AFTER VIOLENCE: 3R, RECONSTRUCTION, RECONCILIATION, RESOLUTION
Coping With Visible and Invisible Effects of War and Violence
By Johan Galtung, dr hc mult, Professor of Peace Studies
American, Granada, Ritsumeikan, Troms” and Witten Universities
Director, TRANSCEND: A Peace and Development Network
1. An Overview, and a Summary. 2
2. On Conflict/Violence/Peace Images 8
3. Mapping the Violence Formation 15
4. Violence, War, Trauma, Guilt - and the Search for Closure 27
5. Auschwitz, Gulag, Hiroshima, Nanking: Who/What is Guilty? 35
6. Truth&Reconciliation in South Africa: A New Jurisprudence? 40
7. Reconstruction After Violence: An Overview 53
Rehabilitation: the collective sorrow approach 54
Rebuilding: the development approach 56
Restructuration: the peace structure approach 58
Reculturation: the peace culture approach 61
8. Reconciliation After Violence: An Overview 64
 The exculpatory nature-structure-culture approach 65
 The reparation/restitution approach 67
 The apology/forgiveness approach 69
 The theological/penitence approach 71
 The juridical/punishment approach 73
 The codependent origination/karma approach 75
 The historical/truth commission approach 77
 The theatrical/reliving approach 79
 The joint sorrow/healing approach 81
 The joint reconstruction approach 83
 The joint conflict resolution approach 85
 The ho'o ponopono approach 87
9. Resolution After Violence: An Overview 92
The democracy, parliamentarian approach 96
The nonviolence, extra-parliamentarian approach 98
10. Reconstruction/Reconciliation/Resolution: The Interface 100
Diachrony versus synchrony 101
Building conflict transformation capacity 103
1. An Overview, and a Summary.
Violence has occurred, in the collective form of a war, with one
or more governments participating, or in the family, or in the
streets. Material and somatic, visible damage is accumulating,
deplored by parties and outsiders. But then the violence is
abating: the parties may have run out of material and nonmaterial
resources; the parties converge in their predictions of the final
outcome and more violence is seen as wanton, wasted; and/or
outside parties intervene to stop the violence, keep the peace,
for whatever reason, like preventing the victory of the party they
disfavor. A truce, cease-fire (armistice, Waffenstillstand, cese
al fuego) is initiated, an agreement is drawn up, signed. There is
a sigh of relief. And bewilderment.
The word "peace" is used both by the naive who confuse
absence of direct violence with peace and do not understand that
the work to make and build peace is now just about to start, and
by the less naive who know this and do not want that work to get
started. Thus the word "peace" becomes a very effective peace-
blocker. Our purpose is to contribute to the worldwide effort to
unblock that process toward a peace beyond cease-fire so that
"after violence" does not so easily become "before violence"./1/
The scene is appalling. The killed, the wounded, the raped,
the traumatized, the bereaved. The refugees, the displaced. The
new populations of widows, orphans, the wounded and war-struck,
the demobilized soldiers. The material damage, ruins; PTT,
electricity and water not working, road, rail, bridges, broken.
The institutional breakdown, the absence of law and order, the
lack of governance. The land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO)
everywhere. People scavenging in the ruins.
And yet this is only what meets the naked eye. In another
context what to do before violence has been explored/2/. In that
connection a little triangle was found useful, the ABC-triangle
where A stand for attitudes/assumptions, B for behaviour and C for
the contradiction underlying the conflict, the clash of goals held
by the parties; the issues. C is the root conflict. But as the
conflict runs its course A and B start taking ugly shapes:
anything from hatred eating at their heart to depression for A,
the inner state of the parties; anything from the most rabid
physical and verbal violence to withdrawal, apathy for B.
A and B, particularly B, constitute the meta-conflict, the
conflict that comes out of, or after, the root conflict, the over-
layer. Only B, the overt violent behaviour, is visible.
The focus in Conflict Transformation By Peaceful Means was on
how to transform the root conflict so that the parties can handle
it, the thesis being that "it is the failure to transform conflict
that leads to violence". But then there was also another thesis,
that conflict mobilizes a reservoir of energy that can be used for
constructive, not only destructive purposes. In other words,
violence in general, and war in particular is not only a monument
over the failure to transform the conflict so as to avoid
violence, but also the failure to use the conflict energy for more
Before violence the emotions were more pent-up. It made
sense to approach the root conflict as an intellectual problem
demanding high levels of creativity. After violence all of that
has changed. Pent-up emotions have been released in a frenzy of
collective human madness. There is massive destruction of all
kinds. And under the ruins the root conflict is still there!
The first task dealing with the root conflict is to map the
conflict formation, the parties, the goals, the clashes/issues.
The corresponding task after violence is to map the violence
formation, to understand better how the meta-conflict has run its
diabolic course, wreaking havoc within and between humans, groups,
societies, producing war-torn people, war-torn societies, a war-
torn world./3/ War is man-made disaster.
To start this mapping of violence another triangle, related
to the ABC-triangle, may be useful:
VISIBLE Direct Violence
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
INVISIBLE Cultural Violence Structural Violence
The direct violence, physical and/or verbal, is visible as
behavior. But human action does not come out of nowhere; there
are roots. Two roots are indicated: a culture of violence
(heroic, patriotic, patriarchic, etc.), and a structure that
itself is violent by being too repressive, exploitative or
alienating; too tight or too loose for the comfort of people.
The popular misunderstanding that "violence is in human
nature" is rejected. The potential for violence, like love, is in
human nature; but circumstances condition the realization of that
potential. Violence is not like eating or sexing, found all over
the world with slight variations. The big variations in violence
are easily explained in terms of culture and structure: cultural
and structural violence cause direct violence, using violent
actors who revolt against the structures and using the culture to
legitimize their use of violence as instruments.
The ABC-triangle is at the human level of human attitudes and
assumptions, cognitions and emotions, human violent behavior
physical or verbal, human perceptions of goals as incompatible,
clashing. The violence triangle is a social reflection of this.
The cultural violence is the sum total of all the myths, of glory
and trauma, and so on that serve to justify direct violence. The
structural violence is the sum total of all the clashes built into
the social and world structures and cemented, solidified so that
unjust, inequitable outcomes are almost unchangeable. The direct
violence described above grows out of this, of some elements, or
out of the total syndrome.
Obviously peace must also be built in the culture and in the
structure, not only in the "human mind". For the violence triangle
has built-in vicious cycles. The visible effects of direct
violence are as described above: the killed, the wounded, the
displaced, the material damage, all increasingly hitting the
civilians. But the invisible effects may be even more vicious:
direct violence reinforces structural and cultural violence, in
ways to be described below. And this, in turn, may lead to even
more direct violence. Most important is hatred and the addiction
to revenge for the trauma suffered among the losers, and to more
victories, glory among the winners. Power also accrues to the men
of violence. People feel this, are skeptical about "military
solutions", start searching for "political solutions". They tend
to be structural, like drawing geographical borders. Left out is
the cultural aspect, including the possibility that drawing
borders in geography may reinforce borders in the mind, which in
turn may legitimize direct violence in the future. An intra-state
war today may become an inter-state war tomorrow.
Geographical fragmentation may substitute the horizontal
structural violence of "too distant" for the vertical structural
violence of repressing, exploiting and alienating minorities
within a nation-state. We are now in a phase of internal wars of
secession and revolution. But distance may also lead to a new
phase of external wars between newly created states.
In addition, with a cease-fire the motivation for serious
action often suffers a dramatic decline. The obvious thesis would
be: if violent cultures and structures produce direct violence,
then such cultures and structures also reproduce direct violence.
The cease-fire, then, becomes nothing but a between-wars period;
an illusion perpetrated on people with too much faith in their
leaders. A feeling of hopelessness follows as people start
realizing the vicious circle: violent structures can only be
changed by violence; but that violence will lead to new violent
structures, and also reinforce a culture of warfare.
The way out lies in denying the first horn of the dilemma,
the thesis that "the (oppressive, exploitative) structure can only
be changed by violence", itself a part of a culture of violence.
If the contradiction is not too sharp, then the politics of
democracy is an answer. If the contradiction is very sharp--
meaning that the vested interests in the status quo are
considerable for some, and so is the suffering in terms of the
basic needs of survival, well-being, freedom and identity for the
majority or the minority (in the latter case majoritarian
democracy may legitimize the status quo)--then the politics of
nonviolence, following the lead of Gandhi, may be the answer./4/
A major problem is that (parliamentary) democracy and (extra-
parliamentary) nonviolence are parts of the political culture in
only some parts of the world, and democracy (which may be violent
in its consequences) more so than nonviolence. But both are
spreading rapidly, and do not exclude each other.
In this complex of vicious cycles we can now identify three
problems that can only be solved by turning the vicious cycles
into virtuous cycles (notice the "re": again, again, and again):
 The problem of reconstruction after the direct violence:
 The problem of reconciliation of the conflict parties
 The problem of resolution of the underlying, root conflict;
If you do only one of these three without the other two you
will not even get that one. Hegel was arguing reconciliation
between Herr and Knecht without resolution; Marx resolution
without any reconciliation. Reconstruction without removing the
causes of violence will lead to its reproduction. Badly needed is
theory and practice combining all three.
But what does "combined" mean? Assuming violence has already
happened, it means synchronic rather than diachronic, linear, one-
after-the-other. That opens for two models: three separate tracks
for each task; one track for all three tasks.
The first model refers reconstruction to "developers",
reconciliation to theologians-psychologists, and resolution to
jurists-diplomats-politicians; all approaches to be discussed.
The second model would fuse the tasks into one, based on a
fundamental hypothesis: reconciliation can best take place when
the parties cooperate in resolution and reconstruction.
And this may also be where the road to peace is located, if
peace is defined as the capacity to handle conflicts with empathy,
nonviolence and creativity./5/ Capacity to handle conflict is a
major casualty of war. So let us look into that.
2. On Conflict/Violence/Peace Images
Violence must be seen in a context, and the context chosen is
"conflict". There are many misunderstandings and unfortunate
conceptions of conflict, that great Creator and great Destroyer.
A common discourse about conflict, in the media, among researchers
and people in general, conceives of conflict as an organism with
birth, growth to a turning point, and then a decline, till in the
end the conflict dies out. That discourse has quantitative time,
khronos, on the horizontal axis and on the vertical axis the level
of direct violence, from the first sign of "trouble" to "cease-
fire", the kairos points of time, in the qualitative sense. The
conflict may have "burnt out", the parties may coincide in their
prognosis about the outcome and find it useless to continue
destroying each other, or a third party has intervened, forcing
them to stop, or making them agree to stop. The end is then often
called "peace"/6/, a khronos flow.
A list of major shortcomings of this discourse includes:
 The impression is given that violence/war arises out of
nothing, ex nihilo; compatible with the idea of evil at work.
 The impression is given that violence/war has its origin at
precise space and time points, and with the first violent act.
 The impression is given that violence/war ends with no after-
effects, compatible with ideas of "conflict termination".
 The impression is given of a single-peak conflict life-cycle,
and not of long periods of latency, multiple peaks etc.
 A point not to be underestimated: violence/war is seen as a
variable; peace only as a point, as zero violence/war.
Thus, violence/war is seen as an eruption with a beginning
and an end and no other consequences than those that are visible
at the end of the violence: the killed, the wounded, the damage;
the kind of military communique we have lamented above.
Of course, nobody is quite that naive; a considerable
literature exists about "causes of war" and the "aftermath". But
this image counteracts both prevention and aftermath care.
Before an alternative image is developed, let us compare
violence to disease, for instance to tuberculosis, TBC. A
fruitful way of conceiving of any human pathology is in terms of
interplay between exposure and resistance; in casu between micro-
organisms operating under the right conditions (for them) of
temperature and humidity, and the level of immunity of the body,
which in turn has to do with the immune system, nutrition and
living standard, mind and spirit. This all plays together
holistically and synergistically. Of course some generalities can
be identified, but they will never completely cover any individual
case, leaving room for empathy with the individual patient and
his/her total environment and history, combining the generalizing
and the individualizing.
More particularly, studies show how TBC rates decreased more
because of improved living standards (nutrition, housing,
clothing) than because of artificial strengthening of immune
systems through inoculation, and early diagnosis (X-ray)./7/
A disease cannot be detached from patient/8/ and context as
an abstract entity with a life-cycle of its own, calling for
generalized prevention, therapy and rehabilitation. Key aspects
of exposure and resistance may be in the context in a broad sense,
not in the disease-patient interface. Causal cycles pass body-
mind-spirit, not only the body. And key causes may be far away
from the symptoms. Include the full context, and the cycles may
even be global (AIDS), and macro-historical (flu).
With increasing globalization this becomes even more true.
Nor can violence be detached from its space/time context.
The context in space is the conflict formation, including all
parties involved, proximate and distant, with all goals relevant
for the conflict, consciously held values as well as positional
interests. A first mistake in conflict practice is to include
only parties in a limited violence area; confusing symptoms with
causes, like a physician referring to a swollen ankle as an "ankle
disease", not as a possible heart disorder symptom. Or to hunger
as "insufficient food intake", not as a social problem. Remote,
back-stage, parties may be crucial.
The context in time is the conflict history, including the
history of the future. A second mistake made in conflict practice
is to equip conflict history with beginning and end, coinciding
with a limited violence interval, from the first eruption of
violence till the cease-fire confused with peace.
A violence area-interval is then detached from formation and
history and reified as in the "Manchurian Incident", the "Gulf
War", the "Yugoslav debacle", "Rwanda", and tabulated in research
long on data and short on understanding. One reason for this is
no doubt epistemological, rooted in empiricism and beyond that in
behaviorism: violence is behavior and can be observed; conflict is
more abstract. Another is political: violence may escalate not
only inside but also "out of area-interval" and become dangerous
to others by contagion, like an epidemic disease. Hence the focus
on proven carriers of the germs of disease and violence,
"terrorists", to be eradicated, like germs. Causal cycles outside
area-interval might include very powerful actors who prefer to
remain unnamed/unmentioned. Mainstream media tend to fall into all
What kind of discourse would we recommend to accommodate
these considerations, focusing not only on the etiology of a given
outbreak of violence/war and on meaningful intervention, but also
on the aftermath? Here is one tentative answer:
 Direct (overt) violence is seen as having a pre-, side-,
and after-history, in unbounded areas and intervals.
 These histories can be traced in six spaces:
Nature: as ecological deterioration/ecological improvement
Human, body, mind, spirit: as traumas-hatred, as glory-love
Social: as deepening of conflict/as healing of conflict
World(space): as deepening of conflict/as healing of conflict
Time: as the kairos of trauma/glory, as the khronos of peace
Culture: as deposits of trauma/glory, as deposits of peace
 These six spaces can be summarized into three:
Direct violence/peace: to nature and human body-mind-spirit
Structural violence/peace: in social and world spaces, as
- vertical structural violence: repression and exploitation,
- horizontal structural violence: parties too close/too remote
- structural peace: freedom and equity, adequate distance
Cultural violence/peace: legitimizing/delegitimizing violence
 Time enters as a medium in which this all unfolds. But
whereas direct violence is usually seen as a process with kairos
points, structural and cultural violence, and peace, are more like
step functions at those kairos points. There is an event that
brings about a lower or higher level, after which the level is
more permanent. As the permanent is difficult to see (there is no
contrast), and the event is difficult to catch (it is too sudden),
both phenomena easily pass unregistered. Violence is more easy to
understand and conveniently confused with conflict.
How would we now depict a conflict process? There is no
denial that the violent aspect of conflict is a function of time
like an organism with birth, maturity and death, even if multi-
peaked rather than single-peaked violence processes may be more
realistic (as for diseases). But there are three problems:
This represents violence as a variable and the absence of
violence as a point, as zero violence, as "cease-fire". But peace
should also be seen as a variable, in terms of more peace or less
peace, reflected among other places in the level of positive,
cooperative interaction and the level of friendship.
Only one type of violence is included: direct violence; not
the underlying structural and cultural violence.
Third, and this is more psychological than logical: up and
down have evaluative connotations, so why not have peace on the
positive side of the Y-axis, and violence on the negative? With
three types of violence/peace this means three Y-axes.
Thus, a more adequate conflict analysis would start with a
social formation, and then assess the levels of structural and
cultural violence/peace. If positive and high, don't worry. But
if both are low we have an early, very early, warning. Both have
considerable inertia, being permanent for long intervals of time,
like the level of repression/exploitation of indigenous people
combined with Western/Christian contempt for primitives-pagans,
and machismo interpreting direct violence as catharsis.
Structural, like direct, violence is relational, not only
relative. Not only "Y was killed by a bullet, X was not", but "Y
was killed by a bullet fired by X". Not only inequality, but
inequity: not "Y is low on well-being and human rights" and "X is
high on both", but "X is high on both, because Y is low"./9/
Structural and cultural peace correspond not only to immunity
in disease analysis, but to level of health in general. This
resistance may not only be disturbingly low but negative, meaning
there is structural and cultural violence operating; a basis for
early action instead of waiting for the exposure.
The exposure, like the shot in Sarajevo,/10/ is often seen as
an event although the famous drop that leads to an overflow may be
a better image. A final provocation, an additional act, with
repression, misery/hunger and alienation at an intolerable level.
The violence may be expressive of despair and frustration rather
than a calculated, instrumental act for basic change. But it will
probably provoke a counter-violence, and the process unfolds,
downward in this image, until the curve turns upward, less
violence, passing zero=cease-fire, and then into peace.
But then comes the basic point: after the cease-fire the
situation may be worse than before the violence erupted, for the
reasons explored in the preceding chapters. The direct violence
may be the lesser evil, at least in the longer term, than the
structural and cultural damage wrought. It is like the way being
hospitalized is seen in some societies: like a market. The
patient offers one disease and gets two or three iatrogenic
diseases in return, one surgical error, one infection; and then
"hospitalitis" if only in the form of long-lasting back-sores.
Direct violence may have come to a celebrated end. The
direct suffering is over, but the structural and cultural violence
have increased in the process. Violence therapy has to learn from
disease therapy: include prevention--build cultural and structural
peace--and include rehabilitation, meaning build cultural and
structural peace again. And again. And again.
To repeat: conflict is over incompatible goals, violence is
to do harm. One source of violence is to harm the parties that
stand in the way if the culture justifies such violence/11/. Hence
the division of conflict life cycles into three phases, simple but
meaningful: before violence, violence, after violence.
Before violence,try to unblock the incompatibility, and to
prevent violence in general. This is so much more easy if the
level of structural and cultural peace is high: there is a high
level of participation, a rich, blooming civil society with
bridges across conflict divides, elites who see conflict as raw
material to be processed into higher levels of peacefulness, and
by peaceful means. Violence is not in the culture; peace is.
Negate all of this and we get conflicts monopolized by elites
who use violence to "settle" the conflict and to secure their own
position, and people standing by, watching, waiting, accepting the
monopoly of national elites and of the world elites in the
"international community". Violence is in the culture, because
"it is in human nature; such is life."
So Phase I slides into Phase II, violence occurs, with all,
most or many of the effects to be pointed out in Table 3.1. There
is a cease-fire, and Phase II becomes Phase III. What do we do?
Learn from people: they do the same as ants when their hive is
destroyed: they start reconstruction (chapter 7 below). But of
human beings we should expect more. Whether the war was
"internal" or "external" there is the necessity of some kind of
reconciliation (chapter 8 below). People cannot live apart and in
agony forever. And: there is the need to do in Phase III what was
not done in Phase I, resolution (chapter 9 below). If not, Phase
III becomes the new Phase I, reproducing the tragedy.
