Fostering Global Citizenship
This is a two-page summary of the full paper that can be downloaded from www.humiliationstudies.org/whoweare/evelin02.php#globalcitizenship
© Evelin Lindner
(of the full paper)
Morton Deutsch wrote in 1973: “In a cooperative situation the goals are so linked that everybody ‘sinks or swims’ together, while in the competitive situation if one swims, the other must sink.” This chapter argues that, at present, global society has not yet learned to swim together, and thus risks sinking together. Global society’s psychological, social, and societal cohesion still fails to match the requirements for cooperation that it faces. Human-made concepts, practices, and institutions still have to live up to the reality of their own embeddedness in nature, as well as the fact that in an interdependent world, local conflicts diffuse and affect everyone. This chapter makes the point that it is of utmost importance that the global community learns to cooperate, so as to create a worthwhile future for the next generation. The emergence of the imagery and reality of one World represents a historic window of opportunity and hope that must be actively seized.
The core message of this chapter is that it is not enough to re-evaluate the surface of present social arrangements, but that their deep structures must be looked at. The most tangible advice of this chapter is: Dare to think outside of the box! Dare to dream!
We live in times of greater threat than ever but also of greater promise. The emergence of the imagery and reality of one world, of one human family, represents a historic window of opportunity and hope that must be actively seized. Never before in human history has a unification process encompassed the entire globe, and never before did a concurrent continuous upheaval of values—the human rights ideal of equality in dignity—call into question traditional norms of inequality so radically (see Part I and IV of the full text of this chapter).
Global citizenship, as described in this chapter, means harnessing this two-tiered upheaval for the common good of all, rather than for special interests. It calls for the global community to learn to cooperate, so as to create a worthwhile future for coming generations (see Part III of the full text of this chapter). Global citizenship is one aspect of the deep change that is required at the current historical juncture, and it also can work as one of its core drivers.
In a cooperative situation, goals are so linked that everybody “sinks or swims” together, while in the competitive situation if one swims, the other must sink (see Part II). This chapter warns that, at present, global society has not yet learned to swim together, and thus risks sinking together. Global society’s psychological, social, and societal cohesion still fails to match the requirements for cooperation that it faces. Human-made concepts, practices, and institutions still have to live up to the reality of their own embeddedness in nature, as well as to the fact that in an interdependent world, local conflicts diffuse and affect everyone. “The vision of sustainability has been a virtual reality superimposed on the real-world push for market globalization (Raskin et al., 2002, p. 32).
Morton Deutsch and Peter Coleman invited me to write this chapter because I dedicate my life to advocating dignity. I work for a world where human dignity is more than empty rhetoric. I am a change agent.To bring about change, I focus on the development and communication of more systematic knowledge, the development of new institutions, and the development of more change agents. My work in the area of dignity and humiliation is rooted in broad and analytical thinking and fostering global citizenship has proven to be a core inspiration. The notion of global citizenships helps taking dreams seriously:
In the past, new historical eras emerged organically and gradually out of the crises and opportunities presented by the dying epoch. In the planetary transition, reacting to historical circumstance is insufficient. With the knowledge that our actions can endanger the well-being of future generations, humanity faces an unprecedented challenge—to anticipate the unfolding crises, envision alternative futures and make appropriate choices. The question of the future, once a matter for dreamers and philosophers, has moved to the center of the development and scientific agendas” (Raskin et al., 2002, p. 13).
At present, large world-regions adhere to a culture of collectivist and authoritarian uniformity rather than unity in diversity. To formulate it starkly, in the traditional dominator cultures that characterized the past 10,000 years almost everywhere on the globe (see Part II), unity, peace, conflict resolution, or reconciliation were defined as successful patronage over unequals (uniformity), and safely keeping enemies out (division). In contrast, in a context of global unity in diversity, the same aims are sought by all-inclusive dialogue between equals (see Part II).
Concepts such as unity in diversity and subsidiarity make local diversity flourish under an umbrella of global unity, by way of a nesting approach. As mentioned earlier, Peter T. Coleman and his colleagues work with a dynamical systems approach to conceptualize the intransigence entailed in intractable conflict (Vallacher et al., 2010, see Part III). This chapter suggests that institutions built on the principle of unity in diversity must be created that offer unifying frames and attractors that systemically induce cooperation between diverse concepts and actors.
The concept of unity in diversity is bound to face many problems. Conflicts will emerge between the global community and the units within it, and also between the units within it. Questions must be attended to such as: What is the definition of unity in diversity? How should unity be defined? At what point does unity degrade into uniformity and when does diversity become divisive? This discussion will and should never end—it needs to be accepted as an forever ongoing process (see the concept of a voyager in Part II).
“Human rights—economic and social as well as political—need to become universal. Democratic rule, with minority autonomy and rights, needs to be maintained and extended. International conventions already codify many of these goals. For their promise to be fulfilled, they need worldwide ratification and means of enforcement” (Raskin et al., 2002, p. 32).
A quote from Morton Deutsch concludes this paper. His chaptertitled “A Utopian Proposal for Changing the World” calls on all academic disciplines as well as people in government, business, education , the media, religion, health, and other institutions to develop values, theories, knowledge, skills, procedures, and resources which enable sustained progress toward the realization of
a vision in which the people and groups of our planet would perceive themselves as being members of a world community; in which they, as well as the other members of this community, equally deserve and feel that they will be treated fairly as well as with dignity and respect; in which their world community would recognize that it is faced with critical problems that only can be solved through creative cooperation by its members; in which they realize that conflicts about how to solve these problems, as well as others, that will inevitably arise, if approached cooperatively, are likely to give rise to constructive and produce solutions which are beneficial to all; and, finally, in which they realize that some conflicts within their community may take a destructive course and end up badly but they value, encourage and practice reconciliation so that embittered relations can be replaced by fair, cooperative relations” (Deutsch, 2011, p. ?).
Deutsch, Morton (2011). A Utopian Proposal for Changing the World. In Coleman, Peter T. (Ed.), The Morton Deutsch's Legacy. New York: ???
Raskin, Paul D., Banuri, Tariq, Gallopín, Gilbert, Gutman, Pablo, Hammond, Al, Kates, Robert, and Swart, Rob (2002). Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead. Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI),Tellus Institute, a report of the Global Scenario Group, www.gtinitiative.org/documents/Great_Transitions.pdf.
Vallacher, Robin R., Coleman, Peter T., Nowak, Andrzej, Bui-Wrzosinska, Lan, and Lan (2010). Rethinking Intractable Conflict: The Perspectives of Dynamical Systems. In American Psychologist, 65 (4), pp. 262-278.
A New Culture of Peace:
Can We Hope That Global Society Will Enter Into a Harmonious Information Age?
Paper written at the request of Dr Leo Semashko, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2006
Can we hope that global society will enter into a harmonious information age, as Russian sociologist Leo Semashko (2002) suggests? Or is this nothing more than an illusionary wish? Currently, the gap between rich and poor widens, both locally and globally, and the have-nots watch how elites overindulge in luxury goods. We live in a ramshackle global village, resembling what John Stewart Mill in the nineteenth century called a ramshackle state. In many ways we face the anarchic world that Robert Kaplan (1994), describes in The Coming Anarchy, with overpopulation, resource scarcity, terror, crime, and disease compounding cultural and ethnic differences and rendering us a chaotic, anarchic world.
A central question of our times is whether the deplorable state of the global village is an expression of the essence of globalisation or a side effect that can be remedied. My proposition is that the current obscene state of the world is indeed a side effect and that we need more globalisation and not less, however, that we have to create a new kind of globalisation, namely globalisation wedded to what I call egalisation. I believe that we have a chance to build a decent global village, following the call for a decent society by Avishai Margalit (1996), if we manage to harness globalisation with egalisation.
I suggest that we need to begin by looking at human history in a different fashion than is usually done, namely by using a larger time horizon. William Ury (1999), anthropologist, and director of the Harvard University Project on Preventing War, drew up a simplified depiction of history. He pulls together elements from anthropology, game theory and conflict studies to describe three major types of society: a) simple hunter-gatherers, b) complex agriculturists, and c) the currently emerging knowledge society.
Samuel L. Gaertner and John F. Dovidio show in their research that an environment that is defined by win-win framings is more benign than environments of win-lose conditions. A win-win situation lends itself to cooperation, while zero sum circumstances increase the likelihood of divisions among people. If we take Ury’s historic picture, we find that a rather benign period of hunting-gathering (the resource being wild food, rendering a win-win frame) was followed by a comparably malign period of agriculture (the resource being land, forcing people into a win-lose frame), leading up to today’s benign promise of knowledge rendering a win-win frame. In other words, the innovative ideas that push modern technologies that in turn power globalisation render a benign win-win push towards cooperation. As invisible as this benign trend might seem at the current point in history, it nevertheless does rest at the heart of what we call globalisation.
Another benign aspect in globalisation, aside from knowledge fostering a win-win frame, is the waning of out-group bias. Humankind is being freed from destructive biases in tact with the emergence of the idea and reality of one single family of humankind that is jointly responsible for their tiny home planet Earth. A host of destructive biases arises when we engage in polarising “us,” or our in-group,” from “them,” or our out-groups. Globalisation, or the coming together of humankind, or what anthropologists call the ingathering of the human tribe, by creating one single in-group, does away with destructive psychological biases.
There are other benign trends hidden within globalisation. For example, in tact with the coming-into-being of one single in-group, the so-called security dilemma wanes, a destructive dilemma discussed in international relations theory. At the same time, the coming-into-being of one single in-group fosters a benign promise to all human beings, namely that they all are invited to use their full capacities instead of being pressed into social prisons of domination/submission designed to fight out-groups.
However, we ask, if all this is correct, how come that we live in such an obscene world where a few indulge in conspicuous over-consumption and the majority lives in squalor?
In order to disentangle negative and positive elements at the current historic juncture that brought “globalisation critics” to the fore, I coined the word egalisation. Egalisation is meant to match the word globalisation and at the same time differentiate it from words such as equality, equity, or egalitarianism. The main point is equal dignity as stipulated in the Human Rights Convention. The first sentence in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Human rights ideals oppose hierarchical rankings of human worthiness that were once regarded as “normal” – and are still “normal” in many parts of the world.
What are the solutions? What do we have to do to “save the world”? We have to a) discard some old assumption that are wrong, b) we have to develop world views that are both more adapted to the new reality of a globalising interdependent word and more apt to promote constructive strategies for further development, and c) we have to learn the skills to implement our new insights, and d) build institutions that give structure to our new strategies.
Some peace advocates indulge in unrealistic expectations and are continuously astonished that the world is “bad”! They seem to believe that the world ought to be “good” and wallow in indignation, spending their time and energy on ranting. They resist recognising that the situation is much more complicated. Indeed, love may even lead to violence and war. It needs everybody’s efforts to make the world “good.” We need a fair amount of revolutionary optimism to accept the task of “making the world good.” Pessimism and indignation-entrepreneurship are luxuries that can be afforded only in good times. In times of emergency, they represent a suicidal death sentence because they drain the very drop of energy that might save the situation.
I believe that a benign future lies ahead for the global village, if we manage to steer clear of the malignancies threatening in the short term. Those threats are largely linked to the phenomenon of humiliation. If not curbed, the dynamics of humiliation could undermine all the benign tendencies. Our hope lies in the fact that many countries have learned to tame their internal tendencies toward Hobbesian anarchy, and in the process have created models that can be followed at the global level. These models operate from the benign belief that one single interdependent in-group can exist where differences are not divisive but diversity is embedded into mutual respect. We need to realise such models on the global level. And we need to imbue them with a worldwide commitment to overcoming the lack of egalisation that currently humiliates humanity. To capitalise on the benign tendencies of the global village, we must call for a Moratorium on Humiliation. If we succeed in doing all this, I believe, we indeed can hope that global society has a chance to enter into a harmonious information age.
Is there a “harmonious era” in sight for global society in an information age? Sociology professor Leo Semashko (2002) from St. Petersburg in Russia suggests this in his tetrasociological studies (http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=11)? Many doubt it.
