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Cultural Peace: Some Characteristics*

by Johan Galtung
12th of October 2003

By Johan Galtung, dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies;   Director, TRANSCEND: A Network for Peace and Development


1.  Introduction: What is in a Word?  Or Two? Or Three?

With words as rich and important as "culture" and "peace", better proceed with some care.  Consensus about their use is neither possible nor desirable, nor necessary.  But the reader has a right to know how the author thinks he is using the words.  There should be some contract, even explicit, at least for the time it takes to read these pages.  So, here we go.

         Culture is the symbolic aspect of human existence.  Culture is representation, through symbols, usually visual or acoustic, organized diachronically or synchronically.[ii]   Recently that representation, like on color TV in real time, or on the computer screen interactively, has become so close to reality that the term "virtual reality" is used, an "as-if" reality. It may be objected that this is not art, that art enhances some aspects of reality and plays down others.  But that is no objection, culture is a broader category than art.

         Not unlike finance economy relative to real economy, culture takes on a life of its own, with its own logic, in the end even representing nothing but itself; evolving, breeding by cultures meeting and begetting new cultures, budding like a virus drilling itself into human minds, programming those minds to reproduce that culture and occasionally adding and subtracting something.  The result is certainly an enormous amount of culture, to speak a truism, one of the most obvious examples being language, spoken and written, for which oralcy and literacy are needed, both as sender and receiver.

           Again, to draw on the parallel to finance/real economy:  there has to be some kind of synchrony.  Humans don't live by bread alone, but they don't live by the word, by symbols alone either.  Too much culture relative to what it represents and there is inflation, a state of "overculturation"; too little and there is "underculturation", too little meaning available.  We often talk about "inflation in words", like speaking the word "peace" - not to mention `"love" - too often, with no reality counter-value. The Cold War history of "peace" is an example.[iii] The result can be a lack of confidence, and then a crash on the cultural stock exchange: some words, like stocks, become worthless.  The value depletion may be quick or slow, like the Dow Jones Index versus the Nikkei Index.

         On the other hand are the people whose words can always be trusted.   And there are even those who can be trusted precisely because they do not talk at all: "talk is silver, silence is gold".  In economics gold has played that curious double role of being both a real and a financial good, the "gold standard" being so attractive precisely because it was its own counter-value.  The "real reality" counter-value of that proverbial gold standard for the verbal market, silence, would obviously be real world, not only symbolic, action.

         Culture provides homo sapiens, poor in instincts, with a virtual reality map that serves as a guide to real reality.  Deep culture, the crude, unembroidered aspects embedded in individual or collective subconscious, serves to orient human beings - possibly toward the Greek ideals, the true, the good and the beautiful, like a (computer) program, a (genetic) code

         Peace is, of course, absence of violence of all kinds, direct (physical, and also verbal), structural, cultural; directed at the body, mind or spirit of some other Being, human or not.  A more pragmatic and dynamic conceptualization of peace would be: peace is the condition for conflicts to be transformed creatively and nonviolently.  The focus is then on conflict, rather than on peace. Peace is a context (inner and outer) for a constructive way of handling conflict, that human condition that may serve both as a Creator and as a Destroyer.

         Tell me how you behave in conflict and I'll tell you how much peace culture you have.  A culture of peace is not a set of peaceful, nonviolent representations of a reality. The test of the validity of a culture of peace lies in how it affects behavior in conflict.  The finance/real economy parallel is obvious: the test of money is not the quantity of money, stock and bonds, but how much real economy value they can be converted into.  And this is the beauty of a peace culture, any culture: it is translated, not converted into real world reality and hence not depleted. The danger is inflation, not depletion.  The cash flow may stop, not the flow of symbols.

         As mentioned, we are all surrounded by an unimaginable amount of culture.  There may be a culture of peace somewhere out there in the symbolic realm, even if only some, very few, nobody, living there has internalized that culture of peace to the point of being able to handle conflicts peacefully.  Thus, we may distinguish between a potential peace culture that has not entered and configured our minds and mind-sets,  and an actual/actuated peace culture that has been enacted.

