Vamık D. Volkan, M.D., DLFAPA, FACPsa.

The Philoctetes Center
November 11, 2006
The Psychology of the Modern Nation-State
Peter Loewenberg (moderator)
Shukri Abed
Giorgio Freddi
Vamık D. Volkan
Isser Woloch









Loewenberg:               I think it’d be nice today to remember Bill Grossman; his picture was in Dialog No.1, Vol.1, together with Francis, and the last time I was a participant here he was on the panel.  Just a lovely man, a wonderful analyst, a member of this institute, generous, broad, and I remember many wonderful conversations with him. The last contact I had with Bill Grossman, I needed a referral in London and he sent me three names and I wrote him back and I said, “I didn’t know you were referring to Kleinians in London,” and he said, “I like their work.  I like the kind of work they do.”  We miss him.

                                    We all know that this issue that we’re taking up today is the central issue of the modern world.  America is at war today. We are at war in the Middle East.  We have the issues of what the nation-state is and who can belong in Lebanon, in Palestine-Israel, in Cyprus, which we’ll get to, and elsewhere. The issue is so important that your very existence depends on what kind of piece of paper you have in your pocket.  I experienced this when I was a student in Berlin in 1961. People who had the right piece of paper could cross the Berlin Wall and others couldn’t. In fact, others were shot. The experience of the world in the 1930s and 1940s was if you didn’t have the right piece of paper, you died.

                                    Today we have a wonderful constellation of international experts on the nation-state and I’m going to go around the roundtable and introduce them to you.  To my right here is Professor Shukri Abed, who is Chair of the Regional Studies Department at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC.
                                    Shukri is a specialist in Medieval Islam and has just published a book out of Yale University Press this week on Medieval Arabic—congratulations. He is a Palestinian-Israeli. We’re very happy to have Shukri with us.

                                    Next there’s Professor Giorgio Freddi of the University of Bologna and affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, Irvine and Los Angeles.  Giorgio is the leading political scientist of Europe today. He was Chair of the European Political Consortium.  And he is a Weberian in his approach to institutions.  He studies bureaucracies of the nation-state and has written about the comparative delivery of healthcare systems in Europe and politics of health governance. 

                                    Professor Isser Woloch is a specialist in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. He doesn’t just do the French Revolution, he does after the Revolution and into the Restoration.  He’s a Professor of History at Columbia and has written widely on that era and that’s the era when the modern nation-state was born. He will enrich our discussion in that direction today. 

                                    And to my left is Professor Vamık D. Volkan, who is a psychoanalyst and for a long time headed the Center for Mind and Human Interaction at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  I had the pleasure of encountering him this summer when he was Sigmund Freud Professor in Vienna. He’s now Erikson Scholar at The Austen Riggs Center and has written widely and preeminently on the problems of nationalism. Next week he will be in South Africa delivering a laudation to Bishop Tutu.  So let’s begin our discourse and go around. Vamık, why don’t you open with your ideas on the nation-state?






Volkan:                      Since I’m a psychoanalyst and I’m supposed to know about individual psychology, to open I should say something about the relationship between individual psychology and the psychology of large groups, such as nation states. Hundreds of thousands of people, even millions of people, form national, ethnic, or religious large groups and, obviously, individual psychology is reflected in large group psychology. But no large group has only one brain or two eyes. Therefore, when individual psychology is reflected in large group psychology, you’re not going to observe it as one person preoccupied with one thought or another person crying. The effects of large group psychology will appear in shared societal and political processes. 

                                   And now, about nation-states: You already referred to what’s going on in the world right now. I think that at the present time most of the world’s nation-states are in regression. There are so many places, such as the Middle East, where people lose people, prestige, land, and dignity every day. 
                                   They have to mourn. But people in a regressed society have extreme difficulty mourning because their losses are great, and they are filled with humiliation, helplessness and rage. Understanding the psychology of complicated mourning is extremely important, not only for understanding individuals’ problems, but also for understanding those of nation-states. When people who compose a society cannot mourn, for many reasons—I can come to that later on—certain societal processes can be initiated. These people may, for example, develop an ideology of irredentism, which means that one day they hope to regain what has been lost. They may have a shared belief that they are entitled to recover their losses. 
                                   Looking at conditions in today’s world, I suggest that there are and there will be many nation-states that face or will face complications in their mourning process.  Some will develop irredentist/entitlement ideologies. This may lead to future concerns about legal national (or other large-group) borders and problems with neighboring nation-states. If such nation-states in the future are still helpless and oppressed by “others,” idealization of victimization within these societies may occur. This has its consequences. If one simply applies individual psychology to large-group psychology, we will have difficulty understanding the nature of certain societal and political process.  How did they start and why did they start?

                                 When societies are regressed, the personality of the leader assumes great importance. Of course, in order to study a political leader’s personality organization, we need to return to individual psychology. Justin Frank, who is in the audience today, has done a study on this topic in his book on President George Bush’s personality organization.  But what we need to do to expand our understanding of the nation-states’ psychology is to look at the interactions between the demands a leader’s personality organization has on him or her, and the societal process that may exist, such as an entitlement ideology.





Woloch:                     If you will promise to give me another pass at the French Revolution specifically, I’d rather say something to sort of take up this line of thinking.  Not that I can speak to the psychology of either the mass or the individual, but a more general point about the nation, which is to cite a very famous essay by Ernst Renan called What is the Nation? It was a lecture that he gave in 1882, not immediately after but still in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, when the French had lost Alsace-Lorraine, which is about as contentious an issue today, I suppose, as the Israeli-Palestinian issue might be. I mean, as contentious in that day, at least between France and Germany, as the Israeli-Palestinian issues would be today. In any case, Renan took a very novel approach. His essay actually is mistitled. It should have been called What Should the Nation Be? I’m not sure it passes as an actual description of what a nation is, but it’s sort of a template for an ideal notion of a nation. And he begins by rejecting a number of very familiar categories and concepts as to what would constitute a nation. He rejects race as the basis of a nation, saying race is much too insubstantial and motile a concept. Races fade, they redevelop, they mutate. Race did not seem to be the basis. Language is not the basis of the nation. He points to Switzerland, which is in a sense a nation that has three different languages. He mentions the United States and Britain, which have the same language but nonetheless do not constitute one nation. He says religion obviously is not the foundation of a nation. He even says that geography is not the foundation of a nation.  He has a famous phrase about “rivers expand and mountains hem people in,”mand he went on to argue that geography per se, soil and boundaries, are not really the essence of a nation.

                                 So then what does that leave? What is a nation? Well he points to two things. A shared common experience, which would normally consist of both glory and grief, as he puts it.  So that’s what really led me to want to interject this. The ability to mourn, you said, is a crucial element in a healthy development of a national identity, in a sense of nation. Well, Renan put it more boldly.  He said that there has to be a common heritage to draw on, and it would normally consist of memories of glorious achievements, sacrifice and grief. So that’s the first point. The second point is, though, that man is the essence of a nation and that the essence of a nation is the will of a particular generation to be part of that nation. In other words, he went so far as to say that essentially a nation is an agglomeration of people who choose to be part of a nation, and he even at one point made the extravagant observation that a nation is like a daily plebiscite, which I think is actually quite—not absurd—but way over the top. But nonetheless, will is the essence. Will and, in effect, consent. An ongoing kind of consent is what makes for a healthy nation. Then he added one other crucial point, which is that forgetting is part of what constitutes nation.  You have to mourn, you have to take pride in the glorious achievements of the past, you have to pay homage to the sacrifice in the past history of this nation, but you also have to know how to forget. And I think that observation is what particularly makes Renan always of interest to contemporaries today, to remember this point about forgetting. So I’ll pass now with the understanding that I get a chance at some point to talk about the French Revolution.





Freddi:                      The leaflet that introduces our debate of today legitimately centers on the example of the dynamic potentialities of nationhood and there are two examples made there, of the Balkanization of the Soviet Empire and the recomposition of German unity. I would like to call your attention to other very important static properties of the nation-state. If we pay attention to the continuities observable between the original nation-state born in the 17th century out of the Peace of Westphalia and the major states of contemporary continental Europe, we’d be amazed at how important what happened in Westphalia is to understanding what goes on in Europe nowadays. Just very quickly, let’s go over the original definition of the nation-state, the original nation-state born in Westphalia. It’s a political community where in the center lies a source of legislation and taxation homogenously applied to a population, sharing the same culture, the same language and the same religion—Cuius regio, eius religio, as the Huguenots learned at their expense if you don’t practice the religion of your king—and living on a territory that is recognized by clear and secured borders. The nation-state is just about creating where you put the immigration office of Spain and the immigration office of France.