3. Mapping the Violence Formation
Our first point of departure was an impressionistic listing of the
violence aftermath. The second point of departure was the vicious
cycle in a violence triangle of direct, structural and cultural
violence. In a third effort we shall now bring this together in a
more complete map, covering six "spaces", and both
material/visible and nonmaterial/invisible effects:
Table 3.1: Visible and invisible effects of direct violence
SPACE Material, Nonmaterial,
visible effects invisible effects
NATURE depletion less respect for
and pollution; non-human nature,
damage to diversity reinforcing "man
and symbiosis over nature".
HUMANS somatic effects: spiritual effects:
numbers killed number bereaved
numbers wounded number traumatized
numbers raped general hatred
numbers displaced general depression
number in misery general apathy
widows, orphans revenge addiction
soldiers unemployed victory addiction
SOCIETY the material damage the damage to
to buildings; social structure:
the material damage to institutions,
to infra-structure: to governance;
road, rail, mail, the damage to
telecommunication, social culture:
electricity, water, to law and order,
health, education to human rights
WORLD the material damage the damage to
to infra-structure: world structure;
breakdown of trade, the damage to
international exchange world culture
TIME delayed violence: structure transfer
land-mines, un to next generation
exploded ordnance; culture transfer
transmitted violence: to next generation
genetic damage to kairos points of
offspring trauma and glory
CULTURE irreversible damage to violence culture
human cultural of trauma, glory;
heritage, to sacred deterioration of
points in space conflict-resolving
It is telling evidence of the materialism of our culture that
the first column is taken so much more seriously than the second.
The case is reminiscent of mainstream economic analysis with its
focus on material factors only (nature/land, labor and capital)
and their effect in producing concrete goods and services, adding
up to net and gross national products; leaving out the enormous
costs of "modernization" on nature, the human spirit, social and
world structure and culture in general./12/
We are up against a general cultural syndrome which makes
struggles to have invisible effects taken seriously even more
problematic. The syndrome serves a rather obvious function: when
only visible effects of violence are considered costs are high,
but manageable. The more complete the accounting, the more
hesitation there should be before a war is launched, under
assumptions of rationality. The same goes for unfettered economic
growth, sometimes similar to warfare, but the costs are the
effects of structural violence built into the economic and
political structure, rather than the effects of direct violence.
Thus, it also makes sense to talk about growth-torn people,
growth-torn societies,/13/ and growth-torn worlds. A quick glance
at Table 3.1 tells us something about similarities, and about the
dissimilarities. The similarities are obvious. And for the
dissimilarities there are simple translation rules:
- for "killed, wounded, soldiers unemployed", substitute
"mortality, morbidity, workers unemployed";
- for "material damage" substitute "opportunity costs";
- the delayed violence works by polluting nature and humans;
- for "revenge, victory, trauma, glory" substitute "revolution,
violent if needed", "revolution failed" and "utopia."
The left hand column has an air of the obvious except for one
more recent entry in the callous "number killed, number wounded,
material damage" reports about wars: the number of women raped.
The use of women's bodies as battlefields between gangs of men is
probably as old as war; the frequent mention in reports these
years is also due to the recent rise of feminism.
The right hand column is, however, far from trivial.
Nature: one thing is damage to the eco-system and eco-
deterioration; another is reinforcement of the general cultural
code of Herrschaft over nature, also a part of the rape syndrome.
Countless millions watch on TV not only people killed and wounded
but also nature destroyed, poisoned, going up in flames. The war
is legitimated. The damage may be deplored, not the legitimation.
Most damaging is the use of ABC-weapons, capable of also wreaking
genetic havoc. But old-fashioned kinetic and incendiary military
insults to nature, when done on a large scale (including peacetime
maneuvers) can make civilian insults look innocent./14/ Like
mega-violence to humans, e.g., Auschwitz and Hiroshima-Nagasaki,
mega-violence to nature makes lower, "conventional", levels of
violence look almost innocent.
Human: The number of people bereaved through warfare is
unknown. A modern 2,3-generation family means the order of 101;
counting other primary groups (friends, neighbors, colleagues) we
come closer to the order of 102. We can safely multiply the
number killed during a war by 10, as a low estimate. Added to
that comes second order bereavement, knowing somebody bereaved:
the condolences, the sharing in the sorrow, bringing us to 103.
Then comes the tertiary order, general national bereavement, as in
general when catastrophe strikes, natural or social.
As Erasmus Rotterdamus said long time ago: Süss scheint der
Krieg nur dem Unerfahrenen,/15/ an important point against the
naive, self-exculpatory German der Krieg ist ein Naturgesetz./16/
Because war, like slavery, colonialism and patriarchy, is a social
institution, unknown to a number of societies, war is avoidable.
If social = structural + cultural then we have already two handles
to limit war, also by seeing to it that they are not reinforced by
a war - a point to be developed later.
Of course, a war culture includes ways of making the
bereaved, individual and collective, accept their losses:
- the sacrifice was for a just, even holy, cause usually meaning
for God (as instrument for his will, Deus volt/17/), for History
(as instrument for the course of History/18/), or for the Nation,
as a collectivity defined culturally by the sharing of (kairos)
points of glory and trauma, in time and space/19/;
- war is justified by Law as defensive war against aggression;/20/
- victory proves that God/History/Law is on our Nation's side;
- defeat shows that the Nation has betrayed God/History/Law so the
sacrifice is only meaningful if the Nation wins next time;
- war is in human nature anyhow, expressing a law of nature;
With rationalizations such as these (Law is basically silent
about structural and cultural violence) no wonder that major
causes and effects of wars are kept in the dark. They would erode
the commitment to God, History, Law and Nation.
Thus, there is something subversive about Table 3.1. Anybody
capable of internalizing all effects becomes like a chain smoker
who for the first time understands that the warning from the
Surgeon General of something being dangerous to your health means
your health. But we are not there, yet, for wars.
Society: At the social level of the human condition we find
as mentioned, structure and culture. What does war do to them?
Nobody will dispute that wars bring about cohesion both on
the military and the civilian sides because of the single-minded
devotion to one cause: winning, or--failing that--to bring the war
to an honorable end. How long-lasting is another matter.
The war may be used by societies threatened by general
atomie, atomization, fragmentation; today perhaps particularly
pronounced in advanced democracies with eroded traditional sources
of cohesion. Outgroup aggression, ingroup cohesion.
Nor is there any question that wars bring out such positive
traits as dedication, sacrifice, solidarity, discipline, team-
work, good administration. Those who prove themselves along such
lines will demand, and often get, high social positions after the
war. But these virtues are embedded in a casing of violence and
contempt for life that also may carry over to civilian life. War
provides mobility for the downtrodden, a reason why soldiers are
often from the underclass of society (including the unemployed and
the unemployable). But the result may be a lasting over-employment
of the under-qualified.
Culturally, war may also cure society of anomie, the absence
of compelling norms, substituting war-time norms about
God/History/Law/Nation. And that leads to the same question: does
this mean that post-war society is organized like an army,
responding to military culture? If we assume military culture to
be to culture what military music is to music, does that not mean
a belligerent Weltanschauung, filled with friend-foe ideas? If so,
society never demobilizes but remains militarized, war-prone, in
the sense of easily accepting war as an alternative.
There is a special aspect of the damage violent conflict does
to social structure and culture worth highlighting.
As a conflict gradually leaves the "before violence", and
enters the "violence" phase, five processes with deep implications
for structure and culture take place:/21/
- articulation: a complete conflict triangle takes shape, with
emotions/cognitions, violence and contradiction;
- conscientization: not only does the triangle take shape, but the
two invisibles, the attitudes and the contradiction, A and C,
become conscious in the minds of the parties;
- simplification: the conflict formation is seen as contracting,
to ever fewer actors and goals;
- polarization: the contraction ends up as reductionism to only
two parties, the (good) Self and the (evil) Other, over only one
issue, the issue where Self can most clearly be seen as right;
- escalation: all of this is then both a cause and an effect of
increasing violence, B, between Self and Other.
There is a simple relation between these five processes:
articulation and conscientization go together, so do escalation
and polarization, and simplification stimulates both of them. The
processes in Self and Other also tend to mirror each other; like
Self, like Other, with the media chiming in. As a result conflict
work becomes very difficult. People's minds are set.
Structurally the implication is separation in two social
camps, and as almost no conflicts today are really "internal" but
has outside parties intervening one way or the other, social
polarization is accompanied by world polarization. Wedges are
driven between regions/civilizations, countries, classes, groups,
within families, between persons, breaking up marriages.
The result is double structural violence of the horizontal
variety: people who actually like each other find themselves
ending up in different camps, and in those camps they find strange
bed-fellows with whom they have little else in common.
Once polarized structures have been crystallized, they are
not easily dismantled, among other reasons because they solve a
problem when direct violence enters the scene. Like other forms
of communication, direct violence also has sender and receiver,
from Self to Other. Better make sure Self is not hit by friendly
fire. Moreover, the impact area expands from micro hand-weapons
via meso artillery and bombs to macro ABC-weapons. Better make
sure there has been adequate territorial sorting in advance by
escalating not-too-quickly from micro via meso to macro.
Culturally, the implication is immature conflict philosophy
with only two parties and one issue. Such is reality, be ready:
Cold War between East and West, clash of civilizations between the
West and the Rest. Structure and culture hand in hand, inner
mental, and outer social, polarization confirming each other.
There is a tradition in conflict studies/22/ to see these as
identity creating mechanisms. No doubt they provide answers to
such classical questions as "who am I" (a part of that larger
Self) and "where am I heading" (for victory in the struggle with
Other".) No doubt not only emotions but also volitions are
mobilized by such cognitions (and vice versa). But this is also a
twisted, thwarted identity, potentially at the expense of the
livelihood, even life of others; nothing to celebrate, nothing to
be proud of. Translated into nationalisms this is hard
nationalism eloquent on the good of Self and evil of Other,
eloquently silent on the other two combinations.
A major and real danger is that this deformation of the
conflict formation settles, sediments, solidifies in mental,
social and world structures, is reified, and provides a ready-made
bed for any new conflict that might appear. The genesis of this
deformed structure, and deformed culture, is then forgotten long
time ago. They are both taken for granted, like in the Christian
perception of Muslims, if not created by the Crusades at least
solidified by them. The grotesque reductionism is nourished by
two solid groundswells: "one day they may come back and complete
the job" and "one day they may come back and do to us what we did
to them" (by victims and victors, respectively).
This is the material out of which prejudices are made, not
only what the Germans call Feindbilder, the images of the enemy,
but the equally important Freundbilder, the images of the friend
("we fought together against the Nazis/imperialists/communists;
they cannot be that bad, now is the time to repay that debt ".)
And thus structural and cultural deformations are transferred
through history, being communicated to the next generations.
How detrimental this damage is can be seen by remembering
what conflict transformation in the "before violence" phase is
about: to think the conflict, and the whole conflict formation
anew, to disembed the conflict from where it is located and then
locate it, embed it, somewhere else. And then develop a
perspective tat may serve as a way out, becoming unblocked and
unstuck, using the perspective as an anchor, as a possible
reference point for more work on the conflict.
To summarize the damage done: reductionism, operating
unopposed, embeds the conflict so solidly that disembedding it
becomes an almost herculean task./23/
World: If we now define the world as a community of nations
in addition to a community of states, in other words as an inter-
nation system in addition to an inter-state system, then the
effect of wars becomes even more clear. At the superficial level
nations share religion and language. At the deeper level they
share Chosenness, Glory and Trauma; the CGT-complex. Wars are
help define these kairos points. Contiguity around sacred places,
and continuity to pay homage to sacred dates, project the nation
into geography and history, as clearly seen by watching the names
of metro stations and squares in a country referring to itself as
la grande nation. Studies of national holidays and anthems, old
conflict symbols, also bring out this clearly. For the rest see
above for social polarization:
After the guns have become silent the war in the minds is
still there: the Dichotomy of nations into two camps, the
Manichean view of the camps as good-evil, friend-foe, as the
struggle between God and Satan on earth, the Armageddon battle as
the defining event; for short, the DMA-complex.
The pattern becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The DMA-
complex in the minds survives the end of the war. Any sign that
the enemy is still alive will trigger ready-made responses; in the
absence of such signs other enemies will be found to complete the
Gestalt formed by this type of cultural violence. The end of the
Cold War is by now a classical case: the evaporation of the "East"
as a conflict partner was unexpected; new enemies of the Nation
(or super-Nation) are being excavated from History, with the help
of God and Law (Muslims, Serbs)./24/
Wars wreak havoc with structures and cultures. And the more
wars we have had, the more do we see the result as normal.
Time: As mentioned, a war serves to equip time with the
glory and trauma points that in turn serve to define nations. But
in addition to that structure and culture also possess a certain
inertia. They both drift through vast stretches of time, like in
a placid river, largely unchanged at the level of deep structure
and deep culture, below surface ripples and eddies. There are
waterfalls, "revolutions" for structures and "change of ethos" for
cultures; But they are far between. And further down the river
the water tends to be about the same.
We live in an inter-intra/state-nation system, to a large
extent shaped by well-defined wars, with poorly defined peace as
between-wars periods. Each new war reinforces the image of war as
normal and natural, as a layer sedimented on top of the other in
the national archeology. The nations are vehicles for the
transmission of structure and culture, including the pattern of
war; much like violent behavior is transmitted in the family./25/
Major vehicles for transmission are the national language and
religion, the myths expressed in popular art and the monuments/26/
dedicated to the sacred points in time and space./27/ All this is
transmitted through family and school. A national army, and arms
including nuclear weapons, is telling evidence of the readiness to
translate the myths, those public dreams of the collective
subconscious, and the well-embedded conflict, into action.
The basic point about time is the inertia of structure and
culture. Unless something deliberate is done to counteract them,
they will continue, unabated. A kairos of war may have to be
confronted with a kairos of peace. Better still is a long,
patient khronos of work for peace till the vicious cycle is broken
by a transition from quantity to quality. But how?
Culture: Through each war humanity dies a little. But we are
a sturdy species, otherwise we would have extinguished long time
ago. There is more to us than the sad story told by focusing on
war and violence only. If conflict, in the sense of
incompatibility of goals, is ubiquitous, at all levels of human
organization, from the intra-personal to the inter-regional,
intra-global, inter-stellar for that matter, then we evidently
also have some great conflict-transforming capacity./28/
More precisely, humanity must have great reservoirs of the
three major components of a peace culture, or cultural peace as
opposed to cultural violence: nonviolence, creativity, empathy.
Wars and violence are travesties on these virtues.
That wars are not nonviolent is more than a tautology. There
may be self-imposed restraints in wars, operating on one or more
sides, both ad bellum and in bello./29/ But the point about
nonviolence is to respond to violence and destruction with
something constructive. Wars rule out that response as treason,
and substitutes a culture of secrets/deceits, lies/propaganda./30/
There is no denial that wars may be highly creative in their
destructiveness. But the bottom line remains destruction, of life
and property. Creativity in life-enhancement, in promoting Other,
even "them", is also ruled out as treason.
And the same applies to the third virtue: empathy, the
capacity to understand Other from the inside; high treason. In
doing so Other's behavior becomes a consequence of his history.
External causes become good reasons. The will to kill "them" may
be subverted. Non-war, even peace may be around the corner. The
fact that we are around testifies to a lot of resolution capacity.
And reconstruction. And reconciliation. How come?
This will be taken up later. At this point, let us only
conclude by asking a very naive question. Given all these
negative effects of violence in general, and war in particular,
how do we explain that human beings in their right mind
nevertheless engage in so much violence?
First, if by "right mind" we mean a "cost-benefit" mind, then
we have left out the possible, expected, both in the sense of
predicted and in the sense of hoped for, benefits to Self. They go
far beyond booty, into reinforcing world power pyramids.
Second, if by "cost-benefit mind" we mean egoistic cost-
benefit, then Self has to wage war in such a way that benefits
come to Self and costs to Other. Kill any number of enemy
soldiers and civilians as long as your own are unscathed. To do
this, maneuver so that the choice of time and place is yours.
Third, who said human beings are necessarily in "their right
mind", if by that we mean having the costs, including to Other,
weigh more than benefits, including to Self? Something else may
be running their minds, in addition to the cognitions of utilities
and probabilities, their products and the sum thereof. That
something is usually referred to as emotions.
Those emotions may be highly inspired by a social or world
structure found unjust or at least in need of basic remedy, and be
nourished and soothed by a culture informing them that he who
takes up the sword and puts others to it will be justified. The
cognition/emotion distinction is not so sharp that emotions cannot
be analyzed cognitively, including by those driven by them. True,
they may be blinded by a rage that also may have its physiological
basis. But in general we fall back on culture and structure. To
which we now turn, in a fourth effort.
4. Violence, War, Trauma, Guilt - and the Search for Closure
In the beginning was the act, not the word; physical movements
were followed by verbal acts. Some acts are beneficial, they
enhance others. Other acts are harmful: a punch with an arm, or
the extension of an arm, arms, armies; a word that hurts, or the
extension of bad-mouthing, propaganda. There are also neutral
acts. But when tension and emotions are high, no act is neutral.
The act is a transaction, between the two, sender and receiver, or
perpetrator and victim/31/ if the act is violent, harmful. If the
act is beneficial the bond may be friendship, even love. In
either case reciprocity is the norm, not only the same quality in
the sense of good for good, and evil for evil, but the same
quantity ("an eye for an eye -") in this negative market for bads
and disservices rather than goods and services.
In Buddhist discourse beneficial acts carry merits to the
author, the actor; and harmful acts carry demerits. Both have
major consequences for the quality of the rebirth. In Christian
discourses good deeds may lead to salvation and evil deeds to
damnation; with major implications for the afterlife, and with no
appeal. The relation is not only Self-Other, but Self-Self.
Both discourses agree on one point: a harmful act implies not
only trauma suffered by the victim, but also guilt suffered by the
perpetrator./32/ The norm of reciprocity demands that the harm is
equalized; trauma for trauma (you suffer my suffering), and guilt
for guilt (we are equally bad you and I). X has done horrible
violence to Y, the guilt is unbearable. If Y also does something
horrible to X the two become equally guilty as when Germans
equalized Auschwitz with Dresden-Hamburg after the Second World
War. Revenge, retaliation balance both accounts.
According to this logic there are two ways of getting equal
in a violent exchange: when the perpetrator suffers a trauma of
(about) the same magnitude, and when the victim suffers a guilt of
(about) the same magnitude. In the act of retaliation the two
approaches blend into one, both traumatized, both guilty, no doubt
a reason why revenge is so frequent. "You are guilty of hurting
me, I am guilty of hurting you, we are equal you and I". By this
logic the traumatized party has an asset: the right to have a
trauma inflicted on the perpetrator. And the guilty party has a
deficit: "One day he may come back and do to me what I did to
him". The former may lead to trauma-chains through history,
vendettas; the latter to a politics of paranoia./33/
Both trauma and guilt may be deposited in the world trauma
and guilt banks. The traumatized has a violence credit, and the
guilty a violence debit. Both carry interest over time, at the
risk of inflation gnawing at the capital. Amortization is long
term. This, in turn opens for two new, well-known scenarios:
Traumatization done to somebody else. Y may find it too
risky to inflict a trauma on X; X may simply be too powerful. How
about Z, lower down on the pecking order,/34/ and a chain of
violence winding downwards through social space, time and space?