         At this point educators become happy: who else is going to bridge that gap between those who have not (yet) been effectively programmed for peaceful behavior, and those who have?  Between the potential and the actual?  If we assume that a culture has to be received before it can be internalized, then a problem is whether that culture has been mediated - the mediator being the educator - or is "unmediated", meaning, simply, received directly.  Thus, I prefer absorbing a Bach cantata without anybody telling me what happens, and how I am supposed to receive. I want it to happen.  I happen. I = it, it is part of me and vice versa.

         The problem is, of course, that mediated culture differs from the unmediated version, having passed through the mediator. This is what makes schooling so problematic: literature "taught" at school differs from the unmediated opening up to a novel.  A direct reading of Gandhi (or Buddha, or the soft, gentle aspects of Jesus Christ) will always have an impact different from the countless mediated versions.

         Does that mean, educators, please stay away?  Stay at home, go back to wherever you came from, write texts, make speeches, stay among yourselves, and have a good time!

         No.  Educators may be useful if they have deeper readings of the texts[iv] they mediate than most others. But if educators only transmit culture, then education may itself contribute to "out of sync" detachment of representation from reality; like a moral rascal teaching ethics.  This is a heavy argument against peace education conveying peace culture without some practice, including peace action by the educator him/herself.


2.  Conflict Triangles, and Conflict Transformation Triangles

         Above "conflict" has been chosen to play an essential role in understanding peace in general, and a culture of peace in particular.  So, some words about "conflict" are needed.

         The discourse used here starts with a simple formula:


The (A,B,C)-triangle, in other words, with B at the top as the only observable part.  A and C have to be inferred, usually from violent inter-acts, physical and/or verbal. However, from those acts no automatic inference can be made about hatred, nor about any specific underlying contradiction among any number, n, of goals (be they values, or interests, or both) held by any number, m, of parties.  Negative attitudes, and contradictions are hypotheses to be tested in the praxis of conflict participation.  The general hypothesis would be that violent behavior is produced by unresolved contradictions and negative attitudes; the problem is which contradictions and which attitudes.  There may be many candidates to be tested.  But even reduced violence is no guarantee that the candidates have been found. There are many other possibilities: fatigue, a more important conflict has come up, etc., etc.

         According to this formula a conflict may start in any corner and spread to the other two. Conversely, it may also be transformed, even dis/re/solved from any corner - although the general advise would be to start in all three corners at the same time; dampening behavior, modifying attitudes, dissolving contradictions.  The question is how; and particularly under what conditions this can be done nonviolently and creatively.

         Here is a formula derived from the conflict formula:

Conflict transformation:  empathy + nonviolence + creativity;

for attitudes/assumptions, for behavior, for contradictions.

The formula would apply to any outside conflict/peace worker, and to any inside party wanting to transform the conflict.        First, empathy with all parties; not in the cheap sense of imaging "how would I experience being in their shoes" but in the sense of "how do they experience being in their shoes".     Second, the limitation to nonviolent action, among other reasons to break the "violence breeds violence" cycles.

         Third, creativity in order to transcend contradictions.

         The problem is, of course, where do these "commodities", as precious as scarce, come from?  Answer: from a culture of peace, as three key components of such a culture.

         Let us first defend this thesis negatively: what happens if the culture is not only poor in all three but even hostile?

         Clearly, without empathy there is no insight in A,B,C as experienced by the other parties (pluralis, the cultural idea of only two parties is already violent.)  Then Saddam Hussein becomes only an invader of Kuwait (he was, indeed), not the head of a people that has suffered deep traumata at the hands of the Occident (1258, 1916, 1917, 1922, 1961 to mention some).  His behavior becomes only violent, even malevolent, autistic, a manifestation of Evil.  And what he sees as the nature of the contradiction sounds like "propaganda".  The example is not chosen not out of sympathy for any particular person or people, but to show that countries with "free press" "rule of law" and democracy are also easy victims of shallow, misleading conflict understanding when empathy is absent.

         If nonviolence is not in the culture when appeals to reason and settlement of the conflict through direct dialogue, or normal mediation/arbitration/rule-of-law, even rule-of-man[v] have proved insufficient, then recourse to violence comes too easily, "to settle the matter once and for all".

