Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 437 – Johan Galtung is awarded peace prize in Nobel’s spirit

By Jan Oberg

On Saturday, December 2 2017, Johan Galtung is awared the alternative peace prize, The People’s Peace Prize In Accordance With Nobel’s Will.




Who is Johan Galtung
Born in Norway 87 years ago. The most innovative and productive figure in international peace and cconflict research. Has taught at 50 universities around the world and received 50 honorary degrees and other prizes. Consultant to a series of international organisations, the UN in particular.
Author of about 160 books in fields such as peace and peace-making, security politics, violence, alternative defence, macro history, mathematics, peace journalism, future research, social science methodology, world order issues, economics and theory of science.
Has been a mediator and produced peace plans in around 100 conflicts – among them Palestine-Israel, the Middle East as a region, North and South Korea, Equador and Peru, former Yugoslavia, East and West.
Is the founder of Peace Research Institute, Oslo, PRIO, and the network and net university Transcend.
Still very active and operates globally, lives in Spain, Japan and the US. Married to Fumiko Nishimura.

The Prize
Has been created as a constructive alternative to the official Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo which, for years, has been awarded in defiance of Alfred Nobel’s will – however not this year when ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, will receive the prize on December 10.
The Prize is decided by and awarded by the Peace Movement of Orust, a small association at a small island on the West coast of Sweden – an organisation headed by two other pioneers of peace, Erni and Ola Friholt, who have also passed 80.
This prize comes with no money but love and honour.

Background
The Friholts and the Orust movement have a life-long commitment and multi-dimensional work for non-violence, global development, women rights, art and poetry. They represent the finest aspects of the Nordic civil society and public education tradition and peace work.
They are also behind what can be characterised as the most important annual series of public lectures, in the Henån Cultural Centre, held by researchers, journalists and authors – always with a humanistic, globalist, critical and constructive perspective.
It’s dialogue, not confrontation, it’s deep and it’s broad. High on intellectualism and integrity, low in terms of populism, political correctness and sectarianism. Free thinking for open minds.
In short, the most important peace movement in the Nordic countries with a larger following in local society than anywhere else, a local-global movement in the spirit of Gandhi and with a straight line back to Galtung’s first book, with philosopher Arne Næss, Gandhis Politiske EtikkGandhi’s Political Ethics – from 1955.

Significance
None whatsoever – if we are to believe Swedish and international media – which of course we should not.
But quite significant in terms of substance – for research, peace, free opinion-formation and the Nordic civil society movement traditions (democracy) – and as constructive comment on today’s Swedish/American security and foreign policy which, beyond doubt, Alfred Nobel would have deplored.
That is – for the ethics of resistance and alternatives. For hope beyond the militarist world and its increasingly destructive thinking.
A Nobel-Gandhi prize which is also in line with the poetic words of another great Norwegian, Nordahl Grieg: “The shells fly as one belt. Stop their drift towards death, stop them with spirit! Surrounded by enemies, engage in your times.” (”Stilt går granaternas glidende bånd. Stans deres drift mot död, stans dem med ånd. Kringsatt av fiender, gå in i din tid.”)

The ceremony
Saturday the 2nd of December 2017 at the old Svanvik School at Stocken, Orust 10 AM. Lectures by Johan Galtung (just arriving from Washington) and Jan Oberg (about Galtung), lunch music, torchlight procession and then at 7 PM the Nobel Banquet with the awarding ceremony.
Arranged with the support of the Orust Municipality and Sensus Association for public education and culture.

Contact
Ola and Erni Friholt ernifriholt@tele2.se, phone +46 (0)304-51215 or
Jan Oberg +46 (0)738 525200

The World – Where Are You Heading?

By Johan Galtung

Liu Xiaobo passed away. What is the – not so hidden – truth about him?

Answer: His speeches and writings show enthusiasm for the 100-year English colonization of Hong Kong, wishing 300 years colonization of China, celebrating the US war in Afghanistan, hoping for atomic weapons. He got the Nobel Peace Prize for democratization of China, had the freedom of speech, but the prize communicated as a provocation. The prize could easily have been given to their Charter, not to Liu Xiaobo.

Norway’s security – what are the threats?

Answer: Given the location, an invasion by USA or Russia to prevent the other from doing so. The situation is reminiscent of the threat from England, Germany and USSR to prevent one of the other from doing so in 1940; what happened was England and Germany violating Norwegian neutrality, fighting a battle on Norwegian territory. USSR nothing till they fought German troops in the extreme North losing more soldiers to liberate Norway than Norway during the war, stopping when the Norwegian government in refuge in London told them to do so, thereby making it possible for Germany to destroy Northern Norway.

