Meanwhile, Around the World

EDITORIAL, 27 Nov 2017

#509 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Trump is trumping himself by making America Last, not in the sense of long-lasting, but in the sense of going down. There is something to learn for those receptive to learning, and Islam puts it forcefully: togetherness, and sharing. We would add: as equally as possible. But Trump politics is the opposite of that, and the price is increasing. And so is today also much of Muslim politics, to their detriment.

Basic question: What does it say about USA that they elected him?

But look at the fate of empires. With today’s accelerating history their lease on time will shorten dramatically. In the Trump-USA case the nuclear button looms large when everything else becomes small, shortening for all of us. But his finger is not the only one.

To the prediction, long time ago, of the decline and fall of the US empire (system of client states), we now have to add the decline and fall of the US Republic itself. One aspect is its inability to face the situation seriously, demanding of everybody the best of their thought, speech and action. One would expect in major bookstores like Barnes & Noble an array of books dedicated to that. Not at all. Or in the print, listen and viewing media. Very little, if at all.

Another aspect is what we find: sports, arts, sex, Christianity. Worthy topics, but given the context they look like escape mechanisms, like ways of not having to face reality. And there is very much of them, the media are filled to the brim. Much of the sports and arts produced presently is superb, enriching producers, distributors and consumers alike, softening life in crises. But not solving them.

However, many well educated young people leave desk and counter jobs in favor of field jobs in the enormous, rich, US countryside, in agriculture. Americans are innovative; hopefully they will go for cooperatives with sales points and culture in small communities, enriching rural USA while ensuring for themselves the basics for life.

Wake up USA, face reality lest reality will crush and crash you.

Las Vegas was the 273rd mass shooting in 2017. But Americans are not likely to give up their guns as Gary Younge argues (The Guardian, 10 October 2017); the National Rifle Association uses increasing US violence as argument for their own against “terrorists, home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers”.

The Global Terrorism Index 2017 shows a decline in 2017, 22% fewer deaths — 77 countries — than in the peak year 2014. But state terrorism, from the air or by sharp shooters, is not reported in this one-sided study, and they cause each other. Wake up, do a better job.

The most populous USA, China, India, Indonesia retain death penalty against Article 3 of the Human Rights Declaration, says Federico Mayor Zaragoza [http://www.other-news.Info/2017/10/death penalty-a-fatal-inhuman-practice-without-any-deterrence effect]. Big states lead to big power; make them smaller, respecting human rights.

Europe. Some Catalans demand independence; but more autonomy in financial matters helped in Germany (Bavaria), UK (Scotland), Belgium (the Flemish, the Walloons), Denmark (Faroe), Italy (South Tyrol, Lombardia-Veneto)–Rick Noack, The Washington Post 10-10-2017.

China. An effort to summarize recent trends, based on “In China, A New Political Era Begins”, Matthew Massee, Daily Digests 20-10-2017.

  • Xi Jinping is established as CPC dictator with no succession policy;
  • His era is seen as No. Three, after Mao Zedong ended feudalism in 1949 and Deng Xiaoping liberalized the economy in 1978, 40 years ago;
  • Xi uses anti-corruption as tool, pretext to purge his enemies;
  • Key problems: uncontrolled maritime territory-unbalanced economy;
  • Guaranteed trade through East & South China Sea by exclusive claim;
  • Xi builds offensive navy and air force-cuts PLA by 300,000 soldiers;
  • Xi: eliminate rural poverty by 2020, define a China Dream, a Nation;
  • Central government will control provincial and municipal economies;
  • Primacy of “One Belt, One Road”-OBOR-projects as general guideline, Win-Win deals not only with China, and massive East-West interaction.

History has stored many centenaries in this year 2017: like both Luther and Lenin, the Protestant and Bolshevik revolutions, competing for their hallelujahs. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, establishing a “national home” for Jews, solving internal problems and pressures at the expense of Arabs-Palestinians. The Anglican Church may have hoped that more Jews in The Holy Land would accelerate the Second Coming of Messiah. It certainly did accelerate a lot, but apparently not that.

Not only acting and speaking, thinking matters; and for that concepts matter. Like the old war-horses justice, security, balance of power standing for punishment, preemptive warfare, domination. But if they becomes peace horses, if they stand for restoring a person, defensive defense, and balance of peace: equity and empathy both ways.

How about the concept “structural violence”–inspired in 1965 by “Rhodesia” boasting “peace” with no direct racial violence since 1923 domestic independence–with black life expectancy half of the white? To take half the life away, even if slowly, is that “domestic peace”? There was a conceptual void, crying for a word with “violence”. “Structural violence” did the job with 1.4 mio hits; but “solution orientation” has only 241,000. Evidently, there is work to do!

“Structure” stands for patterned interaction“, and “violence” for insults to basic human needs, survival, wellness, freedom, identity. The most obvious case is a hierarchy with different levels of living high up and low down; life expectancies will tell us how different.

Some people refer to this as “social injustice”. But “structural violence” indicates a way out: change structure to structural peace. And for that some structural literacy is needed: for polyarchy adding horizontal interaction (India, Japanese companies), for equiarachy only horizontal, and anarchy, no interaction, isolated individuals.

We need a word for linking presidential and state narcissism and paranoia by elections. Is the word democracy? Or democrazy, rather?


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, 500 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 27 Nov 2017.

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One Response to “Meanwhile, Around the World”

  1. Xi Liu Yang says:

    Mr Galtung hs been predicting the fall of the US empire for many years, with ever-increasing urgency and claims of this particular moment in time moving evermore forward. Yet despite Trump (perhaps because of Trump?) this is not happening. 2020 is just around the corner and most countries here in Asia (except North Korea) seem as eager as ever to curry favour with USA. Trump may be an blowhard and an idiot, but the collapse is nowhere to been seen. The USA (and empire) will easily outlive. Trump, Mr Galtung, North Korea and most current political constructions and alliances here. Mr Galtung would do well to look outside his fixation on USA.