Articles by Johan Galtung:
July 31, 2012 by Johan Galtung
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Libor scandal is how familiar it seems. Sure, for some of the world’s leading banks to try to manipulate one of the most important interest rates in contemporary finance is clearly egregious. But is that worse than packaging billions of dollars worth of dubious mortgages into a bond and having it stamped with a Triple-A rating to sell to some dupe down the road while betting against it? Or how about forging documents on an industrial scale to foreclose fraudulently on countless homeowners?
– Eduardo Porter for the The New York Times
A useful summary of the situation as of today. But of what? What is this? We have been through many answers starting with credit squeeze, then a real estate bubble that burst, toxic assets, credit swaps, hedge funds, derivatives—bets with the money of other people, yours and mine—all finance and banking. A psychologism was added at an early stage, that of greed. Small savings banks wanted to be in it, the pattern was contagious and spread from Wall Street to the Euro zone. Bailout vs. Stimulus, Wall Street vs. Main Street. But as big banks are too big to fail there was bailout for the former and austerity for the latter, resulting in misery.
July 12, 2012 by Johan Galtung
The great German statesman Willy Brandt died twenty years ago. Germany, Europe and the world have much to be grateful about, and much to learn from this master of politics under great tension and polarization. What was his Ostpolitik–new politics toward the East–formula?
De-escalation and tension reduction are important aspects, but too general. Brandt managed to present to the East, not only to DDR (East Germany) but to Poland, Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union, a friendly West Germany not filled with aggression and hatred; a member of NATO, but with a human face. There was no doubt about his stand on dictatorships against the will of the peoples, but he managed to relate directly to the East Germans, the Poles, the Czechs and the Russians.
June 12, 2012 by Johan Galtung
The multi-season Arab Spring is the third anti-imperialist Arab revolt in less than a century: against the Ottoman empire, against the Western Italian–French–English empire, and now the US-Israel empire. The empires hit back. The Ottomans were weak, but England–France–Israel even invaded Egypt in 29 October 1956––in the shadow of the Hungarian revolt against the Soviet empire that crumbled nearly a quarter century later. And now it is the turn of USA–Israel to try to maintain an illegitimate structure.
So much for the background. In the foreground is class, pitting the powerless at the bottom against the powerful at the top. Wealth flows upward, accelerated by corruption; military, police and secret police forces protect the top against revolts; decision-making is by dictatorships; all of this that used to be justified by the fight against communism is now hitched on to fight against Islamism.
February 14, 2012 by Johan Galtung
We are witnessing the state system at its worst. The options are tighter sanctions, or war. The far better option of sitting down with mediators, talking and searching for solutions is absent. Polarization and escalation, the material of which wars are made, fill the media. What a shame!
There are multiple underlying conflicts. Take the nuclear issue––two nuclear haves against one have-not. The United States lived with Soviet and Chinese nuclear bombs for a long time before they learned to talk. Israel has lived with Pakistan’s nuclear option, described as the “Islamic” bomb. But then, with no proof of an Iranian nuclear arms capability, why Iran? One answer was given by Mohammed El Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The West wants regime change, and uses the nuclear issue.
January 9, 2012 by Johan Galtung
The clouds are dark and we sense one on the horizon. The omens are not good––a major war, even with Russia-China, to revive an economy in depression, which means destroying capital and rebuilding. Depression? Yes. Because of the dismantling of the welfare state (The Nation, January 2, 2012), the withering away of livelihoods will show up as increasing morbidity and mortality on the health indicators––the only true measures of “development.”
When we need them most, the unemployment, health and pensions safety nets are torn apart, exposing the most vulnerable sector of society, older people, hit by costly diseases, and no jobs. The standard measure of recession, negative economic growth two quarters in succession, does not capture this. It is a system indicator of economic activity measuring the value added of traded goods and services. But what is value added?
The power to define a price tag with a solid profit margin for oneself. What is trading? The idea that, instead of producing oneself, get the product through exchange. Evidently, it is a measure favoring producers and traders, for real products for end consumption, and for financial products for buying and selling. As the Gross National Product (GNP) grows, so do they; as it shrinks they shrink in numbers, but not in wealth.
November 21, 2011 by Johan Galtung
On November 14, 2011, Professor Johan Galtung gave the following speech on being awarded the Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Frontier Gandhi) Peace-Builder Award in Washington, D.C.
I am deeply honored and grateful for the Abdul Ghaffar Khan International Peace-Builder Award, named after the Frontier Gandhi, the Muslim Gandhi, Badshah Khan, a hero of the anti-colonial struggle from 1930. He saw nonviolence as “a weapon from the Prophet,” rooted in the Qur’an. I met him once–a giant in more than one sense–viewing with sharp eyes an inconsequential peace conference unfolding in New Delhi, in 1970. A model for us all, like Gandhi.
We are addressing in this American Muslim Association Foundation Quarterly Policy Forum “Kashmir and the Regional Jigsaw Puzzle for Peace.” I have added Afghanistan to the puzzle, and Central Asia for a “regional solution.” Deeply impressed with the preceding speakers on Kashmir, Ambassadors Howard B. Schaffer and Yusuf Buch, and by Dr. Ghulam-Nabi Fai’s book on the Kashmir Conflict, let me present some TRANSCEND (a mediation NGO) perspectives on the issues, based on a high number (in the hundreds) of one-on-one dialogues with all kinds of parties to the conflicts.
November 1, 2011 by Johan Galtung
1958––My first time in Latin America, the first love became everlasting. What is love? It is sharing the joy of the Other, like the beauty of Mexico City, with clear sky and good air; suffering the suffering of the Other like the direct violence with 50-60 thousand killed in the last 5 years. Mexico has 19 of the 50 most violent cities in the world.
This narco-tráfico is linked to the structural violence of poverty for the lower half of the population, 95 percent of the 10 million indigenous population, and the flagrant inequality. A social pathology, a cancer metastasizing in corruption and pacts in the body politic, police, the military.
Mexico, don’t despair! There are new winds blowing. From the north the cold air of arms, money and killing. But the US empire is falling, and the USA itself is in bad shape. In fact, much of the West is de-developing, but still an enormous, diverse source––also for the good as “Occupy Everywhere” events show. What a blessed geography? The major bi-oceanic country in Latin America! The winds are blowing from Asia: winds of hope, with a Japanese-Chinese model of how to overcome misery; the winds of the Arab Spring are blowing from the Middle East, carrying whispers of an African Spring in a year or two; the winds are blowing from the South, from Latin American brothers and sisters; new winds, with the voices of the indigenous, of Mother Nature, of lifting the poor, of patient work for integration.