Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Methodological questions

1. Epistemological clarification of the terms Nationalism and Patriotism

2. Reporting current trends

3. Current debates - differences between memory, imagination and narrative

4. Methodological questions


The key question of this EU Youth Project 'Nation and Identity' has been whether or not Patriotism is an alternative to Nationalism. For this purpose a first discussion took place in Kreisau, Poland, in order to formulate a questionnaire consisting of both closed and open questions. The idea was to go out and to conduct interviews with the aim to find out what are nowadays dispositions amongst the youth towards Nationalism. The answers obtained should allow further reflections about the main question, namely if Patriotism can be considered as a viable alternative to Nationalism? Therefore an epistemological clarification of Nationalism and Patriotism as terms in use is needed. This is to ensure that the evaluation of the results of the interviews allows for the drawing of some valid conclusions. The evaluation shall be done during the second meeting in Padua, June 11 - 17, 2012

1. Epistemological clarification of the terms Patriotism and nationalism


Given the prime question, if Patriotism is a viable alternative to Nationalism, there can be added following questions to further an epistemological clarification of the terms 'Nationalism' and 'Patriotism': What is Nationalism? What is Patriotism?

Is there any difference between these two concepts? If there does exist a difference, how does this become evident when it comes to holding together society? Are societies held together by more than mere symbols? And what about an outer enemy to hold together a society by highly doubtful, equally artificial means with fear being perhaps the biggest factor in use and which can easily lead to the identification of a supposing inner enemy who opposes as well this type of unification? The latter was the case when Bismarck started wars to unify Germany in 1871.

In contemporary terms, there needs to be established what happens in societies in crisis and as a result of this the political forces being highly fragmented? Since that can lead to a highly polarized society which leads in turn to still harder conflicts, if not even civil war, then what symbols and arguments is being resorted to, in order to attain not just unity but sufficient social cohesion to allow a workable form of governance?

For instance, Greece went through a terrible civil war 1945-48 while in 2012 the recession due to austerity measures has resulted in an increasing fragmentation of the political scene with many more parties entering Parliament. At the same time, this situation seems to be heading towards a still greater polarization between the Extreme Left and Right. In such a situation, appeals to Patriotism are made, but what does it mean in face of a rising threat by a return to an Extreme Nationalism?

What is Nationalism? What is Patriotism?

One observation can be made right at the start. For the current situation in Europe can be characterized as follows: there seems to be taking place a revival of Nationalism, with some countries like Hungary more extreme than in other EU member states; at the same time Greek and other politicians in times of austerity measures call upon 'Patriotism' to appeal to the citizens to accept the necessary sacrifices linked to the need to consolidate state budgets.

Once Patriotism entails an appeal to an electorate to vote for not only a party, but beyond to opt only for certain options linked to Europe but still only a national expression of interest (for example: the staying or not within the Euro-zone or else in even more drastic terms exiting from the European Union altogether), then a complicated and complex interconnectivity is being hinted at, but without the necessary awareness, so that an over simplification of choices is being evoked and maybe a much more subtle and powerful mechanism hidden, in order to safeguard certain interests. That all needs further understanding as to what any voter faces in the modern age of the 21st century with Europe going through a recession. It means a need to rebound from a period of extreme egoism with parties having dropped the question of social justice while following practically where money seems to go the easiest way. The rebound, or better the repercussion of alone the real estate bubble bursting is enormous, but also not clear what else is entailed aside from letting once again the 'budget have the word' (Schumpeter). In Greece, appeal to Patriotism is linked as to what are deemed as needed austerity measures. Although unbearable for many people, it is linked by political and governmental agreement to the commitments made on behalf of the Greek state with the Troika, in order to safeguard the banking system and thereby the solvency of the Greek state. That agreement is spelled out by the two Memorandums of Understanding (2010 and 2011). But while protest against that Memorandum took the form of street demonstrations, assemblies and strikes, there was brought about equally an over-identification with national interests. It expressed itself in the wish to return to the Drachmen as if a solution to the economic crisis caused by lack of competitiveness but also lack of sovereignty in financial and economic policy after having joined the European Union and the Euro-zone. Consequently this fostered an ever extreme expression of Nationalism made possible by calling the crisis to be a matter of 'sovereign debt' i.e. the sole responsibility of Greece alone.

In curtailing and restricting the crisis under such a term, the national interest in self assertive principles was strengthened, and resulted in the emergence of Chrysi Avgi , a neo Fascist party which gained 18 seats in the Greek parliament after the June 17th 2012 election. Consequently current developments suggest a similarity between Nationalism and Paternalism with the sole difference that the latter helps to mask the more extreme elements of the former, and which is often looked upon with disdain after all what Europe went through before and during Second World War. In other words, both terms are used within the wider political spectrum to call for a standing up to the interest of the nation and not Europe as a whole.

It means that Europe is being reduced altogether to that of a nation state model. For the crisis has brought to the fore not only the fact that the European Parliament has no voice, but that national political leaders like Chancellor Merkel from Germany come to dominate. This is due to the final decisions within Europe resting upon the Council of Ministers, and in the final resort upon its primarily elected political leaders. And even this has been set aside due to austerity times in favour of technocratic solutions as the case with Papademos in Greece and Monti in Italy. Consequently the political use of both concepts, namely 'nationalism' and 'patriotism', requires in these confusing times further clarification.

The difference between personal and collective identity

Of interest is as well with what other concepts can be explained the link between personal and collective identity? And where does the quest for personal identity end and where does the collective one begin? In looking at the football crowds watching the Euro-Games of 2012 one is reminded how it was deemed as a break-through when Germans displayed openly their patriotic feelings for the German team, as if this show of Nationalism was no longer deemed as alarming, but as coming into maturity. For long any sign of Nationalism was taken as a dangerous sign of development.

This sense of becoming alarmed at the rise of Nationalism in Germany is captured by the cartoon drawn by the participants from Heidelberg at the Kreisau meeting in February 2012; it indicates that appraising the phenomenon is still a matter of keeping a sense of proportion.

German alarm system - drawing by participants in Kreisau, Feb. 2012

Such an alarm and alert system is linked to several steps Germany undertook after Second World War ended in 1945, one of which being a law prohibiting the denial of the Holocaust. Linked to a culture of remembrance, the psychoanalyst Mitscherlich would state trust in not only other people but in oneself could only be regained, if Germans went through a period of mourning. To acknowledge the loss of humanity was but one of the many steps in need to be taken to bring about redemption between the past and the present. The Holocaust monument in Berlin does signify what it means to be lost amidst a labyrinth of darkness and terror, once human dignity is no longer respected by forces which have gone out of control and which are beyond any human accountability.

For this reason, Nationalism is considered in Germany mainly as a most negative concept even though recent showing of collective identification with the notion of a nation is deemed as a healthy sign of recovery. Still, it poses the question of the role of Germany within Europe and what European integration means if member states resort to all kinds of Nationalism, in order to retain their own and indeed national identities?

Methodologically speaking, a distinction needs to be made when people say they are British, French or Greek, and when proponents of an extreme form of Nationalism use all sorts of slogans and rallying cries to distort perception of reality for the sake of just one subject mattering, namely the 'nation'. As pointed out by the poetess Katerina Anghelaki Rooke, it is at times very difficult to say one is Greek and not to be misunderstood as being a Nationalist!


