Book: Human Dignity in the Learning Environment
Human Dignity in the Learning Environment
Testing a Sociological Paradigm for a Diversity-Positive Milieu with School Starters
Margaret Trotta Tuomi
Second Edition 2003 (1st ed. 2001). 256p. EUR 18,50 inc VAT, about USD 17. Ordernumber T010
HUMAN DIGNITY IN THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT focuses on providing children with tools to prevent problems from starting, dealing with the problems that occur and creating a milieu conducive to learning.
A theory is presented for the realization of a just, diversity-positive environment in schools with a practical application in a two-year action research intervention with school starters. The work will be of interest to all the shareholders in the educational process: teachers, teacher trainers, parents and researchers in the areas of peace and justice education, human rights education, global education and conflict resolution.
Ordering of publications
On Global Understanding (or Misunderstanding) by Ron Kraybill
May I bring to your attention a very interesting text by Ron Kraybill has lived in South Africa and India, and served as advisor and trainer in peace processes throughout the world. He lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and teaches in the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University
My global nomad life has brought to me any of the observations that Ron is describing in his text. A large gap of mutual misperceptions seems to characterize the atmosphere in our global village. I believe, it is essential that we become aware of this gap and start doing something constructive with it.
From Disinformation and Mistrust towards Sustainable Security
From Mistrust towards Sustainable Security
How many Americans are aware that the most sophisticated tools of modern communication are being used on a daily basis in a vast program of disinformation about this country and its people that is beamed into almost every country on earth?
Each time I travel abroad I see this program at work and witness its results. “I am so grateful for this opportunity to get to know you and your family,” said a Muslim woman in India in 2000. “We thought that Americans have no values, that they are materialistic, and care only about themselves. We thought there is no commitment to children and families, that everyone lives in immorality. It is so wonderful to see that these things are not true!”
Where does this image of America come from? If someone had set out to create a powerful propaganda strategy to completely discredit America, they could have come up with nothing more effective than the garbage made in Hollywood, marketed abroad and shown daily to billions of global citizens.
Our soaps show on a daily basis in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Nairobi, Bangkok, and thousands of other cities globally. Re-selling these shows is apparently a huge source of profit for Hollywood. As Americans, we are ourselves are cheapened by the presence of these shows in our homes. But at least most of us know that neither we nor our neighbors live in glistening mansions filled with sexy people looking for their next liason.
Unfortunately people abroad do not know this about us. I was stunned when this realization first began to dawn on me living abroad many years ago. Do others really think that what they see on their TVs is in fact real life in America? Today, I am sad to report, there is no question in my mind. Over and over again, after they have had enough chance to get to know me that they feel free to speak honestly, I have had the experience of people in Africa and Asia saying, “I didn’t realize there are ordinary, decent people living in the US. I thought everyone was…..”
Hollywood’s profiteering means that to the world we are Sin City. We create and peddle, people believe, cheap and immoral sensations designed purely to arouse unseemly hungers. We are unprincipled; we indulge ourselves without thought, they believe, in our lusts.
This false picture means that whenever Americans point to high standards or claim to seek the welfare of others, we are eyed with suspicion. People have pictures before their very eyes that, they believe, show who we are and how we live. Why should they trust nice words? Our inclination to lecture others on right and wrong makes us look especially hypocritical. And our vast military network – bases in over 60 countries – and our history of violence against those who differ with us – we have dropped bombs on 23 countries since the end of World War II. – makes us look like not only an immoral but also a ruthless giant.
Can we blame Muslims, for whom sexual modesty and purity is an extremely important value, for finding it easy to consider us servants of Satan? Luckily, the vast majority of Muslims oppose violence against America and know the Koran teaches against attacks on innocent civilians. But given the picture of us that Hollywood places on the screens of our globe every day of the year, it is amazing that there is not more hatred towards us than already exists.
Most Americans seem stunned with the response of Iraquis to our occupation. Why do they not have a little patience, we wonder? Part of the answer is that, like most of the world, Iraquis have long been skeptical of American intentions. Because they wanted to be rid of Saddam, many hoped for the best when the US invaded. But because their trust was so low to begin with, it took only a few months of errors on our part to convince Iraquis that their long-standing doubts were true.
In an age of weapons portable and powerful, no military force on earth can create security for Americans as long as the majority of human beings believe we are morally corrupt and selfish. Sadly, the truth is that moral corruption and selfishness do exist within us. But at the very least, let us curb our entertainment industry in peddling wicked exaggeration to the world.
Because we are not trusted at the most basic level of our own integrity, the grim truth right now is that any military move we make that is not clearly supported by the majority of the world works against us. Not only do we look immoral, we look ruthless and unaccountable.
Eventually, we may recognize that our defense can never rest in futile efforts to destroy with violence every threat that dwells abroad. We cannot, as military personnel like to say, “chop off the head of the snake” that now threatens. When the majority distrust us, every strike, even “successful” ones, multiples our foes.
Sustainable security will come when the people of the world see that we take seriously their own daily well-being, when they believe that we truly care about the ability of their children to get good education, basic healthcare and jobs. When they truly believe this, the extremists of the world will gain no followers. They will murmur and rail against us from the margins of their communities, but the world will handicap and neutralize the mongers of hate far more effectively than our bombs and marauding Special Forces.
Ron Kraybill has lived in South Africa and India, and served as advisor and trainer in peace processes throughout the world. He lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and teaches in the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University.
The Role of Humiliation in Conflict and War, Talk by Lindner at the Maison Franco-Japonaise, June 8, 2004, 18.00
May I very kindly draw your intention to the following talk that I am giving on June 8, 18.00, at the Maison Franco-Japonaise in Tokyo.
The title is "The Role of Humiliation in Conflict and War". Please check the June-July programm on www.mfj.gr.jp.
The address in detail: Maison Franco-Japonaise, 3-9-25, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Tél. +81-3-5421-7641 / Fax + 81-3-5421-7651.
You and all your friends are warmly invited, also in the name of Françoise Sabban, Director of the Maison Franco-Japanaise.
Building Communities for Change Forum in Tokyo, June 11-13, 2004
The "Building Communities for Change" Forum will take place soon: June 11-13, 2004, in Tokyo. The forum will bring together a diverse group people interested in a number of social issues.
The forum will feature 3 panel discussions, and 9 workshops focusing on various skills and issues. Friday will also feature a nonprofit/NGO fair spotlighting a number of organizations in the Tokyo area.
The deadline is extended through the end of May and everybody is encourage to apply now.
Please see the forum outline below - but you can check out our website or contact us (email@example.com) to get more details in English or Japanese. (www.jucee.org or www.jucee.org/jp).
As usual, please feel free to pass this information on to people you know whom might be interested.
Hope to see you there!
Executive Director, JUCEE Tokyo
Building Communities for Change
JUCEE Forum in Tokyo
Date] June 11-13, 2004
[Location] National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, Tokyo (http://www.nyc.go.jp/e/index.html)
3-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0052. Tel: 03-3467-7201
Lindner Interview in Neue Züricher Zeitung
«Nichts zerstört so nachhaltig wie die Demütigung»
Für die Ärztin und Psychologin Evelin G. Lindner ist das Phänomen der Demütigung eine Quelle überaus gefährlicher politischer Triebkräfte. Deshalb sucht sie es zu erforschen
Neue Züricher Zeitung, NZZ am Sonntag, 16.05.04 Nr. 20 Seite 77,
Interview: Kathrin Meier-Rust
NZZ am Sonntag:
Jeder Mensch, der die Bilder von den nackten Gefangenen im Irak sieht, weiss, was hier vor sich geht: Hier werden Menschen absichtlich erniedrigt. Warum geschieht das?
Evelin Lindner: Demütigung gehört immer zur Folter. Sie ist nicht nur ein Instrument oder eine Verfeinerung der Folter, sondern deren eigentlicher Kern. Die Demütigung durch Nacktheit etwa kann wirksamer sein als Schläge – wir wissen das von den Folteropfern selbst
Was ist denn Demütigung eigentlich – ein Gefühl?
Demütigung ist die erzwungene Erniedrigung eines Menschen oder einer Gruppe. Das Wort bezeichnet dabei beides, den Akt oder Prozess der Demütigung und die Gefühle der Demütigung. Dasselbe Wort gilt also für den Täter und die Tat und für das
Opfer und die Gefühle des Opfers. Das ist etwas verwirrend. Bei der Scham etwa haben wir zwei Worte: die Beschämung für den Akt und die Scham für das Gefühl.
Was bewirkt Demütigung in den Menschen?
Die Menschen können, vereinfacht, in drei Formen reagieren: Das Opfer kann sich erniedrigt und also wertlos fühlen, und das kann zu Apathie oder Depression führen. Das Opfer kann aber auch aggressiv werden und zurückschlagen, möglicherweise auch wieder mit Akten von Demütigung. Das führt zu jenem verhängnisvollen Kreislauf von Demütigung, wie er etwa beim Genozid in Rwanda zu beobachten war: Hutu, die sich von den Tutsi gedemütigt fühlten, wollten weiterer Demütigung «vorbeugen», indem sie ihrerseits die Tutsi zuerst demütigten und dann umbrachten, um jede Möglichkeit erneuter Demütigung auszuschliessen. Auch im Nahen Osten ist gegenwärtig ein solcher Kreislauf von Demütigung und Rache durch Demütigung im Gange. Es gibt aber noch eine dritte Antwort auf Demütigung: Es gibt Menschen, die sich nicht herunterdrücken lassen und weder depressiv noch aggressiv reagieren, sondern beginnen, die Situation unabhängig zu definieren. Das berühmteste Beispiel hiefür ist Nelson Mandela: Er hat sich in den 27 Jahren seiner demütigenden Haft nicht zum Opfer machen lassen und damit die gesamte Situation konstruktiv verändert.
Wem gelingt das am ehesten?
Was mich oft verwundert, ist, dass gerade die Menschen, die am meisten gelitten haben, nicht zuletzt unter extremer Demütigung, oft am wenigsten Rachegefühle haben. Diejenigen, die weniger gelitten haben, sind dagegen oft sehr viel rachsüchtiger. Zuletzt habe ich das in Palästina erlebt: Viele Palästinenser, die wirklich täglich unter den Demütigungen der Besatzung leiden, waren kompromissbereit. Dagegen traf ich Studenten, die selbst direkt nicht zu leiden haben und die doch absolut hasserfüllt waren. Auch die Biografien der Attentäter vom 11.:September zeigen dieses paradoxe Phänomen. Es widerspricht jeder Intuition, aber ich sehe es immer wieder. Mir scheint, es hat etwas mit Reife zu tun: Grosses Leiden bewirkt offenbar manchmal eine grosse Reifung, weniger Leiden vermittelt die Illusion, dass Rache die Lösung bringen könnte.
Sehen Sie Demütigung nicht nur als eine Erfahrung einzelner Menschen, sondern als eine politische Triebkraft?
Ich halte Demütigung heute für die gefährlichste Triebkraft des Weltgeschehens, und ich sehe darin das grösste Hindernis für den Frieden. Deshalb geht es mir darum, dieses Phänomen als ein transdisziplinäres Forschungsgebiet zu etablieren und in einer internationalen Forschergruppe zu verankern. Neben Forschung und Lehre will unsere Gruppe auch Projekte entwickeln, die das Paradigma der Würde für alle Menschen in die Gesellschaft hineintragen.
Wie sind Sie als Medizinerin und Psychologin darauf gekommen, sich dem Phänomen der Demütigung zu widmen?
Zum einen komme ich aus einer Familie, die sehr unter dem Zweiten Weltkrieg gelitten hat. Ich wollte immer etwas zum «Never Again» beitragen. Und die deutsche Geschichte seit Versailles zeigt ja, wie Demütigung direkt in Krieg und Genozid führen kann: Hitler verstand es, die Gefühle einer Bevölkerung in einem grossen Narrativ nationaler Demütigung zu bündeln. Dasselbe hat auch Milosevic getan oder die Hutu-Elite, die den Völkermord in Rwanda organisierte. Dazu kam, dass ich als Psychotherapeutin erlebte, dass es fast nichts gibt, das Beziehungen so nachhaltig zerstört wie Demütigung. Als ich 1996 begann, mich mit dem Thema näher zu befassen, fand ich, dass es sehr wenig Literatur zu diesem Phänomen gab. Demütigung galt meist als eine Variation von Scham, ein etablierter Begriff in der Psychologie. Doch es handelt sich meiner Ansicht nach um ein eigenständiges Phänomen, das man getrennt analysieren muss, auch wenn es verbunden ist mit Scham, Schande oder Trauma.
Warum hat die Forschung wohl dieses Phänomen übersehen?
Dafür gibt es zwei Gründe. Zum einen sprengt der Begriff alle Fachgebiete und akademischen Grenzen: Man müsste Anthropologe, Historiker, Soziologe und Psychologe gleichzeitig sein – mit diesem unerfüllbaren Anspruch kämpfe ich täglich. Vor allem aber ist das Phänomen der Demütigung früher viel weniger wahrgenommen worden. Die Wahrnehmung von Demütigung ist sehr stark mit der Idee der Menschenrechte verbunden, die seit ungefähr zweihundert Jahren langsam an Gewicht gewinnt: Die Idee der gleichen Würde für alle Menschen verleiht der Demütigung ein Gewicht und eine Relevanz, die sie in hierarchischen und traditionalen Gesellschaften nicht hat. In diesen wurde es lange als «natürlich» angesehen, dass es Menschen mit mehr und andere mit weniger Wert gibt. Die Idee der Menschenrechte stellt hier eine tiefe Umwälzung dar: Die Demütigung von Menschen ist eine Verletzung der Menschenrechte. Deshalb hat Demütigung heute eine grosse und gefährliche Sprengkraft bekommen.
Interview: Kathrin Meier-Rust
Reaction to Lindner Interview in Neue Züricher Zeitung
Diane Knutti writes from Bern:
Dear people, first of all I want to thank you for your work and engagement.
I read the interview with great interest.
Thank you for pulling the problems in Africa to our attention.
Although you all know much more about humiliation than I do, perhaps because I stand outside of all, I 'd like to point out something that appeared to me that might explain something to you.
Lindner mentions the difference in the reaction of people who have been humiliated in the level of aggressiveness in their response. She says she is surprised.
That’s what encourages me to tell you/her my explanation of it: I experience a much higher level of anger when injustice hits someone else then myself. Someone who is directly involved in the action of humiliation is still is in a relation to the aggressor, I have “ein Gegenüber,” “ein Du.” Somehow because there is a connection (it seems not to matter whether positive nor negative) that’s why the person reacts less aggressive although personally hit. BECAUSE the person is in the situation and hopes by passive behavior to make the aggressor to be kinder. Also because this person may even have an understanding for the aggressors … because she faces them.
Someone from outside can criticize much better than someone personally touched. If I observe humiliation against people that are my neighbors, or so, my behavior is going to be much more aggressive because I'm not within the situation, not bound through a relationship of any kind.
I'm sure this is not only the case with Palestinians. The students you referred to in the interview know the theories/mechanisms of injustice. They want to change the situation. Because not personally oppressed, they have much more energy and less fear as to what will be the outcome of their angry behavior. It lies in the nature of the situation that those are more aggressive than the other.
I hope you could understand the meaning, the content of my message, and I appologize for my spelling mistakes and bad English. -- Diane Knutti
On Iraq and humiliation by Dakshinamoorthi Raja Ganesan
Dear Dr. Evelin
Greetings from India.
An urgent matter I want to place before our forum is whether we are going to respond to the goings-on in Iraq and if so what shape it must take? Even for research purposes this is an appropriate moment to go to the field and document the happenings as objectively and accurately as possible, as the memory of the happenings will be fresh in the minds of both the perpetrators and the victims? More than that we can ask both the parties (some may disagree that we may not get appropriate responses from the side of the perpetrators)about what best can be done to prevent the recurrence of such extensive humiliation?
With warm regards
Very sincerely yours
D. Raja Ganesan
Towards a World Without Violence, Barcelona June 23-27, 2004
TOWARDS A WORLD WITHOUT VIOLENCE
Come to Barcelona
from June 23-27, 2004
to participate in a major international conference
organised by the
International Peace Bureau and Fundacio per la Pau
For information and to register:
May 11, 2004
Four days ago the "Forum 2004" -- a gigantic 5-month festival of culture, politics and civil society movements -- opened with grandiose ceremony in Barcelona. Once again, Barcelona displays its avant-garde tradition, its colour and style, inviting the world to participate in a programme of unparallelled proportions (see: http://www.barcelona2004.org).
