Atle Hetland Cultural arrogance and humiliation lead to hatred among people. Dialogue, recognition and fairness lead to respect and cooperation. Ordinary people understand this, but why dont countries? Our world will become much more peaceful when they do - and extremism and violence will be reduced. Evelin Gerda Lindner is a Professor in Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway. She has broad international experience, including from Somalia and Rwanda, studying causes for conflicts and potential for reconciliation and peace, and she grew up as a refugee in Europe after the Second World War. She has become a 'nomad and citizen of the world. Her new book makes as fascinating, starting from the title, Gender, Humiliation and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex and Parenthood to World Affairs. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa, has written the foreword, and the publisher is Praeger Security International, USA. Rather than reviewing the book, I find it more useful to highlight a few aspects of the international organisation that Professor Lindner established some years ago, The Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Network, with a secretariat in the United States, and the main annual conference being held in New York in the winter month of December. The Network has a large membership from all over the world, including Pakistan. Lindners lifetime work became even more relevant after 9/11, in a time when extremist groups have become stronger than before. Well, whether guerrilla groups and extremism are more widespread today than some decades ago is not certain. But then the mainstream society, the mono-polar world and the powerful countries seem less willing to tolerate extremism, their groups and networks, which threaten the common values and lifestyles of the majorities. Consider, too, that in our time, modern technology can be used to cause enormous harm, either by the one who put the finger on the trigger button is the leader of a strong state or an odd, miniscule minority group. There is also growing worries about what kind of technology and weapons extremist groups and disturbed individuals may get access to. As a pacifist, I also worry about states access to modern, cruel weapon technology and their capability for mass destruction. In her search for causes for extremism (she does not want to use the word 'terrorism), Lindner states that traditionally the 'realpolitik terminology identifies conflicts as differences in interests, for example, as concerns access to land and natural resources. Deprivation is defined as the main cause of violence and conflicts. However, extremists are not always poor and deprived, at least not as individuals, although culturally and in other ways they may be looked down upon. So what may the causes of extremism be? Let us underline that we mean extremism, not just radical and unorthodox thinking, which can be good, but extremism takes us much further into unhealthy thinking. Lindner says that in 'deprivation and long suffering for a group of people, or a state, there must be certain aspects that trigger the urge to retaliate with violence. Deprivation can also lead to apathy and depression rather than terror and revenge. The 'feeling of humiliation is the cause for violence, Lindner says. She explains that feelings of humiliation come about when deprivation, real or imagined, is perceived as an illegitimate imposition of lowering or degradation. All human beings basically yearn for 'recognition and respect. It is when respect and recognition are withdrawn that we feel humiliated, and this is the strongest force that creates rifts between people and breaks down relationships. Debasement may lead to acts of humiliation portrayed in the perceived humiliator, setting off cycles of humiliation in which everybody who is involved feels denigrated and is convinced that humiliating the humiliator is a just a even holy duty. Leaders may take advantage of such feelings and focus on one or a few aspects of grievances. Our worlds war history is full of such examples, including that of the Nazis in the Second World War. Humiliation entails some aspects that are universal and others that depend on social, cultural and economic contexts. There is significant literature on politics of recognition and resentment. Identity politics is motivated by a deep human need for recognition, and the effects of the opposite. The New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman said in an article on November 9, 2003: If Ive learned one thing covering world affairs, its this: The single most under-appreciated force in international relations is humiliation. Aaron Lazare wrote in his book entitled On Apology, Oxford University Press, NY, 2004: I believe that humiliation is one of the most important emotions we must understand and manage, both in ourselves and in others, and on individual and national level. Vamik Volkan has developed a theory of collective violence, which he puts forth in his book Blind Trust: Large groups and their leaders in times of crisis and terror (Pitchstone Publishing, VA, 2004). We suggest that the desire for 'recognition unites human beings. It is a universal feeling in individuals, groups and states. Consequently, many of the rifts that we observe in our world stem from a universal phenomenon, namely humiliation that is felt when recognition and respect is lacking, or perceived as lacking. Differences as such, in religion, ethnicity, culture and so on, do not necessarily create rifts. On the contrary, diversity may be a strength and important element in cooperation. But there must be a certain degree of fairness within a society and between countries, especially as regards economic issues and meeting basic standards of living. By the way, within Pakistan and many other developing countries there is risk for major class conflict if the huge class differences are not reduced, and the bottom majority are not included in decision-making and given a real chance to climb the social ladder. The most important foundation for dialogue in improving relations is respect. It is when respect and recognition are failing that those who feel victimised are highlighting differences and inequality to justify rifts and begin to feel a need for action. Humiliation and exclusion can lead to action in violent and extreme forms. The responsibility for halting this dangerous situation rests primarily with the oppressor, but also with the oppressed. It takes more than goodwill and kind intentions to change conflicts and hostility, say between ideologically different groups, which may have developed over generations, sometimes even magnifying differences, which have gone on for so long that the reasons have almost been forgotten. Maybe the Irish conflict has such elements, and the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, the Iran-USA conflict, and even the Afghan conflict today focusing on the Taliban versus 'the rest, no longer the Socialist USSR versus the capitalist West. Yes, there are reasons, but much smaller than we make them out to be, and as time goes by, we sometimes change the rules of the game, and the real causes for conflicts become more obscure and frozen in historical statements but not in the modern reality. The first step in reconciliation is to admit that none of us is entirely right, not all the time and not in all cases. As a matter of fact, all of us are always wrong, to some extent. If that is taken as the starting point for dialogue and negations between age-old enemies, or newfound ones, then we may indeed get somewhere - not necessarily to agree on all issues, but at least become able to understand and respect each other, provided the basis for values are sincere and in the best interest of all, indeed of the downtrodden and needy. I believe that Professor Lindner and her group have important messages and lessons to teach us all, not least in a time when extremism and terror are gives major focus, and in a time when the rich and the powerful seem to take for granted that they also possess the moral superiority, and have the right to have it all their way, either they are in majority or in minority in their countries and the countries they want to toe their line. History will not judge kindly the bossy countries and segments within countries that do not work actively for equality and fairness for all people. And if they do not care about history, then at least remember that eating all the cherries alone gives severe stomach pain and a stupid look The writer is a Norwegian researcher with background in social sciences and the humanities currently based in Islamabad. Email: