Macro-History from Norway

EDITORIAL, 24 Jul 2017

#491 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Why should anybody be interested in Norway that little, stretched-out country, that way to the North, to the North Pole?

Because just like we can learn about the geology of the earth by drilling deep down at any point through many layers, we can learn about the history of the earth by drilling deep down, at any point, through layers of time, about millennia, centuries, decades, years. The “point” does not have to be a country, or any geo-political unit. Could be family, genealogy. For instance your own. There are data.

So, how has Norway evolved? Where is it now?  Where may it be?

Frede Castberg, constitutional lawyer, advisor to Norway’s foreign office, rector at Oslo University, wrote a guide book: The Norwegian Way of Life (London: Heineman, 1954).  As a starter.

Norway may originally have been inhabited by dark-haired, short skull people; later dominated by fair, long skull, taller, people. They made coastal and inland, Eastern, Norway different. Geography  favored fishing and small, separate, self-sufficient farms; few villages, towns. Fifty small kingdoms were united in 872, they say. During the Viking Era 800-1050.  During the continental Middle Ages.

The Viking Era was not continental Middle Ages, inward-looking, static, however. Rather continental Antiquity, many centuries later. Antiquity was about ships, conquest, killing, robbery, slaves-women, also for sale. So were the Nordic Vikings, with smarter ships, no keel, beaching quickly; broad, for much robbed cargo, live or not.

Their domain ranged from North America via Greenland-Iceland-Faroe, deep into France (Seine) and Russia (Volga), Galicia and the Iberian coast, Mediterranean, Constantinople, the Black Sea-Caspian, Baghdad. Ruling with statecraft; creating great literature, the sagas.

Their dark pessimistic sagas proved self-fulfilling. Old Nordic Gods yielded to Christianity, to Satan and God. Meaning hope.

Then Norway caught up with the Middle Ages: a century of devastating civil war 1130-1240 (Birkebeinere/Baglere) and apocalyptic Black Death in Europe 1346-48+, killing half of Norway’s population, low and high. After a brief period under Sweden, the 1397 Sweden-Denmark-Norway union, Sweden left in 1536, then Denmark-Norway as exploiter-exploited, fighting Copenhagen’s wars against Sweden and, with Napoleon, against England and Russia. Denmark and Norway lost vast lands to Sweden; and by the Treaty of Kiel January 1814 Denmark lost Norway to Sweden.

Then four amazing months, producing the May 17 1814 Constitution based on people’s sovereignty–“people” meaning farmers to start with, “sovereignty” meaning from Denmark-Sweden. But the Swedish army came in July 1814, claiming their booty, Norway.  The Treaty of Moss.

Then under Sweden, in a union with Swedish King and Swedish foreign policy till Norway broke out in a very tricky way in 1905.

Then under England with enough anglophilia to deny Gandhi the Nobel Peace Prize, German invasion-occupation 1940-45 after England broke Norway’s neutrality, four years under nobody 1945-1949, membership in NATO, then under USA. And americanization unlimited.(*)

So far for 68 years; after 5 years under Germany, 90 years under Sweden, 400 years under Denmark; 500 years Evangelical Protestantism.

A dominated, underdog country after the Viking era +.

And a devastated country, by the civil war and the Black Death.

However, who dominates matters. Sweden-Denmark were similar enough for mutuality, and small enough to be opposed successfully.

England, once conquered by Vikings, has conquered Norway at least linguistically: Ibsen is today studied at Oslo University in English translation. More and more public meetings are conducted in English.

Norway in Denmark-Norway fought Danish wars against Sweden, with Napoleon against England-Russia, and lost. As Sweden-Norway, neutral. As USA/NATO+-Norway it fought US wars in Afghanistan-Serbia-Libya. That brings us to today and beyond. Exactly “where are we”?

A belligerent Norway, threatening Russia with offensive weapons; and 248 domestic militia districts of 249 unable to defend themselves.     “Farewell to the ‘peace nation'” writes Ramla Alnahi who came to Norway from the Middle East mid-1990s (Klassekampen 9 Jun2017) and does not believe the government controls Norway’s military in Syria.

An inegalitarian Norway, where the investment moved from the real production economy to the finance speculation economy (Klassekampen 3 Jan 2017, 25 Feb 2017). The old story: galloping housing prices, credits to builders and buyers, rotten loans–and the bubble bursts. Norway is rich, will salvage the banks till next time; for how long?

May be even more troubling is “who are we?” Americanization has given Norway belligerence and inequality that most Norwegians accept because they accept USA. A new “we”?  Is there an old Norwegian “we”?

There is a way of knowing.  What is Christianity? Identify key quotes from the Scriptures, starting with John 3:16. What was Rome? Identify key words from daily life, like “usus tyrannus est“, habit is tyranny.  What is Norway? Identify key words from daily life, like “it tends to turn out well”. No big authors, from people, from centuries.

Add Norway’s experience breaking unions: leaving a sinking Danish ship not serving its interests to build a new ship in 1814; leaving a not sinking Swedish ship not serving Norway’s interests in 1905.  The US Trump ship is sinking and does not serve Norway’s interests.  Time for the Norwegian rat to jump ship, boarding increasingly accepted EU. Unless USA throws Trump–working on his 2020 re-election–overboard.

A likely scenario, given the last six centuries. An alternative?

A self-confident Norwegian rat jumping ship to build its own: defensive defense, neutral between West and Rest; with positions, not only jobs for less inequality; seeing the good in all, for projects linking good with good. Switzerland, also focused on positive peace.


(*) A personal note. Norsk Rikskringkasting, Norway’s BBC, has the Ole Torp interview program; I believed it would be about 60 years work for peace and the track record; criticizing US belligerence, predicting decline and fall of it empire, warning against US “security”. No word about peace, no discussion of US-Norwegian policy: harassment with unsubstantiated nonsense, causing a storm of protests from viewers.

Evidently his task was to protect the alliance. In the end he even cut what I had said about the Nobel peace prize to Liu Xiaobo–a provocation, could have been given to the Charter–and about the 20 million killed by USA in 37 countries after 1945, solidly documented.  Ole Torp is incompatible with democracy, and should be pre-pensioned.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 470 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 24 Jul 2017.

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15 Responses to “Macro-History from Norway”

  1. Thomas says:

    Lol. As always, Antonio is quick to apply censorship when Galtung’s lies are exposed. :-D

  2. Thomas says:

    BTW – I should thank Galtung for highlighting Ole Torp’s programme. Highly recommended for anybody that understands Norwegian. Torp is balanced, nuanced, tolerant of other opinions than his own and – most of all – tries to listen and understand the other side of the coin. The exact opposite of the “un democratic” Galtung.

  3. Thomas says:

    What do I really know about Galtung?

    Galtung’s father was in a concentration camp during World War II because he resisted the Nazi invasion by supporting the resistance. When this came to be known, he was stuck into a concentration camp called Grini.

    Galtung was 13 at the time and traumatized by this, decided then and there to never again allow violence of this nature to happen. anywhere, to anyone, ever again. Childish and naive perhaps but definitely a strong stance. Who knew he would keep that stance for over 73 years?

    Seeing that he was powerless as a single individual, he went on to acquire two doctoral degrees in both the social and the natural sciences sociology and mathematics in order to become influential and have a say.

    After achieving this double status through hard work, he founded the academic discipline of peace studies in 1959. Aged only 29.

    Most importantly, Galtung realized as a 13 year old boy, that the very Brits that his fellow Norwegians were hoping for to come and kick Nazi scum out of the country were doing Nazi-like oppression to the population of India – this he heard from the man Gandhi himself, who was resisting the british empire by fasting and calling the indian population to civil disobedience. An attentive child, Galtung drew a lesson, which most Norwegian to this day simply can’t wrap their heads around:

    The cognitive disonnance caused by hoping to be saved by Britain whilst being in the know of Britain’s vicious oppression of black and brown people all over the world could only be transcended by opting for a third path, namely the path of fuck this bullshit right there, this is NOT the world I want to live in and these are NOT the liberators I want to side with.Not now, not ever. Hence much of Norway’s establishment’s anger at Galtung to this day. They did not get this little but rather important point that Galtung got at the age of 13.

