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Galtung Article

Galtung Article

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Violence, Peace, and Peace ResearchAuthor(s): Johan GaltungSource:
Journal of Peace Research,
Vol. 6, No. 3 (1969), pp. 167-191Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.Stable URL:
Accessed: 20/08/2009 10:10
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 Journal of Peace Research.
International Peace ResearchInstitute,Oslo
1.IntroductionIn thepresentpaperweshall beusingtheword'peace'verymanytimes. Few wordsare so often usedand abused-perhaps,itseems,because'peace'serves asameansofobtainingverbalconsensus-itis hard tobe all-outagainstpeace.lThus,when ef-forts are made topleadalmostanykind ofpolicy-saytechnicalassistance,increasedtrade,tourism,new formsofeducation,ir-rigation,industrialization,etc.-thenitisoften assertedthat thatpolicy,inadditionto othermerits,willalsoservethecauseof peace.This isdoneregardlessofhowtenuoustherelation has beenin thepastor how dubiousthetheory justifyingthisas a reasonableexpectationfor the future.Suchdifficultiesareavoidedby excludinganyreference to datafrom thepastor totheories about the future.Thispracticeis notnecessarilyharm-ful. The useof the term'peace'mayin itselfbepeace-productive,produc-inga commonbasis,afeelingofcom-munalityinpurposethatmay pavethegroundfordeeperties later on.The useof moreprecisetermsdrawnfromthevocabularyof oneconflictgroup,andexcluded fromthevocabularyoftheopponent group,mayinitself causedissent and lead tomanifest conflictpreciselybecausetheterm is so clear-lyunderstood.Byprojectinganimageofharmonyofinterests theterm'peace'mayalsohelp bringaboutsuch a har-mony.It providesopponentswith aone-wordlanguageinwhich toexpressvalues ofconcernandtogethernessbe-causepeaceis onanybody'sagenda.2Onemay objectthatfrequentuseoftheword'peace' givesanunrealisticimageof the world.Expressionslike'violence','strife','exploitation'oratleast'conflict','revolution' and warshouldgainmuchhigher frequencytomirrorsemanticallyabasicallynon-har-monious world.Butleavingthismajorargumentaside forthemoment,it is ob-viousthatsome levelofprecisionis nec-essaryfor the term to serve as acognitivetool.Atthispoint,ofcourse,nobodyhasany monopolyondefining 'peace'.Butthose whousethe termfrequentlyin aresearchcontext,aspeaceresearchers(will do)do,willatleast havegainedsomeexperiencewhen it comes todefinitionsthat shouldbeavoided for onereason oranother.To discuss the idea ofpeacewe shallstartfromthreesimple principles:
1.The term'peace'shall be used for socialgoalsat leastverbally agreedtoby many,ifnotnecessarilybymost.2.These socialgoals maybecomplexand diffi-cult,but notimpossible,toattain.3.The statementpeaceisabsenceofviolenceshallberetainedasvalid.
The thirdprincipleisnotadefinition,since it is aclear case of obscurumperobscurius. Whatweintend isonlythat
168JohanGaltungtheterms'peace'and 'violence' be linkedtoeachother such that'peace'can beregardedas 'absenceofviolence'.Thereasonsat thisearlypointin ourseman-ticalexcursion,aretwofold:thestate-mentissimpleandinagreementwithcommonusage,and defines apeacefulsocialordernotas apointbut asregion-asthevastregionof socialorders fromwhichviolenceisabsent.Within this re-giona tremendous amount ofvariation isstillpossible,makingan orientation infavorofpeace compatiblewith a numberofideologies outliningotheraspectsofsocialorders.Everythingnowhingesonmakingadefinitionof'violence'.This is ahighlyunenviabletask,andthesuggestionswillhardlybesatisfactorytomanyreaders.However,it is not soimportantto arriveatanythinglikethedefinition,or thetypology-for there areobviouslymanytypesofviolence. More important is toin-dicatetheoretically significant dimensionsofviolence that can lead thinking, re-searchand, potentially, action,towardsthemostimportant problems. If peaceactionis to be regarded highly because itisactionagainst violence, then the con-ceptof violence must be broad enough toincludethemost significant varieties, yetspecificenough to serve as a basis forconcreteaction.Thus,the definition of 'peace' becomesamajorpart of a scientificstrategy.Itmaydepartfrom common usage bynotbeingagreed to 'by most' (consensusnotrequired),yet should not be entirelysubjectivistic('agreedto by many'). Itshoulddepict a state of affairs the realiza-tionofwhich is not utopian ('not impos-sdiletoobtain'), yet not on the imme-diatepoliticalagenda ('complexandbifficult').And it should immediatelysteerone'sattention towards problemsthatareon the political, intellectual, andscientificagenda of today, and to-
2.Onthedefinitionanddimensionsof'violence'Asapointofdeparture,let ussaythatviolenceispresentwhenhumanbeingsarebeinginfluencedothat theiractual soma-tic and mentalrealizationsarebelowtheirpotentialrealizations. Thisstatementmayleadto moreproblemsthanitsolves.However,it willsoon beclearwhywearerejectingthenarrowconceptofviolence-accordingtowhich violenceissomaticincapacitation,ordeprivationofhealth,alone(withkillingas theextremeform),atthehands of anactor who in-tends this to be theconsequence.Ifthiswereallviolenceisabout,andpeaceisseen as itsnegation,thentoo little isrejectedwhenpeaceis heldupas anideal.Highlyunacceptablesocial orderswould still becompatiblewithpeace.Hence,an extendedconcept ofviolenceisindispensablebutthatconceptshouldbe a logicalextension,not merelya listof undesirables.The definition pointsto at least six im-portant dimensions of violence.Butfirstsome remarks about the use of the keywords above, 'actual'and 'potential'.Violence is here defined as the causeofthedifferencebetween the potential andtheactual,between what could have beenand what is. Violence is that which in-creases the distance between the potentialand the actual, and thatwhich impedesthe decrease of thisdistance.Thus, if aperson died from tuberculosis in theeighteenth century it would be hard toconceive of this as violence since it mighthave been quite unavoidable, but if hedies from it today, despite all themedicalresources in theworld,then violence ispresent according to our definition. Cor-respondingly, the case of people dyingfrom earthquakes today would not war-rant an analysis in terms of violence,3butthe day after tomorrow, when earth-quakes may become avoidable, suchdeaths may be seen as the result of voi-

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