         And in a culture that privileges mental inertia over creativity in reconciling incompatible goals violence also comes easily.  If the solution to the conflict were within mainstream thinking, then that solution would probably already have been found, and enacted.  When this is not the case a reasonable hypothesis would be that sufficient creativity is needed to transcend mainstream thinking.[vi]

         It is also easily seen that one or two of these precious "commodities" are insufficient.  Empathy is fine, but it has to be translated into action.  For a Gandhi to understand the British, including to respect them and to wish for them an even better future is beautiful; but hardly sufficient to liberate both India and England from the scourge of structural and cultural violence known as colonialism. An empathy with Saddam Hussein to the point of understanding that his major goals were not necessarily to keep Kuwait against a coalition headed by the USA, but to stand up against that coalition, in courage, thereby increasing his honor and dignity, makes us understand why both he and Bush declared themselves winners of that Gulf war.  But it does not mobilize forces against his crime, like a march of 100,000 unarmed civilians into Kuwait occupied by Iraq, making an occupation meaningless, and also impeding a war that has killed close to one million so far.[vii]

         Empathy and nonviolence together, even under a Gandhi's leadership, were insufficient to find a creative solution to the separatism of the Muslims (Pakistan).  History did not move forward.  The ability of Mother India to serve as a gracious host to an incredible variety of religions as long as they do not basically challenge the highly complex cultural nexus conventionally referred to as Hinduism was insufficient. Ecumenism broke down, European nation-stateism prevailed on one side as purity, pak, with ethnic cleansing on both sides.

         In short, these three cultural elements, internalized or not, constitute a holon, even with highly synergistic properties. Delete one, like nonviolence, and you end up with Sun Tzu, or the Israeli Defense Forces: insight in yourself and the enemy, brilliant, but violence nonetheless. Not peace.

         If empathy, nonviolence and creativity are internalized, then concrete procedures for what to do might look as follows:

[1] Establish a dialogue with at least one of the parties, but alone rather than with the others.  Try to understand what the basic goal is, underneath violent acts and rhetoric.

[2] Develop together a nonviolent process to reach that goal.

[3] When the basic goals of the parties are incompatible, the outside peace worker may insert into the dialogue levels of creativity unavailable to parties blinded by cultural violence in addition to the hatred produced by direct violence.

[4]  Only well prepared parties should meet "at the table".

[5]  Then, let 100, 1000 peace dialogues blossom lest the misunderstanding should prevail that peace = a document signed by the leaders.[viii]

3.  Beyond Empathy, Nonviolence and Creativity.

         Could empathy, nonviolence and creativity, as cultural elements, and internalized as personality traits, be part of something more comprehensive?  Is there a cultural genus behind each one of them?  One possible answer would be: yes, karma for empathy, reversibility for nonviolence, flexibility for creativity.  Let us explore them, starting with empathy.

         Empathy would have as one consequence a perception of the violent act, physical or verbal, the way the actor sees it: as the outcome of provocations pushing him beyond a threshold that may already be low, given factors in that persons's inner and outer context (a history of violence in the family, being raised in a violent culture, identifying with a nation that has suffered terrible traumas and relates the provoker to the source of the traumas). Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner.         No.  At some point there was a choice.  All the forces impinging on a person may combine to determine the outcome, except for one force: the capacity of the human spirit to rise above the other forces.  But the spirit also needs sustenance. The name of that sustenance is a peace culture.

         So let us turn empathy in another direction; not towards one or two Others, trying to understand the Other in Other, not only Self as Other. Let us turn empathy to human life in general, trying to fathom the networks, the couplings in time, forward, sideward, backward - the afterlife, the sidelife, the sidelife - as a totality.  I, mySelf, Other, only small grains in this endless flux of life, but endowed with the capacity to steer, to be in charge, to take on responsibility.

         "We are all one in Jesus Christ", Paul said.  Buddhists say: co-arising origination, meaning everything influences everything.  "We are all in the same boat" is not a bad expression for the same idea, adding that if the boat is leaky, even with holes in it, and the water is pouring in the basic problem is not who drilled those holes, but what to do.                                    Indeed, we may always identify some knots in this net of life, hang guilt certificates, even ropes around some necks, hanging those selected for guilt-attribution ("I hereby declare .. guilty of .. Date .. signed .. ).  As usual the basic message is not spoken: "I .. am not guilty."  Such certificates serve to glorify Self, not only to condemn Other.  They draw fine, mighty lines of ink, building walls of paper.