When attempting to explain Nationalism, reference is made to 'primordial' and 'ethnology-symbolic' paradigms which influence, shape or even determine the perception of the relationship between identity and nation. This can lead to such terms as 'horde', 'tribe' being held together by instincts rather than by rational ideas.

In the case of a rational formation of society, it can be considered to become a 'community of man', provided 'rational politics' is not again perverted. Too often this Left Wing notion has brought about not international solidarity, but still another kind of Nationalism in disguise. Here left wing rhetoric have even reduced this notion of 'Right to access to Community' (Ernst Bloch) to Nationalization of major branches of the industry as if this would be the best way to safeguard 'national interests'. It misinterprets the notion that every individual should be free to enter the community.

A mild form of such a human aspiration seems to be entailed in the objective of the European Union when claiming to strive for 'smart, inclusive and sustainable development' in its EU 2020 vision. In practice the European Union is far from following through with inclusive practices as 'insiders' define and shape the redistribution of the resources with citizens remaining outside most of the time of both the decision process and the funding procedure. Even worse, the European Union has contributed through its explicit recognition of the role of the member states to a re-nationalization of its programmes.

i. The puzzle as to what holds societies together

To explore this phenomenon, it is possible to go back in literature and science to see when concepts were developed to explain how society is held together. The first ethnological explanations resorting to such terms as 'horde' or 'tribe' were already mentioned. Of interest is how members of such societies would recognize each other as being distinct from others.

There is anyhow a puzzle in man's history on how human beings ended up with different languages, customs and values. Not all can be explained by referring to 'Adam and Eve' as does Christianity. Human and cultural diversity has brought about many attempts to form multi-national states, Robert Payne in his description of Ancient Greece mentions here the short lived empire under Alexander the Great, for the moment he died, so his effort to unite within his armies different nationalities fell apart again. And it was always predicted that the problems of Communism as long as this existed in the form of the Soviet Union were linked to the unresolved question of Nationalities wishing to be free from an overall ideology so as to be able to articulate their own cultures in freedom. The break-up of former Yugoslavia had similar consequences as Czech and Slovakia did not stay together.

It all seems as if there is a strive towards one nation, one state even though this contradicts in many cases the cultural plurality within cities.

Of interest is here as well what the Polish Journalist Kapuscinski mentions with regards to the Armenian culture. It had to exist for centuries without having a state of its own. To keep its culture together books were cut in half and both parts send to different locations in the world in the expectation that when re-united, it would mean the culture could exist again as a whole.

ii. Identity of a nation despite of mass society and as historical outcome of unity of diversity

What amazes even more is how national identities were created - today one would speak about 'branding' - in a time when society was threatening to become 'soul less' due to a combination of urbanization and industrialization. Vincent Van Gogh would not go as far as Marx and describe these people as being over alienated, for they would according to the painter still retain in their souls 'good old stories' as to who they were i.e. people with some notion of identity and therefore knowledge who they were in terms as to where they came from. Still, if Nationalism means to give identity where there is none in real life, but still is more than a mere fiction, then it must be based on some real assumptions, even they turn out to be in the end mere legends and myths.

When looking at Italy and Germany, but also Greece, then surely Nationalism in its modern form was brought about as a political alternative to both suppression and city states. It was at the same time a strive to make a territorial claim linked to a modern definition of Sovereignty. In Greece, it meant throwing off the yoke of 400 years of Ottoman rule, while in Italy and Germany the nation state was designed to overcome the restrictions of smaller units or feudal entities with each of them having their own kings and courts e.g. Bavaria. Prussia used the national coat to mask its ambitions for real power in need of, in order to compete with France and England.

Of interest is that Nationalism in the United Kingdom came about already in the sixteenth century and was primarily understood to be an emancipation from the tutelage of the Pope in Rome. Its secular nature came to the fore when there was granted a Charter of Rights which gave common citizens a say in the practical affairs of politics while still retaining a 'continuity of identity' by keeping the tradition of the crown.

The United Kingdom does make explicit a special kind of Nationalism based on 'Britishness'. This identity linked to a certain attitude is upheld in the knowledge that its value consensus is based on an unwritten constitution. A sovereignty based on verbal agreement makes case law as ongoing interpretation mandatory but demands at the same time that a common agreement is made, in order to safeguard national identity by tradition. That includes all the pomp and glory i.e. heavy symbolism linking both state and church to the crown as formal head of both. Whether or not this fulfils the idea behind the need for securalization to safeguard the freedom of the individual, can be doubted. Without a clear separation, there cannot be brought about freedom from institutional coercion to serve but one single interest. Interestingly enough, Bataille mentioned that heterogeneous societies tend to take recourse to royal symbols so that a fake unity can be upheld, but this is only prior to falling completely victim to more extreme forms of Nationalism, Fascism but just one brand thereof. For racism can take on various forms, and includes highly selective principles which can evoke snobbishness and assertion of cultural superiority precisely by staying independent.

What Bataille's thesis touches upon, that was taken up by Martin Jay in his discussion about which totalitarian theories evolved and then de-constructed themselves in the twentieth century. Changes in the perception of the whole happened. It reflected what Adorno expressed as refutation of Hegel, namely that the whole is no longer the truth. It was in effect a response to the huge failures of totalitarianism as demonstrated by both Hitler and Stalin. The theoretical disputes resonated, however, the old Kantian question about the unity of apperception, or how can political unity be achieved? Diversity is for sure not the same as heterogeneity or what is otherwise described best as a fragmented political landscape which does throw society into crisis. Overcoming it by means of a new social contract to ensure governance can be understood as another way of posing the same question, namely what holds societies together, if this is to be differently from the past. Then a common enemy was evoked to frighten everyone into obedience. For that enemy who supposedly threatens from outside allows the power elite within society now organized under strictly national terms to suppress everyone else within that society and to brand anyone opposing as traitor?

Different political theories should, therefore, be examined, so that the political concepts behind these tendencies can be grasped. There is a need to identify how laws for making possible governance are conceived in reality. For instance, H. Schmidt, when still chancellor of Germany, stated that national parliaments are only there to make public decisions which been taken already behind closed doors. To refer to the sovereignty of people as source of legitimacy is under such conditions not only misleading, but highly deceptive, even though reference to them is made over and again. Still, it is to be noted that Chancellor Merkel never makes reference to 'people' in her speeches in order to avoid a certain type of Populism. At the same time, she is like many German politicians only accustomed to refrain her thoughts to a conceptual language which allows a careful safeguarding of national interests. Among the variety of political models, there is one interesting linked becomes to Hume who declared that 'habits' constitute the sovereignty of people, insofar as they rule themselves best by just following these habits. That suits the Conservative world view as it would leave the decision making to the elite, as this exist outside the realm of mere habits and 'boredom' while allowing at the same time for an 'economy of rulership' since not police and other forms of control are needed because the people do these things themselves i.e. out of habit (and which is reinforced by tradition).

iii. Philosophical denials of the masses leading to extreme forms of Nationalism

Since mass society coincided with the coming of the nation state and industrialization, of interest is that societal relationships were increasingly defined in a functional way, or even negatively by philosophers.

For instance, Heidegger claimed in his major work 'Time and Being', published 1929, that people were part of the masses which never assume any responsibility for what they are doing. As proof for his claim he cited their habit of saying 'one does these things' instead of 'I have done it'. Heidegger concluded out of this that masses are passive but given the need for innovation in order that society advances, there is a need for a leader instead. It must be a leader willing to undertake the risks and therefore he should be granted according to Heidegger extra Rights to make these kinds of mistakes which go with any attempt at innovation. It was his direct endorsement of Hitler.

