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7 Social Effects: Reconciliation and Collective Memory I think you judged him too harshly. Sure, he went too far in what he said. . . . But put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You, as a man of honour. He can’t remove his name from that statement . . . His black-listing. . . . [T]hat’s what we all love about your plays. Your love for mankind . . . your belief that people can change. Dreyman, no matter how often you say it in your plays. . . . People do not change! —Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck1 Government policies often bring unintended social consequences. Chapter 2 theorized that personnel systems, though originally deviced to reform the state administration, carry expressive meanings that may affect historical social divisions. Chapter 5 suggested that lustration systems in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland may affect the social standing of tainted officials and shape the memory of the past in different ways. This chapter examines the effects of personnel systems on social reconciliation and on the collective memory of the past. It is divided into three main sections. The first section theorizes that in the pursuit of political objectives, transitional personnel policies send ideological messages that either reproduce or transform social relationships. The second section uses the experimental vignette described in the previous chapter to examine the effects of dismissal, exposure , and confession on social reconciliation. The third section investigates PAGE 194 ................. 18039$ $CH7 06-09-11 09:18:49 PS Social Effects 195 the effects of different lustration systems on the collective memory of the past. It uses the non-experimental part of the vignette to assess countrylevel differences in people’s responses to the same wrongdoing. The Indirect Effects of Personnel Systems The case of de-Baathification of Iraq, which was briefly referred to in the introduction to this book, has demonstrated that the political-administrative process, in addition to its exogenous causes and consequences, affected vital elements of political culture in Iraq. Although it was primarily intended to transform the government, it augmented historical divisions in society, creating deep political instability. Thus, the macropolitical process of personnel change generated microlevel consequences. Drawing on insights from cultural sociology, Chapter 2 offered a theoretical explanation , suggesting that even tangible political acts carry symbolic meanings that are communicated to the wider audience. The expressive power of political processes is particularly strong in times of transition, which are highly politicized and ritualized, and thus have repercussions for future social dynamics. Consequently, most policies of transitional justice generate profound social effects, redistribute guilt, and reassign responsibility for historical injustices. Although they concern only a limited number of perpetrators and victims, measures of transitional justice, such as criminal tribunals, truth commissions, and apologies, are frequently expected to promote reconciliation within an entire society.2 Similar to other policies related to transitional justice, lustrations reset value systems and redefine patterns of acceptable behavior across the whole society.3 In Chapter 3, we saw that lustrations may be viewed as instances of social rituals, which aim to purify the public sphere. This political process inevitably communicates ideological messages about the social standing of tainted officials and about their past. Some lustration systems may transform the negative perceptions about tainted officials, while others may strengthen them. In Chapter 5, we pointed out that the Czech exclusive system created an image of former communists as intractable and unchangeable. It fostered a view that there was no ‘‘former communist’’ just as there is no ‘‘former Black man.’’ In doing so, the exclusive system sent a strong ideological message that had consequences for the current standing of tainted persons and for the perception of their pasts. PAGE 195 ................. 18039$ $CH7 06-09-11 09:18:49 PS 196 Chapter 7 First, it signaled that any positive interpersonal or formal relationship with the tainted official was forever impossible because the person could not change. His political beliefs—like the color of his skin—are biological characteristics, a matter of his human nature. Second, it signaled that all former communists, and other former collaborators, were of the same homogeneous social class. The exclusive system created a uniform image of them as untrustworthy, regardless of their motives for joining the party or for collaborating with the regime. This indiscriminate treatment may have created enemies among those who were not enemies in the first place. In other words, personnel systems—in addition to their political effects—may produce indirect effects: social effects on reconciliation in the society and historical effects that shape the memory of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812205763
Related ISBN
9780812243314
MARC Record
OCLC
793012603
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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