The main peace event during the "Forum 2004" is jointly organised by IPB, its local affiliate Fundacio per la Pau and the Barcelona Forum 2004. Entitled "Towards a World without Violence", the gathering is called a 'dialogue' or interactive conference. This is a meeting-place for all people, organisations and movements working for a peaceful world. It takes place in only six weeks time (23-27 June), so if you wish to come, it is time to register and book transport and lodging now.
Please find some basic information below -- or have a look at
http://www.peacedialogue2004.org/. A detailed draft programme is contained in the second attachment ("Draft short program").
Towards a World without violence - A dialogue for people who want peace
"Towards a World without Violence" will cover a wide range of problematic issues, including Iraq, terrorism, Israel-Palestine, Africa, Basque country, military spending - and the remedies: peace education/culture, conflict resolution, disarmament, nuclear abolition, empowerment of women..... through panels, lectures, discussions, films, games and theatre. You will have one problem - to choose between all the offerings.
Among the speakers are: Cora Weiss (IPB President and Hague Appeal for Peace), Federico Mayor (former Director-General, UNESCO), Vandana Shiva (Indian writer and critic of globalisation), Jayantha Dhanapala (former UN Under Secretary-General for Disarmament), Maj-Britt Theorin (Member of European Parliament), Vincent Makanju (Peace Education Center, Nigeria), Hanaa Edwar (Al-Amal organisation, Iraq), Alexander Likhotal (Green Cross International), Michael Renner (Worldwatch Institute), Rosalie Bertell (Sean MacBride Peace Prize laureate 2001), Nineth Montenegro (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, Guatemala), Rebecca Peters (Director, Intl Action Network on Small Arms), Tadahashi Akiba Mayor of Hiroshima), Nava Sonnenschein (Neve Shalom-Wahat-el-Salaam, Israel-Palestine).
More than 100 sessions and 200 presenters during 5 days!
Through seminars, round tables, workshops, film and theatre presentations,
Fundació per la Pau and IPB have created a stimulating arena in which to discuss and share ideas about these vital issues. Each day will focus on one of the 5 key themes and through more than 25 different activities per day, we will examine and debate underlying and related issues, and how we can make a difference!
Five key themes:
Wednesday 23 June
1. The prevention and nonviolent resolution of armed conflicts
Moving from an analysis of the causes and contexts to an
exploration of nonviolent approaches to conflict transformation. The
experience of those pursuing peace in violent situaions will play a
central role in this process.
2. The economy and preparation for war
Wars don't just happen: there are a series of factors that favour
military conflict (including the arms trade and the influence of
military industry). Peace avocates must be aware of these
factors and know how to analyse and respond to them.
Small arms, weapons of mass destruction, antipersonnel mines... All
perpetuate the same insecurity. An ambitious agenda needs to be
developed to monitor, reduce and eliminate these threats.
4. Educating and mobilising for a culture of peace
All institutions involved in generating values (including schools,
non-formal education and the media) have a crucial role to play
in overcoming the culture of violence and establishing a peace culture.
5. The concept of human security
Which concept of security is defined by which set of priorities? How
do such choices contribute to shaping our world? Moving from military
defence towards human security. Bringing together all the themes of
the dialogue in a multi-facetted approach.
Iraq, Sadistic Humiliation and Women by Barbara Ehrenreich, forwarded by Kathleen Modrowski
As you remember, we were discussing how we should address the humiliating treatment of Iraqi prisoners that has been going on since 2003.
Kathleen Modrowski (please see her bio on our Advisory Board) sends us the text of a talk by Barbara Ehrenreich that you see further down (see also http://www.barnard.columbia.edu/newnews/news051804d.html), and she comments Barbara Ehrenreich's talk as follows:
"She received a standing ovation. Let's hope this spirit is repeated on
campuses throughout the nation this weekend.
May 21, 2004
Please see here Barbara Ehrenreich's talk:
It is a total thrill to share this wonderful day with you today.
How many of you are parents of graduates? What I’m really curious about is how you managed to get here today, after paying all that money for tuition – Greyhound bus? I put two kids thru Ivy League colleges myself, which meant I had to hitchhike to their commencement ceremonies.
I had another speech prepared several weeks ago. It was a good speech – actually pretty funny – but 2 weeks ago something came along that wiped the smile right off my face. You know, you saw them too – the photos of American soldiers sadistically humiliating and abusing detainees in Iraq.
These photos turned my stomach – yours too, I’m sure. But they did something else to me: they broke my heart. I had no illusions about the US mission in Iraq, whatever exactly it is, but it turns out that I did have some illusions about women.
There was the photo of Specialist Sabrina Harman smiling an impish little smile and giving the thumbs sign from behind a pile of naked Iraqi men – as if to say, “Hi mom, here I am in Abu Ghraib!”
We’ve gone from the banality of evil… to the cuteness of evil.
There was the photo of Pfc. Lynndie England dragging a naked Iraqi man on a leash. She’s looking pretty cute too, in those cool cammies and high boots. He’s grimacing in pain. If you were doing PR for al Qaeda, you couldn’t have staged a better picture to galvanize misogynist Islamic fundamentalists around the world.
And never underestimate the misogyny of the real enemy, which was never the Iraqis; it was and should be the Al Qaeda-type fundamentalist extremists: Two weeks ago in eastern Afghanistan, suspected Taliban members (I thought we had defeated them, but never mind) … poisoned three little girls for the crime of attending school. That seems to be the attitude: In the case of women: better dead than well-read.
But here in these photos from Abu Ghraib, you have every Islamic fundamentalist stereotype of Western culture -- all nicely arranged in one hideous image-- imperial arrogance, sexual depravity … and gender equality. We don’t know whether women were specifically ordered to participate in this kind of torture in order to humiliate Muslim men. All we know is that these women didn’t say no.
Of the 7 US soldiers now charged with the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, 3 are women : Harman, England and Megan Ambuhl.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked.
Certainly not about the existence of abuse. Reports of this and similar abuse have been leaking out of Guantanamo and immigrant detention centers in NYC for over a year We know, if we’ve been paying attention, that similar kinds of abuse, including sexual humiliation, are not unusal in our own vast US prison system.
We know too, that good people can do terrible things under the right circumstances. This is what psychologist Stanley Milgram found in his famous experiments in the 1960s. Sabrina and Lynndie are not congenitally evil people. They are working class women who wanted an education and knew the military as the quickest way to get it. Once they got in, they wanted to fit in.
And I shouldn’t be surprised either because I never believed that women are innately less aggressive than men. I have argued this repeatedly – once with the famously macho anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon. When he kept insisting that women were psychologically incapable of combat, I answered him the best way I could: I asked him if he wanted to step outside…
I have supported full opportunity for women within the military, in part because -- with decreasing access to college-- it’s one of the few options around for low-income young people.
I opposed the first Gulf War in 1991, but at the same time I was proud of our servicewomen and delighted that their presence irked their Saudi hosts.
Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women would eventually change the military, making it more respectful of other people and cultures, more capable of genuine peace keeping.
That’s what I thought, but I don’t think that any more.
A lot of things died with those photos.
The last moral justification for the war with Iraq ended with those photos. First the justification was the weapons of mass destruction. Then it was the supposed links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden – those links were never discovered either. So the final justification was that we had removed an evil dictator who tortured his own people. As recently as April 30, Geo Bush exulted that the torture chambers of Iraq were no longer operating.
Well, it turns out they were just operating under different management. We didn’t displace Saddam Hussein; we simply replaced him.
And when you throw in the similar abuses in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, in immigrant detention centers and US prisons, you see that we have created a spreading regime of torture – an empire of pain.
But there’s another thing that died for me in the last couple of weeks – a certain kind of feminism or, perhaps I should say, a certain kind of feminist naiveté.
It was a kind of feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims, and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Maybe this form of feminism made more sense in the 1970s. Certainly it seemed to make sense when we learned about the rape camps in Bosnia in the early 90s. There was a lot of talk then – I remember because I was in the discussions – about rape as an instrument of war and even war as an extension of rape.
I didn’t agree, but I didn’t disagree very loudly either. There seemed to be at least some reason to believe that male sexual sadism may, somehow, be deeply connected to our species’ tragic propensity for violence.
That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.
But it’s not just the theory of this naïve feminism that was wrong. So was its strategy and vision for change. That strategy and vision rested on the assumption, implicit or stated outright, that women are morally superior to men. We had a lot of debates over whether it was biology or conditioning that made women superior– or simply the experience of being a woman in a sexist culture. But the assumption of superiority was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.
I’m not the only one wrestling with that assumption today. Here’s Mary Jo Melone, a columnist in the St. Petersburg Times, writing on May 7:
”I can't get that picture of [Pfc. Lynndie] England out of my head because this is not how women are expected to behave. Feminism taught me 30 years ago that not only had women gotten a raw deal from men, we were morally superior to them.”
Now the implication of this assumption was that all we had to do to make the world a better place – kinder, less violent, more just – was to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men. We would fight so that women could become the generals, the CEOs, the senators, the judges and opinion-makers – and that was really the only fight we had to undertake. Because once they gained power and authority, once they had achieved a critical mass within the institutions of society, women would naturally work for change.
That’s what we thought, even if we thought it unconsciously. And the most profound thing I have to say to you today, as a group of brilliant young women poised to enter the world – is that it’s just not true.
You can’t even argue, in the case of Abu Ghraib, that the problem was that there just weren’t ENOUGH women in the military hierarchy to stop the abuses.
The prison was directed by a woman, General Janis Karpinski.
The top US intelligence officer in Iraq, who was also responsible for reviewing the status of detainees prior to their release, was Major Gen. Barbara Fast.
And the US official ultimately responsible for the managing the occupation of Iraq since last October was Condoleezza Rice. Like Donald Rumsfeld, she ignored repeated reports of abuse and torture until the undeniable photographic evidence emerged.
What we have learned, once and for all, is that a uterus is not a substitute for a conscience, and menstrual periods are not the foundation of morality.
This doesn’t mean gender equality isn’t worth fighting for for its own sake. It is. And I will keep fighting for it as long as I live. If we believe in democracy, then we believe in women’s right to do and achieve whatever men can do and achieve, even the bad things.
It’s just that gender equality cannot, all alone, bring about a just and peaceful world.
What I have finally come to understand, sadly and irreversibly, is that the kind of feminism based on an assumption of female moral superiority is a lazy and self-indulgent form of feminism.
Self-indulgent because it assumes that a victory for a woman – a promotion, a college degree, a right to serve alongside men in the military – is ipso facto – by its very nature -- a victory for humanity.
And lazy because it assumes that we have only one struggle – the struggle for gender equality – when in fact we have many more. The struggles for peace, for social justice and against imperialist and racist arrogance … cannot, I am truly sorry to say, be folded into the struggle for gender equality.
Women do not change institutions simply by assimilating into them. But – and this is the “but” on which all my hopes hinge – a CERTAIN KIND of woman can still change the world – and this is where you come in.
What we need is a tough new kind of feminism with no illusions.
We need a kind of woman who can say NO, not just to the date rapist or overly insistent boyfriend, but to the military or corporate hierarchy within which she finds herself.
We need a kind of woman who doesn’t want to be one of the boys when the boys are acting like sadists or fools.
And we need a kind of woman who isn’t trying to assimilate, but to infiltrate – and subvert.
YOU can be those women. And as the brightest and most privileged women of your generation, you better be.
First, because our nation is in such terrible trouble – hated worldwide, and not just by the fundamentalist fanatics.
My version of patriotism is simple: When the powerful no longer act responsibly, then it is our responsibility to take the power away from them.
But second, you have to become tough-minded activists for change because the entire feminist project is also in terrible trouble worldwide. That project, which is minimally about the achievement of equality with men, is threatened by fundamentalisms of all kinds – Christian as well as Islamic.
But we cannot successfully confront that threat without a moral vision that goes BEYOND gender equality. To cite an old – and far from naïve -- feminist saying: “If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low.”
It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts.
It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.
I’m counting on you. I want YOU to be the face of American women that the world sees -- not those of Sabrina or Megan or Lynndie or Condoleezza.
Don’t let me down. Take your hard-won diplomas, your knowledge and your talents and go out there and RAISE HELL!
World Tribunal on Iraq
Last Saturday I attended the World Tribunal on Iraq event at Coopers Union in New York.
Please find below the Final Statement of the Jury of Conscience.
Documents produced for; through and after the
New York Session of World Tribunal on Iraq
Before the Final Statement was pronounced, there was a documentary shown called About Baghdad. The film is worthwile to see. Please visit their website at
It was great to be part of the World Tribunal on Iraq.
All the best,
Maurice Benayoun in NY
Maurice Benayoun is at the very forefront of digital art and he is also Member of our Core Team (click on "Who we are"). Maurice has been working on our Dialogue House project where we envisage to give parties in conflict the opportunity to simulate alternative futures with the help of latest digital technology.
Please meet Maurice on Thursday, May 20, 2004 6 - 8 P.M. at the Opening Reception at Moving Image in NY! See more information further down!
An exhibition at Eyebeam and The American Museum of the Moving Image
On the occasion of Ars Electronica's 25th anniversary, a series of exhibitions, screenings, and lectures will take place in New York City from May 21 to July 18. Generously supported by SAP and hosted by the American Museum of the Moving Image, Eyebeam, and the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, these events will feature outstanding media art projects from the past twenty-five years as well as inspiring new developments from the Ars Electronica Futurelab and its artist-in-residence program. Additional symposia, artist talks, screenings, and workshops will provide not just interesting historical information but also comprehensive insight into new directions in digital art.
Interactions/Art and Technology at American Museum of the Moving Image
An exhibition of interactive digital media installations drawn from artist residencies and research projects at the Ars Electronica Futurelab. Featured will be virtual reality environments, unique approaches to human- interaction, and new artistic tools. The collaborative artistic and technical process by which the Futurelab operates will also be shown.
The full program of Digital Avant Garde
World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War
Virtual Reality art installation by Maurice Benayoun and Jean-Baptiste Barrière
At the Museum of the Moving Image, New York
During DIGITAL AVANT GARDE
Ars Electronica in New York
Celebrating 25 years of Ars Electronica
May 21 - July 18, 2004
Interactions/Art and Technology at American Museum of the Moving Image
35 Avenue at 36 Street, Astoria, NY 11106
Wed / Thu 12 – 5 P.M., Fri 12 – 8 P.M., Sat / Sun 11 A.M. – 6:30 P.M.
Thu, May 20, 2004 6 - 8 P.M. Opening Reception at Moving Image
Humiliation in Iraq by Victoria Firmo-Fontan
I am Victoria Firmo-Fontan, working for the moment at Sabanci University,
I am currently writing a book on this precise topic, focusing on the
polarization parameters existing between occupiers and occupied in Iraq,
and building on the idea that the occupiers also feel humiliated by the
occupied: soldiers do feel humiliated by the Iraqi resistance on a daily
basis, and that is the reason that some of them are turning against all
Iraqis. Episodes of looting of political offices in Fallujah by members of
the 82nd airborne illustrate this (you will find an account of this in a
Human Rights Watch report on the April 2003 shootings -alias the US Bloody
To put it bluntly, many soldiers I spoke to made it clear that they
thought that the Iraqis were ungrateful to them, targetting them after
they, the US especially but also the UK, undertook to 'liberate' them at
great risk to their own lives. Remember that these pictures were taken in
October and November, during the first pic of resistance in the area of
Abu Ghorayeb. This is a typical case of the -perceived- victim becoming
the victimizer, or at least that's one side of the story.
For the rest, I have no means to tell you if this is standard procedure or
not, but the use of civilian contractors in interrogations ought to be
questionned as well. The fact that less advantaged strata of US society
take part in and reiterate such practices may also result in the
institutionalisation of a bonding exercise. I will seek to interview
Lyndie England in due course, but would not be surprised to find that by
taking part in such acts, she also felt accepted as a woman by her male
team members and her low-ranking team members by 'hot shots' CIA or
civilian contractors. This would have been a way for them to also project
themselves socially into a perceived better cast of US society.
Dr. Victoria Fontan
Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Humiliation and How it Plays Out
Often I am asked how humiliation is played out, in reality. Currently, the pictures we see on all media channels on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, provide ample material.