         One way of summarizing this particular syndrome would be as the "Dichotomy-Manicheism-Armageddon" (DMT) syndrome: there are sharp lines dividing human reality into two parts; one part, Other, is pure Evil and the other, Self is pure Good; a final, decisive battle is bound to come, better be prepared.           A syndrome like that can best be understood in terms of its negation.  There are lines but they are fuzzy and criss-crossing, defining more than two parties; no party is only evil or only good, they are all yin/yang; there is no final battle.  The first syndrome is a part of cultural violence, the second a part of cultural peace.  The first leads to clear fronts, polarization, mobilizing for a battle or a stalemate deterred by balance of power; the second to inner and outer dialogues inside Self and with Other over ways of improving the situation; or to inaction, immobilized by doubt.

         One way of summarizing the second syndrome has been done for thousands of years already in the concept of karma: a shared destiny which is not predetermined but can be improved at any time.  The approach is exactly through the inner dialogue which is then usually called meditation, and through the outer dialogue among all parties to the conflict, the "conflict formation". To search for an answer to the perennial question of the first syndrome, "who started", is meaningless since life is interactive, co-dependent origination anyhow.  Somebody may have fired the first shot, but then somebody else did something before that and so on backward and sideward, till times immemorial, and out in the remotest geographical and social periphery.  There is no denial of Evil, but denial of the possibility of locating it neatly at one space point, and of allocating the First Evil Act to one point in time.

         How, then, about forward in time?  If time is finite. then there is a final state, the state arrived at when time stops (or, more precisely, when change stops).  But if there is a final state, then obviously that state is irreversible, otherwise it would not have been final. If it is irreversible, then obviously it is engraved, mildly speaking, in stone, in steel.  Any move away from the final state, or efforts in that direction, would be like crimes against History, time, Nature.  The step from that idea to the use of violence to arrive at and uphold the final state, is short, and is a major part of the Orwellian idea of irreversible society, exemplified in this century in the violence of nazism (Tausendjähriges Reich), global communism and capitalism (End of History).

         Posited against this would be the idea of reversibility: do nothing that cannot be undone. If nothing is final nothing should be done as if it were.  This can be interpreted as leading to fatalism.  But a stronger interpretation would be: any state of affairs can be improved, hence do no make it irreversible.[ix] 

         There are some important implications that follow.

         One implication is nonviolence. Violence is so terribly irreversible. Only in Disney type cartoons do flattened, pierced beings, those crosses between humans and animals, rise from the dead, given new life by their creator as if the Bible is born again; in real, empirical life not.[x]

         This also applies, even if less so, to non-lethal violence because by definitions it leaves traumas behind.  The verbs used for violence, to harm, to hurt, already carry this connotation of wounds, somatic and/or mental; and any physician of the body and/or the soul knows that wounds are no easily localized (except superficially) but tend to spread all over; moreover, they are no easily erased.  Both body and mind have memory, maybe particularly so of trauma, even if a strong Self may rise to the occasion and process and erase, not only suppress, even heavy traumas.  The key probably lies in making them meaningful, learning from them, turning them into sources of enrichment (like in the perennial problem of theodisée).

         This also applies to traumas of the significant others of those directly hit and hurt: the bereaved, the friends and relatives of the wounded (crippled on body or mind): their grief may also carry elements of irreversibility.


         The second implication is ecological: do unto nature nothing irreversible like killing a species; only take from nature what nature can renew, making your take reversible. A simpler formulation would be: extend nonviolence as theory and practice to the non-human part of nature.

         It is worth noting that a philosophy of reversibility differs from Kant's philosophy of universalizability.[xi] Kant may be interpreted as saying that the principle underlying your action should be generalizable, even universalizable, to the whole world (potentially to the whole universe), meaning: do only that which others (all others) could also do.  If every family on earth cannot have a fridge without the ozone layer breaking don, then abstain from it yourself. If your spiritual development does not reduce the possibilities of a similar development for others, then no problem, do it.