I agree with both, the doubters and Semashko, yet in different ways. I believe that Semashko’s view has value as a long-term guiding vision, while the doubters have a point in the short-term. I believe that humankind has a chance in the long-term if we manage to steer clear of the minefield that loom in the short-term.
Let me first turn to the doubts. A consultant to the corporate sector, working globally, expressed his qualms to me (in a personal email, 1st May 2006), explaining that he does not see any benefits flowing from global society in an information age:
I am not convinced of the shrinking of the world, outside of the minds and horizons of Western Europeans, North Americans and a few others. I recently was confronted with the fact that 70% of the people on this planet have never used a telephone, let alone a computer. And I don’t think there’s anything bad or wrong with that. I don’t think the technology has improved human life to any significant degree. In Western societies most people today are significantly more affluent and significantly less happy than they were almost a century ago. In recent years I have begun to notice the most disgusting smell emanating from the concept of “business” and corporate enterprise as it is practiced within the global mercantile system. It seems to me that the ingrained humiliation foisted upon us by our own rendering of the oils of commerce has resulted in a general depravity of spirit and vision. And I believe the world needs a new model.
An American scholar wrote to me (in a personal email, 25th April 2006):
Sadly, competition has been referred to as a “secular religion” in the US; see, or example, Alfie Kohn (1992), The Case Against Competition. The US has developed an economic system that is rooted in the quest for domination (new frontier mentality), rather than cooperation and mutually-beneficial co-existence. …The free market in the US is driven by “self-interest” and competition. Here is what the US Department of State says: “By following their own self-interest in open and competitive markets, consumers, producers, and workers are led to use their economic resources in ways that have the greatest value to the national economy – at least in terms of satisfying more of people’s wants” (http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/market/mktec6.htm). Despite what the government says, I think the US market system promotes the destruction of the environment as well as the exploitation of workers. In addition … the American market-driven ethic of self-interest and cut-throat competition encourages disrespect.
Indeed, doubts are legitimate. We currently live in a ramshackle global village, resembling what John Stewart Mill in the nineteenth century called a ramshackle state. In many ways we face the anarchic world that Robert Kaplan (1994), describes in The Coming Anarchy, with overpopulation, resource scarcity, terror, crime, and disease compounding cultural and ethnic differences and rendering us a chaotic, anarchic world. The Affluent Society was a book written by John Kenneth Galbraith (1958), the famous liberal economist, who just died at the age of 97. He staunchly criticised the current state of affairs where private wealth is combined with public squalor. And indeed, a 2006 opinion poll in England by Gfk NOP (Growth from Knowledge, http://www.gfknop.co.uk/) provides evidence that Britain’s happiness levels are declining – a trend already well documented in the United States (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/happiness_formula/4771908.stm for an overview).
At this point, should we lose hope? Should we become even more unhappy and depressed? Is the best choice we have diverting depression by spending our last days having some fun? Is it futile to work for a decent global village, following the call for a decent society by Avishai Margalit (1996)? Is it hopeless to think that it is at all possible to create a decent global village with sturdy local and global institutional structures that heed principles of good governance and transparency, both locally and globally, and provide quality of life to all its citizens, not just to a few?
The situation might be hopeless, yes. However, if we do not try to save it, we will never know whether it is possible. If we give up prematurely, we guarantee failure. We need a fair amount of revolutionary optimism if we are to have a chance. Pessimism is a luxury that we can afford only in good times. In times of emergency, pessimism represents a suicidal death sentence because it drains the very drop of energy that might save the situation.
A central question of our times is whether the deplorable state of the global village is an expression of the essence of globalisation or a side effect that can be remedied. When a strategy fails or a development goes wrong, is it because we have too much of it and better stop it, or is that that we have not yet enough of it and have to push for more of it? Or do we have to bring our strategy more to scale, tailor-make it better, change the composition?
I have a background in both medicine and psychology. As a medical student, similar questions we continuously asked: Was the cancer patient not getting better because she received too much medication? Or too little? Or was it the composition of drugs that had to be amended? Were the patient’s symptoms side effects which proved that the treatment worked, or did they signal that the treatment failed? Was the answer less treatment, or more, or better adapted?
My position is that our current obscene state of the world is indeed a side effect and that we have to have more globalisation and not less, however, that we have to change the composition of globalisation. We have to not just promote any kind of globalisation but need to harness globalisation with what I call egalisation. Let me explain more further down in this paper. I will begin with a look at human history that embraces a larger picture than usually included.
A look at human history
In my work, I treat concepts such as democracy, communism, capitalism, modernism, postmodernism, and modern information age as epiphenomena, or side effects of deeper logics, which are inscribed in a time frame that reaches back more than 10,000 years.
William Ury (1999), anthropologist, and director of the Harvard University Project on Preventing War, drew up a simplified depiction of history. He pulls together elements from anthropology, game theory and conflict studies to describe three major types of society: a) simple hunter-gatherers, b) complex agriculturists, and c) the currently emerging knowledge society.
In Ury’s system, simple hunter-gatherers, (a), live in a world of coexistence and open networks, within which conflicts are negotiated, rather than addressed by coercion. The abundance of wild food represents an expandable pie of resources that does not force opponents into win-lose paradigms. Complex agriculturalists, (b), on the other hand, live in a world of coercion. They lead their lives within closed hierarchical pyramids of power on land that represents a fixed pie and pushes antagonists into win-lose situations governed by strict rules. Knowledge society, (c), resembles the hunter-gatherer model because the pie of resources – knowledge – appears to be infinitely expandable, lending itself to win-win solutions. This type of society rejects the tightly knit hierarchical structure in favour of the open network espoused by our earliest ancestors. Negotiation and contract replace command lines, and coexistence is the primary strategy.
Samuel L. Gaertner and John F. Dovidio (1999) show in their research that an environment that rests on win-win conditions is more benign than environments framed by win-lose conditions. Gaertner and Dovidio (1999) explain that a win-win situation lends itself to cooperation, while zero sum circumstances increase the likelihood of divisions among people. If we take Ury’s historic picture, we find that a rather benign period of hunting-gathering was followed by a relatively malign period of complex agriculture, leading up to the benign promise of a win-win framing through knowledge in a global knowledge society.
Unlike land, knowledge – ideas, new thoughts, and novel inventions – has no limits. Agriculturalists depend on land, while information bearers find themselves in win-win situations; there is always another innovation out there waiting to be invented (I am not speaking of crude economic growth here, on the contrary). The innovative ideas that power modern technologies that in turn power globalisation therefore also render a benign win-win push towards cooperation. These are good news, as invisible as this benign push might appear to be at the current point in history.
But not only is the inherent win-win nature of knowledge good news. Globalisation in itself entails many more positive elements. Among these positive elements is the waning of in-group/out-groups divisions. Humankind is being freed from destructive biases in tact with the emergence of the idea and reality of one single family of humankind that is jointly responsible for their tiny home planet Earth. A host of destructive biases arises when we engage in polarising “us,” or our in-group,” from “them,” or our out-groups. As long as we polarise in-groups from out-groups, we suffer from biases such as attributions errors and false polarisation effect, to name just a few, all of which are not conducive to fruitful cooperation. Globalisation, or the coming together of humankind, or what anthropologists call the ingathering of the human tribe, by creating one single in-group,
does away with destructive psychological biases. These are very good news. At the same time, the coming-into-being of one single in-group fosters a benign promise to all human beings, namely that they all are invited to use their full capacities instead of being pressed into social prisons of domination/submission designed to fight out-groups.
However, we ask, if all this is correct, how come that we live in such an obscene world where a few indulge in conspicuous over-consumption and the majority lives in squalor? In order to disentangle malign and benign influences at the current point in human history, I have coined the term egalisation.
Globalisation & egalisation
I coined the word egalisation in order to disentangle negative and positive elements in the current predominant trends (primarily globalisation and the human rights movement), that brought so-called “globalisation critics” to the fore. Egalisation is meant to match the word globalisation and at the same time differentiate it from words such as equality, equity, or egalitarianism. The main point is equal dignity as stipulated in the Human Rights Convention. The first sentence in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Human rights ideals oppose hierarchical rankings of human worthiness that were once regarded as “normal” (and are still “normal” in many parts of the world).
The term egalisation is meant to avoid claiming that everybody should become equal or the same and that there should be no differences between people. Egality can coexist with functional hierarchy that regards all participants as possessing equal dignity; egality can not coexist, though, with hierarchy that defines some people as lesser beings and others as more valuable. (Even though egalisation is not the same as equality, there is a connection between equality and equal dignity that is “hidden” in the human rights stipulation that equal chances and enabling environments for all are necessary to protect human dignity.)
Globalisation is powered by technology and our use of it, while egalisation depends on our day-to-day moral sentiments and moral decisions. Egalisation is about our relations with others and ourselves, whether we deem it right to look up or down on others in a system of domination/submission or whether we believe we should treat all with equal respect and ought to refrain from humiliating people. Egalisation is about whether we use fear as the “glue” for coercive hierarchies or prefer to live in creative networks held together by mutual respect and the avoidance of humiliation.
If we imagine the world as a container with a height and a width, globalisation has to do with the horizontal dimension, the shrinking width. Egalisation concerns the vertical dimension. “Globalisation critics” oppose a lack of egalisation entailed in the current design of globalisation. Globalisation critics do not necessarily wish for less globalisation, but for a different kind of globalisation. They want this world not only to shrink in “width,” but also to become “flatter.” (Globalisation indeed entails a push toward egalisation, albeit with a painful time lag and in a hurtfully uncoordinated way. In his last book, Thomas L. Friedman (2005) describes how the current round of globalisation – he calls it Globalisation 3.0 – contributes to making the world flatter.)
Human rights advocates wish to do more than bring down tyrants (and let them be replaced by new tyrants); human rights promoters aim at dismantling the very system that keeps supposedly “higher” beings above “lower” beings. Egalisation means dismantling oppressive hierarchies and building institutions, both locally and globally, that respect that every citizen is equal in dignity, while healing, preventing and avoiding humiliation. This vision is in line with Margalit’s (1996) call that we need to build a decent society, or, in the case of the whole world, a decent global village – a world based on human rights, extending the opportunity for dignified lives to all.
The traps on the way
I believe that it is a worthy goal to work for a future world where the positive aspects that globalisation can provide (win-win framings, the formation of one in-group with all its benign consequences) are wedded to egalisation (equal dignity and enabling environments for all citizens).
However, it is important to be aware that in the cross-fire between the old paradigm (of higher and lesser beings), and the new paradigm (of equal dignity for all), particularly hot feelings of humiliation emerge. When people accept the human rights message, they feel that their humanity is being humiliated when their dignity is violated.
And human dignity is indeed being violated widely at the current point in time. The transition from old ranking norms to a world defined by human rights is progressing too slowly and too incoherently, with an obscenely long detour through empty human rights rhetoric. If a Martian consultant came to planet Earth, the verdict would be that humankind manages the transition from ranked societies to societies of equal dignity abysmally amateurish.
One of the problems is that globalisation can very well occur without egalisation. This is precisely what appears to be happening at present when we consider that the gap between the rich at the top and the poor at the bottom is growing, both locally and globally. And this is a deeply humiliating state of affairs for every person who has adopted human rights as his or her normative frame. Globalisation without egalisation is a story of the container getting narrower and higher instead of flatter. It is a world of a few elites exploiting the rest, keeping a strict authoritarian hierarchy of submission/domination in place.
What makes the current transition towards egalisation particularly vulnerable to potentially dangerous outcomes is that both universes, the “high container” of globalisation alone, and the “flat container” of globalisation wedded to egalisation, have diametrically opposed normative sets of values and “attitudes of everyday life” that are irreconcilable but expressed in identical language.
The term harmonious, for example, can be understood in two ways. Harmony, in a human rights context, describes the successful calibration of whatever conflicting interests might exist between players who all respect each other’s equal dignity and nurture mutual recognition and connection. In contrast, in old times, harmony was linked to oppression. For long stretches of history – and still today in many segments of global society – it was normal that the pain felt by cowed underlings was defined as being “good” for them, not only for them, but “good” also for the whole order of society, similar to a medical treatment that is “good” only when it hurts. Harmony was defined as a state of affairs where underlings meekly accepted their lowly lot. When they protested, this was called “disharmony.” Harmony, in the old order, was expressed when a beaten woman was quiet. In that context, a quiet woman was a good and harmonious woman.
