By Johan Galtung
TRANSCEND Media Service & TFF Associate
We made it! Five hundred Mondays [from 3 Mar 2008] has Antonio from Brazil-Portugal posted an editorial by me from Norway and the world – sometimes with a coauthor. With the good support of the other members of our editorial committee, Malvin Gattinger from Germany, Naakow Grant-Hayford from Ghana and Erika Degortes from Italy. THANKS!
Five hundred times have I had the challenge of exploring what the UN wisely calls a “situation” – unlike me, avoiding the word “crisis”. Five hundred times have I tried to follow what I absorbed from when I was 2 years old at dining tables listening to my physician father and nurse mother–daughter of the director of health care in Norway–the program implicit in the three magic words Diagnosis-Prognosis-Therapy. DPT.
Five hundred analyses of something problematic to put it mildly; five hundred efforts to forecast, foresee what will happen if we do nothing, and five hundred efforts to end creatively with a proposal.
The editorials seem to have been widely read, particularly in the old superpowers, USA and USSR, today mainly Russia. Since most of them have been about something geopolitical, perhaps these two are the most geopolitically minded, trying for a long time to run the world. It could also be that they are simply the most literate in world affairs.
Anyhow, maybe I would have liked to have seen more readers from the new superpowers, China and India; not middle-sized like the old ones, but 37% of humanity. Hopefully more at peace than not.
And one bigger than even China: Islam, 1,650 million Muslims.
It has been a fascinating weekly challenge. Scanning the world for what is new, projecting a DPT on the wall, or the screen rather.
Well knowing that reading as much as 3 pp-a good format, long enough to be broad and deep, short enough to be legible – is beyond many today. They pick up the topic, some key words, and are quickly commenting.
Anyhow, my deep gratitude to you all for these 500 challenges.
And now we have a “situation”.
I learned from the PM of Brexit UK the mantra that “enough is enough” (for instance enough of her!).
But, Johan, if you enjoy it so much, why not just continue? Good question.
There will be still some editorials coming from me, particularly of the “Meanwhile Around the World” type, scooping up a lot.
But the challenge should now be shared with a much bigger group, and so far a new editorial committee with 16 or so has been formed.
The challenge may land on each one of them a couple of times a year. They will enjoy it; no doubt so will the readers. More diversity.
But there are also some personal reasons. And you, dear readers, are entitled to know what they are.
It is not fatigue of any kind, approaching 87. But I want to use my coming years for something even more challenging and difficult: research on macro-culture, macro-history, and on their relations.
The Grand View.
Macro-culture is deep down, macro-history is its manifestations. The relations, please!
An American once defined history as “one damn event after the other”. Empirical, punctual, linear in time, crystal clear. And wrong. A German, Ranke, long time ago made a plea for the empirical, “wie es eigentlich gewesen“, how it “really” was. As opposed to memory, individual or delivered collective memory. Keeping generations pondering the word “really”. Better.
Fascinating! I feel called upon to move our thinking horizon on history a millimeter or two.
That requires much work with nothing else on the agenda. So, everything regular and institutional – like weekly editorials writing, monthly alfadeltapi meetings in my beloved L’Alfàz del Pi, annual long symposia in my beloved Jondal – have been cut almost out. In favor of very good people who are taking over in all places.
Bringing Alfàz to Spain and Jondal to Norway will happen, but not on a regular basis. Ad hoc. Big thoughts have been thought in small places – for big places thinking small thoughts. If thinking at all.
After the five hundred I cannot refrain from giving some very open-ended “after me” reflections:
• I think the 3 pp format is good, but not binding on us.
Could be shorter, but not too short. Could be longer, but not too long. Depends on the topic, depends on the author. Be flexible, but also be aware that the readers have become accustomed to a certain format.
• I think the DPT agenda is good, but not binding on us.
An editorial focused on analysis only, forecasting only, solutions only, might also be very appropriate. Or a literary “flow of consciousness”. Be flexible, but again be aware that readers have become accustomed, whether they know it or not, to that DPT agenda. And may miss it.
• Be also aware of an asymmetry. Anyone with university training knows something about analysis; facts and their organization. And anyone somehow in politics have some values-ideas-ideals. Combine them with the facts, and you have the basis for abundant criticism.
• Do it, but be aware that this is the easy way out. When there are so few constructive, creative proposals, it is not only because they are ruled out by “value-free science” (which of course never existed), but because it is simply more difficult. Hundreds, thousands of times have I heard: “What to do about it? No idea”. Produce those ideas.
What else for me in the future?
Lush Jondal with sun and rain changing so quickly. Wonderful people like Hans and Anett Bjelke, pillar, living alone at Northern Spitsbergen, teaching in Northwestern Greenland and Norway. Working with their good hands and good minds.
Music, however dubious the FM channel. Literature R I’m right now reading, on the Kindle, the collected plays of Anton Chekhov. I almost envy those who have not yet read them: about all that is human, for good and bad.
And on my side wonderful, beautiful Fumi, with the best of Japan.
Thank you, wonderful life!!
Ageing is nothing to fear if you keep in reasonable shape, and reinvent yourself. Most of it is up to you.
Originally published at Transcend Media Service, TMS, here.