Norway’s defense today – what is the story?

Answer: A one-sided offensive capacity directed at Russia for a first or second strike, the coast and inland defenseless with 248 of 249 districts (“Heimevernet“, home land defense) incapable of their job.

Why Russia as Chosen Enemy; the real story, the alternatives? Read the rest of this entry »

Nuclear sabre rattling with North Korea

By Jonathan Power

Does President Donald Trump (aka “Fire and Fury”) know what a nuclear war would be like?

I ask the question because President Roland Reagan confessed he did not until he decided to look at some movies (once an actor, he was a cinema man), like “On the Beach” that depicted a nuclear war. The exercise changed his thinking and he became an anti-nuclear weapons militant. Together with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev they cut their nuclear stockpiles sharply.

They also came near an agreement to destroy all their nuclear weapons.

The blasts at the end of the Second World War in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can now be repeated hundreds of thousand times. The remains would not just be the broken arches of the Caesars, the abandoned viaducts and moss-covered temples of the Incas, the desolation of one of the pulsating hearts of Europe, Dresden, but millions of square miles of uninhabitable desolation and a suffering which would incorporate more agony than the sum of past history.

It would be a time when the living would envy the dead and it would be a world which might well have destroyed the legacy of law, order and love that successive generations have handed over the centuries to one another. Read the rest of this entry »

Living in Dystopian Times

By Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
The text below is drawn from a talk given at the Spring Festival of the Arts in Beirut, Lebanon on 15 June 2017. Comments welcome.

How can we understand the present unfolding world order, with special reference to its relevance for developments in the Middle East? In my view a fundamental reversal of political expectations has taken place that calls for a new assessment of what is going on, and where the region and the world seem to be heading.

Twenty-five years ago there were three widely held beliefs about future trends on a global level: the assured preeminence of the United States; the continuing globalization of the world economy; and the expanding democratization of national governance arrangements.

It was also assumed that these trends were more or less descriptive of regional realities, including the Middle East.

Each of these trends that seemed so descriptive 25 years ago now seems to be completely out of touch with what is happening around us that is very disappointing when compared with earlier expectations, no where more so than in the Middle East.

These disillusioning changes of perception are contributing to a growing anxiety about what the future portends for all of us.

In addition to these changes of expectation as to international behavioral patterns, there exist a cluster of deeper tensions that concern the very nature of the human condition, extending to challenges directed at the sustainability and quality of life on the planet.

One unfortunate consequence of the preoccupation with these disturbing recent international political realities is that much needed attention is diverted away from these more fundamental issues of an ecological, technological, and cultural character.

As an American, I am especially conscious of the enormous and costly diversionary impact that the Trump presidency is having in weakening the understanding and planning needed if humanity is to have any realistic chance of coping with these emerging threats of great magnitude that have never been confronted in the past.

The most serious menace posed by Donald Trump, who is most accurately regarded as the first right-wing populist tweeting demagogue of the digital age, is his extraordinary talent to shift the conversation from the awkwardly significant to the banal trivial.

He is exerting a great influence on public discourse not only in America but in the world, especially by diluting our perceptions of crucial issues affecting the human species as a whole, including climate change as connected to the related decline of biodiversity, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and the destabilizing effects of these technologies of the digital age especially when applied to security arrangements and the broad spectrum of societal policies bearing on individual and collective human wellbeing.

Under the weight of these threats it is not surprising that a dystopian moment is beginning to dominate the cultural imagination.

It discloses itself through a fascination with post-apocalyptic films and an interest in older literary dystopias such as Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale. These books that imagined a future that is in some respects our present are being widely read and discussed as if guidebooks to a set on conditions that were not anticipated.

Within the American political space the fragility of American democracy was prefigured in Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here as well in scary premonitions of the imminence of digital age fascism put forward in the recent radical feminist post-apocalyptic novel, The Book of Joan (2017) by Lidia Yuknavitch.

Also indicative of the foreboding quality of the prevailing Zeitgeist is a bestselling booklet that is a collection of identifying markers of tyranny by the prominent historian, Timothy Snyder, with a deliberately provocative title and a pedagogical rationale, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017).

This ‘dystopian moment’ is reinforced by the absence of positive scenarios of the future, and the dismissal of the utopian imagination as worse than irrelevant because it allegedly created receptivity to promises that when translated into political reality produce totalitarian nightmares.

In effect, utopias, correctly understood, have themselves become in these dark times a disguised form of dystopia.

