions do not escape the now-arriving peace researcher, and religions are interconnected in West Asia. "The same role models and prophets are re-emerging in the prevailing religions, and that should be the basis for fantastic cooperation," he says. Christ or Isa go again in Christianity and Islam, Moses or Musa in Judaism and Islam. There is a great potential for peaceful communication here, according to Galtung.

(Video interview on structural violence, Israel, Folke Bernadottte and anti-Semitism.)

- If you go to our rich Jewish contemporary literature and writers like Malamud and Singer, we see the term the jew as mensch or the Jews as the typical human being. Not privileged or sacrificed, but simply a real person. 

"Exact. There are countless ways to be a Jew. Numerous prophets, rabbis, school directions. One says something, and another tears it up and launches another understanding. ”That is exactly why Galtung is fascinated by Judaism. “The power of Judaism lies in the place it provides for dialogue. For the conversation. Truth is always chased forward by the many educated and skilled rabbis and teachers, "Galtung argues, and continues:" Not only is it law, but it is necessary to disagree, interpret, turn on claims, positions, traditions and facts to keep moving forward . That's the value why as a child naturally brings into their world – I have four and know what I'm talking about. The true intellectual asks the same thing why. This has its roots in Jewish tradition. ”

Galtung recalls his time as a professor in the 1960s at the City University of New York – a giant conglomerate of colleges with nearly 500 students today. In Galtung's time, there were "only" 000 students there. He says: “The department had a staff of 100 percent Jews. "Isn't that a bit big?", I asked. "But Johan, we are the best – even if there are exceptions like you. We want the best! ”He answered. Galtung is not sure it is so wise in a world where real anti-Semitic forces know how to find their case.

Palestine-Israel conflict. - It is almost 70 years since Folke Bernadotte was assassinated by Zionist terrorists led by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Bernadotte had said he needed three months to resolve the Palestine-Israel conflict. Why has it been 70 years without the Palestinians getting their own state? 

"It has many causes. Bernadotte had the solution. His proposal would be adopted by the UN. He wanted to make Jerusalem an international area, and he pointed out parts of the country where Muslims and Jews were in the majority so that they could each have their respective territories. The plan was accepted by both the Soviet and the United States. It could have led to peace. Bernadotte had to be killed. "

In a recent talk by Bernadotte in The Independent, Geula Cohen – who was a 17-year-old activist at the time – also claimed that it was right to kill Bernadotte. "Otherwise, we would have lost Jerusalem," she said.

"Bernadotte's problem is similar to your problem," Galtung himself has been told by Israeli officials: "You suggest a lot that many would agree." It is dangerous to see solutions. "They know I'm not anti-Semite. But they also know that it's stupid to kill me with my position. It is better to try to destroy my reputation – kill myself spiritually and culturally. They try to do that by calling me anti-Semite, ”says Galtung.

- Israel relies on armament and security? 

"Security does not create peace," he says, "Peace creates security. This is also the case in Western Asia. In order to achieve peace, all countries must be included in the area of ​​the so-called Israel-Palestine conflict – Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Israel. The six neighboring towns. But maybe even more – 20? Neighbors neighbors. A West Asia alliance of states that share common interests in peace and development. Who can share their expertise, resources and needs. Not with ethnically cleansed areas, but where diversity grows across borders. Enrich each other. ”These words – diversity and mutual enrichment – he uses a lot these days we visit. Whether we are talking about Africa, Asia, violence, ecology or the United States.

"What Israel will never succeed is to ring a piece of land and say 'this is ours'. The solution, "says Galtung," is to find ways of living together, living with the many countries of the region that have for centuries been at peace. What about planting Palestinian settlements in Jewish areas as compensation for Israeli living in the West Bank? ”Galtung sees weaving the people together as the solution for the region. A tissue they know well and that worked for centuries. And it is in the mutual enrichment of diversity that he finds his solutions – not in borders and walls or in armor.

Gaddafi, NATO and China. - What about NATO's regime change policy towards Muammar Gaddafi in 2011? 

"The West really only related to a small streak of northern Libya, the West Bengalized region, which was termed a democratic stronghold in contrast to what they believed was Gaddafi's dictatorship in the Tripoli region. But those who loved Gaddafi were first and foremost the people of the south – those who had been part of the oil riches under Gaddafi. This is how Gaddafi brought justice to the country. Education, health, infrastructure and so on. Those who participated in this were many and they loved him, ”says Galtung. He goes on to say that Gaddafi had support in South Africa's Nelson Mandela, who could not forget his long-standing help for the ANC and the liberation struggle. The United States, on the other hand, betrayed Mandela and provided the information leading to Mandela's arrest and 27 years in prison. That's part of the picture.

- You said that the removal of Gaddafi consisted of a number of causes?