Linda Hartling forwarded to me the text you see further down. Thank you dear Linda! (Clearly, this is but one article among the innumerable texts that flood the media at present.)
Yesterday, I watched Major General Antonio Taguba testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. The discussion reminded me of how important it is that we develop a feeling for "we, humankind," who has a collective responsibility to refrain from humiliating acts. We should not get caught up in counting up atrocities against atrocities (...but were not Saddam's acts of humiliation worse....).
I think I speak for our entire group when I say that we want to promote a DECENT GLOBAL VILLAGE, wherein we ALL feel as ONE SINGLE INGROUP, as ONE SINGLE FAMILY of humankind, and where we ALL share the responsibility to provide the opportunity to live dignified lives without humiliation to ALL. We need to create a world where potential tyrants, oppressors, abusers and bullies of any background and strategy fail to find support and fertile ground.
Our group is currently thinking through how to address the Iraq situation, triggered by media interest in our work. My main fear is that the pictures we get from Iraq contribute to a fragmentation of our global village into several blocks, that engage in cycles of mutual humiliation and humiliation-for-humiliation. I fear for the human family to be torn apart by processes of humiliation, similar to the sad situation the Middle East finds itself in today.
CBS Airs Alleged GIs Abuse of Iraqis
By DAVID CRARY
AP National Writer
April 29, 2004, 10:50 AM CDT
NEW YORK -- One photograph shows Iraqi prisoners, naked except for hoods
covering their heads, stacked in a human pyramid, one with a slur written
in English on his skin. That and other scenes of humiliation at the hands
of U.S. military police that appear in photographs obtained by CBS News
have led to criminal charges against six American soldiers.
The images were shown Wednesday night on "60 Minutes II."
CBS says they were taken late last year at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad,
where American soldiers were holding hundreds of prisoners captured during
the invasion and occupation of Iraq. At least one of the six is also a
prison guard in civilian life.
In March, the U.S. Army announced that six members of the 800th Military
Police Brigade faced court martial for allegedly abusing about 20
prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The charges included dereliction of duty, cruelty
and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.
In addition to those criminal charges, the military has recommended
disciplinary action against seven U.S. officers who helped run the prison,
including Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Brigade,
a senior military official said Wednesday in Baghdad.
The investigation recommended administrative action against several of the
commanders, which could include punishments up to relieving them of their
commands, said the official, speaking on condition on anonymity.
When the abuse charges were first announced, U.S. military officials
declined to provide details about the evidence. But on Wednesday, at a
news briefing in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the investigation
began in January when an American soldier reported the abuse and turned
over evidence that included photographs.
"That soldier said, 'There are some things going on here that I can't live
with,'" said Kimmitt, who also confirmed that CBS had obtained the
One picture shows an Iraqi prisoner who was told to stand on a box with
his head covered and wires attached to his hands. CBS said the prisoner
was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted. Other
photos showed naked prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts.
The Army ordered an investigation into the actions of 17 soldiers from the
800th Brigade, which is based in Uniondale, N.Y. Ten were investigated for
criminal actions, six of whom were charged in March.
The other seven were officers who faced an administrative investigation.
Those officers have received copies of the probe and will now have the
chance to rebut the claims, with a final decision expected within a month,
the senior military official said.
In an interview with CBS correspondent Dan Rather, Kimmitt said the
photographs were dismaying.
"We're appalled," Kimmitt said. "These are our fellow soldiers, these are
the people we work with every day, they represent us, they wear the same
uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down."
"If we can't hold ourselves up as an example of how to treat people with
dignity and respect, we can't ask that other nations do that to our
soldiers," Kimmitt said.
"60 Minutes II" identified one of the implicated soldiers as Army Reserve
Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick, who described to Rather what he saw in the
"We had no support, no training whatsoever, and I kept asking my chain of
command for certain things, rules and regulations, and it just wasn't
happening," Frederick said.
Frederick was a corrections officer at the Buckingham Correctional Center
in Dillwyn, Va., until he was called up for active duty, said Larry
Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Corrections Department.
He is a member of the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cumberland,
Md., said Maj. Greg Yesko, public affairs officer for the 99th Regional
Readiness Command. The 800th Brigade includes the 372nd Company, Yesko
No phone listing for Frederick could be immediately located.
"60 Minutes II" reported Frederick will plead not guilty to charges
including maltreatment and assault, claiming the way the Army operated the
prison led to the abuse of prisoners. He also said he did not see a copy
of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after
he was charged, the show reported.
The show also quoted from an e-mail which Frederick reportedly sent to his
family in which he said of Iraqi prisoners: "We've had a very high rate
with our styles of getting them to break; they usually end up breaking
Former Iraqi prisoners told The Associated Press last November of
mistreatment in detention, including beatings and punishments that
included hours of lying bound in the sun.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, said in March
that many former detainees in Iraq claimed to have been tortured and
ill-treated by coalition troops during interrogation.
Methods often reported, it said, included prolonged sleep deprivation,
beatings, exposure to loud music and prolonged periods of being covered by
Copyright (c) 2004, The Associated Press
Searching Chicagotribune.com archives back to 1985 is cheaper and easier
than ever. New prices for multiple articles can bring your cost down to as
low as 30 cents an article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/archives
Photos Etched in Arab Minds by Shibley Telhami
Photos Etched in Arab Minds
Torture: Pictures of Iraqis being humiliated threaten a key justification for the war – to return human rights and dignity to Iraq's citizens
By Shibley Telhami
Baltimore Sun, Sunday, May 9, 2004
The pictures will be imprinted in the minds of many in the Middle East and around the world for years to come: American soldiers sadistically torturing Iraqi prisoners in the same facility where Saddam Hussein's secret service tormented his subjects. In one of the latest images, a man lies naked on the floor with a collar attached to his neck and a leash held by a female American soldier.
These were pictures of utter humiliation in a region where humiliation is the pervasive sentiment that allows militants to exploit potential recruits. The sexual nature of some of the images of torture added fuel to the fire. In Arab and Muslim societies, notions of shame, especially connected to sexuality, sometimes trump everything else.
Images of this sort are hard to remove from one's mind. The pictures of the four mutilated Americans in Falluja moved Americans and others around the world and propelled the U.S. military to lay siege to the city in an operation that killed hundreds. The image of Muhammed Durrah, a Palestinian boy who was shot in the arms of his helpless father moved hearts and enraged Arabs and Muslims all over. Pictures of Israelis killed by the bare hands of a Palestinian mob turned many Israelis against peace. Like these images, the shocking footage from Abu Ghraib will endure beyond the immediate crisis.
All this is bad enough, but there is much more to the enraged reaction in Arab and Muslim countries, and to why the damage will be difficult to repair. Certainly, many in the region know that torture takes place in their own countries. But in these pictures, they see a troubling reinforcement of their deep fears: An occupation of an Arab country by a power whose credibility in their eyes had already collapsed.
To begin with, consider that the vast majorities in Arab countries, and most people around the world, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq. In the Arab world, public opinion surveys conducted on the eve of the war showed that most Arabs opposed the war even if Iraq were found to have weapons of mass destruction. Most had little faith in the stated objectives of the war and believed the entire campaign was largely for oil and for Israel. Many Muslims expressed the belief that the United States was simply out to weaken Arab and Muslim countries.
But the war happened anyway. And worse, many of their own authoritarian governments cooperated with the U.S. effort, exposing the utter helplessness of the public in the region. The Bush administration first explained the war as a mission to get rid of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and as a part of the war on terrorism because Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida were linked. It quickly turned out that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found and that the only link between Iraq and Al-Qaida was that the war enabled Osama bin Laden's allies to take root in post-Saddam Iraq. This has visibly increased the prospects of regional terrorism, as was evident in the discovery of the planned mega terrorist attack in Jordan last month.
The primary explanation for the war in the past few months has been the spread of democracy in the Middle East, something that the region surely can use. That Iraq has not yet turned into a stable country, let alone a democracy, has been hard to miss for anyone who watches the daily news. Polls and political trends reflect that most people in the Middle East do not believe that democracy and stability are likely to take hold in their region; instead, they sense greater repression. Democracy may one day come to Iraq, but it will not be soon enough to revive the faith of people in the region in any foreseeable future.
That reality has left the logic of the war hanging by a single thread: The removal of a ruthless dictator and his horrific structures like the Abu Ghraib prison, which most Iraqis would have viewed as a central and inescapable benefit of the war. Maybe Iraqis cannot have full democracy in the short term, but surely they can have human rights and the dignity that most subjects of dictators crave. This surely was the meaning of the war, the legacy of the American-led occupation.
This lone thread to justify the war has been abruptly severed by the ugly sights that have been splashed all over the media. Surely they must be (we hope) isolated cases. But, too many people will argue that they are the norm, and the simple recollection of the lasting imprint in the mind will silence those who argue otherwise in Arab and Muslim countries.
Certainly militants have been handed a welcome gift that they can use to mobilize recruits, for humiliation is the most potent motivation that militants exploit. While the Bush administration will continue to press the region's authoritarian leaders to reform, and will try to reassure people in the region that Abu Ghraib was a hideous aberration, and that the culprits will be punished, there is too little trust of the administration's words or intentions for these efforts to succeed.
In the end, the shocking images of Abu Ghraib are not the cause of the collapse of trust but its reinforcement. Confidence in the United States has been in the single digits in many Arab countries for the past year. The administration's credibility in the region was at an all-time low even before these images flashed on the screen everywhere, exacerbated by the recent violence in Falluja and by Bush's endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan.
And matters could get worse, if a credible investigation is not conducted of the degrading and brutal treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and if culprits are not punished. The United States must come clean for its own sake.
But the most immediate impact of this episode will be to change the terms of the debate about Iraq from the transfer of sovereignty on June 30th to the status of U.S. forces in Iraq: If we are not there for democracy or because of weapons of mass destruction, why are we there? These questions, set against the backdrop of grotesque behavior by some American troops, will feed the notion that America is not in Iraq for democracy, but for oil. Regardless of how this debate is settled, the images of Abu Ghraib will leave a lasting scar on our moral standing in the Middle East - and the world.
Shibley Telhami is Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. His best-selling book, The Stakes: America and the Middle East, is available in paperback.
Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun
More on humiliation in Iraq by Sultan Somjee
After reading emails from you and Sean I went on the internet and typed
Humiliation, War and Sex. Such a culture exists but it thrives during wars
and occupations. It seems that when physical pain does not 'break' the
prisoners extreme forms of humiliation through abuse of the human body are
used. But then there is that element of entertainment in the Iraqi prison
pictures which dehumanizes the actors as well and would be, I think,
humiliating as much to the families and communities of the young soldiers as
to those of the victims.
Towards a World Without Violence, Barcelona, June 23-27, 2004
Towards a World Without Violence
Come to Barcelona, June 23-27, 2004 to participate in a major international conference
organised by the International Peace Bureau and Fundacio per la Pau
For information and to register:
Yesterday the "Forum 2004", a gigantic 5 months rally of cultures,
culture, politics, civil society movements for social change opened
with grandiose ceremony in Barcelona. Barcelona displays its vanguard
tradition, its color and style, inviting the world for an event of unique,
unparallelled proportions (See: http://www.barcelona2004.org).
The the main peace event during the "Forum 2004" is organised by IPB
and Fundacio per la Pau, and starts only six weeks from now (23-27 June).
If you wish to come, it is time to register and book transport + lodgings.
We hope to see you there. Below is some basic information. For more on
registration,the 100 events and 200 participating presenters (Arundhati
Roy, Michael Renner, Vandana Shiva ....
The program of "Towards a World without Violence" will cover the whole
wide range of issues and approaches, Iraq, terrorism, Israel-Palestine,
Africa, Basque situation, military spending - and the remedies, peace
education, peace culture, conflict resolution, mediation, disarmament,
nuclear ..... through panels, lectures, discussions, films, dance ....
You will have one problem - to choose between all the offers.
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
IPB Vice President
Towards a World without violence: A dialogue for people who want peace
From June 23rd to June 27th, 2004, Fundació per la Pau, the International Peace Bureau, and the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004, will jointly host a Dialogue, or an interactive conference, entitled, Towards a World without Violence, a place for all people, organisations, and movements working for a peaceful world.
Towards a World without violence
Violence, in different ways and at different levels, is evident throughout the world, and the same injustices that lead to violence today will lead to violence tomorrow if we don't change our ways.
To build a world without violence is a huge challengeŠbut it is possible. It has to be a priority of governments, of social movements and of the people. Towards a World without Violence will gather ideas and proposals to make a world without violence possible.
More than 100 sessions and 200 presenters during 5 days!
Through seminars, round tables, workshops, and theatre presentations, Fundació per la Pau and IPB plan to create an interactive and stimulating arena to discuss and share ideas about these vital issues at local, national, regional, and global levels.
Each day will focus on one of the 5 key themes and through more than 25 different activities per day, we will examine and debate underlying and surrounding issues, and how we can make a difference!
Five key themes
1. The prevention and nonviolent resolution of armed conflicts
Moving from an analysis of the causes and contexts of conflicts to an exploration of nonviolent approaches to control and transformation. The experience of those pursuing peace in violent contexts will play a central role in this process.
2. The economy and preparation for war
Wars don't just happen: there are a series of factors that facilitate military conflict (including the arms trade and the influence of the military industry). The advocates of peace must be aware of these factors and know how to respond to them.
Light arms, weapons o mass destruction, antipersonnel mines... All perpetuate the same insecurity. An ambitious agenda needs to be developed to monitor, reduce and eliminate these threats.
4. Extending peace education programs throughout the world
All institutions involved in generating values (including schools, nonformal education and the media) have crucial role play overcoming the culture of violence and establishing a peace culture.
5. The concept of human security
Wich concept of security and as defined by which set of priorities? How do such choices contribute to shaping oru world? Moving from military defense towards human security.
More information and registration:
Norway: phone 2297 9889
* Fredrik S. HEFFERMEHL *
* N. Juels g. 28 A, N-0272 Oslo, Norway *
* Phone +47-2244 8003 (fax: +47-2244 7616) *
* E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org *
* NFR: www.nowar.no or IPB: www.ipb.org *
* Hon. President, Norwegian Peace Alliance *
* Vice President, International Peace Bureau *
* Vice Pres., I Assn. Lawyers Ag. Nuclear Arms *
* International Free Vanunu Committee *
Check out the new "Peace is Possible" website: On people, power and
peacemaking - in 12 languages! Click:
" ...contains more undiscovered history than I have read for a long time
... bringing to light a hitherto unofficial and unheeded part of modern history."
(Niels Jacob Harbitz in "Klassekampen", Oslo).
Alfred Adler and His Life as Encouragement
Alfred Adler's Life as Encouragement for Today's Challenges
In a brief article, "Alfred Adler’s Life: Five Lessons for Everyone,"
Ed Hoffman highlights five of Adler's personal characteristics that
contributed to his extraordinary influence on contemporary psychology.
In another article, "Abraham Maslow: Father of Enlightened
Management," Hoffman clarifies the connections among enlightened
management, quality products, and psychologically healthy employees.
Both articles may be found at http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/.
Edward Hoffman, Ph.D., a New York City psychologist, is the author of
"The Drive for Self: Alfred Adler and the Founding of Individual
Psychology" (Addison-Wesley, 1994); "The Right to Be Human: A
Biography of Abraham Maslow" (Tarcher/St. Martin's Press, 1988); and
"Future Visions: The Unpublished Papers of Abraham Maslow" (Sage,
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director
Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco & Northwestern Washington
Distance Training in Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy
Tel: (360) 647-5670
Alfred Adler’s Life: Five Lessons for Everyone
By Edward Hoffman, Ph.D
Commencement Address for the Adler School of Professional Psychology, May 1995.
Published in THE BOOK OF GRADUATION WISDOM (Kensington Publishing, 2003).
As Alfred Adler’s biographer, I have learned many valuable lessons in studying his life. The four years I spent on this project decisively showed me that Adler achieved his great influence on modern psychology, child guidance, and education by the force of his own personality--and that, to whatever extent possible, we can apply these lessons too. Today, as you receive your degrees to become professional counselors and clinicians, I’d like to highlight five specific elements vital to Adler’s success:
1) He was optimistic by nature. American journalists admiringly described him in the 1920s as “bubbling with enthusiasm” and “a dynamo of optimism.” Of course, Adler as a practicing and perceptive medical psychologist saw the darker side of human nature, motivations, and goals. But he never let that awareness impede his effort to make the world a more hospitable place, both in families and schools, for growing children. He was able to integrate his view of the “dark side” into a broader, more inclusive, and realistic optimism about human accomplishment.