If societal relationships are taken in such a way that they seem to endorse a common practice, and this in the belief that it would allow the collective to survive in a certain way, then Nationalism would stand for common assumptions and values expressed through language and customs as if a manifestation of common interests. Certainly the beginnings of Fascism are linked to attempts to revive Germanic myths while becoming at the same time a force able to coerce everyone into being the same i.e. a member of the superior race. It led to the absurd need to take on a pure identity as opposed to a mixture of cultures and people.

Clearly this extreme form of Nationalism can be understood as a reaction against a society threatening to become too diverse and complex. Already Hegel had defined in his Philosophy of Law the Jew as a cosmopolitan who would not give his allegiance to the state. Furthermore, Hegel granted only to someone having property as having 'identity'. It meant all those without private property were deprived of having an identity, and thus the need for compensation was only conceivable by an 'over identification' with the state. Moreover, Hegel prepared the way to the nation state by making sure each individual would first assume the identity with the state and become a German before allowing him- or herself to be addressed at the level where personal identity would be conceivable. Again he made sure that everyone needed to give such a concept to the 'own' identity as to be recognizable by the state. Necessarily so it meant that everyone would have to destroy their own personal identity by giving the reason to exist solely to the conceptual I linked to the state. That meant Hegel ensured through his 'negation of the negation' that every individual growing up would negate both differences and otherness so as to prevent other but the national, equal abstract identity with the state being formed.

National identity allows in a legitimate way the type of governance which can ease the pain of having to deliberate between different interests. At the same time, it would distinguish itself from the other and thus risk the creation of enemy pictures. This was all the more the case when the German nation was formed by Bismarck by applying the 'List der Vernunft' or the cleverness of reason. For instance, he incited war to force Bavaria to join the ranks under Prussian rule. This means a common threat is used to unify internally the otherwise fractious interest groups and in so doing does lend a high degree of artificiality to what is otherwise claimed to be in the best interest of all, namely to uphold the nation state. A closer look at such a kind of bondage will reveal it lacks any common sense and even if Christianity was used to fill in addition to the military bondage the spiritual gap, the fact that priests would bless the weapons of war on both sides indicates what was a fallacy when there was a call to make sacrifices for the fatherland.

iv. Denial of the other for the sake of mass conformity – the case of National Socialism

Repeatedly in history this ending of deliberation coincides with running out of patience with the others. Going to war signals such an end of patience. Whatever the reasons for First World War, Thomas Mann remarks in 'Magic Mountain' that it was as well out of boredom insofar as war was perceived wrongly so at first to be a welcome adventure i.e. distraction from boring life spend behind a desk. Something had prevented people from coming together despite the film 'Jules and Jim' showing how a German and French student could study together but then ended up fighting each other from within the confines to which this national call for arms had led to.

The betrayal of the Social Democrats in Germany was here exceptional. Rather than uphold their international commitments, they allowed themselves to be corned into voting for the crucial war credits in 1914 and which made possible Germany's entry into war. They were afraid to be called 'traitors', but in fact they betrayed their true dreams of human solidarity. It had been an aspiration to form an international community of man regardless of race, religion, gender. Like many failures thereafter, it manifested a huge failure to dismantle borders. Instead borders were erected but also trespassed even though most of the time during First World War, it meant the armies were literally entrenched and neither side could hardly bring about a decisive victory. This contradiction of fighting each other despite having experienced common friendship prompted most likely Michel Foucault to state "that one speaks only with the other when no victory is necessary!"

Between the two World Wars, there came about another development. Jean Pierre Faye showed in his analysis of 'Totalitarian Languages' that people no longer wanted to listen to politicians. They no longer wanted to hear speeches, but see some actions or 'Taten' (deeds).

Yet there is the famous question in Shakespeare's Hamlet: "should you suit the action to the words or the words to the action?" By favouring only actions, this other dimension of reflecting in language what one is doing, would be blended out completely. It may explain why so many terrible things could take place as there seemed no way to stop those blind actions which lead on to the Holocaust and to the extermination of 6 million Jews.

Under National Socialism things were only conceivable, if falling into place. Everyone had to follow a command language which silenced everything else (see here the description by Peter Weiss in 'Aesthetics of Resistance' with his mother falling completely silent as the command language encroached on everything). Out of this blind adaptation to the terrorist rule of Hitler a certain conformist pattern followed. Everyone was coerced into the same pattern. They all ended up not only wearing the same uniform (Mitochondrial describes this mass phenomenon) but admiring ever more so the wearing of the uniform, as if standing out from a life not possible, if not ordered. Women would not conceive a man to be a fully mature man, if not in uniform! Deep down they were ensured his obedience for otherwise they could deliver him to the front. That coercion and threat ensured blind obedience and a kind of discipline which is hard to imagine afterwards on how it could grip so many people. Whether now Rommel who served first Hitler and then was executed for questioning this kind of leadership but way too late or else Jürgen Stroop able to liquidate the Jewish Ghetto in Warszawa by being trained by experts to execute an action which hardly left traces (e.g. it was forbidden of anyone to take photos), it brought about such an absurd order that everyone followed for lack of alternative. And many did so at first in the naive belief this could make the state strong enough to ward off threats to survival.

v. Threat to survival and national pride

Threat to survival is often linked with 'national pride'. However, as Brendan Kennelly would put it, a perceived threat differs very much from being challenged in one's own wrong assumptions. By taking everything as a threat to one's identity which the other(s) supposed to accept without any further question, Nationalism is bound to mistake cultural developments leading to a questioning of everything for a threat. It has then terrible consequences.

In the case of Germany, it is said that National Socialism and Hitler rose to power also as a reaction to the Versailles Treaty. The latter forced Germany to pay for all the losses others had suffered during First World War and it prohibited Germany from re-arming. Nationalism fed on this resentment against both stipulations. Thus Nationalism was a simple assertion with the intention to break that treaty on both accounts, namely not to pay any more and to re-arm. Hitler did both in defiance of the international world and thus acquired power due to not being challenged in time so as to prevent the escalation of this re-armament into a full scale Second World War.

However, there was as well an internal threat. It was perceived by those who could not come to terms with the modern art movement. They took the abstract art of Paul Lee and others to threaten the creative power of the common people: 'Volk'. Little or not at all was understood that abstract art came about as a result of First World War. As Paul Klee explained, once the sense of beauty has been destroyed by war, any memory thereof of having experienced beauty before that time would make by necessity any expression thereof 'abstract'.