Traumatization done by somebody else. If X has to be
traumatized, there is also the possibility that W, still more
powerful, can do so, opening for the possibility of a chain of
violence winding upwards in social space, and through time and
space. A special case is known as "punishment", W is the
"authority" entitled to inflict pain, trauma, not thereby
releasing own guilt since the authority is guilt-free. Others, V
and U, may doubt this and do the same unto W. And so on./35/
What is the purpose of symmetry and balance? Closure, not to
the conflict, that requires resolution, but to the violence. Not
love, not hatred either. The war is over. Punctum finale.
Even if violence carries its benefits, including the
exhilarating risk of being killed as the price one has to pay for
the right to kill others (who are willing to pay the same price
for the same right), there are limits to violence. Duels among
nobles may eliminate a whole social class. Vendettas between two
families may eliminate both. The incredibly high level of
violence in Colombia no doubt has deprived the country of much
potential leadership. The same goes for many other Latin American
countries where the victims were small trade union and cooperative
leaders. Nihil violentum durabile, no violence is for ever, they
say. Evidently some people were/are afraid that this is not the
case, substituted the verbal duel of litigation and adjudication
for physical duels and outlawed vendettas, and tried to substitute
international law/courts for wars.
The problem is whether the approaches above does the closure
job, so let us try to look more closely into the matter.
Scenario 1: X hurts Y, X is the perpetrator, Y the victim.
This is the primordial, elemental act. Is it obvious that
there has to be a follow-up in order for closure to take place?
The answer depends on X, Y and a lot of Zs.
Imagine that for X this was a sudden burst of passion, an act
that only made sense once. Imagine that Y sees it the same way.
Y may not attribute it to X's "nature" but to X's nature under
extreme circumstances (drugs, illness, passion) and add structure
(suddenly unemployed) and culture (macho). Violence is seen by
both X and Y as catharsis. Z accepts, or knows nothing.
This type of thinking places us squarely in a dilemma with no
clear exit. The extenuating circumstances, let us call them the
NSC-complex for Nature, Structure, Culture, gets X off the hook
but at the (considerable) cost of dehumanizing X, seeing him (it
is usually a he) as the helpless and hapless victim of NSC, like a
leaf caught between three heavy storms.
Then restore his humanity, make X an actor with a free will
which he, the administrator of that will, handled badly by
releasing the violent act. The violence was willed, it was really
an act, not only some behavior conditioned by the NSC
circumstances. X now has the dignity of being an actor, but at
the (considerable) price of being on, not off, the hook; and the
hook may even be the gallows. Moreover, Y and Z are also on the
hook because they have to do something, they cannot just let it
pass by. So, what do they do?
Scenario 2: Guilt for trauma, hoping that will do.
Y is suffering a trauma, meaning something with an identifiable
cause that did hurt and still does hurt, even to the point of PTSD
(post-traumatic stress disorder). X shows signs of guilt, with
identifiable cause in his own violence. The guilt hurt, still
hurts and will continue hurting, "as long as I live".
The hypothesis would be that through this mechanism symmetry
and possibly balance have been obtained. There is no need to
drizzle salt and pepper in the wound, to turn the knife around, or
any other metaphor. X has enough problems with his own
conscience, made credible if he adheres to a faith where the bad
deed (assuming hurting Y is one) carries heavy demerit, or reduces
the chances of salvation down toward zero, meaning that there is
enough trauma in storage for him in the afterlife.
Scenario 3: Y the victim hurts X the perpetrator: revenge
The hypothesis is that trauma for trauma, and, implicitly, guilt
for guilt, sticking to the moderate version--an eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth, with no interest--may do the job. We assume
that X and Y agree on what constitutes equal amounts of violence
the tit for tat, the quid pro quo, and agree that equalization
means closure. They are both equipped with internal violence
book-keeping machinery, both draw satisfaction from a balanced
bottom line. The problem is whether Z agrees to any settlement
between X and Y, Z being God or Caesar, the state or the public,
only two of them, or all in one.
Scenario 4: Z hurts both X and Y for their violent acts
Z refuses to see violence/revenge as a private (negative) deal,
and punishes both for "taking the matter in their own hands".
Scenario 5: X and Y together hurt Z for hurting them
Z has then managed to unite, possibly even reconcile, X and Y.
Scenario 6: Z hurts X: punishment/justice.
Z can then be God, Caesar, the state or the public depending on
epoch and circumstances. The basic assumption is the same as in
scenario 3: the sum of two violent acts is zero, one cancels the
other, closure. But the question remains the same: what is the
basis for assuming that X will draw the conclusion (individual
prevention) never to be violent again, that Y will be satisfied
knowing that X suffers the violence from above known as justice to
abstain from engaging in the violence known as revenge, and that
Z=the public will learn neither to be violent (general
prevention), nor to engage in the violence known as lynching.
Scenario 7: X, Y and Z all feel guilt due to the violence
Schematically the scenarios fill a matrix of shared trauma:
Table 4.1 Scenarios for X-perpetrator, Y-victim and Z-authority
X as receiver Y as receiver Z as receiver
X as sender Scenario 2,7 Scenario 1 Scenario 5
Y as sender Scenario 3 Scenario 3,7 Scenario 5
Z as sender Scenario 4,6 Scenario 4 Scenario 7
Together they constitute a community of violence; maybe not so
dissimilar from what we today (1998) have in the Gulf region and
in Yugoslavia, with some disagreement as to who is X and who is Y,
but not about who is Z: the international community. There is
some feeling of guilt, there are mutual accusations, no total
satisfaction no total dissatisfaction, no total closure, nor the
opposite. A situation of general ambiguity which we may blame on
the complexity, on our own shortcomings, or both.
Let us now introduce two more dimensions of violence:
intention and irreversibility. Was the harm, with all its
consequences, fully intended? Was the harm irreversible, or can
it be undone? The harm is in the eyes (and many other senses) of
the beholder, the victim; some harm being unavoidable in normal
social interaction. But two traffic rules in social, or world
(between states/nations) interaction may be useful:
- Never intend to do any harm to others!
- Never do to others what cannot be undone!
The latter may be modified to apply to harmful action only; the
problem is difficulty in knowing in advance whether action is
harmful or not. There may be unknown consequences, and, more
importantly, the rule "do no do to others what you do not want
others to do to you" is problematic: tastes may be different./36/
As a rule of thumb let us now assume that the guilt/37/ is a
function/38/ of the harm, the intent and the irreversibility:
Guilt = f(Harm, Intent, Irreversibility)
This is what makes lethal violence to persons stand out: it is
irreversible./39/ We can create, but not recreate, life, a reason
why the killer of a child in some cultures had to give his own
child in return (or have it killed). Nonlethal violence also has
elements of irreversibility: wounds rarely heal completely, and
wounds to the spirit never, as psycho-analysis informs us.
Sexualized violence may leave no wound on the body, but
irreversible trauma on the spirit. The same applies to all forms
of violence to the body as any violence is violation, invasion of
the sanctum, the privacy of the body; sexualized violence doubly
so. To some extent this also applies to property as body
extension, and to burglary as invasion of the family sanctum.
The formula above opens for two additional approaches to
guilt release: denial of any evil intent, and reversibility
through restitution. Western jurisprudence seems to have
developed more in the former direction, with pleas of ignorance,
chronic and acute insanity in the moment of action, etc.
And this in spite of the fact that even if harm wrought by
crimes of violence and sexualized violence may be irreversible,
the harm wrought by property crimes is not. Money can be earned
and paid back, the house can be restored. There is the trauma of
having had the property violated, but to this the nihil violentum
durabile might apply. And destroyed cultural monuments might not
be restorable at all because damage is symbolic, not only
material. Is it because Christian repent your intent is that much
stronger than the capitalist produce-and-consume?
How does all of this change the moment X and Y are not
individuals but collectivities, at war? Actually, everything
mentioned above remains valid, with some terminology differences
as when "restitution" is referred to as "reparation" after wars.
But one difference is significant: a collectivity may be
divided over the violent acts, as when both German and French
troops mutinied against their generals at the end of World War I.
Orchestrated violence, as exercised by armies, requires
unconditional obedience, with a very asymmetric chain of command
(as opposed to a guerilla movement). On the other hand there is a
difference in risk-taking, higher for the soldier in the combat
zone than for the ranking officer in the bunker, not to mention
the politicians back home setting the parameters for the war. This
was one reason why the soldiers revolted; another that neither
side was winning. It was a drawn-out stalemate on French soil with
the blockade wrecking the German economy at home.
At stake for the military commands on either side was not
only victory vs defeat but the legitimacy of warfare, challenged
by the soldiers. Only by bringing the World War to an end could
warfare be saved. The Germans certainly did both jobs. Nürnberg
and Tokyo did not change that: they are in bello, not ad bellum.
We make this point in order to indicate that even if some
violence survives in one form or the other, warfare is not only a
social institution, but a vulnerable one. Knowledge of visible and
invisible effects, including the opportunity costs to social
development, may hasten its demise. But in the meantime we still
have to deal with the problem of closure. In the next chapters we
shall take up two examples, first how not do it, the Nanking
genocide, then a possible way out: South Africa.
5. Auschwitz, Gulag, Hiroshima, Nanking: Who/What is Guilty?
We are now talking about genocide, mega-violence, the
intended, massive, extermination of categories of people, defined
by nation, class, or otherwise, beyond strategic military
consideration, in this horrible 20th century we are about to leave
chronologically. To the four cases mentioned more could be added,
like the mass killing of Armenians, the allied carpet bombing in
Germany, violence during the Chinese cultural revolution, and
others (not Italy, interestingly)/40/. The basic theme is this:
imagine we want to allocate a certain amount of guilt, given the
horrors of genocide. Shall we allocate it to actors ("who") or to
Nanking is less known, so let us focus on that one.
According to Shi Young & James Yin/41/, the Imperial Japanese Army
killed more than 360,000 civilians (369,366 according to burial
records and census data (before the population was between 500 and
600,000, after only 170,000) in a frenzy of rape and bestial
killing, 14 December 1937 to March 1938; "soldiers and units freed
by their superiors to murder at will for what they believed was
the greater glory of Japan and the Emperor".
In his foreword Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, chairperson of
the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission, admonishes
people not to sweep facts under a carpet, like the politician
Ishihara tried to do in an interview in Playboy/42/: "People say
that the Japanese made a Holocaust there (in Nanking) but that is
not true. It is a story made up by the Chinese." And Tutu adds
"I am pleased to be associated with this book - as I believe it to
be an instrument of reconciliation", with Truth as an
But the Japanese Ministry of Education tried to evade the
issue in school textbooks, so it had to be brought to light by a
Japanese historian Kenji Ono who visited hundreds of aging
soldiers in the prefecture where the 65th regiment of the 13th
division came from, and got 20 volumes of diaries, documented in
The Nanking Massacre in the Imperial Army Soldiers' Diaries./43/
Actor-oriented guilt-attribution was focused on Lt General
Iwame Matsui, commander in central China. He was in Nanking only
3 days, found guilty by the Tokyo Tribunal and hanged, on Prince
Asaka, Emperor Hirohito's uncle, and by implication on the Emperor
himself. Much evidence pointed in that direction, but the
Imperial family was given immunity by the US Occupation forces in
exchange for the data from the infamous Unit 731 for biological
and chemical warfare, examining the impact of B&C agents by
vivisection (autopsy on live humans, their bodies being known as
marutas, preserved as evidence of how, for instance, anthrax
worked). The head was General Shiro Ishii, directly responsible
to the Emperor. The Dutch judge on the Tokyo Tribunal, Bert V A
R”ling, declared that the US should be ashamed of itself for
having entered such a deal.
Young and Yin give voice to three analysts in an effort to
understand the motivation behind the massacre:
H. J. Timberley, Manchester Guardian correspondent in 1938:
"to strike terror into the heart of the Chinese people in the hope
that thereby the latter would be cowed into submission".
David Bergamini, historian: /but they had/ "no longer any
hope of it unseating Chiang Kai-Shek".
Edward Behr, historian: "a war of punishment".
Rational hypotheses, verifiable through memoirs, letters, etc.
But to this actor-oriented approach should be added a focus
on structure and culture. Emperor Meiji declared once that the
soldiers were the limbs and "we" (the Emperor) the head, making
the division of labor very clear. The officer sword was a source
of pride; like for the Spanish conquistadores the sharpness to be
tested on human bodies, beheading them with one stroke. The blind
obedience in the structure, not only of the Imperial army but
Imperial Japan has been pointed to as a culprit. This focus
extends responsibility to those lower down who obeyed orders.
In consultation with the Japanese peace researcher Kinhide
Mushakoji a historical/cultural approach has been developed. One
point of origin is the attempt by Emperor Hideyoshi (end of 16th
century) to establish an East Asian empire through the conquest of
Korea and China, with capital in Beijing. Hideyoshi was clearly
aware of Western colonial ambitions at the time, and thought they
could best be countered from China by bringing the Japanese
Emperor there. Hideyoshi failed after having committed atrocities
(the mound of Korean skulls in Kyoto is one example). And Emperor
Ieyasu abandoned the project and took Japan into the Tokugawa
isolation from 1600 to the 1868 Meiji Restoration.
After the reentry of Japan in the world Hideyoshi's project
may have been the model of foreign policy and was continued, but
this time with Tokyo as capital. Japan was certainly catching up
on the capitalist world project. Late Ching China was weak,
unlike late Minh China, as proven by the Sino-Japanese war 1894-
95. So was late Yi Korea, as proven by the Korean war 1910-11.
Having conquered Taiwan and Korea, the logical next step was to
invade China proper (1937), possibly via Manchuria (1931), with
the dai-to-a/44/ as the ultimate East Asian Empire.
But why the massacre in Nanking, why not just conquer China
and establish dai-to-a? Because Japan had to prove itself as the
new China. Being the cultural offspring of China, but having left
China behind economically, a pattern of rank discordance/45/ would
predict aggression. If Japan were to substitute for China as the
East Asian power capable of defending East Asian/Chinese culture
against the West, there should be no doubt not only that Japan was
strong but that China was weak, not even able to defend herself.
The "rape of Nanking" is a very correct term: rape is about power,
not only about sex. In addition rape is about impregnating women
with the genetic code of the rapist; the ultimate power,
controlling not only her but the offspring. Japanization followed
the massacre, implanting the Japan code.
This kind of thinking filled the Japanese collective
subconscious, and not only at the top level of society, but all
over, through school textbooks, etc. The failure to reject this
culture today and be frank about Nanking is a negative indicator
rightly taken seriously by Korea and China. There is no closure.
Of course it is problematic to attribute guilt to a culture
legitimizing a massacre: that culture is a source of identity.
Wherever actors are found guilty others are by definition found
innocent: the Tribunal, the rest of society, future generations.
In the Occident other actors are exculpated by such mechanisms.
In Buddhism that does not work, hence a shared bad karma as
alternative theory. But the culture is in us, internalized, and
we are in the structure. Any guilt-attribution to structure and
culture, particularly the latter, is a self-accusation; and an
other-accusation of similar structures/cultures. Guilt-
attribution to actors is limited, to them, in space and time./46/
Let us try to summarize. Who/what was/is guilty of Nanking?
Nobody would deny a classical actor guilt, possibly more for those
higher up than those lower down, and among the former more for the
Imperial center than the person who was executed. We can accept
both the Nürnberg Tribunal position, that those lower down cannot
get off their guilt claiming that they only followed orders,/47/
and the Tokyo Tribunal position that those higher up cannot get
off their guilt claiming ignorance of what the lower ranks were
doing. We could also accept limited rationality under influence of
such intoxicants as alcohol, sex and war frenzy.
But these are fine distinctions within an actor-oriented
perspective. Given 100% guilt one possible distribution would be
50% to the culture, 40% to the structure and 10% to actors; with
those 10% distributed 10% to the rank and file, 40% to the
officers and 50% to the imperial military/political center; to
indicate a point of view. The legal position is very onesided
epistemologically and one could add: anti-military, with some
nuances as to where the point of guilt gravity is located. The
two tribunals strip the military of some exculpatory arguments,
restores them as responsible human beings. But all others and
everything else escapes with impunity, scot free, leaving the next
generation with nothing to do except reading some history. The
searchlight will not be on the victors and their justice, nor on
the countless helpers of the military, nor on posterity.
True, to sentence a people to change their structure and
culture could also endanger human rights. But to challenge, and
change, structural and cultural violence is a task for us all; up-
hill, never-ending, indispensable. In that we are all co-
responsible; starting with democracy and human rights.
6. Truth & Reconciliation in South Africa: A New Jurisprudence?
Permit me to start on a personal note, reflecting on the fact that
I once did six months in prison, in my own home town Oslo, Norway,
in connection with objection to military service for refusing to
be kill. An unforgettable experience was meeting murderers
telling me how they related to their killing:
 I wish I could do something good for that family, squaring
the wrong I did to them, giving them whatever I might earn - -
 There is nothing I am so afraid of as meeting that family. I
am so happy these prison walls keep them out, and me in.
These two statements could very well come from the same person.
At the same time as they are both very meaningful, they are also
contradictory in the sense that it is difficult to enact both.
Contradictions abound in criminal violence and its aftermath. Or
just in crime. Or just in violence. Or just in law.
The statements may be read many ways. One reading points to
a basic problem of the legal system: the focus is on the relation
between the Perpetrator (P) and the Law, represented by the State
(S); not on the relation between P and the Victim (V).
Adjudication takes place in the P-S relation, ending with
acquittal or conviction. In the latter case S administers pain to
P with the double intention of deterring P from doing it again
(individual prevention, and of deterring others (general).
V is placed on a side-track, irrelevant except for launching
the process through an act of accusation, and as a witness. What
V suffers is important in deciding the sentence, but is for V and
V's nearest kin and friends to bear; like some kind of natural
accident. The only recourse might be a civil case against P./48/
When justice has been administered V, like P, supposedly have
obtained closure; the case is concluded.
The underlying transaction model between the parties to this
drama has justice (revenge from above) as a main theme./49/ Here a
fourth party enters, the people/public; but we subsume it under
the state as the ultimate sovereign legitimizing the state and/or
as the ultimate offended party ("the case of P vs the people of --
-). Here are two presentations, as matrix and graph:
Table 6.1: Transaction Model I: The Justice Model, Matrix form
gives to PERPETRATOR VICTIM STATE/PUBLIC
PERPETRATOR Trauma as Submission
VICTIM Closure Closure
STATE/PUBLIC Trauma as Voice&Ear Deterrence
Justice Justice Closure
Figure 6.1. Transaction Model I: The Justice Model, Graph form
Submission Punishment Voice&Ear Closure
Truth Justice Justice
Closure Closure Closure
P does harm to V. The relation is then transformed into a P-S
relation where P gives S submission and truth (confession), and S
gives V voice&ear. S then does harm to P, punishment, and this
second harm is called justice, done unto P, and given to V. As a
result closure (the case is closed) is supposed to flow in all
directions: S to P ("clean slate"), S to V ("P is suffering, not
only you", P to S and V ("I'll not do it again") and V to P and S
("this has given me satisfaction, I'll not seek revenge"). And,
the general public is also given closure, being deterred.
The problem, as with any theory, is whether it works.
The major critique is the failure to deter individually or
generally. Given high recidivism for a broad spectrum of crimes,
and high and increasing level of criminality in general, it would
be difficult to argue that deterrence is effective, given that
this transaction model has been around for a long time. But there
are at least two important contra-arguments:
- "without this the situation would have been still worse", and
- "show me a better model".
Then there is another critique: no doubt the victim is short-
shrifted. After all the victim is the harmed, offended party.
