Reflections on Humiliation and Dignity
Lindner, in continuous dialogue with Linda Hartling and other HumanDHS members
Longer Paper 2004/2013, always developing further since
See also a very short summary, 2007, and a short narrative, 2004/2013
Adapted from (slightly revised in 2013):
Lindner, Evelin G. (2004). Humiliation in a Globalizing World: Does Humiliation Become the Most Disruptive Force? New York, NY: Paper prepared for the "Workshop on Humiliation and Violent Conflict," November 18-19, 2004, at Columbia University.
Please ask the author for permission when you wish to quote her.
Keywords: circumscription, new technologies of communication and mobility, new visions of the world, ingathering of humankind (globalization, global village), shift to a more relational global life world, weakening of Security Dilemma, shift from fear to humiliation, Human Rights ideals, in-group ethics, continuous liberation of underlings (egalization), ranked worthiness of human beings, equal dignity for all, phenomenon and dynamics of humiliation (expressed in acts, feelings and institutions), honor-humiliation, dignity-humiliation, unequal human worthiness, humility of equal dignity, depression and apathy, genocide, terrorism, constructive social change (Mandela), new public policy, new decent institutions, attention to maintaining relationships of equal dignity, new social skills for maintaining relations of equal dignity and healing and preventing dynamics of humiliation, new leaders, paradigm of policing, social control, male and female role descriptions, liberation efforts, third parties, resolution and transformation of necessary conflict, celebrate humanity, unparalleled window of opportunity, dignism
Humiliation in a Globalizing World:
Does Humiliation Become the Most Disruptive Force?
Evelin G. Lindner, MD, PhD, PhD (Dr psychol, Dr med)
Need for a new global order
A Moratorium on Humiliation
Triple strategy for new public policies
Triple strategy for the resolution of violent conflict
New application of traditional "male" and "female" role descriptions
Triple strategy for subalterns who wish to rise up
Triple strategy for third parties wishing to ensure peace
To understand a globalizing world, we need research with a global outreach, as well as the participation of researchers who have a global outlook and possess experiences that enable them to see the world from different angles. In my case, a specific biography caused me to acquire a profoundly global perspective and identity. This experiential background has led me to conceptualize psychology in specific ways, first, as being embedded within broader historic and philosophical contexts, second, as being profoundly intertwined with global changes, and third, as currently gaining significance. I avoid single interest scholarship, work trans-, inter-, cross-, and multi-disciplinary, and probe how even local micro-changes may be embedded within larger global changes (see my books, among them, Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict, 2006, Emotion and Conflict, 2009, Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security, 2010, and A Dignity Economy, 2012, Honor, Humiliation, and Terror, 2017).
The lack of a clear sense of belonging during my childhood (being born into a family of displaced people) made me particularly sensitive to identity quests and urged me to learn about and become part of the rich and diverse world culture that belongs to all of us, as opposed to being part of any particular national sub-culture. Adair Linn Nagata wrote an article titled Being Global: Life at the Interface (1998), where she explains how living as an immigrant in another culture means living at an interface. In my case, I have accustomed myself to living in many cultures and in many interfaces, more so, I have made the very interface my home.
My personal development parallels recent epistemological trends in many ways. Just to give one example, the field of psychology is now beginning to open up to qualitative research and its potential to integrate quantitative results into larger contexts of meaning (many would say that "physics envy" is slowly being overcome, see Ray and Anderson, 2000, p. 180). My personal development also parallels the present trend toward more relational approaches in social sciences, away from individualistic concepts as they fail to capture the complexities of a relational world.
I believe that both, my personal path and current epistemological trends are intertwined with and nurtured by a growing awareness that humankind is one single family. As long as people lived rather apart, it was not seen as possible, at least not in sufficient depth, that people from different cultural spheres could understand each other. "Cultures" were regarded as a priori separate and almost impermeable containers of Others. First, colonizers forced "civilization" on those others, who, in their view, lacked it, later, post-modern respect was extended to difference. What was not envisioned was that all may partake in one single culture of Homo sapiens, a culture where people react to each other in relational ways, and are perhaps more similar than different.
My conclusion after four decades of global living (since 1975) is that we, the human inhabitants of planet Earth, are more similar than different - similar even in our approach to difference - and that there is ample common ground on which we can build. I suggest that this common ground connects people and draws them into relationships, and, if this trend is cherished, respected, and nurtured, and if people are respected as equal in dignity in this process, it can help turn differences that seem insurmountable into diversities that connect. Differences can become sources of enrichment as opposed to sources of disconnection. I would characterize myself as an intercultural voyager, a term coined by psychologist David R. Matsumoto. Unlike a vindicator, a voyager is willing to invest all energy into the effort of turning the challenges of cultural diversity and intercultural conflict into a stage for forging new relationships and new ideas.
Even though an increasingly global horizon is emerging world-wide and in many ways,(1) still most people respond to the question "where are you from?" with the name of a country. This outlook entails a framing of the world in terms of my people, my history, in relation to your history and your people. In my case, I have developed an identity of being a citizen of the global village, and thus all people's history is my history, and all people are my people. This does not mean a rejection of local, national, or regional identifications; it means lovingly including them within larger outlooks, broadening inner horizons, and going beyond usually taken-for-granted inner boundaries. In my case, side-effects of this inner development are, among others, a longer time horizon as to my academic analysis, and trans- inter-, cross-, and multi-disciplinarity in my academic positioning. Both are dovetailing with current avant-garde trends.
So far, I have not yet met another person with a similar global anchoring as I have developed over the past decades. Yet, I expect that numbers will rise. Ever more people will be drawn into this trend, even if at different rates. My experience and analysis will become more mainstream in the future, both in the lives of lay persons and in scientific practice. Thus, my perspective and standpoint are not only global but also future-oriented.
Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson carried out surveys and interviews which show that we currently witness the emergence of a new movement of people; Ray and Anderson call them the Cultural Creatives (2000). I appear to be at the forefront of this movement with my global outlook, with my quest for broader meaning (as opposed to narrow material or status gratifications)(2), and with my desire to build bridges. I build bridges between what Ray and Anderson call Moderns and Traditionals as well as with what Ray and Anderson would perhaps call Pre-Moderns, and I also bridge the Consciousness Movement and Social Movement that make up the two original branches of what Ray and Anderson call the Cultural Creatives Movement.
To my view, my intuition that humiliation plays a core role in a globalizing world is deeply anchored in my global life world. Few people from wealthy elites, particularly in the West, enter into serious relationships with the rest of the world. Even when they travel, many pay visits, from my country to your country, from my bubble of isolation to yours, and maintain the illusion that the West is somewhat independent from the rest. From such viewpoints, discord can be attributed to culture difference, to them and their culture seen as backward, or their unfathomable nature, ranging from friendly-innocent to ignorant and even evil. Such travelers are bound to overlook that the world is profoundly interconnected and that interdependence is more relevant than cultural difference. And they overlook that these interrelationships are accompanied by feelings and emotions, be they admiration, be they envy, or, when we talk about serious disruptions such as terrorism, feelings of humiliation.
The intuition that grew in the course of my global life is, per definition, less accessible to those who live more sedentary lives, as well as to those who travel from one Western bubble to the next. I suggest that many of the rifts that we observe around the world may stem from a universal phenomenon that is part and parcel of the desire for recognition, namely, the feeling of humiliation that is felt when recognition and respect are lacking (may it be real or imagined). I do not see that ethnic, religious, or cultural differences create rifts by themselves; on the contrary, diversity can be a source of mutual enrichment. However, diversity is enriching only as long as it is embedded within relationships that are characterized by respect for equality in dignity. It is when this respectful recognition is failing that those who feel victimized are prone to highlight differences to "justify" rifts that were caused not by these differences, but by something else, namely, by humiliation.
I repeat, it is my personal experience of several decades of global living that basically all human beings yearn for recognition and respect. It is not a theory, not an opinion or belief that is open to debate. It is a raw experience that I try to find words for and communicate. It is from this vantage point that I share my observation that the desire for recognition unites us human beings, that it is universal and that it can serve as a platform for connection and cooperation. What we have to heed is that the withdrawal or denial of recognition and respect, experienced as humiliation, may be the strongest force that creates rifts between people and breaks down relationships. To my view, in a globalizing world of increasing interdependence, feelings and acts of humiliation represent the most significant phenomena to reckon with.
In this text, I would like to put forward a framing of current and past events that defends this conceptualization. In my work, I treat humiliation as a historical-cultural-social-emotional construct that is changing over time rather than a-historic and simply emotional process (for mechanisms of emotional production, classic names come to mind, such as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, George Herbert Mead, or Erving Goffman, see, furthermore, Collins and Makowsky, 1993, as well as Collins, 1999). To my view, the currently living generations find themselves in a unique historical transition phase from an old honor world (with honor-humiliation as core characteristic) to a vision of a future world of equal dignity (entailing the quite distinct phenomenon of dignity-humiliation).
Let me conclude this section with an example. The downing of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, could be interpreted as a cruel attempt to humiliate the only still existing super-power, the United States.
We learn from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission) in their Outline of the 9/11 Plot the following,
As originally envisioned, the 9/11 plot involved even more extensive attacks than those carried out on September 11. KSM maintains [the idea for the September 11 attacks appears to have originated with a veteran jihadist named Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or KSM] that his initial proposal involved hijacking ten planes to attack targets on both the East and West coasts of the United States. He claims that, in addition to the targets actually hit on 9/11, these hijacked planes were to be crashed into CIA and FBI headquarters, unidentified nuclear power plants, and the tallest buildings in California and Washington State. The centerpiece of his original proposal was the tenth plane, which he would have piloted himself. Rather than crashing the plane into a target, he would have killed every adult male passenger, contacted the media from the air, and landed the aircraft at a U.S. airport. He says he then would have made a speech denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East before releasing all of the women and children passengers" (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission, 2004a, p. 13).
Later we read in the Overview Over the Enemy that "Al Qaeda remains extremely interested in conducting chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks" (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission, 2004b, p. 12).
We learn about the roots of Al Qaeda as follows, "By 1992, Bin Ladin was focused on attacking the United States. He argued that other extremists, aimed at local rulers or Israel, had not gone far enough; they had not attacked what he called 'the head of the snake,' the United States. He charged that the United States, in addition to backing Israel, kept in power repressive Arab regimes not true to Islam. He also excoriated the continued presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War as a defilement of holy Muslim land" (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, also known as the 9-11 Commission, 2004b, p. 2).
