Emotion as a driving force: from policy making to the headlines

This post is a sort of book review of a book which I’ve read a few months ago. It actually gives you a chance to analyze politics from a brand new perspective, which is a really interesting approach, indeed.

The title is Geopolitics of Emotion and the author, Dominique Moisi. He is one of the founders of the Institute of International Affairs, situated in Paris & Brussels. One of the Europe’s leading geostrategic thinkers.

The author argue that there is a clash of emotions (in reference to the clash of civilizations theory by Samuel P. Huntington) reshaping the political scenario nowadays and he finds a predominant feeling in different geographical areas. The back ground where this clash of emotions take place is the current phase of globalization reflecting the coming age of the Asian continent, resulting in the relay of economic power from American-dominated West towards China & India, mostly.

He illustrates it by dividing geopolitical zones in three distinct cultures: The Culture of Hope, Fear and Humiliation.

It’s a secular meaning of hope strictly associated with economic development, trust in one’s identity, in one’s ability to interact positively with the world. The creation of one’s identity is connected with economic development and that’s what European Union (EU) is all about. But the culture of hope is symbolized by China & India. I’d add Brazil as well.

Since China is this “geopolitical zone of Hope” just like the USA time ago (the two World Wars, intervention on international conflicts, American way of life, whatsoever) China also brings this idea when dealing with authoritarian regimes in Africa for instance. The message as the author puts it:

“our authoritarian approach can actually represent a viable path to modernity. Unlike America and Europe, we are not a former colonial power giving hypocritical lessons about democracy and human rights. Nor are we a new imperial power from the East. We are dealing with you in a matter-of-fact way. We need your natural resources to keep growing and you need our money to start growing. Let’s work together for mutual benefit.”

The culture of Fear is mainly represented by US & Europe. The declining of an empire, the fear of loosing one’s identity (in the clash of civilizations), the barbarians at the gates, EU enlargement and so on.

Humiliation as you are convinced that the Other has intruded in the private realm of your own life and made you completely dependent. It’s a feeling of dispossession, a future in sharp contrast to an idealized past, where your economic, political, social and cultural conditions are bound o be dictated by the Other. This was the predominant feeling in Germany after the 1st World War but in the contemporary world this predominant feeling can be seen in the Arab countries. The state of fear can be give rise to the sense of humiliation and this is a dangerous prospect for the US & Europe. The causes of humiliation in the Arab countries is traced back to the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century.

As I have put it before the book gives this broader understanding of the multifaceted interactions among these international communities which present their very own conception of international society, heavily based on the predominant feelings behind one’s identity.

This post makes explicit references to the book Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the world by Dominique Moisi.

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