Please note: currently TUP does not take any new orders.
Deep Culture, Deep Structure, Deep Nature
ISBN: 978-849-412-198-2
Year: 2017

Price: 25 €
(+ 10 € postage)

Deep Culture, Deep Structure, Deep Nature

Three Pillars of Peace Theory and Peace Practice

by Johan Galtung

There is a level of understanding below the empirical our senses have encountered, the factually existing, knowledge. It could be repressed knowledge we do not want to face, or find too obvious. Or alternatives, what might have been. Or, things we do not know.

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 trans- lation. He founded TRANSCEND: A Peace Development Environment Network in 1993 and was founding rector of Transcend Peace University 2003-2007 and again from 2011.


Deep Culture, Deep Structure, Deep Nature

Three Pillars of Peace Theory and Peace Practice

Table of Contents

Prologue: Violence Culture Structure Nature Actor11
1] Subconscious-Unconscious Unknown-Unknowable Individual-Collective21
2] Consciousness Creativity Learning37
3] Conflict Outcomes Transformations Solutions39
4] Conflict Cultures and Their Carriers45
5] Peace Cultures and Their Carriers53
6] A marriage Regained A marriage Lost59
8] USA Israel Iraq Serbia73
9] 9/11-10/07 2001 Terrorism–State terrorism77
10] God transcendent God immanent83
Part Three: DEEP CULTURE91
11] Nations and Civilizations93
13] Gender Generation111
14] Modern society: State Capital Civil Society UN125
15] How Deep Culture Works: Crisis-Complexity-Consensus131
16] States and Regions143
17] Pyramids and Circles, Hierarchy-Polyarchy-Equiarchy-Anarchy151
18] States and Nations161
19] Structure in Process197
20] How Deep Structure Works: Tilting/Leveling the Action Fields243
Part Five: DEEP NATURE245
21] Biochemistry247
22] Brain Physiology249
23] Nutrition251
24] Space, Time, Spacetime, Evolution255
25] How Deep Nature Works: Conditioning Body-Mind-Spirit259
Epilogue: Depth as Dimension of Life261


Deep Culture, Deep Structure, Deep Nature

Three Pillars of Peace Theory and Peace Practice


This book is about culture, structure, and nature; about depth, and about conflict and peace. Let us start by defining those terms.

Culture is what makes us see something as true-false, good-bad, right-wrong, beautiful-ugly, sacred-profane, with "in-betweens" and "undecidable" as third categories. Culture is a guide in the infinite complexities of personal and social life; for individuals and groups, collectivities. That guide is inside us. If it is internalized. Following it makes us feel good, deviating from it makes us feel bad.

Structure is outside us, relating us to others. Structure is patterned interaction. Structures steer us when relating to others. That steering is around us. If it is institutionalized. Following it gives us some reward, when deviating from it we are in for punishment.

Nature is both inside us and around us. We are of nature and in nature. Nature has its laws. If understood and respected, following them may give us wellness, not following may give us illness.

The culture is inside us, we are inside the structure, the nature is inside us and we are inside the nature. They also work through each other. Culture has structure, meaning that cultural elements relate, e.g., in terms of salience, priorities, or as equals. Structure has culture, meaning that steering takes the form of norms about what is right and wrong. Nature's laws are more or less adequately respected in both, by accumulated human experience.

As actors, individual or collective, we want space. A positive window between the drives of nature, structural interests, and cultural duties. That window is our freedom; positive, zero, negative.

And that window, space, is what class = power is about.

Deep stands for the culture, structure, nature we are unaware of, not conscious of, and consequently do not articulate. And yet they work on us.

Let us identify deep with the subconscious, or unconscious.

Conflict stands for incompatible goals, not for violence.

Peace stands for negative peace: absence of violence. And it stands for positive peace: cooperation-harmony-institutionalization-fusion-transmission.

We have all experienced that people differ in their handling of conflicts. There are choleric and sanguine approaches. In Transcend & Transform, 2004, the ability to handle conflicts was seen in terms of capacity for empathy, nonviolence and creativity.

Understanding the parties to the conflict, their goals, the legitimacy or lack thereof of their goals and bridging the gap between legitimate goals, call for the realist, for the idealist and for the artist in us. They may be present in us, deep down, or absent.

But that can all be learned. Keeping in mind that down there in ourselves there may also be deep assumptions, scripts, in command, influencing any process and outcome, for good and for bad.

Mediator, know thyself.

In this book, a follow-up to Transcend & Transform, the focus is on the collectivity and its ability to handle conflicts. Since most collectivities do not come with conflict transformation manuals, we are looking for the implicit manuals in the deeper recesses of the collectivity. They may be in the deep culture; in Freud’s individual subconscious, and the collective subconscious of C.G. Jung.1

Collectivities, know yourselves.

