Norway 7/22 – And What Now?

EDITORIAL, 8 Aug 2011

#176 | Johan Galtung - TRANSCEND Media Service

After more than 50 interviews on the 7/22 events in Norway, here is one as editorial-with Swedish free lance journalist Ditte Lundberg.

1. Why do you think we are seeing increased support for right‑wing parties and populism in Europe?

Because of the relative decline of the West (USA+EU) in the world, and because of the underdevelopment in a West losing much of what they had achieved economically and socially: the USA-UK-Ireland of course, and the Mediterranean countries, except non-EU Turkey.  The West is not used to its empires crumbling, colonialism gone. Up comes nostalgia for the “good old days” with Europe in command and white christian males in command of Europe, a cult of nations and the local, Heimat, traditions.  The blame is on modernists and their enlightenment, on socialists, feminists and pacifists–and foreigners.  Like Breivik they forget that life at the bottom, and for women, was untold suffering, that the nations they praise were at countless wars with each other, that the wealth was based on exploitation.  Their time machine produces an idealized bubble. Add on top of that the easy use of violence to command respect from whatever Other they meet.  This trend will continue, very advanced in the USA.  We are probably close to a right wing take-over, abolishing secular democracy.  And it may make USA-Europe a relic before 2030, with Europe sharing only 9 percent of the world population.

2. Do you think the rhetoric and practice of the “war on terror” has had an impact?

An enormous impact.  Like war, guerrilla, and state terrorism, terrorism uses violence for political goals, and fails because people rally against the terrorist–like Germans against RAF-allied bombing, and against Baader-Meinhof RAF.  But the Western propaganda machine has subsumed anything anti-West, anti-USA under that heading as something springing out of evil; totally irrational.

3. Has it created a fear of muslims, a feeling of us against them, that nourishes xenophobia?

Indeed.  And absolutely no reflection that christians invaded muslim countries from the Crusades 1095-1291 and launched 26 major attacks from 1830 alone, with millions killed and exploited, and large territories colonized.  Christianity moved West and South and East; North was theirs.  But there is also little reflection in islam on how it moved East, South and West (Omayyads), into Europe, till it was stopped at Tours-Poitiers in 732, Lepanto 1571 and at the gates of Vienna in 1683.  They are not that different, but the christian expansion came later, as did the present muslim calls for respect.  It is high time for both to come to better grips with history.  Right now they see themselves in the best possible light and the other in the worst: the West talks about the state of law, human rights including the right to say anything about islam, and democracy as opposed to theocracy; islam talks about togetherness and sharing and a monotheism unimpeded by human and fallible agency.  They both talk about each other’s atrocious acts of violence.  I think they should talk much more about what they find positive in the other, and how they could cooperate.

4. Norway is a NATO member and has troops in both Libya and Afghanistan. In the policy of NATO operations bombs have become a condition for establishing democracy and freedom. What happens with our worldview and the legitimacy for peaceful methods and organizations when violence of democratic countries becomes a solution for world peace?

Of course it will not work.  Democracy must come from below, not be imposed; the same with freedom.  Look at Gandhi: you enact in conflict the future you want to see: using facts, arguments, dialogue and transparency; behaving like a free person.

5. Do you think the terrorist attack in Norway may complicate and challenge the “war on terror” and in the long run the image of the West as the ‘good guys’?

Nowadays I find the West = Good image only in the West itself.  Much of the magic is gone; not to be confused with the fact that many try to make it to the West for their own personal benefit.  Any argument for a war on terrorism will meet a “watch yourself”.

6. Finally, you predicted the fall of the Soviet Empire and believe that U.S. will have the same fate in 2020. At this moment it seems not far away. What are your reflections about America’s future in these times?

Yes, I felt in 1980 that the Soviet Empire, given its massive contradictions could not survive 1990 but would break at its weakest point, the Berlin Wall, within ten years.  It did.  For the US Empire I saw in 2000 the weakest points as the contradictions between US state terrorism and the terrorism it would engender; between a galloping finance economy and a stagnant real economy; between taking obedience for granted and seeing USA as basically irrelevant; and between a stagnant judeo-christianity and evolving islam.  It could not possibly survive 2020.  The process is quick; I think the US Empire is by now already de facto dead.  But I fear an aftermath of US fascism, evangelical, nuclear, with a working class turning Tea Party rather than renewing the USA.

7. How will the conflict in the Middle East and the peace in the rest of the world be affected if the U.S. loses its power and influence in world politics?

A key obstacle removed.  Israel cannot nurse autocratic-corrupt elites alone.  I hope Israel and neighboring states will create a Middle East Community similar to the 1958 European Community: six countries, open borders, consensus decisions.  Let’s work for that.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 Aug 2011.

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2 Responses to “Norway 7/22 – And What Now?”

  1. I agree with Mr. galtung.

  2. satoshi says:

    Very wise comments and deep insights!

    Regardless of the current grave (not just serious) situations in the world, Prof. Galtung’s attitude is very positive. At the end of the interview referring to the Middle East affairs, he says, “Let’s work for that.” His words as such are positively symbolic, meaningful and significant. Why is his positive attitude so important now? Let me explain it this way: At the end of his life, Goethe said, “More light. Give me more light.” In the early part of this century, we, peoples of the world, say, “More hope. Give us more hope.”