Of interest is that a similar kind of resentment movement has emerged, for example, in Greece, and this in direct response to the Memorandums of Understanding signed respectively in 2010 and 2011. Many Greeks feel the terms have been unfairly dictated and imposed in an one sided fashion by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and particular governments like the German one under Berkeley. The protest movements started with showing 'indignation' but have after fragmentation of the political scene turned to Extremism on both the Left and Right of the political spectrum. The outcome of the elections on June 17th 2012 indicates that Greece shall be ruled by a coalition government consisting of three parties while coming under extreme pressure from both the Extreme Right or Nationalist forces and from the Extreme Left. Both these extreme forces have nothing else in mind but to break the commitments already made. If that would be the case, then Greece would default almost automatically due to a lack of a viable economic basis for any sensible governance. This possible consequence is, however, often being denounced as 'scare tactic' to keep everyone at bay while in reality it is never possible to know what would have happened if the election outcome would have been different e.g. Syriza forming the government instead of becoming the second largest party but in opposition. On the other hand, the election in June amounted to coming really close when an election could pose the 'system question', and therefore shake everyone out of complacency and corruption. In the end, fear of the unknown prevailed over the need to take a political risk if things are not to continue just in the same way i.e. ever more austerity and little prospect for any immediate solution to all the problems which have contributed to the state deficit and hence to the crisis.

vi. Some ethnological and anthropological dimensions in view of categories used by modern administrations to manage the crisis by combining old and new measures to control

Societal relationships have been explored by Frazer in his book the 'Golden Bough', and which was used by Sigmund Freud when expressing his ideas fore mostly in 'Totem and Tabu'.  e.g. no warrier may smoke the pipe of the chief or a warrior returning from having killed someone in the next village must be treated like a sick person and kept in a hut at the edge of the village. Naturally this includes all marriage rules to prevent not only incest but also conflicts arising out of jealousy and other social forms overlooking the need for societally reproduction capacity.

Later on, Levy Strauss refined use of language by showing how certain ethnic tribes did distinguish between different ways of eating raw and cooked food. Here 'taste' can manifest itself both as practical judgement (Hannah Ardent) and as aesthetical reflection i.e. what is considered to be beautiful, strong, handsome etc.

A deviation from all of this has been Jung who wanted to make out connectivity on the basis of arche types ruling in the subconscious world. His idea of a collective subconsciousness was, however, rejected rightfully so by Freud.

Very different are the types as perceived by Max Weber. He was more reflective of administration categories. His concept of the administration reduced people to the need to follow an established order made up of certain regularities. It would begin with children going to school and not end with every citizen paying his or her taxes at the end of the year.

Once administrative categories underline the reason of existence i.e. as something recognizable for the state, then reference to how national administrations work became a fine tuning of administrative power. Heidegger meant here the clever distinction between what is 'Zuhanden' and what is 'Vorhanden'. While the former exists for the administration since the document has been signed and properly stamped, the latter is something existing only potentially but which has not been recognized as of yet. That is why Brecht would say the passport is everything, the human being itself nothing by comparison. The fatal use of administrative categories is not only their confound nature of being over simplified while still abstract and therefore most difficult to comprehend or to make a sense of.

At the same time, these administrative categories can take on very quickly a discriminatory practice when deciding who is a citizen, who not. That difference in treatment extents itself during conflicts and war to the point that the death of one American citizens counts for the United States government even as a reason to go to war, while the death of 600 children, women and men of a village in Afghanistan or in Iraq does not seem to matter.

There can be asked what does this imply when compared with other types of administrations, especially when it comes to collecting taxes and to secure power? Of interest is here that Hegel differentiated relationships to the state between those who would swear their allegiance to the state and in turn be recognized as citizens of that state, and those who would not. The latter he termed as 'cosmopolitan' who had no allegiance but where also not recognized as world citizens since no such government exists as of yet in the world. The closest this universal sense of being citizen of the world was strived for and nearly realized, was after the French Revolution. For a while thereafter anyone coming to France could become citizen within one year.

Some concluding thoughts about Nationalism

Thus when attempting to explain Nationalism, insofar as reference is made to 'primordial' and 'ethnology-symbolic' paradigms which influence, then all these aspects have to be taken further into consideration. In order to understand what shall shape or even determine both the perception of the relationship between identity and nation and the subsequent political practice, the basic idea of what holds society together needs to be studied further.

Extreme forms of Nationalism can lead to 'ethnic assertiveness' and genocide as was the case during all the tensions within former Yugoslavia. Neither appeal to a common history would hold together Croatia and Serbia nor reference to such rational ideas as all belonging to the 'community of man' could prevent the outbreak of violence.

It seems that the 'community of man' can be extended by the concept of 'human self consciousness' and a 'dialogue between cultures'. Both would be a direct outcome of the language spoken i.e. within which categories everyone would be addressed by the others. Above was merely referred to the power of the administrative language i.e. made up of distinct categories reflecting as to what the state recognizes as having the Right to exist. Interestingly enough Karl Marx pointed out if language is to address the human self-consciousness, the language spoken needs to include categories of both productivity and creativity. The usual separation between work and pleasure i.e. artistic creativity would already prevent everyone from speaking such a language which would allow addressing the other ins his or her human self consciousness.

Nationalism can be interpreted as an outcry and revolt against one sided domination and therefore as an extreme response to a presumed threat not a single but to a collectively assumed entity with which everyone has come to identify with. It is a kind of extreme creativity which excludes everything else. Insofar as it is bent on creating a difference between 'we', the Greeks and the others who do not understand us, this assertion does not allow for any constructive dialogue with the others. It is as Cornelius Castoriadis would say a value which is set and which does not allow for any discussion.


There are many definitions of patriotism, but in most cases it ascribes to a single cause in an effort to evoke emotional loyalty to the state and nation. A patriot is the one who is willing to even sacrifice his own personal life for the sake of the welfare of the nation.

I. Interestingly enough the mother of President Bush praised Powell, then Secretary of State, that he was willing to give up his family for the sake of the nation. This was said at the height of the debate whether or not the world should go to war over Saddam Hussein's refusal to cooperate and to comply to demands of the Western powers. At least, the test was full cooperation and compliance, something only a dead man can give since in real life anyone will deviate from what the other demands. Powell's patriotic nature was praised but it can be perceived equally as the outcome of someone still a 'slave', mentally speaking. The consequence was that he lied to the Security Council and to the whole world. He claimed that he had proof that Hussein was in the possession of weapons of mass destruction, when in fact he had not.

Since that 'public lie' legitimized the going to war with horrific consequences. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives or else where displaced once the invasion in 2003 started to ravage Baghdad and the whole of Iraq. It was a regime change by external forces. Not one word was said in the Western World about the need to ensure a democratic change in power. The latter is based on a peaceful transition i.e. free elections.

No wonder then that Patriotism is perceived by many young people nowadays as the equivalent of Nationalism and therefore an ugly word i.e. something to be rejected as much as Nationalism.

ii. Cultural diversity and various responses to it e.g. the declared death of multi culturalism by Merkel and Sarkozy

Other incidences brought about a change in policy e.g. the bombing of the London tube and the reinforcement of Patriotism through the school system. This stood in contradiction to what had been the decisive factor for London to win the bid for the Olympic Games in 2012, namely to be a city of cultural diversity. Once the bombs had exploded the entire media message went over to the single British characteristic or trait of 'defiance' and was praised repeatedly afterwards as having saved once more the city from this time not Hitler, but terrorism. It wiped out any effort to link cultural diversity with the possibility of everyone having more than just one identity and able to live both otherness and differences in a daily way. It would have meant an urban society as described by Nikos Stavrolakis in his book about Thessaloniki before 1921 when still a city of cultural diversity. Everyone could challenge the other in his way to perceive life even from a religious point of view. A cultural calendar facilitated the mediation between the different streams of society.