All the victim is given is a public hearing (the court) that
transforms the suffering from private to public. This may invite
sympathy and solidarity, but may also work negatively like in
cases of sexualized violence against women. After that the victim
is treated to justice, "let them eat justice"; and supposed to
offer the State closure in return. No revenge, no pressure for
restitution. A very meager basis for healing. And yet some of
this seems to work: there are few cases of victims taking the
justice in their own hands, intercepting the process in front of
the court house on the day of the trial, adding to the process at
the prison gate on the day of release./50/
Lynching, the obvious exception, in a sense proves the point.
The white lynchers, victimized or not, blinded by "white
supremacy", easily saw themselves as "God come State", in a
vertical relationship to the presumed perpetrator, imitating the
justice model. Internationally "punishment expeditions" was an
integral part of the colonial system. The colonial powers saw
themselves as the source of justice, in no need of courts.
But the basic problem is the distortion of the perpetrator-
victim relation by introducing the state (as God's successor). The
justice model does not extinguish the harm-trauma in the victim
and the guilt-trauma in the criminal for having caused the harm-
trauma in the victim. If the violence/harm has been done in the
perpetrator-victim relation, then it is in the perpetrator-victim
relation the violence/harm has to be undone. That does not
contradict the justice model, but could lead to another and
additional model. The Truth & Reconciliation model in South
Africa/51/ is a new way of dealing with the political crimes
committed during apartheid. Here are two presentations:
Table 6.2:Transaction Model II: The Truth & Reconciliation Model
gives to PERPETRATOR VICTIM STATE/PUBLIC
PERPETRATOR Trauma as Submission
Apology & Truth
VICTIM Forgiveness Closure
STATE/PUBLIC Amnesty Voice&Ear Reconciliation
Closure Restitution Closure
Figure 6.2.Transaction Model II:The Truth & Reconciliation Model
Confession Voice&Ear Closure
Truth Amnesty Restitution
Closure Closure Closure
The Truth & Reconciliation model is based on three pillars:
 Victim-Perpetrator: Forgiveness for Apology/Restitution
 Perpetrator-State: Truth in return for Amnesty
 State-Victim: Restitution in return for Closure
These three exchange relations are related. The basic
relation is between victim and perpetrator; that relation is the
centerpiece of the whole construction. There is an image of the
happy ending: Victim and perpetrator together undo the harm done,
partly materially (restitution), partly spiritually (forgiveness
in return for apology). Final outcome: closure.
If V and P can manage this alone, fine. This is probably the
most frequently found model in human affairs. As an example, take
an average family. There is love. But there may also be harm in
some or all relations: sexual, psychological, spiritual, economic
and social infidelity; lack of care and concern for children;
physically and verbally violent puberty reactions. In a mature
family this is handled according to pillar , with acts of love
as restitution, healing the wounded love relation. The State does
not enter, but possibly some other third party.
But we cannot assume that V and P can handle a relation of
massive, even collective, political crimes alone. Pillars  and
, both vertical, are needed. The State offers amnesty for
truth, with threat of punishment if truth does not come forward.
The hypothesis is that perpetrators fearing punishment will come
up with minimum truth, concealing and lying, and perpetrators
hoping for amnesty would offer maximum truth, including overdoing
it, hoping that more truth will translate into more amnesty. The
truth hurts, but liberates, cleanses the festering wound, prepares
for .  is necessary, but not sufficient.
Pillar  comes as the crowning achievement, closing the
loop. The state adds to any restitution forthcoming from the
perpetrator (one does not exclude the other); and the victim, the
only one who can do so, closes the case with forgiveness. General
reconciliation, and they live happily ever after. Yes?
The net result of letting the truth prevail is supposed to be
reconciliation; a concept too complex to be accommodated in a
single bilateral relation. Here is one possible definition:
Reconciliation=Closure in +Closure in +Closure in /52/
But that means that all three "deals" have to come out right; a
difficult balancing act. The old justice deal is much simpler.
A woman, white, in connection with the TRC hearings:/53/
- I want the truth. I want to know who high up ordered these
atrocities! There cannot be any reconciliation without truth.
Another woman, black/54/, in connection with the hearings:
- No government can forgive. No commission can forgive.
Only I can forgive. And I am not ready to forgive.
We are dealing with horrendous crimes to the individual and
collective, human body, mind and spirit. And yet this new model is
basically P-V oriented; what matters is what happens in that
relation. As the quotes indicate it is not easy. V may feel that
P, including those high up, have been lees than frank, that truth
is not forthcoming, and sell forgiveness at a higher price in
terms of truth currency. S may feel that truth is not
forthcoming and hold back on amnesty. On the other hand, P (this
is an hypothesis) may also feel that "the more truth the more
amnesty", and exaggerate, adding crimes not committed, in the hope
of getting off quickly. But by and large the model is clear: S, P
and V meet in the same room, for a TRC hearing, with the
possibility of arriving at closure together. If they so want.
And, the same problem: if the theory works.
First, even if, or indeed if, all truth is forthcoming it may
be so horrendous, revealing evil intention behind the often
irreversible harm that victim forgiveness is not forthcoming.
Second, where is the steering of the hardened perpetrator?
True, to have one's name revealed and associated with heinous
crimes may lead to heavy social punishment, like ostracism. But
the hardened perpetrator may not be deterred by that; social
respect may not be what he is pursuing. To utter some truths and
apologies may be a small price for amnesty, getting off scot free.
What is there to prevent him from repeating the crime?
Third, where is the justice? An economy is based on a market
for the exchange of goods (including services), and a deal can be
closed when the (positive) values are (about) equal. Is justice
also based on a market for the exchange of bads/harms (including
disservices), where closure can only be obtained when the
(negative) values are about equal? As indicated in Chapter 3, is
there an underlying, universal, quest for balance, for tit for
tat, quid pro quo, harm for harm, as there is for positive goods,
that has to be met to obtain closure, also for violence?
The English language uses the word "closure" in both cases.
Closure can come through V doing equal harm to P as revenge and
then stopping ("quits", like the Arab sulcha), or through S
administering equal harm, "justice" to P. Contrary to the US
saying "two wrongs do not make one right", two acts of equal
suffering may cancel each other, whereas imbalance may invite
violence compensation. Forgiveness in exchange for apology makes
sense. But so does punishment in exchange for crime. One does
not exclude the other; opening for an eclectic Model III.
After all, the court process is about the same, adding
priests and psychologists to jurists. But there are also some
dissimilarities, leading to both-and rather than either-or:
 Victim-Perpetrator. The Justice model is unrealistic,
based on the idea that the direct trauma will be healed, even to
the point of closure, by the satisfaction derived from indirect
administration of punishment by the state. There may be some
minor truth to this. But the major truth lies with the direct
relation in the T&R model, exchanging apology for forgiveness,
adding to that concrete, direct restitution. If direct relations
are impossible, the trauma being too deep, go-betweens might be
needed, with special training (religious/psychological). A
typical example would be sexualized violence, such as rape.
 Perpetrator-State: In both models the perpetrator has to
tell the truth, and is confronted with evidence uncovered by the
investigators. But how can the State both punish and give
amnesty? By being lenient, soft with prison and fines, but hard
on the need to relate to the victim. Half-amnesty, in short.
 State-Victim: In both models the state gives the victim
a voice and offers a sympathetic ear. But under the T&R model
there is more focus on restitution to the victim, seeing the
trauma as a social responsibility, and less on retribution.
Nothing of this seems impossible. Starting with the justice
model, more and more elements of the reconciliation model could be
introduced, gradually. Basically what would be needed would be
personnel able to handle reconciliation, and judges able to
accommodate both kinds of knowledge and skills. And the public
will have to learn to reconcile and not ostracize if there is
progress in the perpetrator-victim relation.
Imagine we now superimpose Models I and II on each other, as
matrix and as graph. The presentation becomes somewhat messy, but
more important is how a sentence might read:
You P have committed crimes against the laws of ----, and you
have violated the general moral bonds tying humans together by
your heinous acts of violence against V. For breaking the law I
hereby, in the name of justice, sentence you to----.
In addition to serving this sentence you are obliged, after
mature reflection, to extend your deep apology to V and/or V's
family and try your best, directly and/or indirectly, to repair
the human relations you violated. In addition to this you are
obliged to repair the damage done through direct restitution to V
and/or V's family, in kind and/or money, over time.
Your case is closed when you have served your sentence and
justice has been done, and you have extended your apologies, done
your restitution, and reconciliation has been done.
The exact amount could then be negotiated in the Court-V-P
triad. P has a say, but no veto. And the relative weight of the
two models would be the crucial variable that could catch the
"circumstances" surrounding the case, such as cultural and
structural specificities./55/ Thus, South Africa today seems to
have a much higher capacity for Model II than unforgiving West
Germans in their Model I orientation toward the leaders of former
DDR./56/ Model I also seems to dominate the Latin American legal
culture. There are certainly also structural factors like whether
the norms are operating at the level of the family or other
primary groups, or at the social level as municipal law, or at the
world level as international law.
The "lower" the level the more Model II orientation and vice
versa? No, some parents are extremely punishment-oriented
relative to their children, and there are strong Model II aspects
of contemporary international customary law. The basic point is
that the level in-between, municipal law, as exported from the
West, is very poor in Model II approaches, probably precisely
because Model I is so well institutionalized.
No doubt this opens for new perspectives in jurisprudence.
More particularly, an interesting hypothesis, returning to the
opening quotes, would be that having to reconcile, paying the
enormous mental and spiritual costs this entails, will have more
of a deterrent effect than conventional punishment. Postmodern
society, short on social fabric and compelling norms, may even
make the tightness of prison society look attractive. The benefits
of punishment for society may turn out to be as illusory as the
costs to the criminal. New ground is being broken right now,
particularly in South Africa, maybe less in other countries where
the justice model is more entrenched.
And that leads to an interesting question: why are we talking
about such processes in Latin America, and above all in Southern
Africa when we include Mozambique, and why right now, in the
1990s? Why was the settlement after years of violence not limited
to the Justice model, even imitating the Western powers in
implementing victor's justice?
Simple answer: impossible, because most defendants would have
been from, and in, those very same Western powers. We are talking
about residual colonialism and neo-colonialism, run by a local
elite, supported by the West (with some opposition), and resisted,
violently or not, by people marginalized by the mighty structures
they tried to change. In the process atrocities were committed,
particularly to protect status quo. The struggle for liberation
was typically directed against infra-structure, like power supply,
communication/transportation, and the struggle to preserve the
status quo aimed at the "terrorists", particularly leaders, having
them "disappear". And then they "won", or there was a stalemate;
in Latin America, in Southern Africa.
So why did patterns of reconciliation emerge in these cases?
Like a plea bargain. The Reconciliation model could serve as a
substitute for the Justice model, saving elites from punishment.
Being stronger and less vulnerable they demanded this in return
for "accepting" a truce, "granting" independence, "accepting"
democracy. The brighter among them, having seen the hand-writing
on the wall, knew very well that at best violence could win them a
stalemate against the forces of history, and at worst a position
in the darker chambers of the graveyard of history. Rather make
giving in look like accepting democracy.
When that same layer in the world won or could arraign their
enemies into court, they did not miss any chance to "bring them to
justice," unless they could make a shady and secret deal with
them. This was done against the Germans and Japanese after the
Second world war, against East Germans after the Cold War, and
against "terrorists" all the time. There is little or no talk of
Model II, in any form. Had the losers won, they would probably
not have made use of Model II either.
Nor was the Reconciliation model originally envisaged in
South Africa. It seems to have emerged as a compromise between
the original ANC position--adjudication, treating political crimes
like private crimes--and the regime position---amnesty for all
political crimes. Given the limited capacity of the South African
courts adjudication would last far into next century, and be
counter-productive to reconciliation. A flat amnesty would bury
the truth and give no healing to victims. Amnesty in return for
truth; and forgiveness in return for apology/restitution, the
apology from the perpetrators and the restitution mainly from the
State. When it works.
And it is far beyond the present author's competence, and
also much too early, to asses to what extent it works. The TRC
tribunals, with the cooperation of the media (on TV from 6-7 pm
every Sunday), have roughly speaking these functions:
- to give the victims a full hearing so they can communicate and
share their suffering with the whole society;
- to investigate what really happened, using traditional methods
with special investigative teams, witnesses etc.;
- expose the violators with full names etc., if the case has been
proved by traditional court standards;
- announcing amnesty on the condition of full confession;
- trying reconciliation perpetrator-victim, in the same room,
religiously with a priest, psychologically with a psychologist;
- organizing restitution, also from perpetrator, when possible.
The experience seems to be that the ANC confess violence, but
as it is mainly against things, they have less to confess. The top
people of the apartheid regime are silent, or plead ignorance.
Lower ranks come forward and confess. Victims who want to know
who higher up gave the order meet massive silence. But be that as
it may. Sooner or later the conspiracy of silence will break.
South Africa has broken new paths in the practice of
jurisprudence, in seeing a crime both as a relation perpetrator-
victim, and a relation perpetrator-God/State/public.
And that leads us to an afterthought. War is a breach of the
UN Charter Article 2(4); and postmodern warfare is mainly directed
against civilians. When do we get the tribunals after any war
when the victims meet their torturers, not only the small foot
soldiers but top military and civilian commanders, not only in
small countries, but also in the big? And when will presidents,
prime ministers and generals apologize? If the South African
miracle could happen, so will this, some day.
In conclusion, why did all of this work out so much better in
South Africa than in some countries in Latin America (Guatemala,
El Salvador, Chile, Argentina); or at least so it seems? The
Truth Commission model was used in all of them, but Reconciliation
only in South Africa. Too early to say, but here are some
reflections for whatever they are worth.
The place to look for an explanation is probably in the
culture, and not only religion. The Latin American countries are
Christian; South Africa is mixed. Christianity of all kinds would
emphasize the free will of human beings, see crime as the
successor to sin, confession as confession, State/judge as the
successor to God/priest and punishment as the successor to
penitence. As a result there is a clean slate. But forgiveness?
Many Christians, when asked, say that only the Lord can
forgive. But how do we interpret the formulation in the Lord's
Prayer (Our Father) "Forgive us our debt as we forgive our
debtors" (Wyclif/Douay versions) or "Forgive us our trespasses
etc.". Does it mean "He who forgives others will himself be
forgiven by the Lord", "Lord, forgive us so we get the strength to
forgive others", both (or neither)? A simple reading would be
that the Lord forgives, we forgive, and the two are related. At
any rate, forgiveness is not beyond human beings.
All this becomes less problematic if one sees the evil act
less as rooted in an evil actor, and wars more as something that
happens, like an earthquake, drought, flood. It comes and goes.
To punish the actors of a war makes as little sense as to punish
an earthquake. Better understand why/how it happened (Truth),
reconcile oneself to the circumstances (Reconciliation), and be
better prepared next time. It makes a lot of sense.
7. Reconstruction After Violence: An Overview
We repeat: humankind at its worst, intra-species war. There are
victims, killed and wounded, the bereaved, the deprived, the
traumatized, the material damage, the damage to nature. There is
no limit to work under the heading of reconstruction, such as
rehabilitation, the healing of traumatized humans, bereaved as
well as wounded (posttraumatic stress disorder counseling), and
rebuilding, repairing the material damage, constructing new
habitats, including helping nature renew itself./57/
But a look at Table 3.1 informs us that there is much
more work to do. To limit reconstruction to rehabilitation and
rebuilding is to commit the fallacy of (badly) "misplaced
concreteness", as they used to say in sociology. It means being
mesmerized by visible (ruins, people in pain, people crying) at
the expense of invisible effects, like military bulletins.
The other items in Table 3.1 can by and large be summarized
under two headings: damage to structure and damage to culture.
Structures have to be woven together, but not too tight, not too
dominant; cultures have to become peace cultures. More below.
How about damage to nature? We then have to go beyond
cleaning up a forest used as a battlefield, using detoxification
and planting new trees. We have to try to build mature eco-
systems with a structure of diversity and symbiosis, and we have
to try to inculcate in those who did the damage a culture of peace
which of course would include respect for nature.
Two remarks about the particle "re". Like for research it
means again. And again. No end. And it does not mean the
restoration of status quo ante except if that is good enough.
And then let us be more specific about reconstruction.
Rehabilitation: the collective sorrow approach. Post-
traumatic stress disorder is problematic because of the high level
of irreversibility. Only one approach will be explored here:
collective sorrow, also as an antidote to triumphalism.
Horror has struck. The normal reaction is sorrow, among the
bereaved and those who know the bereaved. The sorrow is expressed
as a condolence, a period is set aside for the sorrow; women used
to dress in black and men had a black ribbon around the arm. At
the end, to mark the ending and to mark that life goes on, there
is a celebration. The memory of those who passed on is invoked;
the challenge to carry on is another basic theme.
So far, so good. All of this can be organized by victor and
vanquished alike, after the horror. The basic problem is the
theme, the reason for sorrow. Because we are missing the dead,
and commiserate with the bereaved and the wounded? That can and
should be done, at the family and the community levels. The past-
war sorrow, however, should carry another message.
For the victor to deplore collectively the sacrifice that was
necessary to win, and for the vanquished to deplore collectively
the sacrifice that was insufficient, are parts of the culture of
war. A culture of peace would deplore the war as such, any war,
as a sign of human failure and folly. War should never be
justified; given human potential resources.
War is a scandal; any war is a crime against humanity, to be
deplored as such. Around that theme sorrow can crystallize;
deploring not only the effects, but war as such. For that to
happen not only violent actors, but also violent structures and
cultures have to be deplored, as pointed out so often above.
Rehabilitation is built around a new cause: abolition of war.
But that is a long term goal, like abolition of slavery and
colonialism when the abolitionists started (and by and large
succeeded). In the short term we are talking about healing, as a
very important part of rehabilitation. The wound should no longer
hurt, or worse, fester.
But doesn't time heal all wounds? Beyond a certain age we
are all bereaved, having lost family members or friends. But we
adjust, with small wounds, mixed with bitter-sweet memories.
Unfortunately, that argument misses the point. Traumas divide
into acceptable and unacceptable; those caused by war, or violence
in general, are often unacceptable. Moreover, traumas divide into
individual (or primary group level) and collective; those caused
by violence may be individual, but those caused by war are
collective. Collective, unacceptable traumas would be the most
difficult to heal. Even collective sorrow may not do the job,
including turning against the common foe, war itself.
What is left for the conflict/peace worker would be to let
the negative argument enter the dialogue: " what will happen if
those traumas do not heal? The answer also depends on whether
you, individually or collectively, are on top of the traumas, not
rather than the traumas on top of you. On top they will not only
eat out your heart but be in command, running yours or the
nation's life, leading you into endless cycles of revenge. There
may be short-term healing to gain from that. But there is a party
on the other side with the same problem. Somebody has to break
that vicious cycle. This is the task of the strongest, like it is
the strongest who shouts least in an argument. That stronger one
is you. Do the superhuman, put the wound behind you, find your
guidance in the future, not the past."
Rebuilding: the development approach. Of course, after
destruction comes construction, and with construction come new
opportunities. There is the good thing in the bad thing, the New
Beginning. The people who have seen this most clearly are the
entrepreneurs, from State or Capital, who descend upon a war-torn
society very willing to profit from disaster (they may sometimes
even be suspected of having organized some of the destruction).
There is space for the private sector, for their capability, if
not always for their motivation. Leaving it all to them could be
to substitute economic for military invasion and structural
violence for direct violence.
What is needed is a national dialogue with general citizen
participation. Nobody has monopoly on defining the goal of
development; and everybody is entitled to participate in the
process. To paraphrase Gandhi: there is no road to development,
development is the road. That includes the human development
accruing to everybody who takes on the challenge of imaging the
society and the world after the horror; the social development
that comes to a society that has a collective dialogue about its
own future; the world development coming from a world dialogue,
and the cultural development that comes out of new conceptions.
