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Etiology of Racism in Europe
The Monograph on Racism briefly goes through various reports prepared by international organizations on the contemporary forms of racism. It tries to define racism, racial discrimination and racial prejudice as well as ethnicity and ethnocentrism. It dwells on individual and group psychologies in order to understand the underlying mechanisms which may lead to racism in times of acute stress.
We shall attempt in this study to examine the causes of racism in Europe in a historical perspective As Encyclopaedia Britannica (Macropaedia V.15, pp. 359-366) points out and we summarize in the following paragraphs, not only is racism a recent phenomenon in history and the exception rather than the rule as compared to the universal nature of ethnocentrism, it also seems to occur in some parts of the world and not in other.
The evidence that the Indian caste system is racial in origin and that India is or was a racist society is unconvincing. The basic caste dichotomy between “once-born” and “twice-born” was probably related to the cultural distinction between Aryan conquerors and Oravidian conquered. The latter were probably darker skinned than the former, but it is not established that this physical distinction was the socially significant one.
The Bible contains no positive suggestion that the ancient Semites were racists. The same is true of the Qur’an and the Islamic tradition. Even the devastation brought about by the Arab slave trade in East Africa in the middle of the 19th century does not appear to have been rationalized on racial terms as European slavery was.
Despite narcissistic canons of physical beauty and highly ethnocentric judgments of other cultures East Asian civilizations (Chinese, Japanese etc) do not exhibit what might properly be called racism.
There are a few documented cases of indigenous systems of racism not attributable to contact with Western societies. The most notable one is the racism between Tutti and Hutu in Rwanda and Burundi.
Far and away the most widespread, enduring, and virulent form of racism and the costliest in terms of human suffering has been that which developed in Western Europe and its colonial extensions in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Western Hemisphere. Western racism is of relatively recent origin. In ancient Greece and Rome, the status criteria were cultural and not racial. Slavery was a juridical and economic condition unrelated to racial and ethnic origin. There is no evidence that the blacks who had reached Rome were regarded as inherently inferior.
In the Middle Ages, the religious criterion of membership in the ingroup became paramount. Anti-Semitism was clearly religious and not racial and continued so through the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Wars of Religion.
The Spanish conquest of the New World was more than averagely brutal, and the economic exploitation was thorough. Today, racism, though not totally absent in Spanish America, is’ certainly much less prevalent than in other parts of the continent. Cultural criteria are far more important than physical ones in most of Spanish America even in the heavily Indian countries.
Generally the Portuguese claim that its colonialism in Africa has been nonracial is correct, at least by comparison with the British, Belgian and Dutch. This is not to say that the Portuguese regime in Africa has been any less oppressive and exploitative than the regimes of the other colonial powers, but whereas the latter have frequently applied racial test of discrimination, the Portuguese have been ethnocentric rather than racist.
In Brazil, race relations are quite complex and vary greatly from one region to another. Brazil might be described as a highly racially conscious country but without a well-defined forms of racial discrimination. Such discrimination as exists is usually a subtle combination of racial, ethnic, and social-class factors, with race frequently not the most important one.
The French, like the Portuguese and Spaniards, tended to be more ethnocentric than racist in their colonial policy. It should be noted, however, that in Algeria, the French exhibited considerable racism vis-à-vis the Arabs. The Netherlands and Great Britain were responsible for the growth of the most racist colonial societies that the world has ever known—namely, South Africa, the United States, and Australia.
The anti-Semitic wave that swept Germany in the 1930’s ended in the Holocaust the most heinous manifestation of racism in human history. Although Nazi anti-Semitism grew out of a long tradition of religious intolerance in Europe, Hitler’s theory of the master race gave it a hitherto unknown genocidal virulence.
Religion has also been shown to be related to the amount of prejudice and discrimination. There is an undeniable difference between the more racially tolerant Catholic countries of Europe and their colonial extensions and the more racist Protestant countries. The Catholic Church has frequently taken a more universalistic position and rejected racism, whereas many Protestant denominations, especially the more fundamentalistic and puritanical ones, have often interpreted the Scriptures in a racist fashion.
En view of the above, one could understand the rationale underlying the geographic focus on “North America and Europe” in the resolutions of the Sub-Commission and “developed countries” in the final resolution of the Commission. Consequently, we have to explain in this monograph how and why racism has developed in a specific part of the world where a brilliant civilization has been created. This question becomes all the more relevant in view of the fact that neo-racist manifestations resurfaced almost half a century after the immense sufferings of the 2nd World War and the Holocaust.
At first sight, there seems no reason in Europe for deep frustration, regression and projection such as wars, economic depression, political instability or crisis of security. Indeed, Europe is enjoying one o the longest periods of peace and prosperity in its turbulent history. The economic integration process has already reached an advance stage. Having achieved the Customs Union and the Single Market, EC is heading for the establishment of a common monetary unit, the last phase of an economic union. Europe is already the largest and strongest economic and commercial power in the world. Unemployment is relatively high, but social security and welfare network is quite effective. In the economic field, Europe has high hopes and great ambitions, and justifiably so.
Steps towards political union follow the economic integration with a reasonable time-lag. In addition to goods, services and capital, European citizens circulate freely in the EC rendering borders increasingly porous. Even it the physical borders of the countries remain, as a result of the political union, psychological borders will further fade and eventually disappear. It is true, the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty which envisages political and defense integration has encountered difficulties. But, the slowdown could prove to be only temporary.
Internally, Europe is a remarkable success story. The European balance of power system which led to two suicidal wars in less than half a century seems to be eliminated for good. Historical enmities, fears and suspicions between European nation-states, especially between France and Germany are forgotten, making room for intensive cooperation.
Considering the upheaval created by the unification of Germany roughly a century ago, the reunification of Germany this time has had almost no perceptible effect in and out of Europe.
Externally, Western Europe has won the greatest victory of all times without tiring a shot in the air. The strongest totalitarian state of history crumbled within, removing by itself the lethal threat it represented for Europe. Newly independent States turned into clients emulating European-Western values in terms of political democracy, respect for human rights and free market economy.
Under the circumstances, one expected that Europe should slowly savour the victory. But the resurging racism spoiled the bliss. It also shook the confidence in humanity’s future. Were there a potential danger of racism even in these conditions, we could never enjoy any respite in human affairs.
We should perhaps study more closely the undercurrents of this situation in order to comprehend the incomprehensible and make it intelligible so as to restore a measure of certainty and determinism to life.
The number of foreigners is on the constant increase in Europe. Migration and racism suggest that there is a special correlation between these two phenomena. This would imply that, even if migration does not inevitably produce racism, the former at least contributes to the latter, as the anti-migrant nature of the present racism indicates clearly. (1) European racism is a phenomenon speeded up by the European construction which is in turn sustained by a certain ideal of Europe. The most obscure question is whether “to define Europe” necessitates “to define Europeans”. This question is essential for the analysis of the institutional and ideological aspects of racism. Europe is a historic problem without a pre-determined solution. Migration and racism constitute elements of this problem.