Semashko’s vision of a harmonious era may therefore be misunderstood as an Orwellian vision of people being manipulated, cowed, and terrorised into quietly accepting exploitation and oppression, while he defines it as a vision of dignified players respecting each others’ equal dignity and engaging in negotiating diversity, dissent, and conflicting interests in an atmosphere of mutual recognition and connection.
Likewise, terms such as peace and stability, or freedom and empowerment, have two potential meanings, one within the context of a global village of a few dominating the rest, and another, completely different meaning within the concept of the human rights vision. The same terms that human rights advocates use in hope for a more egalised world, can be used by tyrants to secure their privileges and their grip on underlings. Tyrants may call for “freedom” for their interest groups to “secure” a “pseudodemocratic” system to provide “stability,” “peace,” and “empowerment” to their constituency. The thief says: “It is my freedom to steal from the poor!” and “It is my freedom to define ‘might is right’ as right.” However, should we agree with the thieves of this world?
Also the term free market that has been alluded to in the beginning of this text, is among those terms and concepts that have fallen prey to the confusion between reality and rhetoric. Many critics of the abysmal abject poverty to be seen around the world reason that we need to do away with free market. However, the problem on the ground is precisely that the world market, at present, is not free, due to some powerful “thieves” calling exploitation “free market.” The current Doha Round illustrates this to everybody’s inspection. It is obscene to see that the rich close their borders and ask the poor to open theirs. It is obscene to see the amount of subsidy a cow in Europe and America receives per day – about US $ 2.5 per head – is more than twice the average daily income of a small farmer in the rest of the world, or more than the average earnings of half of the population of the world. This is not a world with a free global market. Words are treacherous. Therefore, merely throwing out words does not suffice. only deeds show the actual scope that such words describe.
Michio Kaku (2005), renowned physicist and leading expert in string theory, concludes his book on Parallel Worlds with the following paragraph:
The generation now alive is perhaps the most important generation of humans ever to walk the Earth. Unlike previous generations, we hold in our hands the future destiny of our species, whether we soar into fulfilling our promise as a type I civilization [meaning a civilization that succeeds in building a socially and ecologically sustainable world] or fall into the abyss of chaos, pollution, and war. Decisions made by us will reverberate throughout this century. How we resolve global wars, proliferating nuclear weapons, and sectarian and ethnic strife will either lay or destroy
the foundations of a type I civilization. Perhaps the purpose and meaning of the current generation are to make sure that the transition to a type I civilization is a smooth one. The choice is ours. This is the legacy of the generation now alive. This is our destiny (Kaku, 2005, p. 361).
What are the solutions? What do we have to do to “save the world”? I believe that four steps are crucial. We have to 1) discard some old assumption that are wrong, 2) we have to develop world views that are both more adapted to the new reality of a globalising interdependent word and more apt to promote constructive strategies for further development, 3) we have to learn the skills to implement new insights, and 4) build institutions that give structure to new strategies.
Discard old assumptions
One among the many assumptions that stop people from joining in and putting their efforts into building a “better world” is the postulation that “man is aggressive by nature.” Many believe that humans are ravaging predators at their heart, and that therefore those of us who think that the dire state of the world can be improved at all are blue-eyed fools.
This is a mistaken view. For millions of years, hominids evolving towards Homo sapiens roamed the globe as hunters and gatherers. They lived in small bands of approximately 200 individuals who enjoyed rather egalitarian societal institutions and remarkably high qualities of life. There is no proof of organised fighting among hunters and gatherers, explains Ury (1999). Jonathan Haas (1998) explains, “The Hobbesian view of humans in a constant state of ‘Warre’ is simply not supported by the archaeological record” (Haas, 1998, p. 8). The absence of evidence for homicide does not prove that it did not occur, but it would be safe to posit that organised killing did not occur until much later, namely during the past 10,000 years that were characterised by a malign win-lose framing, suggesting that “man” is perhaps not aggressive by “nature,” but rather by circumstance. Entering into the win-win frame of a knowledge society entails therefore the promise that “man” is being freed from the malign circumstances of the past 10,000 years that drove humankind into belligerent behaviour.
A host of research from other fields of inquiry underpins that “man” is no predator. on the contrary, the situation of early humans was much humbler. They were prey. Humans evolved to be peaceful and cooperative to avoid being eaten, to avoid becoming “dinner” for predator animals. Scientists outlined these insights most recently at the 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science (http://www.aaas.org/) annual meeting in St Louis, US.
However, the opposite fallacy would be as destructive, namely believing that humans are but love and peace. The situation is much more complicated. Indeed, love may even lead to violence and war. Some peace advocates indulge in unrealistic expectations and are continuously astonished that the world is “bad”! They seem to believe that the world ought to be “good” and wallow in indignation, spending their time and energy on ranting. They resist recognizing that it needs everybody’s efforts to make the world “good.”
There is, furthermore, a host of cognitive limitations and fallacies, well summarised by the proverbial saying that it is bad to “throw out the baby with the water,” that would
benefit from being abandoned. The word “nice weather” may illustrate this point. Usually “nice weather” is meant to signify sunny weather. However, if humankind were able to engineer weather – and would create sunny weather without rain, every day, all over the globe – this experiment surely would end up as an ecological disaster. In other words, the word “nice weather” entails dangerous scripts for behaviour. However, since humankind cannot engineer weather, the danger is limited to some people overexposing their bodies to the sun and giving skin cancer fertile ground to grow.
However, in other fields of life, the danger is much greater. Is it a constructive way out of abject poverty and hunger to enter the ranks of obese people? What is good quality of life? Is it attained by accumulating large quantities of money and possessions? Is it attained through striving for “status” by ways of blindly imitating elite behaviour, functional or dysfunctional behaviours alike? It has been widely understood by now that it is a fallacy to believe that oppression is healed and prevented by pressing everybody into sameness. “Communism” does not heal and prevent exploitative hierarchies, particularly not when forced upon people by tyrants; at best, if forces everybody into shared poverty. Or, and these are related fallacies, can justice and equal dignity be attained by methods that entail their violation? Can we bomb people into loving us and peace? Can the world be humanised by methods that involve dehumanisation?
Humiliation is a core culprit in this context. Many people profess their love for peace, while being unaware that their fear of humiliation and their wish to resist humiliation may foreclose peace, at least as long as this resistance is not well thought through. on 26th April 2006, on BBC News, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister told the Tamil Tigers that he does not want war but will not be cowed by attacks. In other words, the desire to resist humiliation may lead to war, unintentionally. Or, challenged as to the Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad posited that Iran will not be bullied into submission. A Somali proverb makes this point even clearer, “A man deserves to be killed and not to be humiliated.”
Hitler imagined future world domination and humiliation from the World Jewry and the Holocaust was his atrocious attempt to “prevent” future humiliation. Eberhard Jäckel (1991) documents that Hitler’s last words during his last conversation on April 2, 1945, were the following: “the world will be eternally grateful to National Socialism that I have extinguished the Jews in Germany and Central Europe” (Jäckel, p. 64). Also in Rwanda, it was imagined humiliation in the future that was “prevented” by genocide.
In short, as long as people have not understood that resisting humiliation can foreclose peace when the Hitler-path is followed, and as long as people have not learned the Mandela-path out of humiliation, there is no hope (I treat Nelson Mandela in an ideal type fashion and focus on his constructive strategies, which, I feel, are not minimised by various criticisms that people may be directing at him as a person).
Develop new world views
Robert Axelrod (1990) explored computer models of the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game (which gives two players the chance to cooperate or betray one another) and formalised the evolutionary tit-for-tat strategy. Axelrod’s key finding is that the evolutionary tit-for-tat strategy – also known as reciprocal altruism – is remarkably successful and defeats all other strategies, increasing the benefits of cooperation over time and protecting participants from predators. In Deutsch’s Crude Law of Social Relations, Morton Deutsch (1973) stipulates that “cooperation breeds cooperation, while competition breeds competition” (Deutsch, 1973, p. 367).
The important point for prosocial results is that the Prisoner’s Dilemma game is repeated many times, because people are more tempted to cheat when they know they will never see one another again and are more likely to cooperate when cheating is costly. Peter Singer (1999), who describes himself as a “Darwinian Left,” suggests that, in order to create a more peaceful world, we need to set up situations in which people experience long-term relationships in which they do better by cooperating than by exploiting one another. Indeed, globalisation does just this. Globalisation encourages formerly separate entities to join one single unit of interdependent relationships. It is no longer strategically intelligent to hide behind thick emotional walls, isolated out of fear of being cheated. Entering altruistic and cooperative relationships is the better strategy, even though you may occasionally encounter predators.
I suggest there are six logics at the core of the human condition (this model is expanded from the initial four logics that I developed in 2000):
(1) The question of whether and to what extent resources are expandable (game theory, as developed within philosophy),
(2) The question of whether out-group biases are stronger or weaker (social psychology),
(3) The question of whether the security dilemma is stronger or weaker (international relations theory, as developed within political science),
(4) The question as to which extent human beings can use their full potential or not (social psychology),
(5) The question as to what extent long-term or short-term horizons dominate (as described in many academic disciplines, among others cross-cultural psychology),
(6) The question of how the human capacity to tighten or loosen fault lines of identification is calibrated (social identity theory, developed by social psychology).
All points are linked to globalisation in some ways or the other. Point (1) is linked to globalisation indirectly, through the knowledge that drives it and the inherent nature of knowledge being what game theory calls an expandable pie. Point (2) depends on whether the playing field is defined by several units or by one unit. The coming into being of a so-called global village indeed promises the emergence of one single unit with inner problems. This is a rather benign constellation, as opposed to many “villages” trying to solve problems with out-groups, a setting that makes everybody fall prey to destructive out-group bias. Also the state of the security dilemma (3) is linked to globalisation. The security dilemma wanes in tact with the emergence of the reality and imagery of one single in-group.
Point (4), as well, is facilitated by the emergence of a one-in-group reality and imagery where all are jointly responsible for their habitat. The traditional division of labour between elites and underlings has handicapped both. In a traditional marriage, for example, the man decides, but does not change the diapers of his babies, while the woman maintains the harmony of the family, but does not define the larger frame. Neither of them uses their full potential. The man utilises only his right sword arm so-to-speak, and the woman only the left arm of nurturing. In contrast, in an interdependent world that needs peace and creativity, both are needed to use both arms – women can to learn to lead and strategise and men to nurture.
Points (5) and (6), equally, receive a push from globalisation. Becoming aware of the fragility of humankind’s tiny home fosters a long time horizon, (5), and with it constructive evolutionary tit-for-tat approaches. And success in a global market, where innovation and creativity count and not submissive obedience, is not achieved without (6), namely new respect for equal dignity for all world citizens.
In 2000, I wrote, in Lindner (2000):
The most benign scenario is a combination of weak Security Dilemma, expandable pie, long time horizon, and an atmosphere of respect. Conversely, the worst scenario brings together a short time horizon, positioned in an environment that represents a fixed pie of resources, combined with a strong Security Dilemma, within which individuals or groups are exposed to humiliating assaults. As already mentioned, feelings of humiliation and their consequences may be so strong that they override and undermine otherwise “benign” scenarios, in a downward spiral. This model of the human condition may be instrumental to analyzing social change over long time stretches and in different world regions, as well as aid future strategy planning for governments and international organizations. It indicates that the destructive nature of the dynamics of humiliation becomes the more visible the more the other parameters veer to the benign side (p. 439).
To summarise, it seems a worthy goal to work for a world where people use a long-term horizon for strategising and planning, a setting that fosters the application of the beneficial evolutionary tit-for-tat strategy. This is helped by humankind becoming aware that it inhabits a tiny planet for which it is jointly responsible. It is furthermore useful to promote a world that regards knowledge as its resource, because this renders a win-win framing. Moreover, out-group biases benefit from being done away with. The world is also better off without the security dilemma. Luckily, the coming together of humankind promotes the weakening of this destructive dilemma and, in the same sweep, frees human beings from preparing for war and having to accept divisions of labour that hinder both underlings and elites to use their full potential. The ingathering of the human tribes promotes all these beneficial effects. And, finally, it is beneficial to work for a world with a strong sense of respect for everybody’s equal dignity.