A recovery of societal confidence is a key precondition of envisioning a better future. Its loss is one dimension of the crisis confronting humanity at this time, and these days such failures of moral and political imagination are generally overlooked in the public sphere that is obsessively focused on the latest daily episode in the Trump political soap opera.

Naomi Klein reminds us in a recent interview, “Trump is not the crisis but the symptom of the crisis.” The point is that we must make the effort to grasp the social and political forces that gave rise to Trump and Trumpism. Klein also insisted that the negativity of progressive thinking in recent decades has had little political traction because it fails to present a positive alternative to the angry negativity of right-wing populism that targets the established order.

Klein’s new book has the title No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.

Her text impressively couples a necessary critique of Trump’s pernicious leadership with an affirmative vision of how to move the political process in emancipatory directions. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 414 (B): Trump in Riyadh – A Gulf NATO to gang up against Iran and Syria

By Jan Oberg

Part A here

The role – again – of marketing companies in selling wars

Few wars have been so thoroughly media-managed and marketing-loaded as that on Syria. No wonder arms deals are too – otherwise citizens around the world would protest loudly that their tax money is spent on destruction and more destruction and all the promises of the past that this – or that – arms deal will increase security and peace in the world have turned out to be fake information – disinformation – and an integral part of what can only be termed “fearology” by governments against their own people.

One must therefore welcome Russia Today’s excellent research by Alexey Yaroshevsky also on this dimension.

This report is high-speed but listen carefully to it as it points out two US companies associated with this deal and US-Saudi relations with questionable image – a report that also highlight to some extent the roles of both Bill and Hillary Clinton in all this: the Qorvis MSLGroup and Burson-Marsteller.

In passing one cannot but deplore that it is Russia Today, not its Western peers, that does the research on the role of PR and marketing firms.

NATO in Gulf with Denmark as a liaison?

Back to NATO in Kuwait and what it may mean.

Here is what the United Arab Emirates’ daily The National reported on January 24, 2017. Interestingly, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are members of ICI – the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – while Saudi Arabia and Oman plan to join. This is exactly the coalition we have mentioned above.

Three days later the same sources quotes the Danish ambassador in the UAE: “Nato officials are expected to visit in coming months after the Danish embassy in Abu Dhabi becomes the country’s go-between with the bloc, said Merete Juhl, the Danish ambassador. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 410: The meaninglessness of war: Aleppo Photo Series # 6

By Jan Oberg



Lund, Sweden – March 24, 2017




Can the almost total destruction of Eastern Aleppo be used constructively? 


Only if we are willing to ask and dialogue about this: 


Why does the world go on investing US$ 2000 billion annually in warfare and US$ 30 in all the UN does – only to create destruction of people, places, past and future?


How absurd, how meaningless – indeed how far must it go to destroy the West itself – before we learn to conflict intelligently?


The Meaninglessness Of War by Jan Oberg on Exposure

•


I’ve see much destruction during my work in conflict zones the last 25 years. But nothing compares with Aleppo and the destruction of Syria and its people.

Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify this barbarian process, not even an alleged dictatorship and ruthless regime policies. 


We must learn from Aleppo and all the other places:


- to hate violence and war, not each other;

- to stop siding with some presumed good violence that shall combat evil violence because there is no (good) violence that is better than dialogue;


- to criminalize arms trade to conflict zones and never let a private arms trader or goverment at large when they profit and make peace impossible;


- to learn the tools of conflict-resolution and do what we have all promised to do: struggle first for peace by peaceful means as stated in the UN Charter.


• 


My photo series “The Meaninglessness of War: Aleppo” aim to encourage you to think deeply – much deeper than siding with one or the other side. 


We need a tectonic shift in the theories and practises of international politics and conflict management. ASAP.


Otherwise the rest will one day be just that: Silence. 


A global Aleppo.


Side instead with peace, decency, truth and humanity. And learn your Gandhi and other wise thinkers. Get out of the box! The group think! 


And the future of the world will be so much more promising. Even bright.

The Meaninglessness Of War: Aleppo

All the photo series at Exposure.

The “Karma Year” and Current Conflicts

March 6, 2017

By Johan Galtung

An Unstable World: Analysis, Forecasting, Solutions

Take current deep conflicts in our unstable world and go back in time, aided by dialogue with the parties about “when did it go wrong”. Chances are a year will emerge. There was a basic event, or process, polarizing something that used to be more cohesive. A faultline had emerged that can last for centuries, more or less polarized, up till today, and beyond, if there is no intervention.

The faultlines function like tectonic plates. Nothing may happen for long periods. Then they shock against each other, with earthquakes geo-physically; Norway-, Euro-, World-quakes socially.