Europe will be not a closed entity (like a federal state or multi-national empire), but an open gathering where various economic-cultural groups encounter. This externally open gathering will not be less closed by some internal borders which are invisible, but impossible to abolish. Not only will political borders of the states exist, but also social borders based on the division of labor between different populations. Migrants from the South and the East will have different status for economic and ideological reasons. Hence a European melting-pot or an unstable hierarchical complex of ethno-social groups is emerging.
Europe will be the place where political problems of the world will be reflected. Among all European nations, Germany will be the one which will face the crisis of the nation-state in the most acute form. Not only because the reconstituting of one nation out of the populations of RFA and RDA is an uncertain enterprise, but also because the Germany of tomorrow, short of an impossible blocking of immigration, will represent in a condensed form almost all ethnic and social conflicts and tensions of the surrounding world. Under these circumstances, the national (and nationalist) tradition of Germany which has been forgotten or ostensibly forgotten resurfaces as the determinant factor of European history(2).
Racism we face is not a variant of the old forms of racism. But it is a new configuration which reflects the characteristics of the social structures and relations of power of the contemporary Europe. For this racism three factors came together:
– existence of a tradition (of racism) or collective memory, partly conscious, partly unconscious, marked by traumatic incidents, impregnated with the history of the culture and institutions, periodically reactivated by historical events which testify to its persistence ;
– existence of a discriminatory social structure, not stable, but fulfilling the necessary functions of economic power structure and at least partially embodied in the organization of the State ;
– finally an institutional crisis involving the State and its ideological foundations, the individual and the institutions, affecting his or her identity, which is deeply disturbed, bringing about an intellectual and moral insecurity at the level of masses.
First of all, we shall look into the situation in which the “tradition” (of racism) has taken root in Europe.
Evolution of European Identity and RacismAlthough nationalism dates back to the middle of the 18th century and at least one hundred years earlier than racism, the evolution of the nation-state had started much before. Nation-state was born to history in Europe. To understand nation-state may help us solve the riddle of racism. Emotional investment of raw and primordial character in the land which the nation inhabited has increased enormously in the course of European history. This has gone hand in hand with the inception and development of private ownership. As a result, the diffused borders of ancient empires have turned into the present day frontiers, which are well-defined and rigidly honored. It is clear that the emotional meaning of one’s country’s borders, unconsciously, is fused with that of one’s own boundaries (3). In other words, State borders which are much better defined in nation-states are unconsciously identified with the boundaries of the individual and the group. This, in turn, contributed to building a more distinct and stronger individual and national identity than had ever been possible in the earlier species of States. European integration which aims at a political union threatens on unconscious plane the psychologically overwhelmingly invested State borders. Emotions released as a result of disinvestment from State borders strengthen national group identity in a compensatory manner, leading some groups to extreme forms of nationalism and even racism.
The individual in the sense of individualism was also born – or after the Classical Greece reborn – to history in Europe. The evolution of the nation—state cannot be dissociated from the evolution of the individual. The individual gradually acquired rights and freedoms which protected him from the arbitrary acts and actions of the political authority. This development helped the evolution of the civil society. Eventually, the people made up of individuals destroyed the mythical and mystical foundations of the political power, increased their participation in and finally took over the governance of their countries. Thus, they became citizens in the constitutional sense. They secularized the religious ethic and morals, legislated laws, designating right and wrong, good and bad for themselves.
As a result of this process, a new type of individual and group identity was created in Europe. This identity enjoyed much greater freedom of choice and action, and much better protected against the political authority. European individuals and nations became stronger, more productive and more creative actors of history.
But this identity is not more secure and stable. On the contrary, it is quite possible that European individual feels more insecure, despite, perhaps precisely because of, all these gains. Historical memory bears the scars of extraordinary violence of the struggle involved in building this individual and group identity. Its creation required a more cohesive, even homogenized cultural (including religious) environment. It took revolutions to establish democracy and respect for human rights. Promotion of economic rights, especially right of ownership of land, acquiescing in the enormous inequalities in wealth and income distribution called for painful adjustments in value scales, especially in religious ones. Coupled with the expanding role of the human intellect at the expense of the faith, these developments reduced the legitimizing, sanctioning and redeeming power of the religion.
The main characteristic of this process of identity-building (and identity maintenance) was and is the generation of much greater unwanted and un-integrated self- and object representations, because of regression in times of stress and crises which were not infrequent. Therefore, projection, displacement and externalization mechanisms have overdeveloped as a means of restoring homeostasis or reducing anxiety in the European psyche.
The ethnic groups which for one reason or another did not partake of the same process and tailed to create similar identity structures were unconsciously perceived as potential dangers to this identity-building process. The presence of these ethnic groups in the midst of European societies apparently reminded them by way of example of the fatal dangers of failure in identity-building. This is also true of today’s European societies. Guest workers, refugees, and asylum seekers who immigrate in these societies do not have the same or similar identities as Europeans. This difference engenders anxiety in European individual.
Nevertheless, the presence of other ethnic groups in Europe which are different from the identity-building point of view, served and is still serving – or perhaps put to use by – European societies as suitable targets of externalization onto which they project their unwanted parts. This enhances the stability and security of the European identity.
Ethnic, religious and minority groups, dominated by Europeans in Europe or in other parts of the world during colonization failed to resist massive projections sustained for long periods and gave in by introjecting them. Once overloaded with European’s unwanted parts, their identity structures broke down and self-hatred installed (4). Naturally, they craved for a stronger identity, that of the European. They were converted to Christianity. Or they simply apostatized. They rejected their own identities. They wanted to merge into the dominant society. They emulated all the values of the Europeans etc.
The denial by the target groups of their own identity and their aspiring to the European identity brought about, not what was sought for, but catastrophe. The return of the projected material to the European was felt as psychological annihilation of his identity. The European had then two options, in the depth of the crisis, either to expel or to exterminate the target group.
As a result, homogenizing forces in Europe have over centuries created within well—delineated territories (homelands, fatherlands or motherlands) religiously, culturally, socially and politically cohesive societies.
Western Jews were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1394 and from Spain in 1492. It is true, the Jews were not considered as a race, but as a religious community. Nevertheless, psychological mechanisms at work in Spain for almost two centuries which eventually ended up in expelling the Jews offered many similarities with the later patterns of racism. Massive projections onto Jews have been operated in times of particular stress such as wars, famines, epidemics etc. Jews have been beaten, killed and compelled to live in segregated quarters. Forced conversions have been frequently resorted to. Once converted, however, their problem has worsened. The unwanted parts of the Christian, which had been projected onto the Jew, came back through the Jew’s conversion (boomerang effect). Then the Inquisition was established to judge whether the conversion of the Jew was genuine or not, i.e. whether he carried the unwanted parts of the Christian in which case ‘he was subjected to torture in order to exorcise him of “his” evil parts. Eventually, the expulsion eliminated for good the boomerang effect of conversions which had become a vital threat to the identity of the Christian.
Jews even after conversion were not allowed to hold public offices on the basis of “limpieza de sangre” (purity of blood), which foreshadowed one of the most important aspects of racism.
The Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1502 and Moriscos (converts to Christianity from Islam) in 1609. Thus, “reconquista” of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims was achieved.
