IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Galtung on leadership

Recent events (you can fill in the blank here for yourself) have given rise to much (hopefully creative) thought about how we (humanity) are organized and how we conduct our collective business.  Johan Galtung, never one to mince his words (and less and less so, from what I hear 🙂 ) had some very forceful things to say about what Wikileaks has told us about world affairs.  You can get the whole text here, but I’ve included a few passages that are close to the main concerns of this blog.


“The state system, which was established to balance the interests of states in an anarchic world, has failed, as demonstrated by the numerous wars it has generated. It is fading, as colonialism has been fading earlier, surviving only in the US empire, which is also fading.

Nationalism is rising. A nation is a group of people with a common culture (including religion), a common language, a common history and vision of the future, and a territorial attachment to a “homeland”. There are about 2000 nations in the world, and only 200states, meaning that most states include many nations, usually with one dominant nation. But rising nationalism offers no good solution to the world’s problems either.

We need and deserve something better, nothing perfect, but much better. We cannot build globalization on such absurdities. And yetsome kind of globalization is inevitable, as a consequence of new global modes of transportation and communication.

The late German physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker advocated the concept of “Weltinnenpolitik” (global domestic policy), a vision of one global culture and a world state.  To be sustainable, such a system would need to protect a livable  natural environment and satisfy everyone’s four basic human needs of survival, welfare, identity and freedom.

Since violence is the consequence of unresolved conflicts, the  key to survival is conflict resolution.

To guarantee people’s welfare, meeting the essential material needs of food, housing, clothing, health care and education, a living income for everyone is the solution. The necessary resources are available, the only problem is that today their distribution is extremely unequal.

A global identity would require unity in diversity, welcoming the rich variety of cultural expressions, while recognizing that their common goal is human happiness. It would require to respect all world views that respect the others. It would be wrong to try to impose the culture of a single nation on everyone else. That would not be sustainable, it would generate resistance.

Freedom means having options in the choice of cultures and structures. Freedom encourages the unlimited creativity of the human species in reflecting on how it is programmed and how it can change its programs.

Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to live in domestic and world structures that make the realization of human rights possible. This implies that conflict resolution becomes a human right and duty. So does an economy where basic physical needs are guaranteed. Currently, the bailout of banks absorbs about 90 percent of funds made available by governments from taxpayers’ money, compared to 10 percent available to stimulate a basic needs oriented economy. This proportion should be reversed. Another implication of Article 28 is the need for mutual respect, curiosity and learning through dialogues of civilizations. It also implies a world federation, maybe of regions and big states. A unitary world state would impose the unity of one civilization on the rest, which is unacceptable. A lose world confederation would have too little unity. The best solution is a world federation.

Who are the people who would be capable of realizing a world culture based on basic human needs within a world federation? Thanks to Wikileaks the writing on the wall is clear: not the current brand of diplomats!…

These revelations are an indictment of today’s diplomacy…Where is the analysis of culture and structure, far more important than actors who come and go? … Where are positive ideas? Where are ideas about how to convert the challenges from climate change into cooperation for mutual and equal benefit?…”


This is a very serious indictment, by somebody who is very well informed and credible.  A word to the wise…


December 28, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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