“Money is one of those cultural forces that has remained mostly invisible to the conscious ‘western’ mind. It is therefore to a civilization as the DNA code is to a species. It replicates structures and behaviour patterns that remain active across time and space for generations.” – Transformation Management: Towards the Integral Enterprise In a previous… Read More
Structural violence, a term coined by Johan Galtung and by liberation theologians during the 1960s, describes social structures – economic, political, legal, religious, and cultural – that stop individuals, groups, and societies from reaching their full potential. In its general usage, the word violence often conveys a physical image; however, according to Galtung, it is the “avoidable impairment of fundamental human needs or…the impairment of human life, which lowers the actual degree to which someone is able to meet their needs below that which would otherwise be possible”. Structural violence is often embedded in longstanding “ubiquitous social structures, normalized by stable institutions and regular experience”. Because they seem so ordinary in our ways of understanding the world, they appear almost invisible. Disparate access to resources, political power, education, health care, and legal standing are just a few examples. The idea of structural violence is linked very closely to social injustice and the social machinery of oppression. Read More
Definition of syndrome
- a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality or condition
- a set of concurrent things (such as emotions or actions) that usually form an identifiable pattern
In my attempt to understand the root cause of the causes of life destabilisations, several articles synchronistically and serendipitously provided definitive answers yesterday that is consistent with the assertion that violence is an acquired syndrome rather that a congenital defect of our human nature. (Please see: US Defence Secretary Calls on Military to be “Ready” for War Against North Korea. “There are No Risk Free Options”, Army is accepting more low-quality recruits, giving waivers for marijuana to hit targets, War Culture – Gun Culture: They’re Related, and The Psychology of Mass Killers: What Causes It? How Can You Prevent It?.)
The last article was seminal for me in connecting different ideas I have come across over the years in my search for meaning and understanding of the underlying method of this violent madness that pervades every aspect of our society today. What I propose to do is summarise as best as I can in the author’s own words the ideas presented and how they are intimately connected to each other and to provide a neurobiological framework that connects the best neuroscience with the deepest analytical psychology in our toolkits of life appreciation.
© Journal of Peace Research. vol. 27. no. 3. 1990. pp. 291-305
College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaii, Manoa
This article introduces a concept of ‘cultural violence’, and can be seen as a follow-up of the author’s introduction of the concept of ‘structural violence’ over 20 years ago (Galtung. 1969). Cultural violence is defined here as any aspect of a culture that can be used to legitimize violence in its direct or structural form. Symbolic violence built into a culture does not kill or maim like direct violence or the violence built into the structure. However, it is used to legitimize either or both, as for instance in the theory of a Herrenvolk, or a superior race. The relations between direct, structural and cultural violence are explored, using a violence triangle and a violence strata image, with various types of casual flows. Examples of cultural violence are indicated, using a division of culture into religion and ideology, art and language, and empirical and formal science. The theory of cultural violence is then related to two basic points in Gandhism, the doctrines of unity of life and of unity of means and ends. Finally, the inclusion of culture as a major focus of peace research is seen not only as deepening the quest for peace, but also as a possible contribution to the as yet non-existent general discipline of ‘culturology’.
*Presented as a lecture at the University of Melbourne Peace Studies Group, March 1989; at the summer Schools in Peace Studies at the University of Oslo and the University of Hawaii, July 1989; and at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, August 1989. I am indebted to discussants at all these places.
Violence, Peace and Peace Research by Johan Galtung (1969) “…violence is present when human beings are being influenced so that their actual somatic and mental realizations are below their potential realizations… …Violence is here defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, between what could have been and what is…… Read More