By Johan Galtung
Johan Galtung turns 85 on UN Day 2015
The global nation-state based system is in deep crisis. The West’s relative decline is obvious, except to the West itself. This multi-dimensional crisis will, of course, give way to something new – but what?
Lack of vision – sometimes even of knowledge and empathy – among those in power seems a defining characteristics of our times.
Individually as well as nationally, we are living in iTimes, not weTimes. Add to that blowbacks from history and Western knee-jerk militarist responses – and the next few years will be tough.
The creativity and innovation we find in commercial and social entrepreneurship and in the arts, seem frighteningly absent in the world of politics.
Who would get elected anywhere on having an exciting vision for the the world the next 25 or 40 years? No, you must know about national affairs and economy – while, by the way, national economy doesn’t exist anymore.
Few young people, including students or young scholars, find it attractive to join party politics.
But can humanity survive with only criticism, negative energy, bad news and no vision?
Will we work for a better world if we can’t see it?
Dr. Johan Galtung has devoted his life to the vision of a less violent, more peaceful world – from the local to the civilisational level – implementing the norm of the Charter of the UN – turning 70 on October 24, 2015 – that peace shall be established by peaceful means.
Galtung – one of a handful of peace visionaries with a macro perspective – himself turns 85 on UN Day. He has mediated in more than 100 conflicts since 1957 and published 164 books. And he still travels the world speaking and writing. More about him here by Antonio. C. S. Rosa.
He is one of the youngest and most innovative minds in world affairs, always asking the essential, healing question: What can be done?
That’s what the good doctor does – helps conflicting parties address their problems, reduce their violence and develop a vision of a better future – together or side-by-side with respect.
Making the seemingly incompatible more compatible through creativity, dialogue, vision.
Here is his latest column – which TFF publishes every week. It synthesizes where we stand and ought to go.
And with humanity.
- Jan Oberg
And now Galtung himself…
Keynote, 13th Session World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” – Rhodes, Greece, 9 Oct 2015
The strength of this forum is its civilization focus; let us use it for analysis and remedies. Major forms of disorder use violence; war is state organized violence. The most belligerent states are the United States of America and Israel, both with civilization roots.
National Evangelism, the US Protestant Christian civilization – more national than evangelical – justifies US warfare as exceptionalism of a people chosen by God, with a manifest destiny to run the world. Orthodox Judaism justifies Israeli warfare to conquer and expand from Nile to Euphrates as a religious right and duty to the Eternal One.
The third most belligerent country, the UK, no longer believes it is God-chosen but chosen by the USA; not quite the same but something.
The root causes – and soften the ideas
But the root cause of global disorder lies in the Occident – with Islam – seeing itself as the single, universal civilization valid for all at all times, all others being mistakes. Missionary activity, slavery, colonialism, exploitative trade, robbery capitalism, follow.
The USA got from Judaism the idea of Chosen People-Promised Land. Yet Israel is actually the opposite of the USA: a land for Jews only, for 0.2% of humanity; not a world for everybody run by US hegemony.
These anomalies must come to an end. They spell disaster for whoever stands in the way of the Chosen Ones, with USA killing in 100+ countries and Israel into a Third Intifada after cruel attacks on Gaza. Both with nuclear bombs, at God’s level of destruction, on the ready.
The ways out pass through softer Christianities and Judaisms, through no military aid for the USA or Israel, through boycott and other forms of resistance; but above all through alternative policies. For the USA to retreat to a North American Mex-Us-Can, for Israel to a UN-guaranteed state in the WANA, West Asia-North Africa region, in the old millet autonomy tradition of the Ottoman Empire.
Like people informed of impending death they both deny any crisis in their world and regional empires. But reality strikes back, denying the denial.
More adequate steps will be taken, maybe before 2020.
Regions will be more important, nation-states less
This perspective locates solutions in regions, not in inter-state relations; more particularly WANA and North America. With mechanisms for trauma conciliation, conflict solution, cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, harmony, sharing up and downs–four tasks!–veto-free regions can do very well. Their relation could be handled by a United Regions parallel to United Nations; but with no region above others.
Look at the map: three more regions missing. Two in Asia: a Central Asian region centered on Afghanistan-Pakistan with the Durand 1893 line gaping wound removed by open borders; and a Northeast Asian Community, NEAC, for cooperation between Japan and Russia Far East, two Chinas and two Koreas, sharing disputed islands and sovereignties.
In Europe a European House for the European Union and the large Russia+, for the four tasks. In that House U-kraina – at the 1600 years old Catholic-Orthodox border – could be a federation with rotating presidents, neutral, gas-oil flowing from East to West, EU trade from West to East, and Crimea 2014 understood as a correction of 1954.
This leads to an important point for mediation: identify major trends and build solutions on them. A swimmer who wants to swim a long way fast should swim with, not against, the river’s current. In a world with states withering away into regions–except for the five, six biggest–solve conflicts in regions; like in the four proposed here.
The Islamic State is a region. Russia makes a mistake killing them: kill one, get 10 more, also from inside Russia. Like the attack on Afghanistan 1978-79: “There they go again“, Muslims say.
But the states also yield to local communities and civil society. Build on that, more of the economies in local hands, fight inequality by lifting up the most miserable in the most miserable communities.
Macro – the civilizational level
Then the civilizations, but not as clashes; the word Huntington’s publisher took from Bernard Lewis for a book about regions. Let us focus on their positive aspects, for cooperation, not for clashes:
• Judaism: dialogues as truth not final declarations; intellectuality;
• Orthodoxy: long term optimism Sunday Christianity-“Christ arisen”;
• Catholicism: forgiving the sinner who confesses and rejects his sin;
• Protestantism: individualism/I-culture Individual responsibility
• Americanism: freedom to innovate in science, culture, economy;
• Islam: collectivism/We-culture submission sharing rich to poor;
• Africanism: women in power distribution more than growth ubuntu;
• Hinduism: celebrating birth-protection-death linguistic communities; *Buddhism: society as nets of relations-networks not individual knots;
• Daoism: reality as holisms forces/counterforces yin/yang dialectics
• Confucianism: both rights and duties, both at the top and the bottom;
• Chinaism: synergy buddhism-daoism-confucianism lifting the bottom up;
• Humanism: humans as the measure of all things (Protagoras);
• Naturism: nature–diversity-symbiosis – as the measure of all things;
Stimulate cooperation based on positives, and not paranoid security based on negatives: “security studies” being academic paranoia.
What a rich world!
Example: China and India could exchange lifting the bottom up for true federalism; Protestantism-Americanism could soften individualism learning from Islam-Buddhism, in turn learning freedom and innovation.
And they could all learn never-ending dynamism from Daoism. And a basic key to stability from naturism: diversity with symbiosis.
What a rich world!
Something for everybody to learn everywhere.
The refugee crisis – it’s our turn and regional solutions
Today’s refugees, migrants?
A Völkerwanderung; whole peoples on the move – 50 million, for 50 years? From Africa devastated by slavery, colonialism, trade, capitalism, from Africa and West-Central Asia from wars mainly by the West. We get a search for livelihood, for maternal care from colonial Mother Countries, as uninvited settlers like the colonizers, but willing to abide by local norms.
Now it is our turn.
The solution? Africa develops itself, like East Asia once did using the Japanese model, not Smith-Ricardo but Kaname Akamatsu used by China, but unacknowledged. Gaddafi favored that model but was killed.
The role of the EU? Host millions even if only to compensate for low European fertility; otherwise stay off, apologize, compensate.
The West has done enough damage in the world! It’s time and much better – that it reinvents itself.
Originally published by Transcend Media Service here.