Gandhi and Mandela: Two South Africans

Johan Galtung

By Johan Galtung

Mohandas Gandhi invented the nonviolent approach to basic social change, Satyagraha, in South Africa in the early 20th century; Nelson Mandela presided over the birth of a one person-one vote democracy at the end of the century. Both were lawyers, trained in English Common Law; good in the sense of a keen consciousness of what is right and wrong, bad in the sense of a court process identifying who is in the wrong rather than solving underlying conflicts, and wrong in the sense of punishing the wrong-doer; violence rather than cooperation.

Both built on the positive side of law – the indelible rights of the people for whom they were fighting by comparing empirical facts with normative rights; immigrant Indians in the case of Gandhi, original inhabitants in South Africa, the Blacks, in the case of Mandela.

Gandhi (1869-1948) did not live to see equality between Indians and whites in South Africa, but in India, his mother-father land; Mandela (1918-2013) did. They won their struggles – but the societies that emerged still suffer from other and major ones.

A deep culture united them: the culture of law. Read More »

Gandhi and Mao – two Asians

Johan Galtung

By Johan Galtung

Let us start by summarizing. We are looking at six major leaders of forces and movements shaping centuries – Churchill-Hitler-Stalin-Mao-Gandhi-Mandela – comparing, two at a time. We are looking for similarities and dissimilarities. Some of them are out in the open, in their spoken ideologies. But most of them – maybe the most interesting–are hidden to the untrained eye. There are the similarities when they are from the same civilization and the dissimilarities when different – however much they profess to be on the same or very different lines. The six were themselves hardly aware of this factor.

As Churchill, Hitler and Stalin share the Christian-secular civilization; we would expect anti-Semitism, racism, and little hesitation when killing–by war, starvation (the Lord also did it), by revolution, millions – even with enthusiasm. Deeper down there are deductive reasonings from axioms about race and class and a final state: the British Empire, the Aryan Reich, for one thousand years, and socialism on the way to the final stage, communism forever; run from London, Berlin, Moscow. So we got the triangular Second World War with Moscow entering two alliances of convenience.

Enters Mao. He shares the word “communist” with Stalin (they still use it, long after it disappeared in USSR-Russia). But the Chinese civilization leaves its indelible imprint on that concept, giving the word a very different meaning, commune-ism, common-ism, doing things together, cooperating.

Enters Gandhi. An Asian like Mao, but watch out: there is no Asian civilization. There are West, Central, South–Hindu; Gandhi is here!–Southeast, East–Mao is here!–Asia; all very different–and a sixth, North Asia, Russian Orthodox.Read More »

South Africa’s election must be a turning point

By Jonathan Power

South Africans of all races know how to behave at election time- responsible as voters and honest in their voting procedures. This is part of the legacy of Nelson Mandela who, as his funeral last year made clear, was the most honoured and respected leader in the world.

The country that has tripled its income in the years since the end of apartheid has achieved a lot more, much of it totally unexpected by white opinion. The Financial Times recently wrote, “What was in 1994 a divided country and a broken polity is now an unrecognisable, modern, investment-grade economy”.

Inflation has been tamed and support for the poor has been expanded with weekly cash grants to 16 million people. Every year 1 million people join the middle class. Read More »