The book comes out of work from the early 1970s on (social) cosmologies, assumptions held by civilizations, those macro-cultures spanning great ranges of space and time, about being and becoming (reported in Part IV Peace By Peaceful Means, and developed further). And out of practical conflict work, as mediator from the late 1950s in about 150 conflicts, involving about 150 countries.

The book is at the crossroads between theory and practice; the implications of deep culture-structure-nature for conflict and peace.

Prologue: Violence Culture Structure Nature Actor

The focus here is on relating the five basic2 words in the heading.

Actually a basis for a science de l'homme. Humans, called actors to cover individuals and collectivities, are exposed to nature from within and without, structure from without, and culture from within. Why do they generate violence, to self, others and nature?

A Robinson Crusoe escapes from structure and culture, but not from nature meeting his needs, with hazards. The book is about that till Good Friday appears and a structure is generated.

A disconnect-disjunction-decoupling between needs and nature makes us suffer, fall ill, die. With a connect we feel well, flourish.

Thus, nature adds a fourth source of violence and peace to thees: by meeting, or not, our basic needs.

Freedom is the space not ruled out by the values of culture, the steering of structure, and the laws of nature. With space the actor can act, without there is no choice, no freedom to act.

But the actor can be disconnected from any one or all three.

The disconnect between actor and culture is known as anomie, normlessness; no inner guidance, except for nature within.

The disconnect between actor and structure we call atomie, structurelessness; no outer steering except from nature, without.

And the disconnect between culture and structure?

Between goals set by culture and the facts "on the ground" built into structure?

Between theory-based visions, and present reality?

That disconnect can be called absurdity.

Communist utopia vs Soviet reality.

The American Dream vs US reality.

Peace vs military-industrial-academic complex reality.

Four violences, four peaces. The focus is now at a higher level, on actors in the context of nature-structure-culture, and on anomie-atomie-absurdity.

What is the relation between actors and that context, and the relations inside the context? This covers much of the human condition, so let us boil the narratives down to the concern of peace studies: violence–avoidable insults to basic needs–and peace.

We start with the violence narratives.3

Table 1. Actor-Nature-Structure-Culture: The violence narratives

impact → Actor Nature Structure Culture





























for survival






survival of

the fittest






clash of









as "natural"



clash of


* Seeing 2- two parties, either-or, everywhere, aka dilemma.

The first column is a listing of hurt and harm to human actors:

* as intended by other actors – also known as personal, direct, intended violence – as acts of commission;

* as traumas inflicted by nature's cosmo-, atmo-, hydro-, litho-, bio-spheres; bio meaning animals, plants, micro-organisms;

* as built into structures (patterns of interaction) in which actors are embedded, unintended violence sustained by acts of omission;

* as built into cultures (patterns of meaning), legitimizing the other violences.

The idea is now to understand the first column in the light of the other three. To do that, however, we need the dialectic of the violence narratives with the peace narratives, to cover both sides of the issue. So, here are the peace narratives.

Table 2. Actor-Nature-Structure-Culture: The peace narratives

impact → Actor Nature Structure Culture

















integration (inclusion)












mutual aid cooperation








survival of

the symbiotic






symbiosis of












dialogue, alliance of


* Four, not two, possibilities: either, or, neither-nor, both-and.

There is much going on in the world. Ambiguous; two tables.

Human actors, individual and collective, are capable of bad and good, of violence and peace. And nature is capable of destroying anything in its way, and of sustaining it, evolving further.

Structures promote violence as hierarchy with exploitation, and can sustain peace as equiarchy with equity. Cultures can legitimize, or take for granted, even justify, all three violences, and can justify, sustain, and promote peace by and between all of them.

The first rows spell out how actors do violence, and do peace. How all four do so to themselves is on the main diagonals.

The second rows spell out nature's impact on actors, structures, cultures. Nature impacts on all three and imposes its imprint; in the tables called causation. It matters whether humans live in a nature with scarcity (Antarctic, deserts) or abundance (rain forests, South Pacific islands), or in-between.5 Under scarcity a male edge in physical strength may induce patriarchy-hierarchy; under abundance a female edge in compassion may induce parity-equity.

The cultures may see freedom as insight in necessity, hence limiting, not expanding, space.

The third rows spell out how structure impacts on nature, or, more correctly, on how we live in nature. If vertical, structure imposes scarcity in the lower social levels by the upper layers appropriating nature as "property" through privatization (deprivare, deprive from others); or by imposing scarcity by giving priority to scarce goals, like gold, money, land.

And conversely, if horizontal, whatever is will be shared, and with abundance there may be distribution, in the hands of women.

The cultures will follow suit.

The fourth rows spell out how culture impacts on nature, and how we conceive of nature. If legitimizing verticality scarcity will be emphasized; if legitimizing horizontality abundance will be emphasized. The nature of nature depends on our social choice.

The structures will follow suit.

In the two tables 2x16 = 32 relations are indicated; evolving at the same time. The 16 pairs of cells indeed harbor ambiguities, not only either-or, but also as neither-nor, both-and. Is there any way of simplifying this? Some levers, some fixed points? Some primacy?