The Church as the main homogenizing force in Europe dealt effectively with heresies. After having eliminated Arianism, Crusades were organized as of 1208 to eradicate the Cathars in Southern France. The Crusades to the Holy places which had been launched in 1097 and lasted two centuries created “us and them” in Europe. Ottoman advances in the Balkans and European responses imprinted on the identity of Europeans through chosen glories and traumas the differentiation between “Christian Europe” and the Muslim encroachment. Crusades served as an occasion for vast stereotyping against Muslims, Arabs and Turks whose effects are still perceptible.
We think it is a valid question whether the same homogenizing forces are at work once again, this time, against the followers of another monotheist religion, namely Muslim migrant workers in Europe.
Religion and Racism
Racism developed in Western Europe and its colonial extensions in Africa, Asia, Australia and Northern America. Since in all these parts of the world, Christianity was the predominant religion, it would be interesting to look into this very important aspect of the culture to see whether it had anything to do with racism.
In the Holy Book, doctrine and liturgy of Christianity there is no trace of racism. On the contrary, racism is an anathema to a religion based on a profound love of God and on love between human beings. Indeed, from the religious point of view, it is an enigma that racism has developed in Christian societies.
To Mr. Turgut Özal, the late President of Turkey, the Jewish problem is the key for understanding the role of religions in racism. In his book “Turkey in Europe”, he says “it is of the utmost importance that we understand objectively the roots of the Jewish problem for the salvation of a world which is being rapidly westernized.
“The Christian perceives himself in the image of God. Historically, this identification with God through Christ crucified for the sins of mankind requires an exceptionally strict ethic which renders it very difficult to house in the soul some vital natural instincts and impulses together with God. Is it because of the need to tackle the evil which is embodied in everything negated by this ethic that Jewry, together with other groups, was unconsciously used as a target of projection, and hence subjected to segregation, inquisition, and genocide? Let me point out in this context that Islam, on the other hand, sanctities natural instincts provided that their activities be regulated and their abuse prohibited. Historically this aspect of Islam has been sarcastically criticized. Nevertheless, Muslims had little need for a projection mechanism.
“One may say that the Holocaust took place at a time when the grip of religion on natural instincts has been greatly relaxed following the vast secularizing effects of the Enlightenment. This is obviously true. But there might be two connected processes here.
Firstly, despite the tact that the religion which in the beginning determined the ethics lost ground, ethical behavior patterns mostly survived, although they have been emptied of religious content. Paralleling this social process, the individual felt, on a psychological level, unconscious guilt more deeply the more he moved away from ethical premises in his behavior. In other words, cultural continuity provided the inner need for sanctions in case of breach despite apparent rationalization of the ethics. The only way out was the culturally well-established projection mechanism.
“During the era of the Enlightenment, which is characterized together with Christianity as the basis of Western civilization, the outburst of reason did not only destroy the irrational elements in the religion, but partly the religion itself. Deism, even atheism, as by-products implied a return to pre-Christian conditions with an emphasis on Mother Nature. Is it because of this excessive “desacralization” that the sacrificial cycle of primitive religion has been revived (this time not only for lower-class heretics such as “witches” who had already been subjected to inquisition, but for intellectual elites also) as a result of which hostility was generated towards target groups in the form of persecution and ultimately genocide along with the increase in wars between nation states?
“I do not defend the superiority of one civilization over another. All I try to do is to point out the social cost involved in what is called progress.” (5)
Considering that Western Europe roughly comprises a Latin Mediterranean and another north-western mostly “Germanic” parts (in historical sense), one should perhaps look for an answer why the latter was more apt to racism despite the tact that both parts have undergone the same or similar individual and national identity-building processes.
Le Monde of 26 December 1992, in its editorial column refers to the racist and xenophobiac wave of the last autumn in Germany, questions whether these were only a fit of high fever without a future. It says that “although many wished to believe it, the reality was less innocent, Demonstrations, no matter how spectacular and impressive, did not lead to calling into question the relations with… “the other” which remains fixed in the soul, These demonstrations rather reflected in this country impregnated with Lutheranism, the need of public redemption of a nation which feels sinful,”
It is beyond the scope of this monograph to expound the relationship between Protestantism and the increased feelings of sin. It would perhaps be enough to point out the concepts of strict ethic, “call” and predestination as main characteristics of this creed.
“Combined with the harsh doctrines of the absolute transcendentality of God and the corruption of everything pertaining to the flesh (in Protestantism), the inner isolation of the individual contains, .. the entirety negative attitude.. to all the sensuous and emotional elements in culture and in religion.. “(6) (T]he Catholic ethic (on the other hand) was an ethic of intentions. Quite realistically the (Catholic) Church recognized that man was not an absolutely clearly defined unity to be judged one way or the other, but that his moral Ute was normally subject to conflicting motives and his action contradictory. ’Of course, it required as an ideal a change of life in principle. But it weakened just this requirement by “the sacrament of absolution..”(7) The (Catholic) priest dispensed atonement, hope of grace, certainty of forgiveness and thereby granted release from that tremendous tension to which the Calvinist was doomed… The God of Calvinism demanded of his believers not single good works, but a life of good works.. There was no place for the very human Catholic cycle of sin, repentance, atonement, release, followed by renewed sin.” (8)
One should study whether the extreme requirements of Protestantism which were humanly almost impossible to fulfill increased the feeling of sin and the need to externalize it onto suitable targets both inside and outside the society.
Another topic of investigation could be the relationship between the strict Protestant (and Calvinist) ethic and the intrusive modes of childrearing including especially excessive cleaning, deliberate and systematic corporal or psychological punishment (as against hitting with rage) and breaking the will of the pupil in education etc.
North-Western European societies are usually extremely orderly, clean and well-regulated. This can be partly explained with the needs of modern technology, public or personal hygiene, aesthetic requirements of architecture and city-planning or safety and security of traffic etc. Nevertheless, compulsive traits of this kind of orderliness do not escape the notice. An American novelist who lived in Germany for 13 years writes in an article about three “insignificant” personal incidents to point out the potential danger. He concludes, “if Germans get this orderly, even, more anal than usual, it’s time to worry. When they start into their orderly mode, watch out, because what is first or foremost not in order are all these foreigners, and when Germans start looking for the causes of their societal problems, the scapegoats have the unfortunate fate of turning into lamp shades and medical experiments.” (9)
Compulsive attitudes of excessive orderliness and perfectionism have little to do with the reasonable and logical requirements of order. Compulsive people feel bound to comply with the “rules” under the censure of primitive super-ego, and hate those who are “disorderly”, “dirty”, “untidy” etc. Moreover, compulsive character is rigid, intolerant and conventional, especially in face of relaxed, casual, carefree and unconformable foreigners. (10)
Development of Nationalism, Ethnocentrism and Racism in Germany
Are there other particular causes of racism in Germany? “(In West German society) the trend-setters and go-getters … scrambled after the war to leave behind their German identity. People so Europeanized themselves as to become quite unrecognizable as traditional home-spun Germans.