Why then Merkel and Sarkozy and many others followed suit? There was a growing alarm about communities with their own laws developing within Western societies. Meant were primarily the Turkish communities but also other ones e.g. the Algerian ones in the suburbs of Paris. No one seemed to comprehend that by politics re-nationalising the playing field, it became an either French or Algiers. Especially after the EU Constitutional Treaty was not ratified in 2005, a boy coming from Algiers could not integrate himself in a cultural space made up of French and European elements. As a matter of fact, this false either/or alternative was advocated as early as 1881 when Richard von Weizsäcker entered a campaign to become mayor of Berlin West with the slogan become either German or get out. It reminded very much as to what Jean Amery accounted when sitting on a park bench in Zurich and reading in the newspaper after Hitler had assumed power in 1933 that he was no longer a German citizen but a Jew. The declassification of the other as citizen had began to gather speed in how hatred of the other could be incited till everything seemed legitimized that the Jews along with others were driven to certain death.

iii. The role of the Patriot as hero of many unsong stories

Painting of French troops entering Lübeck in 1861 hanging in Kreisau Estate, Poland

The hero of many unsung stories reflects how many died a senseless death on battlefields. Most of the times, these senseless losses are silenced not only by war memorials, but also by songs and stories which link a soldier to an imagined patriot. The purpose of these songs and stories is to animate anyone to being ready to serve the nation and, therefore, to be ready to die for the state, the crown or for the freedom of the nation – all abstract entities able to enforce themselves upon the minds of men, women and even children.

iv. Europe and identity politics: current trends

Should one be alarmed about current trends in Europe? The crisis puts nation states into the spotlight. Besides Greece, it is Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and even France when compared to Germany as if the European Union has only sovereign members unwilling to share common economic policy.

One observation can be made about the European project and search for a common European identity. Increasingly so, this tendency has been replaced by a re-nationalisation of European programmes. Thus the European Commission interacts almost exclusively with the Council composed of member states while the European Parliament remains largely sidelined. This has enhanced all the more the huge democratic gap Jürgen Habermas refers to repeatedly, and especially in his criticism of the Lisbon Treaty.

By not allowing entry of citizens into the European and therefore common space, the identity question is reduced to being French or not, but never to be French, German, Greek + European. This questionable practice of posing an either/or demand of anyone means presenting 'false alternatives' according to Habermas. The demand to become either French or stay out of France means in effect no integration perspective is offered in terms of France being a part of a larger whole called Europe and therefore offering a larger than itself cultural self-understanding.

Out of this false alternative results a diversion of interests since it means a return to only national identification possibilities while no citizen can be represented by those elected to the European Parliament. National party slates decide who is elected. In any case, the European Parliament has no real voice in the decision making process. Only formally has been granted to the European Parliament some say in a process called co-decision when it comes especially to budgetary matters.

The European set up does not allow a different composition of people to have voice within the Europe decision making process. There is hardly any European party save the Greens who try to organize themselves at European level, but in reality they fall back as well into the national schemes for selecting their representatives. Hence no party or politician is able to articulate a common interest in Europe nor does there exist a European framework of references. Everything is sanctioned or legitimized by the argument this action cannot be undertaken by one nation state. The rest falls back on what Simon Mundy has named the 'political schizophrenia', namely politicians talking internationally when in Brussels and nationally when back home.

Moreover it should not be forgotten the key formulation of Adorno stating identity has to include non-identity to be true to the thought that the human being is and has to remain undefinable as far as any state and administrative control is concerned. If the constitutional Right is to be taken serious that the basic moral impulse (Habermas) is to regard 'human dignity' as being something 'untouchable', then no person can be coerced into articulating or externalizing his or her human substance. It is precisely a mistake by Nationalists to view 'human beings' as if they can be reduced to national persons with exclusive identification possibilities, so that collective traits become personal characteristics and vice versa. For a long time now universal truths have been abandoned, left out or severely criticizes. In other words, the human being has to reduce himself to a national language, in order to be understood by others. That includes as well a need to demonstrate loyalty not to the crown but to the nation.

v. changes in perception of the identity-state relationship especially amongst the youth

There is this famous saying by the philosopher Ernst Bloch, namely that 'young people can catch very quickly right wing fire'. In saying this, he reflected experiences made with regards to what attitudes the youth adopted in the Weimar Republic and which lead to the rise of Hitler and National Socialism.

Here is of interest as well what the philosopher Gadamer accounted about himself. During a seminar he gave in Heidelberg (1972/73), he narrated that as a student of Heidegger he was intrigued by this philosopher. The main reason was that for the first time he found arguments with which he could literally 'beat' his father. This desire for revolt by the youth can be interpreted according to Freud to a strong desire to overcome the identity conflict between father and super ego, or what would determine in the final end self-consciousness. Historically speaking, many sons were beaten by their fathers into obedience by being offered but two choices: business or the army.

It is of interest that Gadamer did not value the dialogue between generations, but valued much more such arguments by which it was possible to beat the father. Many youth during that time found their fathers to be such overwhelming figures that instead of them giving in to the desires and arguments of their sons, the fathers would, if they no liked what they heard, delegate their sons to the representative of reason, namely the psychiatrist (Michel Foucault). It followed the general line that anyone not willing to obey 'reason' must be sick. As this reflected the nineteenth century dichotomy between insanity and reason, anyone found to be wild, equally untamed was deemed as crazy or even worse a threat to society. For that youth would follow only the imagination and therefore deemed to be immediately out of bounds of society. If not seized immediately and brought under control if not by the police, then by the psychiatrist, there would be the danger that this youth would run out of bounds of not only society, but even Western civilization despite all the faults both have shown over time and in history.

A usual practice was the sedation of many brilliant minds. As was often the case, such treatments were easily transformed into mistreatments. It happened regularly. Often fathers and authorities lash out when the youth starts to challenge their power base, often an authority not to be questioned under any circumstances. Over and beyond that, it would mean not to be able to question those things held as if common knowledge, but which were upon closer look mere assumptions, indeed prejudices and nothing coming anywhere close to being an expression of 'practical wisdom'. Rather what was upheld was a kind of slave-like attitude ready to serve the master. Never was protest recognized as something legitimate. Even Hölderlin was admonished for his outright endorsement of the French Revolution and cautioned to keep his mouth shut, if he was to avoid a similar fate as his friend Sinclair who was arrested and imprisoned for having failed to show 'political correctness'. and everything is reduced to being a mere psychological and social problem i.e. father-son relationship.

Of course, the willingness and the capacity to challenge authorities is limited at all times, since there are powerful mechanisms which can be easily set into motion to restore order. Alone the deification of professors meant that universities were more corrosive when it came to allow challenges of false truths. In the Weimar Republic they faltered once Jewish scientists and professors were ousted and many other critical intellectuals silenced by delegating them to do street cleaning jobs rather than doing research in institutes with possibilities to publish their findings.

Rather than strengthening conviction in democracy, a coalition of negative interests (Gramsci defined it as the 'hegemony of interest') can promote especially in critical times a process of decadence. True knowledge linked to human self-understanding is then replaced by pseudo-or 'smart'-knowledge. The latter replaces real questioning of things according to principles of honesty and truth while it claims legitimacy alone on the basis of what works within the system.

Interestingly enough some of these doubts were echoed in the Kreisau Circle. Its members were according to reports by Freya von Moltke most concerned about the state of affairs at universities. Crucial for upholding democracy in education and in passing on such values standing for honesty and independence (as exemplified by those doing their dissertations under the assumption that they did so independently from any other person) would be following value premises:

Recruitment and socialization – what is the difference

Youth organizations of all kinds but to what extent to they facilitate that important socialization without being a part of how the system reproduces itself by going to a special school which educates already the elite of tomorrow.

