An International Review of Culture and Society
Spring/Summer 1999 Issue No. 4
An Inte rnational Project sponsore d by the Suntory Foundation (Japan), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
othing stimulates the writing of history more than the end of history. This is one conclusion that might be drawn from the geyser of fresh historical work that has burst forth over the past decade. The books that have received the most attention in recent years are devoted to revivifying “public memory,” as it is now called. Among these the most famous have been committed to returning all that has been “repressed” to the official record of our bloody century. Such works are useful and can be morally admirable, especially when they challenge the many new forms of historical revisionism that would like to shape historical memory for some questionable contemporary purpose. Yet there are other, more productive and interesting revisions also taking place in the field of history today, and it is these which we have chosen to highlight in this issue of Correspondence. The first such revision is the active reexamination of the national myths that grew up in the decades following World War II and have shaped our political experience since. These myths have come under increasing scholarly scrutiny in many countries recently. In Greece and Italy, for example, the standard historical accounts of the internal political conflicts that raged over Communism, Fascism, and liberal democracy are all being rewritten, as political scientists Stathis Kalyvas and Nadia Urbinati report. In Israel, by contrast, a contentious debate has broken out over what journalist Gadi Taub here calls the “founding myths of Zionism,” whether in relation to the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, the wars that followed, ethnic tensions between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, and misunderstandings between the Orthodox and secular populations. In all three cases the fact that national history is finally open to such public controversy is a hopeful sign of political maturity and confidence in the future. Quite different sorts of revision are taking place within the history profession itself. As Michael Becker reports, German historians are currently disputing the purposes to which certain founders of the most important postwar schools of research put their work during the war years. Elsewhere the debates are less politically charged and more concerned with the aims and methods of the historian writing today. As Daniel Gordon writes in our pages, the controversy over historical method has long been centered in France, where for years the dominant approaches focused on language, culture, and social transformations while downplaying the importance of purely political phenomena. Now political history may be staging a comeback there. Another discussion has taken place among Anglo-American historians over the current vogue of “popular history,” some of which is simply standard work aimed at reaching a broader audience, while the rest uses different narrative techniques to escape the limits of traditional scholarship. We here consider several views of these developments and publish an original contribution to the question by historian Anthony Grafton. The most important contemporary myth in need of revision may be that of the “end of history” itself. As Daniel Bell writes in his essay for this issue, recent events in the Balkans demonstrate that history is resuming, fueled by all the hatreds and passions—especially religious passions—that have always driven it. If he is correct, we can probably expect history as a form of intellectual inquiry x to become more difficult yet all the more necessary. —Mark Lilla
In This Issue
The Querelle Over Cultural History 2 Gulag Denial 3 History for Sale 4 The War That Will Not Thaw 5 Post-Zionism & the Myths of Memory 6 The Two Italies 7 Historians Under National Socialism 9 The Greek Civil War in Retrospect 10 Revising Roger Garaudy 12 America the Radical? 13
History and Historians
History Goes Pop: Two Views Hungarian Women’s History A New Kind of History 15 16 17 18 19 19 20 20 21 39
Frontiers of Science
Icelandic Genes Left Darwinism Peter Singer Justice for Neanderthals! Out of Africa?
Fractures of Modern Civilization The Resumption of History (continued on next page)
(continued from previous page)
Japan & the Global Financial System 23 The Philosophy of Money 24
Japanese Melting Pot
Multiethnic Japan Buraku Liberation Movement 25 26 27 27 28 29 29 30 31 33 34 35 36 36 37 38 38 41 41 41 42 14 22 34 40 42 43 43 44
Views of Japan
Japan, Made in U.S.A. Korean-Japanese Reconciliation? Responsibility of Intellectuals
Word & Image in Japan
In the Beginning Was the Word… The Kanji Cultural Sphere Plea for the New Japonisme
Reports from Europe
The “Forgotten” Germans The New Right in Jacket and Tie Rhetoric of Social Cohesion Tintinitis First Lady of Feminism Iran Between Tradition & Modernity Swedish Brain Drain Régis Debray’s Excellent Adventure The Faceless Euro
Buñuel’s Regret Louis Dumont Jean Malaquais Giulio Einaudi
Noblesse in Distress Arendt and Heidegger Sentimental Education in Senegal The Mother Tongue Dewy Decimas Letras Libres
List of Contributors A Report to Our Readers
rom 1945 to the late 1970s, European and North American scholars debated passionately the relative merits of social and political history. Since the 1980s, the old dualism has been subsumed under the social and political rubric of “culture.” A long historical deadlock has been broken by a third party: cultural history. Or has it? The new cultural history has created a confusing set of choices of what to study. Intellectual history or popular practices? National history or microhistory? Conscious actions or behavior-inducing institutions? Rapid change or immobile structures? So many choices abound that the impulse to restore a happy and orderly dilemma is already evident. The old dualism is reemerging, as a recent exchange between philosopher Marcel Gauchet and historian Roger Chartier superbly illustrates. Chartier is a leading scholar of early-modern Europe and a prolific essayist on methodology. In his latest meditations, On The Edge of the Cliff: History, Language, and Practices (Johns Hopkins, 1997), he has tried to synthesize the cultural turn and social history, rejecting economic determinism and emphasizing the “negotiated” character of all relations. He insists that ideas are not the byproducts of class interests, but the very stuff of individual and group identities. Yet, paradoxically, he repeatedly uses the term “social” to posit a layer of reality that explains culture and politics: “discourse,” he declares, “is itself socially determined;” historians should focus on “the social configurations that make...political forms possible.”The word “social” crops up everywhere—“social science,” “social world,” “social actors,” “social differences”—a mantra freed from linguistic analysis as if it were an assured reality, not a rhetorical item with its own intellectual history. In a long examination of Chartier’s book in Le Débat (Jan.-Feb. 1999), Gauchet faults him for this contradiction. Gauchet is a political philosopher and historian of modern democracy and the major heir to François Furet’s revisionist interpretation of history, which stresses the autonomous play of rhetoric in the political sphere. While questioning Chartier’s notion of the social, Gauchet advocates a political mode of cultural history he calls “reflexive history,” one that includes the traditional terms of political analysis in its subject matter. A historian of party conflict in modern France, for example, would not casually invoke “Left” and “Right” but make the emergence of those very concepts a key part of the story. Gauchet, unlike Chartier, deftly illustrates his methodological claims, especially his most provocative one that reflexive political history envelops social history. Class conflict, he argues, is political, not socio-economic. During the 1789 revolution it was the idea of the rights of man that created intergroup hatreds. In the nineteenth century, the working class in England could not have arisen without the preexisting idea of shared nationality. Chartier responds to Gauchet’s criticism, but the social methodologist appears no match for the political theorist. They end in a stalemate. While Gauchet’s examples of the primacy of the political are fascinating, the notion of “the political” is imprecise. What makes both the rights of man and the nation-state examples of a “political” rather than a “social” configuration? What is the global definition of “political?” At one point Gauchet defines “political history” as the study of “the political dimension” of history. Chartier notes this tautology and Gauchet’s yoking everything into his concept of “reflexive political history”— everything, that is, except the concept of politics itself. Thus, each criticizes the other for being insufficiently self-conscious of his categories and for exempting his methodological terms from the history of ideologies. The impasse suggests that while history is enriched by self-conscious study of language, it cannot easily relinquish its traditional scientific aims. Even as theorists of language, historians cannot stop searching for a nonsubjective x method and causal forces independent of the imagination. —Daniel Gordon
The Querelle Over Cultural History
t the beginning of this decade, it looked as though Russians were finally facing up to the nightmares of seventy years of totalitarian rule. Not a day went by, it seemed, without some new revelation about the past. Every newspaper, every magazine, every serious television show probed the wound. Official commissions rehabilitated survivors as well as the dead; unofficial curiosity-seekers quite literally stumbled upon the skeletons of the past in fields where the abandoned
ground heaved and rippled in distinctive patterns. In the wake of the failed coup attempt in 1991, euphoric crowds descended on Lubyanka Square, the most notorious address of Russia’s secret police, and dismantled the statute of Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the confederate of Lenin who created the AllRussian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage in December 1917. They did not destroy the statue but moved it a few miles to a sculpture park by the banks of the Moscow River. Nowadays, it seems Russia has come full circle. Last December 2, the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted overwhelmingly to restore Dzerzhinsky’s statue to its former site. That is unlikely to happen, for several reasons— some of which demonstrate the extent of Russia’s rejection of its totalitarian past. But the vote genuinely reflected a fundamental shift in recent Russian politics. Eight years ago the apologists for the Soviet system’s crimes were on the defensive. Defying firm evidence of millions of murders, they could only duck and dodge. Today denial is in fashion, as readers of Zyuganov’s Veryu V Rossiyu [I Believe in Russia] and the newspaper Sovietskaya Rossiya can attest. The ranks of the deniers include people like Sergei Feliksovich, a forty-one-year-old professor who lives surrounded by photos of Castro and Stalin in a dingy room in a communal apartment. He claims, interestingly, to despise many of the gray-faced members of the modern-day Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). When it comes to socialism, he is a self-acknowledged snob whose preferred model is a dictatorial “republic of scholars.” Yet he is no dilettante. Colleagues credit him with keeping the youth organization of the old Soviet CP alive in the underground during the ban on communist activity after 1991. Like most deniers, he doesn’t claim that everything was sweetness and light; he concedes that “repressions” took place under Stalin. But he believes, first, that they were justified (by the greater good of the revolutionary masses who weren’t repressed) and, second, that they weren’t as bad as all that. “According to the Interior Ministry, there were 643,000 deaths between 1921 and 1953,” says Sergei Feliksovich. “Perestroika scholars agreed with that estimate.” It is hard to know which scholars he is talking about. Most self-respecting historians assume Soviet-era death tolls (collectivization, purges, Gulag) run into double-digit millions. The late-1990s techniques here can be encountered from park bench to parliamentary record. Unlike Holocaust deniers, most Gulag revisionists concede that there were victims; but very much like their German counterparts, the apologists of Soviet terror use a variety of strategies to reduce the death toll to an “acceptable” minimum. And the justifications are extremely diverse, from the open rationalization of revolutionary terror, as in the case of Sergei Feliksovich to the blurring of the juridical definition of “criminal.” In an interview with national radio last fall, Communist Duma deputy Vassily Shandybin remarked, “Yes, truly, a certain number of people suffered. They informed on each other: stool pigeons did their best, they informed, these people were arrested. They confessed, and they were sent away to certain places. For this reason I don’t agree when people say that we had political prisoners in the Soviet Union.” Shandybin was merely repeating arguments he had made in a Duma debate a week earlier, telling about a minor amendment to a law on “the rehabilitation of the victims of political repressions.” The ambitious original law had passed without a peep in the post-putsch euphoria of fall 1991. But when it came around to voting on a miniscule, essentially symbolic improvement in pension benefits for a small class of victims, it was roundly rejected by the Duma. Russian society still remains deeply divided over the country’s past, and the resulting calculations of realpolitik have intensified the climate of denial. The anniversary of the Great October Revolution of 1917 is still celebrated as a holiday in Russia by its opponents as well as its enthusiasts—but it’s now known as the “Day of Harmony and Reconciliation,” a compromise formula ironically demonstrating how far from those ideals Russia remains. The most recent Russian secondary-school history textbooks fudge the issue of Soviet terror: a 1998 official text for eleventh-grade students gives no total figures for those “repressed” under Stalin; on the Great Terror of the 1930s it counts only the army officers shot in 1937-38 (“more than 40,000”) and victims of “conflicts within the repressive organs”(“several tens of thousands”). Otherwise, the text bends over backward to stress the “constructive” aspects of what one chapter heading calls “Stalinist modernization.” Meanwhile,
while the Moscow city government has erected huge monuments to Peter the Great and other Russian patriotic heroes at high-profile sites, to date, the capital has only two monuments to the victims of Stalinism, both virtually invisible and unknown. In a capital of 10 million, there is only one small museum dedicated to the horrors of the Gulag, and it is a subordinate part of the privately funded Sakharov Museum. Across town at the state-funded KGB Museum, the only mention of the Gulag comes in the context of heroic Soviet intelligence agents who landed there after their recall to the homeland at the height of Stalinist paranoia. “The end of the 1930s was our most difficult period,” the guide will tell you, “20,000 of our members died.” The tragedy, it seems, was one primarily for the security police who were swallowed up by the terror. In Russia, public arguments over the meaning of the past have always been dictated less by criteria of scholarship and political morals than by brute political expediency. Perestroika liberals were quite open about the usefulness of history as a tool in the struggle against their authoritarian opponents. Never was this clearer than in the 1996 presidential elections, when Yeltsin’s campaign managers rediscovered the emotive force of historical Communist terror—a long-neglected subject which would be abandoned again as soon as the elections were over. By December 1997, Yeltsin sent fulsome congratulations to the security police on the eightieth anniversary of Dzerzhinsky’s Cheka—not exactly what one would expect from the anti-Communist “democrat” to whom the voters had given their blessing a year earlier. But Yeltsin, battered by poor health and plummeting popularity, reckoned that having the security police on board outweighed the concerns of his erstwhile supporters. This points to an additional problem: the continuity of Russia’s political elite. Whatever their current political affiliations, virtually all of the country’s ruling class consists of former leading members of the CPSU. Fence-sitting is the rule among most of them. The two leading candidates in Russia’s presidential race, Yevgeni Primakov or Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, won’t praise the Gulag. But neither will they address the tragedy of “Soviet terror.” Luzhkov clucks disapprovingly about “excessive criticism” of the Soviet past. Primakov, the former spymaster, has recently proposed vacating the prisons to make room for “economic criminals.” Similarly, he has advocated making prison regimes so tough that inmates would consider themselves “better off dead” (which has reminded some observers of Stalin’s famous speech in July 1938 when he claimed that imprisoned enemies of the people were enjoying “holiday camp” conditions and demanded a tougher prison regime). Politicians will be politicians, of course. They could never get away with such talk were it not for public apathy on the subject. The days of joyous taboo-breaking are long gone in Russia. Economic troubles and the chaos caused by abortive reforms have also compromised the moral authority of the liberal idea. (Characteristically, Russian communists nowadays parry mentions of the Great Terror by referring to the “genocide” of falling population figures under Yeltsin.) A recent poll asked ordinary Russians to name the best of their leaders this century. The answer of the majority: Leonid Brezhnev.x —Christian Caryl
ow is historical research to be paid for? History has always been “sponsored,” first by rulers hoping to glorify their realms, later by private and ecclesiastical patrons hoping to glorify themselves, and most recently by universities, government, and non-profit foundations hoping to contribute to the historical profession. As historian Michael Pinto-Duschinsky recently wrote, the rise of corporate sponsorship of research, mainly focused on World War II, may mean creating collective memory “on behalf of those with the deepest pockets or…those with the strongest motives to purvey their side of the story.” Pinto-Duschinsky is commenting on the current dispute over whether German companies owe compensation to their slave laborers, and European banks to Jews whose assets they acquired. Several corporations, including Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, and Deutsche Bank, have hired historians to write about their wartime records. The most controversial research was a book on Volkswagen workers during the Third Reich by the widely respected historian Hans Mommsen. Pinto-Duschinsky considers such books tainted, a charge vehemently denied by Mommsen and other historians who have written them. The immediate effect of corporations’ sponsorship of research on themselves, apart from apparent bias, is the closing of archives and files to other researchers and the public at large. Another problem has been over-reliance on corporate documents, which are often incomplete and self-serving. Finally, the protocols of the researchers and their relations with the corporations remain private. These problems are not unique to corporate sponsorship. Large budgets always affect research. Pinto-Duschinsky cites the European Commission’s investment in research promoting the European Union, a program that includes 409 Jean Monnet professorships, hundreds of sponsored university courses, and a “Europaeum” linking Oxford to continental universities. Euro-skeptics are unlikely to gain such funding. Just as Cold War government sponsorship decisively shaped Western universities, today there is “the academic equivalent of an arms race between Arab and Israeli interests” in American and English universities— whereas East European studies remains an impoverished field, despite the largesse of George Soros. Pinto-Duschinsky is convinced that “foreign funding and corporate sponsorships are here to stay,” and that “properly managed, they add to the pluralism and prosperity of academic life.” But safeguards must ensure the intellectual researchers’ independence. He suggests that scholars disclose the sources of their funding and that a code of conduct limit exclusive access to documents and guarantee that evidence can be checked. Only then can the history profession protect itself against the charge that it is for sale. —ML
Source: Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, “Selling the Past,” Times Literary Supplement, October 23, 1998.
History for Sale
The War That Will Not Thaw
he bipolar struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, though it ended a decade ago, still casts a lengthening shadow over America’s political and intellectual culture. Documents recently declassified by intelligence agencies in the United States and the Soviet Union are transforming our understanding of the Cold War. Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev’s The Haunted Wood (Random House,1999), based on KGB materials, includes clinching evidence that Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg—defendants in the most celebrated Cold War spy trials—were guilty as charged, along with others named during the Red hunts that catapulted Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy to fame. Another book, published this spring, examines the fruits of the Venona Project, a top-secret code-breaking program inaugurated during World War II by U.S. military intelligence. The effort ultimately identified some 350 Americans “who had a covert relationship with Soviet intelligence,” write John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr in Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (Yale University Press, 1999). How will future historians grapple with unimpeachable evidence that Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and Laurence Duggan, to name only three, all rose to senior positions under President Roosevelt even as they reported to Soviet handlers and furnished them with confidential reports and papers? For the moment these revelations are renewing a long-standing debate, less about American Communism (never more than a marginal feature of the nation’s political life), than about anti-Communism, the ideology that shaped foreign policy in the United States from 1945 to 1989, the very years in which the nation consolidated its position as the world’s preeminent superpower. In We Now Know: Rethinking American Cold War History (Oxford, 1998), John Lewis Gaddis draws on a wide range of archival documents to argue that the architects of American foreign policy accurately appraised Stalin as an ideologue bent on global expansion of the Soviet state in the middle to late 1940s. Contrarily, in her recent study Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Little, Brown, 1998), Ellen Schrecker concedes that Soviet espionage was a reality but judges antiCommunism the greater menace to American democracy and disparages Cold War liberals who, though opposed to McCarthyism, were also critical of the American Communist Party. The most vocal skeptics come from the populous ranks
of “revisionists,” who, having maintained since the 1960s that Cold War policy was disastrously shaped by an exaggerated, even paranoid, fear of world communism, are not giving up the fight. A letter signed by nineteen historians, academicians, and journalists, and published in the New York Review of Books (April 8, 1999) in response to my January 14 review of Schrecker, “The Red Scare,” protests that the smug spirit of “triumphalism” has infected recent studies of the Cold War and that revelations from intelligence archives, however startling, do not “exculpate U.S. misconduct in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua and elsewhere” or “settle broader debates over responsibility for the division of Germany or Europe, the duration of the Cold War, the length, intensity, and dangers of the nuclear arms race, the cause of the Soviet collapse, and many other issues.” The debate has also spilled over into cultural zones. In his latest novel, I Married a Communist (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), Philip Roth examines the competing hysterias and self-delusions of the 1950s and its campaign against Soviet subversion. On the opposite end of the political spectrum, William F. Buckley, Jr., who staunchly defended Joseph McCarthy in a book published in 1954, revisits the subject in his forthcoming novel The Redhunter, which offers a surprisingly nuanced portrait of the most effective demagogue of the postwar era. The latest flare-up came when the film director Elia Kazan, an ex-Communist, was given an Academy Award for “lifetime achievement” despite having yielded up the names of Communists to a congressional committee in 1952. Kazan, who turns ninety this year, was freshly denounced in numerous journals and newspapers, though he found a defender in one of the bestknown Cold War liberals, Arthur Schlesinger, who pointed out in the New York Times that Kazan’s harshest critics include many who remain curiously forgiving of the Stalinist movement he repudiated. When Kazan came on stage to receive his award, presented by Martin Scorsese, some in the audience rose to applaud (including Warren Beatty, well-known for his liberal politics) while the actors Nick Nolte and Ed Harris, among others, sat by silent and grim. Thus do yesterday’s ideological disputes endure into the contentious present. American liberals seem unwilling to concede that the United States did, after all, defeat its archrival, while conservatives seem unable to x declare victory and turn to new struggles. — Sam Tanenhaus
Post-Zionism and the Myths of Memory
ver the past decade the debate over “Post-Zionism” has captured the public imagination of Israel’s elites. Spearheaded by “New Historians,” “critical sociologists,” and other new-style radicals, Post-Zionism gradually became the popular label for an all-out ideological assault on the Zionist idea. Rather than a Jewish national revival, the neo-radicals claimed, Zionism was yet another instance of Western colonialism. It enforced European “hegemony” on oriental Jews through the melting-pot ideology; it underwrote “patriarchy” through a militaristic ethos; it erected power structures to support the elite; and so forth. The book that first sparked the public debate, long before a flood of postmodern “radicalism” took the lead, was surprisingly conservative in its methodology. Benny Morris’ s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, published in England in 1988 and translated into Hebrew in 1991, is a carefully documented research of archives aimed at uncovering what Morris sees as the truth about Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. Although he first set out to show that Zionist leaders had a comprehensive plan to expel the Arab population of Palestine, he found that the massive exodus of Arabs was a result of the war: partly a hasty flight from war zones, partly a failure of Arab leadership, and partly an ad hoc policy of deportation that stemmed from military considerations. The book managed to bring to the fore what lay dormant in Israel’s collective memory: the scale of expulsions and the atrocities of the 1948 war. It downplayed, however, the fact that the war was imposed on Israel. Academic historians were not entirely surprised by what Morris exhumed from newly opened archives. Most of this was known, although never before given such thorough documentation. The more profound influence of the book lay in the challenge to the popular perception of Zionism. Its readability and the explosion of public relations around it were all aimed at reversing the myth of a just Jewish David triumphant over an evil Arab Goliath. All this landed on fertile emotional ground. Thirty years of occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank had tarnished Zionism’s righteous self-image. But Post-Zionists did not offer a new, more sober view of Israel’s history. By painting the picture in the colors of the 1967 occupations, they created a negative image of the old popular one: the Palestinians, in their current state of oppression, were projected back in history to 1948, and a confident Western Goliath in the guise of Zionism stormed back through time to the cradle of their tragedy, in the process overrunning women, oriental Jews, Holocaust survivors, ultra-orthodox Jews, and other minorities. In a programmatic essay in Tikkun (Nov./Dec. 1988), Morris
A confident Western Goliath in the guise of zionism stormed back through time…
coined the name “New Historians,” and from then on all who refused the image of Zionism as thoroughly evil were dubbed “old historians.” As the debate spilled out from the history of the ’48 war into other subjects and popular media, it became complex. But complex descriptions of history did not stand a chance against Post-Zionist provocations. On top of Morris’s conservative historiography, a fashionable intellectual arsenal was deployed by the New Historians: Edward Said’s theories of colonialism and orientalism, postmodern relativism, radical feminism, multiculturalism, etc. All contributed to the further radicalization of the arguments. New Historian Ilan Pappe, for example, accused Morris of being trapped in the confines of the “Zionist Paradigm.” It is not enough, he argued, to point to atrocities. One must first discard the notion of truth, for “truth” is the invention of “hegemony” designed to suppress a plurality of “narratives.” Along with “critical sociologists”—Uri Ram, Baruch Kimmerling, and others —Pappe set out to show that Zionism, viewed outside its own paradigm through “neutral” eyes, is clearly a part of the colonial movement. Under the paradigm of colonialism, immigration too appeared in a new, not entirely neutral, light. Rather than refugees from the ashes of death camps seeking shelter in the forming Jewish state, Holocaust survivors were portrayed as cannon fodder for David Ben-Gurion’s imperialism. Simultaneously Ben-Gurion was accused of abandoning European Jewry to Nazi death camps: having placed the “negation of the Diaspora” at the heart of its official ideology, Zionism became indifferent to non-Zionist Diaspora Jews, and finally indulged a systematic negation of all “others.” The new interpretation of oriental immigration also struck a deeply emotional chord. The traumatic immigration of Jews from Muslim countries in the fifties, the shock of abrupt transition from a traditional to a modern society, is still a bleeding social wound. The arrogance of Israel’s leadership toward these people only added insult to the original injury. Sociologists Shelomoh Svirski and Yehouda Shenhav blamed the hardships of assimilation on deliberate racial discrimination. According to Svirski, the ruling elite created a system of education designed at directing oriental Jewry to proletarian jobs. The melting pot, “critical sociologists” said, was a deliberate attempt to rob these Jews of identity and heritage, to enforce Western hegemony. Argument soon assumed a tautological form: those who assimilated were depicted more or less as traitors to their heritage, while those who did not remained living testimony to discrimination. What emerged from all these new forms of criticism was a denial of the strong national sentiment that animated Zionism and made it a mass movement. The new interpretations replaced a social force from below with manipulation of elites from above. Since conspiratorial world-views have their own dynamics of radicalization, soon nothing was what it seemed: the Oslo peace accord, Post-Zionism declared, was a continuation of the occupation by other means; the peace with Jordan a scheme to suffocate the Palestinians. Some even denounced human rights
organizations for “duplicating” the “language of occupation” by promoting the “illusion” of objective description. At a rather late point in the debate, as provocation became routine and Zionism-as-evil a standard assumption in the highbrow press, Zeev Sternhell sought to reformulate the antiZionist sentiment in a more traditional Marxist vein. The root of evil is, according to his The Founding Myths of Israel (Princeton, 1998), that labor-Zionism was really nationalism in the guise of a socialist project. The discovery of nationalism apparently offered Sternhell an indisputable, final proof of the “falseness” of the socialist rhetoric. While Post-Zionists rejected this emphasis on nationalism, the most devastating critique of the book arrived from outside Post-Zionist circles. Respected historian Anita Shapira wrote a sarcastic, somewhat amused essay entitled “Sternhell’s Complaint.” Sternhell, she said, is an expert on French Fascism and so tends to find French Fascism wherever he looks. His socialism was more in keeping with the Marxism of the British Museum Library than with political reality. Where, except in books, she asked, did we ever see a successful non-national socialist government? Caught in the crossfire, Sternhell’s ill-informed book failed to draw from Israelis the attention it received abroad and soon sank into oblivion amid the uproar of the Post-Zionist debate. Recently, as arguments for and against Zionism seemed to grow more and more predictable, Daniel Gutwein of the University of Haifa, in an essay on “‘New Historiography’ or the Privatization of Memory,”advanced a new interpretation of the debate with a more sophisticated Marxist twist. He first pointed out that the important arena of debate was not the academy but the media. What seemed at the start like a scholarly assault on established historiography turned out to be an ideological assault on the authority of academic research. The success of this attack is accordingly not to be explained on academic grounds, in Gutwein’s view. The Post-Zionists themselves attributed their emergence to the decline of the heroic mentality of young Israel and the maturing of a civil society now able to tolerate a critical look at its past. But that, according to Gutwein, is at best a partial explanation. Rather, the growth of this neo-radicalism from within the heart of the elite academic institution is more comprehensible against the larger socio-economic background: the general privatization of Israeli society and the rise of the new professional and financial elites. The gradual disintegration of the welfare state, and its replacement by a free market economy, came up against the obstacle of old Israel’s cultural heritage. They clashed with the old collective memory and its emphasis on social cohesion and mutual responsibility. The “privatization” of memory, the “celebration” of a multiplicity of “narratives” and identities, is progressively diminishing solidarity and is therefore paving the way for the ongoing rise of the managerial class. Rather than a campaign for the socially marginalized, Gutwein argued, Post-Zionism is better understood as a party in the conflict between the old and the new elites. By “privatizing memory,” by tearing the old cultural fabric that formerly bound Israelis together, it furnishes “the ideological basis for an x ethos of privatization in its struggle for hegemony.” —Gadi Taub
n Rome in 1942 a clandestine anti-Fascist party called the Party of Action [Partito d’azione] was formed. It had several different currents–republican, liberal, liberal-socialist–yet was held together by its admiration for two important figures in Italian politics: Piero Gobetti and Carlo Rosselli. Gobetti (1901-1926) was the first to suggest that ever since the Risorgimento there were “two Italies:” one enlightened and modern, but small and weak, the other premodern, traditional, and dominant. Writing in the years Fascism took power, Gobetti was convinced that Italy’s hostility to liberalism could only be overcome if a “change in the national culture,” or cultural revolution, first took place. Although he endorsed a radical liberalism, he also believed that the Communists could play a crucial role in democratizing Italy by helping to develop a secular culture. He died in Paris in 1926 of a heart attack a few weeks after escaping from Turin, where he had suffered a physical assault by local Fascists. Rosselli (1899-1937) was founder of the clandestine anti-fascist movement Justice and Liberty [Giustizia e Libertà] and also believed that socialism, once stripped of its statist tendencies and Marxist roots, could contribute to liberalism because it was a coherent interpretation of liberalism. Rosselli participated in the Spanish civil war and was assassinated by Mussolini’s hired killers. Like Gobetti, Rosselli was a militant ideologue and victim of fascism, which added to the charismatic appeal of the Party of Action. The Party of Action disappeared almost immediately after the war, during the first democratic elections of 1946. It was known unofficially as “The Party of the Intellectuals,” a party of commanders without an army, as Communist Party leader Palmiro Togliatti sarcastically called it. The Action Party attracted the best minds of the anti-fascist culture—historian Franco Venturi, political thinker Guido De Ruggiero, philosopher Norberto Bobbio, economist Luigi Einaudi—yet was unable to attract the Italian people. As Bobbio explained in his Autobiography, the defeat was unexpected because the leaders of the party were sure they were on the side of the angels and were working toward establishing a “real and mature” Italian democracy. They interpreted their defeat as testimony to the fact that the majority of the Italians were not sufficiently mature: Italy preferred the programs of the new Churches, that is to say, of the Christian Democrats and the Communists to the clear and reasonable program of the Party of Action. The “other” Italy, the enlightened Italy, had once again been abandoned by a hopelessly backward, premodern, and illiberal Italy. Until recently this short episode in modern Italian politics remained in the shadows of other, more dramatic historical events. But since the end of the Cold War, a heated polemic has arisen over what the failure of the Party of Action—or azionismo—really meant. On the one hand, it has played a part in a general reassessment of Italian postwar history and the relation between Italian fascism and the Resistance. On the other, it has re-ignited an older debate about whether modern liberalism can ever grow in Italian soil.