“Call it a case of almost self-hatred, engendered by the chilling realization of what had been perpetrated in Germany’s name under Hitler’s rule. With freedom handed back to a numbed populace, escape from “Germanness” and the affectations of a culture of “World Citizens” seemed to many the most tempting route to redemption from the past.
“The bills for so much self-alienation are now falling due. Suddenly, Germans are looking at themselves and wondering once more about their identity.” (11)
The denial and rejection of national identity can never be without cost. A universal identity cannot substitute for the national one. A universal identity can make sense only if it is supplementary to a well-founded national identity. En the post-Second World War era, Germany became a fully democratic country and buried the Nazi identity in history. Powerful human rights circles in the country have taken on the task to defend respect for human rights in the world. Most probably, these circles split oft this undesirable past from their identity and project onto those who are supposed to commit human rights violations in other countries.
With new generations and especially with the reunification, German people might have felt the need to reconstruct the German identity, this time on the basis of democracy and respect for human rights. The search for a new German identity was bound to draw on the historical experience of German nationalism which had been culturally handed down by one generation to another. Therefore, one should look into the history of German nationalism in order to see whether it has “anything to do with neo-racism.
British and French forms of nationalism grew from pre-existing bureaucratic structures (States). For “Germany” on the eve of the French Revolution, the over three hundred and fifty separate petty sovereignties which then comprised the nearly defunct Holy Roman Empire prevented any “natural growth” of the idea of nationalism.
In the Napoleonic Wars, the Germans were “humiliated” by the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806), and the later defeat of Prussia (1807). (13) Historians have long known that the conversion of the intellectuals, from European cosmopolitanism or parochial particularism to nationalism, clustered around the years, 1805-7, a time in which Germany was being assaulted by French arms. It had happened before, sometimes with disastrous consequences, as in the Thirty Years War, but the assaults had never resulted in the actual political death of the Holy German Empire. Although the First Reich was, in reality, more fiction than fact, on unconscious levels it symbolized permanence, stability and immortality: it had, after all, been in existence … for a thousand years. Although the German nationalists did not give much conscious allegiance to it, its dissolution could only have been understood as a death episode. The ardour with which the studies in Old German were pursued helped overcome the spiritual depression. Because the nationalists identified with Prussia, her reduction in size after the “humiliating” defeat of Jena, was experienced as amputations: “By the Peace of Tilsit”, wrote Jahn, “Prussia lost some of her limbs.” (14) The struggle for Germany was an oedipal -and sibling-conflict on a monumental scale, “(M)other Germany had been “penetrated” by the French (who) were understood, partly consciously, partly unconsciously, as Teutonic brothers. The French were “the other branches of the race” wrote Fichte. The French were the hated sibling-rivals who had by violence and military occupation achieved fusion with and sexual possession of the German “mother” …”
Such oedipal fantasies – and primitive splitting of maternal images into “good” and “bad” self objects are reflected in the extraordinary preoccupation of the German nationalists with the theme of purity. As Arndt wrote:
The Germany are not bastardized by alien peoples, they have not become mongers. They have preserved their original purity ‘more than many other people. . . Tacitus saw … how important was for the future greatness and majesty of the German people that they were pure and resembled only themselves, that they were not mongrels.
Fichte believed that the nation should exist “without admixture of or corruption by, any alien element”, and he spoke repeatedly of an “original German stock”. (15).
The fact that the idea of a German nation was an artificially constructed is suggested by many factors, not the least of which was the extraordinary energies devoted to proving it had an objective reality. One way was to insist that the nation was an organic entity. It was not the product of reasoned choice, history, social contract, or rational constitution making, but … was imagined to be a natural, organic body pre-existent in nature, “What binds all members into a whole” wrote Görres, “is the law of nature which takes precedence before all artificial contracts.” Fichte wrote “People and fatherland … tar transcend the State” which was dead anyway in the politico-legal person of the Holy Roman Empire.
The title of Arndt’s 1813 poem “Where is the German Fatherland?” reflects not simply a rhetorical device used for poetic impact, but an anxiety-producing contusion. Reflective of the insecurity Arndt felt in identifying with a “nation” which had no political reality was his taking twice as much space to tell his audience where the German fatherland isn’t, as he took in telling them where it is. (16)
The uncertain existence of the German nation meant that Germandom had to be defined in negative terms by projecting onto the French all the negative qualities the Germans despised in themselves. They prepared long-lists of the negative qualities of all Frenchmen, so that the Germans might vent their rage against a split-oft part of themselves, a feared and despised external object. The French were : “Incapable of eternal ideas, of deep enthusiasm, of blissful ecstasy and human longing, for which they even lack words ; making fun of the holiest and highest of mankind (presumably the Germans) for the sake of wittiness”: Apparently the Germanic virtues – most of which – . . . were emotional – were the opposite of these negative French characteristics
Because the nation was not yet a political unit, since it was transcendent, organic, and defined in negative terms, and because it was, therefore, an artificially constructed (entity) … the only way the nationalist could actually be certain of its existence was to feel it, (17)
The only concrete example ever offered by the German nationalists to prove the existence of the German nation is the German language.., as the bearer and proof of Germanic kultur.(18)
German nationalists were interested in language … because of the clear connection it had to their own childhoods. The obvious equation is: maternal group fantasy of the German nation the German mother tongue mother. As Jahn wrote in 1807: “Every man has a mother; a mother tongue is enough for him. Mother love is the first translator of speech; the mother tongue is the open door to the heart, memory and reason.” Modern psychology has demonstrated how profoundly language mastery among children, ages 2 to 4, is contingent upon an intimate, loving interchange between mother and child, The German nationalists’ obsession with language, with German as the only Ursprache (original language) left in Europe, was an effort to recapture a maternal intimacy earlier experienced. For the original German nationalists – and perhaps for all nationalists – the issue is always an issue of a particular kind-maternal love. (19)
Whenever individuals in groups experience high stress levels, either in fantasy or in reality, the individuals tend to regress to very early levels of childhood ideation. The German nationalists in the Napoleonic period were involved in nothing less than a regressive fusion with the preoedipal mother. (20) We know that, in fantasy, groups are often understood as mothers. When the Germans set out to createa fantasy about their own group (nation), they were, in effect, creating a fantasy which, by definition, would be maternal. Since belonging to, and merging with, maternal groups can be tremendously anxiety producing (because they are, in part, experiences that awaken incest tears), the German nationalists defended against them by euphemistically labeling “mother” Germany
“the fatherland”. (21) .
Because of the particular conditions, such as the absence of a unified state structure and clear-cut borders, German nationalism put overwhelming emphasis on nation, not as a politically objective reality, but as “natural”, “organic body” “pre-existent in nature” and “subject to laws of nature”. This definition of nation based mainly on biological concepts was already very close to racism. As a result, purity of the race and the original or unadulterated character of the German language became rallying points of nationalism. Now, the question is whether the foreigners, not only with their different manners and ways of life, but also with their creole German are disturbing the obsessive and perfectionist purity of German language.
Germany achieved unification roughly halt a century after the emergence of German nationalism. Having defeated the Austria Hungarian Empire and France it became the dominant power in Europe at the Berlin Conference of 1878.
