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A Theory Of Peace - Building Direct-Structural-Cultural Peace
ISBN: 978-82-300-0559-0
Year: 2012

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A Theory Of Peace - Building Direct-Structural-Cultural Peace

In peace theory there is a mainstream narrative:

  • Problem: There are dangerous and unruly classes and countries
  • If let loose life becomes brutish, nasty and short for all
  • Remedy: Economic-military-political-cultural rule by rules
  • If vertical enough we get pax: rule from above by law and force

This book challenges that and argues an alternative narrative:

  • Problem: There is an endless agenda of conflicts to be solved
  • There is an endless agenda of peace(s) to be built
  • Remedy: Solve conflicts equitably and we get negative peace
  • Build equitable projects and we get positive peace

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 and


Johan Galtung

A Theory of Peace

Building Direct, Structural and Cultural Peace

"La philosophie sociale est essentiellement la science de la paix. Elle a pour but, et devait avoir pour résultat de dissoudre les colères par l'étude des antagonismes. Elle examine, elle scrute, elle analyse; puis elle recompose. Elle procède par voie de réduction; retranchant de tout la haine"

"Diminuer le nombre des tenebreux, augmenter le nombre des lumineux, voilà le but. C'est pourquoi nous crions: enseignement! science! apprendre à lire, c'est allumer du feu; toute syllabe epelée étincelle."

Victor Hugo, "L'Argot", from Les Misérables

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world and that is 'AN IDEA' whhose time has come" - Victor Hugo

This book is about peace

Peace has a name

One name for peace is equity

Equity has many names

Some names for equity are






equal rights

equal respect

equal dignity

Peace is a relation of equity

It is in those relations

that peace can be built

The rest of this book

is a commentary

on that statement

Table of Contents




Prologue: Building direct, structural and cultural peace:

Three Violences, Three Peaces - Why, How, Why so Difficult?


1. What Is In a Word: Peace as summum bonum

2. A Theory of Peace: Entropy, Equity, Symmetry, Self-Similarity

3. Peacelessness as Massive Category Killing

4. Negative Peace: The Absence of the Three Violences

5. Positive Peace: The Presence of the Three Peaces


6. Causa efficiens-formalis-materialis-finalis

7. A Macro-History of War

8. A Macro-History of Peace

9. On the Abolition of War as a Social Institution

10. On the Building of Peace as a Social Institution


11. Health:Disease::Peace:Violence

12. Entropy High:Entropy Low::Peace:Violence

13. Ecology Robust:Ecology Vulnerable::Peace:Violence

14. Equity High:Equity low::Peace:Violence

15. Dialectics Among Approaches for a Solid Peace


16. Occidental Models: Pax-Islam; Empire-Law-Balance; Kant

17. Hindu-Buddhist Models: Ahimsa-Shanti; Gandhi

18. Iroquois-Polynesian-Somali Models: Confederation-alo'ha-shir

19. Oriental Models: H'o ping-Heiwa; Harmony-Distance-Empire

20. Dialectics Among Cultures for A Broader Peace


21. Micro: Inner Peace

22. Meso: Social Peace Across Faultlines

23. Macro: Across State and Nation Faultlines

24. Mega: Across Region and Civilization Faultlines

25. Dialectics Among Spaces for a Deeper Peace

EPILOGUE: Peace as a Way of Life

Appendix 1: Peace Building Indicators

Appendix 2: Entropy and Peace

Appendix 3: Tractatus Logico-Pacificus

Appendix 4: Thucydides-Macchiavelli-Hobbes vs







Building direct, structural and cultural peace:

Three Violences, Three Peaces; Why, How, Why so difficult?

Brahmin violence: An example

The papal bull Inter Caetera (4 May 1493) starts by praising the "very dear son-daughter in Christ", los reyes católicos, Ferdinand and Isabella (Alexander VI was Spanish) for spreading the Catholic faith and the Christian religion, "and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself". Then he becomes more specific:

- as witnessed--with so much glory to the Divine Name in your recovery of the kingdom of Granada from the yoke of the Saracens

-you--chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus--to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto noone had sailed; and-discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered-wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace--going unclothed and not eating flesh-disposed to embrace the Catholic faith and be trained in good morals-

And he continues, mentioning how Columbus has

-built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed as garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands. In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things-bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and-bring them to the Catholic faith.

He becomes even more specific, ending with a clear conclusion:

-and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of castile and Leon, forever-all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered-

-we appoint you lords of them with full and free power and jurisdiction of every kind (italics ours).

-Let no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift. grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition and will. Should anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul . In short: the Earth belongs to God, the Pope administers God's will, and delegates to the kings of Spain all jurisdiction. Result: legitimation of the hideous realities of colonialism and imperialism.

Kshatriya violence: An example.

Linda Ryan, in "Narcissus Empire" explores the "theaters of humanitarian intervention":

Iraq 1991: 180 000 killed ny the "international community" in the Gulf war and 80% of the country's infrastructure destroyed, at an estimated cost of $ 150 billion.