2) He made his message clear and down-to-earth, avoiding scientific jargon, and instead using examples familiar to everyone in daily life. Adler knew that to overcome longstanding prejudices about child-rearing and education, he had to be exciting and even dramatic as a speaker. To help change authoritarian attitudes--in his day, most teachers and parents, for example, thought that hitting children was a perfectly acceptable form of discipline--Adler projected a warm and witty style. Gentle humor, he found, is a far more effective way to open people up new ideas than heavy-handed sermonizing.
3) He was willing, even eager, to “talk psychology” with persons from many different backgrounds, not only professionals in mental health, social science, or education. To look at Adler’s lecture schedule in his final years--when he was already in his mid-sixties--is to be truly impressed, for he often gave several different lectures in the same day to varied groups of parents, teachers, as well as the general public. Unlike his more aloof colleagues like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Adler believed in “democratizing psychology”--that is, sharing its scientific insights with virtually everyone who was willing to listen, be open, and change for the better. For only by taking psychology’s teachings to the masses of men and women could a more harmonious world be achieved, he believed.
4) He kept growing intellectually, refusing to rest on laurels and past accomplishments. To those who knew Adler well, he was a marvel of personal energy--but more importantly, that energy was spent on continually learning new matters about children, families, and community. Right up until his death, his succession of books provided exciting new insights, rather than a rehash of previously expressed ideas. Equally significant, although Adler was already acclaimed throughout Europe by middle age, he taught himself to speak English effectively so that he could lecture throughout the United States and other English-speaking countries. He gave his first such lectures in his mid-fifties, making memorable mistakes in grammar, but soon enough, the mistakes disappeared and his fresh approach to understanding children enthralled new audiences from New York to California and many places in-between.
5) Finally, Adler always kept the “big picture” in mind--and that is what made him a true visionary. Over the course of his long career that saw many triumphs and achievements, but also witnessed the rise of European fascism and Nazism that destroyed much of his humanistic efforts in education, Adler always viewed his work in large historical terms. Late in life, he told his friends that whether he would even be personally remembered in psychology was not so important--what mattered far more was that his progressive approach to child development, parenting, and education become accepted. And in this respect, as you graduates today know well, Adler certainly achieved his goal.
As you enter the helping professions, his life can be a wonderful and inspiring beacon to us all.
Edward Hoffman, Ph.D, is the author of THE DRIVE FOR SELF: ALFRED ADLER AND THE FOUNDING OF INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Addison-Wesley, 1994) and FUTURE VISIONS:THE UNPUBLISHED PAPERS OF ABRAHAM MASLOW (Sage, 1995).
Back to the Adler Institute Home Page: (homepage.htm)
Images of Humiliation by Sultan Somjee
Humiliation does not have nationality. Humiliation of one human
being humiliates humanity and our dignity of being. Humiliation has no
nationality, religion, colour or gender. Emotions that are evoked by
pictures such as those of the American soldiers humiliating Iraqis are not
different than the stories from the days of Saddam in Iraq or from Vietnam
in the 1970s or those of Korean sex slaves for the Japanese army.
Humiliation of the Jewish and Roma in the concentration camps in Europe in
the 1940s evoke similar feelings of degradation of human dignity, values and
The feelings of concern of my N American friends viewing the recent pictures
of the treatment of Iraqi soldiers is not any different from those of my
African and Asian friends or of Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Jewish friends.
Double Blow to Mideast Democracy by Shibley Telhami
Double Blow to Mideast Democracy
By Shibley Telhami
Washington Post, Saturday, May 1, 2004
Events in Iraq and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have dealt a fatal blow to the Bush administration's plans for Middle East reform even before they are formally unveiled. These events may come to symbolize the end of democracy as a serious policy objective in the Middle East.
Certainly the painful pictures from Iraq a year after the war -- including humiliating scenes of abused Iraqi prisoners -- have turned that country into a model to be feared and avoided in the eyes of many in the Middle East, and a tool in the hands of governments reluctant to change. It is a far cry from the anticipated model of inspiration the administration promised would spur demands for democracy in the Arab world.
But the challenge for the administration's reform plans is far greater than the pictures in Iraq convey. A year after major combat was declared over, the administration is in greater need than before of help from the very governments it seeks to reform. And the administration's support for the unilateral disengagement plan of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon necessitates yet more help from Arab governments in implementing an unpopular plan without unleashing instability.
Add to this increasing public anger in the Arab world with the United States over both Iraq and the Palestinian issue -- and with their own governments for supporting the United States. This exacerbates the rulers' insecurity and inclines them toward increased repression.
Because our strategic and political objectives are now urgent, they outweigh our desire for reform, even if we continue to pay lip service to it. In the history of U.S. foreign policy, such concessions are always portrayed as necessary short-term measures. Too often, however, long-term U.S. behavior in the region simply looks like a series of short-term concessions.
Despite our claim before the Iraq war that the prospects of democracy in the region would improve, public opinion there has gone the other way. In an opinion survey I conducted in six Arab countries on the eve of the war, majorities of Arabs expressed the view that the Middle East would be less democratic after the war. It was a seemingly puzzling view given how little democracy already existed. But there are two primary reasons for this assessment that we cannot ignore.
First, there was widespread mistrust of American intentions. When you don't trust the messenger, you don't trust the message, even if it's a good one. While the lack of trust was based on many factors, including a historical gap between what we say and what we do, the primary measure of confidence toward the United States in Arab minds remains the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. While Arabs have always complained about perceived American "bias," their level of confidence in the United States has not been constant. In the spring of 2000, for example, when it looked as if the United States was genuinely trying to mediate an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, more than 60 percent of Saudis expressed confidence in this country. Immediately after the collapse of the negotiations that fall, confidence began to slide, and it continued to do so, reaching single digits in the past year.
No matter what else we do in the region, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains the "prism of pain" for Arabs through which they read U.S. intentions, in the same way that the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and associated terrorism are now the prism of pain through which Americans will continue to see the Arab and Muslim worlds. Regardless of the objective meaning of the administration's support for Sharon, the regional perception of that support is likely to outweigh anything we say on reform -- or even Iraq.
Second, while Arab and Muslim public views of the United States are often wrong and unjustified, their skepticism about our policy toward reform is reasonable. We have not been fully honest in our own public discourse about where democracy ranks in our priorities. It is true that many in our government and media have come to believe that democracy is now a strategic priority, because its absence fuels terrorism. But we fear anarchy and instability even more in areas where we have strategic interests, and we fear the emergence of unfriendly governments, even if democratically elected.
In Pakistan, our strategic priority is to get maximum support from the besieged government of Pervez Musharraf for fighting our top strategic threat, al Qaeda. We fear most the disintegration of a nuclear state in an area where al Qaeda is strong. In Iraq today, we would like to see democracy, but our priority is to limit the casualties of our troops, to ensure an outcome that favors our other interests, especially oil. We want democratic rulers, but only if they are sure allies. The result is that what we say and what we do are visibly in conflict.
The difficulty in bringing stability, let alone democracy, to Iraq, where we have direct control and are spending enormous resources, should be a sobering example of the limits of our power. Above all two conclusions must be drawn: First, it is impossible to succeed in our reform policy without having in place a robust Arab-Israeli peace process that commands regional trust. Second, we cannot succeed if we continue to ignore public opinion in the region. The gap between governments and publics increases the rulers' incentive to repress at the same time that it decreases our leverage with them.
The writer is Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. His bestselling book, "The Stakes: America in the Middle East" is now updated and available in paperback.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
A Psychology for Democracy by Henry T. Stein
Please read on http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/iaip-6.htm the article by Henry T. Stein "A Psychology for Democracy."
A Psychology for Democracy
Heny T. Stein
(A 2002 Revision of a Presentation Given by Henry T. Stein, Ph.D. at the 21st International Congress of Individual Psychology, August 6, 1999, Oak Brook, Illinois. The text is an expanded and revised [9-18-02] version of the original presentation.)
This paper reflects my passionate interest in the ideas and character of five architects of democracy: Socrates, Thomas Jefferson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Abraham Maslow, and Alfred Adler, and their potential impact on American life.
In the United States, we live in a unique democratic political structure that held great promise two centuries ago, but has eroded badly into unbridled self-interest. Instead of cooperative democratic families, schools, and businesses, we find competitive, autocratic, or anarchic circles of conflict. Our stated political ideals blatantly contradict our normal daily behavior.
Two political critics, William Greider and Philip Slater believe that our vision and realization of democracy have deteriorated badly. They agree on one fundamental solution to the re-vitalization of democracy. The democratic ideal must start within the individual and gradually spread to family, friendships, school, and the world of work. Only people who have developed a democratic character structure can make democratic living a reality. It takes daily small-scale practice of democratic principles to prepare a citizen for the wider challenges of social responsibility.
How can we foster the development of democratic character in our citizens? First, train parents to develop democratic parenting practices at home that will give children an early experience of a democratic family life. Second, train teachers to develop democratic practices in the classroom. They could extend or correct the home climate. Subsequently, universities and businesses are further opportunities for training in democratic living.
One of the last frontiers for developing democratic character, or correcting an undemocratic one, is psychotherapy. Unfortunately, many value-free therapeutic approaches relieve personal distress, but reinforce self-centeredness. Classical Adlerian psychotherapy, with its emphasis on social equality, mutual respect, cooperation, responsibility, and contribution, provides the means of re-vitalizing democracy by addressing the core of the problem: correcting undemocratic character structures.
Classical Adlerian psychology offers hope in a time of widespread disillusionment. The re-vitalization of democracy will not only have to come from the top down. It will also have to come from the bottom up--a grass roots movement of ordinary people living, loving, and working democratically every day.
Role of Character in Our Political Ideal
The early American political ideal of democracy was tempered by an awareness of the role of character. The framers of the Constitution understood well that advancing the ideal of "liberty and justice for all" requires a virtuous citizenry. Thomas Jefferson argued that democracy depends upon the cultivation of "public-spiritedness" which will not flourish spontaneously, but must be taught. Benjamin Franklin stated that "only a virtuous people are capable of freedom" and Theodore Roosevelt claimed that "educating a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." When Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States in the 1830's, it was the Americans' propensity for civic association and civic virtue that most impressed him as the key to their unprecedented ability to make democracy work. Quoting Marvin Berkowitz, in his article, "Educating for Character and Democracy:" "It is clear that moral character is part of democratic functioning." Unfortunately, the development of democratic character has been neglected for generations.
Contemporary Problems in Our Democracy
Today, many negative influences prevent or inhibit the actualization of our democratic ideal; some of them are political. Vaclav Havel has warned that democracy arouses mistrust in some parts of the world because it lacks a "spiritual dimension that connects all cultures and, in fact, all humanity." For many people, the concept of rights, with responsibility and obligation, has been displaced by the idea of rights as the entitlements of individuals freed of "any and all ties of reciprocal obligation and mutual interdependence." Philip Slater, in A Dream Deferred, states: "Most people see democracy as a merely political phenomenon. Democracy does not stop at the borders of politics: it only begins there. Most of our public and private organizations are still authoritarian in structure--our corporations, professions, and educational institutions have yet to feel more than the palest breath of democratic influence. Most Americans work in settings that are resolutely authoritarian, especially the working class." Slater believes that authoritarian rulers are antagonistic to anything that will help the public "grow up"--such as the exposure of secrets or the expenditure of funds for education. In a democracy, the fundamental goal of education is development. For authoritarians it is obedience. An ignorant populace is more likely to be an obedient one. Less money for education means larger classes--more time spent keeping order--students learn how to take orders and be quiet. Finally, Slater offers a scathing criticism of a powerful wealth addict (I wonder if he was thinking of Bill Gates): "It is impossible for a billionaire to believe fully in democracy, for a feeling of community and interdependence would make it impossible for him to continue to clutch with such tenacity so disproportionate a share of the world's resources." In The Betrayal of American Democracy, William Greider states: "Americans cannot teach democracy to the world until they restore their own." Politically, our democracy is still struggling through a troubled adolescence.
We have some serious economic problems that inhibit democratic living. In "The New American Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution," Michael Lind, the senior editor of the New Republic, describes our society:
... where the wealthy elites have been enabled, by a deft use of the tax system, the international market and the relationship between trusts and education, to arrange matters so that they live in a different country from their ostensible fellow citizens. They have their own schools, resorts, banks and information networks. They have their own private police and security systems. They have, by virtue of the "wealth primary," to which all candidates must submit, their own senators and Congressmen.
To correct this plutocratic tendency, Mr. Lind advocates a bracing dose of class consciousness among the hard-working saps who, as the saying goes, "play by the rules" and are laid off or impoverished for their pains." William Greider, in One World, Ready or Not, states rather succinctly: "Democracy itself will always be stunted by the exaggerated political power exercised by concentrated wealth. The problem is not that capital is privately owned, as Marx supposed. The problem is that most people don't own any." About capitalism, Greider adds: "The capitalist process, by its nature, encourages infantile responses from every quarter, as people are led to maximize self-interest and evade responsibility for the collateral consequences of their activities, the damage to other people or society or the natural environment." Our economic inequities cannot be ignored indefinitely.
The business world presents a host of conditions that deny democratic functioning every day for many people. Judith Wyatt & Chauncey Hare, authors of Work Abuse: How to Recognize and Survive It, describe the psychologically damaging conditions that many workers experience daily. They claim: "Work abuse is the flagrant mistreatment or silent abuse of people in the staggering number of Western work organizations that remain authoritarian and over-control employees. Ninety-five percent of work organizations are autocratic; they sustain productivity losses and fail to meet their customers' or clients' needs because most top-level managers refuse to share power with employees and instead blame them for systems' problems for which managers themselves are responsible. Most people in these abusive organizations, like children in abusive families, stay blind to the abuse in order to survive it." In describing the massive power of corporations, Charles Reich in Opposing the System, says: "What primarily ails us is "economic government"--the uncontrolled power of corporations, which operate outside of constitutional restraints." He continues with: "The democratic model is losing out to the authoritarian model in our daily lives here at home. Following the corporate lead, virtually all of our institutions, from schools and colleges to Little League, are based on the top-down model." In that model, the bottom line is economic efficiency, and the managerial system is impatient with such inefficient concepts as constitutional limitations, democratic dialogue, and dignity. Noam Chomsky, in his MIT lecture, "Class War: The Attack on Working People," states: "The U.S. is a business-run society, which means that human rights are subordinated to the overwhelming, overriding need of profit for investors. Decisions are placed in the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies, which means that even if formal democratic practices exist, as they do, they're of peripheral significance." Business should reflect, not contradict, our political ideology.
The media, in its various formats, promotes a host of negative influences. For example, the tone of many video and computer games, as well as films, and television programs, seems to be violence as entertainment, since they involve killing people, power over others, revenge, and causing pain and suffering. Scores of the games are usually based on the quantity and speed of destruction. PC Magazine reviewed and praised an addictive computer game called Dungeon Keeper, where, for $45, you can become a "nasty, evil villain." Quoting their review: "The goal of the game is to build a dungeon and then defend it against the do-gooder heroes who are out for your gold. " The player creates rooms, including the treasure room, the torture chamber, and the graveyard. If your workforce of "imps" are not working fast enough, you can speed them up by "slapping them around." Are enterprising game developers feeling the pulse of the growing number of greedy, aggressive, and indifferent people that Philip Slater described in his book Wealth Addiction?
The Internet has launched a vast information economy that permits us to access an astounding amount of information and exchange ideas or opinions. However, the absence of feeling or connection neutralizes the quality of contact. George Bond, the editor of Byte Magazine, in an editorial titled "Bosnia On-Line" commented on the dream of democratic forums:
Once upon a time, some of us slogging through the mud of the information cow path believed computer-based communications would build cohesive, coherent communities. We saw conferencing systems as the vehicle to bring people together in great democratic forums. In our fantasies, we saw the realization of what the early Greek philosophers had described and dreamed. Boy, were we wrong! Instead of leading people to a golden age, the Internet and other conferencing systems are simply reflecting the world at large. Instead of becoming a great gathering place for the democratic exchange of ideas, the Internet in particular is becoming a fragmented world riddled with enclaves of xenophobic, crabby egotists.
