Nonviolent Economy

Nonviolent Economy


By Johan Galtung

• Two important words enriching each other. “Nonviolent” easily becomes bla-bla, and “economy” is too general. But, does “nonviolent” make a difference for the better to the economy?  And vice versa, can “economy” make “nonviolent” more positive, beyond resistance to evil?

Let us start with “economy”, here conceived of as a cycle with three poles: Nature, Production, Consumption. And three processes: Extraction from Nature, Distribution from Production to Consumption, and Pollution from Production-Consumption back to Nature. The cycle flow is in that order: Nature → Production → Consumption → Nature.


A simple summary of the economy: humans extract resources from nature, produce-process for (end) consumption, and sends what they cannot consume back to nature (but economists, like book-keepers, left out the Nature part). And we want it all to be nonviolent!

“Do no harm!”, nonviolent, is insufficient.  “Peace”, “peaceful” include positive peace–Peace Economics, A Theory of Development are my books (TRANSCEND University Press, 2012, 2010)–with “do good!”.

And: Nature can evolve better without us, not we without Nature.

Enters money, speeding up the cycle at the Distribution link. Not only products in return for labor or other products but anything in return for anything at the same price. The general flow of money is contrary to the cycle flow: there is monetized consumer demand (and producer supply to stimulate demand), to be met by monetized producer supply, to be met by resources from nature. We notice that consumers pay for products (goods and services), producers pay for resources, and nobody pays nature; not only extracted, but exploited. Violence.

Money takes on its own life, generalized to “financial objects”, including complex “derivatives”. Added to the “real economy” for end consumption then there is a “finance economy” for buying and selling of financial objects, with no end consumption. It just goes on and on.

Nonviolence to nature only as non-depletion and non-pollution is not good enough; only negative peace. Positive peace with nature would enhance nature, cater to nature’s need for diversity and symbiosis, increase the diversity of biota and abiota, stimulate photosynthesis and other syntheses enriching nature.  A model is forestry, clearing to improve the access of plants, trees, animals to sun and (not too much) water. This is also done in animal parks as opposed to the very violent zoos with cages, etc.  They should be forbidden, right away…


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