                                 Now, the original nation-state as I’ve just briefly defined introduced two radically new instrumental governments not existing before.I mean absolute monarchy and enlightened despotism are magnificent periods of history. I mean, it’s great. They have a bad reputation among us, but as a political socioeconomic phenomenon, it’s staggering. It’s really a great step toward modernization. And the two new instruments introduced to it on the ideological gradient—the notion of sovereignty and, less studied but possibly more important on the operational gradient of governance, a professional bureaucracy imbued with the values of the bourgeoisie, which was already the actor in producing wealth in those days, even though completely cut off politics. 


                                 Now, what are the important traits of governance of absolute monarchy and enlightened despotism, which are still with us nowadays? A meticulously hierarchic structure, where every stratum and individual has a preassigned role governed by the equally meticulous network of rules created by the bureaucracy.  Despite totalitarianism prevailing in Europe until the French Revolution, the creation of a complex bureaucracy which gave themselves rules created, for the first time, the probability that the government action was predictable and, to some extent, controllable.“There must be judges in Berlin,” said the miller, don’t you remember that?“There must be some judges in Berlin to the king.” 


                                 And there you have also the beginning—this is maybe a surprise to those who are not adept to this kind of writing—of the cameralistic school of Prussia, and to some extent of Austria.  You run into extraordinary expression, right? You run frequently into the expression polizei-state, which means the state which intervenes.  Not the political police.  The state which intervenes in societal and economic affairs. And the expression welfare state is there.  The welfare state is not an invention of the Brits perfected by the Scandinavians. It’s an invention of Otto Von Bismarck, who introduced social security and healthcare for the working class in Germany. That’s where the welfare state was born, and these are the properties of the nation-state as modernized by the constitutional revolution at the beginning of the 19th century.  But it’s still there. The name escapes me, but a famous French historian of the French Revolution begins with a very elegant sentence.  Usually the French are very elegant when they start a book, saying that the French Revolution changed everything in France, economics, society, religion, the way people approach each other, except one: la fonction publique. This organization is still there as it was under Colbert: Colbertism, mercantilism. For instance, it is not a coincidence nowadays in Europe when they want to justify a reason why, along the Rhine River, most of the allegedly private operations are controlled by political authorities. 
                                 Or to explain why the French government always vetoes the taking over of French corporations by corporations not in France. Neo-Colbertism is the word they use now, which is really a fig leaf to avoid saying mercantilism, which is, again, one of the legacies of the nation-state.


                                 So, later on I would like to react to possible questions from the public. I would like to characterize in psychological and anthropological terms the properties of the nation-state as operational now in continental Europe.





Abed:                       As Peter said, I’m Palestinian/Israelian. Probably my analysis of the situation will focus certainly on the Middle East, and it will be colored by my personal identity, being Christian, a minority within a minority in the Jewish state, a Christian Palestinian in the Jewish state.  And probably Peter’s analysis of psychoanalysis, as I understand that, means that I always seek compromise because I want to combine all of the various components of my identity. That’s probably why I associate with people like Peter, who seek to find solutions to our many troubles in the Middle East, because it’s a solution to my personal identity. And, of course, the Middle East is itself seeking identity. 

                                The concept of the nation-state in the Middle East is a new concept, like democracy, like nationalism, like secularism. All these concepts were brought to Europe after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, or slightly before that with the invasion of Napoleon in the Middle East. So the Middle East is still going through crisis and seeking an identity, seeking to find identity after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, because for 400 years Ottomans ruled the entire Arab world, with the exception of parts of Arabia which were tribes.  But the rest of it was under one unit called the Ottoman Empire, and since then they were orphaned basically and were thrown into the hands of Europeans, French and British in particular, and really since then they are asking themselves, “Who are we?  Are we Muslims?  Can we survive in this world where our values are changing constantly?  What are we really?  Can we maintain ourselves, our identity as Muslims, as Arabs, while everything else is imported from the outside?” These are the kind of questions that the Middle East is going through. A terrible crisis, but at the same time, the two processes that are proposed for discussion, the balkanization and, what do you call it, irredentism, did take place in the Middle East.  In Iraq it’s currently taking place, the balkanization.  In the Sudan it is, probably in the future, going to take place. Lebanon, almost Algeria. If you add to that list, if we expand the scope, the continent of India experienced a similar thing when in 1947 Pakistan split from India and then later on, in 1973, when Bangladesh split from Pakistan.  So that’s a process of balkanization.  But also the opposite process happened in the Middle East despite all these struggles, despite this fragmentation that we see in the Middle East. 
                               There is the two Yemens united in 1994. South and north Yemen became one nation based on common geography, common history, common language, common religion.  The United Arab Emirates—seven emirates were separate, united, and then there was an attempt in 1958 by Nasser, the greatest Arab leader of this century in many ways, who attempted for three years a union with Syria, again based on common language and common religion, to define the nation-state. They tried to unite. And then Iraq of all countries—Iraq tried twice to invade Kuwait, once under Qassim in 1963, but was stopped by Nasser, actually. Nasser said if you want Arab unity, it should be really done in peaceful means like we did with Syria. It didn’t succeed in Syria, but nevertheless it was done in a democratic way by peaceful means.  But then Saddam Hussein in 1990 did of course invade Kuwait on the basis that—the Iraqi ideology is based on the fact that they believe that Kuwait is part of Iraq and we should redeem that lost part of Iraq. It’s what they call the 17th province of Iraq. 
                                Now, going back to some of the remarks that were made here about the nation-state, the concept of the nation-state, I think some great Arab thinkers have introduced their view of what a nation is.  In particular, I’m referring here to the 14th century historian-sociologist Ibn Khaldun, who was born in Tunis and then died in Cairo. Visiting Cairo, he loved the city so much that he decided to stay there and  not return to his country, and he wrote this fantastic book, which I think is one of the best books ever written in history, called The Muqaddimah : An introduction to History, in which he displayed his views of the forming of a nation.  But, of course, he was examining the historical—what he saw, what he experienced, the Islamic history—and he was talking about tribes and how they formed a nation and what is required really to form a nation.  He uses a specific term called “assibiyah,” which is “blood drink,” which he says is the major characteristic of linking people together. And then later on there are other factors that I would be happy to elaborate on.

Loewenberg:              Thank you, Shukri.  I’d like my contribution to the dialogue to pick up where we have a foundation here, and it is the experience of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  All of you have in your mind’s eye the map of Europe before 1918—it was a multi-national empire with Slovenes, Slovaks, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Germans, Italian—

Volkan:                        Serbs, Hungarians, especially.





Loewenberg:                Yes, but I just want to remind this house that Sigmund Freud holidayed in Meran and in the Groedenthal of Northern Italy, and it was Austrian at that time.  But there were Ruthenians, Romanians—a multi-national empire on the same territory, this large Austro-Hungarian Empire.  And people felt the tensions. They said, “It’s gonna blow apart.” And in fact it did blow apart in 1914 and caused World War I, which I think, as a historian, was the cause of the subsequent miseries and tragedies of 20th century history.  World War I really ended a hundred years of peace in Europe. And some of the best thinkers of Austria-Hungary—they are people like Otto Bauer, who was an Austro Marxist writing in 1907, Karl Renner, who wrote in 1899 and became Chancellor in 1918—thought, we have to figure out ways to solve these nationality problems.  Their solution was the “personal principle” that people—and here we become psychoanalytic—should have an identity, a national identity, and it’s based on people they feel good with, feel intimate with. They should register in Vienna their national group and a big portion of their taxes should go then to the Czech theater, music, culture, schools, public institutions, libraries and so forth.  And they could occupy—they used the metaphor of a city where everybody shares the public utilities, the water, the electricity, the streets, but we have private homes, and that’s where the discourse takes place, in your own language of communication.  Now their ideas were not adopted. Austria-Hungary blew apart. 