         Obviously, Kant's dictum serves well to regulate behavior in a materially finite world, and steers activities towards that which is not or less limited: the non-material.  But does it rule out violence?  Or, is it more like "engage only in the (quality and quantity) of violence that you would be willing to permit universally"? Like "peace enforcement"[xii], defensive violence, violence according to Augustinian rules for Just War or Islamic Rules for Holy War (fourth stage of jihad)?  This is actually in one sense the world in which we live; war being legitimized through the idea that "I now go to war, but under the same or similar circumstances I would also have granted you the right to do so".  Obviously this does not rule out war, and universalization may even serve legitimization.

         Finally, the search for an overarching concept for creativity.  Above the word flexibility has ben given, as an indicator, a road-sign so to speak.  The idea is as follows.

         The action-space for a person P, in search of a way out of a conflict, for instance, in a point in space, S at a point in time, T, can generally be divided into three sub-space: the conventionally possible, the potentially possible, and the impossible - CP, PP, and IM for short.  P searches CP and finds nothing.  Creativity not being his strong side - among other reasons because he lives in a culture where the world is seen as inflexible, as governed by ironclad laws of nature and laws of society enforced by iron fists - he gives up, assuming PP to be empty and IM to start where CP ends.  It goes without saying that if violence is in CP - and it usually is, most peoples around the world have heard about it and learnt some by now however innocent they may have been at some point in time - if CP is very limited and PP non-existing then violence would come at an early stage.  Question: what is underlying these kinds of attitudes?

         One culturally embedded assumption has been indicated above: the faith in iron laws, not of nature and of society.  It is not by chance that we use the same word (law, Gesetz, lov, loi, legge, ley etc.) both for those of society and those of nature.  The origin for that sameness in the doubleness is easily seen: God prescribed not only laws for Man/Humans. but also for Nature; to study Nature, hence, was to study God. Today, after the Enlightenment, we see the former as given (by Law-givers) and the latter as found (by scientists).

         But the result is the same in all three cases, whether laws are given by God or the successors to the theologians, the jurists and the scientists: action-spaces are limited. There are constraints: laws of nature, laws of society.  If people believe these constraints to be inflexible, immutable (or irreversible, to refer to the preceding point), then so they are in their consequences (the Znaniecki-Thomas theorem).

         The negation of this would be a less God-given Nature with laws established once and for all, and less immutable social laws.  To start with the latter: an interesting characteristic of Anglo-Saxon common law, as opposed to Roman Law is that the laws are themselves on trial because they also serve predictive functions.  If people break them en masse, then in what sense are they still a law?  They are not a social science law in the sense that they can be used to predict normal, average behavior, nor are they social laws in the sense of something that is obeyed or at least not broken. What remains is an empty formulation, some kind of epitaph over a dead law.  A new law has to be born.

         Within a culture of that type civil disobedience makes sense.  Mass civil disobedience adds a moral dimension to the decline of predictability, indicative of what a new law might look like.  That this is politics is beyond doubt, there is nothing so political as a conflict, any conflict[xiii]; and few ideas so revolutionary as "peace".  Civil disobedience can also work with one person who says ich kann nicht anders[xiv], but that person should rather be strong in all possible ways. Gandhi combined Hindu ahimsa with Anglo-Saxon common law.

         But how about laws of nature, can they also be transcended?  A glance the history of natural sciences and their applications will immediately inform us that the answer is yes: we do all the time.  The typical approach is not to change the laws, but to introduce more variables so that what was (held to be) impossible suddenly becomes possible, meaning that it was all the time potentially possible.

         A good example is the invention of the airplane: the contra-argument was that it was impossible, otherwise it would already have been there; besides, why do we have the laws of gravity anyhow if not exactly to see to it that things that are heavy are down and things that are light are up. Airplanes are heavy; the conclusion is obvious.  Within that single law discourse yes, but when the buoyancy created by two wings, flat on the underside and curved on the upper side, dragged through the air by even a relatively weak engine is added to the force of gravity, then the thing takes off.

