domingo, 16 de fevereiro de 2014

The Renaissance of Western Politics: The 'Good-enough' Leader, Relational Economics and an Empathic Foreign Policy



Pesquisando para a minha tese encontrei este artigo que achei interessante. Quando for diplomata, quero trabalhar a relação entre Psicologia e Política, com a Geografia, claro.
Nesse artigo, o autor utiliza certamente o Winnicott, o mesmo psicanalista que utilizo.

Endereço original: http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/jul_09_samuels.

Tikkun Magazine, July/August 2009

by Andrew Samuels


I. Hope And Disappointment In Politics -- Personal Memoir

In 1996, just before the presidential election of that year, I spoke at a conference on psyche and politics in San Francisco. I flew back to Britain to attend the Labour Party Convention. There I heard Tony Blair, for whom I was a consultant at the time, tell the party that Britain was a "young country" with everything to look forward to. After we won in 1997, there was going to be an ethical foreign policy, a revitalized concern for citizens from the cradle to the grave, and the harnessing of the best elements from the market economy, as well as from social democracy. Hope was everywhere.

I dared to believe in it. I was ecstatic when my proposal for a series of public apologies was accepted, and I was naively dismayed when the media mocked Blair's public apology for the Irish Potato Famine: "He'll be apologizing for the weather next," they sneered.

Well, we all know how badly it turned out: he had the lowest rating of any postwar prime minister. True hatred and contempt were directed against this man from all quarters of British (and world) society. We had idealized him, but our hopes were dashed as his promise transmuted into corruption, as he climbed into bed with the City of London and Wall Street, and as he embraced betrayal and warmongering. It was a crippling and defining experience for me.

I almost loved him and then I think I really hated him. And I hated myself, too. What I am remembering from my own experience could be a parable. I'll return to the theme of hope and disappointment throughout this article.

Over the past fifteen years, I have built an international practice as a political consultant working with leading politicians, their advisers, political parties, and activist groups in several countries. In particular, I have gravitated to work in the general area of nationalism, national identity, and nation building (in South Africa, Brazil, Poland, and Russia). My writing is grounded in these experiences.

I mistrust realistic people. They have done a lot of damage, telling us not to imagine a utopic move out of the social and political conditions in which we find ourselves. If we cannot imagine such a move, then there can be no personal growth, change, or transformation, no therapy or analysis in fact. All these things depend on a utopic fantasy of a kind.

All too often, though, so-called realists point to the excesses of idealists as evidence of the dangers of dreaming. But this equating of utopic vision with Stalin or Mao is not a detached and wise perspective -- it is a highly political one, making a propaganda point against change and transformation in the polis. From a therapy standpoint, many practitioners now agree that every single client in personal distress has to have or work on a little bit of a utopic social vision. For social conditions to change, clinical practice has to change, and vice versa. And things are changing in the clinic if not, as yet, in the world.

In terms of the engagement of psychoanalysis with the public sphere, the time has come to break some boundaries. It's time to learn how to transit better the divides we have been told exist between clinical office and the street, between spirituality and politics, between "above" and "below," between the inner world and the outer world, between being and doing, between extraversion and introversion, and even between what people still call "feminine" and "masculine" approaches to life. Working these forbidden zones, and doing it in the company of a growing number of people worldwide, shows that it is legitimate and necessary to reframe the relationship of the public and the private, seeking new back passages between the fantasies of the political world and the politics of the fantasy world.

II. Good-Enough Leadership

I want now to look at one specific, contemporary, political disease: the problem of hierarchical, heroic leadership. Political theory and practice assume there are two main approaches to leadership: one is heroic and hierarchical, and the other is collaborative.

The hierarchical and heroic leadership is based on male authority (think Meir, think Thatcher, think Indira Gandhi) and assumes there is but one objectively true social story. In this model, there are good leaders and there are bad leaders, and we all have our lists of them. This kind of leader is our problem.

The second approach is much more collaborative and non-hierarchical, involving a kind of sibling model of leadership. But although appealing and sometimes usable in community projects, sibling leadership is just too demanding on citizens to be in operation all the time. People duck or dive for cover; they don't necessarily mean to become bystanders, but they don't see any other way to manage the burden of being collaborative leaders.

For many years, I've been advocating a third kind of leader -- the good-enough leader. It's an idea taken from therapists' ideas about the family. The great pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott said parents and babies have to find a middle way between the baby's idealization and denigration of the parent. A baby naturally tends to idealize her parent, but when things go in a less-than-perfect way (as they surely will), that idealization flips over into denigration.

Sound familiar? An initial idealization, then a failure to deliver things perfectly, then denigration? It's meant to sound familiar. The media depends on it. Because this is how we respond to leaders, first by passively following the idealized leader, then by seeking out feet of clay. What can we do about the pattern?

We must try to change how we position success and failure. I know the word "failure" hurts people's feelings because it is so in-your-face. Failure means falling short, being imperfect, fallible, only passable, fucking up. Yet maybe what we need nowadays are "can't do" politicians, self-admittedly impotent politicians -- the financial crisis shows us they are that, anyway, doesn't it?

Maybe being only and always in control isn't always valuable. Winnicott said, "The parent fails the baby but in the baby's own way." I'd add that failure by a leader paves the way for greater contributions and more autonomy on the part of citizens. The leader fails the citizens but in the citizens' own way.

Bob Dylan nibbled away at the success-failure binary when he sang "There's no success like failure and failure's no success at all." And in July 2008, Bill Clinton spoke of the inevitability of failure in politics. I believe it was the first time he'd ever done that. When Harold Macmillan, the British prime minister, was asked by a journalist in 1963 what had brought him down, he replied, "Events, dear boy, events."

The Sufi poet Rumi wrote that "failure is the key to the kingdom." Good-enoughness always involves failure. The key thing is how to manage failure, even to see failure as an art -- Samuel Beckett wrote that we have to "fail better." Disappointment is difficult, for sure, but it, too, has to be managed.

So the good-enough leader can accept the likelihood of failure, in a post-heroic take on leadership. But there's a head-heart problem here. Truly, we are caught up in a cultural complex as defined by San Francisco Jungian analysts Tom Singer and Sam Kimbles. In our heads, we often know that the old-style leaders are dangerous, but in our hearts and guts we feel we need the fatherly protection they offer. In our souls, we are in love with the heroic leader whose Führer-eroticism turns us on. In our heads, we agree with Brecht's Galileo, whom Bill Bradley used to quote many years ago: "Unhappy is the land that has need of heroes."

Could we become more aware of our abusive love affair with heroic leaders?

So far so good (enough). But what happens to our good-enough leaders when things get violent? This is where good-enough leadership appears to hit a rock. Where does good-enough leadership leave us with respect to violent action? This question will not go away whether we are talking about legitimate war, illegitimate war, state terror and violently repressive action, or suicide bombing and the cult of the martyr.

Don't we need straight and traditional masculine virtues then? In a time of "terror" and war without end, aren't the conservatives right? Don't we need paternal security and a national father's protection? The hell with nurture! Let's see about that, as I turn now to some discussion of fathers. As stated, I'm preparing the ground for suggestions about new ways to think, imagine, and manage conflict.

I see psychoanalysis as being on the verge of constructing and creating a positive account of the father that does not stupidly build him up to an unrealistic degree. An account that makes it much more difficult for our old-style political leaders to masquerade as the only kind of fathers-of-the-nation that there could be. An account that does not dwell on the malevolent power of the father's body but on its affirming physical warmth, a warmth as much aggressive as erotic. Not on his holding the mother who holds the children but on his holding of the children himself. The stay-at-home weekend father. The sensitive and affirming father, the playful father, the wounded and unhappy father, not the punitive, stern, self-contained father. Not the commander-in-chief father. We need a story of the father in which emotional security is as important as physical security. That would be a useful beginning to an equally new and analogous story about political leadership.

If we change what we think about fathers, alter what we expect of them, engage with these questions -- then perhaps what we think about leaders, what we expect of them, can change as well.

But there'll still be this nagging doubt. What if there's real, actual political conflict and violence, war, terror? Won't we need the martial values then? Didn't Winston Churchill say "courage is the virtue that guarantees all the others"?

I can't resist complicating this a bit, challenging my own thesis, so to speak, and doing it by introducing something that some liberals might find a bit difficult. From the perspective of the political psyche, I think we need to seriously re-value the presence of aggression in the pursuit of social justice. My long study of South African politics suggests that without the forceful military contributions of Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation, the military wing of the African National Congress), the South African Communist Party, and the mainly Black Cuban troops in Angola, we'd not have seen the new South Africa: no Mandela, no Truth and Reconciliation Commission, no books on restorative justice. And, to complicate it even more, all of these were financed and supported by the Soviet Union.

III. It's The Psychology Stupid! From Economic Sadism To Relational Economics

The economic psyche is in the midst of a huge shift in values and in collective consciousness -- a profound, complex, nearly unbearable, perhaps doomed to fail psychological shift in our philosophies of life with powerful implications for world and soul alike. Notions of sustainability and fairness to families sit alongside passionate concerns that the aesthetic and emotional value of economic activity be part of an insistence on its spiritual probity. Yet amid these very shifts, we still see dramatic and unmistakable evidence of retrogressive tendencies. The growth of inequality in countries such as the United States and Britain in the past thirty years has been repeatedly charted, and it is not going to get better any time soon. The best way to get rich is to have rich parents and live in a rich country. Basta, genug, enough said.

Thinking about inequality for a moment, it is clear that a relationship exists between class and the individual's inner world. Many people have achieved a higher socioeconomic status than their parents. And yet, in their inner worlds, encountered in therapy, in dreams perhaps, the social class they grew up in is still the social class they are inhabiting in terms of psychic reality and narrative truth. My first ever banker client dreamed of his father's coal mine all the time. The (male) solidarity of the miners -- for example, when there was a disaster underground -- struck him as different from the atmosphere and ethos of a large Wall Street investment bank. We did, of course, play a little with what we were "mining" in the analysis, but the main thrust of our dialogue about these dreams was in terms of a thorough, many-layered, compassionate and healing comparison of his entire situation with that of his father's. Not competition with the father. There's more to intergenerational male relating than Oedipus, and the work with this guy reminded me of that.

Like everyone, I have my own passionate views about all aspects of economics, ranging from doubts about the viability and fairness of the principle of wealth inheritance, to questioning usury, the practice of charging interest, to the perception that market economics works a bit like victor's justice -- if you're making it, you're liking it. If you're in rural Africa or much of America today, you probably aren't liking it very much.

Differing economic systems reflect different ideas about human nature: altruism versus self-interest; cooperation versus the survival of the fittest. But responses to the financial crisis made me realize that we do not have much of a handle on how people really experience economic life in their psyches. In the economic psyche, images of wealth, poverty, and money have become numinous. We are captivated whether we want to be or not.

As a thought experiment, I've been trying to imagine a society in which all income is earned income or stems from pensions and social security. There is little or no private ownership of capital. Estate taxes are very high. Inequalities of wealth are consensually regulated. Markets are tempered by collective commitment to collective well-being. When I first wrote this fantasy down, I noted in the margin: not such a madly utopic utopia, really. Please join me in imagining such an economy.

IV. Economics in Our Inner Worlds

What I'd like to do now is take you on a psychoanalytic exploration of how the inner world works when it comes to economics. The journey is personal and experiential. I ask you respectfully and sincerely to conjure up stuff from your own personal past history and present situation in order to engage with the questions I am asking. The present-day dynamics of the economic psyche are heavily inflected by money memories from the past.

I first wrote the following questions to share with a group of clinical therapists. I believe they can be directly and responsibly used in an expanded version of good analytical practice. The general public can also benefit from reflecting on these questions:

What are your memories of how money was handled in your childhood? Are these good or bad memories?

Did it matter what sex a person was when it came to money in your family? Were men, for instance, supposed to know and care more? Women to be grateful? Or vice versa?

How did money move around within your family? Who controlled budgets? Was this control disputed at all?

Could money be talked about openly in your home?

Have you done "better" than your parents? If so, have there been any emotional problems over that? Your problems, or theirs, or both? If you have not done "better," how do you feel about it?

How do you think you are doing in terms of handling money issues in your current relationship or family? Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is very bad and 10 is very good.

When you fantasize about having a lot of money, what are you doing with it? If you've never had such fantasies, try it right now!

Some answers to this last question about fantasizing having a lot of money are benevolent, and maybe 10 percent of those are true! What interests me is eliciting economic sadism. This is where I think we may find the deal-breaker, bar, delimiter, or stopper on our present-day progressive, altruistic, benevolent, and idealistic economic aspirations. Most people have pretty nasty fantasies in the money zone: fantasies of getting rid of rivals, attaining superiority, and eliminating awkward otherness whenever it is encountered. In analysis, some but surely not all of this may emerge in the transference. But perhaps there is an ineluctable cruelty attached to money, and this may be one area where tragic vision is all we can muster. Humans love their inequalities, and that is that. On the other hand, with economic sadism brought to consciousness, economic benevolence (a term introduced in this context by Adam Smith, referring to a tendency that the polls tell us still sputters altruistically below the surface in Western polities) may flower in the form of electoral support for fiscal and other programs to reduce economic inequality.

Reflecting on our economic sadism, I think many of us are more complicit in the Great Crash of 2008 than we can bear to admit. At workshops on the economic psyche, I ask participants to fantasize about the most shameful, sadistic, controlling, horrible thing they would do if they had a very large sum of money at their disposal -- trillions of dollars. A professor of philosophy at one workshop in Pittsburgh said, "Well, if I had unlimited funds, I'd buy thousands of acres of skiing land at Aspen and fence it off so no-one could use it." I did not think this was very sadistic, to say the least. Then he blurted out: "And I'd hire the U.S. Marine Corps to machine-gun anyone who came near." He burst into tears and told us about his tycoon father and the relationship they had, and other personal information.

Shameful economic fantasy tells us how even people of progressive views may be deeply invested in a system of economic injustice. If we want to change this system, we need to recognize what we are up against. It's about owning our own bit of the system, a piece of shadow from which we can all too glibly detach ourselves. The lesson is that economic sadism is not something we can escape just because we want to leap out of the pit.

The sooner we admit our economic crimes to others -- to other peoples, creeds, genders, and species -- the better and lighter the human future will be. The more that even the middle classes deny their economic sadism, the greater will be "the horrors and the vengeances of time that wait silently in the wings of the bloody dramas of our future" (in Ben Okri's words). Economic sadism is not just the hubris of the bankers, it's our hubris, too. Not being Odysseus, most of us got seduced by the Circe of easy personal debt. How many credit cards are there in our purses and wallets? As the Baal Shem Tov put it: "Sinners are mirrors. When we see faults in them, we must realize they only reflect evil in us."

I composed the next part of this piece in an attempt to discover some deeper and even more beautiful aspects of economic activity. Reviewing my words one lovely spring morning, I found what you have just read to be a bit too downbeat, too tragic, even sentimentally so. It conformed to the expectation that a psychoanalyst must have a tragic vision. You see, I can't see how something as ubiquitous and universal as economic activity can only be bad! It'd be like saying sex is bad! Perhaps it is time to set psychoanalysis aside for a moment.

Let me begin with a brief excursion into Islamic conceptions of and rules for economic activity. Not for the first time, I have found utility and inspiration in what Muslim writers have to say about pressing issues for us in the West. I have previously written about the idea of Ta'aruf, the Qur'anic idea that conflict between groups of people, nations, and even the sexes was created by Allah so that people could get to know one another better. Ta'aruf means "that you shall come to know one another." I found that many psychoanalytic theories about aggression parallel this idea of Ta'aruf.

Similarly, in terms of the economy, there is increased discussion these days of what is involved in Sharia -- compliant banking in which the earning of interest is forbidden (Sharia means stemming from the Qur'an and its secondary literatures). Central to Islamic finance is the idea that money itself has no intrinsic value. As a matter of faith, a Muslim cannot lend money to (or receive money from) someone and expect to benefit: interest (known as riba) is not allowed. To make money from money is forbidden -- wealth can only be generated through legitimate trade and investment in assets. Money must be used in a productive way. Islamic finance is principally based on trading -- it is essential that risk be involved in any trading activity. Any gains relating to the trading are shared between the person providing the capital and the person providing the expertise.

We may not want to wholly embrace this moral repudiation of money by Islam. For there is also something to recuperate in Western conceptions of money. (This is something I have been saying in work I'm doing for Britain's Financial Services Authority -- it's a bit like a combination of the SEC and the Federal Reserve Board.)

The etymology of the English word "money" is that it stems from the Latin moneta, which was also the name the Romans used for Mnemosyne, the personification of memory and the mother of the Muses. The deeper root is mens, which means conscience, reason, and rationality. Money as suggesting conscience, reason, rationality? How amazing. Something certainly has got lost concerning money in the West, and not only in translation!