This should not be confused with the populist notion that
people are always right, elites never. There is room for city
engineers and architects, but not for those unable to listen to
people who shall live in their cities and houses, taking their
concerns and ideas seriously, continuing the dialogue till there
is some consensus. In short, once again there is wisdom in the
old Chinese adage of turning a bad thing into a good; but never
letting that serve as an excuse for the horror that struck.
The task of the peace worker might be to serve as catalysts
for good dialogues about development. In chapter 3 above a
comparison was made between war-torn and growth-torn societies,
whether that growth is capitalist or commando socialist (they also
had growth, even quite high at times). Fortunately the repertory
of development has more to offer than growth/freedom without
distribution/solidarity on the one hand and
distribution/solidarity without growth/freedom on the other.
Thus, the social democratic option in the Northern part of the
world combines the two. Clearly there are worse systems around.
However, the Western world tends to think in dualist terms.
If socialism is wrong, then privatization is the solution, and
vice versa. There is no in-between (social democrat), no both-and
(the now rapidly disappearing Japanese option) no neither-nor (the
green, local economy option). Or better still, in this author's
view: combining [a] the local option for production for basic
needs, with [b] the social democrat mix for very much of what the
country needs, with [c] the Japanese option for export, all three
in a flexible, eclectic combination./58/
Rebuilding opens for opportunities, but should not serve as
an invitation to a dogmatism eliminating opportunities (an
opportunity lost is an opportunity cost). The task of the peace
worker is not to be dogmatic/ideological, but to keep options open
by reminding a war-torn society that there may be more under the
sun than what they had before and what is now being proffered.
The peace worker is not like a conflict worker who may be forced
by circumstances to have dialogues with only one party at a time.
He is the catalyst who gets the debate going, expanding rather
than contracting the development horizon.
Restructuration: the peace structure approach. The word
"democratization" expresses much of what is hiding under the more
general term "restructuration", for peace. But, however laudable
a political system with an executive accountable to the
legislature and the legislature accountable to a population that
can express its will freely, in elections by secret ballot, there
are more aspects to be considered.
When violence breaks out there are usually two structural
causes: too much dominance, politically as oppression and/or
economically as exploitation; or too much distance, between
classes or other groups, including countries. Combine the two and
we get the phenomenon known as (social) exclusion or
marginalization. In extreme cases we get what can be called
atomie, a pathological society of egocentric, cost-benefit
oriented individuals, and little or no social tissue left.
Beyond the institution of democracy restructuration would aim
at eliminating social exclusion by raising the educational and
health levels of the marginalized. To speed up the process
students could donate a year, live with an illiterate family and
alphabetize them; medical students could train people in
elementary preventive and curative medicine. But there is no
alternative to better distribution of productive resources (land,
credit, technology, management). Democracy cannot work across the
inequality gaps still found today.
This will decrease vertical social distance. To decrease the
horizontal distance strengthening the local community is
indispensable, together with building ties to others through NGOs,
faxes, e-mail etc. But preferably direct human ties, building a
positive civil society on concrete ground.
In chapter 3 above not only escalation of direct violence but
also the structural damage known as polarization of society, even
the world, in two camps was mentioned. Depolarization will not
take care of itself. It does not come automatically, nor is it
obvious that the best restructuration is "normalization" to the
situation before violence: that situation produced violence.
Take occupied Norway 1940-45, typical of Western European
countries occupied by Germany. There was the Norwegian-German
polarity. But then there were social (including sexual),
military, political, economic and cultural collaborators, under
German protection. When the object of the primary polarization
demobilized and were repatriated to Germany, the Norwegian pole
polarized, and the trauma inflicted by the German occupiers was
passed on to "bad" Norwegians instead./59/ Continuation of the war
inside Norway took precedence over restructuration, leave alone
reconciliation. Restructuration took 20 years. Reconciliation?
These processes of depolarization, and then repolarization
along other lines, are strong. They come on top of us unless our
insight in them places us on top of them. The obvious point, that
Quisling and his people had been 10-20 years ahead of the rest of
Norway, siding with Germany against the Soviet Union, could have
served as an opener for a more Buddhist approach. We are all in
the same boat of world politics, tossed around by the waves; do
not reify that we once were on opposite sides as something
eternal. But this has not happened and probably never will before
the last quisling is dead and buried so that there is no chance of
exchanges of apologies and forgiveness in both directions, and
some reconciliation. Sad, because it could have lifted Norwegians
up on a higher spiritual plane.
But restructuration also means building new and eliminating
old institutions. A peace structure would definitely include
democracy in the usual sense of "rule according to rules whereby
the rulers have to have the consent of the ruled". This is a
necessary condition for domestic peace; the opposite being known
as repression ("rule without the consent of the ruled"). But that
only covers political power. Vertical structural violence also
expresses itself as exploitation and alienation. The answer that
people who are exploited and/or alienated can change that when
they get power through democracy is unsatisfactory, given that
power in a democracy means majority. There is no protection of
minorities in this concept, that will have to come through human
rights, as a part of peace culture. But sooner or later political
democracy will have to be extended to economic and cultural
democracy for restructuration.
Democratic elections transforms an often violent conflict
over power in a society to a nonviolent conflict over majority
vote. Elections are crucial, to supervise them is peace work.
Democracy trains people in nonviolent conflict transformation, and
will sooner or later spread to economic and cultural power. But
the sum of democratic states is not "global democracy", the world
has no such institution. A United Nations People's Assembly
elected by direct and secret ballot would help./60/
How about military power? 30 states in the world have no
army./61/ Switzerland had a referendum November 1989 with 35.6% in
favor of abolishing the army. Japan has the self-binding Article
9 in the constitution, abolishing not the army but the right to
war. The task of the peace worker obviously is to stimulate a
free, undogmatic debate over all these issues.
Reculturation: the peace culture approach. Again we are
faced with a double problem: to substitute for a culture of
violence a culture of peace, and to build a culture where there is
none. When the society has reached the pathological state of
anomie norms have no compelling force because there are no inner
or outer sanctions (good or bad conscience, reward or punishment--
or the promise/threat thereof).
One simple way of building a culture of peace would be by
introducing practical conflict knowledge and skills from
kindergarten beyond PhD, starting with "two children, one orange;
what do you do" problems (at least 16 qualitatively different
answers). Good, well-written books, many of them, with fifty,
hundred concrete stories of how conflicts from the intra-personal
to the inter-regional levels in fact were solved, with no
violence, are needed.
Above 90% of direct violence around the world is done by men
so demystification of the male mystique is needed. The idea that
male self-realization comes through violence ("tough",
"courageous", "heroic" are positive code-words, "coward",
"chicken" negative ones) is not only found in Iberian style
machismo. A deep challenge of the hero-war linkage is needed.
Certain civilizations see themselves as chosen peoples with
not only a right but a duty to conquer others, driven by glories
and traumas of the past, in a struggle between Good and Bad. Such
extremist faiths have to be challenged.
Finally, to counteract anomie there has to be effective
propagation of a new world ethos, based on values of peace,
development, environment, democracy and human rights. But how?
The search for a world ethos (Hans Küng) may be one answer.
But here we shall point to another problem. In chapter 3
above the mental, cultural polarization of the mind in two camps
was mentioned, in other words a simplification of the conflict
formation down to reductionism to two parties fighting over one
issue. However valid or invalid this may have been as a map for
the violent phase, parties to a conflict cannot continue living
with such images of the world. As mentioned several times, what
this means is that the bed has already been made for the next
conflict to enter the mind in as polarized a form as possible.
Thus, the Cold War became so cold precisely because the Soviet
Union was fitted into the slot left vacant by Nazi-Germany's
demise (and Stalin into the slot left vacant by Hitler's suicide).
The conclusion was obvious: the Soviet Union is going to do
exactly what Nazi Germany did: launch a war./62/
After the violence, preferably before or during, realistic,
accurate maps have to be produced. There will always be somebody
among "us" with different views, the same applies to "them". When
the conflict is hot those voices tend to be silenced, for instance
by denouncing them as fellow travelers, soft on "them", even as
traitors. And yet they probably hold the keys to reculturation,
not alone, but together with the mainstream view. If they are
historians they are often referred to as "revisionist", and they
may also cut the issue in a too simplistic manner, mesmerized by
At a deeper level the very idea of polarization, and the
underlying dualism will have to be critiqued. As this is a basic
feature of Wester civilization we are dealing with an uphill
struggle. But the West also has pluralism and tolerance in its
baggage, both of them protected by human rights.
Like for restructuration the task of the peace worker is
obviously to know a lot about these issues and then stimulate
dialogues, and debates. Dialogues and debates are the lungs of a
democratic society. The round table is an excellent vehicle for
this if we can assume that the conflict is in a phase where the
parties are willing to see and even to listen to each other.
Take a case like human rights. They are crucial; monitoring
them is peace work. So is information and debate; most people
have only vague ideas about human rights./63/ Peace workers have
to do their reading on the subject and have the material ready.
The task is to be a good catalyst for the debates/64/. With
increasing world gaps between rich and poor, economic rights will
become increasingly important, like civil and political rights
when the gaps between the powerful and the powerless increase. In
a democracy all such issues can be discussed; a good measure of
the degree of democracy is absence of taboos. And even if not all
conditions are fulfilled one can also promote democracy by
behaving as if it is already there.
But the peace worker should also help identify gaps in
emerging peace cultures. The opposite of extreme polarization ("I
know only one good German; a dead German") is not extreme
depolarization ("All Germans are simply wonderful"). The cure for
rigid xenophobia is not rigid xenophilia. Such attitudes are not
the fruits of mature reflection, but of indoctrination.
Much more helpful than dualism and dualism stood on its head
is the ancient Chinese idea of yin/yang; that everything has a
dark side and a bright side, that this is normal, nothing is
perfectly good, nor perfectly bad. The peace worker proposes. And
the round table disposes.
8. Reconciliation After Violence: An Overview
Introduction Reconciliation = Closure + Healing, closure in
the sense of not reopening hostilities, healing in the sense of
being rehabilitated./65/ Reconciliation is a theme with deep
psychological, sociological, theological, philosophical and
profoundly human roots--and nobody really knows how to do it.
Twelve approaches will be mentioned, with proposals indicative of
what could be done for each. But first a map that will become
more meaningful after reading about the approaches.
There is usually a Third Party as source of Grace, Law and
Justice, above perpetrator and victim: God (the Church), the
State (the International Community), Society (the People).
In principle, all the Third Party can do is either to
administer the relation between perpetrator and victim, or change
that relation into a relation to itself; punishing the perpetrator
and/or comforting the victim (including trying to answer his basic
question: why me, underlying the theodic‚e/66/).
The victim can seek restitution for the harm from the
perpetrator or from the Third Party by having the perpetrator
punished; or can "get equal" with the perpetrator through revenge.
Material and non-material gratification may derive from this, but
hardly reconciliation, release from the trauma.
The perpetrator may seek release from his guilt: from the
Third Party through submission, penitence or punishment; from the
victim through apology and forgiveness; and from himself by hard
inner work. Reconciliation has essentially to take place between
perpetrator and victim. But that also means that either of them
can withhold reconciliation, putting the trauma/guilt in the world
trauma/guilt bank and use them as weapons./67/
 The exculpatory nature-structure-culture approach
Drawing on chapters 5 and 6 above the cases of the Nanking
genocide and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
let us start with the underlying assumptions. We are dealing with
the relation perpetrator-victim, individual or collective and
(very) violent act. How that act is understood conditions the
relation between the two. Hypotheses:
An actor-oriented perspective with free will unfettered by
extenuating circumstances makes the relation particularly bitter
and both closure and healing difficult to obtain. There is the
possibility of a "trauma for guilt" exchange.
An actor-oriented perspective with free will reduced by
extenuating circumstances may make the trauma more easy to bear,
but as the guilt is reduced by the circumstances the "trauma for
guilt" exchange is difficult to obtain.
A structure-oriented perspective converts the relation from
inter-personal, or inter-state/nation, to a relation between two
positions in a deficient structure. If the parties can agree that
the structure was/is deficient and that their behavior was an
enactment of structural positions rather than anything more
personal, then turning together against the common problem, the
structural violence, should be possible.
A culture-oriented perspective also converts the relation
from interpersonal, or inter-state/nation, to a relation spurred
by a deficient culture. If the parties can agree that the culture
was/is deficient and that their behavior was an enactment of that
culture rather than anything more personal, then turning together
against that common problem, the cultural violence, should be
The key word in the last two is "agree". "Outer conditions
made you a perpetrator and me a victim. That is no good reason
for us to hate each other, nor for you to feel excessive guilt,
nor for me to develop the victim psychology. Not only can we
close that vicious circle, heal our psychological wounds by
forgetting them. We can even reconcile with each other, put the
past behind us. We can join forces and fight those conditions
that pitted us against each other in horrible acts of violence."
Even if this is not the full truth, it can be more than half
the truth. Moreover, it can be self-fulfilling.
Outsiders, like peace workers, may suggest that perspective
to them as a way of thinking about their own situation. This may
be best done to one party at the time than the parties together,
lest the victim gets upset by seeing the perpetrator grabbing the
opportunity, or lest the perpetrator wants to cash in more on his
professed guilt. Let them first arrive at an exculpatory
position, then bring them together to celebrate a joint approach
A basic problem arises when the symmetry breaks down. Their
acts may be enactments of structural positions, but in different
structures, and from different positions in the same structure.
And yet soldiers forced to kill by different states nevertheless
enact the same state war logic to fight, unless they both become
conscientious objectors. And even if the landowner may prefer to
keep the land of his ancestors and not yield to the landless, he
may also be brought to see that position as untenable. The same
applies to culture: people may be hit by violent aspects of the
same culture, or violent aspects of different cultures. In either
case the peace worker's task is carefully and tactfully to open
the eyes of the parties to the peaceful aspects.
 The reparation/restitution approach. X has harmed Y, X is
conscious of his guilt, Y is conscious of the trauma. X comes to
Y and offers reparation/restitution: I'll undo the harm done by
undoing the damage, repairing, restituting, restoring the status
quo ante. At the simplest level--a tenant buying a new vase for
the vase broken to the most complex level of countries and
alliances at war with each other--money, goods and services start
flowing to undo the damage. Sometimes the relation is direct,
sometimes via institutions like insurance companies (e.g., for
damage done to cars in accidents; countries are not yet insuring
against damage in wars). But, as any house- or car-owner knows:
there is also the time lost in the process, with opportunity
costs. Reparation must always be at a higher level than the
This approach only works when the violence is reversible.
Irreversibility not only applies to broken vase from the Minh
dynasty; it could have affective value, being a part of family
heritage. When trauma has been wrought and is deep-rooted, any
restitution borders on an insult, adding violence to violence.
Second, there is an element of buying oneself off the hook by
trying to make the victim forget what happened by filling the gap
caused by the harm, thereby trying to buy release from guilt. The
harm is reduced to a commodity to be traded: "By mistake I took
something from you, here you have it back with an extra 10% for
inconvenience and time lost".
Third, "there is no business like reparation business".
With goods and services flowing post-reparation demands may be
created; with the possibility that this was all premeditated, or
at lest that somebody will think it was all premeditated.
The task of the peace worker is to explore all these
arguments with the perpetrator and the victim so that they fully
understand what they are in for if this is the approach chosen.
They both have to accept the approach so that the perpetrator does
not offer something which falls on barren soil, or worse:
increases the aggressiveness. And the victim should not start
expecting a restitution that never comes, for whatever reason.
Beyond this there is something very practical a peace worker
may do: suggesting the concrete act of restitution. People have
limited imagination, and this is not a question of finding a gift
for an anniversary. In addition to being wanted by the victim,
the act of restitution must convey the correct symbolic message.
And that also goes for the perpetrator. He may, for instance, be
afraid that the act of restitution is an implicit admission of
guilt and can be held against him as a confession. He may also
worry lest the act does not lead to closure as a condition for
reconciliation. He may wonder about the time perspective: are we
talking about one act, or about follow-ups, like every year, like
the anniversary of the evil act? Will flowers do? And so on, and
Restitution is a transaction, a transaction is a two-way
action, so there has to be balance and symmetry. The instrument
to ensure that is a contract, signed by both perpetrator and
victim. The peace worker should know how to draw up a document of
that type (in short, s/he has to be a bare-foot lawyer, in
addition to a theologian and a psychologist for reconciliation
tasks). It may be objected that this is too formal, not
sufficiently spontaneous, symbolic, healing. True, but for those
who choose this approach that may be a minor matter.
 The apology/forgiveness approach. X has harmed Y; X is
conscious of his guilt, Y is conscious of the harm. Both are
traumatized. X comes to Y, offers "sincere apologies" for the
harm, Y accepts the apologies. There is a double spiritual
transformation. What was initiated by violence is terminated by
offering and accepting an apology; both-and, not either-or.
Metaphors of turning a page, opening a new chapter, even a new
book, in their relations are invoked. The slate is clean, now to
be inscribed with positive acts. There is agreement that what
happened is "forgotten", not to be referred to./68/
Is it also "forgiven"? Does "I accept your apology" mean "I
forgive you"? Definitely not. Some possible translations:
- "I apologize"="I wish what I did undone and promise, no more"
- "I accept your apology"="I believe what you say, let's go on"
- "Please forgive me"="Please release me from my guilt to you"
- "I forgive you"="I hereby release you from your guilt to me"
Thus, forgiving goes on step further, relating to the trauma
of guilt. Guilt is in the spirit, and arises from the
consciousness of having wronged someone. This establishes a
relation to the victim, to one's own Ego, and to any God/State
believed in. The victim can only release the wrong-doer from the
first guilt. To some that is the only guilt, however.
Positive in the approach is a bond of compassion between X
and Y; negative is its superficiality. Just as restitution is
good for people with money, apology is for those with words. X
agrees to see the harm as wrong, as something he wishes undone and
Y helps him saying that you can now live as if no harm was
wrought. But the causes of the violence are left untouched. The
approach is A-, not C-oriented, but hopefully with B effects.
For the peace worker this is very different from the
reparation/restitution approach. There is a transaction and both
parties have to be willing, meaning that either one can sabotage
that process. What is needed is only for the victim not to accept
the apology, or not to forgive; and for the perpetrator not to
extend any apology, or not to ask for forgiveness. The drama in
four acts is very vulnerable.
In addition, whereas there is something economic and
contractual in the process of restitution, this transaction is
spiritual/psychological. Both parties have to be "in the mood" to
enter this relationship. This is probably preceded by a feeling
of having looked into the abyss: it is this, or else: hatred,
retribution rather than restitution, with no end.
The presumed psychological mechanism is something like this.
On the surface X and Y are enacting the drama in four acts
together, and relieve X of his guilt. But deeper down, in doing
so, Y is relieved of his/her trauma. Y, the offended party,
commands the moral high ground. Extending forgiveness from that
position does not leave Y's own trauma untouched.
And yet there is something missing. Like most victims in
Western legal models (see Model I in Chapter 6) the victim may
feel like singing "Oh say can you see, what is in it for me - ".
This is the point where on top of psychological mechanisms some
restitution might do much good. The perpetrator has to deserve
being forgiven. That brings us close to the South African T&R
process described in Chapter 6. The peace worker has to have it
all in his/her mind and hands, steering the process, craftily,
toward closure. Much knowledge, skills and above all human tact
will be needed. And the training is mostly on the job.