There are other ways to trap the youth for not a future or a life tomorrow, but to safeguard the interests of those who have already lived most of their lives and want to be recognized in what they think is right and wrong.

Generation logic – dialogue between generations

This transmission of human values from one generation to the next is crucial but must allow for differences in how the future is perceived by those who have more potentials to realize something and made less mistakes until now.

Michael D. Higgins is of the opinion that the family must be questioned as it is a source of fear (see in: Causes for concern)

Bart Verschaffel’s statement at the opening of the Kids' Guernica conference in Gent. Feb. 2011 adds another dimension as to how memories are to be passed on from generation to generation, namely without coercion or by pressing upon children and youth the moral scheme adults have. For that moral scheme is too often reduced to a 'black-white' extreme due to adults having lost not only their imagination (Picasso), but also their moral integrity. Too often they have compromised humanity for the sake of mere survival within the given structures of society, and thus abandoned a real relationship to other people.

How to judge events in streets?

vi. how to counter propaganda and other forms of indoctrination

From Goebbels to modern advertisement and use of film to sell images and symbols, there is always at risk that open communication is rendered useless, and instead direct and indirect propaganda methods take over. Alarming is what Bob Palmer calls the increase of 'spin doctor' similar reports issued by European Capitals of Culture when claiming success rather than skipping over what was left out. They should devote after all resources to ensure a learning process out of failures is made possible so that the following cities being designated the title have a chance to realize a substantial cultural development.

Alarming is as well that Wim Wenders stated at a conference organized by 'Soul of Europe' in Berlin December 2011 that Europe needs propaganda techniques in a positive sense, if its images are to be sold abroad.

There is the example of Günter Grass and his entry into the SS, since that means he succumbed at the age of 18 to the propaganda methods of the Third Reich. He believed through the film showing Hitler's end vision this would be the best way to escape the confines of his parents' home. Over and again this characteristic revolt against narrow confines can be noticed in especially young persons aspiring to go beyond what their parents have managed to achieve. What they favour comes close to becoming a hero on a horse riding through the wide open land of the Ukraine - as was the dream of Jürgen Stroop, the SS man responsible for the liquidation of the Jewish Ghetto in Warszawa. As for Günter Grass, it is nevertheless not possible to explain his action as being just a mistake which youth at his age tend to make. After all, there is the counter example of the Hans and Sophie, in short the 'Geschwister Scholl', or of the poet Richard Zach from Graz (he went into resistance until his arrest in 1941 and even then he continued his work as indicated by the fact that his 800 poems were smuggled out of jail, but then he transported from Graz to Berlin-Moabit where he was executed at the age of 24 - see link: http://poieinkaiprattein.org/conferences-symposiums-workshops/culture---freedom-of-expression-and-dialogue-5th-of-may-2000/graz/). Also the fact that Günter Grass kept his SS-service a secret for 60 years, while becoming not only a writer of format, but the moral conscience of the new West Germany especially after the death of Heinrich Böll, that makes it all the more problematic, to say the least. Further clarification is needed as to what prompted him to join the SS as a young man of 18.

When looking back into the past, historians point out as well the risk of narratives by the perpetrators being transformed into stories as if they were victims. This is the case when a grandson begins to portray his grandfather as having belonged to the resistance movement, when in fact he was in the Gestapo! Such transformations begin usually when it is time to tell a story in the school yard, and no one wishing to be caught on the wrong side e.g. being labelled as heir of a Nazi member. That leads onto the more crucial question but how are things remembered by the third generation? How does this distortion enter the narrative? Important would be how to attain a degree of objectivity when reporting what is happening currently. Of interest is here the work being done by the NGO 'trust and remembering' in Belfast, since that is very much an intricate part of making the peace process sustainable.

2. Reporting current trends

Europe and identity politics: current trends

As for the question whether or not current trends are a reason to be worried, according to Peter Duelund, 'no', but he adds that one has to keep an watchful eye on certain trends. His position is outlined in New Nationalism and Identity Politics in Europe (7/2011):

"In his CulturewatchEurope (CWE) "Think Piece", Peter Duelund, Director of the Nordic Cultural Institute in Copenhagen, deals with "The Impact of the New Nationalism and Identity Politics on Cultural Policy-making in Europe and Beyond". Referring to examples in a number of European countries, he comes to the conclusion that particularly the revival of "primordial" and "ethnology-symbolic" paradigms in the perception of the relationship between identity and nation challenge diversity-related or inter cultural concepts that emerged during the past decades. Duelund recognises that evidence found in the Compendium country profiles does not yet provide a 'clear-cut' trend towards the new forms of culturalist 'identity politics' in Europe. However, the resurgence of populism and of right-wing or nationalist parties in many countries could indeed lead to the conclusion that there exists a difference between legally enshrined definitions of culture (to be found in Chapter 2.2 of the Compendium profiles), which still represent the previous mainstream approach, and the narratives or stereotypes that are now frequently used, mainly as a reflection of migration issues, in general political discourses. According to Duelund, these tendencies "directly contradict the vision of a people’s Europe in which the individual is at the centre of a multicultural society which respects not only fundamental rights and freedoms, but also the cultural and social identity of individuals". Therefore, he argues, the Council of Europe and its member states should try to 'rectify mistakes' and 'minimise the unfortunate effects of the new nationalism on present-day policies in Europe.'"

Source: Compendium Key resources: cultural diversity


Duelund, Peter (2011) The impact of New Nationalism and Identity Politics on Cultural Policy-Making in Europe and Beyond, Council of Europe, CDCULT-BU (2011) 11. Source:



Reporting about current situation in Greece

For example when it came to report about events in Athens, journalists and politicians kept speaking about those 'hooded ones' as if the chief trouble makers. While some amongst the Left believe these are under cover policemen, others recall that once hooded ones were the strongest demonstrators but by now everyone wears clothing with a hood. It would mean any clear distinction is made impossible by having become a general clothe people wear nowadays. Important is in making any political analysis not to distort the truth or to distract from the fact that many more people wish to protest against the austerity measures, but in a way which is non violent. This is important because the insinuation of the hooded ones in the demonstration is linked to those who are supposingly responsible for the violence e.g. stone throwing demonstrators at the police.

In a letter to all something else is being expressed after having experienced in Athens a demonstration which turned violent on February 12, 2012. The one street leading into Syntagma Square was literally covered by countless marble pieces. Later it was reported that 94 buildings were burning, among them many cultural heritage ones and three of them being famous cinemas containing many precious memories for those who had experienced there many wonderful films. One justification given later on by those who did not oppose this show of violence was that in these cultural heritage buildings there are usually housed banks held responsible for the crisis.