    Galtung calls these kinds of cognitive disonnance inducing political problems antinomies – for him the choice is clear. Go for nonviolence in ALL cases.

    Ole Torp, a journalist of some merit, simply never understood this very basic point. To be for nonviolence is to be for nonviolence by ALL including pointing out the very real high carbon footprint violence Norway’s oh so ecological society is imposing on the ecosystem.


    • Thomas Krogh says:

      Fascinating – and is this in any way an excuse for Galtung’s lies, his tacit support of the fascist Russian takeover of Crimea, his blind eue when it comes to Chinese totalitarianism and his inability to accept other views than his own?

    • Steve says:


      Gandhi’s methods worked because the British weren’t nazis. Same method against Hitler, and Gandhi would have been slowly tortured to death in a noiseless cellar and nobody would ever had learned about him.

      • Thomas says:

        Are you an apologist of british colonialism in india now, or what is your point here? Are you saying the Nazis were so incredibly horrible that bitish imperialism pales in comparison? You are setting the moral standard VERY low my brother. You must not know life under foreign occupation and alienation or what it feels like to experience famine as a means of governance. Don’t even get me started here. Ok so the Nazis were the climax of abuse, but you do know the threshold of the acceptable had been crossed LONG ago by the british do you not?

  4. Steve says:


    You miss my point. I’m not an apologist. But I would expect you to know what happend to the non-violent dissenters in Nazi Germany, compared to the treatment the British gave Gandhi? Are you blind?

    • thomas says:

      My eye sight is 2020! Thank you for asking. With that out of the way, please do school me, I’m serious. I would like to know what you are referring to exactly.

      And then I would also like to know: why limit it to Germany? What happened to the nonviolent dissenters in Nazi Europe is the right question I believe! And also: What were the nonviolent techniques used by these nonviolent dissenters you mention? Because nonviolence is not merely a mental stance. A prefered position or worldview.

      Nonviolence is a set of tactical strategic skills and logisitical operations. If you are talking about any other kind of nonviolence, then we may not be talking about the same nonviolence.

      • Steve says:


        Bonhoeffer and ever single other profiled non-violent opponent of the Nazi regime were killed or thrown into KZ camps. Name one – just one – of the anti-Nazi activists that got the same opportunity to work, talk and teach under Nazism, that Gandhi did under the Raj. Just one.

        Do you really fail to see and understand the difference in the regimes?

        In other situations and example: How did the non-violent religious opponents of Mao fare under The Cultural Revolution? How did the Tibetans fare as they – probably more than any people en bloc – opposed the Chinese invasion with non-violent methods? Are the Tibetans close to independence now?

      • thomas says:

        So the conversation now is about whether or not nonviolence works. Well again, what kind of nonviolence are we talking about. Just because you mobilize discontent and manifest opposition to injustice without arms doesn’t make this nonviolent protest effective.

        What you want to look at is the varying degrees of sophistication of nonviolent strategizing. Look up Gene Sharp for HOW TO DO NEGATIVE NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE RIGHT. Look into johan Galtung’s rather detailed work on HOW TO DO POSITIVE NONVIOLENCE RIGHT. Look into Jorgen Johansen’s immense work on HOW TO PLAN, STRATEGIZE, COORDINATE, EXECUTE nonviolence in sophisticated complex ways in complex theatres of operation.

        How shall I say… just because you are driving a car doesn’t mean you’re Michael Schumacher. Surely you get this point. It takes some insight into the field and much training before you successfully carry out anonviolent protest. Also, the field has evolved and the information about how to do it right is only gradually spreading. Surely you comprehend that it took a couple of decades before John Locke’s division of power proposition became state of the art design for western governance. It takes time for certain practices to become understood and applied properly. I argue that nonviolent political practice is only becoming widely understood now. And that is being optimistic. So the techniques for assuring success may not have been known deeply by the actors you refer to.