How come, we might ask, that the United States, priding themselves for promoting happiness for all and promising unprecedented wealth, a vision enshrined in an enthusiastically idealistic "American Dream," is being called "the head of the snake"? And how come that this is the view harbored not only by a few, but that it inspires hundreds of active followers, or even thousands of sympathizers? Why do these people hold on to such gloomy goals as martyr death? Why do they not flock to American lands, or at least embrace American values? Money does not seem to motivate them, at least not the leaders, since bin Laden and his supporters seemed to have sufficient funds already. Mohammed Atta had nothing standing between him and a comfortable life in the Western world.(3) So, what does motivate these people? Unexplainable hatred? Envy of freedom? Humiliation?
Would it not be wise to tackle such questions before descending into a contest of mutual destruction? Terrorists are hard to track down and difficult to combat as they eclipse traditional warfare methods. Should we not embrace new strategies of safeguarding "security," strategies that include the mindsets of people in violent conflicts? Events subsequent to 2001, including the killing of bin Laden in 2011, and the killing of other Al Qaeda leaders by drones, have made these questions more relevant rather than less.
I have elsewhere pointed out that feelings of humiliation, while they may lead to apathy and depression, may also lead to violent acts of counter-humiliation. Spirals of violent humiliation-for-humiliation may represent the only real weapons of mass destruction we face. Highjacking planes (9-11), or hacking neighbors to death with machetes (genocide in Rwanda 1994), are all very "cost-effective" methods of mayhem that do work when willing perpetrators are driven by sufficiently strong motives. These motives can be feelings of humiliation, both authentically felt and/or instigated by ruthless extremist leaders, the "Hitlers" of our days. I suggest that feelings of humiliation represent the nuclear bomb of the emotions.
On April 28, 2003, conservative Lord Douglas Hurd (British Foreign Secretary 1989-1995, in office during the first Gulf War) spoke about the state of the world after the 2003 Iraq war.(4) Hurd had just returned from a tour through the Arab world and reported that the populations there were in a state of sullen humiliation. Not the governments, he noted - they were rather US friendly - but the people in the streets. Hurd referred to the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saying that U.S. policy is stimulating the bin Laden phenomenon rather than counteracting it. There is the wounded giant on one side, Hurd explained, erupting in energy since September 11, not anymore isolationist but rather imperialist, and on the other side Arab populations who are enwrapped in gloomy humiliation opposed to America roaming their region. Arab citizens want to travel and study in US universities, but not have Americans act like masters.
Hurd's observations are confirmed by others. Shibley Telhami (Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development) wrote: "Today militancy in the Middle East is fueled by a pervasive sense of humiliation and helplessness in the region. This collective feeling is driven by a sense that people remain helpless in affecting the most vital aspects of their lives, and it is exacerbated by pictures of Palestinian humiliation. There is much disgust with states and with international organizations" (Telhami, 2003a, p. 1 (5)).(6)
Having lived and worked in Cairo, Egypt, for seven years, from 1994-1991, as a psychological counselor and clinical psychologist, I can only agree with Hurd's and Telhami's observations. Most importantly, feelings of humiliation were relevant long ago, not just subsequent to 9-11. Western analysts, with the relatively short historical horizon that prevails in Western culture, often underestimate the much longer time frames within which other cultures place their feelings and deliberations. Western experts tend to quickly dismiss the humiliation hypothesis, because in their eyes "valid" tangible grievances are lacking prior to 9-11. However, as I suggest, it might pay to look at longer time frames and consider that not all players follow the Western construct of Homo economicus who merely is interested in short-term material gain. The need to be recognized, validated, appreciated, and respected as important and weighty player on the world stage might be as salient, as may be feelings of humiliation when such respect is perceived to be failing (whether this is real or imagined).
(1)Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson (2000) carried out surveys and interviews and report on the emergence of a new movement, the Cultural Creatives, who have a global outlook (even if global experience is lacking).
(2) I was early on influenced by Victor E. Frankl and his work on Sinn (meaning), see Frankl (1972), and Frankl (1963). Recently, I detected a related Japanese approach of "Meaningful Life Therapy" by Morita and Levine (1998), see also Reynolds (1987).
(3) I remember an Iranian friend living in Norway, a scholar at university, telling me that he came to the West full of hope, feeling that he was "one of us." However, so he recounted, his feelings turned sour when he realized that he was frowned upon, discriminated, and repeatedly humiliated as "one of them." He did not expect to meet such ingrained contempt for "other" people, particularly against those coming from the Arab world or Africa. He explained to me that the West should not be surprised when some people, after returning home from such disappointing encounters with the West, would promote anti-Western views. He referred to Frantz Fanon (Fanon, 1986, Fanon, 1963), who experienced a similar shift from admiration to humiliation and subsequent rage.
(6) American commentator and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (2003) defines humiliation as "the single most underestimated force in international relations." See also the work done by Stern (2003).
In 1994, after many years of international experience - in the fields of medicine and psychology in Asia, Africa, Middle East, America, and Europe, and later seven years in Egypt - I asked myself: What is the most significant obstacle to peace and social cohesion? My hunch was that dynamics of humiliation may be central. This hunch was based on my clinical experience in diverse cultural realms, supported by the widely shared notion that Germany was humiliated through the Versailles Accords and that this gave Hitler the necessary platform to unleash World War II and the Holocaust. Marshal Foch of France said in 1919 about the Versailles Treaties: "This is not a peace treaty - it will be a cease-fire for 20 years."
In 1996, I began to examine the available literature and was surprised that humiliation had not received much academic attention. Search-terms such as "shame" or "trauma" would render innumerable hits, however, not "humiliation." I was astonished, since, if humiliation indeed can trigger war, there must be a large body of research to be found, I thought. However, this was not the case. I thus designed a doctoral research project on humiliation (for a doctorate in social psychology).
In the following, I will briefly describe how I began my research on the notion of humiliation, which then formed the starting point for my subsequent work on humiliation. Since 1996, I am gathering material in a trans-, inter-, cross- and multi-disciplinary fashion from fields such as anthropology, history, social philosophy, social psychology, sociology, and political science.(7)
After laying out my doctoral research, I will explain the current state-of-the-art of related research carried out by other scholars. Thereafter I will discuss how the phenomenon of humiliation is embedded in a larger historical timeline. I will sketch in what way I see globalization at work. At the end I will address what can be done to heal and prevent the destructive effects of humiliation.
Before proceeding further, let me make a little note. In everyday language, the word humiliation is used at least threefold. First, the word humiliation points at an act, second at a feeling, and third, at a process : "I humiliate you, you feel humiliated, and the entire process is one of humiliation." In this text the reader is expected to understand from the context which alternative is referred to, because otherwise language would become too convoluted.
Let me give you, furthermore, one of the brief descriptions of humiliation that I use in my work:
Humiliation means 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 (or in some cases with your consent, for example in cases of religious self-humiliation or in sado-masochism) 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 may involve 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.
People react in different ways when they feel that they were unduly humiliated: some just become apathetic or depressed - anger turns inward - others get openly enraged, and yet others hide their anger to carefully plan for "cold" revenge. When the person who plans for revenge becomes the leader of a movement, mayhem such as genocide and terrorism may be the result. Thus, feelings of humiliation may foment rage that can be turned inward, as in the case of apathy and depression, yet, this rage can also turn outward and express itself in violence, even in mass violence when leaders are available who forge narratives of humiliation that feed on their followers' feelings of humiliation.
There are many points that would merit closer attention and that are not discussed here, due to lack of space. For example, what is the difference between genuinely felt humiliation and feelings of humiliation that are instigated by propaganda or prescribed culturally? In other words, feelings of humiliation may sometimes be felt authentically, and at other times constructed and instrumentalized to form narratives of humiliation. Or, another question, as feelings of humiliation are felt by individuals, how are they elevated to group levels? Or, what about people who are resilient to feeling humiliated even in the face of serious attempts to humiliate them? And why did Nelson Mandela find a constructive way out of humiliation, and Adolf Hitler unleashed a world war? Why did Mandela not instigate genocide on the white elite in South Africa? Also the nature and nurture debate that applies to aggressive behaviour and ethnic and religious identity is relevant for humiliation. And what about primordialist, instrumentalist, and constructivist views on humiliation and its manifestation at different times and in different circumstances? All these questions and many more are attended to elsewhere in Lindner's texts.
Before proceeding further, I would like to make a note on the role of human rights ideals: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," this is the first sentence of the first paragraph of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This sentence gives permission to all those who feel their equal dignity violated to invoke feelings of humiliation. This stands in stark contrast to former times, when unequal worthiness was the very norm and it was regarded as nature's order rather than as violation that higher beings presided over lesser beings. In my work, I speak of the transition from a context of unequal ranked honor to a context of equal dignity. Humiliation plays out very differently in each context.
Many warn that human rights ideals are outflows of Western imperialism. I embrace human rights not because I enjoy presenting myself as an arrogant Westerner who wishes to humiliate the non-West by derogating their honor codes and their rankings of human worthiness. On the contrary, as I see it, honor codes reign in the West as much as in the rest (only sometimes more covertly), and people who endorse honor codes may not be looked down upon in ethno- and time-centric ways. My conceptualization is that honor codes emerged and had their function in a historical context when people did not yet have the opportunity to experience the coming-together of humankind into one single family. Yet, I repeat, the past needs to be approached with respect, rather than with present time-centrism. I believe that human rights ideals represent a normative framework that is better adapted to an emerging global community. Thus, I encourage every inhabitant of the globe to transcend hostile "we" and "them" differentiations and define themselves as "we," as "we humanity," we, who together and in a spirit of equality in dignity search for better ways to provide our children with a world worth living in, a world of dignified and dignifying unity in diversity.
Now to my doctoral research. I conducted a four-year research project (1997-2001) at the University of Oslo, Norway, with field work in Somalia and Rwanda, on the background of Nazi Germany. The title was The Feeling of Being Humiliated: A Central Theme in Armed Conflicts. A Study of the Role of Humiliation in Somalia, and Rwanda/Burundi, Between the Warring Parties, and in Relation to Third Intervening Parties. I carried out 216 qualitative interviews addressing Somalia, Rwanda, and Burundi, and their history of genocidal killings. From 1998 to 1999, the interviews took place in Africa (in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland, in Kigali and other places in Rwanda, in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, in Nairobi in Kenya, and in Cairo in Egypt), and from 1997 to 2001 also in Europe (in Norway, Germany, Switzerland, France, and in Belgium).
