The Brutalization of the World: From the Retreat of States to Decivilization

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It was the First World War that was the real beginning of a deep and major change in human sensibilities, where the relation to otherness became the way in which death was now considered Freud. This chapter shows how soldiers emotionally supported the war, but also how their psyche changed drastically and permanently as a prefiguration of the entire society. For this reason, a special place is given in this chapter to the symbolic and political creation of the Unknown Soldier. This chapter analyzes the present international scene over these last decades, focusing in particular on certain anthropological works Mauss, Frazer, Douglas and Girard alongside contributions from political science and sociology.

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Their promise is that through the power of the state men can be made happy. Authoritarianism is centrifugal. Given the premise that a society is to be planned and directed by authority, by "the 2 Michael T. Naturally, since I felt a proprietary interest in the term psychohistory as a predictive study of large faceless masses of human beings, I resented the new use of the word. Nonetheless, we should keep in mind that this work of pacification is primarily defined and implemented by the most powerful international actors. Keohane, Joseph S. No doubt it is occasionally necessary to fight fire with fire by Uurning over areas in the path of the conflagration, or to dynamite one wing of a house in the hope of saving the rest.

Here, the repression of destructive impulses is shown to return because States are no longer as powerful as they were in previous centuries. They are becoming weaker and weaker because they are not adequate to the logic of globalization and their territorial sovereignty is powerless to face with efficiency non-State actors, such as networks of terrorists or all types of infra communities. Moreover, States are less and less capable of assuming social cohesion, solidarity, and the production of sense and values.


At the same time, they are unable to provide satisfactory protection of their citizens and to ensure a decent production of wealth. As a consequence, the notion of sovereignty has become more and more inadequate, with sovereignty challenged by the uprising of non-State violence; particularly under the form of transnational terrorism, identity, ethnic and religious infra-State conflicts now spreading at a transnational level. These types of conflicts frequently result in persecutions, mass slaughter and sometimes genocide, in regard to which the figure of the scapegoat and the notion of sacrifice play a cardinal role in the social process of the rationalization of violence.

The Brutalization of the World

Let us always keep in mind that the social is not external to the psyche. In this book, we have considered the central issue of the internalization of constraints and the individual repression of drives. However, the overall interest of the Eliasian problematic is to emphasize that the psychic economy and its transformations over the centuries must necessarily be correlated with the formation of the State. That is why we have sought to show that the emergence and the deployment of diplomacy, as well as an institutionalization of international relations has played a key role in the pacification of behaviors constitutive of the civilizing process.

Epub Erich Fromm Analytische Sozialpsychologie Und Visionäre Gesellschaftskritik

Eventually, with Homo sapiens , it became genetically possible for social codes to become dominant and determine more and more the survival and life-chances of themselves and other animals. In this paper, this transition into dominance is tentatively conceptualised as a shift in the balance of evolutionary formalisation and evolutionary informalisation in favour of the latter — evolutionary formalisation referring to speciation processes and the long-term development in the genetic patterns and steering codes of species, and evolutionary informalisation to the process in which some steering codes of some forms of life lost relative rigidity and gained greater plasticity, allowing for expanding possibilities and options to adjust more flexibly to changing conditions of life.

From an evolutionary survival perspective on steering codes, evolutionary informalisation entailed the possibility as well as the necessity for social steering codes to expand. Biological and sociological processes became intertwined to the extent that the biological process of the evolutionary informalisation of steering codes proceeded hand in hand with the sociological process of a formalisation of collectively learned social steering codes, subjecting more and more aspects of behaviour to increasingly strict and detailed social regulations such as traditions, customs, habits, manners and laws.

The changing balance of evolutionary formalisation and informalisation in the direction of the latter entails transitions in genetic codes, natural selection, and random mutation through which vertebrates, mammals, hominoids and then modern humans acquired the plasticity and flexibility, empowering the latter to learn languages and symbols. In this long-term process, at increasing levels of differentiation, integration, expansion and complexity, the balance of formalisation and informalisation of social codes was dominated by a formalisation of these codes until the second half of the nineteenth century, when the second, more recent transition in dominance from formalisation to informalisation occurred.

From this moment on the long-term process of formalisation of social steering codes was followed in dominance by an ongoing process of informalisation , changing rather fixed socially learned codes in the direction of flexible guidelines. Many social codes lost rigidity and gained plasticity, allowing for expanding possibilities and options to adjust more flexibly to changing conditions of life, while simultaneously compelling psychic processes to be more versatile and more strongly dominated by consciousness.