                                       However, in 1945, Karl Renner was the president of the new Austria, post-war Austria. And Alcide De Gasperi, who came from Trento, this area that had a German-speaking population, was premier of post-war Italy.  In the peace of 1918, as you will know, Italy got the highest Alpine watershed.  They got the Brenner frontier, including a lot of Germans who live south of the Brenner Pass, so it’s a problem.  For a time there was a “pylon war” where dynamiting of electric pylons occurred. The Germans wished to go back to Austria.  In 1946, in Paris, Helmut Gruber, the Austrian foreign minister under Renner, and the Italian Prime Minister made an agreement that’s called the Gruber/De Gasperi Agreement.  They said—and this goes to the point regarding national identity and sovereignty—“We recognize Italian sovereignty, and we recognize the border of Italy for these people.”  However, Austria was acknowledged to have a protective cultural function over the life of these people, so that everybody in the Alto Adige, or Südtirol, had a choice.  You want to send your children to an Austrian school or do you want to send them to an Italian school? Or a Ladino one—that was the ancient local language. And very elegant arrangements were worked out that took years.  There were 137 paragraphs in this agreement. It’s called a package, and it wasn’t until 1992 that the two legislatures in Vienna and Rome agreed that all the conditions had been fulfilled.  But it includes spectacular things. Such as law, that people can testify in court in their own language, that the University of Innsbruck in Austria teaches Italian law and the professors are from the University of Padua and conferring a license to practice law in Italy. A citizen of New York is in the New York Bar, but they can’t go down to Virginia and practice law.  School teachers, graduates of the Austrian universities, Gratz, Vienna, Linz, can teach in the Alto Adige without further credentialing (unlike the USA where each state credentials its own teachers). I had the experience of teaching in Vienna this summer and many of my students were from Südtirol. In discussions of nationality they identified themselves as “Südtirolean.” They are admitted to university study under the same conditions and the same low tuition as Austrian citizens. School books come from of Austria.  I have visited the Südtirol often and I can tell you that the local people are pleased with the settlement. 
                                    If there were a referendum today, the population would affirm the settlement, because—and this is exceptional for the Italian provinces—90% of the taxes stay in Alto Adige. They do not get down to the South, to Sicily and so on; revenue stays in the area where it was raised.  So here is a solution that incorporates sovereignty, but that’s not the main issue. Borders aren’t the main issue. The main issue is the comfort and familiarity people feel in their culture. 

                                    Now, it’s no coincidence that all the leading scholars of nationalism came out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, usually from the German speaking community of Prague. I’m referring to Hans Kohn (1891-1971), Karl Deutsch (1912-1992), Eric Hobsbawm (1917-) Ernest Gellner (1925-1995)—they’re all Austrians from the pre-World War One generation. I want to read you just one brief sentence from Karl Deutsch’s book Nationalism and Social Communication, and you will recognize how analytic it sounds. He says, “At every step we find social communication bound up indissolubly with the ends and means of life, with men’s values and the patterns of their teamwork. With employment and promotion. With marriage and inheritance. With the preferences of buyers and sellers and with economic security or distress. With all the psychological, political, socioeconomic relationships that influence the security and happiness of individuals.” These are the things we talk about in analysis. That’s what constitutes a national identity, and it’s an idea of identity that transcends—and this is what’s important about it—territory.  It doesn’t matter who the land belongs to. It’s a personal identity that is recognized. 


                                    Now the other option—Switzerland—is the territorial principle to the nth degree.  The Swiss have worked out what I call a “cellular” solution. When there’s a nationalities problem in a canton, they split the canton, create a new cell. Basel Stadt and Basel-Land. And very recently in history the French speaking populous in the north canton of Berne didn’t want to stay in German-speaking Berne, and they broke away.  In local, cantonal, and federation-wide referenda, the Swiss in 1978, constituted a new canton, Jura, the newest canton in Switzerland. And they have another thing that I think is important when we consider how to solve the conundrums of the nation-state, and that’s consociationalism. We, in Anglo-Saxon society, live with the Westminster model—that the winner organizes the senate and the house 100%. In the parliament of Westminster, one vote and they run the country.  They can even change the constitution. In consociationalism you build in protections for minorities all the way up. It’s the system in Holland, Belgium, Switzerland. Switzerland is governed by a federal council of seven, and they have a “magic formula” to divide the seats. There must always be a French Swiss or an Italian Swiss on this council, otherwise if it were majority vote they’d never make it. There always must be at least two Catholics because it’s a predominantly Protestant country. There always has to be at least two Social Democrats, because they are a minority. There have to be two Liberals, one Peasant Party, two Roman Catholics, and at least one each from the three major cities—Zurich, Berne and Genev—get represented on the Swiss federal council, so you have what’s called cross cutting. Of course the Zurich person will be a Protestant, or the Genevois Counsellor a Social Democrat, the Ticinese will also be a Roman Catholic.  One builds in guarantees for minority representation. 
                                    That’s the way it will have to be, it seems to me, in countries like Lebanon, Cyrpus, and the Balkans.





Volkan:                        First of all, let me compare some realities and descriptions of some concepts. An interdisciplinary team from the University of Virginia and I carried out a six-year project in Estonia soon after the Soviet Empire collapsed; Estonians were building a nation-state. There are 1.5 million people in Estonia; half a million are Russians. This caused a specific problem for building their nation-state.  I spent five years, on and off, in the Republic of Georgia where South Ossetians, Abkhazians and Georgians were cutting each other’s throats. In Cyprus, there are Turks and Greeks. What I am trying to say is that nation-state building and the nature of nation-states are different; there are different realities in each, and thus it may not be applicable to generalize concepts. Furthermore, nation-states are born in different ways. Kuwait was born when three families settled in the area that today is known as Kuwait. Other people, Arabs from different locations, and Iraqis joined the Sabah family and the two others. They became involved in the business of collecting pearls from the sea and so on. Then they found oil, and more Arabs, Iraqis and others came to this part of the world—different ethnic groups got together. Money put them together. Money was the glue that kept the inhabitants of this nation-state together. I spent two years in Kuwait, again on and off, after the invasion of Saddam. I can say that Kuwait is now a different kind of nation-state than it was then.  Besides money and economics, a shared trauma now brings its people together.


                                     So let me put it this way.  Since I’m a senior Erik Erikson scholar at the Austen Riggs Center, I must make a reference to Erik Erikson. Erikson is the one who brought the concept of identity to psychoanalysis. Freud only mentioned this term, I believe, five times, and it was really Erikson who brought the concept of identity to psychoanalysis.  A simple definition of identity refers to a persistent sense of sameness of individual experiences. 
                                    When referring to large groups, we talk about hundreds of thousand or millions of people who have a persistent sense of sameness. Everyone develops an identity from childhood on.  If you’re a psychoanalyst, you look at identity as an individual’s subjective sense of self. 

                                    From childhood on we learn to wear two layers of clothes. The first one stands for the individual’s personal identity: I’m George or I’m Fatima. And then we live under a tent, a huge tent that represents the second layer of clothes. Under this tent there are millions of people in sub-groups, but all share the canvas of the tent. This canvas is the identity of the large group. And usually we are not aware of it. When you walk down the street you’re not aware of it until somebody attacks it, somebody spits on it, somebody shakes it.  At that time, the individual’s personal identity becomes secondary. The individual becomes very concerned with his or her tent’s canvas, the large-group identity. The mother of all large-group identities is ethnicity. But some nations are very lucky.  90% of their population is of the same ethnicity. Then they’re okay. But other nations, composed of different ethnic groups—especially if they are contaminated with different religions—may, under certain conditions, face Balkanization.

                                   Tragedies occur or glories occur in each large group’s history. When tragedies occur, the group becomes humiliated by the other. This tragedy is not like trauma caused by a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, which does not cause humiliation. When a large group is humiliated and stays humiliated, the sense of humiliation becomes internalized. The group cannot be assertive; if they are assertive the oppressing force, the enemy, shoots them. So they cannot be assertive; they cannot express their aggression. If the large group lives under an oppressor for a long time, for a century or two, they end up identifying with the oppressor. And if conditions change, either suddenly or slowly, and this large group becomes a nation-state, it will have a psychological burden due to its identifications with its enemy. This will also be an important factor for its having difficulty mourning previous losses, such as the loss of dignity.  For such a large group, previous tragedies that are associated with un-mourned losses may become what I call a chosen trauma.  Every large group has shared mental representations of its history that, under certain circumstances, are reactivated. 
                                    For example, when Yugoslavia collapsed and people said, “Who are we now?”  it was the most dangerous time. When a large group faces the question: “Who are we now?” it regresses.  If the large group has a “bad” leader, he may reactivate the group’s chosen trauma, the mental representation of what has been done to its people—the ancestors—by “others.” This strengthens or re-initiates the group’s entitlement ideology, and the group may begin killing people who belong to the present “enemy” group. Under certain conditions, people kill in the name of large-group identity without blinking an eye. I say that because during the last 30 years I’ve been going from country to country where troubles exist or existed, and sometimes I’m ashamed of being a human being. People kill without blinking an eye, and this is a reality. Large groups also reactivate their past historical glories–chosen glories.  During the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein reactivated the memory of Saladin and what he had done to the Crusaders.  Saladin was not even Arab. He was a Kurd. 

                                    So we have to expand the idea of what a large group, for example a nation-state, means. We need to utilize more psychological insights for this expansion in order to come up with new strategies to deal with human processes in today’s world.  I just wanted to add some emotion to this discussion. Without giving a role to emotions, we don’t understand the powerful and sometimes tragic large-group processes. Let me put it this way—it’s just as if you are doing something right now that you are not aware of.  I swear you’re not aware of it, but everybody’s doing something that I know you are doing. You are breathing. Were you aware that you are breathing?  But if, God forbid, there’s a fire in this room, everybody becomes aware of breathing. Similarly, you become most aware of your large-group identity when it is threatened.  If your large-group identity—your ethnicity, not your membership in a particular nation-state, but ethnicity most importantly—becomes threatened, you become aware of your large-group identity and then you will be able to tolerate the most severe masochism or perform the most severe sadism in order to hold on to that large-group identity. 


Loewenberg:                  Isser, you wanted to talk about the emotions?

Woloch:                           By the way, I would just throw out for possible later reference, if you take what is often considered the most boring nation-state in the world, namely our northern neighbor, Canada, I think what’s going on there with Quebec and the whole issue of independence, secession, etcetera, is an interesting counter example to all this, because it doesn’t involve almost any of the criteria we’ve been talking about and yet it threatened at a certain point to really rip apart what seemed a very stable society.  I just put that out on the table as a possible—





Loewenberg:                     Doesn’t it fit Deutche’s definition of social communication? They have a different social world.





Woloch:                              That’s about it.  But it lacks all those other larger emotional, historic, ethnic ties.  But anyway, what I wanted to focus on here is in the title of this workshop, the modern nation-state.  Because with all due respect to the salient comments that were made by my colleagues, whether to bureaucratic absolutism of the 17th century, not to mention tribal societies, the modern nation-state is something distinct.  I won’t go so far as to say it begins with the French Revolution, but certainly the French Revolution is a crucial moment in the definition and articulation of a modern nation-state. And what I’d like to do is just take a couple of minutes to talk about some of what went on there.

                                             In 1789, it was assumed by the revolutionaries that the nation already existed. The nation was synonymous with the people. And they would use these terms pretty much interchangeably. Most often they’d talk about the people, but they would also call it the nation, meaning the aggregate of all the people in France. That’s the French nation. The nation was assumed to exist, and then at the very same moment it became the repository of sovereignty. It seems to me sovereignty is one of the crucial issues here as you then move forward for the next 200 years. The nature of sovereignty, what constitutes sovereignty, who is part of the sovereign body and so forth—that seems to me at the root of the question of the modern nation. 
                                             Now, the French Revolution at its inception is highly inclusive, but very quickly this supposedly unified people/nation becomes extremely divided.
                                            They divide first over a kind of fusion of moral and political issues—basically good citizens and bad citizens. The bad citizens are labeled as aristocrats or egoists, very loose terms of convenience, and this quickly develops into a manichean view of their own nation, that their own nation consists of a mass of ordinary people who are virtuous, or at least potentially virtuous, and a smaller minority of people, indistinguishable by every other criteria that we mentioned, who are morally defective because they’re self-interested egoists who don’t embrace and work for the common weal. So the distinction between good citizens and in bad citizens becomes one of the main themes in the development of the French Revolution. It becomes a question of inclusion and exclusion. As the exclusion mounts there’s a kind of blowback, there’s resistance. A rejectionist position about the revolution develops, to use a contemporary term. There are rebellions. It even reaches the state of an extraordinarily violent civil war, which takes on the earmarks of a guerrilla war and therefore becomes all the more brutal and violent. 

                                            So this is what happened to the presumed nation, which was the repository of sovereignty: battles over inclusion and exclusion. What’s the end result of this?  The end result, many people think at the time, is that there really is not one France but two Frances—a France that in effect accepts the project and the new values of the revolution, and those benighted people, whether elites or ordinary people, who have not accepted it and who are benighted and backward and possibly even irredeemable. So that’s where in the 19th century things seem to stand.  It’s not a well-integrated, harmonious polity and there’s no agreement over the most basic issues of sovereignty. For example, should it be a republic or not?  This is a contentious issue for the better part of the century and only gets resolved really in about 1880 with the third republic, and one could argue that it’s not even resolved then, that Vichy France in 1940 is yet another reopening of this question.


                                             Now let me talk about what’s called the international side of this picture, because it’s the relationship of different groups and different nations that is part of the essential problem of nationhood and nations. The French Revolution’s distinctiveness from this perspective is that it is going to be peaceable. The French Revolutionaries consider that they are going to mark off a new course in human history by renouncing aggression and by being essentially a rational and therefore peaceful nation. So they issue a declaration of peace to the world, literally renouncing wars of aggression and the intrigues of princes, which is their view of what the past consisted of, down to and including the Treaty of Westphalia, which was sort of a devil’s bargain allocating the fate of masses of people according to what the rulers thought should be done. So there’s a declaration of peace to the world and, moreover, they’re debating what kind of army to have. They decide that instead of creating a large citizen’s army, they will actually go for a small professional army because they anticipate that France will be at peace.


                                          Okay, you move ahead just a couple of years. France is at war. At first there’s a great mobilization, and this is one of the hallmarks of the nationalism of the modern nation-state, the ability to mobilize masses of people to fight and die for the state, because they’re fighting a defensive war. 
                                         The Marseillaise, if you look at the language of that, is extremely bloody-minded and violent, defensive and aggressive both. There’s a lot of aggression there, and very quickly the whole situation changes. The French becomes missionaries of liberty in other countries. Of course they are often resisted and reviled for that reason, and soon they’re referring to themselves as La Grande Nation, the Great Nation, which is going to take under its wing almost all of Western continental Europe, from the low countries through Switzerland, northern Italy and possibly even all of Italy, and the Western part of Germany. That’s La Grande Nation with its sister republics. So this is an extraordinary development which reveals that, for a set of particular reasons and doctrines, the French are now behaving as the traditional powers of Europe used to behave and are doing, in a sense, a better job of it.





Loewenberg:                   Let me comment psychodynamically. When you use the term manichean view, these are the evil and—





Woloch:                            Morally defective—

Loewenberg:                    Yes. That’s a binary thought, and we have another term—splitting. We’re the good ones and these people are the evil ones. 





Freddi:                              It seems to me that during the last 30-40 minutes the emphasis has been more on the nation than on the state. Actually, some of you sound like an escape from the state.  The Swiss escaped from the state; they created something that is not a nation-state. Federalist systems fail to be a nation-state in the classical term. By the way, the idea of an association of democracy is like the Finnish and Asian political systems where minorities are heard and sometimes have veto power over the decision of majorities. The United States is called an association, and why is it called association? Look at the Senate. A coalition of states involving 40% of the population can beat a coalition of states involving 60% of the population.

                                           I found a common link in the leaflet that we all have. Let me quote, “Individual psychology can have far-reaching consequences as it evolves—through political action and heightened cultural awareness—into reflecting the wishes of the polity on a mass scale.” Here, coming back to what I said in my first intervention, if we analyze what’s happening in continental Europe now, which is making continental Europe an animal totally different from the United States, the differences are already enormous.  They don’t belong in the same family. Possibly psychology and. to some extent, anthropology are going to be able to put some order to this question, and I am relying here on the great work of the grand old lady of English anthropology, Mary Douglas, who has been analyzing and comparing very different political communities. These questions—Who am I? To what type of group do I belong? And what should I do? Are there many or few prescriptions I am expected to obey? 


                                            If we analyze different models of behavior, national or nation-state-wise, we discover in some places that our group is strongly bound. Then there are the nations where the boundaries between groups are weak and therefore the individual prevails. There are those who insist that there are cultural organizations with many proscriptions to follow, and some with very few. Let me give you an example. A typical case of weak boundaries between groups and very few proscriptions is the United States, which is really an individual competition.  Individualism. Capitalism. The culture of the market. The individual is the center and you don’t need many proscriptions, except an organization that prevents people from depriving you of your rights or the pursuit of property. Let’s go back to Europe. There the opposite is true. The groups prevail over the individuals and there are many, many proscriptions.  Why? Because it’s still a hierarchical organization which must justify hierarchies by allotting the roles very precisely to all components and risk is spread all over the collectivity, whereas here in the United States, risk is something an individual takes when they’re out in the market. 