 The theological/penitence approach. In the Western world
this approach is associated with Christianity, is perpetrator-
oriented in general, and guilt-oriented in particular. Above
three dimensions of guilt have been indicated: toward Other, the
victim; toward Self; toward God/State. Matthew 25:40: "Inasmuch
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye
have done it unto me". This is the Christ, God's Son talking,
thereby verticalizing the guilt, lifting it out of the Self-Other
context, landing it in the Self-God context (Self-Self is seen as
deriving from the latter). Self-Other comes second.
The approach then consists of a well-described, well-
prescribed chain: submission-confession-penitence-absolution; to
and from God, via His representative the Church (Orthodox,
Catholic), or directly (Protestant). The penitence is mainly
self-administered: prayer, fasting, celibacy, monastery,
flagellation. Better some pain in this life than eternal pain in
the after-life. Absolution then releases the perpetrator, the
sinner, peccatore, from his guilt, sin, peccato, unto God.
One problem is that this only works for the believer, or for
the person who at least believes a little. There is little in this
for the atheist. Nor for the Protestant not accepting the word of
the Church as final; his guilt remains a burden. He needs more
direct issue of the No guilt certificate.
In addition this solves neither the Self-Other problem, nor
the Self-Self problem. It may even exacerbate both of them, being
used as an excuse to avoid any encounter with Other claiming that
God solved the problem. If the Self-Self problem refuses to go
away, doubts about God's absolution may arise. And Other is left
with the theodis‚e/69/ and the general Why me!?
The name of the peace worker in this case is the priest. A
double, triple vocation is nothing new for a person who very often
has to be a social worker. What should he look out for to be a
good peace worker on top of his theological role?
The basic point has already been mentioned: broaden the
perspective. The priest helps paving the way for reconciliation
with God, and thereby, for the believer, with Self. To do this he
may have to strengthen Self's faith, help removing doubts. But
Other still remains, the victim, the forgotten party.
Look at the approaches already discussed. Broadening the
perspective means taking something away from one or more of them.
Obviously, the priest cannot make full use of the nature-
structure-culture approach. The will may be conditioned by them
up to a point, but some free will remains, and with that guilt and
responsibility. But he can make use of the other two.
What is recommended is that the priest turned peace worker
includes Other, trying to pave the way for reconciliation. The
perpetrator will have to broaden the God/Self-oriented focus on
absolution and include the Other-oriented focus on apology and
restitution. A major problem remains, however.
The victim might say: "leave me alone, I have had enough
suffering if I should not in addition have to meet him again,
accept some acts of restitution, even listen to his insincere
apologies that will never undo what happened." The reaction is
understandable, and the peace worker may have to be a go-between
if the direct encounter is too hard on either or both. Rather
than bringing them together he may have to rely on the dialogue
with each one of them. The theological/penitence approach alone
is simply too partial; it has to be broadened.
 The juridical/punishment approach. This is the secular
version of the above, according to the plus ‡a change plus c'est
la mˆme chose. The successor to God is the State (in the USA
often the `"People"); the successor to the perpetrator is the
perpetrator and to the victim is the victim; and the perpetrator-
victim relation is translated into a perpetrator-State relation
with the judge in the role (and almost the robes) of the priest.
The prescribed process above now reads submission-confession-
punishment by seclusion-readmission to society. The logic is the
same. The perpetrator is released from the guilt toward "society";
the other two forms of guilt remain. For problems, see above.
A personal remark: doing six months in a Norwegian prison
provided ample opportunity to reflect on the functions of
punishment. Yes, I broke Norwegian law by refusing to do the
punitive extra six months of a (to my mind) senseless alternative
service. I wanted to do peace work. The imprisonment did not
reform me, I would have broken the same law again. But I felt
guilt, not for having broken a law, but for having broken the ties
to family, friends, fianc‚. They said, don't worry, we can take
it. But some of that guilt remained. How do International
Tribunals work for collective violence? As one would expect: the
accused would tend to be the perpetrators of person-to-person
violence, those who kill with machetes and gas chambers, not those
who kill with missiles and atom bombs; and they would tend to be
the executors of violence rather than the civilians giving the
order, or setting the stage; in bellum rather than ad bello. As a
result, the general moral impact will probably be relatively
But tribunals exist, with a major one for war crimes, crimes
against humanity and genocide coming up. As conceived of, within
the juridical/punishment framework, they will all more or less be
carriers of the problems indicated. The key to the solution is
broadening, adding other approaches.
The name of the peace worker, in this case, is the judge
(and, to a much lesser extent, some of the prison personnel).
Like the priest the judge is also used to adding to his juridical
profession, which, like the priest, is to see to it that what
happens is according to the Book. What should he look out for to
be a good peace worker, on top of his juridical role?
He should realize that the task is not finished when the
relation to the International Community (of States) is cleared
because the prison sentence has been served. The perpetrator-
State perspective is too narrow. Imprisonment does something to
do the body by limiting the movement, leaving the capacities of
the spirit basically untouched, even enhanced. The judge should
add the skills of the priest, and the priest may have to learn how
to do the theological/penitence approach with non-believers.
Then there is the possibility of adding the restitution and
apology approaches, in other words of moving very close to the
South African process. This could even be included in the
sentence, as indicated at the end of chapter 6. And there could
be a tacit or explicit understanding that the success of that
process could shorten the sentence, but not down to amnesty. The
Truth has presumably already come forth through the well tested
methods of the juridical approach, with evidence, testimonies, pro
et contra dicere, and final evaluation. What is needed is an
expansion of the juridical/punishment approach.
 The codependent origination/karma approach. That buddhism has
an ethics of nonviolence (ahimsa) is known to many; that it also
has a system analysis epistemology based on interacting causal
chains/cycles is less known./71/ Concretely this means the
following: although any human being at any point can choose not
to act violently, the decision is influenced by his karma, his
moral status at that moment, the accumulation of "whatever you,
whatever you do, sooner or later comes back to you",/72/ and by
the victim's karma, and by their joint, collective karma; the sum
total of the merits and demerits of earlier action.
Since these intertwining chains stretch into the before-lives
of the past, the side-lives of the context and the after-lives of
the future the demerit of a violent act cannot be placed at the
feet of a single actor only. There is always shared
responsibility for a bad karma. Hence, the way to improve the
karma is through an outer dialogue, which in practice means a
round-table where the seating pattern is symmetric, allocating
nobody to such roles as defendant, prosecutor, counsel, judge; and
with rotating chairperson. But prior to this: meditation as inner
dialogues, with participants trying to come to grips with the
forces inside themselves.
Thus, in buddhist thinking here is no actor who alone carries
100% of the responsibility; it is all shared in space and time.
Where Christianity can be accused of being too black-white,
Buddhism can be accused of being too grey. But the idea of
cooperating to plug the holes in the boat we share rather than
searching for the one who drilled the first hole, including having
a court case on board as the boat is sinking, is appealing, both
for conflict resolution and for reconciliation.
In conflict theory the concept that comes closest to this is
the conflict formation./73/ The first task in any conflict
transformation process is to map the conflict formation,
identifying the parties that have a stake in the outcome,
identifying their goals, and identifying the issues, meaning the
clashes of goals. Since empirical conflicts (as opposed to the
conflicts on a professor's blackboard) tend to be complex, high on
the numbers of parties and goals, the maps are complex, but
nowhere near the complexity of Buddhist causal theory.
However, the peace worker can use the mapping tool of the
conflict worker, and proceed basically the same way. He can have
dialogues with all parties over the theme "after violence, what"?
He can identify conflicts, hard and soft, and try to transcend
them by stimulating joint creativity. Or, he can bring them all
together and be the catalyst and facilitator around, rather than
at the end, of the round table. Conflict work and peace work are
closely related, and this approach is based on the combination of
inner dialogues (meditation) and outer dialogues, with or without
the peace workers as a medium.
Very few people in the world would know even the outline of
all the other eleven approaches in this chapter. One of the tasks
of the peace worker is to bring them to their attention. The
karma approach is an excellent point of departure, given its
holism, neutrality and appeal to dialogue. In that sense it is
actually a meta-approach, above or after the other approaches,
accommodating all of them, like the ho'o ponopono approach
outlined at the end. It is an attitude, a philosophy of life,
beyond the stark dichotomy of perpetrator-victim, in that sense
different from the preceding four, and similar to the rest.
 The historical/truth commission approach. The basic point is
to describe, in great detail wie es eigentlich gewesen, what
really happened, trying to explain it, letting the acts, including
the violent acts, appear as the logical consequences of the
antecedents, with the assumption that tout comprendre c'est tout
pardonner. Although "getting the facts straight"-- however ugly--
is important, there are serious problems./74/
First of all, the famous French saying quoted may have a
moral appeal to some people; it is often disconfirmed as a
descriptive hypothesis. The hideous acts stand out, including or
not the names of perpetrators. But they are not pardoned: why
impunity, why should they get off the hook? It may be argued that
the perpetrators will also read the report that establishes their
guilt to the victims, to themselves and to the God they may
believe in, and will be tormented by that and by social ostracism.
But that is punishing, not forgiving.
Second: this does not by itself produce the catharsis of the
offered and received apology, the hoped for and offered
forgiveness. Truth alone is merely descriptive, not spiritual.
Third, positivist historians are not good at deep culture and
structure, the subconscious without "sources". And counter-
factual history, what might have happened if (history in the
subjunctive, not indicative mode) and the history of the future,
how do we avoid this in the future, are forbidden territory.
Fourth, don't limit the process to professionals whose task
is to come up with the official version. Better have 10,000
people's commissions, in each local community, in each NGO, using
round-tables, involving all parties, themselves trying to arrive
at a joint understanding, reconciling in the process.
The task of the peace worker is to organize those dialogues
and to see to it that the findings flow into some general pool.
One way of doing this is to put at the disposal of the citizens in
any part of a war-torn society, a village, a ward, a company, an
organization, a big book with blank pages to be inscribed by them.
The book will become a part of the collective memory, no doubt
subjectively formulated but that will also be its strengths.
Rather than the truth lawyers and historians think they can
establish the book will carry thousands of truths. Contained in
the book would be descriptions of violence and traumas, not only
what happened but also how it touched them, wounded them. Added
to that would come their thoughts on what could have been done,
their thoughts on reconstruction and reconciliation, on the
resolution of the underlying conflict, and their hopes for the
In other words, the citizens would themselves establish their
truths. Something like this was done by the Opsahl Commission for
Northern Ireland some years ago/75/, and no doubt played a role in
externalizing the conflict, seeing it as something objective
outside the participants, to be handled. Soka Gakkai in Japan has
also done an impressive job collecting the war memories of very
many women in 26 volumes/76/, thereby establishing a collective
memorial to be consulted by future generations. The madness of
violence is amply documented.
But the major task of the peace worker is to give the search
for Truth the two twists indicated while remaining truthful to
empirical facts: counter-factual history, what might have happened
if and the history of the future, how do we avoid this in the
future. Again, let 10,000 dialogues blossom.
 The theatrical/reliving approach. This approach would try
exactly that: involving all parties, in 10,000 exercises to relive
what happened. This is not a question of documentation and
"objectivity", but of reliving the subjective experience. The ways
to do so are numerous, indeed.
Just telling what happened as it happened, as a witness to a
historical/truth commission is already reliving, revealing and
relieving. To have the other parties do the same adds to it. To
tell the stories together, in the same room, adds a dimension of
dialogue, easily very emotional (that's not how it happened!; is
that why you did it?) Then, to stand up, re-enact it up to, not
including, the violence, may have a cathartic effect provided
there is tension release through dialogue. The parties may even
switch roles. But isn't that coming too close? Depends; like in a
negotiation sometimes better keep them apart. The important point
is to arrive at a deeper understanding, more emotional, less
An alternative approach is, of course, for a professional to
write this up and present it on national television for common
consumption. That should not be excluded, but in plural, not with
the idea of writing one play to finish all plays.
A basic advantage of the theater approach, however
rudimentary and amateurish, is that it opens windows so often
closed to positivist social science: what might have happened if
and how do we avoid this in the future. The players can relive
history up to the point where it went wrong and then, together,
invent an alternative continuation. Then they go on inventing
alternative futures, with theater as future workshops. A play can
be rerun at any point; history, unfortunately, not./77/
The peace worker would have to talk with the parties in
advance, have them tell their truths about what happened and then
get their general consent for the theatrical approach. If it can
be done with the real parties as actors and very close to the real
story, then fine. Example: a sexual harassment conflict in a
school with a student complaining that the teacher made advances,
the teacher denying that this was the case, and the principal
saying, show us what happened. In a real case those who watched
actually concluded that the teacher did not "go too far", but also
that the girl had good reasons for having apprehensions about what
happen next. In a concrete situation there are so many dimensions
to what happens that words are hardly able to catch it all.
Enacting it may.
Others may be called upon as stand-ins for roles or scenes
too painful for the real participants to enact. The drama can
also be rewritten so that "any similarity with any real case is
totally coincidental". The point is to give vent to emotions in a
holistic setting by enacting them, taking in as much of the
totality of the situation as needed. Writing the play, however,
before and/or after it was enacted, is also very valuable.
Technically, video-taping may be useful not only to improve
the accuracy of the enactment ("let us take that one again, I am
not sure you captured what happened"), but also to be able to stop
the video and say: "This is the turning point. This is where it
went wrong. Let us now try to enact an alternative follow-up,
what should, and what could, have been done".
Obviously, making and enacting conflict-related plays is an
indispensable part of the training of conflict workers, and for
reconstruction and resolution, not only for reconciliation./78/
 The joint sorrow/healing approach. We saw, like in a
mirror, the immaturity of Western culture in connection with the
VE and VJ 50th anniversary celebrations 8 May and 2 September
1995. The basic content was the victory over evil forces and
homage paid to those who "gave" their lives. Both contribute to
the culture of war by seeing war as a legitimate instrument in
struggles between good and evil, and by justifying the loss of
life, and the bereavement. Consider this alternative:
Joint sorrow is announced for all participating countries
(and others who might like to join). The myth that some people
"gave" their lives is revealed for what it is: those people had
their lives taken away from them by incompetent politicians,
incapable of transforming conflicts, themselves incurring little
or no risk but willing to send others into (almost) certain death,
spreading that death to others in the process.
Without opening a new front against the political and
military class as common enemy, war as such is deeply deplored.
People dress in black, sit down in groups of 10-20 with people
from former enemy countries, and turn to the basics: how could the
war have been avoided? How to avoid wars in the future? Are
there somewhere acts of peace to highlight and celebrate?
To discuss how a war could have been avoided is nothing new;
any country that has been attacked may engage in that debate on
every anniversary (and one conclusion is often to keep the powder
dry, be better armed next time). To discuss this together with
the aggressor, jointly deploring war, any war, as a scandal, a
crime against humanity, searching for alternatives in the past and
the future, is relatively new. And promising, engaged in
massively, with elite, not only people participation.
The point is the togetherness. As time passes, more meetings
in this direction take place, usually gatherings of veterans on
both sides. They may be fascinated by the other side of the
military story, evaluating victories and defeats in the light of
new information. If they are soldiers in the real sense there may
even be no need for any reconciliation. They were professionals
doing a job, only destructive rather than constructive. All
professionals want to know whether they did a good job; few would
know this better than the other side.
The task of the peace worker is not to organize encounters of
demolition experts, however, but to have veterans meet civilians,
civilians meet civilians, and to have both of them meet the
politicians who gave the orders. This is the question asked at
the end of chapter 6: when will any acts of war, and not only
cruelty on the ground, have name-tags on them? Who ordered that
bombing, killing X civilians? Not only the well-known names at
the very top of the hierarchy, their orders are usually general,
but the generals whose orders are specific.
Such encounters should not become tribunals. The focus is on
healing through joint sorrow, not on self-righteousness. The
model would be a village, a town, a district recently hit by
natural disaster. There are local fault-lines and enmities;
although nobody accuses anybody on the other side of a fault-line
of having caused, even willed, the disaster. There are
casualties, there is massive bereavement. Flags on half mast,
people in black, the shared, joint sorrow across fault-lines. Of
course there is healing in this. Right after a war may be too
early for joint sorrow. But after some years the time will come.
That opportunity should be made use of.
 The joint reconstruction approach. Again, the point is to do
it together./79/ German soldiers used scorched earth tactic in
Northern Norway, leaving nothing to the advancing Red Army,
driving out the inhabitants. Would it be possible for those
inhabitants to cooperate with the soldiers after the war is over,
making the scorched earth blossom again, coming alive with plants,
animals, and humans, with building and infrastructure?
The good thing, which should not be seen as an enemy of the
perfect, would be to have civilians from the same nation come and
participate in the reconstruction. Of course, they would not be
representatives of the perpetrators of the violence, they may even
be their antagonists (like sending conscientious objectors to
clean up after the soldiers, the non-objectors). But they would
show that there are hard and soft aspects of that nation, as of
any nation, and that counts toward depolarization. Moreover, there
would not be the direct confrontation between perpetrators and
victims; years may be needed before that event. And nevertheless
that is what one should aim at. Which brings us back to the point
about revenge: by having violence both ways not only harm but also
guilt may be equalized (to some extent); the parties meet as moral
equals. Even better would be to build moral equality around
Hence, the argument would be for soldiers on both sides to
disarm and then meet again, but this time to construct, not to
destruct. Then victims could meet with victims, COs with COs,
etc./80/ And this could serve as preparations for perpetrator and
victim meeting each other, both of them together trying to turn
their tragedy into something meaningful through acts of
cooperation, rather than putting some third parties in-between.
Once when the present author was suggesting this approach in
Beirut there was an interesting objection: this does not work
here. In Lebanon there were not two parties fighting each other,
but seventeen. Ammunition was used like pop-corn, peppering
houses, obviously very rarely hitting the openings, leaving
bullet-scars all over. The response could be:
No problem. Get one former fighter from each group, give
them a course in masonry, put seventeen ladders parallel, have the
seventeen climb up, repairing the facades as they descend. Turn
the high numbers into an advantage. What a TV opportunity --
provided there is also a spiritual side to the joint work.
And that last point is the crux of the matter. Rebuilding is
concrete, reconciliation is mainly spiritual. What matters is the
togetherness at work, reflecting on the mad destruction, shoulder
to shoulder and mind to mind. The preceding four approaches could
give rich texture to the exercise:
Joint sorrow would seep in even if rebuilding can also be
fun. Reflection on futility would enter. For this to happen
those who did the destruction should also do the construction,
facilitating reliving on the spot. In so doing, two or more
parties will together find a deeper, more dynamic, truth. And
they will realize how deeply they share the same karma, fate.
Then, the peace worker should remember that there is much
more to reconstruction than rebuilding physical infrastructure.
Institutions have to function again, maybe the parties can
exchange experiences. There are heavily war-struck segments to
care for, refugees and displaced persons to resettle. There are
atomie and anomie to be overcome by reconstructing structures and
cultures. War hits all parties about the same way, some lightly,
some heavily. It is inconceivable that nobody from the former
enemies will cooperate in joint reconstruction. So do it.
 The joint conflict resolution approach. If joint
reconstruction might be possible, how about joint conflict
resolution? After all, that is what diplomats, politicians, even
military to some extent try to do. But there are two basic
problems with their approach regardless of the quality of the
outcome. It is top-heavy, anti-participatory and therefore in
itself some kind of structural violence, often even excluding the
people on whose behalf they presumably are negotiating behind
veils of secrecy. And they are often protected elites who may not
themselves have been the physical, direct victims of violence.
They may only have unleashed that violence.