The Internet is also crammed with "get rich quick" e-mail spamming, news group flaming, and pornography. An abundance of information should not be mistaken for wisdom. Freedom without responsibility is anarchy, not democracy.
In the field of education, although there is significant interest in character education, and education for democracy, there is widespread disagreement about what constitutes character, how it is formed, and how to improve it. And in the arena of psychology, we have seen a remarkable proliferation of value-free, short-sighted psychologies that also promote the well-being of individuals, but seem indifferent to the impact of those individuals on our democratic society.
Positive Influences and Solutions
To balance out the picture of the state of democratic functioning in this country, I'll now turn to some positive influences and solutions proposed by a variety of authors. On the political/philosophical level, Vaclav Havel has suggested a wider sense of political responsibility: "Democracy is the unfinished story of human aspirations ... man must discover again within himself, a deeper sense of responsibility toward the world, which means responsibility toward something higher than himself." Havel's call for self-transcendance to attain political health echoes Adler's ideas about the necessity for overcoming egocentricity to attain psychological health.
Economics can use an infusion of democratic thinking. In his book Socioeconomic Democracy, Robley George has proposed some form of universal guaranteed personal income, as well as a maximum allowable level of personal wealth. In One World, Ready or Not, William Greider calls for a democratization of capitalism, universalizing wealth, and a reform of the credit system. On the aesthetic frontier, Frank Lloyd Wright, America's greatest architect, in An Architecture for Democracy, spoke eloquently for the rights of every American to have a piece of land of his own and an affordable, environmentally enriching home. Correcting our severe economic inequities will be a difficult task, with an understandable resistance from those accustomed to privilege and power. A dangerous climate of mutual contempt between rich and poor must be overcome for us to feel united in a quest for "the common good."
Fortunately, business is making some forward-thinking, humanistic movements. In Good Company: Caring as Fiercely as You Compete: Lessons from America's Best Companies, Hal Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin Peters provide an abundance of ideas and examples of companies that put their people first. They open their book with the following introduction: "Business can have an overwhelming effect on our lives, perhaps more than anything else except our family and loved ones. Business can contribute to our happiness, but it can also make our lives miserable. Companies can not only positively influence lives, they have an obligation to do so. Companies have every right to expect the very best from their employees, but only when they create an environment worthy of it." They conclude with the statement: "Companies can be built on friendship, a company where people fight for success because they care so much about each other." Their book reflects the ideas developed by fourteen American companies that meet every year for a symposium.
As a contrast to the mean-spirited video and computer games, I have wondered whether it would be possible to create positive games based on the qualities of cooperation, love, affection, empathy, compassion, understanding, and helping. Scoring could be based on the circle of community feeling one might develop, radiating out in concentric circles from the self, to a parent, sibling, spouse, family, neighborhood, community, city, state, nation, world, and other species.
The Internet has provided an unprecedented opportunity to disseminate information world-wide at a very reasonable cost, democratizing the availability of information. Since September of 1996, the Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco has maintained a Classical Adlerian web site at http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/ devoted to Adler's original teachings and their relevance to democratic living. In six years, nearly 225,000 visits to the site have been logged in; 70,000 people have visited the original discussion forum established on Behavior OnLine; and 60,000 people have visited the new Yahoo-sponsored discussion forum in the past four years. Now, about 400 people visit our site each day. Our mailing list helps us correspond with people in seventy-eight countries. Adler's original teachings and the contributions of other Classical Adlerians are finally becoming accessible from almost anywhere in the world. This easy Internet access fulfills Adler's wish to make his psychology available to everyone.
Education can provide one of the most fertile arenas for early positive influence, especially in the areas of Character Education and Education for Democracy. Democratically run schools, cooperative learning, and service learning curriculums provide the unequaled experience of practicing democracy. The family, however, can provide the most important early positive influence on children. John Gastil, in Democracy in Small Groups, quotes Carole Patemen, who believes that: "Democratic parenting should be viewed as a responsibility of citizenship, on a par with other forms of public service." Our dedication to parent and teacher education has been admirable, but a little short-sighted. It is not enough to encourage cooperation within the family or classroom, the focus must be extended to improving the community.
Psychology also offers a great opportunity for fostering democratic living. Leo Rattner, an Adlerian, in his journal article "Individual Psychology and Democracy," makes a solid connection between the two. "We suggest that in order to be a good psychologist, one must be a good democrat, too. This is not meant in a partisan sense. Rather, it means that every psychologist should develop a personal philosophy, which is based on democratic principles. However, such a personal philosophy would be meaningless if merely lip service were paid to it. More than almost anyone else, the psychologist must make a living reality of democracy in order to succeed in his professional work." I would add that the credibility of any therapist or teacher depends on the congruence of his character with his words.
Potential for Adlerian Contributions
In my opinion, as clinicians and educators we can do much more to contribute effectively to the evolution of democracy. I believe that a synthesis of three powerful sources could provide us with the inspiration and tools for this formidable task; the sources are Socrates, Maslow, and Adler.
The Socratic style of questioning, by leading individuals to their own conclusions, offers the most respectful avenue for discussing the merits and mechanics of democracy as a political system, and for demonstrating democratic living as a way to conduct our daily lives. It is appropriate for children, teenagers, and adults, stimulating deeper, critical thinking, challenging undemocratic assumptions, and eliciting useful conclusions. This style of respectful influence is inherently more democratic than didactic indoctrination. The Socratic method is inherently compatible with Adlerian principles and can be used effectively by both therapists and educators.
Abraham Maslow provides us with a vigorous and challenging dose of inspiration. His vision of the fully functioning, self-actualizing individual, possessing a democratic character structure, reflects the ideal participant of the truly democratic society. Too often, psychology and education get bogged down in what people are, rather than what they can become. Many years ago, Maslow wrote a book called Eupsychian Management about ideal people in an ideal business environment. This suggests a new term, "Eupsychian Democracy," reflecting psychologically democratic people building an ideal, democratic political structure.
Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology gives us a unique set of pedagogic and therapeutic tools that can foster the development of democratic character in a child, and correct the destructive capacity of undemocratic character in an adult. His unity of philosophy, personality model, and treatment principles offer unique and powerful resources that support the evolution of the democratic ideal. I believe that Gemeinshaftsgefeuhl, the "feeling of community," provides the essential emotional and spiritual backbone for the intellectually compelling vision of democratic living.
This synthesis of Socrates, Maslow, and Adler suggests a dynamic role for the Adlerian psychotherapist--as a "full-service facilitator of democratic living." By including civic responsibility and social contribution as therapeutic goals, we establish ourselves as a socially responsible psychology that benefits not only the individual client, but the whole democratic society. A prerequisite for assuming this responsibility is the correction of any undemocratic character structure in ourselves. It is not enough to merely identify our own "style of life," or just call it counter-transference; we have to overcome such tendencies. Consequently, I believe that Adlerian psychotherapists have an obligation to fully overcome any undemocratic tendencies in thier style of life through a personal study-analysis.
Becoming a "full service facilitator" means reaching out with a congruence of democratic character as a psychotherapist, educator, and consultant to improve the main arenas of daily living--home, school, and business. At the core, individuals need to develop more democratic character structure that is congruently reflected in their daily thinking, feeling, and behavior. The purpose of work can be elevated from just "making a living" to self-realization and creative social contribution. Couples needs to learn how to communicate respectfully, and cooperate democratically for mutual benefit. Families need to demonstrate democracy as a living, daily reality in the home. Schools need to provide opportunities for practicing democracy in larger groups. Businesses need to transform from autocratic, profit-driven, psychological liabilities into democratic, people-driven social assets. Adlerians can help at all of these levels by developing the knowledge and skill to do depth psychotherapy, couple counseling, family therapy, career assessment and guidance, and organizational consulting. In addition to providing parent and teacher education, we could offer workshops on "psychology for democracy" to children and teen-agers, as well as adults. More than any other psychology, we have the philosophy, theory, and practice to infuse each citizen with the ability and inspiration to transform daily life into a democratic reality.
Nurturing Our Inner Life
The rich inner life of all human beings must be given a chance to grow and blossom if we are to find creative solutions to the evolution of a democratic way of life. Norman Lear, television producer, and founder of "People for the American Way," adds an eloquent call for a nurturing of the spirit. In a 1990 address to the National Educational Association titled "Education for the Spirit," he stated:
I have a deep concern about what I consider to be an unhealthy reticence in our culture generally, and in education in particular to discuss what may be the most distinctive trait of this remarkable creature. I'm talking about her mysterious inner life, the fertile invisible realm that is the wellspring for our species' creativity and morality. It is that portion of ourselves that impels us to create art and literature, and study ethics, philosophy and history. It is that portion of our being that gives rise to our sense of awe and wonder and longing for truth, beauty and a higher order of meaning. For want of a better term, one could call it the spiritual life of our species.
And yet, as a student of the American psyche, at no time in my life can I remember our culture being so estranged from this essential part of itself. One can see it in the loss of faith in leaders and institutions--the cynicism, selfishness and erosion of civility--and the hunger for connectedness that stalks our nation today.
Most Americans seem to be aware, I believe, that our society has seriously lost its way. Our popular culture celebrates the material and largely ignores the spiritual. Greed is the order of the day in a society preoccupied at all levels with the pursuit of bottom-lines, a society which celebrates consumption, careerism, and winning, and lives by the creed of "I've-got-mine-Jack." We have become a number-oriented culture that puts more faith in what we can see, touch and hear, and are suspicious of the unquantifiable, the intuitive, the mysterious.
Where we drift as a society is determined today more by the decisions of corporate managers--and the values that dictate their decisions--than by any other single influence. Short-term thinking, corrosive individualism, fixating on "economic man"--these are some of the forces that now pervade our culture, at the expense of the human spirit, since business became the fountainhead of values in our society.
Our future is written in our children who are shockingly apathetic to the world around them. This was affirmed recently in two studies by People for the American Way and the Times Mirror Center for People and the Press. As the study notes, 72% of young people consider career success their most important life goal and the third most important goal was "enjoying yourself and having a good time." "Being involved and helping your community be a better place" ranked dead last, the choice of only 24%. Only 12% saw voting as an important part of being of a good citizen. We are talking about young people who are being raised to believe that there is nothing between winning and losing.
Lear concludes with:
If we hope to penetrate to the spiritual quick of today's youth--and spark their interest in the world, in social wrongs and personal morality--the schools cannot avoid the teaching about the core values that bind our society together. The inner life cannot be ignored.
Alfred Adler was a man before his time. He showed us how to awaken the democratic spirit in every human being and harness that individual's creative power for the common good. Today, more than ever, his psychology of values can provide the solution to many of our social problems, an enrichment of our inner life, and a re-vitalization of democracy.
Please Note: This paper may be reproduced, translated, or quoted, as long as complete source credit is included. For information about an audio recording of the original presentation, including a post-paper discussion, check http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/iaip-4.htm .
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director
Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington
2565 Mayflower Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226, U.S.A.
Tel: (360) 647-5670
Fax: (360) 647-5669
Back to Adler Institute Home Page: (http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/)
New Book: The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler
Volumes 5 & 6 of "The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler -
Journal Articles" have just been published and can now be purchased conveniently online at http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/.
Volume 5 contains new translations of forty-three articles published
from 1921 to 1926, reflecting Adler's growing interest in the
prevention of neurosis and crime, child guidance issues of problem
children, punishment, delinquency, neurotic parents, and faulty
education. After commenting on the challenges of puberty, and male and
female sexuality, he offers timeless guidelines for developing a
healthy partnership. In his provocative article about legalizing
abortion, Adler supports a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
Adler also takes on the leading figures in the French Revolution,
unveiling the personality dynamics that sparked a revolutionary
spirit. Finally, he crystallizes his vision of the future and the
direction of social evolution.
In the twenty-six articles in Volume 6, published from 1927 to 1931,
Adler devotes several to the varied aspects of neurosis, including:
cause, prevention, structure, unity, theory, role-playing, and the
similarities to tricks and jokes. In three articles, he amplifies
earlier discussions of dream theory, including the related issues of
sleeplessness, and enuresis. Two articles address crime and
criminals, while another offers a penetrating, timely insight into the
psychology of power. Perhaps the most controversial article of all is
"Alfred Adler on America," wherein he critiques our preoccupation with
ambition, competition, and speed, as well as our tendency to pamper
children. One of the most important statements of his philosophical
position appears in "The Meaning of Life," translated by Sophia de
For the first time, these new translations are providing access to
Adler's great body of work. You can support the Classical Adlerian
Translation Project by purchasing each volume as it becomes available.
Volumes 1-4 may also be ordered online at
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director
Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco & Northwestern Washington
Distance Training in Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy
Web site: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/hstein/
Tel: (360) 647-5670
New Book: Gendercide and Genocide including chapter by Evelin Lindner
"GENDERCIDE AND GENOCIDE""
Edited by Adam Jones
Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, April 2004
Paperback $29.95 (ISBN: 0-8265-1445-6)
Cloth $69.95 (ISBN: 0-8265-1444-8)
The most wide-ranging book ever published on gender-selective mass killing, or "gendercide," this collection of essays is also the first to explore systematically the targeting of non-combatant "battle-age" males in various wartime and peacetime contexts. Representing such fields as sociology, political science, psychology, queer studies, and human-rights activism, the contributors explore themes and issues outlined by editor Adam Jones in the book's opening essay. In that article, which provoked considerable debate when it was first published in 2000, Jones argues that throughout history and around the world, the population group most consistently targeted for mass killing and state-backed oppression are non-combatant men of roughly fifteen to fifty-five years of age. Such males, Jones contends, are typically seen as "the group posing the greatest danger to the conquering force." Jones's article also examined the use of "gendercidal institutions" against both women and men, such as female infanticide, witch-hunts, military conscription, and forced labor.
The subsequent essays -- some original, some drawn from a special issue of the Journal of Genocide Research and other sources -- expand, diversify, and criticize this framing of gendercide. They range from a sophisticated theory of gendercide to in-depth treatments of such topics as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the gendercidal oppression of young African American males, the predicament of gays and lesbians in the face of increasing biotechnological manipulation of human behavior, and the psychology of shame and humiliation underlying generdercides against both sexes. Still other articles take issue with Jones's theories of gendercide, or explore how human-rights organizations have defined, documented, and responded to gendercide and other sex-specific atrocities. A closing essay considers the relevance of feminist and men's studies literatures for the study of gendercide.
For ordering information and a Table of Contents, see:
Humiliation at Columbine High School by Daryn Morgenstein
please read Daryn Morgenstein's paper that she wrote for the course "Conflict Resolution and the Psychology of Humiliation" taught by Evelin Lindner at the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), Teachers College, Columbia University in summer 2002.
Thank you, dear Daryn, for making your paper available to us all!
Humiliation at Columbine High School
As a privileged American, the concept of humiliation may seem a notion far removed from my everyday life; but upon thorough study, deeper understanding and thoughtful introspection, it has become quite immediate and recognizable. Americans, by nature, tend to look at the world in an ethnocentric manner. Thoughts and actions are based on individuality, material wealth and getting ahead. As a society, the United States lacks a holistic vision of the world as a “global village” (Lindner, 2002i) and instead often views American culture and society as superior. In turn, the US is often blamed for much of the world’s problems; in some instances this is warranted and in others the US is a scapegoat for other nations and societies. Regardless of fault, the perception exists. While seemingly responsible for others’ suffering, the US is ironically seen as a society in which those same sufferings are unlikely to occur. Both mainstream American public and many members of the global community consider the US a society in which the terrible violence spurred on by deeply humiliated populations of people would not thrive, could not happen. War, genocide, terrorism, and other acts of degradation occur around the world every day, even in these modern times. As Americans, though, many of us still think that ‘it can’t happen to us’. This is a false perception, a naive and uninformed point of view. Many acts of violence and desecration caused by anger and fear have taken place in the US in the 21st century. Even before the terror attacks of Sept 11th, a day that has clearly changed history and the American psyche forever (in some ways for the better and others for the worse) horrific incidents of violence have occurred on US soil, perpetrated by Americans and upon Americans, driven by feelings of humiliation in the aggressors. One such incident is what is known as the “Tragedy at Columbine High School.”