The Two Italies
Even before the end of the Cold War, questions were raised about atrocities committed by partisans of the Italian Resistance in the waning days of World War II. As the history of the period began to be rewritten, the standard account of the Resistance seemed an ideological construction, and soon it was argued that the Resistance had not pursued a war of liberation but a civil war. This was a quite radical revision of history because it also changed perceptions of fascism and antifascism. The Italians who fought on the “right” side–mainly the Communists–had never called the Resistance a “civil war;” only the Fascists did. What finally broke that canonical tradition was the publication in 1991 of Una guerra civile: Saggio storico sulla moralità della Resistenza [A civil war: historical essay on the morality of the Resistance] by Claudio Pavone, a highly respected historian and anti-Fascist. Pavone argued that three wars had been fought during the Resistance: a domestic war between Fascists and anti-Fascists; a war of liberation against the Nazis, who after the armistice of 1943 were a de facto occupation army; and, finally, a class war, which was fought by the Communists with the intention of overturning capitalism and instituting a Communist regime. These three wars, Pavone concluded, could be defined as moments of a broad civil war because in all three the enemies were Italians. Why has this interpretation of the Resistance as a civil war been so explosive? Because, as Norberto Bobbio has explained, in international law a civil war is one considered just by both parties and does not allow for clear moral judgment. If the Resistance was a civil war, then each Fascist was legitimately an enemy of each Communist and anti-Fascist, and vice versa. And that would mean that the Resistance was not a force of unity against a foreign enemy but a source of division among Italians. Contrary to what both the anti-Fascists and the Communists have claimed, Italy lost its unity precisely during the Resistance. In a provocative book, La morte della patria [The death of the fatherland] (1997), the political scientist Ernesto Galli della Loggia used this reasoning in order to denounce the role of azionismo in the making of postwar Italy. In his view, Italy in fact had a unitary identity before the collapse of Fascism. It had a patria that was identified with the state and could have resisted the German occupation had the government not abandoned Rome to the German army in September 1943. The state dissolved at the precise moment it was needed, forcing Italians to guard their life and liberty and leaving them in the hands of the Communist partisans or the Fascists. The Resistance then deepened the fracture between the state and the nation by dividing Italian society into tribal ideologies. Thus, contrary to the leftist common wisdom, the Resistance did not contribute to making the state legitimate, but rather made the state an object of conquest by factional interests and encouraged citizens to identify themselves with parties instead of the Italian Constitution. This determined the political character of Italy until the early 1990s. According to Galli della Loggia, the only possibility for political redemption could have come from the liberals. However, Italy did not in fact have a strong liberal party, nor, above all, a liberal culture. The Party of Action, then, the only liberal party, might have played a role here but proved incapable of being truly neutral between Fascists and Communists. Its radicalism, its lack of moderation, its anti-Fascist origins made it a de facto pro-Communist party. The intellectuals who have led the polemic on azionismo in recent years have insisted on the intolerant and Jacobin character of the Party of Action and its myth of “the two Italies.” This is part of what the philosopher Augusto Del Noce called “the Italian ideology” in a series of books he published in the 1970s, and which have now inspired a young generation of intellectuals writing for periodicals like Liberal and newspapers like Corriere della Sera. Del Noce (1910-1989) taught at the Catholic University of Milan for many years and was known as a sharp critic of the modern age. In his view, it was the rejection of transcendence and the ensuing divinization of the individual that inspired the negative utopias of modernity. Without external and superior values capable of limiting the individual will to power, all values—even the liberal values of liberty and equality—could be turned upside down. For Del Noce, azionismo was the most mature political form of a rationalism that descends into nihilism. In fact, he argued, the leaders of the Party of Action were even more radical than their opponents, since they rejected any form of religiosity or communitarian belonging. The anti-fascism of the azionisti was as destructive as that of the Communists while sharing a certain nihilism with fascism. The belief that azionismo was the expression of “the other Italy” only reflected what Del Noce called the “absolute solipsism” of “the Italian ideology,” the dogmatic belief in modernity that cannot tolerate any mediation or compromise. “The Italian ideology” could only breed denial and division, as the war of Resistance has shown. Galli della Loggia translates Del Noce’s theory into a political argument against the presumed modernity of azionismo. Whereas Del Noce criticized modernity in all its facets, Galli della Loggia instead accused “the Italian ideology” of having removed the country from modernity by having identified the modern age with the Enlightenment and political Jacobinism. Italy lacked a moderate liberalism because its intellectuals regarded France, not England or America, as their model. Rather than simply aiming to build a liberal state, they wanted, with ironically Jacobin rigidity, to forge a new man, albeit a liberal one. And in this they failed. Yet polemics about azionismo cannot but bring to mind those of the Cold War. And in this sense it can be said that the intellectuals engaged in them are no less Jacobin than x their predecessors. —Nadia Urbinati
Historians under National Socialism
major controversy flared up at the annual meeting of the German Historians’ Association last autumn. It divided the profession, scandalized the general public, and rages on in the cultural sections of the German national press. Basically, it concerns the Nazi past of German historians, in particular that of Werner Conze (1910-1986) and Theodor Schieder (1908-1984). But it also involved a conflict between generations and between historical schools. Oonze and Schieder entered
work along more traditional lines. And since the 1990s a young new third generation of postwar historians have turned from social-history approaches to cultural studies, gender history, micro-history, and other new trends in history, with themes they consider to have been neglected in the work of the older political, social, and economic historians. In posing their questions they have also turned to new kinds of sources and new methodological approaches. Being further removed from the war than older historians were and are, some of them have also raised their own questions about it. Today the older distractions of the Cold War have all but disappeared, to be replaced by a widely felt need to redefine policies of remembrance and memory under new political circumstances. One fruitful new area of investigation is the history of academic research under National Socialism, and its partial integration of research activities into the war efforts and the Holocaust. There have been studies of organizations like the Forschungsgemeinschaften (“research communities”) which had been largely ignored. And we now know much more about the involvement of certain fields like eugenics, geography, or population studies in the planning and ideological justification of the war of destruction in the East. And, finally, all this has led to new explorations into historical work under National Socialism. Early studies in this area suggested that the National Socialist views of history had mainly penetrated a few institutions, leaving the rest of the profession relatively untouched. The general view was that the historical profession had been very conservative and mainly not averse to National Socialism, but that this had not radically affected historical research between 1933 and 1945. This image changed radically when the work of some academic historians in the 1930s came under closer scrutiny. New investigations by the younger historians in the 1990s altered the image of several historians who became prominent in the 1950s and 1960s, and first met with a mixed reception from the older generation of the 1990s. Although some of these studies were reviewed in the national press there was no public reaction to them until the annual convention of the German Historians’ Association, when the panel on this subject overshadowed all other meetings and events there. The public debate revolved around the cases of Conze and Schieder, and their relations with the Volksgeschichte (People’s History) school of the thirties, based largely in Königsberg, which some have seen as heavily involved in National Socialist ideology. According to Wehler’s summary of others’ recent
the historical profession during the 1930s. Both were among the most prominent members of their discipline, dominating personalities, innovators, and influential teachers from the 1950s on, and both became later Presidents of the German Historians’ Association. Conze founded the Working Circle for Modern Social History in Heidelberg and initiated research on social history, especially on the industrial work force, when this was still unusual terrain. He also co-edited—with Otto Brunner and Reinhard Koselleck—the great dictionary for Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe [Basic Historical Concepts], still the touchstone for conceptual history in Germany. Schieder was editor of the Historische Zeitschrift, the country’s leading historical journal. He introduced comparative study of the modern nation-state, made contemporary history a more accepted field, and greatly broadened the scope of social history. In the fifties and sixties both Conze and Schieder led attempts to establish a new approach to social history in Germany. The real breakthrough only occurred in the late sixties and early seventies through efforts of a younger generation. Its main representatives were Schieder’s student Hans Ulrich Wehler, and Jürgen Kocka; together they established what was later called the Bielefeld School of social history. Until then the vast majority of German historians viewed history mainly from the standpoint of politics and were politically conservative. Starting in the early seventies the Bielefeld School provided the first visible alternative to a political history approach by focusing on society. They did not ignore politics and events, but they felt that socio-economic factors, long-term trends, and class conflict had not received due attention. They borrowed freely from the methodologies of the social sciences, especially sociology and economics, and kept abreast of historiographic developments abroad. The School called its approach ”Historical Social Science,“ and founded its own journal, Geschichte und Gesellschaft [History and Society], in 1975. One achievement of the Bielefeld School was to have redefined the relation of historical studies to the present, drawing on responses to National Socialism. They saw history as critique, with a practical dimension and public function. It was crucial to them never to lose sight of 1933 in studying the German past. Politically, the School flourished in the period of the first coalition government of liberals and social democrats, when Willy Brandt was redefining German foreign policy, and the student movement was in full swing. Their work epitomizes many of the sentiments of the period. Today the Bielefeld School is part of the academic historical establishment, but not predominant. Many historians still
research, the Volksgeschichte school attracted young historians who, disappointed by the state, turned to study of “the people” as a more reliable source of historical continuity. To this end they introduced statistical and demographic methods and other innovations into historical research. This was intellectually more attractive than following the common paths of mainstream political history. Later, of course, the social romanticism of this concept of “the people” later turned into a racist conception under the influence of National Socialism. For example, the research methods of Volksgeschichte were used in 1939 when the Nazis began planning large forced migrations in Eastern Central Europe, with the aim of ethnic cleansing. Two of the historians involved were Conze and Schieder. Their plans for such population shifts were couched in an anti-Semitic language that seems to blur any difference between forced deportation and physical annihilation. This part of the story has been told by the journalist and historian Götz Aly and others, who unearthed a series of shocking quotations that jarred with the existing image of Conze and Schieder. Many of these quotations came from unpublished memoranda found in archives, though hints of their views could also be found in their publications. Reactions to these discoveries varied. For Götz Aly, the demographic strategies Conze and Schieder proposed are intermediary steps to the Holocaust. Aly’s critics see him as a muckraker pulling quotations out of context, without analyzing the character, function, and institutional background of their sources or their real effects on the bureaucratic decisionmaking processes. In fact, they say, we still know very little about the interactions between Volksgeschichte, National Socialist ideology, and the planning and decision-making processes of World War II. While these rebuttals may damage Aly’s interpretational framework, they leave the power of his telling quotations untouched. In an effort to reconcile these quotations with Conze’s and Schieder’s postwar work it has been argued that the two should be credited with having undergone a “learning process.” This has raised the objection that a true learning process would have broken the silence both Conze and Schieder preserved with regard to their past. For some in this controversy, silence is the real scandal. And some of the more accusatory younger historians use the scandal to implicate the Bielefeld School in this silence. Did Conze and Schieder enter into a conspiracy of silence with their students? Did their students press them hard enough with questions about their past, or shy away for their own reasons? Why have these stories come to light only now? From lack of active interest, or fear of what one might find? Ultimately, these overlapping conflicts of interpretation, generation, and schools of thought raise the deeper question: Are intellectual and moral achievements naturally linked? x —Michael Becker
Sources: Hans-Ulrich Wehler, “In den Fußstapfen der Kämpfenden Wissenschaft” [In the footprints of a warring discipline], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 4, 1999. Jürgen Kocka, “Die Zukunft hat erst begonnen” [The future’s just begun], in Paul Nolte, ed., Perspektiven der Gesellschaftsgeschichte, München, 1999.
he Greek civil war, one of the three major contemporary European civil wars (along with the Spanish and Russian ones), was fought on and off between 1943 and 1949. It began during the joint German-Italian-Bulgarian occupation of the country following Greece’s defeat in 1941.As the occupation shattered old structures and loyalties, a powerful Communist-controlled resistance movement emerged: EAM (the Greek acronym for National Liberation Front). In 1943, EAM eliminated almost all non-Communist resistance movements. The same year, the occupation authorities formed a collaborationist army, generically known as “Security Battalions.” In 1944, fighting between ELAS (EAM’s partisan army, the National Popular Liberation Army), and the Security Battalions evolved into a full-fledged civil war that created thousands of victims and long-lasting hatreds—along with the political identities that still inform Greek politics. Following the Germans’ departure in October 1944, the entire country with the exception of Athens came under EAM control. In mass reprisals, the partisans massacred thousands of Security Battalionists. When the government-in-exile, supported by Britain, returned to Athens and established its authority, a wave of bloody retaliation against EAM members, often led by former Security Battalionists, took place. Eventually, right-wing and left-wing irregular bands fought each other (with civilians being the primary target) in 1945 and 1946. In 1947, the Communist Party decided to fight an all-out war which lasted until 1949 and is often referred to as “the Greek civil war.” The implementation of the Truman Doctrine, the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to enter the fray, and the Tito-Stalin fallout all contributed to the ultimate and total defeat of the Communist Party, which was to remain outlawed until 1974. Thousands of its supporters left Greece for the Soviet bloc in the wake of the defeat—a sizeable part of them ending up a far as Uzbekistan. Suspected Communist sympathizers were harassed and discriminated against. Overall, about 600,000 Greeks died of various causes between 1940 and 1949—in a country populated by less than seven million. Hundreds of thousands became refugees. The historical literature that emerged right after the end of the civil war was consistent with the adage that history is written by the winners. The main thesis was that EAM was no more than a cover used by the Communists to win power either peacefully, or, if this proved impossible, violently. Terror was widely used by EAM, and its dominant position within the Greek resistance was the result of the systematic destruction of nationalist resistance organizations. In such circumstances collaboration with the occupiers could be excused since the prospect of long-term communism was a bigger threat than short-term fascist occupation. Having failed to win power in 1944, the Communist Party then planned a new insurrection in 1947, helped by the Soviet Union and its satellites—in partial exchange for which it accepted the country’s
The Greek Civil War in Retrospect
partition through the transfer of Greek Macedonia to Greece’s northern neighbors. Most of the work produced during this period took the form of popular pamphlets, rich in references to the violence and the “un-Greekness” of the Left, but rather short on facts. The emphasis was placed more on the last phase of the civil war than on the period of the occupation. The most useful part of this otherwise forgettable production are memoirs published by prominent military leaders of the government army and a series of publications of military history published by the Historical Service of the army. For years, the basic source on the period of occupation remained the memoirs of the British agents who worked with the partisans. During this period historical works sympathetic to the Left were only published outside Greece. The political liberalization of the 1960s was eventually reflected in the historiography of the Civil War. The first leftwing interpretations began to appear in Greece. The main lines of the leftist thesis (which, of course, comes in many versions) can be summarized as follows: EAM was a broad-based, mostly non-communist mass movement, which expressed the popular aspirations for liberation from foreign occupation and a more just social order. EAM would have come to power by peaceful means had it not been stopped by the British who supported the local oligarchy and sponsored mass violence against it. Forced by the British to resort to arms in December 1944 and 1947, this popular movement lost only because of foreign (British and, then, US) intervention. Those who fought against Nazi Germany were executed or languished in prisons while former collaborationists became part of the postwar power establishment. After a seven-year hiatus due to the military dictatorship (1967-1974), this literature all but erased former right-wing interpretations. A Greek-American journalist, Nicholas Gage, who visited Greece in 1977, describes a situation in which “posters, movies, books, popular songs and the youth organizations in the universities were united in celebrating the guerrillas of the civil war as heroes. It seemed that the best talents of Greece were busy rewriting the history of the war.” When the same journalist published an autobiographical book in the early 1980s about the execution of his mother by the Communist guerillas in 1948, the intellectual establishment and the majority of the media reacted in a vociferously negative way; and when the Hollywood filmed version of the book was released soon after, the Communist youth organization picketed movie theaters and harassed moviegoers. Around the same time, when the renowned Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis voiced a public criticism of leftist interpretations of the civil war (he deemed them Stalinist), he was openly and vehemently insulted in the first page of the Athens newspaper with the highest circulation. The victory of the Socialist party (PASOK) in 1981 turned this version of the civil war into state orthodoxy much along the same lines that the right had with its own in the 1950s. Following the long-awaited official recognition of EAM as a resistance organization in 1982 (in the context of a highly emotional debate in the National Assembly during which the opposition center-right New Democracy party walked out in protest), the left-wing version of the civil war became a staple of official discourse and schoolbooks. Contrary to expectation, the end of the Cold War has hardly altered this situation. The last months of 1997 saw the successive (and commercially successful) publication of a significant number of historical books, heavily biased in favor of the Left. A climate of ideological suspicion prevails. For instance, a Greek journalist writing a book review in 1998 quipped that the political orientation of the authors of books on the civil war can be “sensed immediately and with certainty.” Moreover, serious historical research has been impeded by the sad state of the Greek archives, the non-availability of the largest part of the archives of the Communist Party, and one of the most outrageous acts of destruction of a country’s collective memory: the burning of millions of personal files (held by the police) and related state documents concerning both the civil war and the postwar period in celebratory bonfires all over the country during the summer of 1989. The intention was to celebrate the “national reconciliation” and the “true end of the civil war” on the occasion of the formation of an extraordinary coalition cabinet which included the Greek right and a leftist coalition containing the Communist party! Yet despite these obstacles, a revisionist trend is slowly (and still timidly) emerging. Recent work focuses more on the period of the occupation, takes into account social and economic factors, adopts a view “from the ground up” with a strong local bent, places Greek history in a wider comparative perspective, and relies on unconventional material to make up for the absence of archival sources, such as oral history, local studies, personal memoirs. What emerges is a very complex and nuanced set of shifting and segmented loyalties, heavily informed by local considerations and conflicts, in which terror was never the monopoly of a single camp. In addition, new groundbreaking work examines the civil war in Macedonia, which appears to have been an exceedingly complex conflict blending ethnic and ideological conflict with such diverse participants as Slavophone Macedonians, Greek Macedonian Turkophone refugees from Asia Minor, Greek Macedonian refugees from Bulgaria and the Caucasus, and various groups of transient nomads—all speaking different dialects and languages. We still know little about the multifaceted aspects of this conflict in which identities were so fluid. For example, a Slavophone peasant of Macedonia could be a self-professed Bulgarian komitadji collaborating with the German occupation authorities, a member of the Slavophone guerrillas of ELAS, a member of Tito’s Macedonian partisans, or a right-wing Greek nationalist. The first findings to come out of this literature undermine the perception of the civil war as a conflict between two well-defined and entrenched ideological camps. In Greece, as elsewhere, a sensible understanding of civil war only seems x to emerge when its passions have subsided. —Stathis N. Kalyvas
Sources: Mark Mazower, Inside Hitler’s Greece: the Experience of Occupation, 1941-44, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. Giorgios Margaritis, Apo tin itta stin exegersi: Ellada, anixi 1941fthinoporo 1942 [From defeat to insurrection: Greece, spring 1941-fall 1942], Athens, Politis, 1993.