So the argument here would be for general, even massive
participation. Two ways of doing this have already been given:
the therapy of the past, having people discuss what went wrong at
what point and then what could have been done; and the therapy of
the future, having people discuss, image, how the future would be
if there is no work done in favor of a more sustainable peace, and
what that work would look like, starting here and now. In short,
having people as active participants in conflict resolution; as
subjects, not only as the objects of somebody else's decisions and
And in the process of doing so human and cultural healing,
and also structural healing, would take place. As mentioned, a
major form of horizontal structural violence before, during and
after a war is polarization; what could be more depolarizing than
reconciliation through joint efforts to solve the problems? The
psychological costs might be considerable; but the social gains
would be enormous. All that is needed would be for the ideas to
flow together in a public JIP, joint idea pool.
Here the peace worker becomes a conflict worker again, trying
Conflict Transformation By Peaceful Means./81/ Let us say efforts
were made in the "before violence" phase; is it now easier or more
difficult in the "after violence" phase? No doubt it is more
difficult in the sense that there is more conflict-related work to
do: reconstruction and reconciliation. But is the resolution, or
transformation, also more difficult?
We can argue both ways. On the one hand, the violence may
have hardened both sides. The victor, if there is one, feels he
can dictate the outcome, having won the violent process. The
loser is thinking of revenge and revanche, and will never accept
the outcome in his heart. But there may also be acceptance, even
sustainability if the terms are not too harsh. And there may be
something more convincing: a fatigue effect. Whatever the
outcome, never that violence again! How long that fatigue effect
will last is another matter./82/
One problem, mentioned many times above, is that the tasks of
reconstruction are so pressing that reconciliation, leave alone
resolution, recede into the background. The peace worker has to
keep the resolution probl‚matique alive. Above we have given many
examples of how reconstruction and reconciliation can transform
the whole setting so that a conflict that once was very hard can
become softer. Thus, Germany will probably ultimately have no
border problems, because borders wither away within the same
super-national organization, the European Union. An overarching
structure reduced the polarization in Europe's midst, and made
transformations possible, at least in the longer run. So the task
is to steer 2R so that they have positive effect on resolution,
never forgetting that the task is 3R.
 The ho'o ponopono approach. A man is at sleep in his nice
home. There are some noises, he gets up, catches that young boy
on his way out, with some dollars. The police is called. The
young boy is now a "juvenile", known to the police, obviously a
"delinquent", and as they say: "Three strikes and you are out".
The place is Hawai'i. In Hawai'ian culture there is a
tradition in a sense combining reconstruction, reconciliation, and
resolution, the ho'o ponopono (setting straight);/83/ known to
others through cultural diffusion, e.g., to the owner of the
burglarized, violated house. He looks at the boy, thinks of him
twenty years in prison. And he looks at the police. "Hey, let me
handle this one". It transpires that the boy's sister is ill, the
family is too poor to pay. Every little dollar counts.
Ho'o ponopono is organized. The man's family, neighbors, the
young boy and his family sit around the table; there is a
moderator, not from the families/neighbors, the "wise man".
Each one is encouraged sincerely to present his/her version;
why it happened, how, what would be the appropriate reaction. The
young boy's cause is questioned, but even if accepted his method
is not accepted. Apologies are then offered and accepted,
forgiveness is demanded and offered.
The young boy has to make up for the violation by doing free
garden work for some time. The rich man and neighbors agree to
contribute to the family's medical expenses.
And in the end the story of the burglary is written up in a
way acceptable to all; and that sheet of paper is then burnt;
symbolizing the end to the burglary. But not to the aftermath.
Rewarding the burglar? But if this restores all parties,
reconciles them, and resolves the conflict, then, so what?
Anyhow, it may all sound simple and is not. This approach
requires deep knowledge and skills from a conflict/peace worker
bringing the parties together, even being the wise person who is
chairing the session. No approach has so many of the 3R elements
as this one. There is rehabilitation of the victim, paying
respect to his feelings, giving him voice & ear, apology and
restitution. There can be manifestations of sorrow, even joint
sorrow. Better than restructuration/culturation a new structure
is being built bringing people together who never met before,
sharing the karma of this conflict, imbued with the culture of
this way of approaching a conflict. There are efforts to see the
acts in the light of extenuating circumstances; nature, structure,
culture. But then restitution and apology followed by forgiveness
are built in. So are elements of penitence and punishment, but in
a way building ties between victim and perpetrator. We have
mentioned the karma element. The Truth element is obvious, only
that all parties have to tell their truths (making it more easy
for the perpetrator). No doubt the result will be like a replay of
Kurosawa's Rashomon./84/ This is also theater: ho'o ponopono is a
reconstruction of what happened, with the parties as actors. And
it is all very joint.
In short, Polynesian culture puts together what Western
culture keeps apart. There is a coherence to these processes, and
that coherence got lost in the Western tendency to subdivide and
select, and more particularly to select the punishment approach.
So, maybe a culture that managed to keep it all together is at a
higher level than a culture that out of this holistic approach to
"after violence" (including "after economic violence") selects
only a narrow spectrum?/85/
Conclusion Some conclusions flow from these explorations:
- there is no panacea. Taken singly none of the approaches is
capable of handling the complexity of the "after violence"
situation, healing the wounds of so many kinds, closing the
violence cycles, reconciling the parties to themselves, to each
other and to whatever higher forces there may be.
- one reason is that they are all embedded in dense nets of
assumptions, some of them cultural. Westerners would have no
difficulty recognizing ho'o ponopono as culturally specific, or
"ethnic",/86/, but tend to claim that the theological and
juridical approaches are universal, using Western = universal;
- however, human stupidity has to be tempered with human wisdom
which, in turn, has to be taken from wherever we find it.
Cultural eclecticism is a must in the field of reconciliation, we
cannot draw on any one culture alone;
- taken combined these approaches may make more sense. The
problem is to design good combinations for a given situation, and
that obviously requires knowledge, skill and experience.
Some of the twelve belong together, in twos and threes:
-  and : the exculpatory approach: nobody is guilty, and
the karma approach: we are all guilty/responsible, together, are
perspectives that may have great conciliatory effect;
-  and , reparation/restitution and apology/forgiveness,
complete each other, and may work if the case is not too hard;
-  and , the penitence and the punishment approaches, also
complete each other, and may release the perpetrator from guilt;
-  and , the historical and theatrical approaches complete
each other, providing an image of factual and potential truths;
- ,  and , the joint sorrow, joint reconstruction and
joint resolution approaches are based on the same methodology;
- , the ho'o ponopono approach is very holistic, in a sense
incorporating all the others.
As there is some validity to all approaches why not try them
all? There is something to do that. The NSC approaches may blunt
the trauma and the guilt, and pave the way for more symmetric
approaches, with shared responsibility. Ho'o ponopono practiced
high and low in society might deepen that. The three "joint
approaches" could be initiated at an early stage, at a modest
level, to gain experience. At the same time history commissions
and theater groups start operating. If somebody has broken the law
by committing crimes of war, against humanity and genocide, they
will of course have to be brought to justice, facing the State,
the Community of States, his/her God. (There is no argument
against that in this book, the argument is that the approach does
not necessarily lead to reconciliation.)
Time has then come for the two approaches that together give
the meaning to reconciliation that most people probably have in
mind: forgiveness, to the aggressor/ perpetrator who has deserved
being forgiven. In a transaction two-way traffic is needed. What
flows in the other direction is a combination of a deeply felt
apology based on a deep truth, and restitution; in some cases to
be televised nationally.
But that transaction will only lead to healing-closure-
reconciliation in a context of all the other approaches, as a
crowning achievement. Done too early it may all fall flat on the
ground, particularly if outsiders enter and say, "well, you surely
have been through tough times, but it is all over now so why not
shake hands and let bygones by bygones!" Trauma, including the
trauma flowing from guilt, may fill a person to the brim and
beyond, with overflow. Feelings that overwhelming will have to be
treated with respect. And respect takes time.
In all of this two traditions have crystallized with clear
contours: the priest and the judge. They carry prestige in
society because they know the book that can open the gates to
heaven or hell, to freedom or prison. The other ten approaches
are less professionalized if we assume that historians do not have
a monopoly on truth, nor playwrights on drama. For all approaches
a versatile, experienced peace worker would be meaningful. He is
not certifying people as damned/saved, or guilty/non-guilty. He
is trying to help them come closer to each other, not to love each
other but to establish reasonable working relations that will not
reproduce the horrors. The bitter past should become a closed
book, what happened should be forgiven but not forgotten. In
doing so he will have to work with the priest and the judge
without letting the asymmetry of their ways of classifying human
beings become his own.
One simplified, superficial, but not meaningless, way of
doing reconciliation work is to invite the parties to discuss
them. They all more or less know what happened, but may be
divided over why, and what next. The twelve approaches are
presented, possibly with the peace worker acting some of the
roles. The parties around the table are then invited to discuss,
maybe to arrive at a good combination for their own situation. In
the present author's experience this is possible, even in war
zones. And something important may happen: as they discuss
reconciliation some reconciliation takes place. The approaches
start touching their hearts even if the outer setting is only a
seminar. Of course, this is nothing but an introduction to the
real thing. But from such modest beginnings waves of togetherness
may spread even from the most turbulent centers.
9. Resolution of Conflict: An Overview
If "peace is what we have when conflict can be handled both
creatively and nonviolently", then conflict has a higher position
than peace in the concept-chain. We return to the conflict
triangle to develop images of conflict resolution:
CONFLICT = ATTITUDES/ASSUMPTIONS + BEHAVIOR + CONTRADICTION
A contradiction is an incompatibility in live systems seeking
goals (consciously held values or positional interests). We
reject conflictologies that are only A-oriented (psychological or
religious analyses only), B-oriented (US conflictology, behavior
being observable "trouble", and "behaviorism" being an
epistemological, even ideological position) or C-oriented (marxist
conflictology). Conflicts can start in any corner and spread, for
instance with negative attitudes, prejudice, toward foreigners
("strangers") projected into negative behavior, discrimination,
whereupon an incompatibility may even be invented (like threats to
the state). There is a Gestalt to the triangle; and it is
Related to the conflict triangle is the violence triangle:
VIOLENCE=CULTURAL VIOLENCE+DIRECT VIOLENCE+STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE and
we reject any violence analysis that does not encompass all three
varieties. Thus, one culturally embedded assumption may be that
it is legitimate that negative attitudes accumulate in a conflict
and are released as violent behavior, verbal or physical./87/ Or,
if somebody stands in the way of your own goal-realization and
refuses to budge, rejects any compromise, then it is legitimate to
get him ut of the way, if necessary by force - provided you are
stronger. A peace culture would of course negate this. But a
peace culture also has to offer alternatives.
At the root of structural violence is an compatibility of
positional interests . What does that mean, concretely? There
are two basic structural arrangements, vertical and horizontal,
the pyramid and the wheel, the hierarchy and the group:
Figure 9.1: The Pyramid, the Wheel, Both-And and Neither-Nor
PYRAMID ║ TOO DOMINANT │ TOO MUCH
N-1 links ║ │
║ hierarchy │ polyarchy
║ anarchy │ demo-archy
║ TOO LITTLE │
║ TOO LOOSE │ TOO TIGHT
WHEEL N(N-1)/2 links
Thus, four structural problems are recognized:
- "too dominant", which politically means too repressive,
economically too exploitative and culturally too alienating;
- "too much" which means too little space for the individual; ---
"too tight" which means some kind of forced togetherness, and -
"too little" which means too much distance.
A cycle of structural violence could start with people or
nations breaking out of tight togetherness, creating distance by
introducing some verticality in bigger structures; horizontal
aspects get lost and the structure becomes repressive,
exploitative and alienating, wars of secession and/or revolution
follow, secession is followed by too much distance, and inter-
nation/state war and revolution leads to new types of "too tight"
relations. And so on and so forth. How do we handle that?
Here is a very condensed set of answers to that question,
in a sense summarizing the book Peace By Peaceful Means:
Table 9.1. The praxis triad: DIAGNOSIS + PROGNOSIS + THERAPY.
Conflict Behavior Contradiction Attitudes/
Problem = Direct Structural Cultural
Violence violence violence violence
Diagnosis History of Vertical: Cosmology:
(of the roots direct repression/ CMT syndrome
of violence) violence; exploitation DMA syndrome
History of penetration universalism
structural segmentation cum
violence; fragmentation singularism;
History of exclusion utopianism
cultural Horizontal: cum
violence; all - too much, final states
defining the - too little
Prognosis Escalation, Continuation Continuation
(of how what continuation if no if no
happens to till consciousness consciousness
the violence) prognoses formation and formation and
coincide; efforts to efforts to
or no energy build peace build peace
Self-Therapy Nonviolence Creativity Empathy
(what you can - negative, Consciousness Consciousness
do to reduce marches, ofverticality of individual
violence) strikes, Organization collective
fasting etc.; Confrontation subconscious;
- positive, Struggle trace origins
construction Decoupling = trace effects
human contact self-reliance modify codes
dialogue, Recoupling, build codes
joint efforts but carefully
Other-Therapy Nonviolence Creativity Empathy
(others may - negative, - sowing seeds, - positive,
have to do as hostages one party at trying to
intervention) - positive, the time identify the
facilitators - watering legitimate
as links of the seeds goals of all
communication - being a parties;
like above facilitator - negative,
willing to for ideas trying to
incur risks participation eliminate
in dialogue illegitimate,
with explicit unnecessary
peace goals goals, limit
mediation the conflict
Table 9.1 is meant as an overview of much of peace studies;
offered here without comment./88/ Basic is how self-therapy
(preferable) and other-therapy (often necessary) try to come to
grips with all three corners of the triangle, substituting for
direct violence nonviolence, for structural violence creativity
(transcending contradictions built into the structures), and for
cultural violence empathy with all conflict parties, including
oneself (which may be difficult). Empathy is then seen as
cognitive and emotional sharing, Einleben, and compassion, feeling
and understanding the passions of Other without necessarily
agreeing with it all. Empathy is not sympathy.
It is hardly necessary to repeat that the time to start the
process of resolution is not when the first acts of violence have
occurred, even if that mistake is very frequent. The time to start
is always--peace work is not piece work--and the time to end is
never. Like for disease theory, there is no limit to prevention,
and no limit to rehabilitation. There is a limit to therapy: the
patient is symptom-free. Violence theory works the same way, but
the terminology is different in the third phase. The word
"rehabilitation" still applies to the wounded on body-mind-spirit
and could be generalized to peace, just as diagnosis-prognosis-
therapy are lifted from disease theory.
The difference is that violence does damage, visible and
invisible, to the parties in the violent encounter, and to the
relation between them. Rehabilitation becomes a question of the
parties and of their relation. For the first we can use the term
reconstruction, for the second reconciliation. They should never
be permitted to stand in the way of resolution. So let us now say
something more concrete about two resolution approaches.
The democracy, parliamentarian approach. One-person-one-
vote and majority rule are no doubt among the more brilliant
social innovations of humanity, which does not mean that they are
flawless. Two important loopholes in democratic theory:
No. 1: democracy can mean dictatorship by 51%, blocking
attempts by oppressed, exploited and alienated nations and classes
to improve their livelihood. Oppression and exploitation also
counteract conscientization/mobilization of the underdog and make
them less resourceful, disempowered.
No. 2: the sum of domestic democracies is not world
democracy. A foreign policy decision affecting other countries
does not derive legitimacy by being democratically arrived at.
Human rights offer some remedy for flaw No. 1, guaranteeing a
minimum livelihood. But even if they can be invoked against
oppression they do not, at present, apply against exploitation.
Moreover, people may demand more than a minimum livelihood.
Intergovernmental organizations offer some remedy for flaw
No. 2 according to one-government-one-vote. But then flaw No. 1
may apply, even legitimizing violent action by majority vote.
So there is cultural violence in democratic theory. Both
flaws can be eliminated if democracy works as dialogue toward
consensus rather than as debate toward a vote. That may be too
slow, however, making nonviolent direct action necessary.
Hence, the best advice would be to play by the rules even if
they are not perfect, trying to convince by the power of words
rather than guns and bribes. The best way ahead for oppressed
group is probably education: the PhD and JD method, rather than
through sports/arts and religion, even if the commanding power of
the latter should not be underestimated.
The task of the peace worker is to help democracy become a
living reality by being a resource for the underprivileged. Thus,
experience shows that the human rights of minorities are not
fulfilled automatically. There has to be awareness, simply
knowledge, of those rights. One of the peace worker's most
important tools is the International Bill of Human Rights, the
collection of the most important declarations and conventions.
But there also has to be some mobilization to demand and realize
what is rightly theirs. Again, it does not come about by itself,
and generally not by grace from above.
So the peace worker helps implementing the "freedom of
assembly" by finding the place people can meet discuss, arrive at
conclusions, make their views known. That freedom becomes very
abstract if there is no place to assemble, if private space around
them is closed in the name of private property and the the police
show up in public space declaring any "assembly" to be against law
and order. Traditionally universities and churches have offered
space, but the former often on the condition that there is some
academic content, and the latter on the condition that some of
their religious idiom is used. The task of the peace worker is to
mediate those encounters.
The next task is to get into the media. The mind-sets
controlling the media even in the least dictatorial societies may
be so hardened that claims for livelihood, sovereignty,
independence, land to plant their crops or to raise their flag do
not penetrate. Words like "terrorism" protect the mind-sets. The
task of the peace worker is to approach the editors, explain their
cause, remind them that democracy is about diversity and giving
voice. And then a democratic political process unfolds.
The nonviolence, extra-parliamentary approach. The basic
point about violence is that it does not work; any victory will be
short-lasting and self-defeating because of the visible and
invisible effects. And the basic point about nonviolence is that
it may work, as nonviolent revolution against oppression and
exploitation ("too dominant") and as nonmilitary defense against
invasion ("too loose"). But the most important point about
nonviolence is to behave in a conflict so that the effects of
violence, visible and invisible, will not occur. A glance at
Table 9.1 informs us that this is a tall order. And a glance at
what Gandhi did tells us that this is what he meant when he said
"there is no way to peace, peace is the way", and that "if you
take care of the means the end takes care of itself".
Victory in the conventional sense of attaining the goals
declared from the beginning becomes less important than improving
the parties and their relation through the conflict. The conflict
becomes a medium for mutual education; together they may learn how
to transform conflicts upward so that they can be handled
nonviolently and creatively. They come out of the conflict not
only unscathed, but with higher capacity for conflict
transformation capacity. And if it all works out even with
something better than their original goals.
We have recently seen a number of cases/89/ where former
belligerents start cooperating nonviolently deeper down in
society. But we have also seen how such processes threaten the
monopoly held by politicians in general, and governments in
particular. They will tend to expropriate the conflict, and then
transform it downward again, losing at least for some time the
transformation gained through nonviolent action.
The task of the peace worker is to stick to nonviolence. But
he has to know the techniques of nonviolence and have the
underlying spiritual orientation. The peace worker who has done
work in reconciliation will find much overlap in orientation;
particularly the exculpatory perspectives, the codependent
origination, the basis in facts, the constructive approaches. It
is all vintage Gandhi./90/
But there is an additional element: the non-cooperation, the
civil disobedience. The system is seen as so unjust, or whatever
tern is used, that participation becomes complicity. Cooperation
is withdrawn. But this differs from the traditional strike in
always adding a constructive element, and always seeking the
contact with the person on the other side(s) for a dialogue. And
there is a dramatic element: the party engaging in nonviolence
against the structural violence they suffer is willing to pay the
price of direct violent applied against them: being beaten, being
imprisoned, and worse.