As the title of the project indicated, three groups had to be interviewed, namely, both the conflict parties in Somalia and Rwanda/Burundi, and representatives of third parties who intervened. These three groups stood in a triangular relationship (this is the minimum version - where there are more than two opponents, as is the case in most conflicts, the pattern, obviously, has more than three corners). Both in Somalia and Rwanda/Burundi, representatives of the "opponents" and the "third party" were also approached.(8)
Some of the interview conversations were filmed (altogether the author produced 10 hours of film, comprising many interviews, but also images of Somaliland and Rwanda), other interviews were taped on mini discs (altogether more than 100 hours of audio tape), and in situations where this seemed inappropriate, the researcher took notes. The interviews and conversations were conducted in different languages, most of them in English (Somalia) and French (Great Lakes), many in German, and in Norwegian.
After the doctorate was defended in 2001, I began building the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network as its founding president and global ambassador.
(7) See Lindner's texts. The concept of humiliation may be deconstructed into at least seven layers (Lindner, 2001), each requiring a different mix of interdisciplinary research and analysis. The seven layers include a) a core that expresses the universal idea of putting down, b) a middle layer that contains two opposed orientations towards being put down, treating it as, respectively, legitimate and routine, or illegitimate and traumatizing, and c) a periphery whose distinctive layers include one pertaining to cultural differences between groups and another four peripheral layers that relate to differences in individual personalities and variations in patterns of individual experience of humiliation.
(8) The following people were included in the network of conversations that was created in the course of the research:
Survivors of genocides were interviewed, that is people belonging to the groups that were targeted for genocidal killing. In Somalia this included, among others, the Isaaq tribe, in Rwanda the Tutsi, in Burundi Hutu and Tutsi. The group of survivors was typically divided into two parts, namely, those who survived because they were not in the country when the genocide happened - some of them returned after the genocide - and those who survived the onslaught inside the country. The German equivalent of this fieldwork consisted of the network of contacts that I had established, over some decades, with survivors from the Holocaust, and, especially, their children.
Freedom fighters were also included into this network of conversations. In Somalia, interviews were conducted with SNM (Somali National Movement) fighters in the North of Somalia, who fought the troops sent by the central government in Mogadishu in the South; in Rwanda, the interviewees were former Tutsi refugees who formed an army, the RFP (Rwandese Patriotic Front), and attacked Rwanda from the North and ousted the extremist Hutu government which carried out the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. In Burundi, also Hutu rebels were among the interviewees. In Germany, the equivalent of these contacts were exchanges with those aristocratic circles in Germany who opposed Hitler, but also with those, especially from the researcher's family, who advocated human rights in the middle of World War II and paid a high price for their human compassion. Furthermore, the researcher's contacts with people from the occupied countries were relevant, those who tried to sabotage German oppression, for example, the Norwegian resistance movement as well as representatives of the allied troops who finally put an end to German atrocities.
Somali warlords were interviewed who had their places of retreat in Kenya.
Politicians were included, among them people who were in power before the genocide's onset and whom survivors secretly suspected of having been collaborators or at least silent supporters of those who perpetrated the genocide. The equivalent in Germany is the atmosphere of underlying suspicion in which I grew up, generally a mistrust toward everybody of a certain age, but particular suspicion toward the past of people in power, a suspicion that only diminishes as the years pass and people die.
Somali and Rwandan/Burundian academicians were interviewed, those who studied the situation of their countries. As for Germany, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's book on Hitler's Willing Executioners may serve as an example for discourses that are related.
Representatives of national non-governmental organizations were interviewed, those who worked locally for development, peace, and reconciliation. In Germany, the responses to the atrocities of World War II permeate everybody's lives - even those of the generations born after the war - and the researcher's intimate knowledge of a culture of German self-criticism may stand as an equivalent to the pre-occupation with past and present bloodshed, as well as bloodshed anticipated in the future, that characterizes life in Somalia, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Third parties were interviewed, namely, representatives of United Nations organizations and international non-governmental organizations who work with emergency relief, long-term development, and peace and reconciliation in all parts of the world.
Egypt is a heavyweight in the OAU and Egyptian diplomats in the foreign ministry in Egypt who dealt with Somalia were included.
African psychiatrists in Kenya who deal with trauma and forensic psychiatry were asked about their experience with victims and perpetrators from Rwanda/Burundi and Somalia. In Kenya, many nationals from Somalia and Rwanda/Burundi have sought refuge, some in refugee camps, others through various private arrangements. Some, both victims and perpetrators, sought psychiatric help. An equivalent in Germany are researchers who focus on the psychological effects of the atrocities of the Holocaust and World War II.
With respect to Somalia, accounts of people who were close to Somali dictator Siad Barré have successfully been gathered. Masterminds of genocide in Rwanda, those who planned the genocide and organized it meticulously, have not yet been interviewed. Some of them were said to be in hiding in Kenya and other parts of Africa, or in French-speaking parts of Europe, or in the United States and Canada. Some were in prisons in Rwanda and in Arusha, Tanzania. In the case of Hitler and those who supported him, a culture of openness and frank discussion is unfolding in Germany at present, many decades after World War II. The country has entered into a phase of working through past experiences and people who never spoke before, do so now.
The topic has also been discussed with more than 500 researchers working in related fields. As mentioned before, a theory of humiliation is currently being developed by the author, or, rather, images and metaphors make meaning palpable in an interpretative way, since theory shows meaning only in a logical way. Some book projects have already been realized, more are being envisioned.
Work on humiliation and related themes covered by other scholars (as of 2004, see more here)
Few researchers have studied humiliation explicitly. In many cases, the term humiliation is not differentiated from other concepts; humiliation and shame, for example, are often used exchangeably, among others by Silvan S. Tomkins (1962-1992) whose work is carried further by Donald L. Nathanson. Nathanson describes humiliation as a combination of three innate affects out of altogether nine affects, namely, as a combination of shame, disgust and dissmell (Nathanson in a personal conversation, October 1, 1999).(9)
In Lindner's work, humiliation is distinctly addressed on its own account and differentiated from other concepts. Humiliation, for example, is not regarded as a sub-variant of shame. Shame carries a host of pro-social connotations. People who are shameless, for instance, are not seen to be fit for constructive living-together (see Norbert Elias, 1994, and his work on civilization). Shame is an emotional state that is salient when we accept it, albeit painfully, while being humiliated is an assault we typically try to repulse and feel enraged by. Thus, following Lindner's conceptualization, Adolf Hitler managed to transform feelings of shame into feelings of humiliation in the German populace. Stephan Marks and Heidi Mönnich-Marks (2003) demonstrated this point in their work. They interviewed Germans and asked them about their motives to support Hitler. One interviewee, born 1917, described how boring and hard life was in his village and how Hitler's vision lifted him out of his lowly condition. He reported how Hitler "showed" him that his lowliness was not something to be shamefully accepted, but a humiliation that had to be rejected and fought.
Lindner's view that humiliation may be a particularly forceful phenomenon is also supported by the research of, for example, Suzanne M. Retzinger (1991) and Thomas J. Scheff and Retzinger (1991), who studied shame and humiliation in marital quarrels. They show that the suffering caused by humiliation is highly significant and that the bitterest divisions have their roots in shame and humiliation. Also William Vogel and Aaron Lazare (1990) documented unforgivable humiliation as a very serious obstacle in couples' treatment. Robert L. Hale (1994) addressed The Role of Humiliation and Embarrassment in Serial Murder. The phenomenon of humiliation is part and parcel of the material studied by many fields, even if it is not studied on its own account; it has been relevant for research on themes as varied as love, sex and social attractiveness, depression, society and identity formation, sports, history, or literature and film.
Donald C. Klein carried out very insightful work on humiliation in the Journal of Primary Prevention that devoted a special issue to the topic of humiliation in 1991, 1992, and 1999. Linda M. Hartling and Tracy Luchetta (1999) pioneered a quantitative questionnaire on humiliation (Humiliation Inventory) where a rating from 1 to 5 was employed for questions probing the extent to which respondents had felt harmed by certain incidents throughout life, and how much they feared such incidents. Questions were probing being teased, bullied, scorned, excluded, laughed at, put down, ridiculed, harassed, discounted, embarrassed, cruelly criticized, treated as invisible, discounted as a person, made to feel small or insignificant, unfairly denied access to some activity, opportunity, or service, called names or referred to in derogatory terms, or viewed by others as inadequate, or incompetent.
Thomas Scheff and Suzanne Retzinger extended their work on violence and the Holocaust and studied the part played by humiliated fury in escalating conflict between individuals and nations (Scheff, 1997, p. 11). The term humiliated fury was coined by Helen Block Lewis (1971). Consider also Scheff (1988, 1990a, 1990b, 1997). Jan Smedslund developed his Psycho-Logic, within which he describes anger, forgiveness, and humiliation (Smedslund, 1991, 1993, 1998). Note also Masson (1996), Vachon (1993), Znakov (1990), and, furthermore, Israel Charny (1997) and his analysis of excessive power strivings. Psychiatrist James Gilligan, as well, focused on humiliation as a cause for violence in his book Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and How to Treat It (1996).
Dennis Smith, professor of sociology at Loughborough University, UK, has been introduced to the notion of humiliation through Lindner's research and has since incorporated it actively into his work, see, for example, Smith (2002).
Vamik D. Volkan and Joseph Montville carried out important work on psycho-political analysis of intergroup conflict and its traumatic effects, see Volkan (1988, 1992, 1994, and 1997), Volkan and Harris (1995), and Montville (1990, 1993), Volkan, Demetrios, and Montville (Eds., 1990). See also Blema S. Steinberg (1996). Furthermore, Ervin Staub's work is highly significant (see Staub, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1996). See also the journal Social Research in 1997, whose special issue was stimulated by the book The Decent Society by Avishai Margalit (1996).
Richard E. Nisbett and Dov Cohen (1996) examined an honor-based notion of humiliation. The honor to which they refer to is the kind that operates in the more traditional branches of the Mafia or, more generally, in blood feuds. Bertram Wyatt-Brown wrote about Southern Honor (1982). William Ian Miller (1993) authored a book titled Humiliation and Other Essays on Honor, Social Discomfort, and Violence, where he links humiliation to honor as understood in The Iliad or Icelandic sagas, namely, humiliation as violation of honor.
See also Charles Taylor (1993) and his description of the paradigm shift from honor to dignity and recognition. According to Taylor, social hierarchies are the basis for honor and the collapse of these hierarchies is the precondition of honor's transmutation into dignity and recognition. The Enlightenment emphasizes the equality of every human person and the abolition not just of social hierarchies but of the concept of honor.
There is a significant literature in philosophy on the politics of recognition, positing that people who are not recognized suffer humiliation and that this leads to violence, see Axel Honneth (1997) on related themes. Max Scheler set out these issues in his classic book Ressentiment (1912). In his first period of work, for example, in his The Nature of Sympathy (1954), Scheler focused on human feelings, on love, and on the nature of the person. He stated that the human person is a loving being at her core, an ens amans, a being who may feel ressentiment.
This overview does not exhaust the contributions to be found in the literature on the topic of humiliation - or rather on related issues, since, to my awareness, only Miller, Klein, Hartling, the above-mentioned journals, as well as Margalit put the word and concept of humiliation explicitly at the center of their attention.
However, as soon as we turn to issues that are related to humiliation then a wide field of research opens up: research on mobbing and bullying touches upon the phenomenon of humiliation and must therefore be included.(10) Research on mobbing and bullying leads to the field of prejudice and stigmatization,(11) which in turn draws on research on trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD,(12) aggression, power and conflict,(13) stress, (14) and, last but not least, emotions.(15)
In cases where humiliation are to be studied in cross-cultural settings, cross-, and multi-cultural psychology has to be included,(16) and the anthropological, sociological and philosophical embeddedness of processes of humiliation in different cultural contexts has to be addressed. If humiliation between groups or even nations is to be studied, then, evidently, history and political science play a central role.
(10) See especially Heinz Leymann for work on mobbing, Leymann (1990, 1996), and Leymann and Gustafsson (1996), as well as Dan Åke Olweus (1993, 1997) on mobbing and bullying at school. The confusion around the use of the terms mobbing and bullying stems from the fact that these phenomena are addressed differently in different countries. Leymann suggests keeping the word bullying for activities between children and teenagers at school and reserving the word mobbing for adult behavior at workplaces.
(11) Edward E. Jones (1984), Social Stigma - The Psychology of Marked Relationships, is a central book on stigmatization.
(12) There exists a huge body of research and literature, see, for example, Bremner et al. (1992), Eitinger (1990), Everly (1993), Figley (1989), Gerbode (2000), Havermans (1998), Horowitz, Weine, and Jekel (1995), Kardiner (1941), Lavik et al. (1999), McCann and Pearlman (1992), Nadler and Ben Shushan (1989), Pearlman (1998, and 1994), Perry (1994), van der Kolk et al. (1984), van der Kolk (1994), van der Kolk and van der Hart (1989, and 1991), and van der Kolk and Kadish (1987).
(13) Political scientists P. Bachrach and Baratz were among the first to address power and conflict in their article "The Two Faces of Power" (1962) that is placed within the context of the civil rights movement in the USA of the nineteen sixties. See also Tedeschi, Schlenker, and Bonoma (1973) on Conflict, Power, and Games: the Experimental Study of Interpersonal Relations.
(14) Standard reading on stress psychology is Richard S. Lazarus (1966), Psychological Stress and the Coping Process, and Lazarus and Folkman (1984), Stress, Appraisal and Coping. Stress is not necessarily negative, it may also be a stimulating challenge - and there are individual differences why some people thrive under stress and others break. See, for example, Resilience and Thriving: Issues, Models, and Linkages by Carver (1998); Embodying Psychological Thriving: Physical Thriving in Response to Stress by Epel, McEwen, and Ickovics (1998); Quantitative Assessment of Thriving by Cohen et al. (1998); Beyond Recovery From Trauma: Implications for Clinical Practice and Research by Calhoun and Tedeschi (1998); and Exploring Thriving in the Context of Clinical Trauma Theory: Constructivist Self Development Theory by Saakvitne, Tennen, and Affleck (1998).
(15) António R. Damásio, with his book Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (1994), provided a perspective on the important "constructive" role that emotions play for the process of our decision making; it shows how the traditional view of "heart" versus "head" is obsolete. Daniel Goleman, in his more widely known book Emotional Intelligence (1996), relied on Damasio. Among others, Goleman gave a description of the brain activities that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorders. The Handbook of Emotion and Memory by Sven-Åke Christianson (Ed., 1992), addressed the important interplay between emotions and memory. Humiliation is a process that is deeply embedded in the affected individual's relationships, and therefore relational concepts of mind such as Gibson's ecological psychology of affordance are relevant. James Gibson "includes environmental considerations in psychological taxonomies" wrote Looren de Jong (1997, Abstract). Michael A. Forrester (1999) presented an related approach that he defines as "discursive ethnomethodology," where he focused on narrativization as a process of bringing together conversation analysis with Foucault's discourse theory of 1972 and Gibson's affordance metaphor from 1979.
I thank Reidar Ommundsen and Finn Tschudi for kindly helping me to learn about psychological theories on emotion, especially as developed by Tomkins and Nathanson. Silvan S. Tomkins developed one of the most interesting theories of the human being and emotions, see his four volumes of Affect Imagery and Consciousness (1962-1992). See also Virginia Demos (Ed., 1995), editor of Exploring Affect, a book that eased the otherwise difficult access to Tomkins' thinking. Donald L. Nathanson (1996) built on Tomkins' work and wrote on script, shame, and pride. Tomkins did not always differentiate between humiliation and shame and used it exchangeably, while Nathanson described humiliation as a combination of three innate affects out of nine, namely, a combination of shame, disgust, and dissmell (Nathanson in a personal conversation, October 1, 1999, in Oslo). Robert Abelson (1976) addressed the same issues from a cognitive perspective, as compared to Tomkins' personality-psychological perspective. Also the sociology of emotions is relevant, see especially the work of Thomas Scheff on violence and emotions such as shame.
(16) See, for example, the work of Michael Harris Bond (see, among others, Bond, 1992, 1997, 1998, Smith and Bond, 1999). Harry Charalambos Triandis is an important name as well (see, for example, Triandis, 1980, 1990, 1995, 1997). Richard W. Brislin is another relevant name (see, for example, Brislin, 1993, Cushner and Brislin, 1996, Landis and Brislin, 1983).
Conflict and peace are topics that have been widely studied; thousands of publications are to be found that cover a wide range of conflicts, from interpersonal to intergroup and international conflict. The search word terrorism renders thousands of hits in databases. Instead of presenting large lists of publications at this point, I would like to mention some of those that had particular significance for my research on humiliation and where the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network has its affiliations. A pioneer of conflict studies in social psychology is Morton Deutsch, the founder of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR) at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City (see, for example, Deutsch and Coleman, Eds., 2000). Morton Deutsch's crude law of social relations stipulates that "cooperation breeds cooperation, while competition breeds competition" (Deutsch, 1973, p. 367). To my view, only a global consciousness of unity in diversity can realize the promise of cooperation. In a compartmentalized world, cooperation will simply be put at the service of competition.
Andrea Bartoli was the Director of the Center for International Conflict Resolution (CICR)(17) and Chairman of the Columbia University Conflict Resolution Network (in 2009 superseded by the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity, AC4).
Also Herbert C. Kelman was among the first to work in this field (see, for example, Kelman and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 1965, and Kelman, 1999). David A. Hamburg's work as President of the Carnegie Corporation has helped prevent conflict, as he shows in No More Killing Fields: Preventing Deadly Conflict (2002). William L. Ury, Director of the Project on Preventing War at Harvard University, co-author of Getting to Yes (Fisher, Ury, and Patton, 1991), and author of Getting to Peace (Ury, 1999), focuses in his anthropological work on conflict and peace. Lee D. Ross, principal investigator and co-founder of the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation (SCCN), addresses psychological barriers to conflict resolution (see, for example, Ross and Ward, 1995). Dan Bar-On and Arie Nadler (1999) call for more attention to be given to conflicts in contexts of power asymmetry.
Historical and cultural grievances are usually identified as representing the core of deadly conflicts.(18) Such grievances are often identified as regional, historic, cultural, ethnic, religious, or class-based (land and labor). However, as Monty Marshall shows in his book Third World War (1999), once violent conflict has begun, such grievances may become secondary, and a diffusion of insecurity may occur, spreading the disposition to use violence through social networks and thus leading to the "development" of protracted conflict regions. And, furthermore, grievances and cleavages may be instrumentalized or even constructed on the basis of secondary motives; according to Shashi Tharoor (1999) opportunistic political leaders find in ethnic conflict "the ideal vehicle" to maintain or increase power or conceal domestic failures (quoted in Scheper, 2004).
The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) at George Mason University is a central player in the field.(19) Ted Robert Gurr's Minorities at Risk (MAR) project studies core variables determining the emergence of ethnopolitical conflict among 275 ethnic groups worldwide. The results show four variables that impinge on the probability that ethnic groups will initiate political or armed action: the salience of the group identity, the collective incentives, the capacity for joint action, and the external opportunities (Gurr, 2000, p. 7-12). Monty Marshall, founding director of the Integrated Network for Societal Conflict Research (INSCR) program at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM), University of Maryland, wrote the above-mentioned seminal book on protracted conflict and the hypothesis of diffusion of insecurity (1999).
In 1999 and 2000, the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict identified "systematic frustration of human needs" as a major cause of deadly conflict. Connie Peck (1998) highlighted five factors that influence a group's readiness to mobilize: the ethnic geography, the leadership and political organization of the group, changing circumstance in the political environment, demonstration effects of efforts of groups in similar circumstances and/or neighboring countries; and, lastly, the specific group identifications and grievances.
Also Ervin Staub, author of the classic study Roots of Evil (1989), links the evolution of evil in a society with the "frustration of basic human needs and the development of destructive modes of need fulfillment" (Staub, 1999, p. 181). Staub defines evil as extreme human destructiveness that is not proportionate with the causative condition. Basic human needs include, according to Staub, security, positive identity, effectiveness and control over essentials, connections to others and autonomy, and an understanding of the world and our place in it. And, in case such needs are being frustrated, scapegoats may be sought that can be blamed for the dissatisfaction (see also Dutton and Bond, 2004).
Nat Colletta's work on social cohesion emphasizes the importance of vertical linkages between the state, its citizens, and good governance, and horizontal social capital building and bridging relations among communities in multicultural societies (see, for example, Colletta and Cullen, 2000).
(17) See Bartoli, Girardet, and Carmel (Eds., 1995), as well as work by two scholars at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University, such as Robert Jervis (1978), and George J. Mitchell (1999).
The questions that formed the starting point for my research in 1996 were the following(22): What is experienced as humiliation? What happens when people feel humiliated? When is humiliation established as a feeling? What does humiliation lead to? Which experiences of justice, honor, dignity, respect, and self-respect are connected with the feeling of being humiliated? What are the roles played by globalization and human rights ideals for humiliation? How is humiliation perceived and responded to in different cultures? What role does humiliation play for aggression? What can be done to overcome violent effects of humiliation?
How could these questions be addressed? The brutal example of so-called honor killings may provide a stark illustration of how experiences of humiliation vary depending on the overall cultural context, experiences of humiliation and what they lead to, together with experiences of justice, honor, dignity, respect, and self-respect. A family in Norway, for example, whose daughter was raped, might send their child into trauma therapy and would not want to kill her to remedy humiliated family honor. Even the use of the honor-killing example itself in this text, employed by me, a Western author with the best intentions, elicits angry protests, for example, among my Egyptian friends (as happened to me in 2007). Or, in Japan, merely walking around in public with the leaflet of the Osaka Human Rights Museum, where occurrences of discrimination in Japanese society are being displayed, may cause embarrassment (as happened to me in 2004).
It is therefore that I see humiliation as a historical-cultural-social-emotional construct that is changing over time, rather than as an a-historic emotional process. As already alluded to above, I see the generations presently alive on planet Earth in a crucial historical transition from a traditional honor world that entails honor-humiliation toward the vision of a future world of equal dignity entailing dignity-humiliation.
In traditional hierarchical societies, aristocrats defended their honor against humiliation with the sword (in duels, or in duel-like wars, with increasingly more lethal weapons) while inferiors (women and lowly men) had to humbly, subserviently, and obediently accept being subjugated without invoking feelings of humiliation. Men, when they belonged to ruling elites, were socialized into translating feelings of humiliation into an urge to fight back, while lowly men and particularly women learned that they had to swallow such feelings, at least if aimed at superiors, and keep quiet. Superiors were expected to become angry through humiliation, inferiors were expected to become humble.
This state-of-the-world began to hold sway when hierarchical societal systems emerged, together with complex agriculturalism, roughly 12,000 years ago. All early civilizations were built in this way. Until recently, such hierarchical societal systems were regarded as thoroughly legitimate, even as divinely ordained. Still today, in many places, people subscribe to such cultural concepts.
Yet, this scenario only characterized the past five percent of human history. Anthropologist William Ury (1999) describes how most of humankind's history went by relatively peacefully prior to that, with small bands of migratory foragers cooperating within noticeably egalitarian societal structures. The available abundance of wild food provided foragers with an expandable pie of resources and a win-win frame. Roughly 12,000 year ago, a win-lose logic became salient, agriculturalism evolved, and hierarchical societies began to be pitted against each other in war. Circumscription theory is important in this context, see Carneiro (2012). (This is not to be confused with a "noble savage" approach; humans are social creatures and capable of doing what is called "evil" and "good." Furthermore, present-day foragers cannot be used as direct window into the era prior to 12,000 years ago.)
At the present histocial juncture, new technologies of communication and mobility (such as the internet, or transportation by airplanes, for instance), allow for a) new visions of the world, b) the ingathering of humankind (ingathering is an anthropological term for the coming-together of tribes, see, for instance, Ury, 1999) and c) for a continuous liberation push from those at the bottom.
As to a), today, new technologies give humankind access to profoundly new visions of the world. Planet Earth has finally become visible as what it always was, a tiny planet in a vast universe, and home to all humankind. Television news programs around the world nowadays begin with the image of a turning globe, a view that no human being in the past had access to.
With respect to b), technological innovations also enable people to relate to each other in profoundly new ways. People from around the world now communicate directly with each other and meet as never before. The new technologies drive the ingathering of humankind. In contrast to its many destructive aspects, this phenomenon is a promising aspect of globalization, the coming-into-being of one single global village, of one single in-group of humanity: "For the first time since the origin of our species, humanity is in touch with itself" (Ury, 1999, p. xvii). Homo sapiens is about to create a global knowledge society, explains Ury, thus returning to the win-win frame of early migrating foragers, and opening the chance to regain earlier relatively peaceful egalitarian societal structures for the global "tribe" of humankind. Indeed, the term global village signifies that at the global level one single family of humankind is presently emerging and that the notion of out-groups disappears.
As long as the separateness of communities characterized the global theatre, the security dilemma was strong. It left no other option than to live in continuous fear of unexpected attacks from outsiders. The ingathering of humankind turns formerly separate communities into one single community in which relationships play a more prominent role than before. No longer can communities maintain separate "interests" in isolation. The quality of their relationships with others gains significance. The decisive element for potential conflict thus moves from separate interests to the quality of relationships. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, conflicting interests can now be accommodated. If the atmosphere is characterized by dynamics of humiliation, however, conflicting interests risk fueling violence.
The coming-into-being of one single global in-group is historically without parallel. No longer do people belong to separate communities that appear mutually opaque and incomprehensible to each other. People are drawn into mutual relationships, which, in turn, contribute to weakening the security dilemma.
Relationships, however, do not always turn sweet, they can also turn sour. Relationships can range from warm friendship to bitter enmity fueled by feelings of humiliation when respect and recognition are deemed failing. In the wake of the weakening of the security dilemma, the formerly dominant emotion, namely, fear of the unknown outsider, is increasingly replaced by the desire to be recognized and appreciated by one's fellow human beings. This inlcudes feelings of humiliation when respect, recognition, and appreciation are perceived to be wanting. Thus, we can observe a shift toward a more relational global life world, a weakening of the security dilemma, and a shift away from fear toward humiliation as emotional driving force (including fear of humiliation).
Ironically, one might add, many of the technological drivers for this trend toward connection emerged in the opposite context, namely, in a context of disconnection and warfare. Classical warfare, however, turns inappropriate when the security dilemma weakens. Now, these technological innovations give the have-nots the tools to connect and form liberation movements. For the first time in history, continuous liberation efforts are feasible. Both features, the new vision of the world, and the new means for coming together, and thus for continuous liberation efforts of those at the bottom, represent new phenomena and make "lessons from history" obsolete in many ways. Profoundly new ways of thinking must be developed.
With respect to c), intertwined with the ingathering of humankind is the rise of human rights ideals. Human rights ideals entail two historically new aspects. First, they may be labeled as in-group ethics, which now are globalized, while out-group ethics lose their scope. Second, they create the emotional force that can drive the above-mentioned liberation movements and uprisings of inferiors (see more on the term egalization further down).
As to the first aspect, human rights ideals resemble the ethical norms that people usually apply within what they regard their in-group. As humankind is in-gathering, in-group ethics embrace the entire world, and out-group ethics lose ground. As to the second element, human rights ideals entail a revolution: their advocates drive a transition that moves away from societies where ranked worthiness of human beings (higher beings presiding over lesser beings) is regarded as normal, to the notion of equal dignity for all. Equal dignity for all is a revolutionary norm. It turns strategies that formerly were regarded as legitimate into violations. These violations then carry the potential to elicit feelings of humiliation. To give an illustration, security and peace can no longer be attained by parading "strength" and holding down people by sheer force. While this might have rendered humble underlings in former times, it no longer does.
In the new historical context, the phenomenon of humiliation (expressed in acts, feelings and institutions) therefore gains significance in two contexts, a) in the context of the new, more relational reality of the world, and b) in the context of emerging human rights ideals. Dynamics of humiliation profoundly change together with the historical transition from a world steeped in honor codes of unequal human worthiness toward a world of human rights ideals of equal dignity: dynamics of humiliation move from honor-humiliation to dignity-humiliation, and they gain much more significance.
The human rights movement aims at collapsing the master-slave gradient of arrogation/humiliation to a middle line of proud humility in equal dignity (see graphics). The practice of masters arrogating superiority and subjugating underlings is now regarded as illegitimate and obscene, and human rights defenders invite both, masters and underlings, to join in shared humility at the level of equal dignity.
As noted above, with the advent of human rights ideals, the notion of humiliation changes its attachment point. It moves from the top to the bottom, from the privileged to the disadvantaged. In the new framework, the downtrodden are given the right to feel humiliated and get angry. Inferiors all around the world are increasingly socialized in new ways and are "allowed" to feel humiliated by their lowliness, a lowliness that is now defined as illegitimate. The master elites, on the other side, face the opposite request: they are called on to regain humbleness and are not anymore given permission to resist this call by labeling it as humiliation. Elites who arrogate superiority lose their age-old right to cry "humiliation!" when they are asked to come down from arrogance and humble themselves.
It is important to note that the horizontal line is meant to represent the line of equal dignity and humility. This line does not signify that all human beings are equal, or should be equal, or ever were or will be equal, or identical, or all the same. Equal dignity is not the same as identical sameness, and, while equal dignity has links with equality, these links are complex. This horizontal line is meant to represent a worldview that undoes the hierarchical ranking of differences of human worth and value. Masters are invited to step down from arrogating higher worthiness, and underlings are encouraged to rise up from lowliness. Masters are humbled and underlings entrusted with empowerment.
Historic Transition to Egalization
Master at the top of the traditional honor order (arrogation)
Brigid Donelan kindly commented this model as follows (personal message, December 20, 2004), "This is a model with twin features: one a historical trend and the other a contemporary potential/choice. We may think of humanity evolving through stages of pride, honor and dignity. We can also see that each stage is 'alive and well' within each contemporary individual, as a choice/potential. The value of the model lies in clarifying the choice, and suggesting a trend towards emergence of a 'global knowledge society,' for which there is certainly evidence, and benefits for all."
It is often forgotten and important to emphasize that human rights defenders expect inferiors to refrain from translating their newly legitimized feelings of humiliation crudely into violent retaliation: human rights promoters discourage underlings from merely replacing elites and taking their place as new dominators and humiliators. Human rights campaigners encourage inferiors to do more than bring down abusive masters; they encourage them to also dismantle the very hierarchical systems that now are defined as unjust. Human rights ideals stipulate, furthermore, that the process of dismantling is to be carried out without the sword and without humiliating anybody, in the spirit of a Gandhi and Mandela (see Mandela, 1996).(23)
Thus, human rights defenders expect men and women around the world to refrain from translating feelings of humiliation into either apathy or aggression; men and women are encouraged to learn how to transform feelings of humiliation into critical and organizational consciousness and bring about constructive peaceful social change (see Paolo Freire and Clodomir de Morais).