        That said, I am in no way saying it ALWAYS works and that one always survives… but if you knew anything about nonviolent practice at the political level, you would know that the murder of a participant of a professionally executed nonviolent action, would come to bite the murderer in the court of public opinion. If well executed, the negative feedback occurs then and there. Even if the nonviolent protest is poorly executed or executed as a spontaneous act of dedication, the act of killing will come to bite the murderer in the butt even if 50 years later. The fact that you know their names is exactly my point.

        With that said, pay attention to this: – so yes, depending on certain variables, nonviolent protests work. In Berlin! In 1943! Historical record: We know it worked! The question is do you know WHY it worked? What were the strategic reasons why it worked? This! is the lesson history taught us there. You may chose to ignore this anomaly all you want but scholars and practitioners of nonviolence did not overlook that lesson. The question is: Do YOU know what made the Rosenstrasse protest work? And if so, do you know how to reproduce those factors.

        In closing: your omission of the stupefying successes of nonviolent resistance against the Nazis in Denmark is rather telling, as you seem to know that epoch of human history in some detail.

  5. thomas says:

    Also no, I do not fail to see the difference between Nazism and British Imperialism.

    But contrary to you,

    I am more interested in what these horrible historical acts of brutality have in common than in what makes them different.

    I acknowledge that both are typical manifestations of that song of western supremacy & exceptionalism which so many peoples have had to suffer under on this planet. Both the British Empire & Nazism are despicable feats of human viciousness!

    And in this I agree entirely with Johan Galtung.

    The logic of Galtung’s peace research does not engage in this strange preferentialism of the lesser evil you are tacitly advocating here. Coherence of thought requires the categorical refusal of both.

    Think about that.

    • Steve says:


      You are missing both what I say, and large tracts of human history. Non-violence ONLY works when the targeted government (or power) can be swayed by this. Either generally or in a specific context. The Danish method ONLY worked because the Nazis wanted to keep Denmark as the model protectorate and to keep the Danes as collaborators (which they to a large extend were like it or not). They had no such considerations towards the Poles and other undesirables in the East and witness what happened there. Every vigil, every silent protest etc ended one way in the East. Crushed by the SS Dirlewangler types, or in the camps.

      Which brings me back to square one. Gandhi’s methods worked against the British because they (had to) accept his conditions and let him talk and write. Hitler would have sent Gandhi to the hour-long slow piano wire atrangulation. And then?

      • thomas says:

        “Hitler would have done this and hitler would have done that”

        Well he did not.

        The point is Rosenstrasse worked.

        The point is nonviolence can sway EVERY type of oppression. When and how and at what costs is the question. Not whether or not it will work.

        The point is Erica Chenowyth’s data will set you free – if you let her in.

        The point is the Brits have been global brutes.

        The point is just because it says nonviolence on the package does not mean it contains nonviolence. There are levels of sophistication in nonviolent methods. Recognize and trigger them.

        The point is Churchill was a mass murderer and a racist. And so was Hitler. Both were pseudo-zoologists of the homo sapiens. The major difference being Hitler was not just racist against other looking humans but also a domestic and a “white on white” racist.

        The point is that Norway will do just fine whether with or without the USA as a senior partner.

  6. Steve says:


    ok, you are down to throwing out un-reflecting repetitions with no arguments and not even trying to understand other points than your own. Quite “Galtungesque”. Stay in your echo chamber.

  7. Per-Stian says:

    On the “personal note” Galtung mentions above in asterisk: I saw that “interview” and it was truly despicable. The one and only purpose NRK and Torp had was to attack Galtung with one senseless accusation after the other, from the darkest corners of the internet.

    It’s easy to see the bias in their reporting, the words chosen, stories selected, stories not selected — at least if one has a reasonably developed analytical mind, with knowledge from other sources. Sometimes, however, there are examples that lays out the agenda very clearly, and this was a prime example.

    It also explained why they put Galtung on the ‘air’ at all, as the blackout is usually 100%.