Revising Roger Garaudy
n a narrow side street off the Rue Saint-Honoré in the first arrondissement of Paris, lost amid the laundries and small boutiques is an unremarkable green storefront with drapes fastened shut. There is no sign or bell to be rung, though the door is left unlocked. Were the curious flâneur to stir up his courage and wander in, however, he would discover a small book shop crowded with publications and patrons. It feels like a pornographic bookstore, and in a sense it is one. For what is on offer is the political pornography of the European radical right. There are books on European pagan mythology, which one wing of the French radical right wants to revive; there are learned compendia of ancient pagan symbols, including the swastika; there are large tomes defending the government of Vichy; there are books complaining about immigration and the Maastricht treaty; and there are souvenir items for the younger set, including compact discs by right-wing skinhead bands, T-shirts emblazoned with Wotan’s presumed image, and postcards bearing the portrait of Céline. And among all this paraphernalia there is a long shelf of the works of Roger Garaudy. This is a surprise. It was not too long ago that Roger Garaudy was, if not a household name, certainly a well-known thinker on the European left whose books were translated into dozens of languages. His book on Hegel, Dieu est mort [God Is Dead] (1962) is still widely cited, and his later books on Marx (1965) and Lénine (1968) were required reading for young radicals at the time. Having joined the Party’s political bureau in 1956, Garaudy was best known, however, as the chief ideologue of the French Communist Party when Maurice Thorez led it. He was a Communist member of the national assembly from 1944 until 1962, and even served two years as its vice president. His main work was intellectual, though, including a year spent as chief Moscow correspondent for L’Humanité, the French communist daily. He was eventually purged from the party in the 1970s for opposing the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the leadership of Georges Marchais, yet he remained ideologically close to it and even published a defense of the Soviet experience in 1994. But it is not this Roger Garaudy who interests the radical right today; it is Garaudy the writer on religion. He was born in Marseilles in 1913 into an atheistic working-class family but at the age of fourteen converted to Protestantism, and at some later stage to Catholicism. As a young man he befriended Romain Rolland, Picasso, Matisse, Paul Éluard, and Le Corbusier, but also kept company with priests and theologians.
During the Second World War he spent thirty-three months in a North African prison camp, and it was there that he first had contact with Islam, which became a passion. In 1966 he published Grandeur et décadences de l’Islam and in 1981 Promesses de l’Islam. And in 1982 this ex-atheist, ex-Protestant, ex-Catholic, and ex-Communist became a Muslim, sometimes using the name Rajaa Garaudy. It quickly became apparent, however, that Garaudy’s religious attraction to Islam was intimately connected with his political antipathy toward Zionism and Israel. In the early eighties he made a violent public intervention attacking the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and by the time of the Gulf War in 1991, he had become a vocal and relentless critic of anything connected with Israel. At that time he began circulating in the far-right intellectual circles of GRECE [the Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Europeénne] and the Club de l’Horloge, and apparently took up Holocaust negationism through the works of Robert Faurisson, Paul Rassinier, and David Irving. In 1995 Garaudy then published a book called Les Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne [The founding myths of Israeli politics] that made reference to all this “scholarship,” not only attacking Israeli foreign policy but what he called the “myth” of the Holocaust. Garaudy claimed that evidence for the Shoah was inconclusive, that estimates of the number of those murdered varied widely, that it was at most a “massacre,” but that, in the end, the matter should be left to historians to decide. He then went on to equate Zionism with colonialism, nationalism, and Nazism in this book he called an “anthology of Zionist crimes.” The reaction was swift and furious. Garaudy was attacked from every side, including his former comrades at L’Humanité, and soon he was prosecuted under the 1990 Gayssot Law, which makes it illegal in France to deny crimes against humanity, to defame people on racial grounds, or to provoke racial hatred and violence. The case quickly became a cause célèbre not least because Garaudy retained as his lawyer the notorious Jacques Vergès, who had defended Klaus Barbie. It also received wide attention in the popular media when Garaudy was defended by, of all people, the Abbé Pierre. The Abbé was a very special figure in France and was sometimes called the French Mother Teresa for his ministry with factory workers, the poor, and, most recently, the homeless of Paris. But Abbé Pierre was also an old friend of Garaudy’s who felt obliged to send him a letter vouching for his character and making subtle allusions to the background of his accusers.
Eventually the Abbé was forced publicly to withdraw his support, but by then the attention of the media was focused on the case. After a long series of legal maneuvers, Roger Garaudy was finally tried and convicted in early 1998 and fined nearly $25,000. The case is still on appeal. In the meantime, however, the Garaudy case had been picked up by certain Arab intellectuals who claimed he was being punished for his faith and who themselves were beginning to repeat his negationist theses. This tendency was recently attacked by the long-time Palestinian academic and activist Edward Said, who in Le Monde diplomatique (August 1988) argued that any such negationist strategy was morally repugnant and politically suicidal. “How can we expect the entire world to recognize our sufferings as Arabs if we are unable to recognize those of others, even if they are our oppressors?” he asked, adding that “the measures of oppression and censorship of the press and public opinion are in any case much more disquieting in the Arab world than in France!” But Garaudy’s case is still the focus of attention in parts of the Arab world, as can be seen by browsing through the several Web-sites devoted to his trial. And while all this controversy swirls around him, the eightysix-year-old Roger Garaudy continues to write, apparently rejuvenated by his most recent conversion to scientific antiSemitism. Among his books published last year was Le procès du sionisme israélien [Israeli Zionism on Trial], which defends his position on the Holocaust, charges the Zionists with having collaborated with the Nazis, and unmasks the “pseudo-theological myth of the chosen people.” Another was Les États-Unis, avant-garde de la décadence [The U.S., Avant-Garde of Decadence], which holds up to ridicule America’s obsession with the market, its cultural imperialism, and, of course, its support of Israel. Most of these small works are now published by a press in Lebanon, which then presumably spirits them into France. And eventually they make their way to the little bookshop x behind the curtain, off the Rue Saint-Honoré. —ML argument goes, aimed chiefly to cleanse and preserve, and not to destroy, the status quo. Although it was long fashionable to link this historical view to the advent of the Cold War and America’s increasingly complacent, conservative political mood, its roots run much deeper. Long before 1945, Marxists and other neo-Jacobins had set the terms of debate about modern revolutions (among Marxists and anti-Marxists alike). Accordingly, the French Revolution was widely considered the eighteenth-century harbinger of the great revolutions to come. By comparison, the American Revolution looked tame—happily so to some, sadly so to others. There was no reign of terror in America, no cult of the Supreme Being, no Bastille or regicide or sansculottes. And instead of Marat, Saint-Just, and Robespierre, the American Revolution produced James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington—gentlemen radicals, indeed, slaveholders all. To be sure, early in this century, a generation of so-called Progressive historians tried to locate underlying class struggles within the American Revolution. Yet the acknowledged failure of the scattered American movements from below made it difficult to see them as the Revolution’s guiding force. In those few places where such movements succeeded (as they did, for a time, in revolutionary Pennsylvania), they hardly amounted to radical insurgencies on a par with later movements in France. Even the most incendiary pro-American agitator, Tom Paine, was no match for his Gallic counterparts, a fact dramatized when Paine, fresh from his American victories, lent his hand to the French Revolution—and wound up languishing in a Jacobin prison for nearly a year as a suspected counterrevolutionary. Yet today, the familiar consensus about the American Revolution has crumbled. The researches of Bernard Bailyn, Gordon S. Wood, and others have raised serious doubts about the Lockean origins of the American rebels’ political ideas. Some scholars have found that the “common-sense” philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment (and especially the writings of David Hume) played a much larger role in America than had been previously assumed. More broadly, ideas associated with the Country Party opposition of early eighteenth-century England (referred to in academic shorthand as “republicanism”) appeared to have been much more influential in the American patriots’ thinking than had Lockean liberalism. By those precepts, public liberty could be secured only in a commonwealth of virtuous, independent citizens, ever vigilant against concentrations of power in the upper echelons of politics. And far from a rehash of late-seventeenth-century English ideas, the American vision of building a New World republic assumed the dimensions of a radical, nearly utopian, anti-monarchical ideology. In 1992, Wood’s survey, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, restated this revision of the Revolution’s intellectual history, with the added insistence that the Americans initiated a social revolution as well. By appropriating the political language of the radical Whigs and attacking the aristocratic abuses of patronage and family interest, Wood claimed, the American revolutionaries were “tearing at the bonds holding
ow radical was the American Revolution? According to an academic consensus that dates back to the late 1940s, not radical at all. Born of complaints about taxes and constitutional irregularities, the American rebellion was supposedly a legalistic affair lacking apocalyptic intentions or results. America’s so-called “radical” leaders declared repeatedly that, by fighting for national independence, they sought to conserve the rights of freeborn Englishmen which they believed the British Crown had sought to squelch. In search of validating political ideas the Americans looked backward, to John Locke and the Glorious Revolution, and not to some fresh emancipatory doctrine. Far from impoverished or oppressed, the white colonists who led and fought for the patriot cause were the freest, most prosperous, and least governed people in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world—and they knew it. Their revolution, so the
America the Radical?
traditional monarchical society together.” In their place the revolutionary leadership tried to substitute new forms of social cohesion, based on benevolent dedication to the common good, undertaken by citizen-freemen free of any political or economic reliance on other men. It was not, Wood was quick to add, a democratic or commercial ideal, but a gentlemanly, gentry ideal, suspicious of money-making for its own sake, eager to promote men of cultivation as well as talent to political power. But by eradicating an entire social order (as well as the political connection to England), the American Revolution was, he writes, “as radical and social as any revolution in history.” Yet ironically, Wood contends, the Revolution’s success also paved the way for the much more aggressively democratic and commercially-oriented America that evolved in the early nineteenth century. Emboldened by national independence and spurred by the promise of individual prosperity, vulgar, ordinary Americans refused to obey the high-minded strictures laid down by the virtuous republican gentry. They agitated for widened access to capital; they formed (and joined) new mass political parties; they celebrated the pursuit of individual interest above and beyond the exercise of selfless virtue. And thanks to their overwhelming energy, they changed America yet again, dashing the classical ideals of the revolutionary era and building what Wood calls “a new society unlike any that had ever existed anywhere in the world,” the most egalitarian, democratic, commercially-minded—and, not coincidentally, evangelical Christian—nation on earth. Although widely praised as a landmark study graced with what the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jack Rakove calls “Tocquevillean power,” Wood’s account has not met with universal assent. Much of his analysis, particularly on the shift from republicanism to democracy, is based on developments limited to the northern states. While he notes how the Revolution’s ideology helped energize anti-slavery opinion, he says little about how and why a renaissance of slavery, and of pro-slavery ideology, also came in the aftermath of American independence. His account of republicanism’s eradication slights how republican ideas (sometimes in combination with democratic ones) served as an abiding resource, in very different ways, for reactionary slaveholders and urban radicals well into the nineteenth century. And by connecting democratization wholly to the efforts and social aspirations of aggressive entrepreneurs, he ignores how, especially after 1815, democratic movements often found their chief followers among embittered and indebted semi-subsistence farmers and workingmen who viewed such hustlers with alarm. Still, Wood’s analysis has done a great deal to vindicate the far-reaching radical implications of the American Revolution—implications which political writers on both sides of the Atlantic recognized at the time. In doing so, he has helped historians rid themselves of the blinders imposed by what had become traditional assumptions about modern revolutions. And, though he may not have intended it, he has written an interpretation of his subject that is in harmony with a more x general post-Cold-War and post-socialist mood. — Sean Wilentz
Noblesse in Distress
f you’ve meant to help French aristocracy but wondered how, the Association d’entraide de la noblesse française may have the answer. The ANF, claiming that two-thirds of the 120,000 members of France’s noblesse (0.2% of the population) live below the poverty level, provides tuition and even clothing for titled children “as need or rank demands.” Which leaves unaccounted for not only elderly nobles, but those driven increasingly to crime: the young duke jailed for credit-card fraud, or the hitherto civic-minded count, a small-town mayor who wrote himself a municipal check to maintain a castle and grounds that were ruining him. Still, ANF aid means careful screening will protect your gifts from going to “pseudo-nobles,” the two-thirds of Frenchmen with “de” names—some 15,000 families— who, like Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, by often excessive correctness and traditionalism, make themselves “laughingstocks of ‘high society.’” Elsewhere in the European Community, one impoverished aristocratic both asserts and challenges the notion of noblesse. “HRH Prince” Michael James Alexander Stewart, a Belgian-raised and -accented, forty-one-yearold socialist, dclares himself true heir to James II (James VII of Scots, wrongfully deposed from the British throne in 1688), and thus, rightful king of Scotland. Having revived their parliament after three centuries, should the Scots also crown this veritable anti-Windsor, who admires the ‘cycling monarchs’ of Scandinavia and the Netherlands and views monarchy chiefly as the people’s mainstay “against the encroachments of the state?” To crown Michael, the Scots need to overlook the many historians who trace today’s Stuart line to Bavaria, and most journalists, who find Michael’s genealogical and personal claims preposterous. Bonnie Prince Charles’s “secret second marriage,” on which he rests his claim in his bestseller The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland, is unsubstantiated. The book’s endorsed by dignitaries with titles “awarded by Prince Michael himself.” The thirty-threenation European Council of Princes whose president Michael claims to be, eludes discovery. Alleged seizure of Michael’s royal passport by a “pro-Windsor conspiracy” reduces him to Michael Lafosse, who sold insurance in Belgium and shortbread in Edinburgh. Such humility suits the infinitely higher lineage another bestseller, ‘Sir’ Laurence Gardner’s The Bloodline of the Holy Grail and Genesis of the Grail Kings, traces to Michael from— Jesus Christ, whose own secret marriage the book reveals.... In the age of “empathetic post-Diana royalty,” asks The Guardian, can the Scots be kept from proclaiming another compassionate lord by “the cold details of pedigree?” —David Jacobson
Sources: Die Weltwoche (Zurich), January 7, 1999. The Guardian (London), March 24, 1999.
History and Historians
History Goes Pop: Two Views
For several decades the academic historical profession has been in a sort of identity crisis, wondering what its aims are and how to reach them. Yet at the same time, popular history – reflected in television documentaries, in movies, in glossy special-interest magazines, and history books – has never seemed more vigorous. Are these facts related? If so, what do they tell us about the prospects for history in the decade to come? We offer two views on the subject, from journalist Daniel Johnson, a critic of over-popularization, and Simon Schama, one of the most distinguished practitioners of both genres of historical writing.
or the past fifty years, British historians have dominated the writing of Europe’s history. Or so argues Daniel Johnson, an editor at the London Daily Telegraph, in a recent article in the monthly Prospect. The reason for this domination, in Johnson’s view, is that British historians managed to remain free from the continental fads of Annales-school social history and also postmodernism, while still reaching out to a large, nonacademic reading public. History books sell well in Britain, are regularly serialized in newspapers and debated on television, and the obligation of having to face “the jury of the educated public” has meant that “the most reliable and readable books on European history are often British.” Where would European history be today, he asks, without the works of J. H. Elliott and Hugh Thomas on Spain, Denis Mack Smith on Italy, Richard Cobb on France, Ian Kershaw on Germany, Robert Conquest on the Soviet Union, the Marxists Eric Hobsbawm and Christopher Hill, and many others? Whether this superiority can be maintained is, however, an open question. In his article Johnson traces the lineage of contemporary British historical study from the prewar to the postwar generation and then to recent decades. He notes the rise in the 1980s of what have been called the “media dons” in Britain, most of them historians equally at home in the library, the book pages, and on television. Mentioning Norman Stone, Roy Porter, and Simon Schama by name, Johnson remarks that the “symbiotic nexus of press and professors has revealed a sinister aspect too,” and suggests that “if it is bad for scholars to do nothing for the general public, it is also possible to do too much.” While he heaps contempt on “the young stars of the 1990s…cold-bloodedly advancing their parallel careers while moving seamlessly from scholarship to ephemera and back,” Johnson offers grudging praise of the youngest of the bunch, the omnipresent Niall Ferguson. Ferguson, an Oxford-based Scot still in his thirties, has already made his name as a serious historian with learned works on German business in the early twentieth-century (Paper and Iron, 1995), the Rothschild family (The House of Rothschild, 1998), and, most recently, a study of 1914-18 called The Pity of War. But he has also en-
British historians managed to remain free from the continental fads…
tered the media world of magazines and television. How this has affected his history-writing can be seen in his collection of essays, Virtual History, which explores a number of counter-factuals (what if Britain had stayed out of World War I?) in a popular style that Johnson compares to that of “thrillers.” He is also at work on a study of the sexual exploitation of victims in the Nazi death camps, a book that “risks the accusation of reducing history to pornography,” according to Johnson, and for which Ferguson has already received a sizable advance. Ferguson denies the charge of sensationalism but adds, somewhat defensively, “It’s good news that history is box office.” Here Johnson sees the expression less of blind ambition than what he calls the “one common denominator among virtual historians of the 1990s”: “skepticism about the very idea of a definitive work of history.” “Their subjectivism,” he writes, “is sotto voce, but it is audible in their ostentatious self-awareness, and in the final elision of any distinction between history and journalism.” Ferguson obviously believes in the craft and standards of academic history, but the test will be whether his less talented contemporaries seek to be anything more than “flâneurs of the fin de siècle.”
defense of popular history comes from Simon Schama of Columbia University. In a recent lecture Schama notes what he calls the “schizophrenia” of American attitudes toward the study of history. The cableonly History Channel is hugely successful with roughly 50 million subscribers. In American schools, however, history has been almost entirely replaced by “social studies,” which is taught with enormous (and expensive) textbooks aimed mainly at what Schama calls “identity-group therapy.” They are filled with bureacratic prose about the American present, glossy pictures of historical figures bearing no clear relation to the text, and precious little historical narrative. What has happened? he wonders. Schama notes correctly that Americans for much of this century have been in the grip of a pedagogical idea promoted by John Dewey, who held that “knowledge of the past and its heritage is of great importance when it enters the present, but not otherwise.” The notion of history as a repository of chastening, complicated knowledge about the past has itself come
Perfect history is “a compound of poetry and philosophy.”
History and Historians
to seem lost in the past. First-year high school students in the town where Schama lives are required to take a “Global Studies” course, though up until that point they have never been taught any history, whether of the United States or other countries. What can such courses teach, he wonders, beyond platitudes about intercultural understanding? The popularity of history on television obviously reflects a deep desire for and interest in historical narrative that the schools no longer satisfy. But it also reflects problems with academic history. As Schama explains, professional historians have willingly abandoned a crucial feature of successful narrative to television, and that is the power of images. Images are not only created through photographs and film. The greatest images in historical writing, he suggests, have always been created through prose. To prove his point, he quotes a short passage from Tacitus’s Annals, which he remembers being struck by as a young boy. “In the plain…were whitening bones, scattered or in little heaps, as the men had fallen fleeing or standing fast. Hard by lay splintered spears and limbs of horses.” Here Tacitus proves himself the equal of Eisenstein or Kurosawa. There are, of course, ancient and medieval examples of historical chronicles that took purely visual form, such as Trajan’s Column or the Bayeux Tapestry. But the great historical visualizers have always been writers, especially in the nineteenth century, when novelists like Walter Scott and Victor Hugo showed professionals how to weave the threads of historical evidence into a compelling story with haunting images. What is needed, Schama suggests, is fresh confirmation of Macaulay’s dictum, that perfect history is “a compound of poetry and philosophy.” He suggests that graduate students in history be encouraged to consider writing popular history, its possibilities and pitfalls. He has himself been working steadily over the past few years on a sixteen-part television series on British history for the BBC. As Macaulay also understood, history must be “received by the imagination as well as reason,” and there is no reason why the new technologies that excite x the imagination should not also serve the muse Clio. —ML
Sources: Daniel Johnson, “The Pop Historians,” Prospect (London), November 1998. Simon Schama, “Visualizing History,” Culturefront (New York Council for the Humanities), Winter 1998-99.
camera obscura is a device for projecting the image of distant objects with the help of a darkened room, a screen, and a prism. After being invented by astronomers for scientific purposes it was used from the eighteenth century on to entertain the general public by showing the view of towns, with the prism rotating above the spectators’ heads. This simple but ingenious apparatus was based on elementary principles of optics and delighted not only lay people but professionals as well, since the grinding of the lens required a high degree of theoretical and manual skill. Andrea Peto’s new book on the changing role of Hungarian women and their organizations in the crucial postwar years of reconstruction and Communist takeover works like just such a camera obscura. The work is based on sound archival material critically used, and consciously addresses a wide audience without a compromise of scholarly quality. It invites the reader and critic to see the landscape of Hungarian history from a different standpoint. In Nohistóriák Peto investigates the historical roles of the institutionalized women’s movements, from traditional feminist and religious organizations to the women’s section in the Social Democratic Party and the communists’ Democratic Union of Hungarian Women. Each chapter employs a different historical method, from analyzing police reports and political speeches to studying the narrative constructions of personal memoirs about beloved male partners. Each describes a different facet of the world of women’s movement, from the revival of Jewish women’s organizations to the recruitment of women into the police force. But essentially the book is a social history that draws on archival sources recently made available in Hungary, such as reports and minutes of the Interior Ministry of the Communist Party. The chilling story of how the Communist Party expanded its influence over every aspect of Hungarian life after 1945 has been the subject of several scholarly investigation, especially after 1989. The perspective of women, however, has been missing from the story so far. The surprising fact that ninety-three women’s organizations existed between 1945 and 1951, and that all fell victim to the Communist Party’s mission of dominating the civic body, is a prime example of the politicization of society. The real importance of Nohistóriák lies elsewhere, however. Peto, fluent in the methodology and vocabulary of women’s history and equipped with a thorough, up-to-date knowledge of its literature, escapes one typical mistake of East European scholars educated in the West who use the overly sophisticated, linguistically distorted jargon that alienates the audience in their home country. It is to be hoped that Nohistóriák will help to establish a new approach to history writing in Hungary, and that an English version will be forthcoming so that it can also make a useful contrix bution to the international field of women’s history. —Borbála Juhász
Sources: Andrea Peto, Nohistóriák—A politizáló magyar nok történetébol (1945-1951) [Women’s Histories—From the history of Hungarian women in politics (1945-1951)], Budapest: Seneca, 1998.