Maybe the primacy of nature? Nature was there long before life and humans, with ample time to evolve. Nature has a non-negotiable tie to humans in the basic human needs. Nature is both in us as needs, and outside us as meeting those needs. Or not.

Abundance-sufficiency, and scarcity, derive from that.

Structures and cultures, as ways of living and of seeing the world, may reinforce or counteract. But we also assume actors-structures-cultures to emerge together.

There is no "state of nature" (Hobbes) without patterns of interaction and meaning; for human, and also for non-human life.

Two quadrangles, one with the four violences and one with the four peaces, each with all four unilateral and six bilateral relations, reflect that.

With some primacy to the basic needs of nature, and nature’s basic needs tie to humans.

How can we react to this complexity and ambiguity? Problematic, and not too well. Maybe too complicated for poor humans?

Hypotheses, by simplifying the complexity:

  • by focusing only on violence, or only on peace: Darwin vs Kropotkin;
  • by knowing both, but taking peace for granted, neither sustaining nor improving, focusing on violence as exceptional: the media approach;
  • by knowing both, but taking the violence narrative for granted, not doing anything to control it, hence actually focusing on peace;
  • by focusing equally on reducing violence and on building peace;
  • by focusing on both, but letting social stratification define the priorities: preventing violence by nature, by lowerclasses, by lower peoples, imposing peace by permitting only violence from above: Hobbes.

And thus it was that Nature was controlled, to reduce costs and increase benefits. Hence agriculture, husbandry, and a host of health and natural sciences to control, or at least warn against, animals, poisonous plants, micro-organisms, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons, hurricanes, inundation, drought, cosmic radiation; all to reduce pain and increase pleasure.

The ultimate triumph is a tamed nature, in museums, in zoos, in botanical gardens, in parks; with guards and guardians.

And thus it was that humans lower down were controlled and became objects in legal and social sciences as masses, primitives, dangerous classes; as "the other half".

A "State of Nature" with life seen as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Hobbes) legitimized a "social contract" of structural violence, backed by top-down actor violence.

The ultimate triumph was a tame, “governable” populace; with police-military guards and schools as guardians; ruled from above.

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house that shall be established at the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills;

All nations shall flow unto it.

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;

And he will teach us of his ways,

And we will walk in the paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord, from Jerusalem.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people;

and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,

nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more". Isaiah, 2:2-4.

Ruled from the Lord, the Lord’s house, out of Zion-Jerusalem the Lord’s laws, to judge among nations. Peace from above.

Elites have given top priority to mastering natural violence; then actor violence from low down in domestic and global society; then violence from others, high up. Structural and cultural violence are left invisible. The structural violence benefiting those higher up is justified as "natural", and the cultural violence from those highest up (brahmins) is justified as "freedom of expression".

In the global society of states the direct violence took two forms: superiority, overwhelming force, downward to unequals; and balance of power sideward to equals.

In domestic society the second formula was unacceptable. The state was given monopoly on force (Weber), which is why the focus so often is more on eliminating any domestic rivals than on addressing the grievances motivating them.

Structural violence has abounded domestically and globally. Control of humans may rank above nature; the reactions to New Orleans Katrina, and the Haiti earthquakes being good examples.

Violences come with classes as senders and receivers: from below, nature and "common people(s); from ourselves and equals; from above, from the lords, and from the Lord.

Fight the lower, balance equals, accept the higher as inevitable.

Sciences are ranked high if they benefit those high up. On top law, health, natural sciences, business administration. Terrorism studies and state terrorist killing are well funded; peace studies not. Countries higher up have centers for studying countries lower down, not vice versa. Grievances are made inaudible.

Is this an iron social law? No such thing. Social invariances are all conditional, and a key condition is low consciousness about them. Key question: what cultural values and structural interests are served by the belief in such laws as unchangeable?

We can choose our laws; and we can choose whether to focus more on violence or more on peace.

This book chooses overcoming violences, and building peaces.

  1. See Erich Neumann, The Origin and History of Consciousness, New York: Pantheon Books, 1954; with an introduction by C.G. Jung himself, reflecting on his own work on "archetypes" or "primordial images"; with an exhaustive listing of cases.

  2. As spelled out in 50 Years: 25 Intellectual Landscapes Explored, Part I.

  3. In addition to "violences" and "peaces" in plural the reader is asked to put up with "natural violence", not only as a fourth type of violence but also that "natural" does not mean acceptable but as something originating in nature. The author's weakness for euphony (of natural with structural, cultural) is to blame, as the temptation to say actorial rather than actor violence. Actorial or actor; I now prefer that to direct. Either direct vs indirect or actor vs structural violence, not direct vs structural mixing the two.

  4. See Kinji Imanishi, A Japanese View of Nature: The World of Living Things, London: Routledge Curzon, 2002.

  5. This is all elaborated in some detail in A Theory of Development.


© 2024 TRANSCEND International