                                           These two different conceptions have given way to alternative operational definitions of equality. Everybody is in favor of equality. After constitutional and representative government, who doesn’t want equality?  However, there is an ocean of difference between legal equality, which is the mark of Europe, vis-à-vis equality of opportunities, which is the mark of the United States. Legal equality means that the state congeals, crystallizes the identification system. You have rights, everybody is treated the same by the judge and by the tax collector, but if you are born a carpenter in a small town your children will be carpenters in the same small town. I am venturing into difficult territory because this is pure American history, but the pursuit of happiness is the total freedom of movement, both social and geographical. Equality of opportunity is a very strange type of equality.  It’s the right to be different. Life is a long, long race. A long gallop. You start possibly from the same point—that’s why the United States has always put so much money in education—and there are chronometers at the end. You are first, second or third.  So equality of opportunity is the right to be different according to your own merits and theories.


                                             Then there is a third model of behavior, which is important to have, which is the model of very strong group boundaries and very few rules, which is the model of the rebels—the Puritans, the Pilgrims here, and the anarchists in Europe. People who are against any form of power of individuals over others, who really think that everybody should be equal and especially that nobody should have more power than others. I found the other day a very nice quote from one of the American presidents I like best, Andrew Jackson:“All government is evil, including the democratic kind, and, beyond the administration of justice, should leave the rest of society to the voluntary principle.” I mean, if you consider Europe with this kind of proposition, they have nothing in common. What has happened is that the rebels here found they couldn’t survive—for a century they went along with individualists, the capitalists, but then the monopolies became more important than political power in determining differences around the people. It is the post-Jacksonian who created the anti-monopoly law. Whereas Europe is just the opposite. We have now feebly started to talk about doing something about monopolies. 





Loewenberg:                          Thank you for that comparative view. Giorgio, I have real difficulty with your dismissing Switzerland as not a nation-state. 





Freddi:                                      Federal systems are federal because there are minorities who don’t like each other.

Loewenberg:                           Nation-states make a difference, and the difference is, just to list two institutions, military service and education. In the Schaffhausen canton of Switzerland they speak German, just like across the border. It’s the canton that looks like an amoeba inside Germany, but it’s an entirely different democratic militia system in Switzerland, as opposed to the Prussian army or German Military Service. It’s a different education system, and they didn’t have the two World Wars. It makes a big difference—

Freddi:                                      The Swedes too, for that matter. 



Loewenberg:                             Okay, the chair will entertain another contribution by Shukri, but the chair will entertain interventions and questions from the group.





Kirkpatrick:                               I’m David Kirkpatrick, I’m a writer at Fortune magazine on technology. There are technological evolutional issues that are happening that really change some of these issues. I mean, there is a whole issue of identity happening now on the transnational basis, which I think is happening faster than most people realize, where people are beginning to identify themselves as a non-national person, and I don’t know where that goes, but I wanted to throw that out as one point. 
                                                    The other thing that I think is even more important is I was hoping that the panel would talk more about the Israeli-Palestinian situation, because to me it remains a central conflict in the world today for many, many reasons.  Even with Korea, this is the central thing from which so much hinges, and I think, looking at it psychologically, I’d love to hear you talk and I wanted to suggest two different ways of thinking about it—the psychology of the Israelis and the psychology of the United States. I don’t know what’s going on in Israel, but one thing occurs to me: if the individual is seeking resolution of conflicts in their personality, Israel doesn’t seem to have done that to the degree that other nations have done, or certainly not to the degree individuals seem to do it. I was wondering if that might be because immigration was such a big part of the creation of Israel, that people were so happy to be there, they didn’t really feel like they needed to resolve anything because all they wanted to do was be happy they were there. But is that going to continue? Then, on the side of the United States, just walking here something really interesting happened.
                                                    I was walking across 86th Street and I bought this book—Jimmy Carter, Palestine Peace not Apartheid. I haven’t read his views on it, maybe you all have. But anyway, the fact that a USA president has just written this book is a major shift in USA dialogue on this topic, because there’s been a taboo in USA society in addressing in a nuanced way what the multifarious points of view are on this issue.

Loewenberg:                            All right, Shukri will get the first answer to you.  Let me connect three questions and then we’ll take them in order. 

Audience:                                 Somebody mentioned the Franco-Prussian War. You take the Franco-Prussian War—at first it’s the French against the Prussians, but what happens is when the French no longer wanted to fight the Prussians, the Paris commune took place.  Or even in Germany in 1890 when the social democratic party and the German workers were threatening an uprising, and even though there were all these laws against German workers, they knew they had to give them benefits, you know? And you mentioned about  how a lot of things go on that we don’t even know are going on. Well, there are two parts to every country, which there will always be as long as there is capitalism, because there’s not just one nation-state where everybody has the same goals.  People don’t have the same goals, or they are confused into thinking they have the same goals. Even in Iraq, they don’t have the same goals because they live in different ways.  You are something different from what you seem to think you are. So this nation-state thing is actually a creation of capitalism. But it’s not eternal, and it’s not, even now, one body. Switzerland is a small thing. You can’t even compare something like Switzerland to the United States or Russia or China. That’s why they weren’t in the war. They’re so small. Same with Sweden. They didn’t want to be in the war and they had to be very careful so they wouldn’t be in the war.





Loewenberg:                              Another question?




Audience:                                    Emotion is a different definition, but in this case, I think there is only one way to solve the problem. My position is that a nation is a group of people who are ready to sacrifice their lives in the main interest of the group. So there is an emotional definition and I think this is what we have in real life. We’re trying to solve a very complicated problem, worldwide problems. It is very difficult. But don’t try to solve something that is very complicated, but present it as a chain of simple things. That is the most productive way. And about emotion, I would like to share with you my personal story. When I was enrolled in school, first grade school, I was in Russia and my teacher asked me what kind of nationality I was.  I told him Russian.  And they put Russian. Later I got information that I’m not actually Russian, I am a Jew.  And people asked me, how do you know that you are Jew?  And my answer was, Hitler told me. 
                                                    I became Jew as soon as I got the information and I realized what Hitler was all about and what the Second World War was all about.  So it is an emotional part of my identity. I think most of the problems are artificial. Like between Israel and Palestine and Israel. Someone—and we know who—is interested in this conflict personally. I cannot tell you a name, but I can tell you the name of the groups—Russia, in some way France, and even Europe. I can continue this list and I can explain to you why.  And I have very interesting personal experience. Several years ago I got lost, I was running and I got lost. And I asked one guy how to get to the place I was looking for.  He showed me he was a very nice guy, we had a very nice conversation and suddenly he told me, “Listen you’re a Jew, but I’m Palestinian and we can discuss not just directions but I have a feeling that we could discuss many more problems and questions.”

Loewenberg:                              So we have three questions: one is attention to the Palestinian/Israeli problem; we have the Commune of Paris of ’71; and we have a suggestion—and I think it’s a very important one—that persecution creates a sense of identity, it forms it. 





Abed:                                            First, I would like to say that it’s true, we are talking about the modern nation-state.  However, you cannot really discuss modern nation-state in the Middle East without talking about Islamic historical experiences, and also without talking about the tribal nature of many Arab countries—the gulf states, all of Arabia, Iraq, believe it or not.  After the lid of Saddam Hussein was lifted from there, Iraq showed its tribal structure. Jordan is a tribal state. Maybe the Levantine area, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt added to that or not, but the majority of Arab countries are still tribal. And we cannot ignore that. We cannot ignore the Islamic background. We cannot ignore the conflicts that arise from the introduction of new European concepts, which are contradictory to Islam in many ways—the nation-state, the nationality, the secularism and democracy. In many ways they contradict the nature of Islam and the concept of Islam, which I can talk about later.