It is beyond the scope of this study to speculate as to whether the particular brand of German nationalism led to the 1st World War. The enormous stress created by the war and post-war conditions helped the Nazi regime to come to power. This regime displayed the most malignant forms of racism which culminated into the Holocaust.
Unlike during the Napoleonic wars, Germany was not invaded by the allied countries at the end of the 1st World War. Nevertheless, the conditions of the Versailles Treaty were not only humiliating, but also not conducive to a recovery from the post war problems. War debts caused a hyper-inflation. The Great Crash had its adverse impact on the economy, Unemployment rose. Ideological polarization and political instability ensued.
The depressive mood created by the trauma of the defeat seemed primarily responsible for the rise of Nazism. Contrary to the situation following the Napoleonic wars, at this time the defeated Germany was a major power in Europe with a unitary state structure and a large “fatherland” with well-established borders. Its fledgling ethnocentrism of the early nationalist era had become the main bastion of the Bismarkian Germany. Therefore, the defeat of the First World War was a free tall from the very heights of this ethnocentrism. The regression was equally profound.
Analysis of Racist Theories
Some other factors had contributed to the depth of regression as well.
The 19th century was swayed by racist theories. German nationalism with conceptual roots of biological nature must have been particularly vulnerable to these theories. Therefore, the response of Germany to the trauma of the 1st World War was in the form of a deep regression from an overgrown ethnocentrism down to the level of a nationalism which had been largely impregnated with racist theories.
In his “The Aryan Myth”, Leon Poliakov presents us with the very serious problem created by the scientism of the 17th and 18th century, In their efforts to apply newly discovered empirical methods to the human world, scientists and thinkers made heroic and dangerous generalizations on the basis of such discrete morphological and physiological facts as skin color, shape of the skull, and so forth. In such a manner, Poliakov says, was a rudimentary racism sewn into the very fabric of that scientific revolution which so many have seen as being a primary characteristic of the Enlightenment. The generalizations which were made at this time served, as a rule, to place European man at the very pinnacle of human grandeur and achievement. So-called “lesser breeds”, such as Negroes and Jews, tended more and more to be viewed not as being merely somehow different from the Europeans, but rather, as being virtually separate species…. The overall effect of this was, as Poliakov points out, to strip man of his divinity. From the so—called “Age of Reason” on, man was, for many, part of the natural world, a fact to be studied, classified and, on occasion, controlled and condemned, much as nature acts to deal with species too grossly ineffectual or too unfit to survive.(22)
The Mosaic Law had emphasized the fundamental distinction between man, as having been made in the image of God, and all other forms of life on earth. . . Somewhat crude “science” of the Enlightenment had begun a process by virtue of which man came to be seen as not in any way divine, but rather as a peculiarly hairless ape, gratuitously endowed with a trifle more gray matter than his arboreal relatives. (23)
The particular Mythus of race was itself a product of that reaction to the astringent world of reasoned scientism referred to as Romanticism. Romanticism’s world was one of visions, some of them nightmarish to be sure, but a world to be tapped by intuition, imagination and emotion. With illusions damaged or destroyed, men sought refuge from the harsh light of reason in the comforting twilight of feeling and imagination… Despite their rebellion against reason, the romantics generally did not seek to restore a lost dignity to mankind as a whole… (T)he assumption was that each people had something of this quality in it,. .With Fichte and such devotees of lost Aryan India as Schlegel, the romantic dream… became directed towards that hoary search for origins. The dream of return, part of a dangerous longing for the maternal, according to Poliakov, eventually assumed the form of a search for racial origins. An extremely unfortunate tendency to confuse language with racial groups was responsible for the concretization of the Aryan Myth. (24)
“(T)his scientific racism, while a rebellion against the Judeo Christian tradition, contained those elements necessary for the establishment of a new religion, the religion of nature,.. While it is true that, between 1850 and the First World War, these phenomena were well-represented throughout the Western World, it is also true that they were more heavily represented in Germany.. The National Socialists were the inheritors of this legacy and the religion of nature informed the thought and actions of Hitler, and the others in the movement. Nazi ideologist persistently claimed that their movement was rooted in health—giving “principles of nature”, and thus adherence to it and to its purposes put one in conformity with natural laws. The Judeo-Christian tradition, was being replaced by a new religiosity, one in which a putatively biological approach had been fused with mysticism. The actions of “natural men”-actions undertaken in conformity with so-called “laws of life”., would be self-justifying, and pernicious and soulless representatives of the Mosaic Code could be exterminated without a qualm, since, after all, these subcreatures existed at the very lowest level of existence. It was thus that Himmler could declare that the “struggle” with the Jews was a “natural one”.. The new “life-course” (Lebensweg) proffered by the National Socialist Weltanschauung posited an organic approach in which magic-infused mystery and the natural world had been brought together in inviolable synthesis. (25)
Poliakov in the Aryan Myth offers an explanation for the tendency to attempt to identify man with nature. Psychoanalysis, he says, describes the source of this “dream” as follows:
It (psychoanalysis) relates that dream to the urge to recover the euphoria which characterizes the most archaic state before individuation- the stage of “primitive narcissism”, when as we are told by those who investigate these obscure beginnings, human beings feel that they are at one with the surrounding universe, and each individual feels himself to be organically the Whole as though he were god in a pan theistic sense. Thus the childish paradise of total happiness is in the final analysis that of the preconscious life in the womb, before the ‘fall’ into the world. (26)
If an in-group regresses in the face of extraordinary stress to such primitive level as complete maternal fusion, everything in daily life, every adult activity, be it sexual or not, engenderspervasive feelings of guilt. They have to split off and project all parts of self- and object representations, which are unconsciously linked with the sense of guilt and punishment, onto the outgroup. The purpose of this projection is to create an extreme cohesion in the ingroup that a maternal fusion requires. For if it is impure, maternal fusion becomes extremely dangerous. So long as the ingroup remains at such primitive level of regression, the process of projection has to be very active. When the outgroup is overloaded with the unwanted parts of the ingroup, the symbiosis between the ingroup and outgroup becomes dangerously complete. Psychologically speaking, the outgroup becomes identical with the ingroup. Then the ingroup has two alternatives: to expel or to exterminate the outgroup in order to save itself from the feelings of guilt or sin.
Self-denial of the Target Group and Racism
Another aspect of the problem is the attitude of the outgroup towards the projections of the ingroup.
It is interesting to note that the emergence of racism in Europe was coincided with or followed the emancipation of Jews in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Having been profoundly frustrated with the long discrimination and persecution, emancipated Jews tended in great numbers to dejudaize in the prevailing atmosphere of the Enlightenment and to get assimilated into European societies.
The striving middle-class Jews had tried to prove that they were not “little”, “ghetto” Eastern European Jews, made out as abasive, constricted, uncivil, uncultured, alien, grandiosely and egocentrically given to magical—religious.. The secular Jew, craving assimilation, tended to repudiate in considerable measure his/her Jewish identity and heritage. Thus, with Jewish identity maimed the secular Jew had little inner protection from the noxious psychic implants injected by way of threat and deriding definitions of Jews coming from the host society.(27)
Until their emancipation in Western and Central Europe during the eighteenth century, Jews were in groups that were assigned by the larger society a corporate character with obligations, rights, economic functions, and many restraints. With emancipation, individuation and self-actualization became dizzying possibilities… Excited by “the impossible abundance of the new” (Kafka, 1920); governed by ambition, a drive for self-fulfillment, and a gritty determination to reach the apparently newly available goals ; exulting that their unique talents were giving rise to one of those rare cultural flowerings of history; attempting to dissociate themselves from Yiddish culture -— “tearing asunder the chain of generations” Kafka remarked; having ceded their own tongue, culture, and the knowledge of their past –thus lacking the power to be in charge of their self-delineation; unsupported by their erstwhile institutions and customs –and therefore standing naked in any current crisis; often subject to terror, identification with the terrorizer, and self hatred, a psychological sequence that in turn made them know shame because of the perennial yen to convert; seeking status and an identity in the host society only to find themselves, whatever their attainments, ambivalently regarded when not disregarded; and enduring chronically the worry that sanctuary would forever elude them. In the air was the foreboding that they and their descendants would be hunted down, cankered, and killed (ct. Appelfeld, 1980). They had surrendered their past, and there was to be no future. .. In his diary Kafka comments that since the inspiration for their creativity derived from a uniquely Jewish despair, the creation could not be part of German culture because the problem was not really German. Kafka’s Metamorphosis depicted that the Jew’s own definition of himself reflected the appraisal by the host people: he was a bug, vermin, a pollutant, sub-human, an embarrassment in the host’s home. (28)
Despite some similarities between the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the Holocaust, there are some important qualitative and quantitative differences. Unlike the forced conversions in the Spain of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Jews of the XIXth and the early XXth centuries chose to merge with the Christians by themselves. By doing so, they have abandoned the last and most important bastion of their identity, the religion. The disappearance of the borders between the Jewish and the Christian identities brought back to the Christian psyche the centuries old unwanted parts which had been projected onto the Jews. The unwanted parts thus returned to the Christian must have been reprojected onto the Jews in greater volume and mass, dangerously destabilizing inter-ethnic relations which were further exacerbated in the aftermath of the First World War, and led to the Holocaust. What had happened in two centuries in Spain was condensed into two decade in Germany which tact greatly enhanced the density of the violence.
Another, perhaps, more important reason why the Holocaust was incomparably more savage was that the level of regression of the ingroup was much deeper in the second case. The discourse of the genocide was no longer religious, but biological, blood-based and nature-oriented. This layer represents in humanity’s evolution more primitive, pre-culture, even primordial phase much earlier than monotheist religions. Expulsion of Jews from Spain, on the other hand, was the result of a basically religious conflict with racist overtones.
Halt a century has elapsed since the 2nd World War. Germans, probably like all groups attaining a strong identity, form(ed) it initially in a binary, narcissistic, contempt-laden, competitive, anxiety discharging fashion marked by excessive projections and introjections in relation to another group cf. Klein, 1932, 1948; Jacobson, 1964; Friedlander, 1978; Stein, 1980). The challenge for a maturing group is to go beyond this early developmental stage, to realize that the negatively regarded outside group possesses some virtues and the native group is subject to detects ascribed to the other; in short that the two groups possess a common humanity.
Nevertheless, Germans had to confront, after the 1st World War, yet another devastating trauma in the 2nd World War which impeded this maturing process. In the aftermath of this war they regressed almost to the pre-national stage, i.e, European cosmopolitan nationalism of the early XIXth century. They repudiated their German identity in favour of a Europeanized or universal identity. This coincided with the European integration which mobilized efforts to build up a new European identity, it necessary, at the (partial) cost of national identities. At this juncture, ultra right centripetal forces emerged in Germany as in some other EC member countries. They presently strive to reinforce the German national identity. It is evident that the return of the national identity cannot be dissociated from the historical experience of nationalism which has been intimately mingled with racism. In other words, German nationalism comes back once again together with the symptoms of racism. The search for the national identity which has been repudiated because of its connection with humiliating events cannot be achieved without feeling the pains of the narcissistic wounds that these events have caused. Narcissistic wounds, in turn, trigger defensive mechanisms especially in the form of ethnocentrism. But ethnocentrism or its regressed form, i.e. racism had brought about these catastrophes in the first place, hence the reason why panicky tears of all Europeans accompany the resurgent racism.
Neo-Racism in Europe and European Integration
Since racist incidents do not occur only in Germany, but in other West European countries, albeit on smaller scale, one should look into the causes of racism in other parts of Europe which do not entirely share the same historical experience with Germany in terms of nationalism and identity-building.
Racism with reference only to the past cannot explain the causes and the structures of new racism. As we have pointed out earlier, presently, there is no visible stress generating situation. On the contrary, the EC Europe is living a prosperous and peaceful period. It has already become the largest economic and commercial entity in the’ world and is moving fairly successfully towards political union. What is causing regression and projection in Europeans is not easy to understand.
In Europe there is an institutional discrimination based on the structure of employment. Private sectors in Europe reduce the cost of labor by importing one part of manpower from peripherical regions of the world where there has been no trade union rights as’ those enjoyed by European workers for more than a century. Apparently, the EC officially maintains this differential system which constitutes “ethnicisation” of the hierarchy and the inequities in the labor force. The “subjective” counterpart of this situation is the institutionalization of racist and cultural prejudices between the dominant and the dominated segments. (29)
Migrant workers had been massively recruited and employed in certain jobs. Now they seem to have settled in Europe for good. Family reunifications have been realized. The second, in some cases, the third generation started to enter the labor market. Just at this moment, they have to face rising unemployment created by a technology which reduced the need for unskilled labor. This unemployment does not only affect the guest workers. Rapid technological change impairs the job security of all workers, and necessitates recurrent training for frequent change of profession together with all its inconveniences. The consequent competition between “national” and “foreign” workers in the manpower market also contributes to racism.
Foreign workers deprived of the protective umbrella of their own states and enjoying only restricted rights are also racially despised and treated as sub-humans. Indignation and contempt they feel induce them to embrace more closely their traditions and religion in a defensive mood. Host people naturally sense this defiant reaction and react, in turn, with increased racism. As a result, both sides engage in an escalation in their respective attitudes.
In this context, the effect on the host people of the crisis the State undergoes comes into the picture. The contemporary form of racism is not a simple relationship with the “other” based on a perverted perception of cultural or social difference. It is a relationship with the “other” mediated by the intervention of the State. Or more clearly (this is basically an unconscious dimension) it is a conflictual relationship with the State which is experienced in a deviated manner, by means of “projection” onto the other.
In this light, one can explain the slogan of “national preference” raised by the French extreme right. This preference is both a fantasy and an institution within which citizens perceive their special relationship of dependence on the State. None of us can totally escape this situation, especially it we are less privileged, discriminated against, treated as subjects by the administration, school, political machinery etc.