         How bout social science laws?  Of course, they are more rubber and iron laws, but  nevertheless, perhaps because people believe in them, something that may serve as a barrier between CP and PP, and make PP look like IM.  The approach is exactly the same: a third variable is introduced in a relation between two variables, showing that one cannot have industrial development without destruction of the extended family because the workers have to move the cities and cannot bring all 30 members of the extended family.  Solution: bring the industry to the villages, make parts, have a first rate transportation-communication system, like Japan and Switzerland.[xv]


4.  Where do we find karma, reversibility and flexibility?

Not much knowledge of culture and macro-culture (civilization) is needed to know that one obvious answer to this question is Buddhism.  The karma idea is central, not in the frequently misunderstood (in the West) sense of predetermination, but in the sense of "whatever you say, and whatever you do, sooner or later comes back to you".  You say/do something bad and your karma deteriorates; you say/do something good and your karma improves.  The concept is holistic, it takes anything you say and do (including the "subvocal speech", the cognitions-thoughts, and the "subcutanous" acts, the emotions-volitions).  Above all, there is a concept of individual karma but also of collective karma, you did wrong to me/I did wrong to you the more holistic, and more relational, we did wrong to us, meaning you and I share a bad karma.  What has to be changed is our relation and through that also you and me.  The term "guilt" locates what is wrong at one karma point, in one actor, instead of predicating it of the karma as a whole.[xvi] Therapy follows from what has been said: not by the guilty engaging in a confession-apology-penitence-catharsis sequence but through a process back and forth between inner and outer dialogue to find what went wrong and what can be done.

         But Oriental and Occidental approaches can and should be combined.  The point can be made that if the guilty/non-guilty approach is too black-white, then the karma approach is too 50/50.  There are circumstances, even if the causal nexus is extremely complex and cyclical rather than linear where some are more responsible (better than guilty) than others.

         Interestingly, Buddhism also carries in its epistemology the two pillars of reversibility and flexibility here seen as essential.[xvii]  In Buddhist thinking time, being unlimited, has no end, nor any beginning, meaning that there is little or no room for speculation about the state of origin and the final state.  From that, however, reversibility does not follow: there could be room for infinite progress or infinite regress, for instance.  And there are elements of this in Buddhism as nirvana is irreversible.  On the other hand, for all of humanity we would be operating with time perspectives of such a duration that "for all practical purposes" such final states carry few shadows into the present.  The quality of the many karmas oscillates even if there is a happy ending in the very long run.  There are moral precepts, like the Noble Eight Fold Path, the Panch Shila and the Panch Dharma, but the epistemology opens for a never-ending creation process with one possible interpretation being that the task is to identify those external circumstances that favor inner growth.

         This opens the cone of possible futures for any P in S,T. No god (or successor) can prescribe forever what the laws of nature and society would be; one reason being there is no god.  However, Buddhists have in practice been more interested in the laws of the inner human being than in social and natural laws; Hindus and Chinese getting more into the social realm, and the West focusing more on outer nature. Thus, Buddhists and Hindus have been bending the mind like the West has been bending nature.  And peace, they say, is located in the minds of men; so reversibility and flexibility of mind matter.

         UNESCO has been castigated often for "the minds of men",

and that can serve here as a link to the next point.  From the point of view of les sciences de l'homme it would be naive to limit the search for cultural paxogenes to the religions alone.  Of course paxogenes, peace culture elements, can be found in all religions, in their softer rather than their harder articulations.  But culture should not be confused with the cultural products/objects (among them religious texts and symbols) but should rather be seen as the (symbolic) standards generating these products, such as the standards for the true, the good, the right, the beautiful, the sacred. Any human group develops such standards, perhaps not all five types but at least the first three.  So does any human category, defined by the lines classifying us humans, sometimes also dividing us to the point that we can talk about fault-lines. A short list:

gender, generation, race, class, nation, territory (country)

         My own experience from soon fifty years as peace activist would be that the carriers of peace are found among women more than among men; among women of all ages, among men more among the young and the old (the middle-aged being more dubious); race as such does not matter; among the middle class more than in the upper and lower classes; certainly not among nations ridden by chosenness-myths-trauma (CMT) complexes, or among those believing they have found the only valid truth for the whole world; and where territory is concerned among the smaller countries rather than the larger, down to the small and underutilized territorial units known as municipalities.  And, among non-territorial units, meaning NGOs, civil society.

         Let us regard these as hypotheses and try to identify underlying peace cultures that may explain such findings, even if it has to be done negatively in the sense of postulating the absence of bellogenes rather than the presence of paxogenes in category deep culture.