Somalia 1993: 4000 killed by UN troops over 12 months; 700 on one night, 5 September. Humanitarian prose is interesting:

"We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers", Clinton said -- "When people kill us they should be killed in greater numbers. I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can't believe we are being pushed around by these two-bit pricks" (from George Stephanopoulos, All Too Human).

Iraq 1992-9: Some 500 000 dead due to lack of basic foods and medicine under the regime of economic sanctions. Raids continue-

Yugoslavia 1999: 2000 civilians and 600 military personnel in NATO bombings that destroyed 44% of the country's industry.

She then quotes an exchange between a pilot and AWACS

Pilot: --Under me columns of cars, some kind of tractors. What is it? Requesting instructions.

AWACS: Do you see tanks? Repeat, where are the tanks?

Pilot: I see tractors - -

AWACS: What kind of strange convoy is this? Civilians? Damn, this is all the Serbs' doing. Destroy the target.

Pilot: What should I destroy? Tractors? Repeat, I do not see any tanks. Request additional instructions.

AWACS: This is a - completely legitimate military target. Destroy the target. Repeat.. destroy the target.

Pilot: Okay, copy. Launching.

In this last lethal exchange the AWACS control officer has become a victim of the West's own propaganda about the Serbs, having dehumanized them so that there are no human Serbs left. The pilot, at 3000 feet having a closer view, is overruled and does the killing. He will not get a monument for that, may some day understand what he did, and in the best tradition of US veterans return to the scene of the direct violence, repent and start reconciliation. The brahmins behind "humanitarian killing" will probably not develop humanly that far.

In short: Postmodern warfare killing combatants and civilians a-like, by these latter-day kshatriyahs unbound by any code of honor.

Vaisya violence: An example.

The United Nations Development Programme does an immense service to humanity through the UNDP Human Development Yearbook. Of course development = human development, what else is there to develop? Ministries? Corporations? The Yearbooks focuses on the basic needs and rights of human beings all over, showing all countries to have deficits that can be remedied by development.

Vaisya violence is today known as market liberalism, with economism as legitimation; spreading from the center in the West and Japan to all corners of the world through globalization, killing non-market economies, reducing the role of the state as economic actor through privatization, causing unemployment through higher labor productivity. With land, water, seeds marketed, agriculture for direct consumption is hard; with privatization state capacity to run basic education and health services are seriously reduced. For those who can buy food and health no problem; others will die from hunger and preventable diseases: structural violence. The present rate of such deaths may be around 125,000 per day.

A world economy that distributes wealth so that 3 persons have as much as almost half the world countries is perverse; the same applies to the daily income below $2 for half of humanity and below $1 for 1.7 billion (1997). The ratio in purchasing power between the top and the bottom 20% has had an average increase of 3.1% while the world economy is growing at 2.8%. As a result the bottom sinks, and the bottom of the bottom dies.

In short: The economist, and the media, obsession with GNP/capita--the merchant's balance writ large--and particularly with finance capital growth (Dow Jones, Nikkei) and not with distribution, is at the root of this. The world economy is a scandal.

Brahmin peace: An example.

An Alternative (“Soft Christian”) Papal Bull of 3 May 1493

Alexander VI, servant of the servants of the Christian God, to the Catholic Kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Granada:

Us has been given a remarkable gift: to travel by ship, guided by the Almighty's stars, across vast oceans, to distant islands and mainlands different from ours in Europe, and above all inhabited by people and peoples different from us in Europe.

We thank you, our Mother and Father God, the Son, the Holy Spirit for this wonderful opportunity given us to be enriched by encountering Others, taking them on, celebrating the diversity of humans, of beloved animals and plants, of the seas and lands under the magnificent sky, illuminated by the God Sun.

We shall learn from their Truths, from how they see the world and all the miracles dwelling therein. We shall offer them our Truths for them to taste and judge by their fruits.

And together we shall all move forward, spiritually, materially, learning from each other through the word, dia logos, through exchange of material things, via materialis. What a wonderful, challenging opportunity for us all to explore deeper truths than any single segment of humanity can ever develop alone.

We, Alexander VI, servant of the servants of the Christian God, direct you, Kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Granada, to

- approach these peoples, discovered and to be discovered, in deep humility and respect--never imposing upon them, by any kind of power, by force or threat of force, by gifts or promise of gifts--but engage in friendly exchanges guided by reciprocity if they so want. If they do not want, leave them in peace, tell them where you can be found should they become of an other mind. And you may ask them what could change their mind, to understand their reasons not to take us on as we want to take them on.

- learn from these peoples. Us has been given the understanding that they live in peace, walk naked and do not eat meat. Try to learn from them the knowledge and wisdom that has guided them toward a life in peace, so sorely missing in our part of the world. Is it in any way related to the other two points? Ask them humbly to be your teachers in the difficult art of harmony.

