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Chapter Nine - An Inversion of Power: An Analysis of the British Riots of 2011

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Howard S. Schwartz and Andreas Liefooghe

The fires of a burning England were not out before its most prestigious and prominent voices began delivering their verdict on what had caused them. The rioters were poor and the government had cut their support, taking away all that they had. It had raised them to believe they needed to have certain consumer objects, but then it had not given them the means to obtain these things, so they had no way of getting them except through theft. The police were racist and treated people disrespectfully, intolerably so. Prominent figures in the government and the economy were corrupt; the rioters were no worse, and perhaps were even taking their cue from them. And so on.

But there was one thing about these judgments, expressing the views of what we will call the cultural elite, that all had in common, which was that it was society, specifically its central, defining institutions, that was at fault. The rioters, who were the powerless, were just doing what anyone would do in the circumstances they were in. It was society that created those circumstances and, therefore, it was society that was to blame for its own destruction.

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SCENE SIX. Beneath the financial crisis

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Burkard Sievers 2

This thing we’re in doesn’t yet have a name. It is variously called, in placeholder shorthand, the global financial meltdown, the financial crisis, the credit crisis, the recession, the great recession, the disaster, the panic, or the bust.

—Paumgarten (2009, p. 42)

What first appeared as a financial crisis limited to US banks soon spread and began to threaten national economies around the world. The collapse of banks, the dramatic increase in unemployment rates, the critical state of the entire automobile industry, the decrease in national GNPs (gross national product) for this and next year, and other factors have forced us to face a world that is no longer what it used to be—or at least the one we experienced during our lifetime. And nobody is able to predict with any certainty how long the economic crisis will last.

The predominant public discourse on the financial crisis and its aftermath appears to be broadly limited to a political and economic one. It thus is focused on finding the appropriate choice of financial and economic means to diffuse the actual and potential damage and thus to encourage banks to offer credit both between themselves and to their customers, to boost production and consumption, and to bail out financial and economic enterprises which threaten to collapse without huge government support.

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SCENE THREE. Psychoanalysis and international relationships: Large-group identity, traumas at the hand of the “other,” and transgenerational transmission of trauma

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Vamik D. Volkan

During her presidency of the European Union in 2006, Austria declared the same year to be the Year of Freud as well as the Year of Mozart. Freud’s and Mozart’s pictures were everywhere in Vienna. At the same time, I had the pleasure of being the Fulbright/Sigmund Freud Privatstiftung Visiting Scholar of Psychoanalysis, living in Vienna for four months, with an office at Berggasse 19. In celebration of Freud’s 150th birthday the Sigmund Freud Foundation in collaboration with the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue brought together psychoanalysts and diplomats from various countries such as Austria, Norway, Turkey, and United States to expand Freud’s theory of group psychology.

When large groups (i.e., ethnic, national, religious, and political ideological groups) are in conflict, psychological issues also contaminate most of their political, economic, legal, or military concerns. People assigned to deal with these conflicts on an official level usually establish short- and long-term strategies and mobilize resources to implement them. In so doing they develop assumptions that support psychological advantages for their own group over that of the “other”. At this meeting our focus was on another type of psychology, more hidden, mostly unconscious, addressing obstacles that thwart peaceful, adaptive solutions to large-group conflicts. We noted that at the core of this psychology lies the concept of large-group identity, which is articulated in terms of commonality such as “we are Polish; we are Arab; we are Muslim; we are communist”. Large-group identities are the end-result of myths and realities of common beginnings, historical continuities, geographical realities, and other shared historical, linguistic, societal, and cultural factors. Large-group identity can be defined as a subjective feeling of sameness shared among thousands or millions of people, most of whom will never know or see each other. Yet, a simple definition of this abstract concept is not sufficient to explain the power it has to influence political, economic, legal, and military initiatives and to induce seemingly irrational resistances to change.

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APPENDIX 1. Further reading

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Bion, W. R.

Experiences in Groups and Other Papers. London: Tavistock Publications, 1961.

Bridges, W.

Transitions: Making the Most of Change. London: Nicholas Brealey, 1995.

Block, P.

Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used. San Diego, CA: Pfeiffer & Company, 1981.

Blount, A.

Changing Realities in the Firm. Journal of Strategic & Systemic Therapies, 4 (4, Special Organisational Issue), 1985.

Brunning, H., Cole, C, & Huffington, C.

The Change Directory: Key Issues in Organisational Development and the Management of Change. Leicester: The British Psychological Society, 1990.

Drucker, P.

Management Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.

Emery, F. E., & Trist, E. L.

Socio-Technical Systems. In: C. W. Churchman & M. Verhulst (Eds.), Management Science: Models and Techniques, Vol. 2. New York: Pergamon, 1960.

Gallensich, J.

The Profession and Practice of Consultation: A Handbook for Consultants, Trainees of Consultants and Consumers of Consultation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 1982.

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SCENE SEVEN A dynamic reading of The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales

Halina Brunning Karnac Books ePub

Wesley Carr

Diana, Princess of Wales died in a motor accident in France in 1997. The news came out during the night. At about 6.20 a.m. on a Sunday morning the phone rang in the Deanery at Westminster, my home as Dean of Westminster. That world is one with which few are familiar, so a little background information is provided.

Westminster Abbey, one of the world’s great religious buildings is England’s royal church and a national shrine. Monarchs are crowned there; members of the royal family frequently attend services; thousands are memorialized and a million visit each year. The dean is responsible for its work and is accountable to the monarch alone.

I had been appointed Dean of Westminster in February 1997 and as such would be responsible for the order of service as well as being the minister who presided over the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.

It is difficult at this distance in time to recall the intensity of feeling that Diana’s death aroused throughout the country and in large parts of the world. Yet although there were only five days to complete the funeral service, people were remarkably calm and seemed to be living with a subdued intensity. After the service, I went outside the abbey to talk to the people. They were milling around and not leaving. I had thought to open the abbey for a one way stream of visitors who could see the spot where the coffin had stood. It would not have been a problem to do. The crowd could not have looked less belligerent, but the police in charge ruled against me: the officers thought that they would not be able to control the riot that would probably ensue when I would eventually have to close the doors and not everyone had been through.

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