Hungarian Women’s History
History and Historians
A New Kind of History
n Lawrence Durrell’s stories about British diplomats in Serbia—stories now so laden with ironies that their humor is hardly to be borne—more than one character proves expert at what the narrator’s friend Antrobus calls “Viewing with Alarm.” This exercise, once confined to professional diplomats, has become endemic in recent years in critical discussions of the discipline of history. Essay after essay laments such features of recent historical work as the disappearance of the footnote, the evident loss of interest in establishing the truth about the past, and the increasingly frequent claim that historians enjoy a license to invent what they need to fill in what the sources have omitted. Not only staunch conservatives, but innovative practitioners and open-minded observers of the historical scene like Roger Chartier and Richard Evans see contemporary historians as careening along “the edge of the cliff,” to quote the title of a recent book by Chartier. Threats to objectivity abound, and even responsible historians seem to have abandoned the belief that all interpretations of the past are constrained by evidence—rather than constrained simply by the standards of the historical community that exists at a given time. Can postmodernism and history co-exist in a single intellectual space? Many spokesmen for the former, and even some defenders of the latter, seem to think they cannot—and there is genuine reason for concern when experienced historians, who have done distinguished research in the past, maintain that no interpretation of historical evidence is preferable on technical grounds to any other. Chartier and Evans draw attention to real absurdities and exaggerations. But both of them, in their concentration on the history written by and for professionals, have failed to note what may be the emergence, outside the universities, of a history which both treats historical evidence with genuine respect and shows that historical narratives inevitably reveal, in their warp and woof, the standpoint of those who create them. In the last twenty years, a group of journalists with considerable academic training have experimented more boldly and productively with historical narrative than anyone working within the Anglo-American academy. Consider only three examples: Amitav Ghosh, in his In an Ancient Land (1994), writing of how Arabs, Jews, and Europeans have interacted in the middle ages and in modernity; Neal Ascherson, in Black
Sea (1996), tracing the multiple social and civil histories that have intersected by its shores; Janet Malcolm, in The Silent Woman (1994), comparing and confronting the biographers of Sylvia Plath. Each of these books has a formal and stylistic distinction rarely found in the work of professional historians. Each of them reflects the widespread belief that historical research is rarely objective, that historians always have an agenda, and that sources, when closely inspected, always present obstacles and reveal gaps. Each of them dramatizes the author’s own research difficulties, from the problems involved in interviewing a contemporary to those posed by the interpretation of ancient or foreign texts and objects. And each of them shows how different scholarly communities—depending on the standpoints they begin from—may view the same place or person in diametrically opposed ways. The Black Sea may be center or periphery, depending on whether one looks at it from Rome or from Odessa; Sylvia Plath may be victim or aggressor, creator or exploiter. Each author has clearly read and pondered recent works by professionals that have furthered, or been used to further, the belief that history is all construction. But none of them postures or despairs; instead, they intercalate the story they wish to tell and the story of their own and others’ research. All of these writers criticize some versions of the past for being less consistent with the documents. All of them show that historical error and distortion can have disastrous human consequences at both the individual and the collective level. All of them have a lively sense of paradox. And, in a way more reminiscent of the great historians of the early nineteenth century than of the fashionable Deep Thinkers of the late twentieth, they see how present and past are connected and how a whole tolerant civilization may depend on that correction. Both more readable and more responsible than much of what the professionals have recently written, these three books and others like them suggest one way that history might move in the next twenty years—if the professionals can muster the independent judgment, the controlled scepticism, and the complex expository skills that make these amateur histories x so rewarding. —Anthony Grafton
Frontiers of Science
celand attracted worldwide attention in 1998 due to a controversial parliamentary bill enabling the creation of a centralized database containing health records of the whole population. Advocates of the database proposal claimed it would yield valuable information concerning public health and preventive medicine. The media attention resulted from a clash between two forces. On the one side were the main promotors of the bill, Dr. Kári Stefánsson, Chief Executive Officer of a private
genomics company, the Icelandic government, and enthusiastic citizens; on the other, the Icelandic Medical Association, the Data Protection Commission, the former Director of Public Health, the Genetics Committee, three national ethics boards, various geneticists, physicians, members of parliament, and a growing number of alarmed citizens. The controversy began in March 1998, and continues as the Icelandic health system is restructured for its database future. The controversy mainly centered on the abrogation of informed consent (data from the living will be included unless individuals opt out, and data from the dead cannot be excluded), on freedom of research (the retainer of the exclusive database licence stands to gain a unique advantage in medical and genetics research), and possible infractions of the privacy of the country’s 270,000 inhabitants. Ina Kjøgx Pedersen recently observed in the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen that Iceland may well become the setting for the worldwide debate over genetics. To understand Pedersen’s prognosis it is important to understand the finer details of the story, especially how the aggressive and charismatic Dr. Stefánsson managed to succeed. The advantages of such a project, he argued, were many. He trumpeted the promise of controlling runaway health costs and stemming the brain drain from Iceland by offering high-skill jobs. He also appealed to the pride of the local population by claiming that its health records were a natural resource akin to fishing stock and hydroelectric and geothermal power. Finally, he sold gullible foreign investors and reporters on the myth of Icelandic genetic and racial homogeneity. The propaganda has been facilitated by uncritical reporting in foreign media that was lapped up by the Icelandic media and by the February 1988 signing of a five-year contract, potentially worth $200 million, between the Icelandic genomics company and Hoffmann-La Roche, one of the world’s major pharmaceutical companies. Foreigners have had opportunities to sample the utter banality of Dr. Stefánsson’s rhetoric. Weekendavisen quotes him as saying: “There is no evil knowledge, only evil administration of knowledge, and that I confidently leave to our politicians to handle.” This sanguine assessment stands in stark contrast to the inability and unwillingness of the government and ministerial bureaucracy to deal competently with the database project. The database law might actually be described as an attempt to serve the interest of one company by dismantling regulatory structures that had evolved since the 1960s when the Genetics Committee was established and funded by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. As an increasing number of Icelanders ask to be kept out of the centralized database, the genetics company has resorted to advertisements in the country’s largest newspaper, the Morgunbladid. The company appeals to citizens’ responsibility to contribute to global improvements of health and help fight diseases by agreeing not to desert the database. The Icelandic anthropologist Gísli Pálsson even argues in Weekendavisen that Western post-Renaissance morality be reassessed in light of biotechnology breakthroughs. In the New York Times he claims that the database controversy was resolved as a result of “a democratic process,” implying that it was a reasoned process, that the database project enjoys broad community support, and that the controversy is over. Similar hubris led the current Director of Public Health to speak in the New Yorker of stepping into a new world, and seeing little reason to be bound by rules “that existed in a different era for a different world.” The database controversy highlights the need to protect hard-won human rights like informed consent and protect vulnerable cultures against databank takeovers. What kind of human rights will be possix ble in the brave new genomic world? —Skúli Sigurdsson
Sources: Sturla Fridriksson, “Erfda-audlind Íslendinga” [Genetic national resource of the Icelanders], Morgunbladid, December 12, 1998. Ina Kjøgx Pedersen, “Genetisk nationalisme,” Weekendavisen, February 26 - March 4, 1999. Uta Wagenmann, “Island: Ein Volk wird abgespeichert [Iceland: A People is being stored], Gen-ethischer Informationsdienst/GID, February 1999.
Frontiers of Science
mong the countless proposals for refounding the Western left after the collapse of communism, one of the more astonishing has just been put forward by Australian philosopher Peter Singer. Singer, who is both famous and infamous for his writings on animal rights and euthanasia (see box), maintains that the left can only have a future if it learns to appropriate the evolutionary discoveries of Charles Darwin. “It is time for the left to take seriously the fact that we have evolved from other animals,” Singer announces. This hardly seems a promising start for a left-wing political theory, and Singer admits that ever since the nineteenth century Darwin’s ideas have mainly appealed to the right. But since Darwinian theory is scientific theory, and science in Singer’s view is not politically determined, there is no reason why there cannot be a Darwinian left as well. The Western left has failed to see this in the past because of its belief in the infinite malleability—and therefore perfectibility—of man. Darwin demonstrated the limits of this malleability by showing that the struggle for existence is unending for all living creatures, and that certain forms of behavior therefore persist. Darwinism does not imply biological determinism, Singer insists; it simply teaches us to distinguish between those features of human life that show great variability across cultures and those that do not. Economic structure, religious practices, and forms of government show great cultural variation; sexuality, concern for kin, hierarchy, and gender roles show far less. The lesson such a distinction can teach the left, in Singer’s view, is that certain attempts to reform society may come at a high cost or will have unintended consequences. That the hierarchies of European hereditary aristocracy were replaced by new hierarchies based on wealth or military and police power should not have surprised us. If the left wishes to abolish one hierarchy, it is obliged to consider which others might replace it. A left that hopes to banish human conflict or blames all inequalities on oppression or ideology simply does not understand our natures. Another lesson the left might draw from evolutionary theory is that while developed animals are self-interested, they also have an incentive to cooperate with each other in society. Competition and “reciprocal altruism,” as Singer terms it, are both natural to us, and the latter can be cultivated through correct social planning. Here he relies on the thriving work in “game theory” inspired by the writings of political scientist Robert Axelrod, who has demonstrated through computer simulations the rationality of cooperation. A Darwinian left would have to accept the fact that people will always act competitively, but that under certain circumstances they can be encouraged to engage in mutually beneficial forms of cooperation; it would then try to bring about those circumstances. Singer admits that he offers “a sharply deflated vision of the left, its utopian ideas replaced by a coolly realistic view of what can be achieved.” But beneath his realism lurks a new
utopianism, based on the achievements of genetic engineering. Appealing to Hegel, Singer seems to believe that we are approaching a state of absolute knowledge about the human condition, knowledge that will one day permit us to manipulate more fully our natures. “For the first time since life emerged from the primeval soup, there are beings who understand how they have come to be what they are.” This, he believes, may portend a new kind of freedom, “the freedom to shape our genes so that instead of living in societies constrained by our evolutionary origins, we can build the kind of society we judge best.” How Darwinism can help us to x judge what “best” means, Singer does not say. —ML
Source: Peter Singer, “Darwin for the Left,” Prospect (London), June 1998.
eter Singer, who was born in Australia in 1946, recently came to the attention of readers of the New York Times (April 10, 1999) due to the controversy surrounding his appointment to a chair in bioethics at Princeton University. Professor Singer is probably best known for his promotion of animal rights and as the author of the best-selling Animal Liberation (Avon, 1990). But he has also been widely attacked for his promotion of euthanasia, including the decision to kill—and not merely “let die”— infants with severe disabilities such as spina bifida and hemophilia. In a book written with Helga Kuhse, called Should the Baby Live? (Melbourne, 1985), and in his own Practical Ethics, second edition, (Cambridge University Press, 1993), and Rethinking Life and Death (St. Martin’s Press, 1996), Singer has put forward the moral case for making such decisions with a view to “quality” rather than “sanctity” of life. Over the years these views have earned him verbal and physical threats from two sorts of groups: conservative organizations opposed to abortion and euthanasia, and radical left-wing groups who have portrayed Singer as a new Dr. Mengele. The debate has been particularly intense in Germany, where “anti-fascist” groups have established Web-sites about his work and routinely try to stop him from speaking in public. A group called Princeton Students Against Infanticide has now formed, established its own Web-site, and recently staged a demonstration against the Singer appointment.
For an overview of the Singer debate, see Dale Jamieson, ed., Singer and his Critics, London:Blackwell, 1999.
Frontiers of Science
Justice for Neanderthals!
oughly thirty thousand years ago the last of the Neanderthals (homo sapiens neanderthalensis) disappeared after flourishing for 200,000 years. From that point on, the territory belonged to modern man’s direct ancestor, the Cro-Magnon (homo sapiens sapiens). This transition did not take place overnight, obviously, so it is probable that for some period the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon cohabited. Archeologists and anthropologists have long tried to answer the question of how long this cohabitation might have lasted and how it affected the two creatures. This issue seems straightforwardly scientific, but in recent years it has set off a bitter, ideological dispute among a variety of scientists. The status of the Neanderthals has been revised several times before in this century. Until recently they were considered retarded creatures with few accomplishments. Then, in the 1960s, it became fashionable among some archaeologists and anthropologists to portray them as biologically and behaviorally quite close to modern humans. This revisionist position came under attack on the basis of DNA research, which showed that the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal populations separated genetically quite early and that the modern creature probably arose out of Africa. The question of cultural interaction between the populations remains open, however, and highly charged. As Cambridge, U.K., archaeologist Paul Mellars reported in the October 8, 1998 issue of Nature, evidence discovered in southern Spain suggests that the Neanderthals survived for five thousand to ten thousand years after the arrival of modern populations. What happened during this period? The scientific consensus, Mellars writes, is that this long cohabitation is probably owing to ecological peculiarities of the region, but there is no evidence that the Neanderthals ever adopted Cro-Magnon technologies or behaviors there. Yet north of the Pyrenees one does see such similarities: there Neanderthals produced bone tools and decorative objects. The question is whether these developments occurred independently of contact with the Cro-Magnon populations or through simple copying. The notion of independent behavioral development is statistically unlikely, in Mellars’s view, yet it has become popular with those who wish to raise the status of the Neanderthal and (presumably) lower that of the Cro-Magnon. A recent issue of the journal Current Anthropology was devoted to this heated controversy. There, a group of European researchers argued that evidence from France points to independent Neanderthal development, and they reject any suggestion of “Neanderthal inferiority.” In their conclusion they claim that “archaeologists should turn their attention to the problems posed by the cultural achievements of the late Neanderthals,” which would include “a reevaluation of Neanderthal cognitive abilities and a critique of biological determinism.” “Our main purpose,” they write, “has been to illustrate how antiNeanderthal prejudice has been blocking a correct appraisal of the empirical data.” Yet as Mellars remarks about this line of argument, “the eagerness of some scientists to claim close
kinship with the Neanderthals could come close to denying x that human evolution actually took place.” —ML
Sources: “Special Issue: The Neanderthal Problem and the Evolution of Human Behavior,” Current Anthropology, June 1998. See the Web-site of the newly opened Neantherdal Museum, Dusseldorf, Germany: www.neanderthal.de
Out of Africa?
enetic evidence made available by new technologies has complicated the controversy over human origins. For example, as Elizabeth Pennisi reports in Science (March 19, 1999), a new analysis has cast doubt on the popular notion that all modern humans descended from a small population of ancient Africans. This “Out of Africa” thesis was itself the result of genetic studies which pointed to a single group of sub-Saharan people that made the final evolutionary leap and then migrated across the world, replacing Neanderthal populations as it spread. But now an American anthropologist and a population geneticist have thrown doubt on this theory by presenting new evidence that there may have been two human populations dating back at least 200,000 years, and that both have left their genetic legacy to modern peoples. One group gave rise to modern Africans, the other to all nonAfricans, they believe. This “multiregional” hypothesis suggests that human traits evolved in various populations and then were spread around the world by small groups of migrants who interbred with other populations. The scientists supported this hypothesis by gathering DNA from a diverse group of present-day humans, including French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mongolians, Senegalese, Pygmies, Khosians (from Angola), and South African Bantus. They then compared different versions, or “haplotypes,” of a gene on the subjects’ X chromosome called PDHA1 and developed an “evolutionary tree” for the gene. The tree showed that modern variants of the gene go back to two ancestral haplotypes, one at the root of modern African variants, the other at the root of all other variants. This is the first time such a fixed regional difference has been found in human genes. These results confirm earlier genetic research that pointed towards the multiregional hypothesis, but the American researchers stress that evidence for one gene cannot offer definitive proof of human origins and migrations. They also note that both groups with different PDHA1 genes could have lived in Africa and interbred at an early stage, so that the fundamental traits that distinguish modern humans would have emerged in two groups. They call for the study of more genes, especially so-called nuclear genes, to see if they follow the multiregional pattern. —ML
The Four Fractures of Modern Civilization
oday, as worldwide media and computer networks create a single global pool of information and as the economy—particularly finance—becomes increasingly global and borderless, modern civilization is being split and pulled in two different directions. The conflict between the demands of the state and those of the market is painfully obvious. This is paralleled, however, by emerging fault lines within both the nation and the marketplace, as well as within our systems of knowledge. In these and other areas, one cannot avoid the impression that the union of reason and irrationality, of universality and plurality, that characterizes modern civilization is facing a crisis in analogous ways. The conflict between the state and the market is the conflict between the natural distribution and the equitable redistribution of wealth, between individual freedom and social stability, between internationalism and traditional group identity. In the past the state controlled the market on the national level and competed in it on the international level. But the emergence of a global economy has undermined the state’s ability to function on either level. The free flow of capital threatens not only the state’s authority to protect and regulate economic activity, but even its autonomy with regard to taxation. On the other hand, this flow unquestionably works to invigorate the global economy and force national governments to correct flawed economic policies. The decline of the state as market custodian and competitor seems to be an inexorable historical trend. The market cannot implement either contemporaneous redistribution of wealth (through welfare) or redistribution to the next generation (through conservation of resources and environmental protection). Nor does it have the power to prevent crime or otherwise maintain a safe and stable market environment. All these things require the authority to impose taxes and regulations. For the foreseeable future, the state, and federations of states, will remain the only organs with this authority. The reason is that for people to submit peacefully to taxes and regulations, they must have confidence in the organ imposing them, and the state, as an institution backed by tradition, is in the best position to foster such trust. Although the authority to impose taxes and regulations is exercised by means of rational systems, it is, paradoxically, sustained by irrational sentiment, namely, a native tendency to identify with a community. Ever since its inception, the modern nation-state has possessed a dual nature. On the one hand, it is a rational system; on the other, a cultural community. It is at once an efficient administrative organ based on universal law and a body that fosters fellow feeling and a sense of belonging among its peo-
ple. However, as the market—a more universal and efficient force—expands its power, people grow increasingly dissatisfied with the state on both counts. Hence the widespread opinion that the efficiency of government bureaucracy today is inferior to private enterprise and to civic groups of various types in providing commonality and a sense of belonging. Individuals who cherish freedom of economic activity seek a world beyond the borders of the state, while people who prefer the stability and fellow feeling of the community look to intermediate institutions of like-minded individuals, whether the objective is religion, hobbies and interests, service to society, or simply relating to other people. Interestingly, though, the same kind of split is inherent within the market itself. Even as finance and the giant manufacturing industries become global and create a market that operates transparently and in accordance with universal economic principles, consumers are seeking increasingly varied and individualized services. When it comes to medical treatment, nursing, education, beauty and fashion, financial and legal consulting, and travel, as well as dining and other forms of entertainment and leisure, people demand customized, individualized service. This need fosters close, ongoing, personal, extracontractual relationships between the provider and the customer, giving rise to countless tiny opaque markets. These small markets represent stable human relationships and thus serve the function of intermediate institutions, offering individuals a sense of group identity. This split threatens to undermine modern industry’s basic marketing strategy of focusing its efforts on a single brand, which is periodically updated. As long as manufacturers rely on mass production, they will be hard pressed to respond to consumers’ demand for increasingly differentiated and individualized products, no matter how often a brand is updated. Yet, ironically, the globalization of many manufacturing industries is predicated on mass-production and everincreasing standardization. But, in all likelihood, the most serious fracture is taking place in the realm of human intellectual endeavor. Knowledge, the pursuit of which has made such dramatic strides in the modern era, is both synthetic and active in nature. Today, however, knowledge is fracturing into information, which is dynamic but not synthetic, and intuitive wisdom, which is synthetic but static. Our information age is not simply an era in which the media have made technological innovations but one in which society is awash in, and places a high premium on, fragmentary, disjointed, and up-to-the-minute information: news, stock market quotes, advertising, and so forth. Information does not come with a value system that assigns significance to it. It is neutral
in that it offers no guiding principles for behavior or anything else in and of itself. As a result, the more deluged people are by information, the less certain they are of how to live. People have responded to this uncertainty by clinging to the kind of irrational and authoritative wisdom that offers something on which they can lean emotionally. The information age has given rise to a situation in which people’s hearts are easily won over by cults, divination, fundamentalist morals, or the rigid and dogmatic notions of “justice” propounded by social activists. By contrast, systematic knowledge—which assigns significance to and finds connections within the vast body of information, and which tends at once toward the preservation of continuity and toward self-innovation—is clearly a waning force within our society. It continues to exert indirect influence through science and technology and policy planning, but the exalted view of learning as an enlightening force that banishes superstition and offers guidance to people in their daily lives while conferring honor on “people of culture” no longer holds sway. Sales of books and magazines of an intellectual tenor are plunging, and independent intellectuals unaffiliated with a university or newspaper are a dying breed. The focus in scholarship is increasingly specialized, and the ability to synthesize various branches of knowledge is on the decline. At the same time, disillusioned by “the end of ideology,” society places less and less value on the goal of constructing an overarching Weltanschauung. The way to cope with these four fractures is not by attempting some comprehensive counterattack but by establishing our defense by limiting the scale of our battlefields as much as possible. We should abandon the notion of the state as the direct object of any fellow feeling and concentrate on its rational functions—the redistribution of wealth and the maintenance of the market’s environment. We should let intermediate institutions answer people’s need for cultural identity and hope that they will continue to cherish an indirect sort of fellow feeling with regard to the state in appreciation of its role in protecting these institutions. Similarly, manufacturers should abandon their futile attempt to stimulate demand through frequent model changes and devote their efforts to the kind of substantive technological innovation that will enable the development of radically different new products. In the realm of intellectual endeavor, we should accept the fact that science can no longer wield unchallenged authority and abandon the dream of integrating all knowledge in a single world-view. We should lay aside all arrogant fancies about providing guidance to people in every aspect of their lives and open the door to the fine irrational wisdom of religion and folk culture. Knowledge can survive independent of ideology if we recognize, even while interpreting information and expanding our systematic view of the body of knowledge, that the results of these efforts are x nothing but a hermeneutic circle. —Masakazu Yamazaki
Sources: Masakazu Yamazaki, “Daibunretsu no jidai” [The age of fragmentation], Chuo Koron, May 1998. “Kyoyo no kiki o koete” [Beyond the crisis of culture], This is Yomiuri, March 1999.
Arendt and Heidegger
From our colleague Masakazu Yamazaki, a report on Japanese response to the lingering controversy ( which our Issue No. 3 examined) surrounding disclosures about the two philosophers’ personal relationship.
lzbieta Ettinger’s Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger (Yale University Press, 1995) unexpectedly united two quite disparate groups of Japanese intellectuals. Arendt, known for The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition, has enjoyed exceptionally widespread respect in Japanese intellectual circles. She ranks with Isaiah Berlin as an intellectual respected by both conservative liberals and left-wingers. Heidegger, on the other hand, whose Being and Time once attracted the interest of academic philosophers, has lost his influence on most postwar readers even as a leading exponent of existentialism. Heidegger still has a small band of loyal followers around Kyoto University who seek to link the somewhat mystical philosophy of his late years to Zen thought. But in postwar Japan existentialism has tended to be understood in the context of the left-wing political philosophy exemplified by Jean-Paul Sartre. For the last thirty years mainstream academic phenomenology has either abandoned existentialism by returning to Edmund Husserl, or leaned toward Karl Jaspers’s or Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s interpretations. Ettinger’s book, widely read on the strength of Arendt’s name, had the ironic effect of reminding Japanese intellectuals of Heidegger’s existence, which had all but faded from memory. That these two philosophers—a Jewish woman who staunchly opposed totalitarianism and a man who was both directly and indirectly connected to the Nazi regime—had been romantically linked certainly made for sensational reading. In particular, anecdotes showing that Arendt, a woman of strong intellect, clung to memories of her youthful liaison with Heidegger until the end of her life gave the book the appeal of a popular novel. Nevertheless, Japanese intellectuals found Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger a letdown. In the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, the literary critic Toru Shimizu wrote: “This book does nothing but tell the story of the love, parting, and reunion of a brilliant man and woman, using material from new sources and mingling many facts that elicit happy smiles, wry laughter, and disappointment.” In his opinion, the book would have been of interest had it shed new light on the place of philosophy and political science in the protagonists’ lives as a whole, but no such attempt was made. Were Heidegger’s Being and Time, his nationalism, and his love all underpinned by German romanticism? The book is devoid of the kind of analysis that would most attract intellectual interest.