Columbine Tragedy Background
On April 20, 1999, two very disturbed, very angry and alienated high school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, after months of planning, take over parts of their high school building, Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, and begin shooting at people (see Appendix A). Over the course of approximately one hour, Eric and Dylan manage to kill 12 fellow students, 1 teacher, themselves and wound 23 others. They “fired semiautomatic weapons at students and teachers and tossed explosives, with one student being hit nine times in the chest by shrapnel, the authorities said ... One bomb exploded in the library, officials said, and one in a car outside. Two more cars were rigged with bombs” as well as a number of pipe bombs in duffel bags placed in the cafeteria (Brooke, 1999, NYT online). The public was shocked but after some investigation, it seems there were signs that had been ignored and warnings that were not heeded. These boys had made detailed plans of the attack, created Web sites that spouted hatred, and built practice bombs. They bought guns and threatened other students. They wrote essays and journals for school that espoused violence and anger. And they were the victims of bullying and alienation from other kids in the “popular” cliques. These are the facts as we now know them.
I remember watching the news from my luxurious college apartment on that Tuesday afternoon. The horrific images on the screen caused so many distinct feelings on a personal and national level: a deep sense of sadness, loss of innocence, fear about the future and the safety of our schools, general disbelief and denial, anger, and a lack of understanding as to the causes of this massacre. We were all searching for the answers to explain how such a tragedy, such a terrible act of violence could occur in the year 1999, in suburban America.
There are a lot of still-unanswered questions. What seems to be behind the facts goes to the question of why. Why did this happen? Why did so many young people with so much ahead of them have to die? Why did Eric and Dylan believe that murder was the best and only course of action – what brought them to this point? Why did no one see the warning signs and try to prevent this from happening?
While we will never truly know all of the reasons that Eric and Dylan decided to commit mass murder and suicide, we can speculate on some of the causes and motivations. There were biological reasons that may have contributed to the boys’ decision. Eric was taking Luvox, a psychotropic drug for a brain chemical imbalance, often used to treat obsessive-compulsive symptoms (WebMD). Some believe that humans can be chemically predisposed to violent behavior and therefore mentally ill. Maybe it was simply a distorted form of teenage rebellion that was taken too far by two boys who didn’t realize the consequences of their actions. Also, there has been much debate over the culpability of the parents and if it is legal and ethical to blame the parents for the actions of a 17-year-old. “Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Klebold come from middle-class, two-parent families” (Wilgoren and Johnson, 1999, NYT online) in which both families were made up of “caring, conscientious parents who structured their lives around supporting their children -- and who believed, from all accounts, that they were on the right track” (Belluck and Wilgoren, 1999, NYT online). Any or all of these factors may be behind the shootings, but overall the biggest driver seems to have been the culmination of the effects of bullying, alienation, rejection, confusion, taunting and abuse - in other words, the culmination of years of humiliation at the hands of classmates and peers.
In the following paper, I will explore the Columbine incident and how it relates to E. G. Lindner’s theories and research on Humiliation as a core driver of violent behavior. I will offer personal reflections on Columbine and Humiliation as a concept, and will then look towards a future that maximizes the potential for peace and coexistence in both global and American society.
What is Humiliation?
Humiliation is a complex, largely unexplored concept that crosses a number of disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, and political science, and must be examined holistically. Avishai Margalit (1996) strives for a “Decent Society,” as opposed to simply a Just Society, which is defined as a society “whose institutions do not humiliate people” (Margalit, 1996, p.1). Taking this a step further, Lindner defines humiliation in a number of her articles as: “the enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that damages or strips away their pride, honor or dignity. To be humiliated is to be placed, against your will and often in a deeply hurtful way, in a situation that is greatly inferior to what you feel you should expect. Humiliation entails demeaning treatment that transgresses established expectations. It often involves acts of force, including violent force. At its heart is the idea of pinning down, putting down or holding to the ground. Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of humiliation as a process is that the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, made helpless” (Lindner, 2000b, p.4).
These two boys were routinely embarrassed, put down, made to feel less than equal to the general population of the school. We all know that high school isn’t easy, isn’t fun, that kids are mean and immature at that age, that people who are different get made fun of. They are described as “kids who nobody wanted to have anything to do with . . . nerds, geeks and dweebs trying to find someplace to fit in” (Brooke, 1999, NYT online). They were members of the “Trench Coat mafia” a gang-like social group of students considered “outsiders.” As other members of the Trench Coat mafia have attested, these boys were bullied and taunted along with other members of the group. They wore black overcoats and dressed in a “goth” style. They were called “faggots,” had rocks thrown at them, got bashed into lockers for no reason; they were ostracized by the popular kids considered “jocks” and “cheerleaders.” They were routinely stripped of their dignity, put down, subjugated, hurt and humiliated.
According to Lindner’s research, there are three types of societies: Pride society indicated by man’s subjugation of nature, honor society indicated by man’s subjugation of man, and dignity society which is based on the notion of universal human rights. It morally condemns the subjugation of humans and illegitimates the notion of humiliation (2000b). Here, there is a high school that should be devoid of hierarchy, in a nation and community that upholds the notion of human rights. The idealized American values of freedom, justice and equal rights should be at play. What has happened, though, is the establishment of a hierarchy based on social standing. The jocks/cheerleaders who bullied Eric and Dylan used “conquest humiliation” (Lindner, 2001g, p.61) to make the boys and other members of their social group of outcasts into inferiors. They then used “reinforcement humiliation” (2001g, p.61) such as insulting them to keep them at a lower social rank. This creates an unequal “master-slave” relationship between different “cliques” in the school, which is a very common practice in the majority of American high schools. The “slave” loathes and admires the “master,” is humiliated by but wants to emulate him, hates being an outsider or feeling alienated but longs for acceptance and popularity.
With the establishment of the notion of human rights in the 18th century, there has been a gradual transition from largely hierarchical honor societies to dignity societies. This shift in global values has created an unstable environment all over the world. The biggest pitfall of this current flux in global perspective is that now the world is more dangerous than ever. There is greater potential for violence, dissatisfaction and uprising as people learn to feel humiliated by any form of subjugation or disrespect. Lindner’s research shows that “the most intense feelings of humiliation may occur in victims who admire their humiliators. In cases where such victims gain access to means for counter-humiliation this will be carried out with particular brutality and may include genocidal killings” (2002i, p.99). Eric and Dylan, while intensely angry at the more popular “jocks” and “cheerleaders,” also wanted to be like them. According to recent reports, “Columbine's male athletes, tall, muscular and radiating confidence and authority in their Abercrombie shirts and jeans, stood out in today's crowd. It was easy to imagine their inspiring envy among some of their less popular classmates. . . 'We'd be walking down the hall, and people would say, 'Stupid jocks,' ' said Brad Johnson, 18, a senior who played for the football and rugby teams. 'I guess it's because they weren't jocks'” (Rimer, 1999, NYT online) (see Appendix B).
These two boys, feeling humiliation in the context of these conflicting, transitional societal structures, were deeply wounded. Their dignity and core being had been attacked and they were traumatized by the bullying and ostracism that they encountered on a daily basis. Lindner has put forth a spectrum that examines the relationship between trauma and humiliation. She asserts that while “trauma may occur without humiliation . . . humiliation may be the core agent of trauma” (2001g, p.51) and places the two at either end of that spectrum. She asserts that at one pole of the spectrum, where humiliation is the core of trauma, that “mobbing and bullying” occur, as it has at Columbine. Here, “an actor intends to humiliate me, wants to teach me my unworthiness in a context where this is not routine but illegitimate and violates my inner core of dignity.” (2001g, p.67) When this violation is turned into trauma, it “happens typically in a democratic society that is built on human rights principles where citizens expect to be treated with respect as an equal among equals” (2001g, p.67). The “jocks” and “cheerleaders” destroyed the boys as people through bullying and the use of “violent” means to keep them down and maintain the hierarchical social order. In a true human rights society, this method becomes illegitimate, the deepest violation of another. This deep violation is the trauma that Eric and Dylan were contending with in Littleton, CO.
Lindner, through extensive research, has created taxonomy around this complex notion of humiliation. I will attempt to qualify the Columbine situation according to this taxonomy and possibly add to it as well. We can look at humiliation in two parts, “1. humiliation carried out as an act by an actor or humiliator, and 2. humiliation felt as a feeling by a victim or humiliated party” (Lindner, 2002h, p.1). Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris act as both humiliator and humiliated in this case. As humiliators, they fall under perspective 1.1, “If you humiliate me, I humiliate you!” They felt the victim of bullying and constant humiliation, and attempted to get back at those who were oppressing them. All elements measured are present, the desire to humiliate, the intention to act, and the act itself (2002i, 2002h).
When we examine the boys as the humiliated parties, the taxonomy is not as clear-cut. They may fall into perspective 2.1, “I feel humiliated without a clear humiliator” because in some cases the oppressor is a social group with vague borders and membership, not individuals - the “jock” or “cheerleader” types. Some of the intentions to humiliate may not be there, we don’t really know. But some of their intentions were there, some members of the popular groups purposely humiliated Dylan and Eric and other members of the Trench Coat mafia and thus became direct, stated targets at the massacre. This perspective does not fit neatly into the stated taxonomy and may need a new category such as “I feel humiliated with a clear humiliator” either due to the humiliator’s own problems or because I’m a scapegoat, as were the Jews during the Holocaust. Also, perspective 2.6 is applicable, “I feel humiliated when others watch.” The boys were bullied and made fun of in front of other kids at school. In addition, though, one can feel humiliated even if no one is there watching, can personally feel degraded and debased within one’s own psyche and heart, in front of only oneself for no clear reason other than because it violates the notion of human rights and one’s personal dignity (2002i, 2002h).
We can view the popular kids within this structure as well. When looking at the “jocks” and “cheerleaders” as the humiliators, 1.1 may be applicable, “if you humiliate me, I humiliate you,” but it may be a displacement of focus, a blaming or scapegoating because of their own prior humiliations. Maybe they had felt humiliated at the hands of someone else at some point in their lives and they were taking it out on those of lesser social status. Perspective 1.3 may be partly responsible: “I humiliate you simply because my honor requires it.” It is possible that the “jocks” and “cheerleaders” were seeking to move up on the social ladder and in order to do so had to subjugate others, either because of peer pressure or because, as in honor societies, it is the expected and informally condoned response. In this case it is a question of status. According to the measurements, the desire to humiliate may or may not be there (it is not required), but the intention to act is there and the act itself does occur. Another possibility may be 1.4, “I humiliate you simply to enfeeble you” in which the humiliator does not necessarily want to humiliate, but seeks to gain something from it and therefore feels it is a necessary action. It may be that these popular kids were simply insecure and thought they needed to push others down in order to elevate themselves, in order to make themselves look and feel better. We will never know the true extent of the situation unless direct primary research is done by interviewing the parties involved. Again, this example does not fit into the current taxonomy and may require the addition of another category, such as “I humiliate you to humiliate you” because I can and want to, or “I humiliate you to strengthen myself” which is close to 1.4 but with the desire to humiliate. At first glance, what seems to be the gap in this case is the failure of the taxonomy to deal with pure malicious intent. Lindner seems to be basing her taxonomy on an overall assumption that human beings are good at heart, but I don’t know that to be true. Obviously, a belief such as this is part of one’s personal philosophy about life and is not going to be explored in this paper, but the apparent gap in the taxonomy raises a question about the existence of pure evil. I will return to this topic again at the end of this paper (2002i, 2002h).
When looking at the popular kids as the humiliated victims, in conjunction with 1.1, category 2.1 seems applicable. Maybe they had been humiliated at another point in their lives. Again, though, the missing perspective mentioned above seems to fit: “I feel humiliated with a clear humiliator” because someone wanted revenge on me, whether warranted or not. It is clear that they are the victims of Dylan and Eric’s murderous, vengeful rampage. It is clear that every student and teacher at Columbine High School was a victim, but at the same time I don’t believe that being a victim necessarily leads to humiliation in every case. Those who did feel humiliated in this case, though, knew who was intentionally trying to humiliate them (2002i, 2002h).
Possible Responses to Humiliation:
There are four ways of reacting to painful subjugation: a.) pain that is accepted as God’s will (as is found in honor societies), b.) pain that is not accepted that in turn causes depression or self-humiliation, c.) pain that is not accepted and leads to “the desire to ‘pay back’ with acts of humiliation: genocide, terror attacks, violent uprisings” or d.) pain that is not accepted but is dealt with by forming constructive solutions. (2002i, p.34) According to Lindner, it is likely that “if people feel humiliated, they [will] strike back when they can” (Lindner, 2001f, p.2); that “unforgivable humiliations trigger unforgiving responses” (2000b, p.13). In other words, a person or group can either take their feelings of frustration, anger and hatred and follow the nonviolent, humanitarian example of a leader like Nelson Mandela (option d above); or they can follow the destructive, violent teachings of a leader such as Adolf Hitler (option c above). In this case, Dylan and Eric chose violence and murder, even going so far as to associate themselves with teachings and dogma of Hitler and neo-Nazism. Hitler played on the destructive strategies of action, on the vengeful, angry energy that lives inside those who feel humiliated. Part of what draws the alienated and oppressed to violence is “the desire (among other things) to immerse oneself in something large, heroic and exciting, to feel not only a sense of purpose but a sense of belonging . . .[which will in turn lead to] positive sources of gratification” (Lindner, 2000a, p.6). The boys sought such a release for their energy. One student is quoted as having reported “he just put the gun in my face and started laughing and saying it was all because people were mean to him last year” (Brooke, 1999, NYT online). They created Websites, journals, and school essays that contained and promoted extreme violence, that expressed their uncontrollable anger and identification with Hitler’s legacy (see Appendix C). They chose to misdirect their energies in destructive strategies of coping instead of peaceful ones.
The result, as we know, is one of murder, suicide, woundings and a continuation of the cycle of humiliation. “Feelings of humiliation may lead to acts of humiliation perpetrated on the perceived humiliator, setting off cycles of humiliation in which everyone who is involved feels humiliated” (Lindner, 2001d, p.5). This cycle of humiliation can come back in many forms, terrorism, genocide, kidnapping, murder, etc. This varies depending on the situation and the environment as well as on if the humiliation occurs on a universal, group, or individual level. Here it is on an individual level but also on a group level, as the Columbine tragedy was perpetrated by two students, but affected an entire nation and also stood for the experiences other teenagers were having around the country. In essence, the humiliated party, the two boys, attempted to humiliate or retaliate on those who oppressed them. They took their “resentment, frustration, fear and anger . . .[and made] these energies available to be directed at plausible targets that come within reach” (2001f, p.12). The kids used their negative feelings brought on and enhanced by humiliation, and directed them at those they perceived as the oppressors.
Minimizing Violence and Humiliation in the Future:
As discussed above, there is a greater risk for violence, terrorism, genocide, bullying, etc. during this fluctuating time of transition to a “global village” of dignity societies. The move has started, though, from the hierarchical pyramids of power to an egalitarian world in which core human dignity is afforded to everyone. It is a tough road and a long journey until we reach the ideal society, if such a utopia can ever exist. Each member of the human race is taxed with embracing the Mandelas and coming up with constructive solutions to feelings of humiliation and injustice while rejecting the cycle of violence and rhetoric of the Hitlers. Humans need to acquire a greater maturity of the individual self, of the group self and of the universal self. Each parent must teach its child about global responsibility, tolerance, multiculturalism, and universal human dignity. We must each act respectively toward all others and ourselves. There needs to be an influx of committed third parties who believe in and work towards a peaceful future in the “global village,” not just critics and “innocent” bystanders who expect someone else to fix the world’s problems. And hypocrisy should be rejected, a task particularly directed at the US. One of the biggest reasons why the US is blamed for many of the world’s problems and for being a frequent humiliator is that we preach human rights but do not always practice them when dealing with other nations, or even within our own borders as evidenced by the Columbine Tragedy. A twenty-to-two ratio is necessary to effect such change (2002i, p.111). It takes everyone, every human, to be involved in this cause. In the US, even after 9/11/02, Americans are still largely apathetic and uninvolved in effecting true global change. We must all engage in the ”game,” as we are all a part of winning or losing it.
In the end, I don’t necessarily feel sympathy for these two boys, as I don’t at all feel sympathy for the Nazis or any other group of people who commit atrocious murders and acts of violence, but I do see a similarity in that a core driver of the violence is their own feelings of humiliation. By looking at this complicated notion of humiliation, we come to an increased understanding of humiliators and perpetrators as human beings who have acted out of their own suffering. This leads me back to the question of pure evil – does it truly exist or is it just a lack of understanding on the world’s part to assign the term “evil” to something we cannot empathize with or explain? Is it just easier to call someone evil and erase seeing them as human than it is to try to understand what could possibly motivate one to commit unspeakable acts? And if the public is willing to look closely at a situation or a people or an individual and explore their identity, experiences, feelings, circumstances, etc. to try to gain understanding, will such understanding always lead back to universal humanity and the disbelief in pure evil? Such are the questions of philosophy and life to ponder.