In this article, I describe and compare evolutionary and social processes by comparing the two subsequent transitions in dominant steering codes from formalisation to informalisation. Since these terms originated from the study of social processes, this comparison will also serve as a test of their applicability to evolutionary processes. The project of comparing these transitions emerged from my ongoing research into changes in regimes of manners and emotions since the s.

Norbert Elias studied, described and interpreted four centuries of the long-term phase of formalisation in socially learned steering codes as a civilising process a. I have studied the subsequent phase of informalisation in a global perspective, but particularly in Europe and the USA Wouters , This research strengthened my ever-growing conviction that the importance of this social and psychic transformation in dominance from formalisation to informalisation is underestimated. My desire to raise its profile resulted in a quest to find and clarify another transformation that carries similar weight and apparently shares similar dynamics.

This brought me to the project of comparing two sequential phases in the balance of formalisation and informalisation: first, in the development of innate steering codes, integrating the theory of natural selection and the gene theory of inheritance, and second in the development of collectively learned social codes, integrating the theory of social and psychic civilising processes.

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The Brutalization of the World. From the Retreat of States to Decivilization. Authors: Laroche, Josepha. Free Preview. Provides a better understanding of new. Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. This book focuses on the current, chaotic world stage, The Brutalization of the World: From the Retreat of States to Decivilization - Kindle edition by Josepha Laroche. Download it once and read it on.

This project therefore encompasses a period of time that spans the beginning of life on earth to the present day. My main focus, however, will be the transition in dominance from one phase to the other.

Western social codes in phases from formalisation to informalisation

The concepts and the processes of social formalisation and informalisation are still not well-known. Certainly in the context of the history of life on earth, but also in relation to the history of humanity, awareness of these two phases is confined to relatively small circles. In various walks of life, part-processes of formalisation and informalisation have not been identified as such, nor has it been recognised that they together constitute a much more broadly, encompassing long-term process that represents a breakthrough in human history. This is done from several angles and in a number of sections that follow.

The transition into dominance from formalisation to informalisation in the wealthier countries of the West is expounded in a general sketch, illustrated by some examples. The discovery of the wide scope and radius of the long-term process of dominant informalisation led to the view of the civilising process as comprising two successive long-term phases — formalisation and informalisation.

Later in the article, I present examples of why informalisation demands a critical degree of formalisation that precedes it, together with the development of a habitus that incorporates a critical level of taken-for-granted social and self-controls, before a viable degree of informalisation can proceed.

Seen from all these angles, significant process drivers of informalisation suggest themselves: 1 interconnected changes in rising levels of co-operation and competition, 2 social differentiation and integration, and 3 continued functional democratisation [4] in expanding networks of interdependency. Although not much is known about the early stages of human history, it seems possible to capture the changes over the course of these thousands of years as a long-term process of formalisation. Wouters This very long-term expansion of controls went hand in hand with social steering codes becoming more extensive, more rigid, fixed and detailed, signalling how people came to demand a more and more elaborate discipline from each other.

It was a globally dominant process of formalisation of steering codes, involving growing numbers of people and groups in processes of competition and cooperation that fuelled ongoing differentiation and integration of social functions in expanding networks of interdependency.

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In the nineteenth century, social constraints towards self-restraints continued to rise, particularly via an expanding entrepreneurial and professional bourgeoisie and an expanding market. Parallel to the development of this type of personality and its characteristic steering code was the rising fear of the slippery slope , the fear that without rigorous discipline even the slightest lack of control would irrevocably lead to loss of face and an end in the gutter.

This fear of the slippery slope is typical of rather authoritarian relations and social controls, as well as a relatively authoritarian and automatically functioning conscience. In the last two or three decades of the nineteenth century, the phase of formalising manners and disciplining people changed in the direction of less fixed and less rigid social codes, allowing for more varied, flexible, colourful, and expressive behaviour; a process of informalisation became dominant.

The first example is about the wearing of corsets, a practice spread from Spanish aristocratic women in the sixteenth century to other strata and other countries, and which flourished in the nineteenth century. The spread of the corset symbolises the spread of increasing control over the body — loose clothes came to indicate loose morals.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, for instance in the movement for the reform of clothing, ideals of naturalness combined with ideals of beauty. From then on, until the s, the boned corset came to be used only as an orthopaedic gadget for female bodies gone out of control, ones that burst the boundaries of the prevailing standard of beauty.

The Evolution of World Democracy

This standard increasingly contained ideals of naturalness, but not without control: much female flesh that was not quantitatively excessive remained controlled by corset-like underwear, girdles, straps, corselets, and bras. Only at the end of the s did women succeed in liberating their bodies from this kind of control. However, it was not a full-blown liberation. The second example is the relationship between the dying and those who continue to live. Here, the traditional formal steering code that dying patients were to be kept under the illusion that there was a fair chance of recovery — doctors conducting a regime of silence and sacred lies, hardly ever informing the dying of their terminal condition — changed to the expectation, and for doctors even the judicial obligation, to be open and inform them of the reality of their situation Wouters The last two examples also show a striking change in the expression of feelings, indicating that it has become quite common to admit dangerous feelings such as lust or hatred, anger or envy, and yet not act upon them.

On the relational, social level, this involved the informalisation of social codes such as manners and laws, while on the psychic level it involved an informalisation in patterns of emotion regulation. Informalisation processes have continued into the twenty-first century: social constraints towards being unconstrained, and yet reflective, flexible, and alert, keep rising. Openness about emotions has been growing ever since, together with a keen interest in their regulation.

These concepts helped to acknowledge the relaxation and liberation of social codes as well as the burden of this liberation: how, since the late nineteenth century, more lenient and looser steering codes of behaviour and feeling have gone hand in hand with rising pressure of social controls on self-controls. Elaborating upon this interpretation, I soon realised it had two important implications. The first arose from closer inspection of the period in which the informalising process had been dominant.

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Each spurt involved broader layers of the population, first mainly among the upper classes with old and new money, then in the s among the middle classes, and from the s onward encompassing an increasingly larger majority of whole populations. These waves of informalisation appeared to coincide with changes in the balances of power between the classes within countries, and in the period after World War II, also between colonising and colonised countries.

They also seemed to go hand in hand with rising levels of knowledge and consciousness.

An intense — though rather concealed — competition in knowledge, including self-knowledge, gave rise to the necessity to be more reflexive and flexible. These waves were experienced and expressed in virtually all walks of life, in spheres of work and of love; for example in more open and playful codes of manners and feelings regulating relations between women and men in courting, sex, love and marriage Wouters as well as in relations between the classes, ages and ranks in the worlds of politics, business, industry, education, religion, friendship, body and health care, dying, mourning, and many more Wouters My analysis of informalising processes developed into a research project that aimed to find, compare and interpret changes in American, Dutch, English and German manners books published since the s.

The project generated two books, Sex and Manners and Informalisation On the whole, expressions of superiority and inferiority were increasingly tabooed — except in the realms of imagination such as literature and film and to some extent also in sports — and rather fixed rules of manners turned into flexible guidelines to be applied according to the specific characteristics of situations and relations, interpreted as the rise of a third-nature type of self-regulation.

All these changes are closely related. They seem to be part of an increasing social national and international integration process occurring all over the industrialised world, although of course in varying degrees. Stronger taboos on expressions of superiority and inferiority — do not shout at people, boss them around, and do not take liberties with subordinates — together with stronger ideals of equality emerged from processes of decolonisation and the emancipation of groups such as the working classes, women, children, young people and homosexuals.

For example the emancipation of women went hand in hand with an emancipation of their sexuality but not only theirs and also with more intense and demanding relations of intimacy and love. And at the same time, parents of different social classes to varying degrees have taken more of the interests and feelings of their children, and the sexuality of their teenagers, into account.

Thus, the emancipation of sexuality coincided with warmer loving relations, bolstering up a more general emancipation of emotions, including both love and lust Wouters a. The traditional steering of behaviour and emotions via expansion and specification of social codes changed direction: prescriptions and prohibitions increasingly developed in the direction of guidelines and directives, the application of which depended on their particular relational context.

This trend implied an increase of behavioural and emotional options. At the same time, social steering codes also became more strict regarding the expression of feelings of superiority and inferiority and more demanding as these changes exerted pressure in the direction of a more alert, flexible and sensitive social navigation towards widening circles of identification and rising levels of empathy, growing social and psychic knowledge, and a more reflexive and flexible self-regulation. The second implication of the discovery of a long-term process of informalisation was that the civilising process had now come to comprise of two long-term phases: first, a long-term process of formalisation that lost its dominance somewhere in the middle of the second half of the nineteenth century, and a second phase involving a shorter, but still long-term process in which informalisation became dominant.

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In fact he had made only an occasional reference to it with one or two quotations from the nineteenth century and some sparse remarks on the twentieth. On the one hand, he stuck to the interpretation of similar changes in the s that he had briefly presented in On the Process of Civilisation in In this discussion he admits:. Many things forbidden earlier are now permitted.

And, seen at close quarters, the movement seems to be proceeding in the direction opposite to that shown here; it seems to lead to a relaxation of the constraints imposed on individuals by social life a: However, by , the trend allowing people to show more of the naked human body had clearly continued, but Elias remained ambivalent.