The State in Western Europe established a correlation between the rights of the citizen and nationality on the one hand, individual and collective social rights, on the other. As a result, only the nationals of a State enjoy full social rights. The question of what is presently the State in Europe is essential in understanding racism. The State in Europe is neither national, nor supranational, and this ambiguity is growing instead of diminishing. In the distribution of power between national States and Community institutions, it seems, there is competition. But in reality this is a process in which the State is disintegrating. Its powers and responsibilities are shrinking. It is striking that in the construction of Europe there is no real social dimension, except in rhetoric: the European State as social State is sought neither by market forces, nor by national governments.
As a result, there is the State with all its administrative practices, repressive capacity and arbitration role between interests (including between the national interests and those of the classes) while there is no State in the real sense of the word. In many respects, it looks like a situation we are used to seeing in the Third World. Thus all the conditions come together to produce a collective sentiment of identity crisis. Although one may say that individuals, especially those who are deprived and distanced from political power, fear the State, but they tear more from its disintegration and disappearance.
In the European space of today, there are individuals who are citizens and others who are subjects (without political rights). But the former are the citizens of an unexisting – or disappearing
– State while the latter cannot be maintained in a situation of “no rights”. This untenable situation which contributes to racism will last so long as the question of what the people are in Europe is not answered.
The State ‘in the psyche of the individual and the group represents both paternal and maternal characteristics. Generally speaking, the State which protects the population against foreign enemies and maintains law and order is paternal. The State that provides jobs, education and health services and ensures social security and justice is perceived as maternal. On the other hand, the individual and the group selves are identified with the State as the sovereign power representing the nation and the country. Volkan finds closer to modern psychoanalytic stand the view that the State itself represents in the long run an idealized self.(30) Therefore, the disintegration of the state, be it real or imaginary, is felt as the disintegration of the identity.
But the erosion of the State identity is a long-running process. The phenomenon of globalization in the world economy gradually reduced the efficiency of economic policy instruments of the nation-state. Parities of national currencies are floating. Interest rates can hardly be determined nationally. Halt of the world output is produced by multinational companies which make investment decisions in place of the governments. Employment in a given country is becoming increasingly dependent on the high productivity, discipline and low real wages of the labor force, for international investment prefers only the countries with such labor force. Full employment has become an obsolete objective.
Despite noises of protests against protectionist pressures or measures, tariffs of industrial goods have gone down from an average of 40 % in the 1950’s to 6% now. The volume of trade has increased annually twice as high as the output, thus becoming the engine of economic growth. Countries which have adapted their economies to trade liberalization and competition become successful. But structural adjustment required by international competition leads to the phasing out of obsolete or inefficient industries or lines of production and to massive lay-offs.
The neo-classical economic policies based on the “smaller state” and “non-interventionism” together with the reduced scope and efficiency of government economic policies are perceived by the people, especially by those who suffer unemployment and insecurity, as the gradual disappearance of the State, or rather the maternal and protective aspects of the State.
EC countries like other countries in similar situation have to face these challenges of the modern world. So, there is nothing special with this for Europe, except that European workers have to compete with foreign workers in their own countries as well. But this argument should be qualified in view of the tact that the division of labor in the manpower market is effected on ethnic lines, e.g. unskilled jobs left mostly for foreign workers.
Racism cannot be reduced to competition between national and foreign workers in times of economic stagnation and unemployment. Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain why there is no racism in other countries in similar or even worse situation. Moreover, national workers could vent their grievances against foreigners in more peaceful ways than beating, killing and burning them. Let us not forget that racist incidents are not perpetrated by workers who are supposed Co face the competition of foreigners. (31)
In the EC Europe, we have all these phenomena and something else. As we have pointed out, Europe is heading for a political union through economic integration. Integration is achieved through a process of transferring State powers and prerogatives to Brussels. As a result, the Community institutions have acquired many attributes of the State as a supranational authority. Nevertheless, Brussels has not yet become the source of the new European identity replacing the identities of the nation-states or embracing them. Allegiance of individuals is still directed towards their States. Thus a tension emerged between the center becoming depositary of State power without primary allegiance of the peoples, and nation-states being deprived of power but retaining the source of national identity.
Any integration into a broader entity presupposes a parallel disintegration into smaller entities; This is what is happening in Europe for the last. 35 years on real or imaginary plane. The importance of historical regions and the long forgotten identities of ethnic groups are on the constant rise. They claim to be the building blocks of the new European architecture. In other words, not only the state disappears in Europe, but the national unity is consciously or unconsciously perceived as disintegrating into regions and ethnic minorities.
As we have said, the disintegration of the nation-state is psychologically identified with the disintegration of the individual identity and felt as an extremely painful process. It is true that, at first sight, there is no trauma which can cause regression in European peoples and trigger projection mechanisms against outgroups. There has been no suicidal war like the First World War> nor can we talk about the disintegration of the State in the sense of the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. On the contrary, Europe is marching triumphantly towards the age-old dream of politico-economic union, becoming one of the most powerful entities in the world. Yet the process of integration-cum disintegration brings about a regression as profound as only a disastrous trauma can do.
Ultra-right parties or movements emerged as a reaction to this process and started defending the integrity and the unity of the country. These forces seemed to be more against foreigners than separatist tendencies of the ethnic groups. They regard foreigners as a real threat to their national existence. At first sight, this may look bizarre. But, in democracy, respect for human rights and freedoms may discourage attacks against ethnic groups. The hatred one feels towards disintegrating forces can be displaced onto foreigners. By asking tar their expulsion, one unconsciously aims at cleansing the ethnic groups of separatist intentions and thus restoring the lost cohesion to the country. In this respect, racism of the extreme right, but also of the majorities in EC countries, may be a response, though deflected and distorted, to the disintegration of the nation-state, by putting the blame on foreigners for spoiling the purity, it not the unity of the nation.
Racial Violence of’ the Lowest Segment of the Society
As the UN report puts it, the manifestations of xenophobia, rejection or latent conflict are the expression of an existential discontent and have spread throughout the country and into all social strata, threatening to leap across the barrier into genuine, aggressive and assertive racism at any moment. We have tried to explain above society-wide racism and its causes in Europe.
Although a noticeable number of people from the higher strata also express racist feelings about foreigners, such as “repulsive like bugs”, “littering everywhere”, “soiling our country”, racial violence in many European countries, especially in Germany, is generally manifested by the lower strata of the society. These strata consist mainly of unemployed, dropout, rejected and marginalized young people in a highly competitive and compulsive society. Apparently, in the absence of an ethnic group such as Jews who could serve as target for externalization, European peoples in general, Germans in particular, redirected some of their projections at the lowest strata of their societies.
In a country where a universal or Europeanized identity has replaced a historically crippled national identity, and the State as maternal entity (especially for this group) is disappearing, it is understandable, if not acceptable, for the lowest segment of the the State (their parents) as responsible for this situation might also be displaced onto the outgroup in a regressive racist manner. It is always easier to displace one’s anger at one’s parents onto the members of an outgroup, i.e. migrant workers. .
