Why is war inevitable?
Are Wars Inevitable?
Interview with the Norwegian peace researcher Johann Galtung *
On March 29, 2005, the daily newspaper "Neues Deutschland" published an interview with the head of international peace research, the Norwegian Johan Galtung. We are documenting this conversation with the kind permission of the editors.
ND: Are wars inevitable because they are human?
Galtung: No. Then there would be no fluctuations in the frequency of wars. But there are huge differences between cultures, civilizations and eras. Wars are not human, but structural, due to how the large groups on earth live together or no longer live together. Above all, they have to do with deep cultural ideas about what is right and wrong.
So you attribute wars to myths in people's depths of consciousness?
I mean, for example, the idea of being chosen by God, as with today's US President Bush. Or another kind of sense of mission, such as can be found among the Islamic fundamentalists.
Don't these myths also hide material interests?
George W. Bush may find himself guided by God, but behind him are the oil companies with their own goals.
The idea of being chosen dates back to 1620 in the United States. At that time, there were no oil interests. And the idea of the mission by Allah is from the year 622. But these myths are expressed today in material interests. There is a triangle of culture, economy and the military that one tries to mobilize for political purposes.
Bertolt Brecht wrote the following sentence: The capitalists don't want war, they have to want it.
That is too general. Most capitalists don't make that much money from war. Peace is more useful to them, because in peace the trade routes are not interrupted. But if you are a directional capitalist - and oil is the fuel for the military machine - then war is worth it.
In your opinion, what should be done to completely abolish war as a political tool?
Demythologize. But the best and most important method is to try to understand the conflict behind it. Journalists should learn to ask politicians two questions: What are the conflicts behind the violence and how can the problem be solved peacefully?
How can it be demythologized?
In my opinion, that is the main problem in peace research. One method would be drama. Good dramaturges should create plays where you can see how serious it is and at the same time how ridiculous it is. That would be a conscious method of demythologizing.
The second method is a subconscious one. First you act according to myth and at the end of the path you run your head against the wall. That happened to Germany too. After the end of National Socialism, it took 20 years before anyone really understood what was going on. At the end of the 1960s, the turning point came and the old myths like "The world should be recovered by the German being" were over.
Isn't Europe also on the way to becoming a military power? The new EU constitution even obliges the member states to permanently upgrade.
This is my hypothesis, which I already described in 1973 in my book "Europe - a superpower is created". Because of these fears, I vigorously opposed Norwegian membership in the European Community.
Is there an alternative to the great empires?
The alternative would be a reformed UN. The right of veto must of course be abolished. The Security Council needs to be expanded. It would be nice if Germany could say: We would like to have a place on the Security Council, but on a Security Council without a veto. The UN must become a parliament for the entire population of the world. States are only allowed to send a delegation there if they have previously democratized themselves internally.
Shouldn't the resistance of the USA empire as the strongest power be broken first?
That is also my thesis. That is why I am in favor of an economic boycott of American products. We now have Anglo-American fascism. Now you will say that these countries have democracy at home. But what is fascist is violence.
Fascist in the sense in which the Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo speaks of a master people's democracy in the north versus the south?
This is also called democratic fascism. This is the old British method of rule. Because of this, there was almost no resistance in Western Europe to English colonialism, because it was thought that nice countries can only do nice things. But externally this policy meant for England: kill, kill, kill. In 1607 the British landed in America and immediately afterwards started killing the locals. From then on, a clear line runs through it to this day. The Pentagon declared several years ago that it was necessary to kill to make the world safe for American business. The US has killed between 12 and 16 million people since 1945. These are numbers that are so taboo that no German newspaper publishes them. If I say something like that, it is not anti-American, but directed against the American empire. I am convinced that we are nearing the end of the American empire. All empires go under once the opposing forces become too strong.
Is the armed resistance in Iraq also legitimate as a counterforce?
Resistance is legitimate. But it would be much more effective if it were non-violent. Gandhi's nonviolent resistance has triumphed against English imperialism. And there was resistance against National Socialism in Rosenstrasse.
But not Rosenstrasse, but the troops of the anti-Hitler alliance defeated German fascism.
That's true, but let's multiply the example of Rosenstrasse a thousandfold. That is what people did in 1989 in the case of the GDR.
Nikolaus Brauns asked the questions.
From: Neues Deutschland, March 29, 2005
* Johann Galtung is considered the founder of international peace and conflict research. Born in Norway in 1930 as the son of a doctor, he refused military service and went to prison. After studying mathematics and sociology, he founded the first peace research institute (PRIO) in Oslo in 1959. He teaches at the University of Hawaii, the Fernuni Hagen, the University of Oslo and the Peace University in Schlaining (Austria). In many countries, including recently in Nepal and Sri Lanka, Galtung was used as a mediator for conflict resolution. In 1987 he received the Alternative Nobel Prize for his work on peace research.
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