In short, promoting globalisation helps, because it entails the potential to facilitate a host of benign effects and framings, however, only as long as it is harnessed by egalisation. In practice, egalisation is a task that needs to be carried out at all levels, from macro to micro levels, and in all fields of life. The current Doha Round concerns the macro level in the field of international relations, namely the building of a decent global village with decent global rules. Initiatives such as fostering micro credit schemes or participating in competitions such as The World Challenge (www.theworldchallenge.co.uk), concern the meso level. Empowering the downtrodden can be achieved at many levels, including micro levels. The task of egalisation even reaches into intrapersonal arenas, inside the mind of every individual. A woman is traditionally socialised to care and nurture; she can be invited into learning how to lead. A man is traditionally taught to be fearless and ready for fight; he has now an opportunity to learn how to maintain harmony. Globalisation wedded to egalisation gives men and women, elites and underlings, unprecedented new opportunities to unfold the entirety of their humanness and celebrate shared humanity. No longer do male leaders strategise and female underlings nurture, all are invited to use all their faculties and become full human beings. All this also concerns the topics of “learning new skill” and “building new institutions” which I discuss in the following.
Learn new skills
What do we need to learn for building a better world? Which new skills do we have to acquire? Which sources of satisfaction are productive and which are counterproductive? Are their segments in our social behaviour repertoire where we behave like drug addicts who yearn for the next fix and do not care about health and survival?
What we can be sure about is that merely wishing for harmony is not sufficient. There is no hope for harmony to emerge as long as we are stuck in the old definition of harmony with underlings being expected to quietly accept oppression. Harmony has no chance until we learn the skills necessary to give life to the new definition of harmony as something to be attained by players of equal dignity.
From my time as a clinical psychologist, I remember the lament of one of my clients. She told me how every year, at Christmas, she would tell her family that this was a feast of love and harmony and that everybody ought to refrain from quarrelling. The result was, invariably, that the first day of the family gathering was characterised by doors being slammed angrily, and on the second day everybody could be found locking themselves up in their rooms, crying and ranting.
Once, I tried to mediate in a quarrel in an international peace NGO. one of the members had criticised the director. The director, together with his board, was pitted against the dissenter. I failed in my efforts to show them that for their goal of building a better world, a world without genocide, war and violence, they ought to walk the talk and communicate with other human beings in ways that did not entail hatred and aggressive campaigns, not even for the sake of defense. I was amazed at the amount of venom the board of directors was able to produce against the dissenter. Here we met highly trained academics with idealistic goals, and they were almost indistinguishable from a gathering of immature drunkards who find satisfaction in hurling vulgar insults against whoever passes by. They took the opportunity given to them by the need for defense as license to go for cheap self-oriented satisfactions.
When we analyse how genocide is organised, as in Nazi Germany during World War II, or in Rwanda in 1994, the instigators began with identifying an out-group and then marking them as such (both, in Germany and Rwanda, physical features did not safely decide differentiation). In Nazi-Germany, Jews, for example, were forced to wear yellow stars on their clothes; in Rwanda, identity cards served the same end. Then, in a next step, the out-group was being ridiculed and demeaned. Whatever they did, was interpreted negatively – nothing was positive. Those marked as Jews in Europe, or those identified as Chinese in Indonesia (the “Jews” of Asia), instead of reaping recognition for their diligence, were disparaged as “ants,” or it was insinuated that their goals were evil (Jews, for example, were accused of aiming at the domination of the world). Then, in a subsequent step in this “salami-tactic” approach, slowly, the contempt for the out-group was augmented and increasingly more venom was produced, preparing for the atrocities that followed.
Without being aware of it, the NGO of peace-makers and anti-genocide activists that I tried to counsel, within their own group, went down precisely the path they wished to free the world from – at least the first steps. This is why I highlight the need to walk the talk in the network that I founded, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (www.humiliationstudies.org). See also Lindner (2006).
If Mandela had used the approach of this NGO, he would have instigated genocide against the white elite in South Africa. In Rwanda, the Hutus, the underlings, when in power, embarked on killing the Tutsis, their former elite. Mandela refrained from going down this path. In order to follow Mandela, I am convinced that we have to learn to walk the talk.
And the danger is not over, both in South Africa, and in the world at large. Archbishop Tutu spoke to BBC’s Peter Biles and warned “that we are sitting on a powder keg.” “It is the obligation of all of us to be trying to do something about it.” The archbishop spoke of “demeaning” poverty in South Africa today and that “by and large, the white community does not seem to have shown an appreciation for the incredible magnanimity of those who were the major victims of a system from which they [the whites] benefited so much” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4961418.stm, 1st May 2006).
We indeed do need the Mandela approach if we want to address the global problems that this world encounters at the current point in time. Global cooperation is the only strategy that can possibly work for solving global problems. In order to build a more peaceful world, we have to learn to cooperate globally.
Could we be more ambitious?
In order to cooperate (in any arena, locally and globally) we have to develop first the ambition (and then the necessary skills) to build bridges from what we define our in-group to what we reckon to be our out-groups, with the aim to build increasingly larger in-groups with “inner” problems to solve. It is easy to only “preach to the converted,” because our in-groups are already convinced. Yet, cooperation is not achieved when in-groups stay isolated for themselves. In order to increase the amount of cooperation, locally and globally, we have to become more ambitious than resigning ourselves to preaching only to the converted. We have to go beyond huddling within pre-conceived in-groups. We have to reach passed boundaries, expand our horizons, and, ideally, invite all humankind in. And indeed, the definition of all humankind as one single in-group that emerges in tact with the ingathering of humankind, represents a structural push that induces the here described psychological adaptations.
Could we do without short-term fixes? We have to learn to identify and then forego cheap secondary gains, which resemble the fix of the drug addict – a fix that ultimately leads into the abyss. Satisfaction from appearing tough and venting anger, for example, is destructive when cooperation is the aim and not domination.
Primates use dominance and submissive behaviour in situations of threat, in order to convey dominance and reproductive status. Primates use elaborate posturing and displays such as strutting, stereotypic, jerky movements, body swaying, genital display, and piloerection (a mammal erecting its fur or hair). Pekka Soini (1988) researched the pygmy marmoset in Brazil. In their genital display, of either sex, they turn their backs to the observer, arch their backs, raise their tails in a stiff arch, and the body and tail hair are ruffled.
Much of the vulgar “tough guy” language that we hear in certain segments of today’s societies, all around the world, seems to fall into this pattern. “Tough guy” language is used in many macho cultures and is also partly built into the American frontier ethos where it is applied by men and women. I collected ample experience with this kind of language when I learned how to fly (starting at fifteen with gliding) and spent time at sea (as a psychology student on a training ship from Europe to Africa). I have tasted the satisfaction that flows from tough talk that sends shivers down the spine and demonstrates both to myself and others that I am “not afraid.” To say it differently, I am not a faint-hearted idealist who cannot see linguistic “blood” (to be sure, I am also a physician who would have become a good surgeon). I have listened attentively to people who claim that anger is like a pressure cooker that needs to release aggression in order avoid “explosion.” I have furthermore discussed with peace activists who wish to give a voice “to the people” and condemn “refined” language as the “licking of the elites’ feet” and the “betrayal of the peoples’ authenticity.” Thus they defend filling their sentences with linguistic ammunition such as “fuck” and “damn,” or more intellectual variations such as “brainfart” or “brainscrew.”
I respectfully disagree. First, “the people” around the world do not usually wave around with their sexual organs, linguistically. Believing that such practices would be “authentic” is a misrepresentation of the world’s “people” and of the concept of authenticity (and I have travelled the world more than most). I also find that “tough talk” too much resembles the narcissistic project of exhibitionists and the quick fix of drug addicts to be reconcilable with the goals of peace work. I furthermore believe it is a mistake to model anger according to the pressure cooker model. The desire to vent anger can and needs to be tackled in different ways than merely by venting anger. Showing off, singing loud in the dark, venting anger, feeling strong through shocking others and violating boundaries, misunderstanding authenticity, all this, to me, undermines peace work. I am saddened when I meet a person who, in the name of peace and humanisation, through her language, forces me into watching his or her bulging muscles, sexual organs, or production of faeces.
I therefore respectfully ask people who wish to humanise the world to refrain from “tough talk.” Could we belong to our in-group without demeaning out-groups? Particularly young people, who enthusiastically defend friends, may not see the fine line that differentiates defense from destruction. They might be tempted to make a cognitive link between friendship and readiness to “fight enemies.” Yet, I believe it is a mistake to assume that in order to defend my friends, I need to demean others. We can build friendship without creating common enemies. More even, the deep core of my friendship to you is dehumanised and thus destroyed if I try to form friendship by the help of creating and attacking common enemies.
I furthermore believe it is mistake to suppose that the expression of dissent is strengthened by the aggressive expression of anger toward the dissenters or by demeaning communication styles. I posit that the expression of dissent is only strengthened by respectful communication approaches. Dissent can be a powerful source for creativity and mutual enrichment. This chance is wasted and fruitful dialogue foreclosed when dissenters demean and hurt each other.
Apart from the cognitive fallacy that expressing disagreement or proving loyalty in friendship necessitates aggressive hostility to others, there is also a psychological fallacy involved in “buying” in-group belonging with out-group hostility. Indeed in-group members’ joint ranting against out-group members renders a strong sense of belonging and excitement and thus provides a powerful incentive. Consequentially, some seek satisfaction in continuously scrutinising other people for potential out-group markers, ready to identify anybody who fails their scrutiny as out-group members, so as to then proceed to ridiculing them from within the in-group. This is a malign source of satisfaction that not only does not bring peace, but easily turns inwards and poisons the very in-group members’ hearts and minds in the process. I suggest that we have to let go of it. Letting go of this satisfaction is among the most difficult lessons to learn, because the satisfactions that can be derived – belonging and a sense of expansion and control – are so powerful.
What we have to learn, instead of focusing on what possibly divides us, instead of investing our energies into drawing lines that separate us from out-groups, and instead of demeaning out-groups, is the ambition and skill to highlight common ground so as to facilitate cooperation across fault lines, including dissent as a source of enrichment. Ultimately we need to build one single global in-group that jointly solves their inner problems.
Do we need to provoke martyrdom?
Human history presents us with many stories of admirable heroic martyrs. Due to the amount of admiration that martyrdom can command, some people manipulate themselves into martyr roles. one way to achieve this is by provoking others – for example, by demeaning them – into attack. Another way is to hold on to remembering the humiliations of the past. In his book The Ethics of Memory, Margalit (2002) suggests that it is not only the experience of moral emotions like humiliation that motivates aggressive behavior, but also the memory of such emotions. Goldman and Coleman (2005) report, “Margalit proposes that, under certain conditions, individuals can become attached, or even addicted, to the emotion, thus serving as a constant source of retaliatory action” (Goldman and Coleman, p. 15). In other words, a self-styled martyr can use provocation and the memory of humiliation to justify “heroic aggression.” I believe that we have to let go of such sources of satisfaction that promise a quick fix at the expense of the long-term common good.
To summarise, any desire to manipulate ourselves into martyr roles must be resisted. And creating enemies just for the sake of venting anger is a destructive strategy. Linguistic dominance behaviour is not constructive. There is no need to engage in “street fighting.” Peace promoters are no hooligans who derive pleasure from mere fighting.
On the contrary, we need to attempt to learn from whatever wisdom Mandela brought to the world. As peace and human rights advocates, we understand that some of our friends are young and enthusiastic and might not have thought through the consequences of their behaviour. It is a nice thing to want to stand up for your friends and defend them. However, we have to lovingly guide our friends to see that there is a fine line. By demeaning others in the process of defense, defense easily turns into destruction and thus becomes counterproductive. There is an inherent contradiction in defending humanity by methods that entail the demeaning of the others. We cannot humanise the world by methods that entail dehumanisation. All who wish for peace in the world need to honour their humanising message also in the ways they formulate it, particularly the communication of dissent.
All this requires far superior communication skills and personal maturity than were required from humans thus far. Outdated are such divisive habits as propping up us against them and polarising friends against enemies. Yet, it is indeed easier, for many, to preserve old in-group/out-group divisions and respond to humiliation with violent humiliation for humiliation in Hitler-like ways or by waging terror. It is not only easier; it also is an age-old tradition. Traditionally, societies were characterised by hierarchical structures, with strong-men [indeed, mostly men] often inflicting humiliating domination onto underlings and out-groups. All this has to be unlearned in today’s interdependent world that has heard the human rights message, not least, because it is counterproductive.
Engaging in moderation, humility, and respect for equal dignity for all humankind is the deeply challenging new task. It requires the maturity of a Mandela. To make the challenge extra difficult, moderate peacemakers risk being affronted or even killed by those who live in the past. Extremist Hutus killed moderate Hutus, not only Tutsis, and peacemakers such as Gandhi, Anwar Sadat or Yitzchak Rabin were assassinated by their own extremists. All this means that there is nothing more courageous and “tough” than engaging in humility and refraining from “tough talk.”
Build new institutions
A friend from Texas wrote to me, in despair, when the Katrina hurricane disaster was unfolding: “Our government is so bad! We need less government!” My reply was that if government is bad, we may need better government, not necessarily less. Many Americans would have wished for better government, or better prepared government, when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I suggest, we need to better adapt government to its tasks, better tailor-make it, bring it to scale, both locally and globally.
As the concept of government, also the concept of “free market” is not in itself negative. At the moment, the world experiences un-free markets. Oxfam advises the poor nations of the world to press for better solutions in the Doha negotiations. Most NGOs agree that free trade, if really free, would lift out the poor of the world much more efficiently than any humanitarian aid can ever achieve. Obscene statistics of self-serving rules make the “ugly American” and “ugly European” look like the perpetrators of humiliating double standards. Blindness for their own inconsistencies, on the American and European sides, exacerbates the problem.
Instead of less free market, we may need institutions that guarantee freedom that deserves its name, namely real global free market harnessed by fair global regulation. Philippe Legrain (2002), in his book Open World: The Truth About Globalisation delineates the responsibility that has to be shouldered by the World Trade Organization to create fairer global trade. Jeffrey Sachs (2005) explains, how world poverty can be ended. The task resembles that of installing traffic lights at cross-roads. At the current historic juncture, the rich nations drive big cars and force their way through at every cross-road. The poor people of the world have no cars or small cars and are coerced into submission and poverty.
So, let us make better institutions, similar to traffic lights. The understanding that free market is equal to “might is right,” is antithetical to the very concept of free market. “Might is right” is like not having traffic lights. The culprit is thus not the concept of a free market but the misreading of it. The concept is being misread by elites who have an advantage from doing so. As long as the “might is right” motto is accepted as a correct description of the free market concept by the rich and the poor, the so-called just world belief is free to wreak havoc: the rich feel “right” in being rich, and all think that it is the “fault” of the poor themselves to be poor.
Clearly, not only concepts such as government and free market need to be critically appraised and brought up to standards that make them deserve their names. How shall cultural diversity be managed? This is another core question. The objective of conferences such as the 2007 National Multicultural Conference and Summit is to explore precisely this, namely the intersections of social identities. “We believe that multiculturalism creates opportunities as well as challenges within the context of constantly negotiating multiple levels of privileges and oppressions” (www.multiculturalsummit.org).
Clearly, the list of local and global institutions that need to be built in order to achieve decency in the global village does not end here, but entails innumerable big, medium and small size tasks that can be shouldered by every single world citizen.
Globalisation offers the undoing of several malign trends of the past, among them, (a), the waning of the destructive in-group/out-group biases of the past, and (b) the weakening of past malign win-lose framings for resources. The ingathering of humankind fosters the emergence of one single in-group with shared “in-group problems,” a benign win-win framing for the management of knowledge. However, at the same time, huge new problems loom. Globalisation, particularly when coupled with the human rights message, also creates high expectations, which, if disappointed, foment feelings of humiliation, which in turn carry the potential to lead to violence. This danger can only be mitigated by rigorous egalisation, meaning, by rigorously putting into practice the human rights message of equal dignity for all.
Humankind might fail this task and go down in self-destruction. However, if we give up and invest our energies in hand-wringing, lamenting, and finger-pointing, we will fail by guarantee. If we accept the global challenges that we face as ours – and do not deny them or shy away from them – we find a host of “sub-challenges.” We need to re-design life at all levels, in business, in government, in civil society, in our families – and even our individual lives are affected. Among others, we face the challenge of having to forge new definitions for what makes life meaningful and full and how we define “success in life.”
Let me link back to William Ury’s conceptualisation of history. We know that early hunter-gathers enjoyed a superior health as compared to early farmers and realised a high degree of quality of life. They did neither accumulate children nor possessions. This quality orientation changed when land became the resource most people depended on. Hierarchical societies were built, with men as guardians and leaders and women as nurturers. Quantity began to reign. A man was successful when he had many children, many underlings, many wives, and many possessions. All this was fostered by the win-lose framing of the past millennia that has furthermore taught people to guard their “territories” like watch-dogs. Many still are caught in this script and fill their lives with seeking advantages over others and hindering others to take advantage of them. In contrast, the new script for a future world is connectivity and mutuality. It is a challenge to leave behind old habits; however, it is worth it, because the reward is high.
To summarise, there are global challenges which we need to take on, and when we do that, we face more challenges, namely the task of learning new cognitive maps and new skills. We need new maps of the world, no longer countries as first priority, but one World, and we need to learn new skills, namely how to navigate in a global knowledge society and maintain its cohesion. In short, we are required to redefine most aspects of our lives. As difficult as this challenge is, the gain is worth it. Accepting global responsibility ultimately leads to more quality of life, both for the globe and for each individual who gets involved, me included.
As discussed earlier, a central question of our times is whether the deplorable current state of the global village is an expression of the essence of globalisation or a side effect that can be remedied? My position is that this obscene condition is a side effect.
A core problem is that unifying tendencies transgress national borders in ways that hamper egalisation. The building of global institutions to curb Hobbesian anarchy lags. A benign future lies ahead for the global village only if humankind manages to steer clear of the malignancies threatening in the short term. Those threats are largely linked to the phenomenon of humiliation. If not curbed, the dynamics of humiliation could undermine all the benign tendencies. Reason for hope lies in the fact that many countries have learned to tame their internal tendencies toward Hobbesian anarchy, and in the process have created models that can be followed at the global level. These models operate from the benign belief that one single interdependent in-group can exist where differences are not divisive but diversity is embedded into mutual respect. We need to realise such models on the global level. And we need to imbue them with a worldwide commitment to overcoming the lack of egalisation that currently humiliates humanity. To capitalise on the benign tendencies of the global village, we must call for a Moratorium on Humiliation. If we succeed in doing all this, I believe, we indeed can hope that global society has a chance to enter into a harmonious information age.
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Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2006). Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict. Westport, CT, London: Greenwood Press and Praeger Publishers.
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© Evelin Lindner
Making Enemies Unwittingly: Humiliation and International Conflict. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers (2006)
Series Preface by Chris Stout
Foreword by Morton Deutsch
Part I: Humiliation at Work in the Mind
Chapter 1: The Mental Landscape
Chapter 2: once the Cure, Now the Disease
Chapter 3: Globalization and Egalization
Part II: Humiliation at Work in the World
Chapter 4: Humiliation and Misunderstanding
Chapter 5: Humiliation and Conflict
Chapter 6: Humiliation and Terrorism
Part III: Why Humiliation Doesn’t Work
Chapter 7: The Humiliation Addiction
Chapter 8: The Humiliation Antidote
Chapter 9: The Future of Humiliation
Welcome to Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS)
Humility is Grace
Humiliation is Disgrace
-- Victor Zurbel, 2004
Pessimism is a luxury we can afford only in good times, in difficult times it easily represents a self-inflicted, self-fulfilling death sentence
-- Evelin Lindner & Jo L., Auschwitz survivor, 2004
There is a time for pessimism, that is, for considering worst-case scenarios in order to appropriately prepare for them. This does not mean one should not be hopeful, but only that one should be prepared for adverse outcomes rather than blithely assume that all will turn out well. Rather than being naively (indiscriminately) optimistic or pessimistic, it is better to be strategically optimistic and pessimistic. -- Seymour Epstein, 2005
From Mission and other documents of the HumanDHS
We are a network of researchers and practitioners dedicated to ending cycles of humiliation throughout the world.
We believe that by interrupting these harmful cycles, a space is opened for mutual respect and esteem to take root and grow - leading to the resolution of previously intractable conflicts.
As researchers we study the dynamics of humiliation, the antecedents and consequences of humiliating behaviors, and interventions that can help break the cycle of humiliation and restore human dignity.
As practitioners we attempt to bring to the attention of people across the globe the incidents of humiliation and create solutions for dealing with them.
In our work, we wish to make research relevant to practice and vice versa (as in participatory action research). We invite you, researchers and practitioners from around the world who share our goals, to join us. Please read our call for creativity, a detailed description of our mission and a short description of what we mean when we speak about humiliation. See also our newsletters and our collection of quotes.
What is our aim?
We wish to help discontinue humiliating practices wherever they occur, globally and locally. In order to do this we aim at building bridges between research and practice. We wish to raise awareness of the workings of humiliation through research and education, and "change the world" more directly through interventions.
Human rights ideals, emphasizing that each human being is born with equal dignity that ought not be humiliated are central to our work. We are aware of the debate questioning whether human rights are universal, or not, and whether their advocates are arrogant Western imperialists, or not, and we are aware that feelings of humiliation accompany this debate on all sides. We wish to contribute to building a future world society that includes all humankind in constructive and dignified ways.
The vision of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS) is to contribute to reducing - and ultimately eliminating - destructive disrespect and humiliation around the world. Our efforts focus on generating research, disseminating information, applying creative educational methods, as well as devising pilot projects and policy strategies. With these initiatives we wish to promote a new level of consciousness that is characterized by caring, mutual respect and sensitivity to dignity. Thus we envisage to fertilize new and constructive community action.
We believe that global sustainability - sustainability of social cohesion as well as ecological survival - requires a mindset of dignity and humility and not of humiliation.
What we do
Our endeavor is innovative, at many levels, and thus, by definition, we do not yet have a long-standing organization that can look back on years of activities. The organizational structure or our group is that of a network and thus entails a wide range of activities by our members. In our research we study the workings of humiliation, in our educational activities we address them, and in our intervention projects we attempt to translate research into practice.
HumanDHS is a network of scholars, researchers and practitioners, and independent of any religious or political agenda. The core of our work is academic research on dignity and humiliation. Our aim is to avoid single interest scholarship, work transdisciplinary, and probe how even local micro-changes may be embedded within larger global changes.
We believe that research in social science should not remain within the academic realm only. Like the natural sciences, social sciences should be taken into "real life." Professor Shibley Telhami explains this point as follows, "I have always believed that good scholarship can be relevant and consequential for public policy. It is possible to affect public policy without being an advocate; to be passionate about peace without losing analytical rigor; to be moved by what is just while conceding that no one has a monopoly on justice."
Following this analysis, we envisage to develop our group as a global network and as a platform for everybody who feels that s/he would like to contribute. We believe that it is important for us all to become active and work for a better future for our world, for our children and grandchildren. Therefore, HumanDHS wants to provide an innovative and creative platform for future-oriented activities that build bridges.
Also within our group, we want to live our values and create an innovative global network where we emphasize respect for equal dignity and refrain from old-style autocratic communication modes. We also wish to "walk the talk" and create a humiliation-free, collaborative learning environment characterized by appreciative inquiry, mutual respect, mutual empathy, and openness to difference in our research, our communication style with others, as well as in our meetings and dealings within the group.
We are profoundly appreciative of the invitation we received from Morton Deutsch, Andrea Bartoli, Peter Coleman and Betty Reardon into the Columbia University Conflict Resolution Network. We are very glad to build Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies as a global network that is affiliated to Columbia University in New York and at the same time supported by and affiliated to numerous other organizations around the world.
"Pessimism is a luxury we can only afford in good times, in difficult times it easily represents a self-inflicted, self-fulfilling death sentence. This insight, to me, is real Realism or real Realpolitik, far from blue-eyed Idealism. We have to courageously resist the current tendency to suspect those who work for a better world to be hopeless idealists. This would mean Realpolitik letting disaster happen (by deepening fault lines instead of transcending them), and us not at least attempting to prevent this. Strange real Realpolitik!"
Evelin Lindner, 2004.
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A personal history of our times, 2004, p. 208)
What you can do
Please click on Who We Are, where you can read more about us, our Global Staff, Global Core Team, Global Advisory Board, Global Partners, Global Supporters, and Annual Meetings. You can also meet with our Board of Directors, including Evelin G. Lindner (Founder) | Donald C. Klein | Linda M. Hartling | Bertram Wyatt-Brown | Eric Van Grasdorff | Victoria Firmo-Fontan | Paul A. Stokes.
You have furthermore access to an Introduction to our work, to our Mission Statement , to our Call for Creativity and our Collection of Quotes. You can also read how our Logo came into being, at HumanDHS Logo Artistic History.
See also a short definition of humiliation, read on eliminating humiliation, on the larger sociological context within which our work is positioned, on possible futures for our planet and which future our group wishes to promote, read also on the methods we wish to use, guided by appreciative inquiry. See our intervention rationale here.
We have four agendas, the first one is to build our group as a global network and alliance (see Who We Are). The other three are our Research Agenda, our Education Agenda, and our Intervention Agenda.
Short definition of humiliation
What is humiliation?
Humiliation is when you are put down and feel hurt because you deem being put down as a violation.
Dynamics of humiliation are embedded in relationships. People and institutions inflict humiliation on those who are at the receiving end. Dynamics of humiliation entail actors who inflict acts of humiliation, and receivers, who feel feelings of humiliation. It is important to note, however, that humiliation is not always inflicted intentionally. Sometimes, feelings of humiliation emerge as a result of misunderstandings, more so, they may even emerge when people wish to help and do not realize that their help humiliates the recipients.
Humiliation entails core aspects that are universal and other aspects that are specific to cultural and personal peculiarities. What is universal is that humiliation always is related to feeling "put down" and perceiving this as an illegitimate assault. What is different is that in various contexts being put down is defined and experienced in a variety of ways.
In collectivist contexts of honor, for example, humiliation is defined and experienced in ways that often contrast the ways humiliation is defined and experienced in contexts that emphasize the dignity of the individual. So-called honor killings may serve as a stark example: when it occurs, in contexts that emphasize the honor of the group, such killings are perceived as a compelling duty so as to repair humiliated honor. In contexts that emphasize the individual's dignity, the same strategy is regarded as a violation of human rights, humiliating the human dignity of all involved. In both contexts, its representatives perceive it as profoundly humiliating to be criticized by the other side who is regarded as arrogant and self-righteous.
Wishing to respect cultural diversity is thus an endeavor that easily finds itself in a minefield of ubiquitous feelings of humiliation. Even the use of the example of so-called honor killings in this text, is responded to with rage by some of our friends, for example from Palestine, who feel that we mean to arrogantly stigmatize non-Western culture as backward. (Our response is that we all "own" the plethora of cultural practices used on this planet, and that so-called honor killings are as much "our" culture as any other practice. We do not condone the setting up of cultural realms against each other, on the contrary, we believe that we all carry a joint responsibility for the entire globe.)
Apartheid can serve as an example for institutional humiliation. Though designed as a hierarchical system of "higher" and "lesser" beings that initially was regarded as representing a "natural" or "divine order," with the rise of human rights ideals, it was increasingly regarded as a system of institutionalized humiliation.
Feelings of humiliation may result in apathy and depression, or in humiliated fury (Helen Lewis) that nurtures either violence – from domestic violence to large-scale atrocities, such as genocide or terrorism, instigated by extremist humiliation-entrepreneurs who keep cycles of humiliation in motion – or it may lead to constructive social change, promoted by moderate Gandhis and Mandelas, whose aim is to change humiliating systems without using humiliation as a tool.
In social contexts where it is regarded as "natural order" to have "higher" and "lesser" beings, "lesser" people are often routinely put down so as to "teach them lessons" and "remind" them of their due lowly place. Not seldom, underlings have internalized this arrangement and react with subservient "humbleness." In such contexts, typically only elites invoke the notion of humiliation when put down; they defend humiliated honor with duel-like responses.
This setup changes dramatically as soon as human rights ideals enter the hearts and minds of people. Underlings no longer humbly accept their lowly position. on the contrary, they invoke the notion of humiliation and demand being regarded as equal in dignity with elites who now are asked to descend from arrogating superiority. As soon as human rights begin to permeate social and psychological codes, applying old techniques of putting down people in order to "teach them where they belong" easily has counterproductive consequences. It does not anymore guarantee humble underlings, be they subservient wives, subordinate employees, or second-class citizens who "know their place," but may render enraged adversaries who reject being put down as humiliating. And since feelings of humiliation carry the potential of leading to grave consequences, Lindner calls them the "nuclear bomb of the emotions," the results may range from breakdown of social relations to terrorism.
What is our vision?
We live in transition times between an unsustainable present and a vision – still foggy – of a more constructive future. Ray and Anderson (2000) describe three scenarios for the future: 1. Falling apart, 2. the highly adaptive world, and 3. muddling our way to transformation.
We, the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team, are part of a new cultural movement that envisages contributing to the second vision of a future. We hypothesize that the people of this world are indeed capable of cooperating for a better future, that they can solve all the problems that need to be solved, yet, only if we take into account, and avoid, dynamics of humiliation. Nothing hampers and destroys cooperation as effectively as dynamics of humiliation. Particularly therefore, we believe, it is crucial to learn more about the phenomenon of humiliation so as to be able to avoid its negative consequences.
What are the roots of violence, war, genocide, or terrorism? Is it scarcity of resources and the struggle for survival that lead to atrocities? Does poverty create violence? Or is human nature inherently aggressive? New research suggests that increasingly the dynamics of humiliation may figure as "missing link" in the search for root causes, a phenomenon that is gaining ground in tact with growing global interdependence. Today, humankind moves closer together in a place that we call "global village" and people more often than before ask a crucial question: "Do you respect me and my cultural background, or do you look down on me and treat me in humiliating ways?" The consequences of a negative evaluation of the outcome of this question can be tremendous.
We, the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team, are committed to reducing - and ultimately help eliminating - destructive disrespect and humiliation all over the world. We work in three areas (research, education, and intervention) and at all levels (macro, meso, and micro levels), inspired by universal values such as humility, mutual respect, caring and compassion, and a sense of shared planetary rights and responsibilities. We generate interdisciplinary research (both intra- and interculturally) and disseminate information aimed at enhancing awareness of human dignity. We also apply creative educational methods and strategies, and devise pilot projects and advise on public policy planning.
Why are we needed?
Violence, war, and terrorism are pressing problems. Humankind's task is to work for a sustainable future for the "global village," not only ecologically but also socially. Learning peaceful cooperation, particularly in the face of conflict, is at the core of social sustainability.
However, people's ability to cooperate constructively is easily hampered by dynamics of humiliation. History books suggest that Germany was humiliated after World War I and that this led to World War II. This is one of many examples that support our premise that humiliation carries the potential to lead to violence, war and genocide. The example illustrates the urgency of attending to the phenomenon of humiliation – not only academically but also in the field of social intervention. However, humiliation has not been an explicit topic for academic research, neither for public policy planning. Our team is among the handful of insightful individuals, who have started throwing light on the phenomenon and the dynamics of humiliation.
What is particularly useful about our approach?
The Marshall Plan embedded Germany as respected member within the European family and, instead of war, Germany promoted peace. If it is true that humiliation can lead to war, while respect may further peace, then the trappings of humiliation have to be understood and prevented from occurring, while respect has to be emphasized and cultivated.
Conflict zones at macro as well as micro levels – be it divorce cases at the family level or the predicament of Northern Ireland or the Middle East – often demonstrate that the solutions, from a contractual point of view, are quite clear. For outsiders the problems often seem trivial. What is failing is the ability of the players to implement the solutions that are on the table, as rational as they may seem. The involved parties smart of wounds; and especially wounds inflicted by humiliation seem to create emotional rifts that are extremely difficult to bridge. Promoting respect and preventing humiliation therefore seems crucial.
What is innovative about our work?
So far, the phenomenon of humiliation has not received much attention. Until recently, humiliation was not even an academic term, let alone a topic taken seriously in public policy planning. The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team is among the first to highlight humiliation. Human rights ideals of equal human dignity - dignity that ought not be humiliated - are at the core of this innovative focus.
The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team aims at inviting scholars and practitioners from around the world to contribute to this new perspective. Since it is new, more innovative research has to be carried out, research which then can be fed into innovative public policy strategies and innovative intervention projects. We aim to be a driving force and a platform not only for such research and education, but also for innovative public policy planning and pilot projects that carry the concept of respect for equal human dignity into society.
What are the desired long term outcomes of our work?
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies wish to contribute to building decency, globally and locally. Avishai Margalit wrote The Decent Society (1996), where he stipulates that it is not sufficient to aim at just society. Decent society has to be built, society that is characterized by institutions that embody respect instead of humiliation.
Our team thinks that decency and humility are crucial for long term sustainability (both socially and ecologically). We want to promote a decent "global village" based on human rights ideals, where everybody, irrespective of gender, color, ethnicity, religion or ability, experiences respect for equal dignity. Yet, human rights ideals are relatively new; it was long regarded to be "nature's order" that higher beings dominated lesser beings. We live in times of a human rights revolution which will take many generations to gain more ground. We wish to contribute with research, education, and intervention on micro, meso, and macro levels; research is designed to feed into practice and the other way round. None can exist without the other.
How will we measure the impact of our work?
If we take the example of the peacekeeping, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies could introduce training programs for soldiers so as to train them how to treat people with respect. The effect of such an intervention could be evaluated; one of our group members, Linda Hartling, has developed an instrument for measuring humiliation.
However, the ultimate eradication of humiliation would only be achieved by viable and sustainable peace, when conflicts no longer are addressed by violence but by constructive cooperation and decent institutions. In conflict regions such as the Middle East good solutions exist; however, the players' ability to implement them seems to be failing. Experiences of humiliation often incapacitate people's ability to cooperate. Therefore, addressing, healing and preventing dynamics of humiliation could open new channels for cooperation. This could be measured in tact with the proceeding peace process.
What makes us particularly qualified?
Evelin Lindner is the initiator of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. Her life has evolved as a "project" designed to address the "never again" that emerged after the World Wars of the last century. Her studies and work have always had as central goal to contribute to building a global human community where people live in constructive relations with each other and with their natural environment. In order to express global citizenship in her own life, she is living globally, continuously spending time with people in different parts of the world and cultures, being at home on the planet and not in any specific place. Her identity of being a global citizen is thus not merely abstract, but deeply lived. Her global goals now converge in developing Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies as a field and a team.
The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team includes scholars and practitioners characterized by a particular sensitivity to humility and respect for shared humanity and equal dignity. The "Mandela way" out of humiliation requires great personal maturity. It is not easy to refrain from the "Hitler way" of lashing out with violence against perceived humiliation. The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies team is formed by individuals of great personal maturity, with a profound ability to tame not least their own aggressions and channel them constructively. The team members are aware of human weaknesses such as wanting to deny own shortcomings instead of working with them, or wishing to scapegoat others instead of facing difficult work.
Our team aims at embodying a model of the organization of the future, where mature and grown-up people create flat hierarchies and develop new forms of communication. Often, organizations who engage in protesting against social ills tear themselves apart with the same aggression that they develop against their "enemies." We attempt to live what we preach and entertain respect for equal human dignity among us and towards those we deal with. We do not wish to peddle images of "us" versus "enemies," but work for new communication styles of inclusive decency, among ourselves and with others. See Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2002). Healing the cycles of humiliation: How to attend to the emotional aspects of "unsolvable" conflicts and the use of "humiliation entrepreneurship". In Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 8 (2), 125-139.
What are our experiences so far with providing our services?
Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies aim at promoting equal dignity, decency, moderation and humility, instead of acts and structures of humiliation. We aim at humbling abusers of power, however, without humiliating them, and empowering underlings without instigating violence.
There is a "Mandela way" out of humiliation and a "Hitler way." We are committed to promoting the "Mandela way." This commitment has two outcomes. Firstly, it furthers constructive social change without violence since it helps people to go beyond urges of lashing out in violence against perceived injustice and humiliation. However, secondly, it brings us in opposition to extremists who wish to divide the world in "friends" and "enemies" and who do not accept moderates like us working for an inclusive "global village" where all human beings can live decent lives. Thus, our experience so far shows that the way to decency, peace, and justice is made difficult by extremists, or fervent "humiliation-entrepreneurs."
What major challenges and obstacles do we anticipate to our work?
Engaging in moderation, humility, and respect for equal human dignity is deeply challenging. It requires the maturity of a Mandela. It is easier to respond to humiliation with violent humiliation-for-humiliation in Hitler-like ways or by waging terror. It is not only easier; it also is an age-old tradition. Traditionally, societies were characterized by hierarchical structures, with strong-men [indeed, mostly men] often inflicting humiliating domination onto underlings.
Modern cooperative teams, in contrast, aim at creatively navigating a globally interdependent information society. This requires far superior communication skills, personal maturity, and a decent global village based on human rights as backdrop. Outdated are such divisive habits as propping up "us" against "them" and polarizing "friends" against "enemies." Yet, moderate peacemakers risk being affronted or even killed by extremists. Extremist Hutus killed moderate Hutus, not only Tutsis, and peacemakers such as Gandhi, Anwar Sadat or Yitzchak Rabin were assassinated by their own extremists.
We want to work for a cause, and avoid old narrowness
We want to avoid the protest-orientation and narrowness of many movements in the past. We wish to work more for a new future and less against old structures, and we wish to build bridges to widen our approach. Ray and Anderson address against/for orientations in their book Cultural Creatives (2000): "The old political movement pattern that was evident in the 1960s was built around opposition and conflict. Some observers will talk about protest movements as if what defines a movement is what it's against. In almost every social movement, you knew who you were by what you were opposed to, or what you hated, and you knew who your friends and allies were, too. Gradually, the basis of collective identity has shifted from protest to a positive agenda and a vision of the future. It took a decade or two for the antiwar movement to redefine itself as a peace movement, and for the women's movement to outgrow blaming, even hating, men and decide what it was for....” (Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 2000, page 210).
Ray and Anderson also address old narrowness: "... like the three Bigs government, corporations, and media many of the politically based social movements themselves are still caught in narrow, specialized viewpoints. Many still operate as if they were mom-and-pop stores selling just to their own neighborhood: cultivating a constituency, honing issues they can call their own, and emphasizing how unique they are in their fund-raising letters and other publications. They do this in part because each organization tends to believe that it is in competition with all the others for a limited supply of volunteers, funds, and even media coverage.
Some activists seem content just to protest and stop there, without going on to do economic analyses or conduct a political negotiation. Yet Cultural Creatives say that protest is not enough, that new institutions need to be built to uproot problems before they start, and that they won't support groups unless they have positive agendas for the future.
Finally, a movement may overemphasize what it opposes because a number of activists still believe that political protest in what really counts in changing society. They are convinced that the real purpose of the movement lies in its media-bedecked and hard-won political accomplishments. They overlook the power of the great currents of change set in motion by the movement's cultural arm" (Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World . New York , NY : Three Rivers Press, 2000, page 229).
We want to develop new methods
"The way it's done by experts" might be counterproductive for promoting the goals of groups such as HumanDHS. Old methods do not work for new goals and values. People being addressed with slick advertising in direct mail may lose interest in the contents of such advertising. "The genuine connection, the sense of being recognized as a member of a shared community, is lost" (Ray and Anderson, 2000, p. 234).
The word humiliation is used in numerous ways and we need to differentiate which kinds of humiliation we may want or need to eliminate.
Feelings of humiliation
Clearly, feelings of humiliation, or the human capacity to feel humiliated, cannot be eliminated, nor should it.
Acts of humiliation
Those acts of humiliation that are committed accidentally, will clearly never be eliminated. However, many other acts of humiliation could in fact be avoided. Raising awareness of the destructiveness of acts of humiliation, for example, could diminish the likelilhood for acts of humiliation being inflicted. What currently seems to be lacking, in particular, is an awareness for the fact that humiliating people more often than not proves to be counterproductive, rendering angry enemies instead of humble friends.
The use of the word eliminate is probably most suitable in the realm of instutionalized humiliation. If we think of eliminating humiliation, Apartheid is perhaps the most striking example, together with all Apartheid-like institutions. Even though such institutions cannot be "eliminated" over night, nevertheless, elininating them must remain the goal.
Palestinians reacted with rage, for example, when Lindner reflected on how humiliating experiences at checkpoints could be diminished. They raged: "If you think in terms of diminishing humiliation, you have not understood anything! You merely will legitimize checkpoints and prolong their existence! You have to eliminate humiliating institutions, eliminate completely! Not just diminish!"
Avishai Margalit wrote a book entitled The Decent Society (1996), in which he calls for institutions that do not anymore humiliate citizens.
Evelin Lindner, June 2004
For more detailed reflections, see Lindner (2004), as well as Francisco Gomes de Matos (2004) and Elisabeth E. Scheper (2004)
A call for creativity
by Trevor Ballance, Josai International University, Japan, July 2004
Pause for a moment to consider this: what, do you think, would "dignity," "humility" and "equality"* look like?
Perhaps you can imagine these concepts in, say, a visual or an aural sense. So how would you represent them in an everyday object or a daily activity? And how would you integrate dignity, humility and equality into an activity with other people where they would be part of the process as well as being contained in the creation itself?
Weaving these abstract ideas into our daily lives and the lives of others is crucial if we are to reduce conflict in the world and develop peaceable societies. If we can create simple yet elegant ways of representing "dignity," "humility" and "egality" through objects that we use and activities that we do, we can illustrate the relevance of these vital concepts in the everyday existence of all people.
So here is a challenge we'd like to put to you. The challenge is a Call for Creativity.
In this Call for Creativity we'd like you create something that reflects the essence of dignity, humility and egality. In a Call for Creativity we'd like to celebrate, with you, the wonderful inventiveness of the human mind and marvel at the remarkable diversity of human culture. The ideas, for example, of "World Clothes for Equal Dignity" and the complementary "World Furniture," "World Architecture," "World Design," "World Art" and "World Music" may provide your starting point, but you don't have to stop there. A Call for Creativity might include photography, photomontage, dance, delicious recipes from your kitchen, handbags, hats, children's toys…
In truth, there are no boundaries to our Call for Creativity.
Let's explore one idea. In Asia, for example, patchwork is an increasingly popular leisure activity. Exhibitions of beautiful patchwork quilts in Japan and the Korean peninsula bear witness to the dedication and commitment of the growing number of skillful patchwork artists. But there are important cultural differences. Japanese cotton and silk materials are often based on seasonal flowers and kimono patterns with soft pastel colors whereas in Korea , linen is also used and materials are in plain and deep primal colors. If you were a patchwork artist (or even someone who does patchwork as a form of relaxation) how would you combine these different aspects in a mutual appreciation of both cultures? Japan and South Korea have a history of enmity so what better way to reduce the sense of humiliation that people from both countries sometimes feel, than by celebrating the nations' positive aspects through a patchwork creation.
A Call for Creativity is open to everyone. Are you a student? You might choose to adapt a project you have been working on with your classmates. Are you a community organizer? The people in the community you work with may surprise you with their imagination. Are you a homemaker? Then in your busy daily life there may be an activity that you could turn into something special. Are you a teacher? Then your students will flood you with ideas that you can help them to organize and bring to fruition.
The negative effects of globalization are many, but in reaction to the powerful forces that threaten the lives of so many people we can see how groups are turning this shrinking world to their advantage. People are mobilizing with the aim of taking back control of their own lives, joining with others in solidarity in which distance is no barrier. And through this newfound participation, victims of poverty are beginning to find their dignity through mutually supporting relationships and a sharing of cultures.
A Call for Creativity is an opportunity for you to contribute to the reduction of conflict by sharing your symbols of these ideas and your stories behind them. We'd like to feature your creations on our site because we believe that your response to our Call for Creativity will confirm the potential that humankind has to find ways of achieving dignity, humility and egality.
* We have a long discussion on the term "equality" and often use the word "equal dignity" or "egality" in order to avoid saying that equality means that we all should become the same, which seems to be a current misunderstanding. See, for example, the entry in our News Entry entitled "Equality and Egality, Egalization and Globalization, by Dakshinamoorthi Raja Ganesan and Lindner."
Evelin Gerda Lindner, M.D., Ph.D. (Dr. med.), Ph.D. (Dr. psychol.)
Life & Work
I was born May 13, 1954
, into a family that is deeply scarred by the two World Wars, particularly World War II. The trauma that engulfs my family in many ways represents a never-ending "normality." I believe, at least in hindsight, that this suffering gave my life its direction. "Never again" was to become central for my life. Already as a schoolgirl, I was interested in the world's cultures and languages and I eventually learned to familiarize myself with around 12 languages, among them the key languages of the world. My aim was to become part of other cultures, not only "visit" "them." I wanted to develop a gut feeling for how people in different cultures define life and death, conflict and peace, love and hate, and how they look at "others."
When I finished school, I studied for ten years, first psychology and then medicine. I used both studies for my own anthropological explorations. I studied and worked in New Zealand, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Israel, West Africa, USA, Germany, and Norway, as a student of psychology and medicine. I graduated in psychology in 1978, and in medicine in 1984, both from Hamburg University in Germany (later I gained my doctorate in medicine in 1994 from Hamburg University, and my doctorate in psychology from Oslo University, Norway, in 2001).
From 1984-1987, I was a clinical psychologist and psychological counselor at the American University in Cairo, and from 1987-1991, I had my own private practice in Cairo. I offered clinical psychology and counseling in English, French, German, Norwegian, and, after some years, also in Egyptian-Arabic. My clients came from diverse cultural backgrounds, many from the expatriate community in Cairo, such as Americans, Europeans, Scandinavians, Palestinians, and citizens of other African countries, as well as from the local community, both Western-oriented, and traditionally-oriented Egyptians. Part of my work was "culture-counseling," meaning that foreign companies working in Egypt asked me for my support in understanding Egyptian culture, Arab culture, and Islam. My doctoral thesis in medicine (1994) systematized this quest and addressed the topic of quality of life in a comparative manner: I asked how the notion of a "good life" is being defined in Egypt and in Germany.
In 1991, I found myself again in Europe. Perplexed by the lack of a sense of global responsibility in Germany, I founded the NGO Better Global Understanding in 1993 in Hamburg, Germany, and organized a festival with 20 000 participants under the motto "Global Responsibility". In 1994, I stood as candidate for the European Parliament, again with the wish to further global understanding.
The more than 25 years of learning how to be a global citizen were no easy years. Particularly my failed attempts to integrate having a family were extremely hurtful and exhausting. Yet, more so, renouncing old yearnings and beliefs, building a global identity and making the planet my home, not only theoretically, but also in practice, was hard. It is like building a ship while at sea.
However, there is a growing number of people today, who, like me, are developing a global or at least multi-local identity and become citizens of the world. I feel that I have learned valuable lessons on the way that are relevant not least for scientific inquiry. I have learned that human beings share deep commonalities and are thus perhaps much less divided and different than is often assumed by those who are residents in one country and "visit" "others" as tourists, for business, diplomacy, or fieldwork. As long as one "visits" "others," or lives in expatriate ghettos, one stays "outside".
I grew up in a social environment that entertained the notion that cultural differences are basically unbridgeable. In the United States, in contrast, a belief reigns that everybody essentially is similar, or, more precisely, that everybody is more or less "American" (Gary Weaver, Tokyo, The 2005 Aoyama Symposium on International Communication). It is important to note that I, when I speak about similarities, do not entertain this particular definition of similarity.
Over the years my intuition grew that basically all human beings yearn for recognition and respect, and that the withdrawal or denial of recognition and respect, experienced as humiliation, may be the strongest force that creates rifts between people and breaks down relationships. Thus, I believe that the desire for recognition unites us human beings, that it is universal and can serve as a platform for contact and cooperation. I suggest that many of the rifts that we can observe stem from a related universal phenomenon, namely the humiliation that is felt when recognition and respect is lacking. I do not believe that ethnic, religious, or cultural differences create rifts by themselves; on the contrary, diversity can be a source of mutual enrichment – however, diversity is enriching only as long as it is embedded within relationships that are characterized by respect. It is when respect and recognition are failing, that those who feel victimized are prone to highlight differences in order to "justify" rifts that were caused, not by these differences, but by something else, namely by humiliation.
I began developing this intuition already when I started working as a clinical psychologist in Germany (1980-1984) with individuals and families. My experience indicated that humiliation is of crucial importance in human relations – both as act and experience – and that cycles of humiliation may permeate people's lives with an all-consuming intensity. Vogel & Lazare (1990) illustrate this point in "The Unforgivable Humiliation – a Dilemma in Couples Treatment". Later, particularly during my time in Egypt, I understood how relevant these dynamics are also at the group level, or even at the macro-level, between nations or whole world regions. The example of the Treaties of Versailles, humiliating Germany after World War I, is but one example, perhaps among the most known ones.
During the years, I increasingly felt that the severity of rifts caused by humiliation call for research. I started designing a research project on humiliation in 1995/6, and conducted it at the University of Oslo, beginning in 1997, and concluding in 2001 with a doctoral dissertation in social psychology. The research project was entitled The Feeling of Being Humiliated: A Central Theme in Armed Conflicts. A Study of the Role of Humiliation in Somalia, and Rwanda/Burundi, Between the Warring Parties, and in Relation to Third Intervening Parties. In the main phase of the four years of research I carried out 216 qualitative interviews, addressing Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi and their history of genocidal killings. From 1998 to 1999, the interviews were carried out in Africa (in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, in Kigali and other places in Rwanda, in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, in Nairobi in Kenya, and in Cairo in Egypt), and from 1997 to 2001 also in Europe (in Norway, Germany, Switzerland, France, and in Belgium).
The initial research questions were: What is experienced as humiliation? What happens when people feel humiliated? When is humiliation established as a feeling? What does humiliation lead to? Which experiences of justice, honor, dignity, respect and self-respect are connected with the feeling of being humiliated? How is humiliation perceived and responded to in different cultures? What role does humiliation play in aggression? What can be done to overcome the violent effects of humiliation? Where can I observe cases of humiliation? If humiliation played a role after World War I for Germany, is humiliation just as relevant in more recent cases of war and genocide, such as Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, and so on? Is humiliation also relevant for relationships at even higher macro-levels, for example between "civilizations" or cultural regions such as was described by Samuel P. Huntington (1996)?
Since 2001, I have concentrated on building a psychology and theory of humiliation (please see background reflections by Lindner, 2004, as short summary, short table, executive summary, and longer paper) and have through this work in many ways contributed to a new multidisciplinary subfield in the academic landscape. I see humiliation as entry point into broader analysis and not as "single interest scholarship." The psychology and theory of humiliation addresses humiliation in the political realm, but not only. Humiliation, these are the insights, permeates also the inner workings of organizations and corporations, as well as our private lives and even every person's inner dialogue and how we frame our selves. The dynamics of humiliation affect all levels, from relations between nations to relationships between spouses and their children to my rapport with myself.
In 2001, I met Morton Deutsch, whose work I had admired for years, and was deeply touched by the invitation that he, together with Andrea Bartoli, Peter Coleman, and Betty Reardon, extended to me as to anchor an institute or center or global network for humiliation studies at the Columbia University Conflict Resolution Network (which had been founded by, among others, SIPA, ICCCR, and the Peace Education Program).
Initially, we developed a long list of tentative names for our institute or center or global network, such as Global Network of Humiliation Studies, International Humiliation Studies, or Humiliation Watch. We finally homed in on Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies. I am since working on writing book/s and articles, and building our network and programme. The aim is to not only invite academicians to contribute to this network. Practitioners may want to devise projects that address effects of humiliation. Furthermore, the corporate sector is welcome. Business activities may be attached to the academic program. The aim is to forge a network that knits together academia and practice in innovative ways and helps prevent and avoid cycles of humiliation and instead promote equal dignity.
Please see lectures and media appearances on FRIDA (Database of University of Oslo, Norway), search for Etternavn: Lindner, Fornavn: Evelin
Pictures by Evelin Frerk, http://www.evelinfrerk.de/
These pictures have elicited mixed reactions and year-long discussions. Some find that these pictures distract people from HumandDHS's vision and mission, and furthermore diminish my academic and professional credibility. These people recommend that the pictures ought to be taken off this site immediately.
Others adamently ask for having these pictures remain, saying that esthetics are part, or ought to be part, of the notion of dignity. These people point out that I am indeed not only an academician, but also an artistical person and that my appearance expresses a novel proud and autonomous style of esthetics, beyond average categories (see also the World Clothes for Equal Dignity project or the World Design for Equal Dignity project). They deplore that women, at least in some social contexts, are forced into a dichotomoy of choices; either the cute and rather "dumb" "toy," defined and "decorated" by others, or the woman who is respected for her intelligence and agency, however, who has to "prove" this by some degree of "ugliness."
If asked what I think, I have mixed reactions. I do not like to promote myself for the sake of just myself, and thus I would like to take these pictures off. If I had created the website myself in the first place, I would not have placed these pictures here. Later I learned how to maintain this website and started doing it myself. At that point, I indeed wanted to take the pictures off. Yet, I met clear opposition. As a compromise, I took off some pictures - those that I felt were too private - and I left those you see.
My personal aim is indeed to go beyond mainstream categories of esthetics, or "maleness" and "femaleness," and influence the notion of what is regarded as "serious" and what not. I am a highly esthetic person, who feels that both, men and women, currently under use their potential for creating personal esthetics beyond average patterns. I would like to encourage people, with my example, to take the notion of personal dignity seriously and develop an esthetical approach to self that expresses individual personality in more creative and taylor-made ways than "fashion" can achieve. This is an option that is open for anybody and that can be achieved even with a minimum of resources.
Tetrasociology: Sphere Society beyond Wars, Poverty and Humiliation. A Way toward Harmonious Peace and Equal Dignity for all.
The mission and basic directions of the work that has been laid out above are at the core of the remarkable and unique international organization "Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies" (HumanDHS). It unites hundreds researchers and practitioners from all over the world. The basic purpose of this organization consists in the call for respect for equal dignity for all people, together with a call for the discontinuation of humiliating practices and the protection of all human rights. This organization began to grow in 2001 under the initiative of “the global citizen” and social scientist, with two Ph.D.s (in medicine and psychology), Evelin Lindner, who has devoted her life to developing this organization. Humanism, aspiration to equal dignity for all human beings, discontinuation of humiliation and a new theoretical and practical approach make this organization unique among social movements of the new century. HumanDHS focuses on the struggle for positive goals, for equal dignity for all, instead of on struggle against people or concepts. HumanDHS is very close in spirit to our Website “A New Culture of Peace from Harmony" (NCPH).
Between our organizations we have much in common. The analysis and the comparison of our missions reveal the following basic general purposes.
Our organizations both want to work not against but for, for harmonious peace and for equal dignity for all, which represents both sides of the same medal: there cannot be a harmonious peace without equal dignity for all and vice versa.
Our organizations both aspire to interrupt cycles, on the one hand the cycles of wars, terror and poverty, by the establishment of a social harmony order, and on the other hand the cycles of humiliation of human dignity by promoting respect for equal dignity for all. Either cycles, or processes, mutually reproduce and strengthen each other. Wars, terror and poverty represent the lowest of humiliation, with humiliation being the "nuclear bomb of the emotions" (Evelin Lindner) for the continuation of wars, terror and poverty. Humiliation is their internal, psychological source and emotional driving force. The social and emotional characteristics of humiliation are investigated in the innovative “psychological theory of humiliation,” which Evelin Lindner develops. (Please look at the HumanDHS’ Website for the list of her numerous works devoted to this theory.)
There are many more common humanistic and ideological qualities of our organizations and websites, which the attentive reader can find out by comparing their missions. What we have in common is onE GENERAL PURPOSE of human dignity and harmony. What is different is that we approach this purpose from different angles and by different ways and methodologies. These different ways do not exclude each other; on the contrary, they supplement and strengthen each other. They are consonant with each other and it is therefore that our organizations are interested in cooperation and mutual support. We feel that we can only gain from our cooperation and friendship. Our diverging approaches will be mutually fruitful and effective for harmonious peace, for equal dignity and for overcoming of humiliation. These purposes are the two sides of one medal.
Between us we have different visions as to how to approach our general purpose. HumanDHS suggests that the basic way of movement to equal dignity and overcoming of humiliation is “research, education, and intervention on public policy” so as to increase awareness that subsequently can fertilize changes, including political change. NCPH sees the basic way in self-identification and self-organizing of such social forces as sphere classes of population. What we call “sphere classes” are established by new democratic political-legal institutions, creating a new order of social harmony, representing a return to initial human harmony. This order can be established only in the advanced information society which we label as “sphere society.” only this order can ensure a new, harmonious peace preventing wars, terror and poverty. Therefore only such a “sphere society” can diminish the weight of social humiliation. one could argue that the second way is more fundamental and includes first, or vice versa.
I think a humiliation can only be excluded from society by also excluding war, terror, poverty, injustice, corruption and other social illnesses, which mutually reproduce and strengthen each other. War entails and leads to humiliation, and humiliation may lead war, and so forth. For the discontinuation of humiliating practices and other social evils “research, education and direct interventions” is the seed to mobilize actors (classes) and set in motion deep processes. To prevent social illness / evil, including social humiliation, and create public immunity from them, to my point of view, we need “sphere society” to be created by the “sphere classes” (harmonious by nature) by means of the “sphere democracy state.” This society and its democratic state will be constructed on a priority not of money and property, but of children and social groups. Mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, teachers, doctors and other caregivers represent 50 to 80 percent of the population in different countries. The idea of a “sphere society” and “sphere classes” of the population has been developed by the author in his “new sociological theory,” which has received the name “Tetrasociology.” For more details, please look at the mission text of our website, at the books in its section “Tetrasociology,” at the reviews of these books by Martha Ross DeWitt on page 2-5, and also at tetrasociological abstracts on the site pages 7-4, 7-8, 7-15 and 7-18.
Tetrasociology concludes that the desirable future form of society is "sphere society." "Sphere society" is equivalent to a mature global information society, which has overcome the basic defects of industrial society, and which will be a genuine "decent" society, in which all human rights are embodied. "Sphere society" differs from a capitalist one in that it is build not on the priority of one sphere of society only - the economic sphere - and not on the priority of private property and its monetary expression only. "Sphere society" is built on harmony, meaning equal priority, balance and proportionality of all “social spheres” and "sphere classes," as well as harmony between different patterns of ownership. The political tool for maintaining such social harmony is the "sphere state" created on the basis of an equal division of power between "sphere classes" (their equal representation in all branches of power). "Sphere state" and appropriate "sphere democracy" provide social harmony through equality of priorities for all spheres, their classes and patterns of ownership in "sphere society." Information technology is the major catalyst for "sphere society," which, according to our view, will emerge in sufficient strength in 30-50 years. Currently, in our century, we see two supporting forces for the forming of "sphere society," namely advanced information technology and new ways of "sphere" organization of production and its management (governance).
The idea of a “sphere society” is a model, which, in my opinion, supplements the HumanDHS’ ideas. This model finds in an information society the social actors and effective ways capable to prevent humiliation and other social illnesses, including war, terrorism and poverty.
Therefore ways and means of each of our organizations not only supplement each other but also qualitatively strengthen the positions of each other. All this creates a platform for strategic, long-term cooperation and mutual support of our international organizations and our innovative theories for the comm