                                                      I would like to go back to one of my favorite subjects, my painful subject, which is Palestine. You are all individuals and we can talk about it nicely, and I have many Jewish friends and they are brothers to me, not only friends. But that’s not the issue. When I came in 1976 to Harvard to study to get my PhD, I identified myself as Israeli.  But just like Hitler made you realize you are Jews, the massacres committed against my people, the Palestinians, by Israel daily, made me realize that I’m Palestinian more than anything else. That’s true. This is the painful side effect. I see that every day and I know it shouldn’t be compared that way, but when people are massacred every day, when the Palestinians are extending their hand, it is true struggle between two national movements: the Palestinian and the Israeli. The Zionism and the Palestinian National Movement. Although there is a perception of the United Arab World, there is no United Arab World. There are nations in that—nations, tribes, whatever you want to call them—and they all want to define themselves, and the Palestinians are seeking to define themselves.  In 1988, the Palestinians recognized for the first time the right of Israel to exist. But Yasser Arafat turned that down until the appearance of the great Yitzhak Rabin, whom I consider one of the greatest leaders of this century, who really had this strategic shift in his mind and his vision and was willing to recognize the right of the other side. But he was assassinated, unfortunately. And with him, many things were killed, assassinated as well. The future of the Israelis and the Palestinians was put on hold for a long, long time. I know that before 1967 there were many negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis and Arabs, including Gamal Abdel Nasser, to have a mutual recognition. This is what I would love to have within the ‘67 borders—a nation-state recognized by all Arab countries. In 2002 there was a summit in Beirut, which also suggested the recognition of the state of Israel by all Arab countries in return for the declaration of a Palestinian state within the ‘67 borders. But so far this hasn’t happened. Why, I don’t understand. I mean, I asked many of my Jewish friends why it’s not happening. They say, “Well, with the food comes appetite.” In other words, now we are the occupier and therefore we have no reason to relinquish it.  It’s a matter of balance of power, unfortunately.
                                                      The Israelis have the power and they have unqualified support. Let’s be frank about it—they have unqualified support by the United States, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats. Therefore, I think the change of the Congress now will not make much difference as far as the Palestinian issue is concerned. Because whether it is Democrats or it is Republicans, they all support without any qualifications the state of Israel, any government of Israel, and that’s unfortunate. I think unless that is changed, nothing will move. The killing will continue. The massacre that happened two days ago when 18 children and women were massacred, you know, Israel apologized about that, of course, but that’s not the first time and I’m afraid it’s not going to be the last time that will happen. Unless the balance of power is changed, I don’t think anything will happen, unfortunately. Even with the change of the Congress, which I was happy for for internal reasons. For the war in Iraq, I think it will bring change. But not for the Palestinian thing, because the unqualified support comes from the United States through every Congress, whether it is a Democrat or Republican. That is a given now in the United States and as long as that doesn’t change we are not going to see much change in the Middle East.

Volkan:                                           Before I say anything about Israel and Palestine, I want to tell you that I was involved, from 1979 to 1986, in unofficial diplomatic dialogues between Israelis and the Arabs—parallel to Camp David activities. There was at that time a process, which is not widely known, under the auspices of the American Psychiatric Association, with the blessing of the Israeli government, the Egyptian government, later the Palestinians, and the American government; it involved a series of unofficial dialogues between very high-level Arabs and Israelis. I had the opportunity, the honor, to be involved in it, and I chaired these meetings during their last three years. Later I was a member of Jimmy Carter Center’s INN (International Negotiation Network) where I learned more about Arab-Israeli interactions. There are so many aspects of it. One theoretical aspect refers to enemies becoming identical.  Now, I need to explain that. I don’t mean that Allies become like Hitler’s people. 
                                                        When I speak of enemies becoming alike, I’m talking about certain psychological processes. Another aspect is practical: since September 11th, there has not been one single in-depth process to bring the Western world and the so-called Islamic world together for dialogue. This affects the Israeli-Palestinian interactions. The Arab-Israeli-Palestinian situation has to be resolved in certain ways as part of changes that involve the whole world. Many nation-states are in deep regression, and regression prevents investments in peaceful solutions and things remain very troubling. 

                                                        Now, I’ll speak about one of my observations before I make a remark about Jimmy Carter’s recent book. There’s nothing that Israelis don’t talk about, by the way.  If you go to Tel Aviv University you will notice that Israeli colleagues are free to talk about everything. I had the honor of spending four months there as the inaugural Yitzhak Rabin Fellow, as a guest of Israel.This took place during the 50th Anniversary of the Birth of Israel and Abraham Burg, who was the head of the Knesset and who I liked very much.  I was invited to attend the ceremony celebrating the 50th Anniversary that took place at Mount Herzl. It was very, very moving for me and very important, and I’d like to share something about it with you.
                                                        Burg gave the main talk and it was on nation building. They had 12 people on the stage representing different subgroups in Israel. Using Peter Loewenberg’s term, Israel is a “synthetic” nation-state, and the 12 persons on Mount Herzl that night represented 12 parts of the Israeli nation to be put together, to be fully integrated.  In Israel there are one million Russian Jews and 80,000 million Ethiopian Jews, for example. How can these subgroups be integrated into one Israeli nation?  This was the question that was asked in Burg’s speech that night.   

                                                        After I left Israel, the second intifada started, and one day on television I saw the killings after a suicide bombing at one of the discos, and as I looked at a marble floor I saw there was blood on it.  I started crying, because our apartment in Tel Aviv had a view of this bombed disco. I realized that I had seen that marble floor before.  It connected me personally to the tragedy. And I felt so much for those kids.  Most of them were Russian kids, Russian-Israelis. Later I heard that a religious section in Israel would not allow those kids to be buried in Jewish cemeteries—that’s what I’m talking about when I refer to the struggles involved in nation-building in a “synthetic” country. There are splits in Israeli society that have to be mended.  This is not my idea. I am repeating Burg’s words.  It is very difficult sometimes to talk about this aspect of Israel, an aspect that may also have a direct impact on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since I am a “neutral” observer and a friend of everybody, I can talk about this and bring it to people’s attention. 

                                                       Now this thing that Jimmy Carter wrote: I have not read it yet, but since I was part of the INN—International Negotiation Network—for 10 years under Jimmy Carter, I had a chance to observe the former president closely. In a sense, he took a risk writing this book in the way that he did. If we take him as someone who really wants to be helpful—and I perceive him to be such a person—and if his motivation in writing this book is the same as it was back then, we can conclude that he wants to stir things up and start a dialogue. Dialogues are missing now. It’s so simple: in international conflicts you either have dialogues or you don’t. When I was in Israel, the number of personnel, as I understood it, was increased from, let’s say, 60 to 80 persons in the American AID office in Tel Aviv. This office was provided with a few funds for this or that, for a little bit here, and a little bit there. But there was no support, as far as I know, for a sustained and serious dialogue.

                                                        I sometimes tell friends my fantasy is that the USA stops making 10 bombs and instead gives the money that would have been used for making these bombs to me or someone like me who thinks that there are always more peaceful ways to deal with the world’s problems. And then I or we could start a new and sustained dialogue in the Middle East. There’s no such a dialogue right now, and maybe Jimmy Carter’s book, which may also provoke a lot of negative reactions—in fact, I am sure it will—will lead to the possibility that somehow somebody will start a dialogue again. A sustained dialogue is missing in the Middle East, and it is also missing in the interaction between the so-called Islamic world and Western world.





Woloch:                                            I would just add to this that I didn’t bring Renan up to display my erudition.  I mean, I knew that this issue was going to come up.  I think putting on the table the concept of  forgetting is extremely important when and if dialogue ever resumes. This is not a category that one ordinarily thinks of, but to me that’s an extremely suggestive seed that was planted over a hundred years ago about these kinds of questions—the need on both sides to forget, and also, ultimately, for all the dialogue and brokering that might go on there has to be an element of consent in the consolidation of these two nations side by side.  Which makes it very difficult, but I think that’s the template. The other thing I would venture to contribute here is to put out what have become two catch phrases for most historians working on these kinds of issues.  I don’t mean on contemporary issues, but on historical issues of this sort, about nations and conflict among and within nations. These two terms are—one is the title of a very famous book called Imagined Communities, with the argument being that the modern nation-state really is in various ways an imagined community.  And the other concept very current among historians is the notion of—again, it’s the title of a very well known book—The Invention of Tradition. 
                                                         The invention of tradition has a particular application when it comes to national identity.  I mean, for example, you could point out that even in one of the oldest, most venerable and most well established nation-states—France—it took an awfully long time to reach consensus. For example, July 14th as the national holiday was not recognized and celebrated as such until the 1880s.  I believe the Marseillaise was not adopted as the official national anthem in a permanent, ongoing way until then.  The symbolic embodiment, the image that embodies French nationhood, Marianne—the image, the statues and so forth—was again something that only came late in the 19th century.  The forging of a nation internally is very difficult and often involves invented traditions, and I guess my point of juncture with the contemporary is if traditions can be invented, they can also be sort of deconstructed and consigned to the trash heap too, if they’ve lost their function and usefulness, if they’re an impediment to a world that one wants to live in. 





Schwarzenbach:                                 Yes, I’m Sybil Schwarzenbach, and I’m Professor of Philosophy at CUNY. I’m just listening to you, and the stress right now is on ethnicity. And having grown up in the ‘60s with an idea that we can get beyond our ethnicity, I’m wondering, for those of us who haven’t read our Freud in a long time—this regression, could we look at it a little bit and elaborate a little bit more what you mean by the regression, such that people wall up and don’t talk and don’t see beyond their own fixed identities? Because it seems to me you have to get out of it somehow.