Appendix A; http://www.angelfire.com/tx2/coroner/columbin.html
Hitler is cool.
and football sucks too.
Negroes need to put down
their forties and
head back to Africa.
and should be bombed.
the real death camp guards.
The holocaust never happened,
but it would have been cool if it had.
The big secret is that
cheerleaders have more problems
with gas than average Americans.
Doom is a fun game.
German industrial music is better than
all other music.
If something explodes,
it's cooler than if it doesn't.
Well all you people out there can just kiss my ass and die. From now on I don't give a fuck what almost any of you mutha fuckas have to say, unless i respect you which is highly unlikely, but for those of you who happen to know me and know that i respect you, may piece be with you and dont be in my line of fire. for the rest of you, you all better fucking hide in your houses because im comin for everyone soon, and i WILL be armed to the fuckin teeth and i WILL shoot to kill and i WILL fucking KILL EVERYTHING! No i am not crazy. crazy is just a word. to me it has no meaning. everyone is different. but most of you fuckheads out there in society, going to your everyday fucking jobs and doing your everyday routine shitty things, i say fuck you and die. if you got a problem with my thoughts, come tell me and ill kill you, because.........god damnit, DEAD PEOPLE DONT ARGUE!
God DAMNIT I AM PISSED!!
Belluck, Pam and Wilgoren, Jodi. “SHATTERED LIVES -- A special report; Caring Parents, No Answers, In Columbine Killers' Pasts,” New York Times. 29 June 1999: 3938 words. Online. 28 June 2002.
Brooke, James. “TERROR IN LITTLETON: THE OVERVIEW; 2 STUDENTS IN COLORADO SCHOOL SAID TO GUN DOWN AS MANY AS 23 AND KILL THEMSELVES IN A SIEGE,” New York Times. 21 April 1999: 2143 words. Online. 28 June 2002.
“Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.” Disastercenter.com. Online. 12 June 2002.
“Fluvoxamine.” WebMD Health. 2000. Online. 28 June 2002.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2000c). The ‘Framing Power’ of International Organizations, and the Cost of Humiliation. 2000. Oslo: University of Oslo, draft under review.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2001d). “The Lessons of Humiliation.” New Routes, A Journal of Peace Research and Action. 6 (3) (10 pages). 2001.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2001f). Humiliation and the Human Condition: Mapping a minefield. In Human Rights Review 2 (2), 46-63. 2001.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2001g). “Humiliation – Trauma That Has Been Overlooked: An Analysis Based on Fieldwork in Germany, Rwanda/Burundi, and Somalia.” TRAUMATOLOGYe, 7 (1) Article 3 (32 pages). 2001.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2001e). “Moratorium on Humiliation: Cultural and “Human Factor” Dimensions Underlying Structural Violence.” Discussion paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on Structural Threats to Social Integration: Indicators for Conflict Prevention, Session 2: Structural threats to social integrity, UN. 2001.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2002i). Class presentation, Conflict Resolution and the Psychology of Humiliation. 6/14 – 6/16/2002.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2002h). The Taxonomy of Humiliation. Oslo: University of Oslo, manuscript submitted for publication. 2002
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2000a). “Were Ordinary Germans Hitler’s “Willing Executioners”? Or Were They Victims of Humiliating Seduction and Abandonment? The Case of Germany and Somalia.” IDEA: A Journal of Social Issues, 5 (1). 2000.
Lindner, Evelin Gerda (2000b). What Every Negotiator Ought To Know: Understanding Humiliation. Oslo: University of Oslo, manuscript submitted for publication. 2000
Lindsey, Daryl. “A Reader’s Guide to the Columbine Report.” Salon.com News. 17 May 2000. Online. 12 June 2002.
Margalit, Avishai (1996). The Decent Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
“Monsters Among Us.” Tragedy at Columbine High. 17 May 1999. Online. 12 June 2002.
Rimer, Sara. “TERROR IN LITTLETON: THE SCHOOL; Good Grades, Good Teams and Some Bad Feelings,” New York Times. 22 April 1999: 1083 words. Online. June 28, 2002.
Trench Coat Mafia Homepage. Online 12 June 2002.
“Wie gehts.” Homepage of Eric Harris. 1996-1998. Online. 12 June 2002. http://www.homepagez.com/trenchcoat/rebdomindex.html
Wilgoren, Jodi and Johnson, Dirk. “TERROR IN LITTLETON: THE SUSPECTS; Sketch of Killers: Contradictions and Confusion,” New York Times. 23 April 1999: 2490 words. Online. 28 June 2002.
Gacaca in Rwanda by Cyrien Kanamugire
please read the article on Gacaca in Rwanda by Cyrien Kanamugire (see Advisory Board) further down. Anybody who wishes to translate this text into English is most welcome!
La phase décisive des Juridictions Gacaca
Cyrien Kanamugire, journaliste et licencié en Droit,
Rwanda, Avril 2004
Devant l’énorme contentieux judiciaire créé par la présence de plusieurs milliers de présumés coupables ayant trempé dans le crime de génocide de 1994, le gouvernement rwandais a tenté de résoudre le problème par la création des juridictions populaires dites GACACA (Gazon en Kinyarwanda), inspirées du modèle de justice traditionnelle, combinée avec les techniques de la procédure pénale moderne, mais confiées à la population elle-même et non aux professionnels du droit.
Créées par une loi organique du 26.1.2001, les Juridictions Gacaca ont été lancées dès le mois de Juin 2002, dans 12 localités à titre d’essai. Les 12 localités comptaient 80 sièges des Juridictions Gacaca qui devaient fonctionner. Cinq mois plus tard, un autre ballon d’essai fut lancé au mois de novembre 2002, dans 106 nouvelles localités. Cela portait à 118 les secteurs dotés des juridictions Gacaca qui devaient servir d’échantillon pilote. Au total 758 Juridictions étaient en fonction dès le mois de Novembre 2002. La phase pilote doit s’achever à la fin du mois d’avril 2004.
A partir du mois de Juin 2004, le processus va s’étendre sur toutes les collines du Rwanda. On compte environ 8852 Juridictions Gacaca qui doivent alors entrer en fonction. C’est une opération gigantesque, une véritable aventure judiciaire des temps modernes, qui demande une logistique considérable, et un suivi ininterrompu, afin de s’assurer que ses objectifs seront atteints dans le strict respect des droits de la personne. On redoute évidemment des risques d’embouteillage, de réactions incontrôlées et de graves menaces qui pèseront sur les témoins, en particulier les quelques rescapés du génocide.
Pourquoi les Juridictions Gacaca?
Au lendemain du génocide commis au Rwanda au printemps 1994, plus de 100.000 détenus se sont retrouvés dans les prisons du pays. Bien entendu, les procédures d’arrestations et de détention n’avaient pas été suivies. L’appareil judiciaire étant entièrement détruit, et le personnel judiciaire se comptait par dizaines.
Pour juger les milliers de présumés coupables, les observateurs les plus optimistes donnaient aux juridictions classiques rwandaises, au minimum 200 ans.
Avec un tissu social entièrement déchiré, un besoin urgent de réconciliation nationale, des victimes et des accusés qui réclamaient justice, des prisons pleines à claquer sans possibilité d’entretenir tout ce monde, avec une économie exsangue et sous perfusion, le système juridique moderne, en l’occurrence Romano-Germanique hérité de la colonisation, ne pouvait être d’aucun secours. Le droit moderne n’ait pas été conçu pour juger le crime de génocide, commis par un peuple sur ses propres compatriotes, qui de surcroît doivent toujours cohabiter dans la pauvreté, criminels et survivants sur les mêmes collines.
Le Rwanda se devait donc de créer un système qui puisse à la fois accélérer l’organisation des poursuites, réconcilier le peuple avec lui-même, ressouder le tissu social, connaître la vérité sur ce qui s’est réellement passé, amener les coupables à reconnaître leurs crimes et à se repentir, sans viser uniquement la répression.
Puisque les juridictions classiques étaient incapables de remplir cette mission, il fallait ramener le jugement d’où il émane, en confiant à la population elle-même, qui a été à la fois actrice et témoin de ces horreurs commises au grand jour, le soin d’organiser ces procès, en dénonçant les coupables et en apportant les preuves.
STRUCTURES DES JURIDICTIONS GACACA
Le Rwanda, (26338 km2) est divisé en 10 provinces, auxquelles s’ajoute la Mairie de la ville de Kigali la capitale. Chaque province est divisée à son tour en Districts, soit 106 au total. Le District est divisé en secteurs, et chaque secteur divisé à son tour en cellules, la plus petite entité administrative. Chaque cellule, qui compte entre 500 et 1000 habitants, est dotée d’une juridiction Gacaca. Au total 8852 cellules et autant de Juridictions Gacaca qui doivent fonctionner au premier degré.
Chaque juridiction est composée d’un siège de 19 juges durant la phase pilotes, qui passeront à 9 selon les termes de la nouvelle loi remaniée, et d’une assemblée générale composée quant à elle de tous les habitants adultes de la cellule. Pour que la juridiction puisse siéger et délibérer valablement, au moins 15 juges et 100 personnes pour l’Assemblée générale, doivent être présents. Le premier degré de la juridiction est celui de la cellule, dont la mission est la suivante :
-Inventorier le nombre de personnes qui habitaient la cellule avant le génocide,
-Inventorier le nombre de victimes tuées dans la cellule ou hors d’elle,
-Etablir la liste des auteurs de ces crimes avec des preuves à l’appui,
-Recevoir les aveux et plaidoyer de culpabilité,
-Rassembler les preuves à charge et à décharge déposées par les témoins,
-Accomplir pratiquement tous les actes dévolus au ministère public durant la phase d’instruction préparatoire, et au moment de clôturer le dossier, indiquer la catégorie du coupable suivant les indications de la loi.
Au moment des procès, la juridiction de la cellule connaîtra des infractions de la 4ème catégorie, càd des infractions contre les biens (pillage, destruction des maisons, bétail, etc.…). Le 2ème degré de juridiction, celui du secteur, connaîtra des appels du 1er degré, ainsi que des infractions de la 3ème catégorie. La juridiction du District connaîtra des infractions de la 2ème catégorie et bien sûr des appels de la 3ème catégorie. Les présumés coupables de la 1ère catégorie (les planificateurs, incitateurs, superviseurs, meurtriers de grand renom...) seront jugés par les juridictions ordinaires accusés par le ministère public, mais sur les dossiers préparés par Gacaca.
Les critères de catégorisation et les peines correspondantes ont été définis par la loi. Le fait d’avoir plaidé coupable et fait des aveux influence la catégorisation et fait gagner une réduction de la peine.
Qui sont les juges à ces différents niveaux
A part les coupables de la 1ère catégorie qui comparaîtront devant les juridictions classiques, les juges des Juridictions Gacaca sont élus au sein de la population.
Ce sont des personnes supposées être intègres, mais on a constaté que plusieurs suspects ont essayé de se glisser parmi les juges, sont dénoncés et remplacés au fur et à mesure. La phase pilote servait d’essai et ses résultats ne manquent pas d’être instructifs.
La réunion de la Juridiction se tenait sur la place publique une fois par semaine. Chaque habitant de la cellule, ayant l’obligation de témoigner (quoique non respectée) était invité à dire ce qu’il sait, a vu ou entendu. Ainsi, petit à petit, la juridiction dresse la liste des victimes tuées dans la cellule ou hors d’elle, ainsi que les responsables de ces crimes, leurs complices, et si possible les circonstances et les détails Grâce à la procédure d’aveu qui accorde une sensible réduction des peines à ceux qui passent aux aveux, une partie de la vérité est de plus en plus connue. Mais les observateurs estiment que toute la vérité n’est pas révélée.
La procédure d’aveu en prison
La 1ère loi organisant les poursuites du crime de génocide datait de 1996. Cette loi prévoyait aussi la procédure d’aveu, mais n’a pas été suivie. La loi ne faisait aucune concession aux coupables de la première catégorie et qui sont les plus influents, ensuite les prisonniers gardaient encore un espoir dans les leurs qui se battaient encore en RD Congo, dans le but de renverser le pouvoir de Kigali animé par le Front Patriotique qui a mis les forces du génocide en déroute.
Avec l’évolution de la situation en RD Congo, et la défaite progressive des forces qui ont commis le génocide au Rwanda, les aveux se sont accélérés surtout avec la nouvelle loi du 26.1.2001. Par exemple, sur les 3700 prisonniers détenus à Kibuye, en Janvier 2003 et accusés de génocide, plus de 1000 détenus avaient plaidé coupables.
Celui qui fait des aveux le fait d’abord par écrit, ensuite vient le répéter soit devant l’officier du Ministère Public ou devant Gacaca, càd devant la population de sa cellule. En même temps, il demande pardon à Dieu, à la nation, et à la famille des victimes. Certaines révélations sont parfois difficiles à entendre et à supporter. Ainsi on apprend que des mères ont livré leurs enfants, des femmes ont été terriblement torturées avant d’être tuées, et d’autres crimes qui ont été commis avec une cruauté inouïe. Des hommes qui ont tué plusieurs personnes et qui l’avouent sortent des prisons, viennent témoigner sur la colline et osent embrasser leurs femmes et leurs enfants, fraterniser avec leurs voisins, qui leur réservent un accueil presque délirant.
Sont-ils humiliés ou non?
Les témoignages des rescapés à leur tour sont très poignants. Certains sont sortis à plusieurs reprises du tombeau et souffrent terriblement devant ces criminels dont certains sont déjà libérés. Les coupables ont sans doute honte de leurs actes, et pour certains les aveux apaisent leur conscience. Au début ils craignaient la réaction des rescapés, de possibles représailles sur les familles des coupables, mais cela n’a pas été le cas. J’ai entendu certains coupables dire: Ecoutez ce que je dis, ne me regardez pas dans les yeux, je ne suis plus digne d’être regardé en face. Au vu de ce que nous avons fait, nous ne méritions même pas de vivre.
Les rescapés du génocide supportent courageusement les témoignages. Ils ont eux aussi besoin de savoir comment les leurs ont été tués et par qui, même si aucune loi ne leur accorde jusqu’ici de réparation; comme si leur préjudice n’était pas pris en compte. Pour eux, le gouvernement, en se souciant uniquement des coupables, fait une sorte de justice à deux poids deux mesures.
La grande crainte est que les Juridictions Gacaca risquent d’envoyer en prison plus de monde qu’il y en a aujourd’hui. Comme l’a écrit un jour le New York Times, au lendemain du lancement des Juridictions Gacaca, ces dernières risquent de créer plus de problèmes qu’elles n’en résoudront.
Ce dialogue social autour du crime aura quand même un mérite: Faire prendre conscience à l’homme rwandais qu’il été plus sauvage que les bêtes, tout en lui montrant la possibilité de retrouver la voie de la grandeur, dans l’espoir d’un plus jamais ça (Never Again). Car il serait plus dangereux de le laisser ignorer l’un et l’autre comme l’a dit le philosophe Blaise Pascal dans ses pensées.
Rwanda, Avril 2004
Monthly News Bulletin of Dignity International: May 2004
INTERNATIONAL: MONTHLY NEWSBULLETIN - May 2004
* Fighting Poverty in an Enlarged Europe Dignity assists a national
consultation in Slovenia on “Poverty & Social Exclusion”
* Simone Andrade joins the Dignity Team
* Dignity in East Africa
* Nairobi evictions latest updates
* Giving Teeth to ESC Rights Mandate of the UN Working Group Renewed
* Successful Start to the Campaign in Support of the UN Norms
* ESCR Resolutions from the UN Commission on Human Rights
* Human Rights and Sexual Orientation
* NGO Interventions at the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights 32nd session
* World Social Forum Updates
* 2004 Social Watch Report
* Global Monitoring Report 2004
* Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO) European Regional Conference (5-7
* Interaction Annual Forum (17-19 May)
* European Roundtable on ESC Rights (24-25 May)
*** Fighting Poverty in an Enlarged Europe - Ten new member states joins the
European Union today - 1 May. A few days prior to joining the European
Union, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of Slovenia in
partnership with the Youth Council of Slovenia organised a national
consultation on « Poverty and Social Exclusion ». The consultation was held
at Portoroz from 22-24 April.
