Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: 7/22: From Violence to Peace Culture (1)

Solve the Afghanistan syndrome. Stop the ridiculous war with no end in sight

7/22: From Violence to Peace Culture (1)

by Johan Galtung, 15 Aug 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Dear World Humanist Congress Participants, Fellow Humanists:

We believe in the primacy of human life and we believe in rationality. Violence is contempt for life as our poet Nordahl Geieg puts it. You have chosen as the theme of this conference “Humanism and Peace”, and chosen me–rightly or wrongly considered by many the father of peace studies–to deliver this address “From Lack of Realism to Conflict Resolution”.

By lack of realism I mean the bloodletting of violence and war, solving nothing, leaving a legacy of trauma and glory, lust for more glory and for revenge to cancel the trauma. By rationality I mean: reconciliation to handle the traumas of the past, mediation to resolve the conflicts of the present, and peace projects to build the peace of the future.

Peace studies are modeled on health studies, wrongly called “medicine”, the idea being that peace is to violence what health is to disease. And the pathology is the most intractable that Norway has encountered; more so than the Nazi-German invasion on April 9, 1940: 7/22. Why? Because Norway is both a victim of atrocious terror by one single person, it seems; and a perpetrator of atrocious state terrorism in Afghanistan. My task: diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.

7/22: Diagnosis. I pick from daoism the need for a holistic-dialectical prognosis, not some two variables punctual school medicine thing. We are dealing with two actors long at war–violent islamism, and violent West-USA-NATO-islamophobic christianism. One battlefield is Afghanistan, close to China, considered by USA an ally of islamism. Another is the killing of people seen as traitors helping the enemy: Karzai+. And a third was opened by Breivik–christian pro-Israel, European–killing people in Norway he seen as traitors helping the enemy: multi-culturalists-cultural marxists; Labor-led government, with its AUF. Islamists and islamophobes at war and both of them at war with Norway as an actor: an unbalanced, very unstable configuration.

7/22: Prognosis. What is going to happen? I pick from cognitive dissonance-consonance theory the search for images that are balanced. The simplest way out is to talk only about Norway the victim, not the perpetrator. The second simplest is not to link the two, Norway at war in Afghanistan is “totally different, nothing to do with Utöya”. But Norwegian sharp-shooters kill Taliban-Al Qaeda like Breivik killed AUF, justified by some theory far from reality. Some soldiers find fighting better than sex, some find hunting better than killing, some reach back to viking times for a Norway bent on perennial war, like Quisling. Very far from a peace nation. And in Afghanistan they burn Norwegian flags. Some relish: Norway, how does your medicine taste?

I reach out to the bereaved of both, victims of insane theories–one terrorist, one state terrorist, equally detached from reality. As Norway’s PM has said, Breivik will not destroy our democracy; we will have more democracy, more openness. Like so many say in Afghanistan, the West-NATO will not destroy our islam and fight for a decentralized society with autonomous villages and several nations, in peace with all neighbors, beyond the divisions made by the British Empire, and sick and tired of being invaded. Any change we will decide ourselves. Sow terrorism and reap unity against the terrorist: Norway right now.

Denial will not bring Norway anywhere: the islamist-islamophobe-Norway triangle with three violences demands an answer. In our minds, and in reality, some positive relations will appear. Beyond police inadequacy there will be people challenging extreme islamophobes to dialogue, and there will be hidden or real islamist-islamophobe cooperation against a common enemy, Norway–ominous but logical.

And then the third possibility: from warfare in Afghanistan to genuine dialogue with Taliban and others–perhaps best done by countries like Turkey, Russia and China–unblemished by killing, making West-USA-NATO (Norway) a forgettable, regrettable episode.

7/22 Therapy. Three relations with three options: violence, neutral, dialogical-solution-oriented, 3x3x3 = 27 options. There is only one therapy: change negative relations into positive ones, from violence to dialogue and cooperation for mutual an equal benefit.

Solve the Afghanistan syndrome. Stop the ridiculous war with no end in sight; enter the Taliban formula of respect for islam, a more developed islam, of a decentralized country in peace with all the neighbors, of a country no longer considered a pawn to be invaded. USA-West-NATO-Norway is hardly in a position to do this – better leave it to Turkey-Russia-China.

Solve the inner Afghan problem. Karzai+ has to extricate itself further from the commitment to the USA even to the point of demanding the immediate withdrawal. His and his regime’s future is for the Afghan people to decide, hopefully through dialogue, not violence.

Solve the islamophobe extreme right problem, by engaging them in dialogue, challenging them, not only by an even-eyed security police but with eye-sight both on the left and right. Be well prepared. Identify the key weak point: that terrorism in Norway solidifies the people against the terrorist, far from any uprising of the kind Breivik hoped for, just like state terrorism in Afghanistan, including the Norwegian portion of it. However, Norway will not be held accountable for its own bullets but for the whole NATO action down to the grandchildren of those killed: from an attack on one is an attack on all follows an attack from one is an attack from all. A Norway not drawing the obvious conclusion, that Afghans may like violence as little as we do, is a Norway producing even more insecurity for itself than it has up to now. Revenge, down to the grandchildren, on both sides.

From violence culture to dialogue and theological cooperation. Are we ready, are we mature? The stakes are high. Let us hope that rationality and not hard readings of abrahamic religions prevails.


[1]. Dedicated to the memory of Kristian Horn, also known Anti-christian Horn, a pioneer in the field of humanist ethics and non-church ceremonies–a guru and a friend. On April 9, 1956 the Norwegian Humanetisk Forbund was founded very near to where we are right now. I was one of them, and Christen lives on in me and countless others through his words and deeds of inspiration.


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