Freedom is violence!

In more than a couple of posts, I've ridiculed a bumpersticker which simply said: "POVERTY IS VIOLENCE."

But until today I never know what fiend was responsible for that inane and empty slogan which acts as little more than a logic-destroying thought virus. (It helps to know exactly who these people are, so I often wonder, usually to little avail.)

Glenn's link to Bruce Bawer's "The Peace Racket" provided the answer, at least to this particular round of "guess the sloganeer." The great mind who came up with the theory which equates an absence of socialism with physical violence is a man named Johan Galtung, whose life is reviewed by Bawer largely because of his role in developing another inane idea -- "Peace Studies":

Peace studies initiatives may train students to be social workers, to work in churches or community health organizations, or to resolve family quarrels and neighborhood disputes. At the movement's heart, though, are programs whose purported emphasis is on international relations. Their founding father is a 77-year-old Norwegian professor, Johan Galtung, who established the International Peace Research Institute in 1959 and the Journal of Peace Research five years later. Invariably portrayed in the media as a charismatic and (these days) grandfatherly champion of decency, Galtung is in fact a lifelong enemy of freedom. In 1973, he thundered that "our time's grotesque reality" was--no, not the Gulag or the Cultural Revolution, but rather the West's "structural fascism." He's called America a "killer country," accused it of "neo-fascist state terrorism," and gleefully prophesied that it will soon follow Britain "into the graveyard of empires."
Does he really have to be Norwegian? I'm of Norwegian descent, and I'm beginning to take this man's very existence as an ethnic slur! What gives him such a profound chip on his shoulder in the name of peace, anyway? The Norwegian Empire never got off the ground? (I guess I don't have to point out that they outdid us in the fascism department back in World War II -- but that's not a judgment on the many Norwegian freedom fighters. But this Galtung coward would probably call Vidkun Quisling a "peace maker.")
No fan of Britain either, Galtung has faulted "Anglo-Americans" for trying to "stop the wind from blowing." If the U.S. and the U.K. oppose a dangerous development, in his view, we're causing trouble--Milosevic, Saddam, and Osama are just the way the wind is blowing. Galtung's kind of thinking leads inexorably to the conclusion that one should never challenge any tyrant. Fittingly, he urged Hungarians not to resist the Soviet Army in 1956, and his views on World War II suggest that he'd have preferred it if the Allies had allowed Hitler to finish off the Jews and invade Britain.
Yup. The guy has old Vidkun Quisling's stamp all over him!
Though Galtung has opined that the annihilation of Washington, D.C., would be a fair punishment for America's arrogant view of itself as "a model for everyone else," he's long held up certain countries as worthy of emulation--among them Stalin's USSR, whose economy, he predicted in 1953, would soon overtake the West's. He's also a fan of Castro's Cuba, which he praised in 1972 for "break[ing] free of imperialism's iron grip." At least you can't accuse Galtung of hiding his prejudices. In 1973, explaining world politics in a children's newspaper, he described the U.S. and Western Europe as "rich, Western, Christian countries" that make war to secure materials and markets: "Such an economic system is called capitalism, and when it's spread in this way to other countries it's called imperialism." In 1974, he sneered at the West's fixation on "persecuted elite personages" such as Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. Thirty years later, he compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany for bombing Kosovo and invading Afghanistan and Iraq. For Galtung, a war that liberates is no better than one that enslaves.
Yes, because war is more evil than death camps, torture, enslavement, or extermination. The Jews who fought back in the Warsaw Ghetto were no better than the Nazis who burned them out!
His all-time favorite nation? China during the Cultural Revolution. Visiting his Xanadu, Galtung concluded that the Chinese loved life under Mao: after all, they were all "nice and smiling." While "repressive in a certain liberal sense," he wrote, Mao's China was "endlessly liberating when seen from many other perspectives that liberal theory has never understood." Why, China showed that "the whole theory about what an 'open society' is must be rewritten, probably also the theory of 'democracy'--and it will take a long time before the West will be willing to view China as a master teacher in such subjects."

Nor has Galtung changed his tune over the decades. Recently he gave a lecture that was a smorgasbord of wild accusations about America's refusing to negotiate with Saddam, America's secret plans to make war in Azerbaijan, Nazis in the State Department, the CIA's responsibility for 6 million covert murders, and so on. Galtung called for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Iraq--to treat America's crimes, not the Baathists'.

Great guy. (Read the whole thing if you want a good puke.)

What I cannot understand for the life of me is why he looks like such a kindly and avuncular old man in the Wiki entry picture.

Anyway, on to Galtung's theory of what makes violence out of poverty:

The Peace Racket maintains that the Western world's profound moral culpability, arising from its history of colonialism and economic exploitation, deprives it of any right to judge non-Western countries or individuals. Further, the non-West has suffered so much from exploitation that whatever offenses it commits are legitimate attempts to recapture dignity, obtain justice, and exact revenge. Have Third World terrorists taken Americans hostage? Don't call the hostages innocent victims. After all, as Americans, they're complicit in a system that has long inflicted "structural violence" (or "structural terrorism") upon the Third World poor. Donald Rothberg of San Francisco's Saybrook Institute explains: "In using the term 'structural violence,' we identify phenomena as violent that are not usually seen as violent. For example, Western economic domination."
Considering that Galtung is credited with the term "structural violence," I guess it's fair to call him the Architect of Structural Violence.

This nonsense architecture includes "structural violence" within "Galtung's conflict triangle":

....the assumption that the best way to define peace is to define violence, its antithesis. It reflects the normative aim of preventing, managing, limiting and overcoming violence.
  • Direct (overt) violence, e.g., direct attack, massacre.

  • Structural violence. Death by avoidable reasons such as malnutrition. Structural violence is indirect violence caused by an unjust structure and is not to be equated with an act of God. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the USA in 2005, was a so-called "act of God", but the deaths in the poorer black population of New Orleans are an example of structural violence, since their deaths were related to societal imbalance.

  • Cultural violence. Cultural violence occurs as a result of the cultural assumptions that blind one to direct or structural violence. For example, one may be indifferent toward the homeless, or even consider their expulsion or extermination a good thing.
  • In other words, the mere opinion that a guy panhandling on the street should get a job is violence!

    Structural violence is said to kill far more people than wars, and it is said by doctors to have actual clinical dimensions.

    Most importantly, it is not to be confused by misleading rhetoric about that form of nonsense Republicans like to call "freedom":

    The patterns of discrimination, injustice and exploitation are built into practices, and cultural patterns that we hardly notice or think of. And the ideologies and cosmologies that defend the unjust structures and patterns, are examples of cultural violence. The Republican rhetoric in the USA, for instance, uses the term "freedom" to justify the capitalist system, and lack of solidarity. Such deep cultural rhetoric, must be brought to the light, and we must change thinking and behaviours.
    What this means is that "freedom" is just another word for violence.

    When the Republicans talk about freedom, what they really mean is the freedom to commit cultural violence. Seen this way, "eliminationist rhetoric" does not require any advocacy or threats to kill anyone. Merely opposing socialism, or advocating "freedom" will suffice.

    Is that clear?

    While I'd like to think this is satire, or at least a wacky idea from some way-out province of the lunatic fringe, there is a serious side which isn't funny at all.

    Sincere, hard-working parents all over the country have been enrolling their kids in colleges with innumerable Peace and Conflict studies departments, and there is a movement to make courses like "Peace Studies" (and the closely related "Social Justice") mandatory. Because most people are too busy to examine these things in the detail that is (unfortunately) required, they may fail utterly to realize that "Peace Studies" does not mean painting a dayglo peace symbols on your forehead and listening to Joan Baez and John Lennon. It means being indoctrinated in something which is antithetical to just about every Western liberal tradition, as well as to logic itself. While I'd like to think that if I raised a kid he'd have the sense to see past it, what about all these fine universities that apparently don't?

    And what about the 60 cosponsors of House Resolution 808? This measure:

    ...would authorize a Secretary of Peace to "establish a Peace Academy," "develop a peace education curriculum" for elementary and secondary schools, and provide "grants for peace studies departments" at campuses around the country. If passed, the measure would catapult the peace studies movement into a position of extraordinary national, even international, influence.
    Should tax dollars be used to promote the idea that what we call American freedom is actually "structural violence"?

    Or should I give the congressmen the same benefit of the doubt that I just gave the ignorant but hard-working parents?


    The irony is that if these people ever get their way, there'll be no one to stop the bad guys.

    (Almost creates a niche for Bad Guy Studies.)

    MORE: Um, maybe that's how they should market War Studies?

    posted by Eric on 08.20.07 at 07:54 PM


    Am I ever so glad that I did my time in academe during Reagan's first term. Nutjobs like these were still on the fringes, yet we of sane mind could see the coming storm. I only hope this storm blows out before the fall of 2016 when my daughter is scheduled to hit college.

    Captain Ned   ·  August 20, 2007 8:34 PM

    If poverty is violence, does this mean we'll all be safer if people who can't be bothered showing up for a seminar on how to find work which a now-disillusioned activist set up on their behalf are all locked up?

    triticale   ·  August 21, 2007 12:18 AM

    PIMF. Now-disillusioned.
    Time to stop blogging for the night, but I get pretty huffy about this seeing as how my escape from poverty resulted from a decision that getting high was of secondary importance compared to earning a living.

    triticale   ·  August 21, 2007 12:21 AM

    But Peace Studies students did have some good parties, if my memory serves.

    Laban Tall   ·  August 21, 2007 7:23 AM

    This is why I will never send a child of mine to a university to study something like Sociology. I would never waste that much good money on something so useless and virulent as a degree in Peace Studies or any other "Studies" based on PC rubbish.

    MikeT   ·  August 21, 2007 11:11 AM

    I remember listening to a Peace Studies major hold forth in a Penn campus bar (it must have been 1974). He told us that there were hundreds of military colleges around the world, but only one Peace Studies curriculum.

    I wonder what he's doing now...probably a business agent for the International Personhood of Progressive Bloggers.

    G. Weightman   ·  August 22, 2007 8:48 PM

    Post a comment

    April 2011
    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
              1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30


    Search the Site


    Classics To Go

    Classical Values PDA Link


    Recent Entries


    Site Credits