Japan and the Global Financial System
apan is suffering from financial system uncertainties while America is enjoying prosperity in the stock market. This is a curious contrast. Japan is in fact the world’s largest creditor and America the largest debtor. While Japan, through exports, has a trade surplus, it continues to invest money back into the United States, yet sees little growth in its domestic economy. Meanwhile, the U.S. economic boom, supported by foreign investment, is allowing Americans to consume ever more, which fuels even greater investment by Japanese and other foreigners. In a sense, the United States has become dependent on foreign investment, making it potentially as vulnerable to speculation as Thailand or Indonesia. In the United States, it is widely believed that the economic problems facing Asian countries resulted from outmoded forms of capitalism there. While many Japan specialists recognize that a type of backwardness existed in the Japanese and Asian financial markets, unstable exchange rates (in one year the yen rose and fell against the dollar by almost 30 percent!) and financial panic have now given rise to a global fund market which is unreasonable and violent. This has had a big impact on the Japanese, who have been confident and proud about keeping costs down in industrial production lines while improving quality. As a result of the Asian financial crisis, interest in the overall international financial system has grown stronger in Japan. Once a specialty subject, articles on the international financial problem have been appearing regularly in magazines and journals. Economist Mototada Kikkawa has pointed out that the U.S. dollar’s dominance of the international financial market is the origin of the problem. No matter how large a deficit the United States runs with its trading partners, as long as the dollar is the key currency, the U. S. can finance its economy with dollars from abroad. The U. S., for example, can easily put pressure on its trading partners when a trade problem emerges if it simply “talks down” the dollar. In other words, as long as the dollar is the key currency of the world’s economy, the United States is not only free from international balance of payments discipline, but also enjoys the privilege of placing the risks of exchange rate fluctuations on its trading partners. Kikkawa argues that America, despite being the largest debtor nation, leads the world because of the structure of the financial system. On the other hand, as a creditor nation Japan has strangely neglected to develop the yen as an international currency. The dollar and the pound became recognized as international currencies when England and America made their appearances on the world stage. In the 1980s, rather than attempting to internationalize the yen, Japan worked hard to support the dollar. Whenever the dollar fell, Japanese authorities encouraged greater Japanese investment in the U.S. economy by lowering interest rates and putting pressure on banks and life insurance companies. Rather than expose itself to one-sided risks in the exchange rate fluctuations, Kikkawa argues, Japan should strengthen its relationship with Europe to check America’s conduct in the international monetary system,
while liberalizing its financial markets and promoting the internationalization of the yen. Meanwhile, other articles in Japan have argued that the Asian financial crisis was not due to Asia’s inherent backwardness but rather to the extremely sensitive and sometimes reckless nature of today’s international financial system. Takatoshi Ito, a leading economist who worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and as an advisor to the Thai Government, has argued that the IMF and America cannot be depended on to solve the financial crisis in the Asian countries, which must address the problem together. The American response has been to pressure Asia to undertake a painful restructuring that has actually made the situation worse. Meanwhile, the U.S. has taken a softer approach to the crises in Russia and Brazil and poured in large amounts of money, which Ito considers a double standard. Moreover, despite the United States having in actuality controlled financial aid to Asia through the IMF, the American contribution to the fund attracted strong opposition in the Congress. Although only Japan disbursed rescue loans to Asian countries during this time, President Clinton joined with China during his recent visit there in criticizing Japan, and the United States also buried a Japanese proposal for an Asian Monetary Fund requested by the ASEAN countries. Because of this double standard, Ito argues, Japan should take the initiative in creating an Asian Financial Stabilization Fund. The frustration with the international monetary system led by America and dominated by the dollar shapes the background to the above discussion. Masayuki Tadokoro, an international political scientist (and one of the directors of the CIC project), points out a brighter side to the Asian currency crisis. He notes that it has led to the strengthening of cooperative networks for solving currency problems between Japan and other countries in Asia, and has also contributed to the development of regionalism more generally in Asia. Moreover, while strongly supporting Japan’s involvement in building institutions in international finance, Tadokoro also warns of the dangers of over-politicizing this issue. While Japanese frustration is high over America’s criticism of and pressure on Japan’s economic policies, expectations among most Asian countries that Japan seize the initiative are stronger than ever before. Caught between America’s pushing and Asia’s pulling, Japan’s monetary diplomacy could unnecessarily find itself in a confrontational relationship with the United States. Instead, Tadokoro argues that Japan should appeal to America in its own interests to help stabilize the global financial system. x —Masayuki Tadokoro
Sources: Mototada Kikkawa, Mane Haisei [Defeat in a money war], Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 1998. Takatoshi Ito, “Ajia Kinyu Anteika Kikin no Teisho” [A proposal for an Asian financial stability fund], Toyo Keizai [The Oriental Economy], October10, 1998. Masayuki Tadokoro, “Guroburo Jidai no En to Doru” [The yen and the dollar in a global age], Asteion, April 1999.
The Philosophy of Money
s Japan’s recession drags on, the country’s economic commentators appear to have been reduced to a state of advanced confusion. The same people will at one point preach laissez-faire as the prescription for the economy’s ills, and at another point call for intervention in the market. The lack of consistency is pronounced, but there is a reason. According to the textbook interpretation of Keynesian economics, over time prices and wages will rise or fall until the labor market reaches equilibrium. If one focuses on this element, it appears necessary to deregulate and refrain from market intervention so as to increase the elasticity of prices in the long run. But because of the short-term rigidity of wages, unemployment appears. This makes it necessary to intervene in the market with fiscal and monetary policy measures. The contradiction in policy prescriptions arises from the difference between short-term and long-term views of the economy. Recently, however, some economists have disputed this interpretation. They assert that the contradictions arise from a flaw in Keynesian theory itself. After all, Japan’s economic slowdown over the past ten years can hardly be considered “short-term,” which is why extraordinary fiscal and financial measures to stimulate the economy have been taken. The Keynesians do, of course, have a counterargument. When the view takes hold that prices will continue to decline in the future, they say, would-be buyers of real estate and homes postpone their purchases in hopes of better bargains to come; this exacerbates the shortfall in aggregate demand and produces a “deflationary spiral.” According to this Keynesian view, stabilization policy measures thus become necessary even over the long term when deflationary expectations have become established. But the situation we are in may well be different from what the Keynesians suggest. People who want to buy real estate for their own residential use may harbor hopes for deflation because they want to get the best possible deal on their purchases. But in today’s Japan, personal consumption is lagging because people are reducing their everyday spending out of a generalized fear about the future that reflects everything from job insecurity to uncertainties about an unreliable pension system. This fear about future uncertainties appears to be affecting not just asset markets but the entire economy. In other words, the deflationary spiral has occurred not because deflationary expectations have become established but because consumers have become gripped by fear. If this is the case, even induced inflation will not conquer the recession as long as the fear persists. If aggregate supply is running in excess of aggregate demand, then we are told that we should deregulate so that prices and wages can quickly shift to produce equilibrium. But moving to deregulate and require self-responsibility is likely to produce not equilibrium but an ongoing deflationary spiral. Masaru Kaneko explains this point in his recent
work Han keizaigaku [Anti-economics], offering three examples of how this works in practice. He cites the behavior of the banker, the corporate executive, and the consumer. The banker seeks to fulfill personal and institutional responsibility by avoiding bankruptcy at all costs, which means cutting back on lending. The result of this behavior in the aggregate is a credit crunch. The corporate executive seeks to act responsibly by implementing restructuring. But repeated by other executives, this produces fears that lead to a deflationary spiral on a national level. And the consumer, fearing unemployment and determined to avoid personal bankruptcy, saves as much money as possible, which on a national level causes effective demand to decline. What we see here is the “fallacy of composition”—that is, behavior that is rational on the microeconomic level producing something qualitatively different at the macro level. Why does aggregate supply exceed aggregate demand? Yoshiyasu Ono in his book Fukyo no keizaigaku [The economics of recession] offers an explanation. According to Ono, the demand shortfall occurs because people hold on to money for its own sake. Ordinarily people have money so that they can buy things, and even if they hold on to it for speculative purposes, eventually they use their profits to purchase goods. According to this conventional view, the level of the money supply is proportional to the amount of goods produced, and, over the long term, aggregate supply and demand for goods and money will reach equilibrium and unemployment will be eliminated. But if people hold on to their money indefinitely, the excess of money supply over demand will persist. I believe that the reason people hold on to money during a recession is fear. In Japan’s case, fear about the future course of the economy has aggravated the downturn. And why does fear make people want to hold on to money? That is a question that falls into a field we might call “the philosophy of money,” and it does not lend itself to an easy answer. But as long as this behavior persists, a deflationary spiral will be at work attempting to adjust prices to bring supply and demand into balance. Terms like “laissez-faire,” “self-responsibility,” and “deregulation” provided key concepts for understanding the markets of the nineteenth century, which centered on the real economy. But the twentieth-century economy that John Maynard Keynes observed requires a philosophy of money and cannot be adequately explained with the above concepts. We should review the century that is now ending with a reexx amination of the conclusions reached by Keynes. —Ryuichiro Matsubara
Sources: Ryuichiro Matsubara, “Keinzu saiko” [Reconsideration of Keynesian economics], Asteion, Spring 1999. Masaru Kaneko, Han keizaigaku [Anti-economics], Tokyo: Shinshokan, 1999. Yoshiyasu Ono, Fukyo no keizaigaku [The economics of recession], Tokyo: Nihonkeizai Shimbunsha, 1994.
Japanese Melting Pot
he growing size of the foreign population in Japan poses new challenges to the Japanese welfare system, which is based upon the assumption that all children and parents speak Japanese, share Japanese customs, and eat Japanese food. Setsuko Lee, an associate professor at Tokyo Women’s Medical University, has edited a book that examines the health and welfare of children with foreign parents in light of their legal status and access to medical services and education. Professor Lee
worked as a midwife at a hospital in Osaka before studying at Osaka University and Tokyo University, where she took a doctorate in public health. Japan is usually portrayed as a homogeneous country with almost no non-Japanese residents, but the reality is now much different. Today the presence of foreigners is considerable in parts of Tokyo and other big cities. Traditionally the great majority of the foreign nationals living in Japan were Koreans, with a sprinkling of Chinese. But starting in the late 1980s, newcomers from the Philippines and Brazil as well as the United States and other Western countries have dramatically altered the composition of the foreign population in Japan. With more foreigners living in Tokyo, the number of children with foreign parents is also increasing dramatically; the Japanese birth rate, meanwhile, is in steep decline. In Tokyo and Osaka, more than 7 percent of total marriages performed in 1996 were international. As a result, 2.7 percent of the babies born in Japan today have at least one foreigner for a parent. In Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, the figure is a startling 12.2 percent. Japan is experiencing both the benefits and challenges of multiethnicity. One of the trickiest problems is language. Except for Koreans who have lived in Japan for many years, it is still rare for foreign mothers to speak Japanese, and it is even more unusual to find Japanese who can speak Tagalog or Portuguese. Local authorities and health-care providers started tackling these difficulties by introducing multilingual services, organizing “mother groups” who speak the same languages, or introducing translation machines. The Japanese medical services also face challenges because many of the newcomers are not covered by medical insurance. Since all Japanese nationals are covered by some medical insurance program, doctors tend to give treatment without discussing the costs involved, which can create trouble in the case of foreigners. The way that Japanese doctors handle information also tends to lead to conflict with their Western patients, who tend to prefer a more forthright approach. Grade-school children are generally better at adopting the Japanese lifestyle than their parents. But the relatively stringent school rules and distinctive customs traditionally accepted by Japanese parents sometimes confuse foreign parents. For example, female students are usually forbidden to dye their hair or paint their nails in Japanese schools. Part of the problem is quite simply that Japanese schools are not designed to teach students who do not speak the Japanese language. Starting in the 1970s, however, the Japanese education system found itself confronting a new problem: Japanese children whose fathers had been assigned to jobs abroad were returning to the homeland with little or no formal instruction in their native language. Since then, special Japanese language classes have been established in some schools. Even though the linguistic problems children with foreign parents face are much greater, of course, this experience of the 1970s means that Japanese schools have not been caught entirely unawares by the multicultural dilemma. An even more difficult problem is how to keep the Japanese-speaking children of foreigners from losing their native tongue. Children who speak only Japanese could face a serious handicap on their return to their native countries. If they stay in Japan, however, other communications problems may grow out of the gap between the Japanese-speaking younger generation and their non-Japanese-speaking parents. Moreover, if initial reports are any indication, these children can expect to run into a serious identity crisis as they get older. In a country based on the assumption that everybody speaks only one language and shares the same cultural background, children who have foreign parents but can speak only Japanese are bound to discover something “non-Japanese” in themselves. At some point, inevitably, they begin to wonder who they “really” are. Some local authorities have set up classes for local students in Spanish and Portuguese, but this is a cosmetic effort at best. What Japan ultimately needs is a society better equipped to cope with people of different ethnic x backgrounds. —MT
Source: Lee Setsuko, ed., Zainichi gaikokyjin no Boshikenko [Public health services for foreign mothers and children], Tokyo: Igaku Shoin, 1998.
Japanese Melting Pot
The Buraku Liberation Movement
he idea that Japan is an ethnic monolith without minorities, and therefore without ethnic discrimination, is of course a myth. The country has a substantial population of resident Koreans, and the large northern island of Hokkaido is home to an indigenous people known as the Ainu. But the largest minority subject to discrimination in Japan is the Burakumin, or Buraku people. (Buraku is a Japanese word meaning “village” or “hamlet”; min means “people.”) According to a 1993 government survey, there were about 1.2 million Buraku people living in 4,442 Buraku communities nationwide. These people are not a racial or ethnic minority, but a caste-like minority among the ethnic Japanese. They are generally thought to be descendants of outcaste populations from feudal times. Outcastes were assigned such social functions as slaughtering animals and executing criminals, which the general public perceived as “unclean” acts according to Buddhist and Shinto tenets. The organized movement to liberate the Burakumin started in the first half of the twentieth century, but it was only in 1969 that a law was enacted to eliminate the discrimination against them. Since then the government has budgeted some ¥13 trillion to improve material conditions for people in Buraku communities, and it has worked at including antidiscrimination education as part of the compulsory-education curriculum. Also, the Buraku Liberation League has been conducting a vigorous campaign against discrimination. As a result, while certain forms of social discrimination persist in the everyday lives of the Burakumin, affecting their marriage and employment opportunities, for example, their living standards have clearly improved, and open discrimination against them has receded. While recognizing the advances that the antidiscrimination movement has achieved, Tsutomu Yamashita of the Buraku Liberation League and Keiichi Fujita, a researcher specializing in Buraku affairs, have noted some new problems. Many of the younger generation of Burakumin have a less clear sense of their Buraku identity; also, with the high mobility of people in Japan today, many have moved away from their native communities and refrain from revealing their Buraku origins to others. This has caused participation in the movement to weaken. Another problem is that the movement has come to be seen by many as overly aggressive, and the idea has taken hold that it is virtually impossible even to argue with its adherents. This
has led to a backlash of sorts arising from the judgment that the movement is no more than a self-interested lobby of people asserting their own victimization as a means of gaining economic benefits. Yamashita and Fujita believe that the movement has in this way abetted a quiet regeneration of discriminatory sentiment. They also recognize that it has been indifferent to the issues of discrimination against other groups, such as Koreans and the physically handicapped. Quoting an American black activist, Yamashita argues that the Buraku movement needs to free itself from the psychology of victimization and turn itself into a movement to promote a sharing of diverse identities and cultures. He also calls for a change in the excessive emphasis on lobbying and protest activities directed at local governments, which have perversely made the movement overdependent on the government. Behind this change of thinking lie some changes that have taken place in recent years in the approach to Buraku history. Previously the discrimination against Burakumin was seen as having originated in the feudal class system consolidated in the seventeenth century, and the prevailing view blamed its persistence on the incompleteness of Japan’s nineteenth-century modernization process, which left the monarchy in place. Also, scholars influenced by Marxist thinking attempted to interpret discrimination against Buraku people in terms of class struggle. But more recently the trend among scholars of Buraku history has been to insist that the discrimination originated with ordinary people, not with some special political force, and that its roots are not feudal but modern, arising out of the concept of the nation-state. This new current in Buraku history has produced revelations of cooperation by Buraku activists in Japan ‘s march to war starting in the 1930s, and it has also led to the emergence of assertions of Buraku discrimination against other groups, such as women and Koreans. In short, people involved in the Buraku movement have come to the realization that discrimination cannot be eliminated simply through the passage of laws or the exercise of x political power. —MT
Sources: Keiichi Fujita, “Buraku kaiho undo no genzai” [The Buraku Liberation Movement today], Gendai Shiso, March 1999. Tsutomu Yamashita, “21 seiki wo mokuzen ni shite fushime o mukaeta buraku kaiho undo no genjo” [The current state of the Buraku Liberation Movement, on the eve of the 21st Century], Gendai Shiso, March 1999.
Views of Japan
he Japanese public has a good deal of faith in the press generally and views leading Western publications like the New York Times with special respect. As a result, the Tokyo correspondents of foreign papers tend to enjoy ready access to Japanese information sources, both politicians and bureaucrats, despite the fact that the correspondents, with few exceptions, speak very little Japanese. One reason the Western media hold such sway is that Japanese intellectuals have vaguely thought of major American publications as a model for the free flow of information in a prosperous democratic society. But a bigger reason for officials’ readiness to talk to Western journalists is that their publications are read and quoted all over the world, unlike the Japanese media, which have virtually no international reach. Even among Japan’s Asian neighbors, intellectuals get much of their information about Japan through the American media. But the New York Times, the flagship of America’s authoritative media, transmits a very distorted image of Japan. That is the central assertion of Japan, Made in U.S.A., a book put together by a group of eleven Japanese people living in New York who have found much that is questionable in the paper’s coverage of their country. The group, which calls itself Zipangu (which was Marco Polo’s name for Japan), assesses problematic aspects of specific articles, and bolsters its thesis by including short essays by and interviews with American and Japanese scholars and journalists. The book even contains an interview with Nicholas Kristof, chief of the Tokyo news bureau of the Times and writer of some of the articles that the group deemed problematic. Japan, Made in U.S.A. is a bilingual publication in Japanese and English, and published simultaneously in Japan and the United States. The compilers contend that Japan-related coverage in the New York Times focuses on events and phenomena at the periphery of Japanese society, such as loveless marriages, rush-hour subway mashers, and comic books full of depictions of rape. By presenting these isolated cases as the norm, the authors say, Times journalists exaggerate the eccentricity and otherness of Japan. The journalists invariably attribute these phenomena to Japan’s “backwardness,” as exemplified by feudal tradition, a herd mentality, sexual inequality, and a bureaucratic mind-set. Japan, Made in U.S.A. clearly demonstrates the frequency of such articles. One of the contributors is Charles Burress, an American journalist who decries the heavy use of war metaphors in Times articles about Japan, including references to Japanese investment in the United States as an “invasion.” He says articles often present Japan as a monolith, which is a caricature far removed from reality, and often portray Japanese citizens and leaders in condescending terms. He also notes a lack of real effort to present the Japanese position in coverage of trade and other issues on which Japan and the United States have differences. The portrait of the American press that emerges from these observations is not a flattering one. Rather than challenge people’s preconceptions, the American media peddle an image that appeals to the market by playing up stereotypes. And so
Japan, Made in U.S.A.
the American picture of Japan as peculiar and backward remains unchanged. But as noted by Carol Gluck, a scholar interviewed in this book, the idea that Japan is singularly different holds wide currency even among Japanese journalists and commentators, and these perceptions on both sides tend x to feed each other. — MT
Source: Zipangu, ed. Japan, Made in U.S.A., New York: Zipangu, 1998.
apan and South Korea have never been good neighbors in modern times. Despite the fact that more than fifty years have passed since colonial rule ended, and that the two industrial democracies share security, political, and economic interests in the region, the darkness of history has continued to sour their relations. Kim Dae Jung, who was elected President of the Korean republic in December 1997, is trying to change that. Even the Japanese recognize that he is taking a more conciliatory approach than his predecessors, who focused on issues of history and territory (there is a dispute over a small island in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, as Koreans call it). Shortly before President Kim’s official visit to Japan, which left a highly positive impression there, the Japanese monthly Sekai printed an interview with him in its October 1998 issue. Given strong popular Korean sentiment against Japan, Kim did not fail to comment on the history question. But the tone of his comments was moderate and constructive. “In coming to terms with the past, the most important thing to understand is that it is really meaningless for other countries to demand that Japan do so or tell it how it should do so. It is, rather, a problem of how the Japanese people themselves and the Japanese government reflect upon and come to terms with the past…. The Korean people do not harbor feelings of revenge toward Japan. It is incorrect to say that Koreans persist in bringing up the past. Yet there is a strong fear that because Japan’s own efforts to come to terms with its past are still lacking, in the future Koreans may be victimized again. Out of this fear, Korea always feels the need to mention the past to Japan. In turn, I think, Japan gets tired of hearing the same thing over and over, and a vicious circle occurs. Because of this recurring pattern, the Korean people focus only on the past and do not know enough about some of the positive sides that Japan has shown in the postwar period, such as fifty years of successful democracy, the renunciation of war, the Peace Constitution, as well as its being the largest aid donor to developing countries.” What is the reason for Kim’s move toward reconciliation? It may be his philosophical commitment to democratic values, which are shared by contemporary Japan and may outweigh concerns about the past. Instead of portraying the two countries as aggressor and victim, Kim made clear that both countries share problems which they should overcome together.
Views of Japan
On democracy he remarked: “Lee Kwan Yu has said that in Asia, the traditions and fundamental philosophy of democracy do not exist and as such, it is unreasonable to call for democracy in Asia. I do not think that is true and would argue in response that there are numerous examples of democratic thinking and traditions in Asia…. If we had truly applied democracy to Korea,” he continued, “and not permitted bribery or collusion between business and politics, and allowed only internationally competitive enterprises to thrive, I think Korea’s economy would not be in its present terrible state.” Kim concluded, “I think it is necessary in Japan and Korea that the two principles of democracy and a market economy develop in parallel.” Another important factor in reconciling the two countries may be a positive role played by Japan in helping South Korea overcome the recent economic crisis. With unusual directness Kim expressed gratitude toward its richer neighbor and, instead of expressing concern about Japan’s economic ‘imperialism,’ he called for its leadership. “The Japanese government and financial groups truly and faithfully cooperated during the recent crisis in Korea, and our people and government thank Japan…. As President of Korea, I hope from the bottom of my heart that the Japanese economy improves. In Asia, Japan is the largest economic power, and no one can deny that Japan leads in the Asian economy. Japan’s economy is essentially strong and I hope that it moves toward stabilization as soon as possible.” Are these expressions of goodwill merely diplomatic, or do they reflect deeper and more meaningful changes in relations between the two countries? The latter view looks more plausible when one considers that Kim took several other concrete measures to change the mood of relations. One was to encourage the gradual introduction of Japanese culture into Korea, including Japanese movies and music, which had been banned. Moreover, Japan-Korea cultural exchange festivals are to be held annually until 2002, heralding all sorts of other large-scale exchanges. “In efforts to become friends,” President Kim remarked, “exchanges are most fruitful: exchange of writers, artists, laborers, scholars, and students. I read recently that of Japanese high school students that travel abroad on class trips, seventy percent now go to Korea. That type of activity x will add to understanding in both countries.” —MT
f one had looked at Japan’s leading magazines in the prewar period, one would have thought Japan was turning into a socialist country. The country had no tradition in the social sciences until the latter half of the nineteenth century, so intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century were enthralled by Marxism’s “scientific” explanations of poverty and war. As militarism and repression increased, beginning in the 1930s, many Marxists “converted” and cooperated in the war effort. But after Japan’s defeat and the war’s end in 1945, these Marxists and “empty, idealistic pacifists,” who had contempt for militarism and fascism, came to dominate Japan’s intellectual world. Inoki Masamichi, who was born in 1914, has criticized both Marxism and irresponsible pacifism throughout his life. He studied at Tokyo University before the war, and afterward moved to Kyoto University, where he would teach some of Japan’s leading scholars; and he served later as president of the National Defense Academy, outside Tokyo. Now 85, Inoki continues to spend his days researching and writing. In a recent interview, Inoki reflected on some of Japan’s contemporary intellectuals. Japan’s postwar intellectuals, he explained, were unable to accept any criticism directed against Stalinism or Communism. (A good example was the outstanding scholar Maruyama Masao, whose obituary appeared in Issue No. 1 of the CIC Newsletter). In Inoki’s view, Japanese progressive intellectuals did not try to understand the true nature of Stalinism because they were situated in Asia, far from the civil war in Spain or the uprising in Hungary. And the reason for their strong attachment to “idealistic pacifism” was the shock that came with defeat in a reckless and unjustified war, as well as Japan’s dependence on the United States for its postwar security. Moreover, Inoki suggests, because the political culture which brings concrete policy alternatives into the national debate did not establish itself in Japanese parliamentary politics, Japanese intellectuals got into the habit of repeating beautiful but empty ideals, without a sense of political responsibility. On the other hand, Inoki was also critical of the attempts by ultra-conservative politicians like prime ministers Kishi Nobusuke and Hatoyama Ichiro to amend the so-called Peace Constitution created by the American occupation forces in the postwar era. (The Peace Constitution, which has a clause that, taken literally, forbids Japan from possessing any armaments, has become a sacred pillar of “idealistic pacifists.”) Now that the remnants of militarism have all but disappeared, Inoki warns that Japan cannot expect to earn the respect of international society if it does not play a responsible role in x world affairs. — MT
Source: Masamichi Inoki, “Watashi ga Tatakatta Kusoteki-Heiwa Shugisha Tachi” [The idealistic pacifists with whom I struggled], This Is Yomiuri, March 1999.