In this process, the racists project onto the foreigners all the accusations their compulsive societies make towards them. They say not us but foreigners are dirty, disorderly, lazy, ugly, lustful etc.. Nevertheless, by projecting these qualifications onto foreigners, they don’t try to become any cleaner, orderly, hardworking etc. They keep these negative character traits which now constitute their identity as a result of the projections onto them by the society and introjection by them. Instead, they put emphasis on racist and ultra-nationalist concepts as forces binding them to the society while maintaining their identity.
Declining Inter-European Hostility and Racism
A major objective of the European integration was to eliminate hostilities between the European nation-states which brought about suicidal wars. Franco-German enmity which played such an important part in German nationalism and in the subsequent wars seems to fade away and make room for intensive cooperation within the EC. The same development is observed in other member countries’ relations with Germany, and in the relations between themselves. It is quite possible that these historical feelings of hostility between European nations which have been gradually released by the process of European integration might be greatly displaced onto the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It is also possible that, especially after the tall of Communism, these rejected or redundant feelings of hatred might be externalized onto countries where human rights violations are committed. Perhaps, it is not a coincidence after all that most immigrants are from the latter group of countries. Hence, foreigners in Europe might be facing racism which partly draws on the displaced hostility onto their countries of origin or vice versa.
Especially after the collapse of the Soviet “enemy” which served as a stabilizing factor for the European identity by receiving projections, the unconscious need for new enemies must be deeply felt. The tall of Communism has different effects on different parts or the world. For example, the ideological terrorism in Turkey turned into ethnic terrorism as soon as the bells of doom rang for the Communist ideology in the Soviet Union. Likewise, European nations in the process of integration may now be withdrawing their hostile projections from the Soviet Union as the embodiment of the anti-national Communist ideology, and reprojecting them onto groups with growing extreme nationalism or fundamentalism, among them, Muslim ones. (33)
The Middle-East conflict has kindled for half a century profound sentiments of hostility not only between the Muslims and the Jews, but between the former and the Christian West. Terrorism resorted to by the weaker party has increased the resentment and damaged the image of the Arab in the West. Religious fundamentalism partly as a reaction to the West, partly as a response to the disappearance of the ideological alternative to the West, has further widened the gap of mutual misunderstandings.
It is a gimmick of history that at this moment the majority of the foreigners living in Europe are Muslims, followers of another monotheistic religion who replaced the Jews that had been exterminated only 50 years ago. These foreigners, moreover, concentrated in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Great-Britain, countries where there have always existed traditional forms of racism, though in varying degrees. Therefore, there is now an intensifying interaction and overlapping between the projections made onto Muslim groups in Europe and onto the Muslim fundamentalist enemy image developing with respect to their countries.
Because of these developments, migrant workers in Europe display an increasingly profound attachment to their nationalism, cultural traditions and faith. We observe that Europeans in general and Germans in particular can respond less and less emphatically to this basically regressive defense of the foreigners. Indeed, their response is becoming equally, if not more, regressive, i.e. racism. All of us have to keep in mind that assimilation of an ethnic group is an abysmal trap that Europe has fallen several times in the past. Since expulsion or extermination is out of the question in the contemporary world, the only exit is to develop empathy towards foreigners. Empathy, in turn, calls for the withdrawal of one’s projections of one’s unwanted parts and sharing the humanity of others.
(1) cf. Les frontieres de la democratie (Chapter 10), Etienne Balibar, La Decouverte, 1992 Paris p. 170.
(2) Ibid, p. 177.
(3) Enemies and Allies, Vamik Volkan, Jason Aronson Inc, 1988 Northvale, New Jersey, London, p. 128.
(4) La Hairie de Soi, Theodor Lessing, berg international, Paris, 1990.
(5) Turkey in Europe and Europe in Turkey, Turgut Özal, K. Rüstem & Brother, London, 1991, pp. 106-108.
(6) The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York 1958, p. 105.
(7) Ibid, p. 116
(8) ibid, p. 117
(9) Germany : The Descendants are Plain Dangerous, Michael Peterson, international Herald Tribune, 8 January 1993.
(10) Compulsive personalities tend to project their strongly repressed desires for dirt or rejected anality and anal aggression onto others who have no compulsive anxieties.
(11) A Storm Over Asylum, Thomas Kielinger, the European, 11 October 1991.
(12) German Nationalism, David R. Beisel, the Journal of Psychohistory, Summer, 1980, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 3.
(13) Ibid, p. 5.
(14) Ibid, p. 13.
(15) Ibid, p. 14.
(16) Ibid, p. 7.
(17) Ibid, p. 6.
(18) Ibid, p. 7.
(19) Ibid, p. 9.
(20) Ibid, p. 11.
(21) Ibid, p. 9.
(22) Psychohistory and the National Socialist Revolution in Symbolism, Robert A. Pois, The Journal of Psychohistory,. Winter 1979/80, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 309.
(23) Ibid, p. 310.
(24) Ibid, p. 312.
(25) Ibid, p. 314.
(26) Ibid, p. 315.
(27) The Late Conceptualization of the Self in Psychoanalysis: The German Language and Jewish Identity, Stanley Rosenman, The Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 1983, Vol.11, No.1, pp. 13—14.
(28) Ibid, pp. 16-17.
(29) Balibar, p. 183.
(30) Op. cit. Volkan, p. 131.
(31) It is important to distinguish racism from other conflicts. In the resolutions of the Sub-Commission, we are given to understand that racism is directed against “indigenous peoples, migrant workers, other minority and vulnerable groups”. However, if these groups involved in a conflict with majorities over political power, economic resources or land, we could not always talk about racism when we refer to the treatment given by the majority to the target group. For instance, two ethnic groups may wage an atrocious war over a territory and commit all kinds of crimes including ethnic cleansing. Mutual hatred thus generated looks very much like racial hatred. Nevertheless, in this case there is “real” reason for hatred, for mutual violence is bound to breed mutual hatred. The ideal form of racism, however, pre-supposes the “innocence” of the target group in terms of the absence of a conflict over a tangible asset with the rest of the society. In its purest form, victims even do not tight back. Their very existence or presence seems to be the only cause of racist attacks.
Although target groups do not constitute a “‘real” threat to the society, racists genuinely perceive them as threat and try to rationalize their racial hatred and related violence. Historically, Jews have been accused of committing deicide, ritual child murder, poisoning wells, etc. Presently, as in the past, members of the target group are despised as ugly, smelly, lustful, dirty, disorderly, noisy, lazy, sinister, criminal, terrorists etc… In the new forms of racism, “invasion” of foreigners and the resulting economic cost and job loss for the host country peoples are added to the list to explain racist incidents. The alleged causes of racism do not look very convincing, and normally should not justify racist violence of such disproportionate nature. In view of the tact that cause—effect relationship in racist arguments is greatly missing, pseudo—causation underlying racial hatred and violence appears one of the essential features or racism.
(32) Günter Grass : New Germany’s Mr. Gloom, International Herald Tribune, 31 December 1992 – 1 January 1993.
(33) Turkey After the Collapse of Soviet Empire Psychopolitical Observations, Abdulkadir Cevik, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Ankara Medical School, Conference paper in Charlottesville – USA on 6 August 1992.
* Retired Ambassador.
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