Loewenberg:                                         Let me add another category that Isser just raised.  Imagined community means fantasy. It’s a psychoanalytic category. You know, there’s a fantasy of the American frontier—




Schwarzenbach:                                    Which is a disaster?

Loewenberg:                                        Which runs unwritten politics? 

Gerard:                                                  I’m Sharon Gerard—I’m retired, I have an interest in philosophy. I’ve heard your reference to the demise of dialogue and concepts of dialogue and forgetting.  What I missed is attention to the concept of forgiving.  I’m thinking specifically of a dialogue in a public space, the criticality of a public space and dialogue in it.  But a couple of you touched on the issue of forgetting, and I have thought that in a kind of psychoanalytic context that might come up, what would it mean to forgive in the Palestinian-Israeli or in the Turkish scenario?


Audience:                                             I’m a biologist, and we’ve been trying to make a choice.  We’re dealing with problems of altruism.  People are doing these things because they think they’re defending a group or defending themselves as part of a group.  Even in tribal warriors, from a biological point of view, are altruists. 
                                                             They’re risking their lives, their own capacity to have children, for the group that they’re part of. There are many, many problems of altruism.  In a way altruism trumps individualism.  Whether it’s religious, or national, or ethnic, or tribal, or community, it can be a problem. And that leads to the notion of all of the sub-national entities that are warring. You can make the argument that one of the key determinants is not so much the question of nation-state, but the assault on the honor of people and the whole psychoanalytical aspects of honor and defense of honor and what honor means and how that can all be corrupted in places like Africa. And then, the notion of how shocking, from our point of view, the last couple of years in many places of the world, the death and degree of violence that people are willing to organize, politically and publicly, in order to get relatively small gains, whether it’s Yugoslavia or Rwanda or Lebanon or in Iraq, where people will just say it’s all right to kill 100 people a day until they pay attention.  So thinking about all of that in the environment of anti-enlightenment that’s been ascending for the last 20 years all over the world, from the Hindu Nationalist Party to the Israeli Nationalist Party to the United States Nationalist Party to the Islamic Nationalist Party to many places in the world, I’m thinking of some practical idea. One practical question that arises is: what is it that distinguishes between velvet revolutions, like Czechoslovakia, and violent revolutions? Thinking in terms of the radio that was used so effectively in Rwanda to organize the mass murders, let’s say we see some place where the political discourse looks like it’s frankly going to become genocidal. We understand that there are people that for months are calling other people bums or they have to be exterminated to protect the health and security of the body politic, the normal rhetoric. So, I made a bleak picture and I started to try to think of some possible practical realm, in terms of places, where there might be little spaces between the dominance.





Fenton:                                              Malcolm Fenton, I’m a science teacher at the Dalton School here in Manhattan. I was interested in what the gentleman said about deconstructing the nation-state.  It seems to me you spent a lot of time saying what the psychology of the nation-state is and what nationalism is, but what could be done to reduce this sense that people seem to have within them, the drive within them to identify themselves as a group and to identify the other as being somehow inferior or not worthwhile. I’m British by origin, and I’ve seen a lot of good things happen in my nation, where originally of course the British are famous for thinking themselves superior to everybody. Over time, I think that increased travel, the Internet and the media have allowed British people to see other people in profoundly different ways, and it has really changed British society. I know that Blair brought Britain into Iraq, where the majority of people didn’t want to be there, and I wonder if perhaps we couldn’t direct the conversation also to what’s most hopeful there? There are many problems in the world, but to what extent can modern technology and communications and a more global view of the world direct us to what’s less complicated?





Pachowski:                                      My name is Sandy Pachowski. I’m a financial consultant and I’m two days back from Israel. I have a short statement that I think the ambivalence to violence that I saw there was astounding.  I was there during the thing that you mention, I mean, at first they killed two people. The ambivalence to what’s going on, how do you change that psychology? What do you do to make people care that this actually happened? Because I found at the hotel they were just interested in food and in tourism and if their guide showed up on time. No one was interested in this. It was a sideshow.





Abed:                                              The question of honor is very important in the Middle East, as well as humiliation. I think the Arab nations are feeling humiliated and defeated by a small country like Israel, and really having no weight whatsoever in world politics. And for 55 years, 58 years, they could not liberate Palestine or even get close to that, and that’s humiliation.  And in terms of the new technologies, they feel that their culture is being assaulted through globalization. They consider the culture of globalization that’s prevailing in the world, whereas from an English or French point of view it’s in accordance with their development, with their technology development, with their culture.  In the Arab world they consider it to be globalization of culture.  Culture of globalization becomes globalization of their culture in many aspects.  Of course there is a sharp argument going on just like I said earlier.  There is a portion of identity, and that globalization thing is adding to that debate in the Arab and Islamic world. What sides of the technology can we learn without affecting our culture?  Of course, every culture will change eventually. Culture is a constant change. When Islam started, Islam was not Islam.  It was the Koran, and major parts of the Islamic culture were based on Greek thought, on Iranian thought, on Indian thought and Christian thought and Jewish thought. No question about it. They acquired all these factors and built their great empire, which lasted for many, many years and was a leader in scientific achievement for 500 years.  But today’s Islamic world is being threatened.  They feel very threatened by Israel, by the United States, by the Western cultures in general.  They are very vulnerable and therefore, when you are vulnerable you are defensive.  When you’re defensive you fight back and you don’t really accept much of what the other side is offering you.  That’s what’s happening in the Arab and Islamic world. 

                                                        Now to your question, how do we resolve this?  I think that if there’s a realization in the United States, in the administration, in the Congress in particular, because I think the administration, even George Bush, would realize—maybe not Cheney—but George Bush would agree, and he’s talked about a two state solution.  I hope this dream will come true.  This is the only solution.  It’s the only solution, two democratic states, and we know the principle of democracy, that two democratic states never fight each other.  That’s universal. 
                                                       Give me one example of two democratic states that fought each other; you will not find one.  You will never find two democratic states who fought each other.  So if we can establish this principle of two democratic states—I wrote about that in 1988, that the Palestinian nation will be the first nation to become democratic other than Israel in the Middle East. The first nation. They have all the components to become a full-fledged democratic state. Israel has a great democracy.  Better than United States, I can tell you that.  I’m very proud of that democracy.  I’m against occupation, I’m against oppression, but Israel has great democracy. The late Edward Said used to tell me that he could publish his articles in Israel easier than he could publish them in the United States. It’s amazing. And Israel has so much to offer.  Israel has so many positive things to offer.  In social services, nobody can compete with Israel. In agriculture, in education, in academia. I studied there.  In medical services, I think they can be example for the world. But why do they have to be an example for the occupation and oppression of other people? The only explanation is that they are an insecure nation.  Despite all the military strength, they are a very insecure nation still.  They are still in a state of formation now, because Israel can offer so much to the world and to the Middle East, and they are not.  Instead they are offering a miserable situation, unfortunately. I think Rabin was the only leader—Perez to some extent, but Perez was too weak—Rabin was going in that direction, and I hope to God some leader will come up, but that will not happen as long as the Congress is in the condition it is now, whether it’s Democratic or Republican.






Volkan:                                         Well, first of all, when I referred to a dialogue, I did not mean an official one such as one that would involve President Bush’s people or some other high-level officials. The dialogue that I had in mind would take place between influential individuals from opposing parties under the direction of a psychologically informed third party.  Without going into details, I should mention that some years ago at the University of Virginia we developed a technique called the “Tree Model,” and established an interdisciplinary team composed of psychoanalysts  and other psychological types—historians, political scientists, diplomats. We had a person on the team who was an Assistant Secretary of State during the Carter administration.  We also had other well-known diplomats, well-known historians and well-known psychoanalysts.  This team worked for almost 25 years and conducted series of dialogues between the “enemy” groups.  We looked at psychoanalytic techniques for conducting such dialogues. We made psycho-political diagnoses before the dialogues, and then brought the opposing parties composed of important and influential persons together for years-long discussions that took place every three months or so.  We did not give advice, but removed psychological resistances so that the opposing parties could have more realistic discussions and come up with their own new strategies.  When I was involved in the Arab Israeli dialogues we didn’t yet have enough experience conducting such dialogues, experience we did have when we worked in other conflicted areas.  So, once more, when I say “dialogue,” I don’t mean politicians talking to each other. 