The Responsibility of Intellectuals
Word and Image in Japan
apanese art is fascinated with the word. Painted folding screens, scroll paintings, ukiyo-e prints, gold and silver lacquerwork, and other genres often incorporate kanji ideograms and/or kana phonetic characters as a key part of the composition. In addition to explicating the theme of the picture or suggesting the text inspiring it, these characters serve as decorative motifs and are integral to the overall composition. The combination of word and image has generated masterpieces of European art as well, as seen in medieval books of hours and other illuminated manuscripts. But it takes much more intricate and diverse forms in Japanese art, such as emoji (also known as moji-e), which are pictures made up largely of kanji and/or kana script, and paintings that blend words and images. These forms were applied to an extremely wide range of genres: religious art, monogatari-e (pictorial renditions of famous tales), furniture decoration, popular woodblock prints, and so on. There are three reasons for this love of blending word and image in Japanese art. First, we can cite the complex Japanese writing system, which combines kanji and kana. Because kanji are stylized hieroglyphs or combinations thereof, they are complex and varied in form and are close to pictographs. This, too, is why the art of calligraphy developed to such an extent in both China and Japan. Kana, meanwhile, are derived from the cursive form of kanji (hiragana) or parts of block-style kanji (katakana). The angular kanji and katakana and cursive hiragana add piquancy to Japan’s pictorial art. Second, as indicated by the major place in the tradition of Japanese art of the widely loved genre of monogatari-e, literature and art have enjoyed an especially close relationship in Japan. Waka (thirty-one-syllable poems divided into lines of 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables) are also closely bound up with painting, witness the many uta-e (literally, “poem-pictures”) and byobu-e (folding screen paintings) combining poems and pictures. In the Heian period (794–1185) the court nobility enjoyed the elegant artistic pastime of exchanging poems, often accompanied by paintings, as a form of both social intercourse and the communication of sentiments. Of course, to appreciate these paintings the recipient had to have the knowledge to understand their textual background. Just as knowledge of the Greek and Roman classics was the cultural legacy of cultivated Europeans, knowledge of such famous tales as the Genji monogatari [Tale of Genji], the waka in the imperial poetry anthologies, and the Buddhist scriptures was the cultural currency in Japan. Thus, a brief phrase from a poem brushed on a painting was enough to evoke the entire poem and enhanced appreciation of the painting. Over time, this kind of textual knowledge also spread among the common people. Third is the spirit of play so prominent in Japanese literature and art. This is epitomized by the riddling hanji-e, or rebus pictures, and ashide-e, depictions of nature made up largely of characters (a kind of moji-e.)
In the Beginning Was the Word…
Interestingly, the Japanese tradition of cleverly combining word and image lives on today in poster art. Poster art is also a good example of the confluence of Japanese and European culture. The poster originated in fin-de-siècle Paris as an attention-getting medium conveying essential information amid the city’s bustle. This was achieved through bold composition, bright colors, caricature, and imaginative typography — all elements admired by European artists in the Japanese art that was so fashionable at the time, the heyday of japonisme. (The great innovator of poster art Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, like his older contemporary Vincent van Gogh, was an aficionado of Japanese art.) When poster art was introduced to Japan, then, it was hardly surprising that Japanese artists not only saw the genre as epitomizing European modernity but also instinctively felt its affinity with their own tradition. The word contributed as much to a poster’s compositional impact as color and form. And the playful sophistication of the Japanese has cultivated the harmonious interplay of word and image as expressive elements for cenx turies. This is why poster art flourishes in Japan today. —Kiyokazu Washida
Source: Shuji Takashina, “Dezain no seiki: Infomeshon ato no dejitaru to anarogu” [The century of design: Digital and analog in information art], Tokyo: Suntory Museum Tenpozan, 1998.
The Kanji Cultural Sphere
or many centuries a so-called “kanji cultural sphere,” existed in East Asia, centered in China. It comprised groups of people who were able to communicate through the medium of a specific script—Chinese ideograms, known as kanji in Japanese—and a specific syntactical structure. This enabled them to surmount the barriers of nation and dynasty and differences in spoken language. As long as there were people who had a knowledge of kanji and could compose Chinese prose (kanbun) and verse (kanshi), there was almost no need for translation. Europe, too, was once a cultural sphere defined by the shared use of Latin, but the kanji sphere was vastly greater in historical duration and geographical extent. Moreover, whereas Latin is now a dead language (except in the Vatican), kanji are still used on an everyday basis by large numbers of people. The development of a cultural sphere defined by kanji, and its effective functioning over a long stretch of time, had an incalculable effect on the formation and development of an international community in Asia. The reason peoples like the Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, whose languages were completely different from Chinese, could use the writing system of the Han Chinese was that kanji are ideograms. Thus they could be used for their semantic value alone, regardless of their original phonetic value. The erstwhile bond of the kanji cultural sphere no longer exists in East Asia, however. Only the Chinese and Japanese now use kanji as their main medium of written language. The reason is that after World War II kanbun stopped being taught in most East Asian countries, and thus their people ceased to share this cultural heritage. China, Japan, and Korea under-
Word and Image in Japan
took various language and script reforms. Vocabulary changed, and abbreviated forms of characters were adopted, changing the very form of kanji. All this made cross-cultural communication via kanji difficult. With the advent of the computer, however, things took another major turn. Today the Japanese use computers to write their own language, which mixes kanji and the phonetic characters known as kana. It has also become commonplace for people in China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and ethnic Chinese communities in the United States to use computers to write in kanji. Meanwhile, different countries and regions have created their own kanji codes. As a result, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea have different codes for the same kanji. There is an urgent need to rectify the problem of incompatible codes in this age of instantaneous international information exchange via the Internet. The kanji cultural sphere steadily dismantled in the postwar period is about to be resurrected on a vastly wider scale in the age of electronic media. There is a certain irony in the revival of a traditional Eastern culture sphere by means of state-of-the-art technology first developed in the West. Be that as it may, with closer regional interchange via kanji once more becoming possible, the existence of this shared script will undoubtedly contribute in no small measure to Asia’s future x development and stability. —Kiyokazu Washida
Source: Tetsuji Atsuji, “Kanji bunkaken no kobo” [The rise and fall of the Kanji cultural sphere], InterCommunication, Winter 1999.
sked what anime is, a knowledgeable foreigner will almost invariably refer to Japanese animation— which reflects the worldwide reputation this Japanese art form enjoys. Most good video shops in Europe and North America have a section devoted to Japanese animation videos. More than 65 percent of the animation works in the world are Japanese-made (as are an astonishing 90 percent of video games). It’s not just volume—the work itself is highly regarded. Within Japan, however, animation has been looked at as no more than a type of subculture, and it would be hard to say that anime has necessarily received the credit that it deserves. In examining the topics recently discussed in some of the more popular animation, many titles reflect the undertaking of challenging and large themes, like problems between society, and technology, and the environment. For example, we see this trend in Kaze no Tani no Naushika [Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind], which looks at the coexistence of savagery and mercy in nature; in Akira, about the revelations of life in the city of Tokyo; a look at the conflict of Japan’s information society in this high-tech country (Patolabor series); as well as an examination of the dark side of children’s hearts (Neon Genesis Evangelion). In other words, the form of Japanese media that people the world over are in most contact with and that is most highly
Plea for the New Japonisme
praised, is not drama or movies, nor documentaries or books, but animation. Because the writer’s own personality is strongly reflected in the contents, anime can be said to be the software that Japan can be most proud of. This is not the first time that a subculture in Japan, which has not received praise in its own country, was recognized and highly valued abroad. In the Edo Era, ukiyo-e was looked upon as artwork of the masses done on what seemed to be wrapping paper. However, when japonisme reached abroad, ukiyo-e became one of the major influences on the formation of the French Impressionists. In learning the methods of ukiyo-e, Western art expanded the scope of expression, finding a new form of expression. In this sense, animation and comics can be said to represent the modern japonisme. What is really interesting is that just in the same way that as ukiyo-e was able to respond to the situation in which as it was being seen as a dying form of art in Japan it was also being praised in the West, so too in animation do we see the same trends. The reasons for this trend are as follows. The reason that the animation industry in Japan grew is because it chose a path different from that of Walt Disney. In order to reduce both production costs and time, techniques were used to reduce the characters’ movements. In the era of low budgets, this technique, the flow of the story rather than the movements, was emphasized. In this way, expressions were deeper than in the family-type cartoons of Disney. Moreover, because Japan’s broadcast rules were looser than those in America regarding references to and displays of sex and violence, the target age of its viewers was increased and in turn this steadily created more demand for anime. In this way the gold rush for animation began. Countries like Korea, China, India, and Canada are actively seeking to develop skilled people and expand the technology of animation by establishing courses at universities and national institutes of research and high education in the hope that they can drive a wedge in Japan’s near-domination of the industry. Japan, on the other hand, due to a lack of investment, has gotten off to a late start in the technology revolution, specifically the introduction of digitalization. In one other point Japan is also seriously lagging—the development of qualified personnel. In Japan, for example, no universities for the development of such people exist, nor does Japan even hold international animation events where people from abroad can meet with their Japanese counterparts to exchange information. In order to break this worsening trend, it may become necessary to use public funds to give opportunities to re-train animators as well as to pay for tax-breaks for small, new production companies which are actively trying to digitalize. In any case, if trends continue as they are, the culture of Japanese anime will follow the same path that x ukiyo-e did—the road to extinction. —KW
Source: Hamano Yasuki, “Nihon Kokokuron” [A Plea on Behalf of the New Japonisme], Chuo Koron, April 1999.
Reports from Europe
German Identity and the “Forgotten” Germans
Two connected stories, the demographer’s of the changing facts and perceptions of German migration movements, and the historian’s of identity formation over German generations intertwine in an article by the demographer Rainer Münz and the historian Rainer Ohliger. If their thesis is correct, that over the last fifty years of German history a waning victimization myth gave way to a very different set of German identity constructs, then those new forms of identity differ significantly from those of other countries, particularly in the wealthy, liberal West. Or so claims Ian Buruma in “The Joys and Perils of Victimhood” in the New York Review of Books (April 8, 1999), in which he deplores the increasing numbers of cultural, ethnic, religious, or national communities who base their communal identities “almost entirely on the sentimental solidarity of remembered victimhood” as traditional distinctions between communities “are becoming fuzzier all the time.” A half-century of secular, democratic, progressive change and globalization have led to a “disenchanted world of broken-down ideologies, religions, and national and cultural boundaries.” For some this has meant increasing emancipation, for others a “loss of the rich, old kitchen comforts of ethnicity.” In an increasingly Americanized world, almost any community can view itself as a minority. Whereas “memories, fictionalized or real, of shared victimhood” shaped so much of nineteenth-century nationalism, what is new today “is the extent to which so many minorities have come to define themselves above all as historical victims. ” Identification with past trauma and suffering becomes one of the last tags of communal identity, a false shortcut to historical roots, a pseudoreligion, an irrational, neo-Romantic union of kitsch and death. What Buruma’s, Münz’s and Ohliger’s cases all stress, however, is generational difference, an awareness of the long silence in which real survivors contain their trauma or guilt, and attention to migrants, minorities, and processes of assimilation and integration.
ocieties, according to Münz and Ohliger, live on historical constructs, collective memories and myths. To some extent these adapt themselves to changing circumstances. At its founding in 1871, the German empire excluded a large number of Germans living in Austria-Hungary and Russia. In 1919 the Treaty of Versailles created a new political geography with large German-speaking minorities in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Belgium, France, and Italy, and a migration movement of 1.3 million people. In 1937, around 8.5 million Germans were living in countries east or southeast of Germany and Austria. Two million Germans had to leave their traditional settlements during World War II. Another 11 to 12 million Germans migrated to Germany in the first four years after the war. In 1950 roughly 3.5 million Germans were still living outside Germany in Eastern Europe. Within Germany every sixth German in the German Federal Republic and every fifth German in the German Democratic Republic was a refugee. During the forty-year period before 1989 the huge population movements of the past almost ebbed away. After 1988 the tide rose, again bringing another 2.4 million German migrants to Germany. But in 1997 only every twenty-fifth German citizen was a German migrant. Refugees, expellees, and emigrants after the war—as well as the 3.8 million Germans who moved from East Germany to West Germany before the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961—were not exactly welcomed upon arrival but were integrated very quickly, the success story of rebuilding Germany covering up social tensions and distribution struggles. The fate of the refugees from the East was seen as part of the common destiny of Germany. The idea of victimhood attached to German minorities in the East had in the past even provided a pretext for international conflicts and war. Now Germans— refugees and non-refugees—saw themselves as victims of the war without asking awkward questions about causality and guilt. Helping refugees was just one element in the common task of rebuilding Germany. This view determined the discourse about refugees and the
conditions under which they had to cope with new circumstances. Accordingly, everyone of German descent was given the same legal rights and had a claim to German citizenship and to the solidarity and support of those who were better off. In the 1950s German refugees formed special-interest groups within the major political parties and their own associations to advance their interests, cultivate their traditions, and cope with the loss of their milieux de mémoire. Their presence influenced housing programs and town development. They had streets named after the regions they came from. Four to five hundred memorials went up to commemorate their flight and expulsion. State-funded cultural centers catered to their cultural needs, and large state-funded historical research projects documented their specific fate. There even was a federal ministry for refugees until it no longer fit into the Federal Republic’s new foreign policy in the late sixties and early seventies. By the late eighties the fate of German refugees had almost faded from public discourse and remembrance in the Federal Republic, while in the former German Democratic Republic they had always been a taboo. After 1989, German minorities in Eastern Europe again began to migrate in large numbers to Germany. Their legal status was still based on laws from the 1950s. But the material aid they received was now being reduced while other restrictive measures tried to curb this new influx. Their rising numbers led to a controversy about ethnically privileged migration and the limits of national solidarity which called into doubt their claims to German citizenship and solidarity based on descent. Their decision to emigrate—whatever possible discrimination they faced in the countries they came from— was increasingly viewed not as the result of shared victimization, but as a more voluntaristic step comparable to that of other migrant labor. The victimization and rebuilding myth of the fifties had been the first of three possible alternative reconstruction of a national identity. German migrants had been one of the subjects as well as one of the objects of its construction. The con-
Reports from Europe
cept of a nation of victims, not actors or offenders (the German word Täter covers both translations), had originally allowed all Germans, migrants as well as others, to push supposed outward ascription of the role of offender into the background and to concentrate on the collective memory and traumas of misery, deprivation, and loss. The GDR had chosen the second alternative, antifascism without self-reflection. Seeing the new socialist state as an inheritor and offspring of the traditions of resistance to National Socialism, it incorporated in its identity and accepted cultural heritage only those selected elements of the national past which it regarded as progressive. The construction of the third alternative, a more critical, less selective, and self-reflective look at the national past, only set in during the sixties and seventies. As the images of war, destruction, and refugees began to recede first from reality and then from memory, the victimization myth no longer made sense and was gradually replaced by an actor’s myth connected with three other central themes of the German past and present which increasingly became main sources of identity building and national memory. According to Münz and Ohliger, one of these three central topics has been the German economy. Over the past fifty years Germans constructed for their “country of poets and thinkers” a new economic identity around their trust in the strength of their new export-oriented economy symbolized in the DM currency. In the nineties this has taken the form of seeing Germany as paymaster and motor of the European Union. Secondly, the role of the foreigner, in contradistinction to whom a German national identity has been constructed, has changed. The construction of France as the traditional enemy of Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had been replaced by the anti-bolshevism and anti-Semitism of the Nazis, and then by the anti-communism of the West, and the anti-capitalism and anti-fascism of the GDR. Since 1989 there has been a vacuum here. There are signs that it may be filled either by the construction of a new enemy around Islam and foreign, especially Turkish, migrants in Germany, or by a counter-tendency viewing all policies of ethnical cleansing as the enemy while pleading for the granting of German citizenship to everyone living in Germany continuously, irrespective of descent. The third central topic in the construction of a German identity and a national past has been the historical place of the Holocaust in German history. In the last twenty years it has become the object of intensified debates. Two generations of Germans coming of age in the sixties and nineties have broken the silence of the fifties by questioning their parents and grandparents about the Holocaust. To them the Shoah appears as more strange and foreign and is therefore all the more suitable for seeing themselves by contrast to it as completely different Germans. They have engraved the Holocaust into the predominant German image of history and defined it and the steps leading to it as something every civilized state has to prevent. As the numbers and public perception of German emigrants from the East have changed, these three elements of identity construction have gradually replaced the victimization myth which in the 1990s did not seem to have much to offer to a Germany preoccupied with the themes of unification, the transition from the Bonn to the Berlin republic, and the unemployment problem. The refugee organizations have largely lost their political influence. The integration of refugees and migrants has not resulted in increased appeals for repeated public recognition of their past traumas. On the contrary, their living memory has almost become a private affair, expressed through increased tourism to their former living habitats. According to Münz and Ohliger, the revival or attempted instrumentalizations of past myths remains, however, a slight x possibility. —MB
Source: Rainer Münz and Rainer Ohliger, “Vergessene Deutsche— Erinnerte Deutsche: Flüchtlinge, Vertriebene, Aussiedler” [Forgotten Germans—Remembered Germans: Refugees, Expellees, and Emigrants], Transit, Autumn 1999.
Reports from Europe
The New Right in Jacket and Tie
hen the leader of the French National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, roughed up a political opponent in a local election campaign last August, few realized that the FN founder would end up sundering his own party. This, however, has been precisely the dramatic result. For in a ruling upheld in a French appeals court last November, Le Pen’s antics were deemed criminal assault; the FN founder barred, as a consequence, from holding public office for a year. With the June, 1999 elections to the European Parliament fast approaching, Le Pen faced a critical decision. Who would head, in his absence, the FN’s electoral list in the upcoming campaign? Bypassing leading Front officials in favor of his wife “Jany” (inexperienced, vaguely glamorous, but by her own admission, completely uninterested in politics), Le Pen set off a furor amongst FN militants, who in January convened an emergency party congress in response. Openly challenging Le Pen’s leadership, they elected FN General Delegate, Bruno Mégret, their new head. Suddenly, France was engaged in a two-Front war. With the support of much of the party bureaucracy, half the 1,700-member internal security force and even one of Le Pen’s own daughters, Mégret’s secession is more than simply a palace coup. Rather, his challenge marks the eruption of a strategic dispute over the nature—and future—of the French right that has smoldered in and around the party for some time. Central to the struggle are competing visions of the Front’s place in the political constellation of France. At 49, over 20 years Le Pen’s junior, Mégret came of age, intellectually, in the wake of 1968, and was formed in the current of thought known broadly as the “New Right.” The New Right set out in the 1970s to re-think and re-energize conservative ideological positions mainly through two organizations that have served the FN, effectively, though not formally, as policy think tanks: GRECE (Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Européenne) and the Club de l’Horloge. Deeply impressed by the Left’s intellectual sophistication, and by its ability to insert radical concepts into the mainstream of public debate, Mégret and others fashioned in response what they termed a “Gramscism of the Right,” a reference to the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s belief that concrete political power is always won first in the realm of ideas. Just as the New Left had effectively inverted the traditional Marxian hierarchy, making intellectual innovation the motor of material change, the New Right would similarly abandon discredited means for novel methods, replacing brown shirts and street fights with well-cut suits, administrative expertise, and carefully crafted op-ed pieces. By winning what Mégret calls the “vocabulary battle,” the semantic struggle to define the terms of established political discourse, the New Right would conquer the minds—and then the hearts—of the French people. Closely associated with this notion is the conviction that the Right must offer a presentable face to the outside world, one shorn of Nazi symbolism and the stubble of Vichy. It is revealing in this regard that both Mégret and his closest FN allies,
Club de l’Horloge founders Yvan Blot and Jean-Yves Gallou, all first sought to carry out this battle from within the mainstream Right. A product of the prestigious engineering school Pontset-Chaussées, and the University of California, Berkeley, Mégret was actually a member of the Gaullist party’s (RPR) central committee from 1979 to 1981. Blot, for his part, is a graduate of the élite National School of Administration (ENA), and a former protégé of French president Jacques Chirac, while Gallou was active in the more centrist UDF party. Ultimately frustrated by the constraints of the established conservative parties, these so-called “moderns” entered the FN in the mid1980s. And though in terms of intellectual formation and political background markedly different from the party Old Guard, the moderns nonetheless provided Le Pen with desperately needed ideological vitality and technical sophistication. For over a decade this fusion of old and new has been mutually beneficial and extremely effective. Rapidly assuming positions of responsibility within the party, the moderns took hold of the FN’s various ideological strands and knit them together into a coherent whole. At the same time, they erected a formidable apparatus of business organizations, youth groups, think tanks, and other associational structures designed to insinuate Front ideas into the heart of civil society. Mégret’s role has been crucial in this task, and indeed it was largely his early recognition that the demise of Marxism would demand an intellectual reconfiguration of the Right, as well as of the Left, that provided the Front’s main ideological impetus of the 1990s. As he has emphasized in all three of his most recent theoretical works, L’Alternative nationale (1996), La Troisième voie [The third way] (1997), and La Nouvelle Europe (1998): “The opposition that once prevailed between capitalism and communism, between liberalism and socialism, has completely expired with the facts. The true cleavage today is the one that separates the supporters of the national ideal from those of globalism.” Globalism (mondialisme)—here was a protean concept, one that could be slotted smoothly into the stealth arsenal of the New Right’s vocabulary battle. For the hydra of mondialisme stands for many things: the influx of immigrants who threaten French sanctity and security; the loss of national sovereignty to supra-national organizations such as the UN and the EU; the crushing competition of a global market that unfairly favors the United States; and the demise of French culture before the horrible trinity of “Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Walt Disney.” Juxtaposed with the need to preserve the purity and strength of the French nation, mondialisme has thus become a multivalent— and monolithic—concept within the FN lexicon. By presenting a moderate face to the outside world, changing the terms of public discourse, and pursuing strategic coalitions with other parties, the FN can become a national political player, Mégret argues. For Le Pen and the FN old guard, however, such a turn in unacceptable. They pride themselves on their incorruptibility and their staunch refusal to cooperate with the political mainstream. Conditioned in the
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1950s and 1960s, when a lightning putsch was more conceivable than slow electoral ascendance, they have watched the moderns’ rise with circumspection, enjoying the FN’s success, but mindful of the dangers the moderns pose to the party’s integrity. For Mégret, such foot-dragging, coupled with Le Pen’s mercurial propensity to alienate potential supporters with senseless sallies (Holocaust denial, gratuitous insults) have kept the party down too long. Is the FN indivisibly linked to Le Pen, or will the movement transcend the man? The outcome, of course, remains to be seen. If Le Pen’s history and charisma are assets that his diminutive rival lacks, Mégret’s youth, presentability, and political acumen cannot be discounted. For the time being, the conventional wisdom in France is that open dissent within the FN is a good thing. But until the country comes to terms with the social conditions that have allowed the Front to flourish, it is probably well to remember that many Germans thought much the same x thing at the time of the Night of the Long Knives. —Darrin McMahon
Sources: Bruno Mégret, La Flamme: les voies de la renaissance [The flame: the paths of rebirth], Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 1990.