Athens 12.2.2012
Dear all,
Since someone wrote to me he did not see me in the footages shown on television of Greek streets in upheaval Sunday evening, then let me reply in a form of a letter. That demonstration happened when the crucial vote on the new austerity measures took place around midnight of 12.2.2012. Many banks but also old houses were burning. Here then my answer to this friend.
Where I was in the streets leading to Syntagma (Constitution) square, there were no cameras. Besides Greek television cheats with its claim to bring news 'now', as they replay constantly the same footage as if viewers have no memories. It is called brainwashing as you go along.
Indeed, I was with my wife in the street amongst many people who had to flee a previous clash on Stadiou Street. There the so-called street fighters had ripped out every possible marble piece and used them to throw at the police. After this pitched battle with one barricade erected, this one street leading to Syntagma(Constitution) square was covered all over by these marble pieces - a sad testimony of being out of touch with reality. For it meant damaging public property, including the until now beloved Metro by all.
Athens had prepared itself for the Olympic Games in 2004 by seeking to beautify itself and now things were going in the opposite direction. Deterioration linked to production of ugliness is a negative quality. It does matter how a city shows itself. If things are torn to shreds, literally speaking, then a lot more than just anger is being packed into this crisis to reveal something else. Those who seek excuses call it a failed system but it is also a lack of a civil society which could reorganize society to make protest much more effective by giving everyone a voice. For the many who gathered that evening in the streets of Athens, it was very much an exercise of wishing to protest but in realizing to be without a voice things were reduced to shouting slogans like we want food, bread, education and freedom - in memory of the chants in seventies. People knew the vote in Parliament would take place no matter what and thus they expect to be defeated again, and even more so by still more austerity measures to come while the ones passed already hitting many hard.
Interestingly enough people started to chant an old slogan of 1964 to call for 'work, bread, education and freedom'. In another chant they said goodbye to the Memorandum for it does not square with their own self understanding of which path leads into the future. Life is not to be divided into roads of crisis and roads of solutions. As the philosopher Habermas would say, any 'either/or' is already a false alternative.

Yesterday's riot in the streets ended with buildings set ablaze, mostly banks, but also some historical heritage ones where you suspect someone wanted to use the general cover to get rid of listed buildings to have there instead some high rise apartment. It is called demolition for the sake of more profitable buildings.

The key responsibility for the riots lies with politicians, in particular those of the Communist Party who called for a social upheaval and thus gave legitimacy to this kind of angry protest which does not do any good except that those involved lick blood and become as it were themselves victim of still another
kind of recruiting system.

In Parliament Venizelous, Finance Minister and Constitutional lawyer, spoke convincingly. Since he has been at the helm, some confidence is being restored that someone knows how to combine Politics with Finances.

Also Papademos, the banker turned Prime Minister, surprises many by speaking dry and square so that people can believe what he says is true. That is important given all the rhetoric and make beliefs of the extreme Right and Left.

The dynamic of the situation is showing signs of a healthy recovery insofar as some signs of self criticism was added to the criticism of the foreign lenders who do not see that Greece has made over the past two years some steps towards reform and therefore recovery.

There is especially a problem with German politicians who confuse demands for debts to be paid with character change. They seem to demand of the Greeks to change their character and give up their sense of inner pride and freedom. That will definitely not work and signs are there that the hostility towards German fiscal discipline is growing as it reminds too much of another kind of discipline Greeks got to know during Second World War. During that time German occupation was nothing short of being just savage. 8 out of 10 children died in Second World War due to starvation in Athens, on every tree someone from the Resistance was hanging.

There is the powerful poem by Elytis 'Axion Esti' - to be praised. While the German officer who shots Manolis for refusing to step forward and give his name, life ends at that moment, that of Manolis just starts, so the comment of Elytis.

Indeed, those who opt for a freedom have always future, and therefore the dynamics will now change the political landscape in a way that even the Extreme Right is exposed for their cowardice when it comes to crunch time. And the Extreme Left has nothing to offer on how to get out of the debt. Their political ideology is also bankrupt only they do not see it and cling with ever greater determination as if the world can be made to confirm to their dogmatic viewpoints.

The vote yesterday in Parliament was interesting when you know some of the individual MPsf the 300 and then see how even the Conservative Newspaper praise Samara, leader of the Conservative Nea Democratia for having crossed his Rubicon by voting for the new measures, and this in opposition to his own rhetoric the recent past and some of his fellow members of the same party.

Yes, it was a good feeling to be amongst the many people in the streets and sad to see how the marble pieces were torn out since most of it is public property in need to be respected by everyone.

I met a former student of mine in the crowd and asked him if he wanted to join a Youth project about 'Nation and Identity'. He was immediately interested because as he said he is unemployed. He is one of the 50% without job while the rest it is doubtful if they have really such a job in which they could unfold their talents. That is the real crisis.

Future has become for many Greeks, and especially for the young, too abstract to think about.

Greetings from Athens the day after the vote


The phenomenon and the analysis of the real situation – reporting what?

The role of violence

Care has to be taken whenever there is violence, not to become one-sided. Or as the photo journalist Kevin Cooper from Belfast puts it, more important than taking sides is to show a human understanding for why the conflict unfolded the way it did. There is not only a sequence of events which take place when watching how the police battles with demonstrators, but there are some who try to stop the throwing of stones while on the side of the police some hold back even if it means not translating the command into a simple action, namely to attack out rightly the demonstrators since there is a great deal of grey between protecting the Right to demonstrate and being provoked by some elements into denying all this freedom to demonstrate.

There is one important definition for violence: there where no mediation takes place, then only violence will rule. It begins when a car smashes into a child in the street and does not end there.

Important is why there was no one who could speak to everyone not to use violence.

„Where there is no theory, there is violence“ - Jürgen Habermas

Example of false reporting: reference to hooded youth as potential terrorists

In the massive protest in Athens on 12.2.2012, there made the round in talk shows and in news reports that 'hooded youth' was behind all the attacks against buildings and the police.

Not revealed was the fact that everyone going into the streets was hooded since it has become a common way to dress when it is cold i.e. to have a jacket with a hood, and this especially in a country where sometimes people hitch a ride on a motorcycle but have no helmet. That means that the official denouncement is misleading if it aims to single out a youth and others who acted out against police and who targeted property which belongs to the bourgeoisie society, even if a fake one.

Interpretation of glass of banks, cars and shops being smashed

Sartre would say if glass shatters, then the protesters wish to break into the present. They are suffocating under an oppressive spirit of a society too corrupt and too cemented to be reformed. Sartre's statement can be best understood when knowing his key statement being that it is only possible to live in the present if the goals for the future are known. Always there is at risk that the past and the future conspire to shut out the present. This is the case when something immanent is evoked as if things are always the same and thus instead of a differentiated response as to what could make a difference in the present, reality is responded to in a partial and superficial way.

Avoidance of exaggeration or no sense for proportionality

“Proportionality is the highest of all art” - Vincent Van Gogh

When squatters went wild after their till then peaceful demonstration was broken up by police shooting into their midst, and it included mothers with small children, tear gas, and broke into a supermarket near-by, the outcome was them claiming that they had 'totally' plundered that place, while the news and official announcements by the politicians was that there was 'total devastation'. Especially in Germany the word 'total' loves to be used, even though it evokes many negative associations.

In reality, things were set straight by BBC correspondent David Smeeton when reporting about that incidence back to London, and he did so by standing in front of the supermarket and noted: “there was not much damage at all

What point is being made in the media and by such newscasters when events are inflated and focus is only on what is visible, even if not entirely true or the whole picture? Again, prior to that incidence which happened in Berlin 1981, and after a change of government with the Conservative Party under the leadership of Richard von Weizsäcker being elected for the first time to become mayor of Berlin West, one which had been dominated till then by the Social Democrats, it was interesting to observe police officers going to the public radio and television stations to not merely discuss with the editors and reporters, but to advance the overall theory that the media was creating the violence which the police faced with an increase of the squatter movement in the city. The outcome of these consultations and deliberations was after the change of parties in power, suddenly reporting changed. Before the entire sequence was shown so that the viewer could judge by him- or herself what led up to the escalation in violence. But then came the anti Reagan demonstration with the demonstrators agreeing to assemble on the Nolle Platz (Square) to start demonstrating at 10.00 in the morning. But by that time the police had surprised them by throwing around them Nato-wire to fence them in. That fence consisted of three rolls of razor wire with two of them bolted into the pavement. Once the demonstrators were trapped, the police shut in their midst again tear gas. Panic broke out. At one spot the demonstrators managed to break through. Everyone left through that gap . Consequently a pitched battle started. It lasted the entire day. But in the evening news only a static picture of a young man throwing a stone was shown. No sequence, and this despite the television station having a privileged position for its camera crew, namely an apartment on the fourth floor with a good overview of the Nolle square down below. When the camera man asked the editor why it is not being shown what the police did first, the reply by the editor was significant: “the picture of violence speaks by itself!”

