From Negative to Positive Peace: Meeting of two Seminal Minds

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
In the history of emergence, evolution and progress of Conflict and Peace studies as an academic discipline along with the enormous proliferation of literature on the subject, one path breaking milestone has been the concept of Positive peace as an alternative to Negative Peace. Articulated by Johan Galtung, it provided a counterblast to the conceptual predominance of Negative Peace over the concerned domain. Galtung posited Positive Peace as an emancipatory concept based on structural integration which promised true, lasting and sustainable peace as opposed to the fragile and uncertain temporary reprieve provided by Negative Peace characterized by an undercurrent of violence. Philosophically, Positive peace aims not so much at conflict resolution but rather the establishment of peace animated by the vision of world order based on the sanctity of international law. Unlike its counterpart where there is peace without justice, Positive peace emphasizes on social equality and justice, interconnectedness of life, harmony, renewed human bonds and shared human values. While Galtung‟s work has been subjected to searching analysis and criticism, the role of a seminal Indian mind in the process of theoretical development of his ideas, deserves in-depth and meticulous examination. This was Mahatma Gandhi who influenced, inspired and ignited the mind of Galtung who in turn internalized his message and interpolated and integrated it into his framework of analysis. Galtung labelled Gandhi a Structuralist who distinguished between the person and structure. Through Gandhian lens, Galtung saw how violence was built into social structures rather than persons. He adapted the Gandhian distinction between direct and indirect violence the latter categorized as structural and cultural violence which was no less venomous and hurtful than direct violence. Disempowered and marginalized people suffer and die in silence due to structured inequalities which have the potential to ignite armed conflict when the chronically oppressed resort to armed violence. Ethnic conflicts in particular, are exacerbated by continued disparities and deprivations. Gandhi intuitively understood the violence perpetrated by oppressive social structures and political institutions and was unequivocal in his affirmation that the evil lay in the structure, not in the person carrying out his obligations. His emphasis was on system generated structural violence rather than actor oriented direct violence. The essence of non-violence is to root out antagonism, not the antagonists themselves. Under the influence of Gandhi, Galtung emphasized on positive rather than negative non-violence the former seeking to make the antagonist start being peaceful. In his work Gandhi‟s Political Ethics, Galtung shows how his intellectual association with Gandhi prepared the conceptual framework for his Peace Research Institute of Oslo founded in 1959. Thomas Weber in Conflict Resolution and Gandhian Ethics, follows the same line as Galtung which clearly indicates Gandhi‟s presence in his mind and thought. The present paper intends to rediscover the Gandhi- Galtung interface where Gandhi was the invisible catalyst behind Galtung‟s ingenious contribution to Peace and Conflict Studies, an area which has remained an un ploughed field of research till date.
Gandhi, Galtung, Thomas Weber, Conflict resolution, Non-violence