 “Gaddafi used the oil wealth to develop the country. But he had goals for the entire African continent. He wanted to create an African bank – not a World Bank. He wanted an African Development Fund and he wanted an African common currency – a Gold Dinner that could not only unify Africa but also become a new oil currency. This posed a threat to the dollar's position as international currency and Western domination in Africa, ”he explains. "NATO's ambitions were initially planned as a regime change. Gaddafi had to be killed. "

- Has Norway with NATO tied itself to the mast of an aggressive power?

"NATO has changed its character from being a defensive organization where Article 5 secured mutual support should one country be attacked. With the US first-class strategy in the field of nuclear weapons, we have also faced a more dangerous situation. The United States is the only country willing to attack with nuclear weapons first! ”Replies Galtung.

I would argue that most of humanity suffers from structural violence. The opposite is autonomy.

We do not go without mentioning China. What does China want? “In China's history, the Tang Dynasty is about 600–900 a time of greatness. They are seeking to restore this with, among other things, a trade route to Africa, ”says Galtung. “Imagine an axis from China in the east along the coast and land to Africa. And so on through Africa, from Dar to Kinshasa in the west, and then boat connection on to Latin America. In 1955, 29 alliance-free states met in Indonesia's Bandung – with Zhou Enlai, Nehru and Nasser at the helm. In the Bandung Declaration, they built on the UN Charter and the inviolability of states, and on equality and mutual benefit in cooperation. They sought to establish cooperation outside the superpowers of the United States and the USSR. Today, China is on its way in the spirit of the Bandung Declaration. ”

Structural violence. It is agreed that Johan Galtung has enriched the social sciences with the concept structural violence. Launched in the article "Violence, Peace and Peace Research" (1969), it has nurtured related concepts that cultural violence og symbolic violence in philosophy and sociology decades later.

Structural violence suppresses within, and is a form of covert abuse. There is no blood in the streets or batons and bombs, but it is concrete anyway. It occupies you from within, shapes you and your expectations, and sets you free and impedes your development. And it can cost life and health.

"I would argue that most of humanity suffers from structural violence. The opposite is autonomy, ”says Galtung.

Since structural violence prevents people from developing freely, this understanding of violence is constantly evolving. New medicines and technology make it possible to give people help today that they couldn't 100 years ago. But gender, race, age and place of residence determine what kind of opportunities one has – institutionalized violence is institutionalized and enshrined in social structures that limit many people's opportunities to meet their basic needs and develop their potential.

Galtung likes to talk about this: “First, come on penetration: A foreign element takes control of the culture and patterns of action, and makes it clear that those affected by the control are at a lower level than the control. Then occurs fragmentation og marginalization. The dominant is kept in isolation so that he cannot organize with other oppressed. He gets put on the sidelines as a spectator. "

- So he can be controlled?

"Just. There is a class aspect here. The victim is not justified. Others decide on him. "Galtung gives an explanatory example:" Imagine a Zambian village. Governments build express roads between cities and ignore the villages they cut through. The villages are not brought closer together, but are divided by the road and the forest. The road is for cars and trucks that the village does not have. People are banished to the roadside – they are literally marginalized. It is the mighty cities that get all the benefits. The cities become integrated and horizontalized, while in the villages they become fragmented and marginalized. ”And with this we are back into imperialism: A central form of structural violence is inequality between nations and within nations, and it is this imperialism that the system creates and maintains. . Galtung's theory of imperialism can thus be understood as a theory of the possibility of liberation from structural violence.

- The control society with increased surveillance, military power, centralized economy and political power gives us less freedom. Is there a deep state? Someone who controls that we never see?

 "It's probably the case that forces like power and wealth coalesce and control uncontrollably." Galtung has the respect for the concept of deep-state, but it is not a Galtung term. He talks about it deep culture – the culture that governs you on a daily basis without you knowing it or making a decision. “We are guided by the deep culture – that is, the life patterns and expectations that surround us and limit us without the immediate possibility of correction. This is violence against people. A deep culture is a form of structural violence. ”

Very visible traces. Ny Tid gets 400 google hits when we apply structural violence or structural violence. Not bad for a social science term born in Oslo 50 years ago.

Gaddafi had goals for all of Africa: an African bank and a common currency – a Gold Dinner as the new oil currency. He had to be killed.

Peace researcher Galtung has fled his homeland. From l'Alfaz he spreads his international network for peace. And the city has responded by building a park of honor in his name – "Parque por la Paz Johan Galtung". We insist on seeing the park. A memorial while he is still alive is not for many people. Is he proud? The park and all the google hits on the child of the heart "structural violence" are things that make him look for traces. It weighs up too much bullshit and insults.

Johan Galtung is still and unquestionably the "father of peace research", although he is no longer invited to step down the doors of PRIO today. He turned 87 on UN Day. Of course.

You can read part 2 of the interview here.

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

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