Commentary

Peace and Violence: An Analysis

By Sauro Dasgupta

Any concept of peace includes the absence of direct violence between states — engaged in by military and others — in general and the absence of massive killing of categories of humans in particular. That’s why studying peace is important.

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According to Dr. Johan Galtung, the Father of Modern Peace and Conflict Resolution Research, peace has two components- positive peace and negative peace.  He said that peace was broadly the absence or reduction of violence of all kinds. It is non violent and creative conflict transformation. Conflicts cannot be ended permanently in every case but they can be transformed and resolved in a way without having to resort to violence.

 Dr Galtung defined violence as being one of three different types of violence. The first type of violence can be seen directly and is called direct violence. Eg. When two nations threaten each other using their militaries in a war or when a senior bullies his junior in school. The second type of violence is what we cannot see. It is called invisible violence. For example, the inequality between the rich and the poor, where the rich have access to better infrastructure, better resources that the poor may not have in the society is violence towards them.  Dr. Galtung also explained the concept of Cultural Violence. If elements of culture or ideology are used to justify violence, it is known as Cultural violence. For example, a pogrom aimed at a group of people having a separate identity from others in terms of religion, race, sex, etc. We can take the example of Anti- Sikh Riots (1984), Delhi Riots (2020), Bengaluru Riots (2020), Sweden Riots (2020), Norwegian Riots (2020).

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Positive peace can be highlighted by explaining the Relations between Russia and pro- US Western European countries like France, during the Cold War or today. Tsarist Russia had extremely warm relations with US, UK, France, etc. Tsarist Russia was able to westernise itself with US support. They had good ties with US Administrations and Post- Napoleonic France, when they opened up to them. But hostilities developed soon between them. Despite years of strategic partnership and strong bonds between the Tsars and the fact that they were united by common business and political families like the Rothschild family, whose members spread all over Europe and the world and funded both sides in a war, especially after the death of Napoleon and also mediated between them in case of some minor disputes, hostilities remained and violence often broke out, as seen in the Thirty Years War.

Negative peace is defined as the absence of direct, structural and cultural violence. Direct violence is something that injures and hurts our body and mind and physical and mental comfort. Structural violence includes economic exploitation or political repression of some individuals or groups by others. There are twelve indicators or concepts cultural violence, which refers to violence perpetrated on individuals by the society.

Cultural violence refers to violence stemming from underlying values legitimizing direct and structural violence. For example, if a relationship between a husband and is wife is too patriarchal, narrow minded, oppressive, exploitative and sexist, values of the relationship are affected. Traits of social violence or cultural violence could be easily visible under these circumstances that are extremely painful for the helpless wife in the relationship, who is compelled to maintain the relationship. . If the husband refuses to allow his wife to work and if the wife does not listen to him direct violence may take place as well.

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What accentuates the troubles for here is the institutionalized patriarchy and the refusal to accept women’s problems. For example, the Supreme Court of India and the Central Government have refused to recognize marital rape as a crime. Further, no measures are taken to improve the sanitary conditions of schools and localities and the failure to establish separate washrooms for girls, thereby forcing them to drop out from school in rural areas as well as in urban areas.

It is due to the poverty and illiteracy of the parents that young girls are often married off. Failure on the part of the family of the bride to pay adequate dowry to the family of the groom leads to physical and mental harassment of the bride and often the death of the bride through a violent acid attack, burning in the kitchen, battering or forcing the bride to commit suicide. Besides physical violence, women are often victims of individual and collective violence, psychological violence, homophobia, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, abuse on account of community, caste, tribe, religion, etc.

As per the Positive Peace Index, the first level of positive peace is symbiosis, the second level is transcendence, the third level is sui generis and the fourth level is fusion. The basis of all four levels is cooperation for mutual and equal benefits.  In the first level, the actors have shared means but different goals. They will try to achieve their different goals with the same resources and if they can do it successfully and their cooperation increases, positive peace is achieved.

In the second level, the foundation is that the actors have shared means and shared goals.  Eg if two engineers work on a joint project, they’ll need cooperation, empathy and equity to accomplish it. If they succeed, positive peace is achieved. In the third level, we reach ‘Sui Generis’. The actors become one. They not only share goals and means, they also share same values. In the fourth level, that is fusion, there is a complete congruence, with the actors now a new unit dedicated to direct, structural and cultural peace. They have to maintain peace at last.

(The opinions expressed are those of the author)

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Author’s Profile

Sauro Dasgupta is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. He is interested in reading, writing, public speaking and his writings have been published in many important magazines, journals and newspapers. He can be contacted at dasgupta_sauro@yahoo.co.in

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