         Gender.  In patriarchies males competing for positions might develop zero-sum views of conflicts more than women in an incessant search for ways of harmonizing the goals of family members.  It becomes "me or you", not "us".  In that struggle there is little or no room for admitting weakness, even to oneself.  If there is imperfection around the tendency will be to project it on the other and attribute guilt rather than to assume shared responsibility.  Reversibility of any decision is tantamount to the admission that the decision may have been wrong, a difficult position to assume for the gender closer to the Omniscient/Omnipotent.  Knowing their own latent aggressiveness, men may more than women construct and embed themselves in rigid hierarchies of ideas/theses (cultural violence, such as deductive law) and of positions (structural violence, such as found in military-bureaucratic hierarchies). Conclusion: no guarantee that women are carriers of peace cultures, but the hypothesis that men in patriarchies are not.

         Generation.  Since much of what has been said about males above derives from positions in society outside the family and as pater familias it should apply less to the young male on the way up, but still a subordinate family member and the old male on the way down, in society and family. Example: peace messages from retired senior officers or defense ministers.

         Race.  No reason to assume any difference in the distribution of paxogenes and bellogenes as long as gender, generation,class and nation are kept constant.

         Class.  The basic point to be made here is that class as we know it is basically defined within a "society" which up till now in practice means some combination of nation and country. A person derives elite status from nation/country, for instance through birth or education, and it is not automatically transmitted around the world (not even for royalty).  High at home, a nobody broad; the opposite applies more to the individual than to the socially construed person ("nobody is a prophet in his own country").  As a consequence, elites would be particularly inclined to play leading roles in inter-state and inter-nation conflict for mutual enhancement.  And they will most easily be able to command the allegiance of the segments of society most vulnerable to the lures of the carrot (for instance because they may be starving, or at least unemployed) and the threats of the stick (having little power)

The result is an elite-working class national alliance, and an inter-elite tacit alliance in sacrificing workers.[xviii]

         Not so, or less so, for the middle class.  As opposed to the other two they, the bourgeoisie, have a very similar life style around the world: four members in the family, four room apartment, four wheel on the car (the 4-4-4 syndrome).  They are the mass members of the people's organizations, and at least potentially cosmopolitan rather than nationalist[xix].  They can still be mobilized for war, but they will try to avoid conscription, and seek peace-building roles instead.

         Nation.  By definition nations are carriers of cultures since that is how nations are defined.  However, I would prefer to build the definition of a nation and its culture around something more primordial than language and religion, viz. space and time, and more particularly around the kairos points where glory and trauma, secular and/or sacred, are defined.  To protect the points in space contiguous territory around looks like the rational approach, and to protect the recurring points in time, the memory, continuity of that territory in time. In short, the country, with an organization of the state in its midst, even as a nation-state.  At the micro level the family farm/estate/castle play the same role.

         Territory.  The essence has already been said: territory as the abode of the nation.  A basic problem, then, is whether territories and nations exclude each other.  Drawing borders, using rulers to rule, certainly makes territories look mutually exclusive, although condominium where management is concerned and double citizenship would still be possible.  And the same would apply to nation: people are known to speak more languages than one, some even to hold more religions than one, and in multi-national societies (like Hawai'i) people can develop polynational styles (like polyglot people), being conversant with more nations than one, distributing their joy and grief more equally among the kairos points.  One condition for this, it might seem, that there is no single nation dominating, statistically or otherwise, the territory.

         And here we choose to end.  The theme is endless.  So is the search to enhance the paxogenes and pacify the bellogenes.


*.  Of course, another title would have used the commonly found expression: "A Culture of Peace".  But "cultural peace" is the homologue of "cultural violence" (see Johan Galtung, "Cultural Violence", Journal of Peace Research, Vol.  no., 1990, pp.

The problem to be explored is what cultural peace might look like, in order to recognize one if it should appear.  The hunch is that there is less cultural peace around than structural peace, and less structural peace than direct peace; in other words that human beings behave remarkable peacefully in spite of negative structural and cultural contexts.  For an exploration of these concepts, see Johan Galtung,  Peace By Peaceful Means, London/New York, SAGE, 1995,Part I, Ch. 2.3.  In the following the book will be referred to as  PBPM.

