File spoon-archives/modernism.archive/modernism_2004/modernism.0404, message 1

Subject: Richard Koenigsberg speaks on the Political Psychology of War, Genocide & Terrorism
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 16:54:09 -0400

April 22 - 24, 2004
Salt Lake City, Utah
Western Social Science Association
Click <>  here to view the web site

be presented by Richard Koenigsberg at Western Social Science Association's
2004 Conference in Salt Lake City

This year's annual meeting of the WESTERN SOCIAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION will
feature a special plenary address by Richard Koenigsberg, Ph.D. The lecture
will take place on Tuesday, April 22, at 2:45 p.m. at the Sheraton City
Centre Hotel, 150 West 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101. 

With no weapons of mass-destruction found in Iraq to date, some now pose the
question: Why did Saddam Hussein not let inspectors do their work? If he had
acted less provocatively, perhaps the Americans would have backed off. Why
did he not make a greater effort to avoid the outbreak of a hopeless war and
to prevent attacks that destroyed his palaces and his kingdom, killed his
sons, and caused him to end up in a hole in the ground?

In the buildup to war and even now, we barely pose much less attempt to
answer these questions. Why are psychological concepts absent in our
analysis of political conflicts that endanger the future of the human race?
What would be the impact upon policy if it was possible to uncover the
source and meaning of the ideas and ideologies that generate political

Historians and political scientists continue to accept the conventional idea
that leaders and military commanders plan their actions on the basis of
rational and strategic goals, weighing costs against benefits. Is there a
rational explanation for the massive and grotesque violence of political
events such as the Holocaust, the slaughter of the First World War, the
Rwandan genocide or the World Trade Center attacks of 2001? This
presentation will explore the unconscious sources of political violence, and
the role of martyrdom and sacrifice in war, genocide and terrorism.

If a man from Mars witnessed the historical record-the havoc that wars have
wrought throughout the centuries-he would have no difficulty concluding that
the central meaning of war is destruction. Yet historians do not describe
warfare in these terms. Dare we contemplate the possibility that destruction
and self-destruction constitute the fundamental purpose and meaning of
warfare and other forms of societal violence such as genocide and terrorism?
That the hysteria of political and religious violence-the sound and fury-
comes into being in order to prove that we are sincere in our devotion to
our sacred ideals? 

The WESTERN SOCIOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION was founded in 1958 with the mission of
advancing scholarship, teaching, service, and professional exchange across
the social science disciplines. Through its commitments to interdisciplinary
scholarship, WSSA offers an alternative to parochial scholarship. The WSSA
annual conference attracts over 800 scholars spanning a wide variety of
fields. For further details, please visit the association's website at

RICHARD KOENIGSBERG, Ph.D., is the author of Hitler's Ideology, The
Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution, and Nationalism, and Symbiosis and
Separation: Towards a Psychology of Culture.


For further information, please call 718-393-1104 or e-mail


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