Obviously this will only be done if the suffering is already
intolerable, like for people living under stalinist dictatorships,
and if less dramatic methods like petitions have already been
tried. Even so direct nonviolent action should be used sparingly
and for very concrete goals. When done well nonviolence tends to
work./91/ But nonviolence should not be glorified to the point of
becoming a permanent state of society. A society can also become
In short, the conditions are similar to the conditions for
using violence: the suffering is intolerable, all nonviolent means
have already been tried, the violence is minimal and it is not
glorified afterwards, for instance as hero worship./92/
10. Reconstruction/Reconciliation/Resolution: The interface
To repeat: the enormous complexity of problems, dangers and
opportunities that emerge from violence in general, and war in
particular, has been reduced to three components: reconstruction
(after the violence), reconciliation (of the parties) and then
more than ever: resolution (of the underlying conflict). Each one
is a universe in its own right with its own complexity.
How do the three relate to each other? The interface must be
rich if for no other reason simply because dramatis personae are
the same, at least as far as perpetrator and victims are concerned
(a distinction more or less superseded in Buddhism through the
karma concept). The two meet each other as perpetrator and victim
in the violence relation (which is already emphasized in the title
of this manual) possibly with a shared interest in reconstruction.
As human beings, naked, vulnerable, individually or collectively
organized, they may be in search of reconciliation. And they have
incompatible goals (values/interests) in a conflict formation that
may have survived it all without coming anywhere nearer its
For them the three sets of roles and stages blend into one.
It is impossible to say where one ends and the other starts. The
analytical distinctions made here are made from above by one more
Third Party, the analyst. They may or may not be useful, meaning
liberating, suggesting openings that permit individual and social
history to unfold with empathy, nonviolence and creativity,
perhaps even with some compassion. To appreciate what that might
mean, read the ho'o ponopono approach from one of the "lesser
civilizations" (chapter 8.12) and note how the reconstruction,
reconciliation and resolution blend into one.
Diachrony versus synchrony. With three tasks to be done the
question always arises: where do we start? The answer is, of
course, that this is the wrong question, springing out of a
Western, linear mind, prone to organize whatever it is on an axis
of khronos time, the diachronic (through time) way, as opposed to
the synchronic (same time) way of doing things.
Put positively: work on all three tasks parallel, not in
series. Better some small steps forward on all of them than a
giant leap on only one--bound to end with a crash landing. Here
are some of the arguments for that position, but let us first make
one point: the worst position is to let violence run its course,
simply waiting for the end before 3R can start. That is like
waiting for a flood to recede, or a fire to burn out, before any
work is done. The time to start is here, now.
Against starting with resolution only: this is looking
backward. The conflict produced the violence; it is essential to
uproot, or at least soften those causes. What is forgotten are
the new conflicts produced by the violence. People have been
deprived of their lives and their livelihood. Their goal was to
keep them and improve on them. The other party's goal was to
destroy them; a contradiction, to put it mildly. More likely than
not this contradiction will loom higher on people's minds in the
aftermath of a war than whatever were the roots of the original
conflict. The perspective changes as violence unfolds. If I
steal your car today, burn down your house tomorrow and kill a
member of your family the day after chances are that the last
event will be on top of your mind; only later you may eventually
return to the car issue. Thus, violence can be used intentionally
to make people forget the root conflict.
Against starting with reconstruction only; behaving like ants
in an ant-hive. Some damage is wrought, e.g., by naughty boys,
and the ants start reconstruction immediately. Admirable, but some
causal analysis with possible resolution might have been even more
appropriate. The counterargument would be that except for some
very special types of ants there is not much they can do to
complete the 3R syndrome, making reconstruction alone look like an
instinct-driven act of despair. Precisely, and that was the
argument except for one point: it might, just might, give those
naughty boys some second thoughts.
Against starting with reconciliation only: this is like
preaching reconciliation between slave and slave-owner, serf and
feudal lord, workers paid below subsistence wages and employers,
without doing anything about the underlying contradiction. Adding
reconstruction work to reconciliation may soften the
contradiction. But the root conflict is still there, and has to
be tackled as part of the "aftermath", "after violence", work.
Moreover, there is a synergy between the three R's, brought
out in the ho'o ponopono case. The conflict is there, that it is
dangerous has been proved by the violence. An immediate effort to
start reconstruction, from the first act of violence, signals
total rejection of the violence and its effects and a non-fatalist
determination even under the most trying circumstances. Adding to
this acts of reconciliation would be very strong nonviolence,
again with the rider that there is no guarantee it will work, only
the guarantee that blunt violence will not work, particularly not
in the longer run. Efforts to arrive at conflict resolution may
work much more smoothly in this 2R context. Above all, do not
wait for violence to end!
Building Conflict Transformation Capacity. As mentioned, a
major casualty of violence in general, and war in particular, is
conflict transformation capacity. The reason can be given a
simple formulation: violence makes people pessimistic. They tend
to see others as inherently evil, and violence/war as inherently
unavoidable, the famous Naturgesetz. If wars are unavoidable,
then they are also permissible. Journalists and historians make
major contributions to this pessimism in their inability to add
conflict resolution, peace and construction to their single-minded
focus on violence/war and destruction. Added to this comes the
focus on elites rather than common people, often framing the
elites as perpetrators and people as victims rather than a more
balanced view of both of them.
More particularly, with reference to Table 9.1: the three
basic capacities, for nonviolence, creativity and empathy, are
eroded. Somehow they have to be rebuilt, or created, and in as
many participants as possible. How can that be done?
The best way of building nonviolence is by practicing it,
like having 10,000 women "armed" only with candles, flowers and a
well-discussed, well-rehearsed plan for structural reform of a
very repressive/exploitative country approaching the class of
politicians, military, land-owners, businessmen-or their wives-
opening their hearts to them, trying also to understand their
situation. Sooner or later that may be the way much politics will
have to be done. But we are not there yet.
In the meantime doing reconstruction and reconciliation, and
then continue the work for resolution, nonviolently, which also
means without verbal violence, is learning by doing and doing
while teaching. To be better prepared next time.
The best way of building empathy is probably through the type
of exercises indicated under reconstruction and reconciliation
above. To understand how deep culture and structure work in Self
and Other is excellent, to develop that kind of insight together
with Other is even better. This can be done by using joint sorrow
to heal, joint reconstruction, joint resolution, through the pain
of apology/forgiveness processes or by participating in inner and
outer dialogues to improve the joint karma, through a more
positivist, intellectual historical exercise to establish the
Truth, or through a very emotional and constructive drama to
relive that Truth and shape it for the future. The stress is, as
so often in this text, not only on the single act of
reconciliation at the top, but on multiple acts among common
people, all kinds of people, all levels.
The best way of building creativity is by practicing it,
which is only possible if as many as possible, not only elites,
overburdened and not always very creative, are encouraged to take
on the challenge of finding ways out of deeply entrenched
conflict, and of doing reconstruction and reconciliation. If told
that this is too difficult and should be left to elites, that it
has to be secret, then people are demobilized. When not used that
reservoir of creativity is depleted. When made use of the same
reservoir is replenished. Citizen capability is built.
Basic message: the conflict parties have to engage in these
processes themselves. Others may help, suggest, comfort. The
Third Party, God, State, International Community or mediators of
any kind should be conflict helpers, not conflict managers or
worse, conflict thieves. And the best way to arrive at that goal
is to disseminate the insights and develop these skills further.
1. For the three phases of a conflict, see Johan Galtung,
Conflict Transformation By Peaceful Means, Geneva: United Nations,
1998, pp. 6-13.
2. See Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means, United Nations,
Geneva, 1998, "mini-version" (36 pp.), "maxi-version" forthcoming.
Also consult the TRANSCEND web-site www.transcend.org
3. A first version of this monograph was written for the War-torn
Societies Project, of the United Nations Research Institute for
Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva; a project essentially dealing
with reconstruction. As can be seen the evocative term "war-torn"
can also be applied to people and to the whole world, and to
nature, structure and culture as will be developed below.
4. At least it has been for a number of important conflicts
during the second half of this century; see, for instance, Johan
Galtung, "Nonviolent conflict transformation", Part II, Chapter 5
in Peace By Peaceful Means, London, New Delhi, New York: SAGE,
1996, pp. 114-126. In the following the book is referred to as
5. See PBPM, p. 9.
6. Tacitus: "They produced a cemetery and called it peace".
7. We are thinking of the famous McKeown tradition.
8. As little as a crime can be detached from a criminal and
become a separate, abstract entity with a uniform mix of
punishment/treatment. But this process of detachment is basic to
professionalization: the claim to be a professional seems to rest
precisely on the idea of being `"scientific", capable of
abstracting away from the casuistic and create a case, which is
then to be handled according to general rules.
9. The direct violence case is understood immediately. And yet,
surprisingly often the numbers killed in countries like Guatemala
and Colombia are mentioned with no mention of who organized the
killing, including drawing up the plans, supplying the hardware,
carrying out the concrete act. Correspondingly, it is relatively
easily seen that some people are rich because others are poor, or
vice versa; for instance because the rich people have bought up
land in the countries of the poor people, using that land for
planting their crops, depriving the poor people of the little they
had for their subsistence economy. And if that example is changed
to buying land for planting a national flag, thereby depriving the
original inhabitants of their chance to plant theirs the
implication for human rights is clearly seen.
10. 28 June 1914, the 525th anniversary of the Serbian trauma in
Kosovo Polje 28 June 1389 (cultural violence to symbolize power on
that day) in a Bosnia and Herzegovina annexed by the Habsburg
regime in 1908 (direct, then structural violence).
11. A marvelous formula for justification is, of course, "the
struggle for survival" combined with "survival of the fittest".
Life is seen as a struggle, the word "violence" is around the
corner and is normalized. If you survive that struggle then you
are by definition the "fittest", meaning entitled to your victory.
Sad for those who lost, by they were, by definition, not the
fittest. Their role was to serve as stepping stones.
12. For an analysis of this, see PBPM, "The Externalities", Part
III, Chapter 3, pp. 154-176.
13. Thus, economic growth may lead to anomie and atomie, the
dissolution of compelling norms and of social fabric, which would
be an adequate definition of a growth-torn society. At the same
time, developed in the text, these are also important aspects of
14. See Johan Galtung, Environment, Development and Military
Activity, Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1982.
15. "The war is only sweet to those who never experienced one".
16. "War is a law of nature", meaning there is noting we can do
about it, they come and go, life is like that.
17. The cry of the masses celebrating the call by Pope Urbain II
27 November 1095 for the (First) Crusade.
18. The classical marxist legitimation of revolutions to climb up
the Stufengang, primitive communism-slavery-feudalism-capitalism-
socialism-communism (the last transition does not have to be
19. These points, a battlefield, a national day there, are
obvious imitations or take-overs from religious traditions, and
the genuine children of secularism.
20. This presupposes a clear causal chain of events on which the
precipitating event can be identified and attributed to one and
only one party.
21. PBPM, Part II, ch. 3.2, pp. 90-93.
22. Coser, Burton, Kelman.
23. One observation by the present author: during the Cold War it
was difficult to open eyes and ears for the possibilities of
conflict transformation as everything was seen in a Cold War
perspective. That outlasted the Cold War and is still with us, as
when the problems of mafia/jungle capitalism in Eastern Europe is
seen as a due to communism rather than the alternative socio-
economic formulation operating underground under communism, and
today so far above the ground that it once again escapes with
impunity. But the deformation is gradually tapering off.
Instead there is an image of chaos which carries in its wake open
eyes and ears to new perspectives, even gratitude. As long as it
lasts meaning till a new deformation, like Huntington's clash of
civilizations with its infamous Muslim-Confucian alliance, has
settled and solidified.
24. For one image of what happens in the post Cold War period
consider this typology of conflicts:
inter-state  outer oppression  outer exploitation
intra-state  inner oppression  inner exploitation
In our globalizing world a process can start at any point. Very
classical is the --- sequence: a country attacks
another, starts exploiting (like robbing gold, slaves), starts
oppressing to control the revolts and discovers that can best be
done from the inside, rewards them by encouraging their
exploitation of their own, against a commission, of course. Today
--- may be a better model of what happens in former
socialist countries: there is inner exploitation, it is solidified
by inner oppression (e.g., fake elections), this serves enormous
outer exploitation (e.g., by getting cheap access to raw
materials), which then may or may not have to be protected by
outer oppression, e.g., as maneuvers against "terrorists"
(probably meaning those against  and ). Clear distinctions
between intra-state and inter-state are illusory.
25. The nation is also a very frequently referred to as a Family.
26. Monuments tend to be underestimated. But they are  public
meaning a point of reference for everybody, somehow owned together
(even if some may disown them),  very durable, made to last,
chiseled in heavy stone, etched in steel and  there is often a
committee and hence minimum consensus behind them. Great care is
exercised not to attract public controversy to a monument design
to build public consensus.
27. Thus, the most frequently encountered monument in the world,
the man on horseback, usually carries an inscription with some
space (battle?) and time (date?, at the very least of his birth
and death) specificity beyond the name (of the man, not the
horse). It should be noted that such monuments have two very
important characteristics in common: they are made of solid
material (like granite, not limestone, steel, not iron) because
they are made to last, to carry a message through many
generations. And they are placed in public, not private, space to
serve as a common reference and indoctrination point for all.
28. And: a capacity not to enter into conflict, and to have
cooperative relations in addition, and any of them. The world is
according to Kropotkin, not only according to Darwin. I indebted
to Jos‚-Maria Tortosa for this point.
29. The parts of international law regulating the right to wage
war, and how to fight war.
30. Treaties before, during and after wars tend to have secret
clauses, the Katsura-Taft memorandum of 1895 between Japan and the
USA defining zones of interest in East Asia; the Sykes-Picot deal
of 1916 sharing the Arab spoils of the Ottoman Empire; and the
Molotov-Ribbentropp deal of 1939 sharing Eastern European spoils
being good examples. What happens here is that even hostile
governments may reach agreements but keep them secret in order to
deceive their own peoples. Thus wars are not only across the
fault-line dividing states and nations, but also across the class
fault-line separating governments/elites from their peoples. An
as to the lying/propaganda: this is where the difference between
war journalism and peace journalism enters, see Jake Lynch et al.,
The Peace Journalism Option, Taplow, Buckinghamshire, SL6 0ER, UK:
Taplow Court, 1998.
31. Of course, there is a distinction between the subjective and
the objective here. The perpetrator and the victim, either or
both may be neither the sender nor the receiver of any harm but
suffer from hallucinations, or trying to make themselves
important, whatever. In this text, however, we shall assume that
subjective awareness and objective realty coincide, leaving out
all the interesting problems when they do not.
32. The point here is not whether that guilt is perceived or not
by the perpetrator, even at a subconscious level. The line of
thinking here is inspired by Martin Buber, Schuld und
Schuldgefühle, Heidelberg, 1958, through the excellent analysis in
Paul Leer-Salvesen, Menneske og straff, Oslo:
Universitetsforlaget, 1991, particularly chapter 8, "Skylden som
fenomen og emosjon", pp. 384-390. For Buber, where harm has been
guilt arises, existentially, even if there is no trace, conscious
or subconscious, in the perpetrator. Awareness of the guilt is
another matter, guilt according to the law still another. This
guilt has to be recognized, and that recognition is traumatic
because of the consequences for Self, relative to Other (the
victim) and to that third entity, God/State/Public.
33. For an application of this principle to US foreign policy,
see Johan Galtung, Global Projections of Deep-Rooted U.S.
Pathologies, Fairfax: ICAR, George Mason University, 1996.
34. An obvious example would be Israel(is) taking their holocaust
trauma out on the Palestine(ians). In principle we could imagine
trauma chains winding forwards and backwards in history, totally
oblivious of the "original trauma", if there is any such thing.
Thus, the Germans certainly were traumatized by the First world
war. The working class British (US, French) soldiers beating them
were traumatized by class society. But does it make sense to say
that the British (US, French) upper classes were traumatized?
Probably not, which is why their justification for violence has a
more moral touch, like baptizing the pagans, civilizing the
savages, making the world safe for democracy, the war to end wars,
"in the name of human rights", etc.
35. An obvious example may be what happened to the revolutionary
courts after the French revolution, and their imitation in the
Russian revolution. For an image of the French courts it is hard
to beat the two famous novels, Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two
Cities (actually a comparative study of Paris/France and
London/England and why there was a revolution in one and not the
other) and Anatole France's Les dieux ont soif.
36. George Bernard Shaw.
37. Again, we are talking about the objective, existential guilt,
not about the awareness of guilt.
38. That function cannot be multiplicative; that would mean no
guilt if there is no intent, nor any irreversibility in the harm.
39. Basically the guilt is related to the harm, and aggravated by
intent and irreversibility. But with either or both of the latter
zero there is still guilt, existentially speaking.
40. One hypothesis would be that anti-semitism never was in
Italian culture (a sense of historical mission being the cradle of
both the Roman Empire and the Renaissance was); and was rejected
like any governmental initiative with no resonance in popular
sentiment. Kuttner, in History's Trickiest Questions, New York:
Holt, 1990) makes the point that whereas 95% of German Jews were
killed, 85% of Italian Jews survived, and attributes it to no
tradition anti-semitism and contempt for governmental authority -
and anti-semitism was by decree.
41. The Rape of Nanking (Chicago: Innovative Publishing Group,
2nd edition, 1997; also see Iris Chang, Rape of Nanking: The
Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, Basic Books, 1997)
42. September 1990
43. Published in 1996. The figures are from p. 272.
44. The "Great East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere".
45. China was high on culture. low economically; Japan has the
opposite profile, relatively speaking. This can be a formula for
complementarity and cooperation. but seems rather to indicate
mutual hatred and aggression in search of a issue.
46. In Germany this latter point, to have been born too late to
have participated in any atrocities, is referred to as "the grace
of the late birth", die Gnade der sp„ten Geburt.
47. On the other hand, when hitch-hiking in a very war-torn
Germany summer 1949, and invited to stay some days with the
parents of a school class celebrating high school exam, most of
them former Nazis, they had no words of praise for the Nürnberg
Tribunal because they were relieved of collective guilt. The
tribunal focused on a very limited number and put the guilt to
rest right there.
48. Like the famous O. J. Simpson case in Los Angeles, USA.
49. This will be an elaboration of Scenario 6 in Chapter 3 above.
50. The most famous examples would probably be the white-black
lynching cases in the Southern part of the USA; but US lynching
was also the outcome of insufficient institutionalization of law
and order in the early period.
51. See Ministry of Justice, Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
Rondebosch: 1995. The goals are stated (p. 28):
- to return to victims their civil and human rights
- to restore the moral order
- to seek the truth, record it and make it known to the public
- to create a culture of human rights and respect for the rule
- to prevent the shameful past from happening again.
Along high roads there was a poster:
TRUTH: The Road to Reconciliation
-reconciled for the sake of this nation
-generosity of spirit
-friendship where there was hatred
-came to terms with their bitter past
I would like to express my gratitude to the UN Resident
Coordinator in Pretoria, Mr J David Whaley, for his helpfulness
during my study tour to South Africa November 1997.
For information about a somewhat similar process in the
Philippines, see A. T. Muyot, Amnesty in the Philippines: The
Legal Concept as a Political Tool, Quezon City: The University of
the Philippines Press, 1994.
52. Thus, reconciliation is a more complex concept than closure.
In terms of the conflict triangle it touches not only the
B(ehavior)-corner, but also the A(ttitude)-corner, and not only
the perpetrator-victim relation but across the board to the
State/public. But this is the way the terms are used here. We
might also say that reconciliation is essentially A-oriented and
that closure is B-oriente