There are many examples what difference it makes if viewers can see the beginning and the end, and not a mere cut-out. There are so many ways and angles to tell a story. Important is not to tell it in an one sided manner as if this is the truth which can justify the harsh measures taken by the police, or what the demonstrators believe to be their Right.

The visible and the invisible

Stories have to touch upon both visible and invisible things. There is a most telling example given by Freud: if someone has been wounded in war, then everyone takes pity with that person, but if someone has experienced bomb explosions left and right, but shows no scars on his body or in the face, then that person is considered to be healthy. Freud added to that example, that person appears only to be healthy since no one sees really the traumas the war has left in that person!

How to name reality, while making visible the invisible, that is an art. While the media focuses on the violence when demonstrators throw stones, they fail to focus on the violence when people are made unemployed! But it is equally violence when people lose their jobs and moreover as a further going result their house. Brecht stated, therefore, the taking away a house from a person, that is like hitting that person with an axe. The justification given to corporations to fire people once they have run out of money is a truism in need to be questioned. There are the social costs of the unemployed people and which has to be carried by others, and finally through the state by all. It would be unjust if costs can be externalized permanently while profits are privatized.

3. current debates - differences in memories, imagination and narratives

As to the question about current trends amongst the youth, here one needs to be most careful not to make fast conclusions. No one could really predict the outburst of energy by the youth in Egypt. The story goes all it needed was the courage of a young girl who put a face, her own, to a video message she put up on youtube. By taking the courage to speak out in public, a major change does take place in the life of a young person. Unfortunately most of them grow up afraid of public speech, of saying clearly their opinion. They are even given the advise not to be open, in order not to reveal inner weaknesses which could be used against one not so much politically, but job wise. The stiff competition is there as to who will get the job e.g. the prime role in the theatre or the scholarship. Always the youth is haunted by fear not to be recognized and therefore there is no telling who will succeed, who not according to what criteria.

Here Siegfried Kracauer in 'Die Angestellten' (The employed) shows how girls when growing up test back and forth in which category they should invest in more: being the reliable as opposed to the beautiful girl, since no one is sure if the one or the other shall get the job the next time when a girl will be hired as secretary. Whenever they think the beautiful girl shall get it, they are mistaken and vice versa. Practically it reflects the power game being played constantly or rather it is a matter of outplaying the one against the other category. In not knowing what will the case the next time, there is no learning process nor is there the realization that in reality both categories are needed if to exist both as a beautiful and as a responsible human being.

With regards to Russia, we discussed often the puzzling development linked to the Russian revolution. The sailors who made the revolt possible could be herded six months later together and could be shot at the order of Lenin as if they had never revolted. We tried to explain this through a kind of generation logic: if previous generations never really revolted, one cannot expect much of the next generations. But of course, Yana, you know much better the situation back home and can compare to what was the case 20 years ago compared to today.

In Greece a complete uprising of the youth happened after a 15 year old boy was shot by the police on Dec. 6, 2008. The streets of Athens were transformed into explosive situations with many anarchists fighting the police. Much of that reminded of the student revolt against the Junta or military dictatorship in 1973 when tanks crushed through the university gates and killed then students. One year later the Junta fell. Ever since there is an annual demonstration on 17th of November which goes to the American Embassy. And every year there are skirmishes with the police because there is as well a political ritual to keeping these memories alive and not to forget the existence of a group called Nov. 17th which operated underground and killed single persons targeted for their involvement with the system. Violence writes here a definite part of history as exemplified as well by the civil war which raged in this country immediately after Second World War ended in 1945 and which lasted till 1948. If anyone of you has ever seen the film by Angelo called 'the wandering theatre players', then you have a beautiful poetic language describing the fate of a theatrical group who never gets to finish staging their play because always some outside force intervenes. Here something else is revealed of Greece which is often forgotten when perceiving only this neutral modernity, but then again poetic language is not a common one, especially not one which can convey to the youth a way to revolt without succumbing to the system.

The Greek youth has gone through many fights since 2008. They go at New Year to the jails to greet those inside. They write historical stories about how price hikes affected the way people went to work after the war i.e. they could not afford the higher prices and thus had to get up one hour earlier in order to be in time at work since they had to walk beside the tracks. These are the precious details which make a difference in historical consciousness and only once you free the imagination and taste is no longer glued to those high lofty models serving only the system, then you can expect a revolt. And there are many hidden ones often not made public such as when at the height of tensions between Greece and Turkey those young men who had to climb into boats ready to fight the Turkish side, they did so but had emptied all their guns to make them ineffective.

Revolt begins by picking up the bits and pieces, and by noticing small details which make a difference. It begins especially with a human understanding of the conflicts everyone faces and does not degrade the other for not solving it right away.

In this sense coming out of silence is a good measure of time, and certainly many youths have been already silenced before they can even understand what is happening to their lives and certainly their dreams.

i. memories

ii. imagination

iii. The role of narratives – national narratives

The hero of many unsung stories reflects how many died a senseless death on battlefields. Such songs and stories serve to link a person to an imagined patriot who is ready to serve the nation and therefore ready to die for a state.

Painting of Prussian troops entering Paris in 1871 hanging in Kreisau, Poland

4. methodological questions


Cartoon about Kurdistan people being surrounded and encircled by major powers


How is it possible for youth to turn again to the nation and to a collective sense which allows both identification about also appropriation in the sense of beginning statements with 'our people' as if distinct and a separate entity from all other people?

How should be conducted inquiries to look not only into trends and developments with regards to this relationship between identity and nation, but probe deeper into what are underlying attitudes and even latent dispositions towards new forms of Nationalism?

By going out and making interviews, this will be but a first step to find out more about reality of how today's youth across Europe thinks about 'nation and identity'. Hence closed questions must be combined with open ones. Also the interview technique must ensure a possibility of addressing the particular and concrete if only general answers are given, and vice versa.

A philosophical advise would be not to rely on the usual media coverage and to be satisfied with overt statements that have been learned at school and to be repeated whenever general information about the state of affairs is asked for. Rather curiousity should mean going around the corner to find out more and to experience what cannot be seen if only walking a straight line.

In the age of the social media it is becoming increasingly important to learn how to validate one's own opinion and impressions. This can be done by heeding what is public opinion but also what can only be clarified as subjective truth in public debates.

Crucial is the question whether entities like nations, states or countries can be loved like one does another person? As this relates to the term of Patriotism, further reflections should examine the claim that even if a country cannot be loved, then it is still possible to love as a Patriot the people of this particular country. This would include love for what they do to make this into a special place with a unique landscape and its own history. The latter is linked to how memories flow and how the imagination is stirred whenever someone says this is Greece or Germany.

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