A Theory Of Civilization - Overcoming Cultural Violence
ISBN: 978-82-300-0558-3
Year: 2014

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A Theory Of Civilization - Overcoming Cultural Violence

In civilization theory there is a mainstream narrative:

  • Problem: There are culturally advanced and backward classes-regions
  • The advanced will advance further and the backward remain backward
  • Remedy: Backward classes-regions adopt advanced cultures and codes
  • If adoptive enough the West becomes the universal civilization

This book challenges that and argues an alternative narrative:

  • Problem: The dominant position of the Western civilization
  • Reduction of diversity leads to increased world vulnerability
  • Remedy: Dialogue of civilizations for mutual learning of all by all
  • If mutual enough a diverse-symbiotic-equitable global civilization


Johan Galtung, born 1930 in Oslo, Norway, lives in Spain, France, Japan and the USA, mainly engaged in mediation and research. He has so far published about 150 books and over 1500 articles on peace and related issues. 40 of his books have been translated into 33 languages, for a total of 134 book translation. He founded TRANSCEND: A Peace Development Environment Network in 1993 and was founding rector of Transcend Peace University 2003-2007 and again from 2011 (see www.transcend.org and www.transcend.org/tpu).


A Theory Of Civilization: Overcoming Cultural Violence

Table of Contents


Dedication - to

PROLOGUE: Civilization and Cultural Violence:

The West vs the Rest Dialogue and Its Discontents: Why, How, Why Not?


[1] What is in a Word: Civilization as Meaning

[2] A Theory of Civilization: Dialogue and Mutuality

[3] 6 Cosmologies: Occident I & II Indic Buddhic Sinic Nipponic+

[4] 7 Dimensions: Nature Self Society World Time Trans Episteme

[5] Relations Among Civilizations: Clash-Vacuum-Dialogue


[6] Genders and Generations: Man:Woman::Occident:Orient?

[7] Classes

[8] Intellectuals and Professionals

[9] Nations and States

[10] Relations Among Specifications


[11] Family as Carrier of Deep Structure

[12] Basic Material Needs; Food Sex Sport Technology

[13] Language as Carrier of Deep culture

[14] Basic Symbolic Needs: Art Religion Ideology

[15] Relations Among Carriers


[16] Cosmology in Time and Space: Unfolding and Encounters

[17] Cosmology and Conflict

[18] Cosmology Development Environment

[19] Cosmology, War and Peace

[20] Relations among Implications


[21] Cosmology Life-cycles: Origin, Maturity, Extinction, Evolution

[22] Is there a General Cosmology for Humanity?

[23] Are there Good and Bad Cosmologies to Construct or Repair?

[24] Premisses and Limitations of Cosmology Analysis

[25] Relations Among Explorations

EPILOGUE: Civilization as a Way of Life

Appendix 1: Civilization Dialogue-Mutuality Indicators

Appendix 2: Two Ways of Being Western: Liberalism and Marxism

Appendix 3: On the Epistemology of Cosmology Analysis





from Chapter 9: Nations and States

The state-system in Europe succeeded feudalism, and the warrior caste can be seen as enacting the following codes:i

- serving/submitting to God/King; repressing/exploiting downward

- the disrespectful to be severely punished and/or eliminated

- monopoly on violence and possession of arms as status criterion

- high on mastery of weapons, low on mastery of symbolic culture

- the courage to kill and the courage to be killed taught early

- tournaments for training, duels/battles for real violence

- only aristocrats/warrior caste permitted to duel and fight wars

- warrior/macho values: courage, honor, dignity, valeur, status

- conflicts not to be solved but to be processed into such values

- easily offended/insulted; honor regained through violence

- conflicts are terminated when duels/battles produce more status

Substitute "state" or "big power" for "God/King", "maneuvers" for "tournaments", "/statesmen/military" for "aristocrats/warriors". The hypothesis: states, when speaking, acting and thinking as one person in crisis, behave as if enacting a millennium old warrior caste code. This is the code of a narcissistic (megalomaniac), paranoid social caste that managed to program its successor system the same way, by occupying positions as army commanders and foreign ministers.ii More about that in the next section.

How about the code of a nation? Of course nations differ, but the following elements can be identified in many of them:iii

[1] Chosenness, our group is exceptional, chosen by higher forces (God, History), we have a mission in the world, others should pay attention, if not at their own (considerable) risk;

[2] Glory, usually divided into the myths of a golden (even very distant) past and a glorious future when the mission has been accomplished according to the prescription of the higher forces;

[3] Trauma, but, to be chosen evokes the envy of others, so the glory is mixed with the bitterness of heavy traumas suffered in the struggle to accomplish that mission, living up to commands.

[4] Dichotomy, the tendency to divide the world sharply in two parts, the minimum subdivision (like "the West and the Rest");

[5] Manicheism, conceiving of one of the two parts as only good and the other as only bad, struggling for human allegiance;

[6] Armageddon, seeing that struggle as irreconcilable, ending with the triumph of good or bad, so better make good strong.

Diagnosis: the same, narcissism (megalomania) and paranoia.


i. Very useful in identifying these codes has been the masterpiece by Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961, particularly Vol. I, Ch. XVI "Vassal and Lord", pp. 219-230, and Vol. II, Chs. XXI-XXV about the Nobles, pp. 283-344.

ii. And not only in the West. An important account of the secret understanding between Japan and the United States over Korea (that the USA stays off Korea and Japan stays off the Philippines, both in the name of "peace in East Asia", starts with the words "On July 29, 1905, Count Katsura, Prime Minister of Japan and temporarily in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the place of Baron Nomura - -". However, the code of the state system does not presuppose noblemen on the top to be enacted, that is only important to understand the genesis of the system. "Excellencies" think of themselves as above others, sometimes also as above the law whether aristocratic or not.

iii. For an application of this approach to the USA, see Johan Galtung, Global Projections of Deep-Rooted U.S. Pathologies, Fairfax: ICAR, George Mason University, 1996, 52pp. The portrayal of a nation using those six dimensions (and something more) is referred to as a "psychogram" of that nation. Psychograms have also been made for Japan, Germany, Austria (for the millennium 1996) and are being developed for some other nations, reflecting similarities and dissimilarities. A nation totally free from some of these less desirable traits has not been identified, but there are certainly degrees of psychopathology.

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