[ii].  Thus, a text is visual and diachronic; speech is acoustic and diachronic, like music; a painting is visual and synchronic, like photo; a harmony is acoustic and synchronic.  Opera: all of the above.  Dark silence: none of the above.  The tactile, tasting and olfactory senses seem to be underutilized as carriers of culture, possibly because our discriminatory ability is less than for the visual and auditive senses. 

[iii].  Thus, in the 1950-60s the word "peace" was underused in the West partly because it was overused in the East, and even if the socialist countries were serious about international peace (both Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968 would be counter-indicative), the political repression inside the countries would be good examples of the lack of real world counter-value.  However, in the 1970-80s the word "peace" was used with increasing frequency in the West, for instance by the German social democrats, by the non-communist peace movement and increasingly by the governments, probably because of a feeling that the word had retained its value in the population at large in spite of the socialist bloc misuse (which the population recognized as such); and the non-use rather than misuse by the West might backfire because it might also be interpreted as lack of real world counter-value, in other words that the West basically did not want peace. Eventually Reagan had to give in and adapt to Gorbachev's peace/disarmament rhetoric, possibly because people around the world were enthusiastic and believed it reflected some Soviet reality.  Morale: be careful with the big words, define them; but be lavish when there is real world counter-value.

         Peace research emerged in this period, and at the end of the 1950s.  The term was problematic as a Norwegian cabinet minister said to this author as peace research in Oslo was about to be institutionalized: What a terrible word! The solution was to soften the "terrible" word with the word "conflict", which was not terrible but even scientific, and a "Section for conflict and peace research was born", a name later on imitated many places.  As the dynamic definition of "peace" indicates that term can also be defended logically , not only tactically.

[iv].  "Text" here taken in a broad sense, including, for instance, music.

[v].  PBPM, Part II, Ch. 4.

[vi].  One classical, pedagogical, example runs as follows.  You are at the South Pole, ordered to move on, but not permitted to move North.  Mainstream thinking, knowing that any step is northward, would lead to a stand-still.  Creative, non-paradigmatic, countertrend thinking might make you jump.

[vii].  Including deaths due to the economic sanctions.

[viii].  For personal experiences with this kind of approach, see Johan Galtung, "On the Politics of Peace Action: Nonviolence and Creativity", in Judith McKibben, ed., Hawaiian Journeys in Nonviolence, Honolulu, Spark M Matsunaga Institute for Peace, 1995.

[ix].  Not, incidentally, to be confused with a Pareto optimum from which any move makes nobody worse off.  A Pareto optimum is, obviously, compatible with changes so that some stand still and some move ahead, increasing the distance, which very often means increasing the conflict potential. Thus, a Pareto optimum does not serve as an example of something that should be made irreversible.

[x].  It is hardly too far-fetched to suggest that this is one of the many reasons behind the enormity of US violence: people may simply believe that life is reversible if cartoon virtual reality stands out as more real than empirical reality.

[xi].  In Zum ewigen Frieden, first published two centuries ago, in 1795.

[xii].  According to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the expression being a good example of a contradictio in adjecto.

[xiii].  For that reason slogan like "the politics of everyday life" and "the politics of inner life" make complete sense an should not be regarded as reductionism.  And peace culture is as relevant there as anywhere a conflict can be identified.

[xiv].  Luther.  He somehow managed in spite of working inside a Roman rather than an Anglo-Saxon tradition.

[xv].  For much more about this, see Johan Galtung, "Science as Invariance-finding and Invariance-breaking", Methodology and Ideology, Copenhagen, Ejlers, 1977, Ch. 3.

[xvi].  Johan Galtung, Peace By Peaceful Means, London, Sage, 1995, Part II, Conflict Theory, Ch. 2.

[xvii].  For an exploration of Buddhist versus Christian epistemology, see Johan Galtung, Methodology nd Development, Copenhagen, Ejlers, 1988, Ch. 1.1, or Buddhism: A Quest for Unity and Peace, Colombo, Sarvodaya International, 1993, Ch. 5.


[xviii].  A point often made about the First World War: the generals who sent the working class across the trenches of to kill each other were operating across considerable class divides.  In the end (1918) the soldiers revolted; on France that revolt was crushed by Maréchal Pétain.

[xix].  One reason why so much scorn was heaped upon them until the 1970s when the potential usefulness for peace of these people's organizations was discovered in the Soviet Union.