Police mediation: And idea whose time has come

By Johan Galtung

The state system emerged in the 17th century, with institutions for force. One was for internal and one for external use: the national police and the national military, national standing for the dominant nation in the states. The role of the police was to protect elites against theft and violence by the people; crimes by the law. And the role of the military was to protect the states against each other. Both police and military occasionally initiated violence.

The description just given still holds very well for the USA. “Banking scandals” give us insight in class-conscious “justice”. Police patrol the streets, not the boardrooms. And no arrests.

But wars between states are now dwindling. They yield to wars between dominant and other nations within states, and dominant and other civilizations in the world; using state and non-state terrorism.

How did “modern” elites get these ideas? From intellectuals.

They picked Thucydides who told them that wars there will always be, and von Clausewitz who trivialized them, from Hobbes who told them that people are born violent and have to be controlled, and Machiavelli who told them that the prince has to be feared, not loved.

Or they decided themselves and picked intellectuals to confirm.

The military had an agenda: fight for victory, unconditional surrender of the other side, dictate the terms; call it peace.

The police had an agenda: detect, arrest, court, confession, sentence, punishment; call it justice. Theory: individual and general prevention, punishment not to do it again and as a warning to others.

All false, all nonsense. And wars and crimes are still with us.Read More »