V. Getting Out of the American Box

Now for the final segment. We need to denationalize the psyche and stop the pattern in which individuals are educated to think like states. We need to re-image ourselves, not as citizens of one country or citizens of the world (which is such a cliché), but more as nomads, bums, traveling folk, itinerants, people of no fixed abode, homeless drifters.

Why? To see if we can get outside of our national box or worldview, to go beyond what is best for Americans or Brits, getting out of our places to put ourselves in the places of others.

Seeing ourselves as homeless is part of a quest for a more empathic connection with other countries and groups. This could actually be economically effective, a sort of win-win approach to international relations. It is part of a truly ethical approach to foreign policy in which, following Levinas, we love the other "because he is yourself." It's Rozensweig's "speaking-listening." It's an adaptation of Martin Buber's "we-we" relating.

On occasion, I've asked American audiences to imagine a world that did not have America in it, so that taking an American viewpoint becomes much more difficult. Then I've asked them to think of something like September 11.

How hard it has been to see that people outside the United States did not all automatically agree that something had to be done by the UN if not by the United States itself. How maddening and infuriating it must have been for many Americans, maybe the majority, to find that some people with other national backgrounds didn't respond to the towers tumbling down in an American way. Did it increase the pressure for the war on terror? Remove the chance of a more imaginative and far-seeing response?

If you can get out of the American box with respect to September 11, then it is surely possible with respect to many other less terrible, though no less important, issues and images. Outside the American box, ask yourself about the possibility of not responding or retaliating militarily to September 11. Is it possible to do nothing?

When Brazil's President Lula stated on March 26, 2009, that the economic crash was the responsibility of white men with blue eyes, and that black people were the victims, many of us were shocked. Having worked for Lula, I knew exactly what he was getting at in terms of domestic political consumption, so I feel free to claim his remark as inspiration for our attempt to leave the American or Western box.

Whiteness it was that developed the mind-body split, global warming, unsustainable economics, nuclear technology, and free-market economics. Whiteness got the bonus. Whiteness it is that can contemplate brown and black people dying as if they mattered less than white people -- they get killed these days in a kind of video arcade by unpiloted drones steered from underground chambers thousands of miles away back home in the States. For sure, race and ethnicity play out in myriad ways according to history and cultural context. But we have to contend with this constant whiteness, American whiteness, Western whiteness -- the box we are in. We have allowed these whitenesses to become essentialized, universalized, removed from history.

Psychoanalysts understand how clients struggle to stop thinking like their parents. In our political work and in our professional gatherings, we psychoanalysts have to try to stop thinking like a nation or like a state. In order to claim the freedom to stop thinking like the state, we have to make sacrifices -- a sacrifice of identity, security, and having one's feet on the ground in a place called home. It's time to leave home, to get outside the box, to press for a relational economics, to help the leader become good enough, to fight for an empathic foreign policy devoted to standing in the shoes of the other. To do this, we have to make some sacrifices: sacrifices in which we act to lose home, suspend identity, and refuse the offer of security. We make these sacrifices in the yearning hope of finding home, identity, and security once again.

I'll conclude on the theme of sacrifice, with climate change and sustainable and just economics very much in my mind. Sacrifice is a widespread psychological and historical theme. Sacrifice lies at the heart of the Abrahamic religions (the aborted sacrifice of Isaac) but is much, much older as a propitiation of the gods. Asceticism has a long cultural history, as does martyrdom, including that of suicide bombers.

In Jungian psychology, we think of the sacrifice of the ego for the flowering of the wider personality in individuation. In art and religion, we contemplate the sacrifice of autonomy and control to something experienced as "other," whether inside or outside the self.

What if we don't make those sacrifices? I answer indirectly by turning to the First World War poet Wilfred Owen and a few lines from his great poem "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young." This offers a completely different ending to the story of Abraham and Isaac that we all -- Muslims, Jews, Christians, those of other faiths, or those of none -- could take as a profound warning of a terrible future. We pick up the narrative at the point when the Angel of the Lord appears:

Lo! an Angel called him out of heaven

Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.



Andrew Samuels -- a psychotherapist, university professor, political consultant, and activist from London -- is the founder of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and of Psychotherapists and Counselors for Social Responsibility, and author of Politics on the Couch.

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário

Postar um comentário