Dignity International was invited assist with the consultation and to make
an input on how a human rights framework can be far reaching in tackling
poverty and social exclusion.
The European Anti Poverty Network (EAPN) who participated in the
consultation said that «…social cohesion is the greatest challenge for an
In the enlarged European Union one of the wealthiest regions of the world,
there are 68 million people who, according to official statistics, face
This new enlargement of the European Union will bring great opportunities as
well as huge challenges, said EAPN. In order to counter the negative
discourse which has surrounded this enlargement in some ‘old’ Member
States - with talks of large numbers moving to take advantage of social
protection systems and fears of social dumping - EAPN calls for a vision of
enlargement based on real commitments rather than nice words on the 1st of
May. “There is an urgent need of reinforcing social policy strategies, in
particular the Social Inclusion Strategy and the process of National Action
Plans on social inclusion, while at the same time reforming economic and
financial policies within a social perspective”, said Michaela Moser,
coordinator of the EAPN strategic group on enlargement.
*** Simone Andrade - From 1 May, Simone Andrade, joins the Dignity
International team as a Learning Associate. As a central member of the team
she will work closely with the Director and assist in all aspects of
Simone holds a European Masters Degree in Human Rights & Democratisation
(E.MA) and has previously worked as a Juridical Assistant at the Commission
for the Defence of Human Rights at the Legislative Assembly of the State of
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Welcome on board Simone ! Simone can be contacted at
*** Dignity in East Africa Dignity´s Executive Dirctor, Aye Aye Win will
undertake a mission to Tanzania and Kenya. The purpose of the mission will
be to develop a strategy for the region, and how Dignity could assist a
regional processes for ESCR learning. She will meet with Dignity´s Board
Member Mr. Theophilus Mlaki, our regional coordinator Thomas Nzumbi and with
local groups (already active and not yet active on ESC Rights). Aye Aye Win
will be in Tanzania from 4-9 May and Kenya from 10-14 May. The mission is
coordinated by Thomas Nzumbi email@example.com
*** Latest on the Nairobi Evictions The last Dignity news bulletin,
reported that an International Campaign against demolitions of 42,000
shelters and evictions in Nairobi of 354,000 people.
The latest on the Nairobi evictions is that one of the state corporations
involved (Kenya Railways) has eventually, after a series of negotiations
involving the community and their lawyer, agreed to formally withdraw its
eviction notices pending the resettlement plans by the government. This was
formally recorded in the court on 26 April. (Source Odindo Opiata of kituo
cha sheria, Kenya)
*** Giving Teeth to Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights - Mandate of
the UN Working Group on an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights renewed - On Friday, 23rd April, the
Commission on Human Rights closed its 60th session during which it voted to
approve a further two years for the Working Group for an Optional Protocol
to the International Covenant on ESC Rights.
The vote to renew the WG’s mandate is a success for the numerous NGOs
working together to keep the Optional Protocol process going. Currently,
there is no mechanism for the complaints of individuals when their rights
under the Covenant are violated. Mechanisms for individual complaints
already exist for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
but many governments have resisted a similar move for the ICESCR.
Food Information Action Network, FIAN and other NGOs welcomed this outcome,
which secures the continuation of discussions on the elaboration of an
Optional Protocol for the coming two years. However, the results so far have
fallen behind expectations. Although many states have expressed their
support for an Optional Protocol, no concrete drafting proposals have so far
taken place. States that support an Optional Protocol have been facing tough
resistance from unsupportive states that question the entire process.
Nevertheless, the renewal of the mandate of the Working Group for another
two years opens up the possibility of beginning the actual drafting of the
Optional Protocol by 2006. Source (FIAN International
*** Successful Start to the Campaign in Support of the UN Norms: The UN
Norms Campaign, a new global campaign to strengthen corporate
accountability, achieved an important breakthrough as the UN Commission on
Human Rights confirmed the importance and priority accorded to companies’
responsibilities in relation to human rights and acknowledged the need to
strengthen standards. For the first time, the Commission has put companies’
human rights responsibilities on its agenda.
The campaign in support of the UN Human Rights Norms for Business was
initiated this year by RAID, Amnesty International and ESCR-Net through the
Corporate Accountability Discussion Group.
For a list of all the organizations that endorsed, plus additional
information on the Norms, please see:
(Source ESCR-Net http://www.escr-net.org ).
*** UN Human Rights Commission 60th session meeting from 5 March 23
April adopted eight resolutions related to economic, social and cultural
rights. Some highlights are:
* The Right to food - in a resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.24), the Commission
considered it intolerable that there were around 840 million undernourished
people in the world and that every seven seconds a child under the age of 10
died, directly or indirectly, of hunger somewhere in the world when,
according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the world produced more
than enough food to feed its entire population; stressed the need to make
efforts to mobilize and optimize the allocation and utilization of technical
and financial resources from all sources, including external debt relief for
developing countries, to reinforce national actions to implement sustainable
food security policies; recognized that the promises made at the World Food
Summit in 1996 to halve the number of malnourished persons were not being
fulfilled; encouraged all States to take steps with a view to achieving
progressively the full realization of the right to food; and encouraged the
Special Rapporteur on the right to food to continue mainstreaming a gender
perspective in the fulfillment of his mandate.
* Human rights and extreme poverty - (E/CN.4/2004/L.32) a resolution was
adopted in which the Commission recalled that to ensure the protection of
the rights of all individuals, non-discrimination towards the poorest and
the full exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and a better
understanding was needed of what was endured by people living in poverty,
including women and children. It decided to extend for two years the
mandate of the Independent Expert on extreme poverty.
* Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of human rights, the
Commission adopted a resolution in which it recognized that the promotion
and protection of all human rights was first and foremost the responsibility
of the State and reaffirmed the commitment to create an enabling environment
at both the national and international levels that was conducive to the
elimination of poverty.
* Cultural Rights - In a resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.25) on the promotion of
the enjoyment of the cultural rights of everyone and respect for different
cultural identities, the Commission recognized that States had the primary
responsibility for the promotion of the full enjoyment of such rights and
for enhancement of respect for different cultural identities; stressed that
cultural cooperation shall contribute to the establishment of stable,
long-term relations between peoples, which should be subjected as little as
possible to the strains which might arise in international life; recognized
that the promotion and protection of such rights and respect for different
cultural identities were vital elements for the protection of cultural
diversity in the context of the ongoing process of globalization; reaffirmed
that all peoples had the right to self-determination, by virtue of which
they freely determined their political status and freely pursued their
economic, social and cultural development; and recognized that the broad
dissemination of ideas and knowledge, based on the free exchange and
discussion, was essential to creative activity, the pursuit of truth and the
development of the personality of everyone and the identity of all peoples;
* Adequate housing - In a resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.27/Rev.1) on adequate
housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, the
Commission recognized that good governance within each country and at the
international level, democracy and respect for the rule of law and human
rights were essential to achieve the progressive realization of the right to
an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing, and reiterated
the importance of, inter alia, infrastructure and services, particularly
those related to water, sanitation, health, transportation and energy;
called upon all States to give full effect to housing rights; to ensure the
observance of all their legally binding national standards in the area of
housing; to protect all persons from forced evictions contrary to the law;
to ensure non-discriminatory access to adequate housing; to promote
residential integration of all members of society at the planning stage of
urban development; to pay appropriate attention to the rights and needs of
persons with disabilities in the context of adequate housing; and to enable
women to obtain affordable housing and access to land; encouraged the
relevant Special Rapporteur to strengthen the integration of the rights
relevant to his mandate into the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure launched
by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme; and welcomed the joint
work of that Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights in developing a joint United Nations Housing Rights Programme, and
invited States to provide support for its effective implementation.
* Structural Adjustment Policies - In a resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.23) on the
effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full
enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural
rights, the Commission recognized that structural adjustment reform
programmes limited public expenditure, imposed fixed expenditure ceilings,
and gave inadequate attention to the provision of social services, and that
only a few countries managed to achieve sustainable higher growth under
these programmes; expressed concern at the fact that the options for
macroeconomic policy of developing countries were constrained by demands for
adjustment and that many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,
still carried very high external debt burdens relative to their gross
national products; and expressed concern that the majority of the countries
that reached the intermediate phase under the Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries Initiative had yet to reach the final stage and that even for
countries meeting all criteria, the Initiative might not result in a
sustainable debt burden.
* Movement & Dumping of Toxic products - In a resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.18)
on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and
dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, adopted by a
roll-call vote of 38 in favour and 13 opposed, with 2 abstentions, the
Commission categorically condemned such illicit dumping in developing
countries; urged all Governments to take appropriate legislative and other
measures to prevent illegal trafficking in such wastes and products; and
requested the Governments of developed countries, together with
international financial institutions, to provide financial assistance to
African countries for the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted
at the First Continental Conference for Africa on the Environmentally Sound
Management of Unwanted Stocks of Hazardous Wastes and Their Prevention
For a summary of the resolutions and highlights from the 60th session of the
UN Commission, see http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/hrcn1088.doc.htm
*** Left outside the scope of human rights protection? - On the same day
that Brazil announced the postponement of a resolution on human rights and
sexual orientation that would condemn discrimination at a meeting of the
U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, a roundtable originally planned to
support the Brazilian initiative took place, exemplifying the need for such
Source: Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United
Nations - CONGO
More information in "Sexual minorities and the law":
*** NGOs address UN Committe on ESC Rights Thirty Second session of this
Committee is currently in session in Geneva(26 April to 14 May). The
committee is examining initial reports from Lithuania, Greece and Kuwait and
receiving second/third periodic reports from Ecuador and Spain respectively.
The agenda of the Committee can be found at
On 26 April, the Committee on ESC Rights heard a series of statements from
representatives of NGOs with respect to the reports which Committee Experts
will examine during the current session.
NGO speakers outlined efforts made by the States parties to carry out their
obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights and underscored failures in fulfilling these rights.
Among other things, speakers focused on disparities between women and men in
Lithuania; forced evictions in Greece due to preparations for the Olympic
games; lack of adequate food and water for vulnerable groups in Spain; food
shortages in banana plantations in Ecuador; and violence against domestic
workers in Kuwait.
Members of the Committee welcomed the information provided by the
representatives of the non-governmental organizations, and said that they
will use it during their consideration of the respective country reports.
The representatives of the following non-governmental organizations took the
floor: Social Innovation Fund, Lithuania; Women's Issues International
Centre, Lithuania; Greek Helsinki Monitor; Centre for Housing Rights and
Eviction (COHRE); World Organization Against Torture; Observatori DESC de
Barcelona; FIAN International; FIAN Spain; the Basque Observatory on
Linguistic Rights; *D Trade Human Rights Equitable Economy; FENACLE,
Ecuador; Habitat International Coalition; and International Organization for
the Development of Free Education.
For a summary report of the NGO interventions see,
OMCT has produced a compilation of all urgent appeals, open letters and
press releases, issued from 2001 till April 2004, on violations of the right
to adequate housing of the Roma in Greece. The compilation can be downloaded
or viewed at the OMCT website at:
http://www.omct.org/pdf/escr/Greece_Roma_April_%202004.pdf and the
intervention at http://www.omct.org/pdf/escr/Greece_CESCR_2004.pdf
*** World Social Forum - The International Council of the World Social Forum
met in Passignano sul Trasimeno, Italy from 4-7 April. For the latest
updates from the WSF, see
World Social Forum: a debate on the challenges for its future
Reflections on the process of WSF 2004, seen as a turning point in the
process. Debates and dilemmas focused on the discussion of how the WSF
should develop, the challenges it faces, the new perspectives that it has
opened up, how useful it really is. March 2004.
Source: TNI - Transform
More information in "World Social Forum 2004":
*** Dan Chong, of the American University Washington, DC is proposing to
organize a panel discussion on "Advocating for Economic and Social Rights:
Opportunities and Challenges” at the 2005 ISA conference in Hawaii. He is
looking for 3-4 others planning to
attend that conference to participate in the panel (as discussant, chair, or
paper presenter. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org before 1 June
*** Social Watch 2004 - Fear and want still stand on the way of human
security around the world and are major obstacles to achieving the
development goals agreed to by all countries of the world, concludes the
Social Watch Report 2004. Social Watch publishes a yearly report in several
languages. The reports can be ordered here or be downloaded free of charge.
*** Report Says Time Has Come to Meet MDG Poverty Promises - Poor people in
a large number of countries face little hope of emerging from lives of
poverty and deprivation unless all actors in the development field --
including governments in poor and rich countries alike take urgent action
to address the root causes of poverty, according to a report from the Bank
and the International Monetary Fund. The Global Monitoring Report 2004 warns
that, given current trends, most developing countries will fail to meet most
of the Millennium Development Goals that serve as targets for the global
effort to reduce poverty and improve services for the poor by 2015. There is
an urgent need for all nations as well as for international financial
institutions to scale up action, the report says.
It offers an agenda that includes accelerating reforms to achieve stronger
economic growth, empowering and investing in poor people, and speeding
implementation of the Monterrey partnership, which called for greater
participation by all parties in reducing poverty worldwide.
*** FAO European Regional Conference will be held from 5-7 May in
Montpellier, France - On the occasion of its upcoming European regional
Conference the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations
has published a list of European states that will not meet the target of
reducing the number of hungry and malnourished persons by half by 2015. In
Russia alone, 6,2 Million persons are malnourished, with no sign of
substantial improvement. The report also names two new EU members who are
"not on track" - Latvia and Poland.
FIAN, the international human rights organisation for the right to food has
asked EU governments to take initiatives within to guarantee the human right
to food in the new EU member states. FIAN has also urged European
governments and the EU to fulfill their obligations towards people who are
facing hunger in other parts of the world. This includes a halt to dumping
of agricultural products in developing countries.
More information on the country rating of the FAO can be found at:
ftp://ftp.fao.org/unfao/bodies/erc/erc24/J1959E.doc Source FIAN
*** Forum 2004 The annual conference of Interaction will be held from
17-19, 2004 in Washington, D.C. It is a gathering of over 600 leaders from
US nongovernmental organizations, donors, the US government, academia, and
civil society organizations from the South. The Forum theme this year is
"Operating in an Age of Uncertainty: New Challenges in Humanitarian and
Development Work." Dr. Amartya Sen, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and UN
High Commissioner for Refugees Rudd Lubbers are among our confirmed
There will be a workshop on “A Rights-Based Approach: Expanding the Practice
of Development through a Human Rights Lens” For further information on the
Forum and to regiser see http://www.interaction.org/forum2004
*** The European Roundtable on ESC Rights, Lisbon, Portugal, 24-25 May 2004
This European roundtable is organized by the Government of Portugal and the
International Commission of Jurists. The purpose of this roundtable is to
allow for an exchange of views and the building of a constructive dialogue n
promoting further state and civil society understanding of ESC Rights. The
roundtable will also discuss issues related to the proposed Optional
Protocol and will provide a forum for the exchange of experiences, learning
and strategies towards the further national, regional and international
protection and promotion of ESC rights. For further details, please e-mail
CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES
For the updated Calendar of Activities for 2004, please see
April - June
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Sultan Somjee about the humiliation of prisoners
Sultan Somjee (see Advisory Board) writes the message you see further down on the humiliating abuse of prisoners in Iraq. He writes that "we need to talk about this."
I agree. I just watched CNN, where the topic was discussed. I do not remember what the name of the journalist was, however, he interpreted critical appraisals of the abuse as anti-American.
I think Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies would want to promote stances that go beyond ANTI-this-NATIONALITY or PRO-that-NATIONALITY.
If I may speak for myself, I would like to promote a GLOBAL stance FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, to be heeded by ALL.
Lots of warm wishes!
This is what Sultan wrote:
We need to talk about this. Perhaps the Centre can make a press statement on Humiliation and Human Dignity ref to the images.
Wonder how the Arab and Muslim world is going to deal with these Images of Humiliation ? Not just as leaders meeting and officially registering their protest but more on people to people level of emotions. Were the POW humiliated in this manner during the World Wars I and II ? I am searching for the history and cultural roots for this manner of degradation of human beings. I am aware of rape and torture through pain of sexual organs but not taking pride and photographs showing conquest of the enemy in this way.