Meanwhile, Around the World
EDITORIAL, 7 May 2018
The violence pandemic continues, unabated, particularly in the USA.
We read about bad incidents in other big countries like China, India and Russia but not massive school and church massacres, about vans running on pavements killing and wounding whatever moves, shooting from windows high up on people walking peacefully. Only USA, today.
There is also decline in US violence when the critical group of 18-25 years old males finds jobs. Hopefully not in the military.
What is this? So far, above the usual US suicide-homicide complex.
- US violence cult at work? No doubt, but there are degrees, and it now seems to be directed at institutions, not only at individuals.
- Capitalism at work? Creating winners and losers, and even more in the USA with no ceiling on gains nor safety net floor against losses.
- Media at work? Over-reporting violence and under-reporting peacemaking. It is a criminal act to make violence and crimes normal and peace rare.
- Competition at work? Being a winner in violence, when being a money winner does not work and sports and arts are not for everybody.
- Imitation at work? Violence seems to be the in thing these days, being a la mode. Join the crowd for US collective individualism.
- Militarism at work? If my country kills massively all over the world, why cannot I kill all over the country–also massively?
- Decline and fall at work? Killing as a normal part of US decline & fall in addition to getting a kick out of it? “Adapting as America Declines” (NYT 23 Apr 2018)–good title, but a bad article.
All the seven above and more. Massive violence, massive causes.
What to do about it? Negating all seven negates USA completely.
Focus on the media. Pope Francis-Vatican promote a “journalism for peace”, criticizing violence and promoting peace.
Focus on capitalism. Promote cooperatives that meet basic needs without employers-employees; criticize companies working for capital-owners.
The Australian Institute for Economics & Peace “Latest Research” (April 20): Mexico Peace Index, “Peace plummets, costs 21% of GNP”. “The homicide rate rose dramatically with staggering 29,000 victims”. This looks like more economics than peace. There is a relation, and it would be interesting also to learn about the costs in human lives of GNP rise-economic growth. But why use economic measures for peace?
Our hearts reach out to the bereaved of the 29,000, deprived of the togetherness with their beloved ones, not to GNP. To the loss of peace as loss of that togetherness regardless of GNP waxing or vexing. GNP makes it look as if Economics is what really matters, not peace.
Peace researchers should spell out the benefits of peace, not only the costs of violence. Like the pleasure of dialogue as mutual search. There is a dialogue culture, itself peace, unknown to many.
“A tsunami of US debt will hit the markets, and by 2020 we will have the next systemic global crisis.” (GEFIRA Newsletter 27 Apr 2018).
Comment: depends on level of dependency on the US economy. Pull out!
“The world’s most productive populations are ageing-will disappear.”
Comment: People grow old, so do populations, others take over; normal. The First and Second worlds are ageing, the Third takes over; normal.
The EU now has a (one of its many) crisis: England and France demand, in the name of EU solidarity, that Eastern European members accept large numbers of immigrants from Africa. Why should they? They know that they are to a large extent victims of English-French robbery colonialism-capitalism. And, even if it is not comme il faut to say so, not that long time ago they were together with the Soviet Union fighting both to end colonialism. Their obvious conclusion: England and France, they are your responsibility, not ours.
Read Confessions by St Augustine 397 AD (NYRB 26 Oct 2017), his problematic God is your problematic mission civilisatrice. You praise Western civilization, why not benefit from one of its high points?
The Vietnam War, a movie directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (NYRB 23 Nov 2017). The usual story: only the US side, as if three million Vietnamese were not killed by the USA, with bereaved all over. Is it really still possible, unpunished, to launch such crap? “The US Vietnam War” would have been a more honest title-“as seen by the USA”. Millions and millions had their views of the USA changed by that war.
Paul Krugman adds to the US war on Vietnam “Trump’s war on the poor” (NYT) “–fought on multiple fronts. The move to slash housing subsidies follows moves to sharply increase work requirements for those seeking food stamps-/and/-for recipients of Medicaid”.
There are two lights shining, however, both from France.
President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to US Congress was so honest that Trump limited his reaction to removing dandruff from his jacket. Macron acts as a European, even world leader. But there may be “a lack of partners in Europe and here in US” (NYT, 28-29 Apr 2018).
Simone de Beauvoir (NYT 13-14 Jan 2018) saw beauty with shades of gray in men-women relations, not black-white as in US women authors, “viewed America’s war between the sexes as unproductive and alien”.
In Norway a retired brigadier (Svein Ödegården, KK 18 Apr 2018) points to five Norwegian “dubious military-adventures” decided without parliament debate: “out of area operations”, NATO bombing Serbia March 1999 without UNSC mandate, war in Iraq 2003, attack in Libya 2012, training nongovernmental militias in Jordan. Norway, a democracy?
Comment: bad in the “theaters”, and might also hit Norway as revenge.
At the end a small thing: one of my books, in German, published at Springer Verlag, registered up to April 26 31.891 downloads. There is interest in peace but not much in doing anything about it. And even less in what this column recommends with 60 years experience: identify and solve underlying conflicts, concile underlying traumas. Not easy. But feasible, if the will is there. A 2-point agenda.
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 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 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 May 2018.