The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: The Tradition of the Other in Western Political Thought and History

The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: The Tradition of the Other in Western Political Thought and History

The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: The Tradition of the Other in Western Political Thought and History

The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: The Tradition of the Other in Western Political Thought and History

Synopsis

As Harle shows, identity politics are nothing new. Post-Cold War ethnic conflicts and genocides are mere examples in a tradition where political conflicts are seen as struggles between good and evil. This tradition extends from ancient Iranian Zoroastrianism and classical Greek political theory up to present day American, Russian, and European politics.

Excerpt

This book delineates the tradition of the "Other" and the "Enemy" and investigates its role in European -- "European" understood as a synonym for Occidental or Western -- political thought and political history from the ancient past up to the post-Cold War world years. I maintain that dramatic and challenging post-Cold War phenomena, like nationalistic and ethnic problems and conflicts, neo-Nazism, neoracism, the reemergence of anti-Semitism, and many other similar atavistic phenomena, are not unique but repeat and reproduce the delineated tradition. This tradition represents, reflects, and reproduces the struggle between good and evil, which constitutes politics and the political in an indefinite number of ways, from the application of absolute violence in, for example, religious and ethnic wars, gas chambers, and other types of genocides, to more rational political debates. This tradition connects the recent atavistic phenomena to each other, and therefore, this tradition forms a deep structure of (international) politics.

This book is based on a major international project, "Otherness, Identity, and Politics," which I originally launched in the Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI) at the beginning of 1987. It was financed from an award granted by the MacArthur Foundation for the TAPRI workshops on "The Future of Europe: Challenges and Responses." The problem of Otherness and its relation to identity and identity politics was found highly relevant in the post-Cold War world, especially in the context of European political transformation. Therefore, instead of the planned three years, the project survived in various forms. In 1993-96 it was financially supported by the Academy of Finland.

The first publications from the project were European Values in International Relations (Harle, ed. 1990) and the special issue of the History of European Ideas (HEI) on Concepts of the "Enemy" in European Thought (Harle, ed. 1991). Grad-

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