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Johan Galtung: Pioneer of Peace Research, edited by Dietrich Fischer : (a review)
an article by Dr. V. Rajan, Bangla Times (abridged)

Professor Fischer, the Director of the World Peace Academy in Basel, is a long-standing and devoted friend and colleague of Johan Galtung, the widely acknowledged ‘father of peace research.’ In this new book, he brings together a collection of 16 key essays by Galtung; a voluminous Galtung bibliography, listing 165 books written between 1953 and 2012; and a detailed introduction to the life, beliefs, and writings of Galtung. The book covers such concepts as direct, structural and cultural violence; theories of conflict, development, civilization and peace; peaceful conflict transformation; peace education; mediation; reconciliation; a life-sustaining economy; macro-history; deep culture and deep structure; social science methodology.


Prof. Johan Galtung (from website of Transcend)

click on photo to enlarge

Galtung, a mathematician, sociologist, and political scientist, founded the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo in 1959, the world’s first academic research centre on peace studies, and the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. He has established dozens of other peace centres around the world, . . .

When Galtung as a young man was sent to jail for six months for refusing to serve in the Norwegian army, he wrote his first book on Mahatma Gandhi, and has continued to consider him as ‘the master of masters' . . .

In 1969, Galtung created an additional understanding of violence, as practiced by the state or the powerful - ‘structural violence’ in contrast to ‘direct violence’. By 1990 he had added the concept of ‘cultural violence’ -- the intellectual justification for direct and structural violence through beliefs in the superiority of nations, races, masculinity, and other expressions of prejudice in education, the media, literature, films, the arts, street names, and even monuments celebrating war ‘heroes.’

He developed a concept of positive peace, which includes mutually beneficial cooperation on a basis of equality, and a process of mutual learning to heal violence in the past and prevent violence in the future. In 2000, Galtung founded the Transcend Global on-line Peace University, and its non-profit network for Peace, Development and the Environment, with over 500 members in more than 70 countries around the world. The main focus of the Transcend method is not merely to identify who is guilty and punish them, the traditional legal approach, but to create an attractive new reality acceptable to all those involved. This present collection of Galtung’s essays gives a clear and detailed picture of the Transcend method.

Galtung has mediated in over 100 conflicts. He predicted the end of the Soviet Empire almost to a day. Few know that his work on how to end the cold war enabled the Russians to dismantle the Soviet regime, helping them, as Shevardnadze said, to create a ‘successor system’ to the Cold War. Galtung also predicted the financial crises that would strike the capitalist system. . . .

This book brings out many unknown facts about an extraordinary man, erudite beyond the imagining of most people, warm and loving as no other famous person has been, a prophet who has devoted his life to leading humanity out of the valley of mutual distrust and hatred to the companionable uplands of harmonious existence between nations, cultures, genders and strongly-held belief- systems. . . .

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


What are the most important books about the culture of peace?,

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Latest reader comment:

Johan Galtung is indeed the most perceptive peace researcher of our time.

Not only did he predict the fall of the Soviet Union quite precisely, but he has also predicted the fall of the American empire.  Here are excerpts from his 2004 article,
On the Coming Decline and Fall of the US Empire

The prediction of the decline and fall of the US Empire is based on the synergy of 14 contradictions, and the time span for the contradictions to work their way through decline to fall was estimated at 25 years in the year 2000. There are more contradictions because the US Empire is more complex, and the time span is longer also because it is more sophisticated. After the first months of President George W. Bush (selected) the time span was reduced to 20 years because of the way in which he sharpened so many of the contradictions posited the year before, and because his extreme singlemindedness made him blind to the negative, complex synergies. . . .

Here is the list of 14 contradictions posited in 2000:

I. Economic Contradictions(US led system WB/IMF/WTO NYSE Pentagon)

1. between growth and distribution: overproduction relative to demand, 1.4 billion below $ 1/day, 100.000 die/day, 1/4 of hunger

2. between productive and finance economy (currency, stocks,bonds) overvalued, hence crashes, unemployment, contract work

3. between production/distribution/consumption and nature: ecocrisis, depletion/pollution, global warming

II. Military Contradictions (US led system NATO/TIAP/USA-Japan)

4. between US state terrorism and terrorism: Blowback

5. between US and allies (except UK, D, Japan), saying enough

6. between US hegemony in Eurasia and the Russia India China triangle, with 40% of humanity

7. between US led NATO and EU army: The Tindemans follow-up

III. Political Contradictions (US exceptionalism under God)

8. between USA and the UN: The UN hitting back

9. between USA and the EU: vying for Orthodox/Muslim support

IV. Cultural Contradictions (US triumphant plebeian culture)

10. between US Judeo-Christianity and Islam (25% of humanity; UNSC nucleus has four Christian and none of the 56 Muslim countries).

11. between US and the oldest civilizations (Chinese, Indian, Mesopotamian, Aztec/Inca/Maya)

12. between US and European elite culture: France, Germany, etc.

V. Social Contradictions (US led world elites vs the rest: World Economic Forum, Davos vs World Social Forum, Porto Alegre)

13. between state corporate elites and working classes of unemployed and contract workers. The middle classes?

14. between older generation and youth: Seattle, Washington, Praha, Genova and ever younger youth. The middle generation?

15. To this could be added: between myth and reality.


This report was posted on November 9, 2013.