This is where, to my understanding, Thomas J. Scheff's work is positioned (see his work on shame, for example, in Scheff, 1988, 1990, 2003). An important focus in his work is that males would benefit from learning to feel and acknowledge feelings of shame and humiliation without covering up for these emotions and translating them into aggression. A new awareness of feelings of humiliation and shame will enable mature males to devise action that is more constructive and more in line with human rights ideals.(24) I assume that Scheff would welcome what a friend wrote to me (April 9, 2004): "I worked before with drug addicts, and physically abusive individuals. I couldn't take the 'rage' out of them. But I could show them the consequences of that rage and re-teach them what to do if they felt that coming on, knowing that they would hurt, kill, or end up in jail."
Scholars such as Howard Zehr (1990, 2002) and Avishai Margalit (1996) focus on social and societal institutions, and how they have to be reformed so as to no longer humiliate citizens. Scholars and practitioners discuss ways as to how the world system (Wallerstein) could be transformed in order to grow congruent with human rights ideals (see, among many others, Stiglitz, 1998, Stiglitz and Squire, 1998, or Monbiot, 2003).
(24) Neurologist António R. Damásio differentiated emotions and feelings as follows: He separated three stages of processing along a continuum, first, a state of emotion, second, a state of feeling, and third, a state of feeling made conscious. The first state can be triggered and executed nonconsciously, the second can be represented nonconsciously, while the third is known to the organism as having both, emotion and feeling (Damasio, 1999, p. 37).
As alluded to above, I see the currently rising awareness of human rights in the context of what anthropologists call the ingathering of humankind (see, for instance, Ury, 1999, see also World Systems Analysis, for example, by Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997)(25)). Ingathering is the coming together of humankind into one single family: "For the first time since the origin of our species, humanity is in touch with itself" (Ury, 1999, p. xvii). New technologies drive the
ingathering of humankind and enable humankind to come together as never before. While globalization has many destructive aspects, this phenomenon is a promising aspect. The term global village is deeply indicative. It entails profoundly transformative seeds for change. The rise of the vision and reality of one single global village is concurrent with the almost subversive loss of ground for the notion of out-groups (together with all out-group biases, prejudices and hostile "out-group ethics").(26) The so-called "scope of justice" (Coleman, 2003) emphasizes social cohesion and its maintenance within an in-group, so do human rights. Thus, human rights ideals may be seen to represent in-group ethics whose scope is expanded to encompass the entire global sphere.
However, this is not all. As mentioned earlier, human rights ideals do not condone the mere replacement of old tyrants with new ones; they envision the dismantling of hierarchical systems. Human rights ideals encourage inferiors to continuously challenge domination and oppression (Deutsch, 2002, Sidanius and Pratto, 1999). Thus, I conceptualize human rights ideals to represent inside ethics as we know them from age-long history, however, now applied to the entire globe, and intertwined with an egalitarian message that has the potential to fuel continuous uprisings.
In former times, guardians of inside ethics often defended hierarchical rankings of human worthiness with "the need for safe, stable, and coherent societies." Confucianism, for example, still today, reflects such conceptualizations: obedience to authorities is regarded as a high value. And indeed, as long as the world had not yet evolved into one single global whole, but still contained many villages, such concepts had a valid place. Villages (sub-units such as groups, nations, or states) were facing a dangerous Hobbesian might-is-right environment and had to stay internally cohesive to always be prepared for war. Males were sent out to put their lives on line in war, honed in the language of honor. Since invaders could turn up at one's borders at any time, fear of surprise attacks was an inescapable definitorial frame for all other societal deliberations. International relations theory uses terms such as the security dilemma to describe how arms races and war were almost inevitable in this atmosphere of fear. "If you want peace, prepare for war" was the only feasible motto. Mahatma Gandhi's motto of "There is no path to peace. Peace is the path" did not yet find space to be valid. World War I was a master example: speaking of peace was punishable as high treason.
The new global inside ethics, or human rights ideals, however, aim at a new combination, no longer the maintenance of social cohesion embedded within hierarchical rankings of human value in each in-group, but maintenance of social cohesion linked to attitudes, behaviors, and institutions that promote equal dignity for all. I believe that this transition, enshrined as the central human rights call for equal dignity for all (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of human rights) currently gains mainstream acceptance mainly because of the rise of the vision and reality of one single in-group of humanity.
It seems evident, that, as soon as the insight that humankind represents but one single in-group on a small planet is manifested more securely in imagery and institutions, fear of surprise attacks from distant outsiders is bound to subside. What gains visibility then are everybody's interactions with other insiders. And this interaction is fraught with quests for recognition, appreciation, and respect, quests that may lead to feelings of humiliation and their violent outcomes if unsatisfied. While formerly distant outsiders held the many communities, or "villages" of the world in fear of sudden and unexpected attack, today we share one single global village with close-by fellow insiders who ask us whether we respect them as equals or not. We enter a relational era. Isolated "differences" or separate "interests" lose significance, while the quality of relationships gains importance.
It is therefore, to my view, that no longer fear of a distant enemy is the leading emergency-alerting emotion that overrides all other emotions and deliberations. Now feelings of dignity-humiliation take over, feelings of humiliation in the face of a perceived lack of recognition for equal dignity from fellow human beings. Fear was an inescapable emotional state that held center stage as long as a strong security dilemma was the definitorial frame for all people on the globe. If humiliation played a role, then it was the terminology of honor and honor-humiliation that negotiated this fear as if it was a collective armor. In contrast, at present, as the security dilemma weakens in the wake of increasing global interdependence, a new notion of equal dignity for all emerges, together with, in its aftermath, feelings of dignity-humiliation when respect for equal dignity is felt to be lacking. Elsewhere, Lindner (2003) analyses why dignity-humiliation is more salient than honor-humiliation: while honor-humiliation keeps most humiliated people still within the in-group, dignity-humiliation excludes people from humanity. In human rights contexts feelings of humiliation are intensified by the fact that human rights, unlike honor codes, no longer legitimate any rankings of human worthiness.
As long as feelings of humiliation are not honed into Gandhi/Mandela-like strategies for constructive change, they can drive hitherto unparalleled mayhem. "Pre-emptive prevention" of expected future humiliation, for example, was perpetrated in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, as in Hitler's Holocaust in World War II. Global terrorism follows a similar logic, led by humiliation-entrepreneurs who instrumentalize feelings of humiliation among their followers. No military expenditure is necessary when human hearts and minds are turned into weapons of mass destruction by way of a narratives of humiliation: in 1994, in Rwanda, within 100 days, almost one million people were hacked to death by their neighbors with the machetes they had at home - victims paid for bullets to be shot dead rather than mutilated to death.
It is of utmost importance that we, as humankind, explain to each other that traditional honor scripts of humiliation-for-humiliation are now obsolete. Today's webs of information technology give the power of millions of machetes to one mouse click. Firewalls and anti-virus programs offer little protection (George, 2013): within two days, all of infrastructure can be brought down: First, the computer-controlled power plants fail, then the overloaded telephone networks, and after 48 hours, the chaos is perfect when it is dark in the overcrowded hospitals.
Unfortunately, many on the globe still live in the old world of honor and domination, rather than of dignity and dialogue. They regard others as "enemies" and respond to humiliation with "defiance" and counterattacks rather than bridge-building. U.S. President George W. Bush's stance may serve as an example. He commented the beheading of a hostage in Iraq (South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il on June 23, 2004) by saying that even though "they" try to humiliate "us," even though "they" try to "shake our wills," "we" do not bow. "We" are proud of our resistance. There is no need to be ashamed as long as we do not give in, Bush said: "See, what they are trying to do, they are trying to shake our will and our confidence! They are trying to get us to withdraw from the world! So that they can impose their dark vision on people!" (U.S. President Bush June 23, 2004, seen on BBC World News). From "them," the same rhetoric was sent in return as they pledged to continue with their "holy war" (retrieved on June 20, 2004, from news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3822527.stm).
In other words, attempts to humiliate "enemies" in order to humble them, typically end in proud defiance, on all sides, defiance that is then translated into cycles of humiliation and humiliation-for-humiliation violence, instead of Mandela-like social transformation.
I have coined the word egalization to match the word globalization to form the word glob-egalization. The aim is to disentangle the malign and benign aspects of globalization. Its malign aspects, for instance the presently increasing levels of inequality, signify a "lack of egalization," while the ingathering or coming-together of humankind represent promising aspects:
The word egalization has been coined by Lindner in order to match the word globalization and at the same time differentiate it from words such as equality, because the main point is not equality. The point is rather equal dignity, even though there is a connection between equality and equal dignity. (The connection is "hidden" in the human rights stipulation that equal chances and enabling environments for all are necessary to protect human dignity.)
The term egalization is meant to avoid claiming that everybody should become equal and that there should be no differences between people. Egality can coexist with functional hierarchy that regards all participants as possessing equal dignity; egality can not coexist, though, with hierarchy that defines some people as lesser beings and others as more valuable.
If we imagine the world as a container with a height and a width, globalization addresses the horizontal dimension, the shrinking width. Egalization concerns the vertical dimension, reminiscent of Hofstede's power distance ( 2001). Egalization is a process away from a very high "container" of masters at the top and underlings at the bottom, towards a flat "container" with everybody enjoying equal dignity.
Egalization is a process that elicits hot feelings of humiliation when it is promised but fails. The lack of egalization is thus the element that is heating up feelings among so-called "globalization-critics." Their disquiet stems from lack of egalization and not from an overdose of globalization. What they call for is that globalization ought to marry egalization (Lindner, 2003c, pp. 262-263).
To repeat, the most salient change that is brought about by the present rise of the vision and reality of one single in-group of humankind, is, to my view, the rise of the significance of feelings of humiliation as compared to fear. Feelings of humiliation were rather secondary in former times, instigated and honed in order to tackle fear of surprise attacks from outside. Honor was worn like a collective armor and defended against honor-humiliation with duel-inspired strategies, particularly by males.(27) In human rights contexts, feelings of humiliation are no longer attached to honor, but to equal dignity. In human rights contexts, it is not the soiling of honor that elicits feelings of humiliation, but the lack of respect for equal dignity. Feelings of dignity-humiliation are less of a collective phenomenon, prescribed within group relations, but become primary, direct, salient, and personal for each individual who feels them in the context of their personal relationships.
Unfortunately, in today's transition times, both cultural contexts, those of unequal and equal worthiness, of unequal honor and equal dignity, coexist in the global arena. Both forms of humiliation often merge, blur, and intensify each other. An Iraqi man, for instance, might not find anything wrong in honor killings, where a dishonored girl may be put to death so as to repair soiled family honor; however, he might nevertheless criticize Western occupiers of hypocrisy when they fail to obey their own human rights rhetoric.
Human rights contexts represent new scripts, new templates for ethics and morals, and they require new skills. Where obedience to one's superiors was formerly a deed, another skill has to be honed now, namely, the skill to form cohesive relationships of respect for equal dignity for all global citizens.
Much has been written on human rights and the emerging global context of the information age and globalization, with the unprecedented challenges it represents with respect to new identities, new skills, and new world orders.(28) Some challenges for the global community are described in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of September 2000:
eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
improve maternal health
achieve universal primary education
combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
promote gender equality and empower women
ensure environmental sustainability
reduce child mortality
develop a global partnership for development.
Let me I conclude this section with a quote:
Globalization is not the problem. The problem is in fact the release from globalization which both economic agents and nations states have been able to negotiate. They have been able to operate so freely because the people of the world have no global means of restraining them. Our task is surely not to overthrow globalizing, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity's first global democratic revolution (Monbiot, 2003, p. 23, italics in original).
Perhaps Douglas Hurd's message quoted earlier could be projected into the future as follows: Global community building, in the spirit of what is well-known, namely, nation building, requires support from all world states and citizens for a new global order to protect our global socio- and ecospheres, enacted through global institutions, possibly starting from current United Nations institutions. Perhaps one day we will have a global passport, a global welfare net, and global institutions that protect our planet and its inhabitants within a global democracy that nurtures global unity in diversity. Perhaps one day tribal and national identities will be secondary to the core identity of global citizenship everywhere on the globe. The principle of subsidiarity will be the blueprint for organizing global structures (as well as for building personal identities): shared humanity on a small planet at the core, as primary element that defines everybody's essence, and cultural diversity at the periphery, cherished and celebrated, but secondary. There will be no need for enemies; all will be neighbors, "good" as well as "bad" neighbors. And democratically legitimated police, aided by a global culture of responsible social control and respect, will contain "bad neighbors." Super-ordinate global institutions, democratically legitimated, will protect global citizens in the same way democratically legitimated nation states at present attempt to guard the interests of their national citizens.
The aim is a dignified future for our children. Dignity is manifested through unity in diversity. It means that we unite in respect for equal dignity for all within the limits of the carrying capacity of our planet, while we safeguard the biological and cultural diversity of our bio- and sociospheres.
A decent global village needs to be built, following the call by Avishai Margalit (1996) for a decent society. For that, awareness of humiliation needs to be incorporated into public policies.
The word humiliation is typically being used for a) feelings, b) acts, and c) for processes including institutional humiliation, where the act is embedded in institutions. "I humiliate you" (act) and "you feel humiliated" (feeling), is a process that may play out within "societal structures that humiliate" (institutions).
Feelings of humiliation are part of human emotions and cannot be eliminated nor should they. They are an essential force for what Paulo Freire calls conscientization or the development of a critical consciousness, and for the organizational consciousness that Freire's colleague Clodomir de Morais emphasizes. However, there are other aspects of the humiliation dynamic that can and should be diminished or removed. Acts and institutions of humiliation are of that category. It is necessary to heighten awareness as to the destructiveness of acts of humiliation - random and institutionalized - and how they can be prevented and healed. Consider apartheid and apartheid-like social and societal structures such as autocratic cultures in schools, workplaces, or homes. Human rights defenders will agree that public policy planning ought to aim at diminishing acts of humiliation, those that occur "at random," and at dismantling structures of humiliation, those that are institutionalized.
Human rights ideals stipulate that every human being is equal in dignity. Evidently, this is an ideal that is not yet attained, on the contrary, we find many social settings where human worthiness and value are still ranked (men are regarded as possessing more worthiness than women, colored people face discrimination; the list is long), and it is this ranking of human worthiness that human rights defenders declare to be illegitimate. Robert Fuller (2003) wrote a book on rankism. What we have to overcome, he stipulates, is rankism (including all -isms from sexism to racism to ageism). Rankism has humiliating effects as soon as we take human rights ideals seriously, while rankism forms the core of many traditional cultures: as explained earlier, honor typically is ranked, as it presupposes higher beings presiding over lesser beings. In contrast, human rights ideals stipulate that people's worthiness should not be ranked.
According to Lindner's conceptualization there are, simplified, three ways out of feelings of humiliation: a) apathy and depression, b) the "Hitler way" (such as violence, war, genocide, or terror), and c) the "Mandela way" (constructive social change that includes the humiliator). (Clearly, the situation is more complex than that, for instance, first, feelings of humiliation need to reach a certain degree of awareness, even if bypassed (Lewis, 1971, Scheff, 2007).) Considering Mandela, some of his prison guards became his friends, and he refrained from unleashing genocide on the white elite in South Africa. He also did not attempt to put in place a perfect new society but explained to his followers that impatience would be counterproductive. Social change is a process, during which we have to look to the destination in order to keep on track, and the goal would be to eliminate institutionalized humiliation and diminish acts of humiliation.
Awarenesss of humiliation, if incorporated and mainstreamed in public policy planning, will increase human security and decrease perils such as global terror. Terms such as recognition and respect for equal dignity for all did not figure large in traditional Realpolitik. Yet, they neet to be introduced into a new Realpolitik that is adapted to a globalizing interdependent world. When "eliminating," "hunting down," or "smoking out" terrorists, when "hitting" at "evil guys" in a "war on terror," despite laudable intentions and noble motives, can lead to the radicalization of individuals who now can destroy entire infrastructures by a mouse click, military approaches are second-best. When feelings of humiliation smoldering within broader masses provide reservoirs for the emergence of new terrorists, inflicting humiliation is counter-productive. There are better methods for securing the world. Public policy planning has to embrace the entire global community and include considerations for safeguarding social cohesion therein. Awareness of humiliation, operationalized, mainstreamed, and incorporated into public policy planning offers a more suitable approach.
In short (Lindner, 2012): New public policies must be developed that drive glob-egalization toward a decent world (see The Decent Society, Margalit, 1996). These policies need to entail three elements that are intertwined. First, new decent institutions, both locally and globally, must heal and prevent dynamics of humiliation. This can be manifested through subsidiarity, so that unity in diversity can flourish (instead of contemporary manifestations of uniformity without diversity and division without unity). In this way, dignism can become reality (rather than other, outdated oppressive and predatory -isms). This can be brought about by multi-pronged efforts of all committed world citizens (see Margaret Mead's adage) co-creating global and local systemic imperatives (Ellen Meiksins Wood) that have the common good of humanity at heart. Second, new attention has to be given to creating a global culture where relationships of equal dignity can flourish in a unity-in-diversity fashion, where bio- and cultural diversity is celebrated. Third, new social skills have to be learned, to maintain relations of solidarity and dialogue in equal dignity. We need new types of leaders, Mandelas so to speak, no longer autocratic dominators and humiliation entrepreneurs who lead followers into hateful polarization, but knowledgeable co-facilitators and wise co-motivators who co-lead toward the respectful and dignified inclusion of all of humankind on a vulnerable planet.
In practice, a triple strategy seems appropriate for the design of public policies. Institutions need to be built, both globally and locally, that ensure that people are not being oppressed, discriminated against, or humiliated (as called for in Decent Society by Avishai Margalit, 1996). For example, at the global level, at present, a mechanism is missing that helps the world avoid genocide. United Nations institutions are not yet developed sufficiently.
However, better institutions are not the whole solution. They must be filled with new contents as compared to former times. Marriage might serve as an example. In former times it was a rather contractual relationship. It was sufficient to enter the institution and follow its rules thereafter. Nowadays, a marriage is a relationship that requires continuous attention and nurturing. None of the partners can merely lean back and trust that the institution will be guaranteeing the success of the marriage. Permanent relationship nurturing work is needed. Likewise, relationships between groups at local and global levels require continuous nurturing. First, attention needs to be given to this new necessity, and second, the necessary social skills for doing so must be learned.
While sheer force as a strategy was common and efficient in former times, in marriages and elsewhere, nowadays, relationships are expected to be maintained in different ways. Human rights ideals turn the appliance of sheer force into illegitimate humiliation. No wife, no fellow human being, in a world that is steeped in the human rights message, can accept sheer force and respond with humility; violence may prove be a more probable outcome. Old methods do no longer work in a framework of new moral norms and expectations.
Attention to building relationships of equal dignity, acquisition of appropriate social skills of continuous mutual engagement and nurturing, embedded into appropriate institutions, is the triple strategy that needs to be applied today. In a world where human rights ideals of equal dignity define the life world, since human rights ideals turn the holding down of people by sheer force into an unacceptable violation, all three elements of this strategy must be designed to prevent and avoid dynamics of humiliation.
With respect to violent conflict, both at the global and local level, as mentioned earlier, the paradigm of good quality policing of neighborhoods needs to replace the paradigm of war on enemies. The global village, as any village, needs to maintain its inner security by good quality policing that heeds the dignity of all involved. War is typically waged with neighboring "villages." In the case of the global village, there is no "neighboring village" left. Thus the paradigm of war loses its anchoring in reality, and the paradigm of policing is what is left. And good quality policing selects the best from traditional skills of containment and infuses them into new forms of dignified respect.
During my time in Egypt (1984-1991), I was amazed at the low rate of crime and unrest in Cairo, a huge metropolis of at that time 10 to 15 million people. I soon understood that a high amount of social control is part of Egyptian culture. I frequently witnessed incidents that gave testimony to this social control. When I analyzed conflict resolution and containment scenes in the streets of Cairo, I observed a twenty-to-two ratio, at a minimum a ten-to-two ratio. Ten or up to twenty physically strong men were required to cool and pacify two clashing opponents. The young men in the Cairo scenes did not need to exert brute force because they outnumbered the quarrelers. Their overpowering count enabled them to combine containment and respect. Respect alone would not have sufficed, and containment through outnumbering alone neither.
If this scenario is to be taken as a blueprint for attending to violent conflict, it is a combination of containment and respect that has to be striven for by the global community and bystanders in general. Resources for the prevention, containment, and resolution of conflicts around the world are to be increased. Overpowering numbers of blue helmets/global policepersons with credible containment mandates and well-devised containment strategies are required, embedded in an overall approach of respect.
The respectful containment approach, incidentally, combines elements that also can be mapped onto traditional male and female role descriptions (see Lindner, Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security, 2010). What is combined is "female" talking, understanding, empathy, perspective-taking, and healing on one side, and a "male" potential for overpowering, coercion, containment, and force on the other. "Male" strength and well-dosed containment are required to contain opponents. "Female" awareness of the cohesion of the social fabric is needed to take opponents seriously. To combine the "male" aspect of force with "female" empathy could be described as the modern recipe of conflict resolution. The traditional "male" strategy of hitting, of destructive force, is no longer appropriate in an interdependent modern global community, while the "male" ability to use restraining force continues to be an important tool, though in a more steady and long-standing application and combined with empathy and respect.
UNESCO's Culture of Peace Programme can serve as an example. It urges the strengthening of the "female" aspect in conflict resolution efforts. The list is long: using multi-track, "track II" and citizen-based diplomacy; installing early warning institutions; rethinking the notion of state sovereignty; setting up projects to better study and understand the history of potential conflict areas, collect this information and make it available to decision makers; using psychology not only on a micro-level, but also on a macro-level, taking identity as a bridge; keeping communication going with warring parties; talking behind the scenes; including more than just the warlords in peace negotiations; developing conflict-resolution teams with less hierarchy and more creativity; setting up mediation teams; installing "truth commissions;" allowing warring parties to feel the world community's care, respect and concern; taking opponents in a conflict out of their usual environment; taking the adversaries' personal feelings and emotions seriously; recognizing the importance of human dignity; introducing sustainable long-term approaches on the social and ecological level; progressing from spending aid-money after a disaster to allocating resources to prevent it; and so on.
To summarize, the global village embodies one single inside sphere. The traditional "male" role description of going out, fighting the enemy and conquering the unknown - being unidimensional, unilateral and more short-sighted - loses significance since it was only appropriate outside the "village" or around its borders. The world as a single global village no longer provides an out-side. Men themselves, as travelers and explorers, were responsible for this shrinking of the world, which now makes some of their traditional strategies inappropriate and dysfunctional.
Maintaining social cohesion within an in-side sphere calls for complex, relational, multilateral, foresighted, integrative, and holistic strategies such as mediation, alternative dispute resolution, and police deployment (for example peacekeeping forces) instead of traditional military combat. Subsidiarity, quality (and not quantity) of life, culture of peace - all these are keywords and concepts which stem from traditional "female" role descriptions, showing how much the new strategies are, conceptually, "female" approaches.
Thus, globalization opens space for "female" strategies, inviting both women and men into embracing and combining them with the traditional "male" strategies of containment. And human rights ideals call for egalization, meaning equal dignity for all humankind, to be the broader guiding framework for glob-egalization.
For the downtrodden around the world, be it women or discriminated minorities of any kind, who wish to promote successful and constructive processes of liberation to change their lowly lot, a Nelson Mandela would offer yet another threefold advice. He himself implemented this strategy most wisely: First, people who wish to change their lowly situation constructively, have to psychologically step outside of the master-slave dyad and learn to think autonomously. Second, they have to stop merely re-acting to the master's actions and definitions, and begin to act. Third, people wanting to rise up from lowliness must persuade those who hold on to master elite positions that change is necessary and unavoidable, both normatively and practically, and that a peaceful transition is preferable to violence and war. With its notion of victory over enemies, war only turns a unifying world back into a fragmented world.
For third parties who are trying to secure peace around the world, yet another threefold approach seems helpful. First, it is important to identify the fault lines between what may be called moderates and extremists in opposing camps. To give an example, not the Hutus or Tutsis are the parties to reckon with, but the Mandelas (they could be called the moderates) as opposed to the humiliation entrepreneurs (here called extremists) on both sides. Second, third parties need to facilitate alliances between the moderates of all camps with the aim to transform extremists' violent responses to feelings of humiliation. Third, humiliating living conditions of the broad masses must be minimized, because otherwise frustrated masses will be vulnerable to recruitment by humiliation entrepreneurs.
Sultan Somjee, Kenyan ethnographer honored by the UN for his efforts to preserve indigenous people's peace traditions, said in response to the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse of 2004, "Humiliation does not have nationality, religion, color or gender. Humiliation of one human being humiliates humanity and our dignity of being." One could add, only if we avoid institutions, attitudes, and behaviors that have humiliating effects will we create a future for our world in the spirit of Kofi Annan's promotion for the Olympic Games of 2004, namely, "celebrate humanity."
At the present historical juncture, to my observation, the most pressing problem is the avoidance of necessary conflict by those who are in a position to address it. Those with resources, many of the wealthy of this world, rather than standing up, choose to stand by (Staub, 1989), while fellow humans and the planet are being exploited. They are the new Rajas so to speak, similar to the Rajas under British rule who continued enjoying privileges while being complicit in colonization. Their duty would be to invest their privileges into constructive change in the spirit of Paolo Freire, Clodomir de Morais, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.
As to the exploitation of social resources, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (2nd December) in 2012, 21 million women, men, and children were trapped in slavery all over the world, forced to work, held through fraud, under threat of violence, for no pay beyond subsistence. Today’s slavery focuses on big profits and cheap lives. It is not about owning people like before, but about using them as completely disposable tools for making money. Contemporary forms of slavery: debt bondage, serfdom and forced labour, trafficking of persons and trafficking for the purpose of organ removal; sexual exploitation, child labour, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, forced marriage, the sale of wives, or widow inheritance (www.ilo.org).
As to the exploitation of ecological resources, to keep up present growth rates, several planets would be needed. The title of the latest report to the Club of Rome is The Plundered Planet. The author posits that the present massive exploitation of the final natural resources of the planet is a sad symbol of desperation and a dead-end: "…it is an impotent attempt to keep going at all costs, even though you know exactly: it's a dead end."
At present, what needs to rise to our attention is not just open war between or within nations, it is the sophisticated covert war on the social wealth of all societies and the ecological wealth of our planet. Indignez vous! Cry Out! is the voice of Stéphane Frédéric Hessel in 2010, a French wartime resistance hero who was born in 1917. He cried out against Nazism in the 1940s and calls on people today to "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and to "defend our democratic rights. (See also A Dignity Economy, by Evelin Lindner, 2012).
Lynn King wrote from China to our network on 26 December 2013: "I would include the humiliation of poor farmers around the world as part of the 'violent conflict' that is destroying the world now. Suicide rates of farmers in India, Australia, and China not to mention many other places is occurring annually in epic numbers as climate change and economic and social oppression gives them no way to survive while they are actually performing a critical role in society."
An unparalleled window of opportunity opens up at the present historical juncture. The image of our Blue Planet from the astronaut’s perspective epitomizes this window. The Blue Planet image provides a powerful frame for global cooperation. None of our forefathers was able to see anything comparable. None of our predecessors was able to fathom in the same way as we can today that we, humankind, are one single family living on one tiny planet. None of the founders of religions, philosophies, or empires had access to the vast knowledge as we possess today about the universe and our place in it. This is a historic opportunity. We are given space to transcend the misconception that eternal exploitation and domination is feasible. We can leave behind our misguided conviction that squeezing social and ecological resources is the only way. There is no need to artificially keep alive the security dilemma. New Realpolitik means acting when history offers a chance. "Those who are late will be punished by life itself," is a sentence associated with Mikhail Gorbachev and his speech on October 7, 1989. He spoke to East German leaders who failed to see the signs of the times. Also we, humankind, need to see the signs of the times.
When circumstances are new, many ideologies are now dead-end ideologies, also those that once were perceived as salvation. Clinging to them will not do. Only a down-to-earth intentionally driven continuously evolving process of co-creation toward dignity will do, co-creating a future of mutual care in equal dignity for all people and our planet. As pointed out before, only a global consciousness of unity in diversity can realize the promise of Morton Deutsch's crude law of social relations, which stipulates that "cooperation breeds cooperation" (Deutsch, 1973, p. 367). In a compartmentalized world, cooperation merely serves competition for domination. Everybody is called on to join in. Optimism and pessimism are irrelevant when the house is on fire and there is still a chance for rescue. Our principal duty, at present, is to invest all we have into the change that Nelson Mandela envisioned, dignified and dignifying change.
Dignity-ism, or dignism, means a world where every newborn finds space and is nurtured to unfold their highest and best, embedded in a social context of loving appreciation and connection. A world, where the carrying capacity of the planet guides the ways in which everybody's basic needs are met, a world, where we are united in respecting human dignity and celebrating diversity, where we prevent unity from being perverted into oppressive uniformity, and keep diversity from sliding into hostile division.
Reflections from December 10, 2013, and October 29, 2016:
From Evelin's global point of view, unity in diversity is helpful as a motto to describe how the unity of communal solidarity, or what Evelin calls "big love" in her Gender book, can replace isolated or even hostile division, and how diversity in the context of equal dignity needs to replace oppressive uniformity. Evelin uses the infinity symbol, or the Möbius Strip, or the lying 8, ∞, to make this motto visible, and to show how it can model the form of dialogue that truly manifests the human rights ideal of "every human being is equal in dignity." Throughout her global life journey, Evelin found two cultural realms where each of these cultural traditions can be experienced at their best: In the photos above, Inga Bostad stands for the Norwegian cultural heritage of equality in dignity or likeverd that opens space for diversity, while Doaa Rashed stands for the cultural heritage of collective cohesion in the Nile Delta, a social cohesion that is indispensable when bridges are needed to be constructed to bring unity into diversity (Evelin lived in Cairo from 1984-1991). The photos were taken at the 22nd Annual Dignity Conference, or 2013 NY Workshop.
The photo above to the left was taken in September 26, 2016, and shows Glyn Rimmington together with Evelin demonstrating the infinity symbol as a symbol for dialogue. Mara Alagic, who took this photo, was later inspired to contribute with the picture you see on the right side, which shows the infinity symbol in unprecedented beauty. Thank you, dear Mara! She found this wonderful “infinity dance” on the website of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
The photo with Glyn Rimmington was taken at the 5th Biennial Meeting of the Knowledge Federation, titled 'Tools and Practices for the Collective Mind Revolution', a conference that was held at the Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik, 25th September–1st October, 2016.
See the video of Evelin Lindner's talk titled 'From Systemic Humiliation to Systemic Dignity' (also the Powerpoint presentation).