- never build any fortified tower or garrison, but ask them for the permission to dwell among them, at your risk, not theirs.

You expelled the Muslim Saracens because they had unlawfully occupied your land, and the Jewish Moriscos. I direct you to invite back as many Muslims and Jews as want to return, to settle in your lands, to enrich you by having different ideas of the message in the Holy Book, and to continue the wonderful dialogues among the abrahamitic religions in Alhambra, Granada, with the hope of reaching ever higher, and ever deeper in the understanding of the Creation that unites us all.

Problem: that bull might have been useful. But it was never written.

Kshatriya peace: An example

And yet there were serious problems in the Gulf region, in Somalia, and in Yugoslavia. How could they be solved without, or with very low levels of, violence?

Of course, one solution would be to involve the USA, a very belligerent state aiming at military solutions, less, and the UN more, provided the UN has alternatives. Here are some:

- underlying violence are always conflicts; meaning parties having incompatible goals. Thus, a simple principle like "equal right to self-determination" for the nations co-inhabiting, uneasily, a disintegrating Yugoslavia might have changed Croatia into a federation with a Serbian part; in Bosnia-Herzegovina the Croats might have joined Croatia, the Serbs could have had their own Republika Srpska and the Bosniaks a city-state centered on Sarajevo; and Kosovo a republic inside Yugoslavia (much more than autonomy), possibly even independent with a Serbian canton.

- peacekeeping could be based as now on light weapons for self-defense, adding conventional police for crowd control and training in nonviolence and conflict mediation so that all members of peacekeeping forces would have a vast repertory short of violence. To this should be added

--high numbers of peacekeepers, a "blue carpet" rather than "blue helmets" so dense that there is little space for violence,

--at least 50% of the peacekeepers women, more concerned with humans and less with hardware, and less likely as targets.

- there are always evil residues when violence has been used, whether long time ago or more recently. Reconciliation processes should be initiated, based on truth commissions, apologies, restitution, together with joint reconstruction and joint resolution of conflicts.

But what will then happen to the soldier? Maybe this is the new soldier, knowledgeable of the techniques of violence, among other reasons to understand those who are violent but trained in nonviolence, high levels of empathy with all parties and creativity in finding solutions. Or, soldiers cooperate with non-soldiers for peace-keeping, and not only with police but also with civilians, including conscientious objectors to military service, thereby bridging an old gap? All the time keeping gender parity. There is so much that can be done!

Vaisya peace: An example

How could merchants contribute to a more human economy? They produce and distribute goods and services, ultimately for human (end) consumption. The goods and services are supplied via the market for selling, and are bought if there is demand backed by purchasing power. The general answer is, of course, to produce goods and services that satisfy basic needs at a price the most needy can afford. That leaves little margin for profit. And yet, the first pharmaceutical company to make generic medicine technology available, keeping some small niche, will be a blessing, also for themselves. The same holds for food companies that develop affordable, tasty, nutritious, non-toxic products, very different from Coca-Cola.

And why not revive local producers and local merchants by downloading technology from the Internet, including improving old technologies, producing much more locally, buying directly from the producers who also return to the pattern of producing for own consumption, and for direct exchange with other local producers? At the same time introducing local currencies that entitle the holder to a 10% discount? Of course, all products should be labeled so that consumers know how far the product, or key parts of it, have traveled. To prefer "within 100 kms" will reduce the strain on the environment produced by transportation, the strain on the body produced by chemicals to guarantee long "shelf-life" (as opposed to human life), and challenge the local producers and merchants, not to mention to the local community, by transforming it from a consumer-oriented dormitory to an organic, vibrant community. In short: new life for merchants: global, national and local, preferably all at the same time.

A structure of peace, a culture of peace

Violence and peace dwell in the social formations.

And the Indo-European social formation described above has given ample opportunity for the three elites to develop their division of labor in waging war on common people, inside and outside their own borders, specializing in cultural, direct and structural violence respectively. The traditional warrior castes at least took risks governed by ideals of courage, honor and dignity, sacrificed on the altar of modernity legitimized by a military brahmin, Clausewitz.

But there are counterpoints and dialectics in human affairs; voices of direct, structural and cultural peace are also heard. What has been suggested above as alternatives is not utopian, it could all happen and change the three elites. An other social order and social structure, more based on positive interaction, would be the result.

Underlying such changes would be another view of common people, not as something to be sacrificed as soldiers-civilians and exploited as workers-consumers, both structures justified by such high priests as politologists and economists. Common people would be respected, they would be citizens, not merely subjects, they would have inalienable basic human rights, and their basic needs would be seen as non-negotiable. These are four commonly heard languages today. We are on the way. The problem is that the three elites so often are lagging behind and try all kinds of tricks to find new ways to sacrifice people and exploit them in the name of abstractions like nation-class, state, and market-economy.

Violences hit common people more than anybody else; peaces protect people without sacrificing the elites. Violent revolutions sacrificing elites will only reproduce the war structure. They will hit back, and forcefully so. Peace is the way.


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