The tern “karma year” is used. Not destiny-Schicksal-skjebne; too deterministic. Karma is destiny that can be changed through awareness.

The reader will find on the next page…

History: Epochs or Trends – Medieval Spain


20 February 2017

By Johan Galtung

Visions of the Past for Constructing a Future: Historiography of Spain

The distinction made by Fernand Braudel between events, trends and permanents, was a gift to historiography, how we conceive of history. This essay favors trends over epochs, seeing epochs as some kind of static racism or prejudice in time–“those people, at that epoch, were like that”, blinding us both to the diversity and to the dynamism.

History unfolds over or in time, the basic variable, the X axis. The events are points. The trends are curves of any shape, not necessarily continuous, could also be “jumpy”. And the permanents are horizontal lines set at a certain value.

Points, curves, lines – with texts indicative of highly complex proactio-actio-reactio relations.

History is the totality. However, trends accommodate the others. Trends are initiated or terminated by events. Trends may together generate events. Permanence is also a trend; lines are also curves.

Trends were identified for an epoch in time, Middle Ages, and a region in space, Spain. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 406: Peace between China and Japan (and the three Chinese revolutions)

By Johan Galtung
February 27, 2017

Keynote: New Vision of Peace in East Asia – Sino-Japanese Peace Dialogue
Nanjing, 22-23 Feb 2017

As Buddhist philosophy teaches, peace, like violence and conflict, is a relation; not an attribute of China or Japan. As Daoist philosophy teaches, in a holon like East Asia there are forces and counterforces, yin/yang, with yin and yang in both.

Negative peace would relate the two without violence or threats; positive peace would relate them with good things flowing. Reality?

Past: The “Nanjing massacre”.

Present: Threats between China and USA-Japan “collective self-defense” also for Senkaku-Diaoyu, de facto US occupation of Japan. Future: no vision beyond balance of threats.

Hence, peace between China and Japan has to be created: visions of peaceful futures, solving present conflicts, conciling past trauma.

Peace does not flow from the past. But peace may flow from the future.

Geographically the two countries are close, yet very different.

Japan, ethnically homogeneous, had 125 Emperors since -659(?), succeeding by blood lineage. The Emperor was spiritual, praying for peace and welfare of people and country. But since Meiji 1868, Taisho and Showa up to the 1945 defeat Emperors, modeled on European Kings, were military commanders-in-chief in uniform. Then back to the old; the present Heisei era standing for creating peace within and without.

Japanese military used to be high up in terms of social status.

China, ethnically very diverse, has had a number of dynasties, some short, some long, with usually very bloody successions. The Chin dynasty from -221 unified. Han became a powerful source of identity, also in what after the last Ching dynasty 1644-1910 was called China.

Chinese military used to be low down, run by warlords known for cruel massive killing, sexual violence and looting.

Like in Japan, (Nara-Kyoto-Tokyo) the capital changed (–Xi’an-Nanjing-Beijing); unlike Japan, China as a state in the state system is only a century old, from 1911; more similar to Europe in history than to states in Europe.

Future: Can countries with conflict (incompatible goals) and trauma (wounds from past violence) live together?

Potentially yes, e.g. in a Read the rest of this entry »

Why Europe conquered the world

By Jonathan Power

February 21st 2017

Eleven hundred years ago Europe was a backwater. There were no grand cities, apart from Cordoba in Spain which was Muslim. The Middle East was much further ahead, still absorbing the intellectual delights and challenges of Greek science, medicine and architecture which Europeans were largely ignorant of. In southern China agriculture advanced and trade in tea, porcelain and silk flourished.

By 1914 it was a totally different world. The Europeans ruled 84% of the globe and they had colonies everywhere. How was it that Europe and its offspring, the United States, became the dominant dynamic force in the world, and still are today in most things?

If I walk round my university town and stop the first ten students I meet and ask them why this was so they would probably say because of the Industrial Revolution. But in 1800 when the Industrial Revolution was only just beginning Europeans already ruled 35% of the world and had armed ships on every ocean and colonies on every continent.

If they didn’t say that, they might say it was the way the Europeans spread their fatal diseases, smallpox and measles, to which they had gained a good deal of immunity, and this enabled them to lay low native peoples. But in fact all the major Middle Eastern and Asian civilizations had this same advantage. In Africa it was local diseases that attacked the Europeans more than vice versa.

Maybe one of the ten students would say it was because the Europeans were ahead in the development of gunpowder technology. After all the military revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution. But I doubt that, even though on the right track, this one student could explain why. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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