Sentimental Education in Senegal
he Senegalese newspaper Sud Quotidien reports that Western romance forms the staple reading of young girls in that part of Africa. Dakar abounds in used-book stands piled with Harlequin Romances and their French-language equivalents, photo-novellas in series called Kiss, Color, Lucky or Riviera, and magazines like Paris Match and Nous Deux. Fulfilling girls’ need for escape, such reading, according to some of its consumers (who often claim to outgrow it), puts girls on another wave-length from Senegalese boys, and lets them “forget the dull reality of daily existence.” In the view of one author, romance writing provides ”answers, however stereotypical, to the questions young women pose about the major events of existence, answers school and education don’t provide.” Yet does this high-gloss sentimental education, for all its apparent harmlessness, also pose a threat? Psychologist Serigne Mor Mbaye thinks so, underscoring the “absence of identification” with dominant values such escapism implies. While acknowledging the “pathetic banality” of this literature, he links girls’ “interiorization and exaggerated, unconscious imitation of a number of different feelings to the impressive rise” in the number of teenage girls’ suicides in Senegal—a more than 60 percent increase over the last decade. —DJ
Source: Alioune Badara Dieye, “Education sentimentale sur papier glacé” [Sentimental education on glossy paper], Sud Quotidien (Dakar), in Courrier International, Dec. 10-16, 1998.
hat keeps societies from falling apart? What preserves their inner unity? These are questions that increasingly preoccupy German politicians. Johannes Rau, who was just voted in as president of the Federal Republic of Germany, recently compared society to a house whose mortar is gradually disappearing; Wolfgang Schäuble, the opposition leader, speaks of the “lining” of society, or of the “habits of the heart.” But they all share the assumption that there is a resource that makes society cohere, and that the resource is being depleted. They express an anxiety that the dissolution of shared values and outlooks threatens public discourse about the common good. According to Christian Geyer, such exaggerated organic analogies are anachronistic and unhelpful. They represent misconceptions about how modern, functionally differentiated societies operate, without the need for a center or head. The tension created among different social spheres—politics, economics, science, art—does not dissolve society, in Geyer’s view, but rather stabilizes it. The division of labor is not only an economically fruitful principle, but a cultural one too. Disintegration is both the norm and the hidden resource of modern society. Communitarians, according to Geyer, place their trust in preconceived conceptions of social wholeness instead of recognizing the steering and coordinating potential of decentralized bourgeois life. The tendency of orthodox communitarians like Alasdair MacIntyre to regard differences of opinion as polarizing society have borne political fruit in Johannes Rau’s appeal to revitalize associations like political parties, churches, and sport clubs. Geyer illustrates the risks of this “rhetoric of social cohesion” by comparing it to the logical of demographers. Population studies today have come to the ‘scientific’ conclusion that the liberal state would be well advised to resist multiculturalism on the grounds that it will threaten integration. And if one defines the mortar of society ethnically, it follows that a high birthrate is necessary to keep society together. Demographers today tell us that if Germans do not develop a sense of the importance of reproduction, the German population will shrink, and the dream of a common identity will evaporate. Sexual intercourse for reasons of state? Geyer quotes the demographer Herwig Birg, who recently argued that if we do not attack the demographic problem, in fifty years time our descendants will look back in horror at us, just as we look in horror at earlier events in this century. Such a comparison is obscene, according to Geyer, but not surprising. Anything is possible once the question of social cohesion becomes primary x in people’s minds. —MB
Source: Christian Geyer, “Wohin wir driften: Brav, nicht harmlos: Die Rhetorik des sozialen Zusammenhalts” [Where we are drifting to: Well behaved, not harmless: The rhetoric of social cohesion], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 8, 1999.
The Rhetoric of Social Cohesion
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When a nation’s parliament devotes a day to determining the the world as one big Tintin album, less successful than the politics of a comic-book hero, some clarification is called for— real ones, to be sure, but like them, colorful, nuanced, and especially for Americans, most of whom grow up without Tintin full of interesting characters good and bad. Nor, I fear, am I albums. The February 3 debate of five deputies of France’s alone in this, since the twenty-odd albums that make up the National Assembly who are also members of the Club des parTintin series have been translated into some forty languages lementaires tintinophiles was televised throughout Europe but and dialects. also in Canada and Australia (one wonders if it aired in Russia, The central hero first appeared exactly seventy years ago, since Tintin’s “rehabilitation” by the French Communist Party to no great acclaim—in a badly drawn, badly narrated album. for his counterrevolutionary behavior “in the land of the Soviets” He would surely have been quickly forgotten if the quality of in 1929). Seventy years after the the drawing and of the plots had amiable boy-reporter set out on not improved almost miracuadventures that would pit him lously, reaching a pinnacle in the against Soviet communism, U.S. work of the 1950s and ‘60s. free-market excesses, African And while the immense talent slave-trading, Latin American of Tintin’s creator, the Belgian dictatorship, Asian drug traffic, draftsman Georges Rémi, who and much more, French politicians signed himself Hergé, has never across the political spectrum been in doubt, his personality is claimed Tintin for their own— regularly called into question. It’s Gaullist or centrist, “the perfect been dissected by sociologists and synthesis of the current Left coalimined by psychoanalysts, who’ve tion”—though ultimately found put both him and his characters him to stand “to the right of the on the couch. (Thus Captain HadLeft and the left of the Right.” dock’s becoming the owner of a A strange concern to show a boy castle has been seen as compensanot French at all but Belgian-born, tion for the author’s frustration as his early adventures in the over his illegitimate birth.) Congo attest. Hugely popular in Certain historians (mainly amahis homeland, he caught on in teurs ) have also pointed out that France particularly during the OcHergé’s sensibilities are quite far from Hergé’s Les Aventures de Tintin au Pays des Soviets, (Casterman) cupation, when French paper rationing allowed the Belgian disfrom contemporary: in Tintin au Congo, the second album, the tributor of his creator “Hergé” to profit from sudden lack of comblacks of what was then a Belgian colony are presented with a petition. Indeed it is Hergé’s conduct in the war years, as revealed paternalism one can at best smile at: nice folk, of course—hisin recent biographies—his alleged Nazi sympathies and collabotory’s bad guys are the whites—but naïve and gullible. Other rationism, his anti-Semitic gags run in his far-Right newspaper critics have noted that, during the German occupation, Hergé strip but suppressed in later book versions—that first called into wasn’t quite as brave as we know we would have been. question the political correctness of a character who is the first These attacks have only increased with the republication of hero of many millions of children (or boys, at least). Since the Hergé’s very first Tintin album on the occasion on the hero’s French parliament examined the political record of Tintin himseventieth anniversary. Criticism would be confined to its self and not his maker, we asked our friend Rémi Brague to elustill-rudimentary technique if the story didn’t concern cidate l’affaire Tintin through his lifelong familiarity with the Tintin’s adventures in the Land of Soviets [Tintin au pays des books themselves. soviets], which was first published in 1929. Its portrayal of the misery and oppression created by the Leninist regime n France, an entire postwar generation of children learned to couldn’t be less subtle, nor could its unmasking of that read through Tintin comic books. We all knew the heroes of regime’s propaganda. In France, of course, a good many “intelthese albums: Tintin himself, a round-faced, blond-tufted lectuals” bent over backwards for the Communist Party well teenage boy, inseparable from his dog Milou; Captain Haddock, into the late 1970s or, at the very least, aligned themselves the cranky sailor with a heart of gold, aficionado of exotic epiwith the USSR’s “globally positive” vision. Anti-Communists thets; Professor Tournesol (“Sunflower”), the quintessential were, in the lovely words of Jean-Paul Sartre, mere “dogs.” absent-minded professor; Dupont and Dupond, two sleuths as Even today, to cover over your silence for the murder of tens alike in appearance as they are in obtuseness. To say nothing of of millions of people, you need only sneer at a caricatured scores of other true-to-life minor characters. Hergé, who at least wasn’t trying to excuse the inexcusable, More than teach us to read, though, Tintin taught us to but to denounce it, albeit clumsily. see the world. I sense a definite tendency in myself to view It’s also been remarked that, in a somewhat later album,
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Hergé was hard on Japan for its occupation of China, and laid the facts out in a particularly harsh light: an intervention justified by a faked coup. Unmasking its underlying ideology, he shows its “civilizing mission” to be a cover-up for sordid interests, the control of the opium traffic. To the charges leveled against Hergé, let me, however, add an observation that’s rarely been made, though it’s incredibly obvious. I’m referring to the album Tintin en Amérique. In it, we glimpse a society in which a policeman winks at a disguised gangster who holds a smoking gun in one hand and a wad of dollar bills in the other. At the height of Prohibition the sheriff collapses dead-drunk so that he can’t rescue Tintin, who’s about to be lynched. Workers in a jam factory go on strike because the management has decided to lower the price of the dead rats they buy to make “hare pâté.” We see Indians being evicted by the army from their reservation, where oil’s just been discovered. A low-angle shot shows a papoose being whisked off by his mother who, with a bundle on her shoulder, is being chased down by a bayonet-wielding soldier. The child, in tears, drags a teddy bear that could have come straight out of some riveting scene in The Third Man. The point is clear by now: I solemnly accuse Hergé of antiAmericanism. But anti-Communism? Nonsense! If there’s anyone to accuse of that, it would be people like Ciliga, Orwell, Kravchenko, Milosz, or Solzhenitsyn. And everything suggests they were just basely plagiarizing Hergé—outdoing him at that because, next to the way they present the reality of the Soviet Union, Tintin’s caricature seems almost mild. Hergé’s real, unpardonable crime is his anti-Americanism. So why is there no outcry against it? What is the government x doing? —Rémi Brague
Sources: Frédéric Potet, “Au Parlement, Tintin est à droite de la gauche et à gauche de la droite” [In Parliament, Tintin’s left of the Right and right to the Left], Le Monde, February 5, 1999. Tim Judah, “‘Tintin in the Dock,” The Guardian (London), January 30, 1999.
well-known philosophy professor in Paris who has also published on Kierkegaard and on architecture, as well as the Critique de l’égocentrisme [Critique of egocentrism], which appeared in 1996. Her most recent work, Politique des sexes [Politics of the sexes] (Seuil) is a defense of “parity,” the principle that a fixed percentage of political offices should be reserved for women. The French debate over parity has been interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that although French feminism is not as militant (nor as suspicious of sexuality) as American feminism, it is far from dead. Second, the debate has split both the right and the left, so that defenders and opponents of the principle can be found all across the political spectrum. Ms. Agacinski’s position is that the question of gender should be seen as one more manifestation of human “difference” that challenges Western notions of universal humanity. What distinguishes gender, however, is that it is a universal form of difference—that is, everybody has one. Since that is the case, she argues, there is no risk that taking gender into account in politics risks making it the special interest of a few. Once we have, she then hopes we will become more comfortable with what she calls mixité in general, and less blindly attached to x abstract notions of universal citizenship. — ML
Iran Between Tradition and Modernity
Mohammad Khatami, President of Iran, recently published a long article written exclusively for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This in itself is a remarkable event: voices from Iran’s wide spectrum of debate normally reach a German audience only through journalistic or scholarly mediators from the West. And at the moment, news from Iran is quite contradictory. Iran’s political system faces not only increasing social discontent, but all the problems inherent in a dual-sovereignty system. One aspect of this situation is the copresence of censorship with broad-ranging debate. Another is the ambivalent image of Khatami. Is he just a more flexible defender of theocratic rule, or Iran’s only chance for a peaceful transition to modern democracy? n this article Khatami speaks for himself, discussing his country’s relation to modernity and urging acceptance of the contradiction between Islamic tradition and Western civilization rather than uncritical embrace of one or the other. Khatami writes that the three concepts preoccupying Iranian intellectuals today are tradition, modernity, and development. When a new civilization and its cultures make other cultures obsolete, the latter become decadent and selfcontradictory. At the start of modern civilization Western society had to break with its own traditions before that civilization could conquer Europe and North America and begin influencing other countries. Iranian culture changed under this Western influence but still partakes of a medieval. respect for God’s position in human works, thoughts, values, and feelings. Such medieval ideas and beliefs are still of
First Lady of Feminism
ver since the Ford presidency, it has been expected that American first ladies will also become authors. Beginning with Betty Ford’s Betty: A Glad Awakening, a new genre was born which now includes Rosalynn Carter’s First Lady from Plains, Nancy Reagan’s My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush’s Millie’s Book, and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s It Takes a Village and Dear Socks, Dear Buddy. Not to be outdone, Hannelore Kohl, the wife of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, published A Culinary Voyage Through Germany a few years ago, which became something of a sensation: a best-selling German cookbook translated into several languages, including English. Perhaps out of pudeur the wives of male French politicians have not been quick to contribute to this new literature. Yet last year Sylviane Agacinski, the wife of French prime minister Lionel Jospin, published a learned work on feminism that was greeted with great acclaim. Ms. Agacinski is, in fact, a
Reports from Europe
importance to the majority of the Iranian people. Iranians must therefore accept the fact that the contradiction between their culture and the West’s is one of the most important sources of the crisis in their lives. But Khatami also insists that it will not help to barricade oneself behind tradition, since many elements of modern civilization will inevitably enter traditional societies. The crisis of traditional society only becomes more intense if this fact is ignored. Yet unqualifiedly embracing modernity is also unhelpful. An uncritical attitude toward Western culture does not lead to understanding its foundations and ignores traditions with deep roots in most peoples’ lives. Rather, tradition needs to be analyzed and criticized. Development is not a mechanical process; it needs to be consciously shaped. Western society does not block new questions and needs, and therefore it will change, too. A civilization only continues to exist as long as it has the potential within itself to answer new questions and satisfy new needs. Such curiosity lies at the very origins of modernity. It is neither logical nor human to accept the hegemony of the West without reserve; but it is also impossible and unreasonable to rebel against certain aspects of it. Therefore one must first get to know the West properly, but without carelessly treating tradition, which is the source of a people’s historical and social identity. Hard as it is to part with any customs, it is all the harder when when they are deemed holy and religious ones. In the long run, cultivating such customs may work to a culture’s advantage. Tradition is, after all, as human and as changeable as civilization. Shouldn’t one be armed with a critique of both modernity and of tradition, Khatami asks. Wouldn’t this make possible a new civilization based on our past identity and the impressive achievements of modern civilization? Such a dream cannot be realized by reactionary return to the past, he concludes, but only by searching for a safer position from which to transcend the present and reach x a future built on past and present. —MB
Source: Sejjed Mohammad Khatami, “Auch die Tradition ist nicht ewig: Eine Gesellschaft, die nicht nachdenkt, ist verloren” [Tradition’s not eternal, either: A society that doesn’t think is doomed], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, August 1, 1998.
s if the flight of Swedish firms to foreign lands weren’t troubling enough, it now appears that ever more young Swedes are leaving the country in search of work as soon as they obtain their diplomas. Until recently, most would have hoped to pursue their careers in one of the large multinationals based in Sweden. But as Marianne Björklund recently reported in the Stockholm paper Dagens Hyheter (see Courrier international, April 8-14, 1999), now they are looking for work abroad. What are they looking for? Mainly higher salaries, a better social climate, and lower taxes. Some also clearly enjoy the challenge of making it abroad. In fact, the Swedish Central Office of Statistics reports that, between 1992 and 1998, the number of students emigrating for work has nearly doubled, from 12,600 to 24,6000. The most likely to flee? According to the Office, engineers and dentists between the ages of twentyfice and thirty-five, with the preferred destinations being Norway, the United States, and Great Britain. Employers are clearly worried about this trend. An official at the Federation of Swedish Industries remarked, “We lack qualified people in Sweden, especially engineers and advanced researchers. At present, one-quarter of them leave the country, and half of these never return. The problem is that these departures are not matched by new arrivals of foreigners with similar skills. It is good that people are mobile but that means we need more young foreign workers to immigrate here. We need new blood.” Why has attracting foreigners been so difficult? High taxes is one reason; another is the lack of good schools for their children. But businesses must also bear some responsibility for this deficit: they simply don’t or won’t employ enough foreign workers with degrees. A 1997 study by the Federation of Civil Engineers showed that 25 percent of unemployed whitecollar workers in Sweden were foreigners. As one official from the Federation put it, “For young Swedes, learning about other cultures and establishing a network of foreign contacts is a good thing. But Sweden itself must show more openness, flexibility, and dynamism to keep its own graduates and attract new ones.” One barrier is that the diversity of employees’ training makes it difficult for employers to know exactly what foreign workers can do. Another is simply salary. A Swedish engineer who finds work in Germany can expect to earn 50 percent more and pay fewer taxes. In Denmark and Norway salaries are 30 to 40 percent higher but the tax level is roughly that of Sweden’s. When students at a Swedish business school were recently asked their views on emigration, 90 percent mentioned the salary differential as a main attraction. All these might be considered “demand-side” problems. But what about supply? Why doesn’t Sweden simply produce more graduates with advanced degrees? Clearly there are also problems in the educational system, which are reflected in one astonishing statistic: only 60 percent of those who begin their studies in professional school in Sweden actually finish x their degrees.
Swedish Brain Drain
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égis Debray is a survivor. Well before the Latin Quarter clashes of May ‘68, the young Debray embraced revolutionary Marxism and sped to the Latin American jungle to fight at Che Guevara’s side. Captured, he was jailed until 1970 in Bolivia, where his Revolution in the Revolution? (1967) and Strategy for Revolution (1970) made him famous. Debray’s celebrity waned in the 1970s but revived in 1981 with his appointment as President Mitterand’s special counselor, a position he held until 1989. In that period Debray wrote several acclaimed books on French intellectuals and on military strategy, as well as essays and novels. He had also come to be regarded as a leader of an important faction on the French left, the so-called republicans, who defend the integrating function of the French school system, admire De Gaulle (subject of another Debray book), and see the United States as the greatest threat to French sovereignty. More recently Debray has also founded, named, written books and edited journals on a new social science, “mediology.” Debray is, if nothing else, unconventional. But the willful nonconformist may undermine himself and make the commonest, most predictable of errors. So Debray’s critics and many ex-comrades interpret his controversial article in Le Monde (May 13, 1999) on his recent trip to ex-Yugoslavia. As Correspondence goes to press, French debate still rages about NATO’s Balkan air-war. But while many French contest the war, everyone seems to concede that Serbia has committed atrocities in Kosovo. Everyone, that is, but Debray. Like 1930s travelers to the U.S.S.R., Michel Foucault in post-revolutionary Iran, or, more recently, dramatist Peter Handke in Serbia, Debray has made a brief visit to the Balkans and discovered something no other journalist, diplomat, or aide-worker has: that nothing particularly wrong is happening there. Debray’s article takes the form of a letter to French president Jacques Chirac (old habits die hard), reporting on his seven days in the Balkans, only four of which were spent in Kosovo. He boasts of employing his own translator, since, he says, the locals are notoriously unreliable and sympathize with the Kosovar army. He begins in Serbia and notes the schools and children’s theaters destroyed by NATO bombs, and factories turned to rubble, leaving thousands unemployed. Otherwise, he finds Belgrade a perfectly normal city, with cafés full of vocal critics of the ruling party. Debray admits President Milosevic is “an autocrat, a fraud, a manipulator,” but notes he has still been reelected three times in free elections. In Kosovo, Debray shows more prudence. Relying on reports of western journalists (one of them of Serbian origin), he finds no evidence of crimes against humanity in the region. The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Kosovars he attributes entirely to the NATO air campaign, aided by the cynical military strategy of the Kosovar army, itself guilty of atrocities. As for the Kosovars, it is hard to ascertain now why they left: out of fear, to emigrate to the U.S. or Switzerland, who knows? We do know the Serbs resisted the Nazis and have always been
Régis Debray’s Excellent Adventure
philosemitic, while some Albanians formed SS units under the occupation. Debray draws a final parallel between the wars in Kosovo and Algeria, warning Chirac that France risks losing as much in the Balkans today as it did in North Africa forty years ago. De Gaulle rightly pulled out then, and Chirac would be wise to pull out now—especially since NATO, as De Gaulle once defined it, is nothing but “an organization imposed on the Atlantic alliance [for] the military and political subordination of Western Europe to the United States.” “Adieu, Régis Debray” ran the headline over philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy’s article in Le Monde the next day. Lévy calls Debray’s article “the ‘live’ suicide of an intellectual,” and attacks him for vainly thinking his sprint could have taught him more than the eye-witness accounts of hundreds of outside observers in the region for eight years now. The same day Alain Joxe, a noted academic researcher, marvelled that Debray’s article omitted any reference to recent Balkan history—Sarajevo, Srebrenica—and unskeptically accepted Serbia’s propaganda about Kosovo and its own regime. So the criticisms have mounted, day after day these past two weeks —except in L’Humanité, the paper of the French Communist Party, which praises Debray’s intellectual courage. It is x unknown if Debray welcomes this support or not. —ML
n January 1, 1999, a new currency, the euro, was born, and if all goes as planned it will be the only European currency as of January 1, 2002. So what does this euro look like? In a scathing article published late last year, the French writer Régis Debray analyzed the new currency’s design, calling it “virtual” money for a “virtual” nation. The five-euro note shows an antique aqueduct, the ten-euro bill a Roman portal and bridge. And the 200-euro note shows only a glass door and a viaduct. In other words, on the new euro there is not a single human being—no Erasmus, Shakespeare, Newton, or Goethe. The ancient pillars and columns have no foundations, and there are no recognizable landscapes, either. What does this imagery say about the new Europe? In Debray’s view, it represents “Euroland,” a no-man’s-land without historical memory. Money is a kind of “collective ID card” that tells people they belong to a nation’s imaginary community. The euro, on the other hand, looks like Monopoly money. And isn’t this the truth about Europe, Debray wonders. Given its continued dependence on the United States, it is the dollar, with its strong and evocative imagery, that remains the real lingua franca of the global economy, and Europe remains a vassal to American power. Post-Maastricht Europe is a land that has no founding event, no destiny, no battle of independence—and thus no independence. The euro visually represents a bitter political truth, that Europe has yet x to mature and remains in its adolescence. —ML
Source: Régis Debray, “A Faceless Currency Representing a Virtual Europe,” International Herald-Tribune, November 28-29, 1998.