                                                    There are 20 signs of regression in a large group that I have written about. We see some of these signs in the USA at this time, such as an increased split in the society following the initial gathering around the political leader, reactivation of chosen traumas and glories, making minor differences between us and the enemies significant, becoming preoccupied with borders, not having any empathy for those who are perceived as enemies, developing “new” moral values. Also, refusing to understand the enemy’s psychic reality or have any dialogues.  Technology will not help to resolve bloody conflicts, and it is sometimes actually used for causing tragedies.  Even Iranians used technology during their religious revolution. Technology contaminated with fundamentalist religion can lead to dangerous things. 

                                                    When there is a regression in a large group, the nature of the political leader becomes extremely important.  I’m going to go to South Africa next week to join the 10th Anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) celebration.  Most likely those individuals who went through the commission’s proceedings were re-traumatized.  What Desmond Tutu, a leader, accomplished with the Commission’s work, I believe, was the initiation of large-group mourning in South Africa, and this in turn played a crucial role in preventing bloodshed.  I think that this success of TRC owes a great deal to Tutu’s personality.  When I met him on a few occasions during INN meetings in Atlanta, I felt as if he was a lively street kid, with native intelligence and humor.  I think that there’s no possibility of forgiveness until the victim goes through his or her mourning process, at least to a great extent.  Without doing one’s own mourning, one is not going to forgive others. 


                                                    Imagine a storm killing kids and teachers in a school.  This tragedy is not at the hands of enemies; it is due to nature’s fury. Who do you get angry at?  You get angry at God or whatever.  In one such situation, within five years, those mothers who did not lose children, statistically speaking, became pregnant in greater numbers than those who did.  When a society’s backbone is not broken—using a metaphor from sociologist Kai Erikson—the society can recover from trauma within a relatively short time—in a matter of years.  In this example, within five years there was a biosocial regeneration. The opposite occurred in Bellarus, after the Chernobyl accident.  The fear was great.  The society’s backbone was broken and people began to have fewer children.  In situations where enemies are involved, such as the situation in Palestine, the society’s backbone or tissue is always broken.  The society faces a psychobiological degeneration, and it’s impossible to get out of it until somebody comes and helps you to mourn, not only your own personal losses, but the society’s losses in general.  And this is why, in this day and age, we should strive to find more psychologically informed dialogues of the type that I described, in order to deal with today’s conflicts.  Or be lucky enough to have people who are reparative. For example, one month before they were officially to take political power, Nelson Mandela and his people are sitting in a room.  The telephone rings and Mandela leaves the room to answer it.  Fifteen minutes or so later he returns and they say to him, “Oh, while you were gone we did something fantastic.”  He says, “What did you do?”  They say, “Well, these white Afrikaners, we want to get rid of their national anthem and use only a national anthem for the blacks.”  And Mandela says, “No, you cannot do that.  You’re going to hurt their—the white people’s—identity.”  Today in South Africa, the national anthem is sung in a way that recognizes different subgroups in South Africa. This example shows the nature of a reparative leader.

                                                   Some bombs fall in the water and do not find their targets.  They kill nobody; they are useless.  Money for them should be used for peaceful strategies.  We are regressing so badly in the present world.  I don’t know what to do about it, but there are or must be methods to encourage large groups to play with each other instead of killing each other.

Loewenberg:                                Just to clarify, did you say Archbishop Tutu is like a street cat?

Volkan:                                       A street kid—his eyes are very bright.  There were at least 12 more imitations of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in other parts of the world.  How many of them worked?  It appears that none did.  It worked to some degree only in South Africa because of, I believe, Desmond Tutu’s personality organization.  He was able to absorb deep and disturbing human emotions.  So it is not so simple. 

                                                   Just a last statement: processes in evolving nation-states and conflicts between nation-states have many, many layers, and every nation-building or conflicted area is just like a different patient that we clinicians encounter.  Each is contaminated with its own specifics and has its own psychological processes.  It is time for in-depth investigation of such psychological process in international relations. 

                                                  Some years ago I was telling some officials of the European Union that, while they have commissions or organizations looking into legal, economic, and societal issues pertaining to the EU, they never developed a commission or an organization to study the psychological aspects of bringing different nations—large-group identities—together.  About four months ago I had an experience in Budapest, and now I agree with the European Union—they should not bring psychology into its development.  Why?  In Budapest, at a meeting, people from different nations —Italians, French, Germans, Hungarians, Austrians and so on—were present. They were divided into groups of ten or so and were told:“Europe is developing a new identity, the European Union identity. Each one of you, as a representative of your nation—talk with each other about the European identity. There is no agenda for discussion.”  It only took half an hour in my group for people from different nations to start to “kill” each other.  First of all, the meeting’s official language was English.  Within half an hour the French and the Italian participants began talking in Italian and French and the others did not understand them.  They wouldn’t speak English because they all wanted to be equal, and perhaps superior to those who were speaking English.  This is why I say that it is better for the European Union not to have a psychological commission looking into the threats against identities. 
                                                  Let the economic and legal issues create togetherness first.  I am saying this just to illustrate the power of shared psychology when identity issues become “hot.”  In reality I think that the EU should have a very sophisticated commission looking at the psychological difficulties it may face.



Abel:                                       My name is Joanne Abel and I was very interested in your initial comments about how we have our personal identity but there’s also this large identity superimposed on us, and when we’re threatened, that’s when we start lashing out at others.  And it seems to me that the tragedy of the Arab Israelis, or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is that both of their reactions to being threatened is to threaten the other.  So you have this endless cycle of people behaving in exactly the way that’s designed to perpetuate the conflict, rather than reaching out as Rabin did in forgiveness with a civil sense and a super-nationality of just erasing all those boundaries.  Instead of that, these two peoples are doing precisely the things that are going to perpetuate the conflict.


Audience:                             I’m a sociolinguist by training, and so I wanted to key on a couple of your points and also on the group identity that you brought up. 
                                             When you were talking, I couldn’t help but think of Manchester United.  I was very recently at the national championships, the baseball national championships, and I saw all kinds of people wearing orange that probably would never wear orange in their normal lives. I think in our society we’re trained to take on these identities, these group identities and to think that group identity, even though it’s a professional sports organization and the people don’t even come from whatever city it is that they’re supposed to be representing, that you’re supposed to identify with it.  And then I wanted to ask if you could talk a little bit more about nationalism—in sociolinguistics we look at language and identity and we tend to look most of the time at language choice, whether you choose a particular tone at a particular time, ranging from large groups that are speaking French or English to dialect differences and so on.  It does seem to be a very important aspect of identity.  It’s a learned aspect of identity; it’s not always conscious, but learned. 





Audience:                            I’m a manager in a factory and I have many co-workers who are Russian immigrants, Jewish, who left the Soviet Union and are recognizing their new identity.  One of my customers is a Russian Jewish artist who described to me an experience.  He said when he was in Russia he didn’t know he was Jewish, but he got it when they started beating him up in the schoolyard; even Tartars were beating him up after school.  And when I told my wife about this, she said, “You know, my dad was also beat up after school for being Jewish in the Bronx.”  And more recently she observed to me that a radio personality here in New York described being beat up after school in Brooklyn.  These things are still near us in time and all over the place.




Freddi:                                 I think fear on the part of the Palestinians. It’s really fear on both sides. The Jewish state is equipped with that historical experience in Europe, and it’s projecting its fears. The Palestinians are injured; their country has been taken from them. They’ve never been a state as such, a nation-state, but they define themselves as a nation that deserves to have recognized borders, etcetera.  They feel that 78% of their land has been taken; they’re willing to give that up, at least the majority of them. I know there are still voices of Arab Palestinians who say, “We want the entire Palestinian state,” but the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian movement has accepted that they are willing to live on 22% of their historic dream.  Many Palestinians would like the entire Palestine. Now we are in a stage of compromise, and this is the only principle we have to work on.
                                             Compromise, to leave room for two national states. The other model that I think of is the Swiss model, maybe creating cantons there. In the given state of affairs in Palestine, in Israel and Palestine, I think their two national movements are too strong to create anything like that.  But my dream, in 50 to 70 to 100 years, after creating a two-state solution, there will be economic reality. The socioeconomic reality will force both of them either to unite or to create a Swiss model in the Middle East.  I’m almost convinced of that, but not now.

Loewenberg:                         Thank you.  I want to thank Professors Volkan, Woloch, Freddi and Abed for a wonderful dialogue



Copyright © Vamık D. Volkan and Özler Aykan 2007.
All rights reserved.
Policies & Info / Accessibility / Sitemap / RSS / JSON
 Webmaster: Oa Publishing Co. 
Editor: Ö–zler AYKAN
Last modified on: Apr 20, 2016