Meanwhile, Around the World

EDITORIAL, 1 Oct 2018

#554 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

The pandemic of violence continues.  In addition, there seems to be something new and very serious coming up: a general devaluation of human life–making killing, even genocide, easier, more like disposal of garbage.  Of the Right to Life, Art 3 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one hears nothing, let alone of the sacredness of human life as a divine gift.

However, “dead people are dead”, some may argue; “beyond suffering”.  Okay, or rather not, but what about the bereaved who loved them, and miss them?  We hear nothing, even the word “bereaved” seems to have disappeared from common usage.  Is ‘being bereaved’ going through the same devaluation, as one is bereaved of something less–only of someone else’s life?

What matters is one’s own life.  Security is one’s own security, maybe also that of the family.  If in a bunker in New Zealand for the super-rich who can afford it plus the travel, so be it. If you cannot pay the price, so much the worse for you. Withdraw, hide somewhere, make yourself less visible.  Learn from animals, live in nests, caves.

Moreover, for heaven’s sake, and indeed your own, do not “participate”.  More participation, more visibility, more visibility, more risk that someone will deem you dispensable.  Not only you, but also “your kind of people”; kill you off, one by one, or en masse, as genocide.

I hope that I am exaggerating, but I fear not.  I hope that–and this is more realistic: we are mainly talking about the West in decline, not the world, actually only a small part of it.

There may be a dreadful logic to it all.  “We” are going down, “decline and fall” they call it. That makes life less worth living. I help you depriving you of your life and myself depriving me of mine. They used to call it “homicide” and “suicide”; they now so often come together, first homo-, then sui-, that we may talk about homosuicide.

Add “collective”, and get a deeper sense of what happens.

In the West, particularly the US(*).

Let us look at some data.

The title of this book carries the message clearly: Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America.  The NYT 2 Sep 2018 quotes the book:

“Since January more than 8,000 killed and 15,000 wounded in more than 32,000 shooting episodes in the US.  If this trend continues, the total number of dead will pass 10,000 by the end of the year-as many as killed in the war in Yemen”.

Collective suicide of a great country.

What else about the US?  Oh yes, Trump. He was maneuvered into UN leading positions, presiding over the UNSC, and declared in the UNGA an end to “fake globalism”–of which the UN to him was a clear case–in favor of patriotism in a world of states, with no UN in general and the International Criminal Court in particular sitting in judgment.

Trump’s words read as US patriotism, adding “America First” as US unilateralism.  The response from the Portuguese UN Secretary General was multilateralism–not US uni, nor superpower bi-, nor UN Security Council penta-lateralism–which Guterres does by putting the Security Council on the sideline–favoring the 193-member UN General Assembly.

The term was picked up by France by Macron, although one might suspect as a way also of ensuring that France and French are in it.

US-Trump have by now left the Paris climate agreement, the UN Human Rights Commission, the UNESCO, and have eliminated some of the financial contributions to the UN system.  All to be reversed when other forces gain control in the US?   Not necessarily.  Sufficiently many and sufficiently powerful of a Chosen People by a God in whom they trust, with a Promised World not only Land, might agree.

In the meantime, the US Nuclear Stabilization stabilizes.

And the US Times Square National Debt Clock passed $21 trillion.

What else?  Syria.  The media write about coalitions and ISIS. Yet, the imams seem to be more concerned with deep dialogues over what constitutes true Islam in a profoundly Muslim country.  Listen, learn.

Germany.  “Germany’s Nazi past is still present”, writes NYT 11 Sep 2018: Neo-Nazis, right wing demonstrators in Chemnitz.  There will be more of that.  But maybe even more important is to realize that except for Russian, German is the leading language in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  It is not English, not French. It will stay.

“On 11 November, 100 years will have passed since the end of the war that was to end all wars” (NYT 13 Sep 2018).  Through Ypres in Belgium the German troops passed.  Nothing to celebrate, only to deplore. And to raise the questions, ‘How could the First World War have been avoided? How could the Second World War have been avoided?’ There is a little over a month left to come up with answers.

Ending on a more positive note, let us mention an article by three Nordic politicians, from Norway, Denmark and Sweden (KK 4 Sep 2018): “The Nordic Alternative”.  A Nordic community has more support in Norway than EU membership according to public opinion polls. Sweden and Denmark are EU members, but are also very interested in Nordic cooperation.  Cooperation for what?

According to the authors for being, relative to the huge EU, what Canada is to US–Europe, EU, “with a human face”.  And to be some kind of Switzerland II, a place where parties in conflict can come and work out their solutions.  With Sweden relating to the Baltic and Poland, Denmark to Germany, Norway to England, they certainly qualify as a Switzerland II in Northern Europe, adding to Switzerland I in Central Europe.  Better together than by any one of them separately.

Maybe.  But add Finland for better contact with Russia and Iceland for better contact with the US–an old and well tested idea for the Nordic Community.  Particularly relevant right now with the US and others doing their best to restore Russia as a favorite enemy and revive the Cold War.  Nevertheless, there is a major problem: the lack of Nordic politicians with the courage and insight to play that role.


(*) We do not add “A” for “United States of America”.  50 local states are united in US, yes, as the key part of Anglo America.  But there are 35 states in ELAC, Latin America-Caribbean, maybe they will also be united one day?  Nobody has any monopoly on “America”, nor does EU on “Europe”.  “US in America”, “EU in Europe”, would be more accurate.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 High Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the only author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. Transcend and Transform was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Oct 2018.

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