The Faceless Euro
The Resumption of History
he year 1989 represented the victory of “the past” over an imagined future. Socialism had promised a world in which Prometheus would be unbound,where man would be “equal, unclassed, tribeless and nationless.” Soviet Marxism imposed a blanket over peoples, inflicting a single creed that smothered historic allegiances. Yet the future was a chimera, as was the “end of history.” What we have been witnessing over the past decade is the “resumption of history” —with the political explosion of ethnicities and nationalism, the fragmentation of societies, and the re-assertion of primordial identities and loyalties. In this respect, the twentieth-century was framed by two critical events: the disbanding of empire (the historic characteristic of political rule) and the rise and fall of Soviet power. The end of World War I saw the break-up of the Habsburg, Wilhelminian, and Romanov regimes, as well as the Ottoman Empire that spanned Asia Minor. The end of World War II saw the passing of European colonialism. Before that time, 80 percent of the world’s land mass and 80 percent of the world’s peoples had been under the control of Western powers. With a rapidity at which future historians will marvel, the British, French, Belgian, Dutch, and Portuguese empires were dismantled, and about 120 new states were created. Yet most of these states had no natural boundaries or clear geographical or tribal unities. India became divided, nominally on Hindu/Muslim lines, and Pakistan then broke in two, with Bangladesh emerging in the East. Indonesia became a chain of a thousand islands made up of disparate cultures, and claiming the territory of East Timor. Sub-Saharan Africa became a messy patchwork of dozens of states with diverse clans and tribes overflowing each. Only the Soviet Union enlarged its territory at the end of World War II. Yet today its empire has crumbled, leaving in its wake a multiplicity of peoples, large entities and small, each struggling to define its own identity. From the old Soviet Union came the large republics in Central Asia, but also the small ethnic nationalities of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Udmurtia, Bujryatia, Tuva, Komi, and Sakha-Yakutia—all of whom claim, in their constitutions, a desire to secede or to achieve a preferential status in their republics. In fact, about 25 million Russians now live in former Soviet states and have, de facto, second-class status. The most salient political fact in the world today is that every nation on the globe is a plural society, a polysemous melange with large admixtures of minority linguistic and ethnic groups, each clinging, however desperately, to some historic identity outside the majority group. No nation in the world is still homogeneous, culturally or linguistically. Japan, which once had been, today has knots of Korean, Pakistani, and Chinese
groups occupying distinct enclaves in Tokyo. Sweden, once relatively homogeneous, today has groups of gypsies and Turks who are not assimilable into the native population.And then there are the dispersed groups desperately seeking to become a state, such as the Kurds who are spread across Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. (And there are even the Israeli Kurds, who think of themselves as a people but accept Israeli citizenship.) Nationalism, according to Ernest Gellner, was a product of modernity. It followed from the logic of industry, which destroys local particularities and inculcates a common language and common culture in a people. What is startling, and even awesome in its intensity, is the resurgence of ethnic nationalism in the modern world—which had assumed that such passions had been leached away by the cosmopolitan culture. Yet ethnic nationalism is primordial, as against the inclusive cultures of the United States (and in a more modified form, of France) which unites diverse peoples under the banner of citizenship. Ethnic nationalism is “pre-modern” and integral to traditional societies. Common understandings and obligations to kin are transmitted from fathers to sons, clans are formed by bands of brothers, and emotional bonds are strengthened by religion and history. Ethnic nationalism claims a common kin-folk, rooted in common origins, common history, and a common fate —even when they derive from legends and myth and become transformed into an emotional identity. This is a phenomenon which contemporary sociology has forgotten. Today it drives events in areas such as the Balkans or the former Soviet Union. The prime example, at the moment, is Serbia. The Serbs, a Slavic people, came to the Balkans in the seventh century and have remained in the area continuously since then.The defining moment came in 1389, when the Ottoman Turks defeated the Serbs at Kosovo Poljie, the Field of Blackbirds, and beheaded the Serb leader, Prince Lazar. His legendary action—choosing death rather than surrender— became the founding myth of Serbian national consciousness and pan-Slavic aspirations. For centuries pan-Slavism has played a subterranean role in the history of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, similar to the inchoate ideas of pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism. In nineteenth-century Russia, Slavophiles such as Dostoevsky proclaimed a mystical bond, l’âme slave, and the Orthodox Church to be the essence of Slavism.Territorially, there are the East Slavs (Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia), the West Slavs (Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks), and the South Slavs (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Montenegro). Only the fact of a South Slavic state came to tangled and fratricidal fruition. With the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia
was created under the rule of Peter I of Serbia. He was succeeded by his son, Alexander I, who had been the army chief in the Balkan wars of 1912. But disorders multipled, and Alexander established a dictatorship in 1929, renaming the country Yugoslavia. In October 1934 Croatian terrorists assassinated King Alexander in Paris. The victory of Tito in 1945 brought an uneasy peace within the region, but also the seeds of future trouble. The new Yugoslavia was made up of six republics—Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Slovenia— and two autonomous regions, Kosovo and Vojvodina. But within the divisions lay a contradiction: Yugoslavia was not itself a single nation-state, and within it the distinction between nation and state was blurred. Only in the case of Slovenia were the two coterminous. Yugoslavia was to be a union of peoples, all under Communist rule. Yet the fact remained that out of a population of 20 million persons, four million, or one out of five, had been displaced and moved away from their original homeland. A melancholy tale of terror, massacres, and deportation followed. It has been said that the wars in the Balkans are not due to ethnic hatreds but to the manipulation of evil men. That evil men manipulate emotional feelings goes without saying. Yet one should not underestimate the seduction of the impulse to kill for revenge or the idea of dying for a cause, especially when fueled by the power of nationalism and history. I think, for example, of Mihalo Markovic, a courageous dissident during the Tito regime and an editor of the liberal Marxist magazine Praxis, who taught at the University of Pennsylvania during the Tito period. Today he is the vice president of Milosevic’s Serbian Socialist Party and the ideologue of the regime, defending Serbian efforts to maintain Yugoslavia against break-away republics by invoking Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to save the Union in the American Civil War. Nor should one underestimate the role of religion. Throughout all the expulsions and migrations, what kept the Serbs together, as Serbs, has been their religion. And here we return to Prince Lazar of 1389, whose legends were written down by church scribes and canonized in repeated cycles of folk poetry. His body was laid to rest in Pristina, but then transferred in 1401 or 1402 to a monastery Lazar had founded in Ravanica. His dried body was dressed in a coat adorned with lions rampant, clothes he reputedly wore in the battle where he met his death. He was also covered with a shroud of red cloth embroidered in gold with the prayer of the nun Jefima: “Don’t forget your beloved children, who need your help, O Martyr.” Over the centuries the bones were moved from place to place until transferred to Belgrade, where they lay in the patriarchal church. As prelude to the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the great battle, Lazar’s bones were taken in 1989 for a tour around Serbia and Bosnia, from monastery to monastery. Today they lie once more in Ravanica, and on Sundays the coffin is opened, though only his brown and withered hands peek out from under the shroud. There are no comedies in history, for there are no happy x endings—or, for that matter, any endings. —Daniel Bell
ill recently an intellectual debate over language was raging in continental Europe. The issue, put simply, was whether language reflected and changed with the state of society, or whether it helped to shape society and determine its evolution. Two journalists’ reports on linguistic shifts in Great Britain and Russia offer new answers to the question. In the Independent on Sunday British journalist John Morrish reports on the democratization of the English accent and how it’s been received. The British high-society accent, he suggests, is endangered because it is being abandoned both by the shrinking upper-classes and overtaken by street language. This so-called posh accent has grown so rare that the National Sound Archives has commissioned actress Prunella Scales to record a posh anthology to teach future drama students how to deliver the lines of Wilde, Coward, and Shaw. Posh is a variant of what the British have for over a century called “received pronunciation,” or RP RP was first defined for . public school use in 1869, though it dates, apparently, from the sixteenth-century London court. Until recently, it existed in several forms. U-RP, for example, was the pronunciation of the upper-most class, the royal family; the BBC also used it through the 1960s. Thereafter it adopted “modified RP” for news broadcasts, and still uses it—though only three percent of the British population can speak it. Instead, “estuary English,” the pronunciation of the area near the mouth of the Thames, now dominates the increasingly-democratic British society, from nonBBC disk jockies to the Spice Girls, who speak it perfectly. A different sort of linguistic transformation is occurring in Russia, as Alexei Mitrofanov reports in Izvestia. Until 1989, it was customary (if not obligatory) for Russians to address each other as tovarich (comrade), avoiding the older term gospardin (sir). What to do now? Immediately following the Russian Revolution, tovarich was reserved for the Communist Party elite and gospardin was used especially by those dissatisfied with the revolution. “Comrade” was mainly a badge of honor for supporters of revolution, foreigners included. Mitrofanov recounts that dancer Isadora Duncan, staying in Moscow in the early 1920s, would correct those who addressed her as Mademoiselle Duncan with a brusk “Comrade Duncan!” Over time, “comrade” won out, though not without some very Russian hybrids popping up (“comrade little-father”). With the Gorbachev era Russians grew embarrassed by the term, yet gospardin had come to sound so ridiculous to Russian ears, people hardly knew what to do. No solution’s been found, so Russians try to avoid situations requiring formal address. Administrative letters generally omit a title, using only the family name of the person addressed. On buses and in the streets people are addressed impersonally, since no other option—comrade, sir, miss, madame, “hey, you”—makes sense. Gospardin will return, Mitrofanov thinks, if only faute de mieux. Foreigners in Russia use this rather literary word unx abashedly. Unlike tovarich, which already sounds archaic. —ML Source: Both articles appeared in French translation in Courrier international, April 15-21, 1999.
The Mother Tongue
“As I drift toward my last sigh I often imagine a final joke. I convoke around the deathbed my friends who are confirmed atheists, as I am. Then a priest, whom I have summoned, arrives; and to the horror of my friends I make a confession, ask for absolution for my sins, and receive extreme unction. After which I turn over on my side and expire. But will I have the strength to joke at that moment? Only one regret. I hate to leave while there’s so much going on. It’s like quitting in the middle of a serial. I doubt there was so much curiosity about the world after death in the past, since in those days the world didn’t change quite so rapidly or so much. Frankly, despite my horror of the press, I’d love to rise from the grave every ten years or so and go buy a few newspapers. Ghostly pale, sliding silently along the walls, my papers under my arm, I’d return to the cemetery and read about all the disasters in the world before falling back to sleep, safe and secure in my tomb.” —Luis Buñuel from his memoir My Last Sigh
he most influential social science in the English-speaking world is undoubtedly economics. In twentiethcentury France, economics has played little role in intellectual or political life, while anthropology has been absolutely central. And, after Claude Lévi-Strauss, surely the most important anthropologist in postwar France was Louis Dumont, who died last November at the age of 87. Dumont first made his reputation as an Indologist, publishing a now classic work in the field, Homo hierarchicus, in 1966. This book received little attention when it first appeared, mainly due to the fact that “structuralism”—whether that of Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, or
Michel Foucault—was all the rage. Yet its attentive readers saw that Dumont’s approach to anthropology, which he claimed had been inspired by Tocqueville, offered a potentially powerful critique and alternative to the various structuralisms then. In a famous preface to that work, Dumont argued that anthropology had foundered on the problem of individualism. Old-fashioned anthropologists studied inequality among individuals in societies where the very notion of the individual was absent; structuralists, on the other hand, made the inverse mistake by treating modern societies as though they were “structured” like premodern ones. Anthropologists saw individualism everywhere, or nowhere. What Dumont learned from Tocqueville is that there are two sorts of societies in the world—holistic-hierarchical and individualistic—and that they must be studied in different terms. While he began his career studying the former type, he devoted his mature years to analyzing the modern world of democratic individualism. As French intellectuals began moving away from Marxism and structuralism in the 1970s, Dumont’s work on modern individualism became highly influential among philosophers, political theorists, sociologists, and even historians, among them François Furet, who was also rediscovering Tocqueville in this same period. Dumont’s later work, which he collected under the general title Homo aequalis, focused on the rise of the modern West out of Christianity, the development of individualist ideology in economic and social thought, and, in his later years, the development of racism and nationalism as a reaction to the process of individualization. The last works focused on Germany, for more than one reason. Dumont spent five years in a German prisoner-of-war camp, during which time he learned Sanskrit and reflected on the German Sonderweg. As he reported in his last book translated into English, German Ideology: From France to Germany and Back (1995), these two apparently unrelated research projects actually nourished each other. In the end they drove him to the conclusion that the rise of
individualism is fraught with dangers, not least of which is a nostalgia for a holistic world we can never return to. Among his other works in English are From Mandeville to Marx (1977) and Essays on Individualism (1986). —ML
ean Malaquais, who died in December at the age of 90, was a French writer of a rare sort. He was, to begin with, not French at all. Born Wladimir Malacki in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1908, Malaquais ran away from home as a teenager and made his way to France, where he worked as a miner, a deck hand, and a vegetable porter in the Les Halles Market of Paris. He also learned French, and by 1938 had written his first novel, Les Javanais, which describes the life of foreign workers in the “Java” lead and silver mines of Provence. This work made its way into the hands of André Gide, who admired its realistic style and epic grandeur, and arranged for its publication in 1939. Leon Trotsky immediately reviewed it, favorably, which helped it win the prestigious Prix Renaudot. Malaquais received news of the prize while serving on the Maginot Line in 1939, the beginning of a war that would change his own destiny. He eventually made his way to the free zone in the south of France, where he befriended a number of important émigrés, among them Heinrich Mann and Walter Benjamin. With the help of one of the unsung heroes of that period, Varian Fry, Malaquais eventually got to Venezuela and Mexico where he spent the war years writing his extraordinary journals, which appeared immediately in English as War Diary (1944) but could not be published in Vichy France. Malaquais spent the rest of his life writing in semi-oblivion, living for a while in the United States, where he befriended Norman Mailer, who wrote a preface for his novel The Joker. Mailer wrote that Malaquais “had more influence upon my mind than anyone I ever knew from the time we had gotten well acquainted” and held him up as the example of the devoted writer. “How many friends can
one count on to set examples for a life?” he asked. Malaquais never attracted such devotees in France, though that may change. In the last five years of his life Les Javanais was republished to much acclaim, followed by his war journals. There are now plans to reissue the rest of his long-neglected works. thought (the unorthodox Gramsci’s, above all) with the liberalism of the movement Giustizia e Libertà (see page 7, “The Two Italies”); nor did he ever neglect staunchly Catholic writers, though his Catholics were invariably Communist or left-wing. Launched with a volume on America’s New Deal, the Einaudi list included the first publication in the West (1957) of the USSRbanned Doctor Zhivago as well as Khrushchev’s speeches (1964); its socialscience titles in psychoanalysis and ethnography in particular belie the charges of rigid adherence to Italian Communist Party dictates. The vast and commercially successful Storia d’Italia Einaudi launched in the 1970s typifies its period’s mingling of a class-oriented materialist approach with a fashionably French-influenced stress on “total” social history and mentalités: it must, says one critic, be the only multi-volume social history that barely mentions the family, health, or the spread of welfare provisions, and that only gradually takes up Italy’s transformation over the past century. In recent years, despite its takeover, the house has seemed to meet harsh new market demands with a balance of old strengths and fine new writers. Last year’s publication of the Letters from Youth by labor historian Vittorio Foa attested above all to Giulio Einaudi’s political and personal fidelity. Though published by Einaudi only from the 1970s on, Foa had been arrested with him in 1943, and these letters from youth, which were, more importantly, letters from prison, contained passages police censorship had made illegible since their delivery. In an act of “necessary reparation,” Einaudi had police labs restore them through new forensic technology. While the Einaudi catalog of over five thousand titles will doubtless take on important new titles, its glory is decidedly linked to a former era, one of progressive aesthetics as well as politics—when its elegantly whiteclad, strikingly illustrated, durable paperback volumes, paragons of postwar design, symbolized a fresh beginning for Italy, a newly European stature, a national coming of age. —DJ
oday’s international vogue for live audience-vote poetry contests was partially inspired by the birth of the poetry “slam” in the 1980—to be exact, at the NYorican Café, on New York’s Lower East Side. Evoking aggressive collisions, early “slams” were neo-Beat, yet also contemporary with the psychoagons of daytime talk-shows; now, even a Dutch poetry festival announces its slam sections in the TLS. This April a National Public Radio reporter visited the NYorican Café to cover a much different poetry contest. True to its roots, the café hosted the decima competition of young U.S. Puerto Ricans. Thriving in Latin America, decima concursos are held across Puerto Rico every weekend. The island champion flown in to judge this meagerly attended, fledgling New York version claimed to have performed before an audience of 100,000. The decima is a venerable form from medieval Spain. Its ten lines each contain eight syllables, in a rhyme scheme of abbaaccddc. Backed now by a fourpiece band, the trovador improvises toward a final, “forced” line, the pie forzado, assigned, and usually composed, by the judge, who hands it to the contestant on a folded slip of paper and deducts points for “sloppy rhymes (including repetitions) or thematic blur.” Solemn or humorous, the form requires a skill often ignored in the more eclectic “slams,” where ‘attitude’ is nearly all, and any improvisation is at most thematic. Perhaps, like rap lyricists, young Hispanics will soon be rhyming aloud in public—to master a form whose closest analogue may be those mandarin fugue improvisations organists rarely attempt still on sightunseen themes one of their guild devises for the occasion. Bungling, says one contestant, “feels like you’ve killed someone.” But U.S. proficiency still varies widely in this difficult genre. Decima judge Arturo Santiago hides his art in wistfully concluding: “It’s something that comes out of you. And you lose it; it goes in the air.... Nobody s writes it down.” —DJ
iulio Einaudi, one of the major Italian publishers of this century, died on April 5 at the age of 87. From its founding in 1933 his house, Giulio Einaudi Editore, combined remarkable literary talent with a vanguard of political, social, and scientific analysis. The catalog came to include many modern classics, by political theorists Antonio Gramsci and Norberto Bobbio and authors Cesare Pavese, Carlo Levi, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Eugenio Montale, Natalia Ginzburg, Primo Levi, Leonardo Sciascia, and Italo Calvino. Einaudi “deprovincialized” a still relatively backwater culture at its potentially most insular moment; through what Pavese termed “the decade of translations,” the house offered Italians contact with a foreign literary modernism whose liberties native writers under Fascism could themselves scarcely take with impunity. As Bobbio recently said, Einaudi Editore was “the house of antifascism,” all its founders directly active in the Resistance, most—Giulio among them—imprisoned, and at least one murdered, for their political beliefs. Given their heroic origins, Einaudi books could not help but lose much of their aura well before their publisher’s physical death—particularly in 1994, when the “princely,” utterly costunconscious founder was forced into full merger with Mondadori, a vast holding in the media empire of future right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In the wake of 1989 Giulio, son of liberal economist Luigi Einaudi, Italy’s President from 1947 to 1955, was accused of longtime Communist “sectarianism,” of having “forced” a Left hegemony on Italian culture. His defenders, Bobbio among them, point out that in fact he remained loyal to his father’s economic liberalism, “wedding” Italian communist political
n Mexico, the modern tradition of high literary magazines was dominated for many years by Octavio Paz, the surrealist poet and Nobel-Prize winner, who published a series of journals devoted to avant-garde literature and liberal politics. Paz died in the spring of 1998 and his long-time colleague, the historian Enrique Krauze, bought up the shares of the last of those journals, called Vuelta, and closed its offices down. Krauze is a powerful figure in the intellectual life of Mexico—a writer of major histories of Mexico, a successful book publisher, and the producer and narrator of a series of popular and serious television documentaries on Mexican history. Now Krauze has come out with a successor magazine to Vuelta, which he has called Letras Libres [Free Letters]. Judging from the first issues, the new magazine will retain something of Paz’s devotion to the literary avant garde—as can be seen in, among other items, a skillful essay by Mario Vargas Llosa on André Breton. Krauze is not a poet, though, and certainly not any kind of surrealist. His style as historian is lucid and liberal—a style strongly allergic to the mythologizing that has characterized so much of Latin American historical writing in recent years. Letras Libres, in its first issues, has mostly reflected the editor’s traits. The texture
of the magazine is shown by Krauze’s own essay in the debut issue—a long, scholarly analysis of Samuel Ruíz, the Catholic bishop of Chiapas in southern Mexico. As Krauze demonstrates, Bishop Ruíz is a formidable and influential figure, a theologically-sophisticated man from a right-wing background who evolved many years ago into a charismatic champion of a decidedly leftwing liberation theology. Ruíz’s diocesal activities have played a significant role in fostering a religious spirit of left-wing rebelliousness among the Indians of Chiapas, and the rebellious spirit eventually merged with other political currents to generate the Zapatista guerrilla rebellion beginning in 1994. Krauze’s account of Bishop Ruíz’s intellectual evolution and of his place in some extremely old Catholic traditions in Mexico is admirably clear—surely the most reliable guide yet written to the Catholic dimension of the troubles in Chiapas. Krauze’s liberal ideas, his prestige as Paz’s successor, his magazine’s commitment to high literature, and his success at giving the magazine a lively design and appealing graphics, have already made Letras Libres a cultural event of the first order in Mexican life. The intellectual scene in Mexico City seems to be continually abuzz with exciting or at least amusing rumors about the magazine—the rise to power of this or that writer within the magazine, the fall of
someone else, a lurch to the political right or to the left. The rumors attest to how much excitement the magazine has generated. But will Letras Libres be able to establish an influence over the intellectual and literary public in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world? Will it mark a significant extension of the liberal intellectual resurgence in Latin America, perhaps even in Spain? That is difficult to know. The literary aspect of Letras Libres has been cosmopolitan, with contributions from a variety of non-Mexican writers, including Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, the late Reinaldo Arenas, and others. Letras Libres will, in addition, bring out in Spanish a number of articles that originally appeared in the New York Review of Books. Already it has published one by Alma Guillermoprieto. So far, though, the historical writing in Letras Libres—a series of essays on Chiapas and the Zapatistas in the first issue, excerpts from diaries of leading Mexicans in the second issue— has focused rather parochially on Mexico. That is not a flaw. The Mexican focus may reduce the magazine’s international influence, though. In any case, Letras Libres has already shown itself to be a journal of a high literary and intels lectual rank. —Paul Berman Anyone wishing to contact Letras Libres can E-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bylines in this Issue
Michael Becker directs several programs at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in Germany. Daniel Bell, emeritus professor of sociology at Harvard University, is scholar-in-residence at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Paul Berman is a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. Rémi Brague is professor of philosophy at the Université Paris-I. Christian Caryl is the Moscow Bureau Chief of U.S. News and World Report. Daniel Gordon is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Anthony Grafton is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University. David Jacobson is a translator and critic in New York. Stathis Kalyvas is professor of politics at New York University. Mark Lilla teaches political theory at New York University. Darrin McMahon is a Mellon Fellow in History at the Society of Fellows, Columbia University. Ryuichiro Matsubara is associate professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo. Skúli Sigurdsson, an historian of science, is writing a book on the history of the electrification of Iceland. Masayuki Tadokoro is professor of international relations at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Japan. Sam Tanenhaus is author of Whittaker Chambers: A Biography. Gadi Taub is co-editor of the Israeli literary journal Mikrov. Nadia Urbinati is assistant professor in political theory at Columbia University. Kiyokazu Washida is professor of philosophy in the Graduate School of Literature at Osaka University. Sean Wilentz is director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton University. Masakazu Yamazaki is artistic director of the Hyogo Prefecture Theatre in Kobe. Since our report on Pierre Bourdieu in Issue 3, we discovered that the author’s On Television and Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market have now been published by the New Press.
A Report to Our Readers
THE COMMITTEE ON INTELLECTUAL CORRESPONDENCE
is an international project sponsored by the Suntory Foundation (Japan), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A Report to Our Readers
With this issue the Newsletter of the Committee on Intellectual Correspondence acquires a new title. When the Committee was formed in 1997 by representatives of the Suntory Foundation, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, our aspiration was somewhat grand. As we wrote in the first issue, “we wish to contribute, if possible, to the renaissance of a cultural milieu where intellectuals and serious teachers and writers, as well as curious scientists and public figures, can learn about the cultural and intellectual issues of other countries.” But since our means were limited the decision was made to begin slowly with a project that would be of immediate use to those interested in intellectual life abroad. Our first project was to produce a low-budget newsletter that would report on recent intellectual debates taking place in international publications, while giving our readers enough references to find the original articles or books in question. The publication would be edited cooperatively in three countries, appear twice a year, and be distributed free-of-charge to leading figures in intellectual and cultural life in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Yet under the editorship of Daniel Bell, the Newsletter immediately became a more substantial and (in our view) more handsome publication, appearing as a forty-odd page, type-set review. The reaction of our readers and the international press has been so overwhelming that it was felt the publication’s title should more accurately reflect what it had become. And so we present Correspondence: An International Review of Culture and Society. The review will still appear twice yearly and continue to cover developments in Western Europe, the U.S., and Japan, though we hope soon to be in a position to bring news from Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. We are also planning to develop special sections on important themes, such as the symposium on history in the current issue. Among the themes we hope to cover soon are religion and educational policy. We would like to think we are succeeding in our efforts and are encouraged to learn that others think so, too. The German weekly newspaper Die Zeit (March 11, 1999) recently devoted an enthusiastic article to the review which led to over five hundred inquiries to our offices from German readers alone. Keeping in mind that vanity goeth before the fall, we have decided to share with you what Die Zeit had to say: Usually anything we receive marked “newsletter” is some institution’s dreary sheet of random information—anything but news of actual interest to an outsider. Here is something completely different: the Newsletter of the Committee on Intellectual Correspondence comes out twice a year and there’s hardly a dull moment in its packed forty-eight pages. This English-language publication manages quite charmingly to ignore standard modern layout expectations—there are a few Grandville illustrations, and as much text as possible—a boon for readers, and particularly those readers who grieve that they can’t read everything. The Newsletter presents news of what used to be called “intellectual life.” The team scours periodicals, academic literature and belles lettres from the world over, to inform its readership of the latest developments in clear, comprehensible language. Today, everyone bandies about the term “globalization,” but who really knows what’s on their neighbors’ mind? Daniel Bell writes: “Our intention was to overcome the cultural parochialism that has walled off many countries from one another, and the specializations that have created hermetic discourses which isolate the disciplines “ In this particular issue, the subjects include the future of the publishing industry after digitalization, English culture policy after Blair, news of the Italian book trade, Pierre Bourdieu’s radicalization, Latin-American novels after Magical Realism, the German cult of Hannah Arendt, the end of egalitarianism in postrecession Japan. The delight of the Newsletter is the sense this has all been shaken together and tossed over its pages like some marvelous surprise packet. We hope you share in that delight. s — ML
Daniel Bell Wolf Lepenies Masakazu Yamazaki
Michael Becker Masayuki Tadokoro
Glenna Lang U.S. Address:
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The Committee on Intellectual Correspondence acknowledges with gratitude the financial support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan.