Friday Ephemera

False Consciousness

Thanks to The Thin Man for directing my attention, via here, to this essay by Bruce Bawer on Johan Galtung and the “peace studies” movement. It’s a long piece, but worth reading in full as it illustrates just how readily reality can be inverted, not least by an unhinged Norwegian Marxist.

“[The] founding father [of the peace studies movement] 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 as a charismatic and 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.’ …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.’

…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.’ …His all-time favourite 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.’”

That much is certain. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing

Johan_galtungGaltung is the founder of the “peace university”, Transcend, which stresses “a new reality” in conflict resolution and reporting – one based largely on “recognising the validity of the other” and avoiding descriptive terms like “barbarous” and “terrorist”. How that “new reality” would address the actual realities of jihadist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah isn’t entirely clear; but it appears to involve squinting and delusion, along with the flattening of moral values, including basics like who did what to whom, or wishes to, and disdaining Western preferences as by default wicked and “self-righteous”, while excusing or ignoring the vividly self-righteous ambitions of the jihadist movements themselves and their ideological cheerleaders.

Interviewed for Australia’s The World Today, Galtung offered a reassuring, even whimsical, view of Islamic theocracy: “The basic point in democracy is that a rule is by the consent of the people, and in the Islamic world that consent is very much in terms of to what extent Islamic values are being enacted.” Again, it isn’t clear how this rosy formulation addresses the preferences and liberties of, say, women, non-Muslims or gay people, whose relationship with orthodox Islamic values and the politics of the mosque may be somewhat less congenial.

And one mustn’t forget Galtung’s appearance on Australia’s Late Night Live radio programme, in which he equated John Howard with the “more intellectual” Osama bin Laden and implied, somewhat improbably, that the Bali bombing and attacks on Hindus, Buddhists and Christians were prompted by righteous affront at visiting Australian paedophiles. Oddly, the actual perpetrators of the Bali atrocity, who made their motives quite clear, didn’t mention paedophilic tourism as their most pressing consideration. But such is the false consciousness “new reality” of the righteous Professor Galtung.

Related, this, this and this

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