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The International Monetary Fund is one of the most central features of the international financial system and of the response of the international community to countries in crisis. It has been described as one of the enforcers of globalization. Together with the World Bank, it is one of the Bretton Woods institutions and as such has been identified with the so-called Washington Consensus. It has been the subject of extensive criticism (What are the main concerns and criticism about the World Bank and IMF? Bretton Woods project, 2005; Noam Chomsky, IMF and World Bank: Tools of the Neoliberal Onslaught, 2000). Critics have notably been apprehensive of its role in shaping the development discourse.
These concerns have been usefully framed by the much-cited call by UNICEF for structural adjustment "with a human face" to complement the prescriptions of the IMF (UNICEF, Development with a Human Face, 1997).
The criminal charges in 2011, including sexual violence, against Dominique Strauss-Kahn ("DSK"), Managing Director of the IMF, have ironically given a very "human face" to the IMF itself. These follow a pattern of allegations of sexual misconduct in his case, widely known to journalists and politicians who have felt constrained to avoid public mention of the matter. The nature of the violence might also be interpreted as offering a human-scale exemplification of "structural adjustment" as imposed on vulnerable parties.
The question explored here is whether there are useful parallels to be recognized between the strategic policies pursued by the IMF over the years -- both publicly and discretely -- and those exemplified by the behaviour of its Managing Director, again both publicly and privately. Any such parallels would be especially noteworthy to the extent that they reflect the unchallenged attitudes of the powerful to those who are relatively vulnerable -- and whose vulnerability is exacerbated in consequence. Fruitful questions include:
With respect to the appropriateness of the legal processes against an individual required to prove his innocence in the face of the accusations and formal allegations, it might be asked whether an institution -- accused in a similar manner -- should effectively "have its hands tied" and be incarcerated with those already convicted, until it can prove its innocence.
Degrees of "rape"?: The question has been helpfully raised by a vigorous political exchange in the UK at the time of writing. The Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, appeared to suggest that some rapes are more serious than others (Alan Travis and Nicholas Watt, Clarke forced to apologise for rape comments, The Guardian, 18 May 2011; David Cameron urged to sack Kenneth Clarke over rape comments, The Guardian, 18 May 2011). David Cameron declared in reaction:
...the position of the government is very clear: there is an offence called rape and anyone who commits it should be prosecuted, convicted and punished very severely.
To understand this, just imagine Clarke saying similar things about murder or other kinds of assault. Few politicians or lawyers talk about murder victims asking for it or of assaults that aren't violent or indeed serious. His comments feed into the belief that women who report rape are lying, that reporting a rape is relatively easy and that some rapes aren't really rapes at all but, I don't know, kinky sex?
So let's start by saying that rape, penetration without consent, is always serious, no matter how much force or violence is used. It is a crime and should be treated like one. The sex offences review in 2004 ruled out separate offences such "she-was-going-to-and-then-she-changed-her-mind rape" or the "she-was-wearing-a-short-skirt rape" because, according to Rape Crisis, who get to deal with the ramifications of this crime more than most of us, "Rape is rape regardless of the relationship or the context".
That argument is clear. However a subsequent comment on the same matter by Simon Jenkins (Trial by media ordeal has become our politicians' rite of passage, The Guardian, 19 May 2011) argues:
His suggestion that not all crimes within a category are necessarily identical is almost trivially obvious. But who cares when the political heat is on and the mob is running hotfoot to the guillotine? It does not want obvious, it wants blood... How dare he suggest rape sentences should reflect the severity of the crime? .... Anyone who injects an iota of complexity into the debate, be it on drugs, rape, violence or youth crime, is shouted down and told to "think of the victims".
Absent from these UK exchanges regarding the legal "category" of rape -- as has been extensively made clear with respect to the extradition of the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, on charges of rape in Sweden -- is the manner in which the definition of "rape" may be different from that in the UK, as separately discussed (Dramatic claims for justice, 2010; Prejudgement, revenge, assassination and conspiracy, 2010). This makes a nonsense of the categorical declaration of Cameron. Ironically degrees of violence are well-recognized in the case of the more serious offence of murder.
Unreported rape: Other commentators have noted that the issue is not one of sentencing but the fact that few rapes are reported to the police in any country: 6% in the UK, 10% of 75,000 in France, 16% of 191,670 in the USA (2005).
Of further relevance, at the time of writing, is the report to the effect that in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) more than 1,000 women are raped every day -- a survey published in the American Journal of Public Health -- following a study over a 12-month period between 2006 and 2007 (Congo Rape Rate Equal To 48 Women Attacked Every Hour: Study, HuffPost, 11 May 2011).
Male rape: Given the Congo figures, and the implications of those "unreported" elsewhere, there is a sense in which the case against DSK is a vain effort to lay claim to seriousness within a context in which practice is a very different matter -- even an institutional exemplification of systemic negligence. This is even more evident given the incidence of male-on-male rape -- possibly by convicted rapists -- in the institutions in which they are incarcerated, and notably in that in which DSK is provisionally incarcerated. There would appear to be a vast and unquestioned tolerance for this behaviour, despite the righteous official declarations of principle.
There are probably more men than women raped in the United States every year -- most of them in prison. Best estimates put the annual number of prison rapes at about 140,000, which is 50,000 more than the 90,000 or so rapes of women reported to police. Gang rape of the most brutal kind is common, and weaker prisoners often seek protection from a "daddy" who fights off other predators in exchange for total submission and sex on demand. There is an ugly racial dimension to prison rape: Blacks and Mexicans deliberately seek out white victims, and black-on-white rape is probably more common than any other kind. Prison rape is an appalling secret in a country that prides itself on human rights.
Rape in military contexts: Attention has recently been drawn to an equivalent situation within military environments. For example, in a US federal class-action suit, active duty members and veterans are suing the Pentagon for "condoning, ignoring and implicitly encouraging sexual abuse" in the military (Ashley Parker, Lawsuit Says Military Is Rife With Sexual Abuse, The New York Times, 15 February 2011). Reports show that as many as 3,250 reported rapes or other sexual assaults took place in the US military, in 2009 alone. Military sources admit the unreported incidents could be as high as 16,000 because 80% of the victims may not have reported the incidents for fear of reprisal. The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. Sexual assaults on women in the U.S. military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.
"Rape of countries"?: Given official tolerance of this behaviour within its own institutions -- except in the case of "show trials" -- it is appropriate to ask how the "rape" of countries by international economic institutions, whether public or private, legal or illegal, is to be understood. Declarations, such as that by the UK Prime Minister, that any form of "rape" is a crime meriting severe punishment call for comparison with the manner in which countries are "raped" and the nature of the institutional response. Given that emphasis is placed on the fact that any distinction of degrees of rape is irrelevant, the question is what degrees of invasive, non-consensual encroachment of countries and cultures have been cultivated and encouraged by the international financial system -- with the complicity of the IMF, under the leadership of DSK?
Terrorism: The assertion that "rape is rape", and that no distinctions are appropriate, recalls the unresolved challenge of defining "terrorism". This is particularly relevant since the invasive nature of rape typically entails terror, and possibly extreme terror (Varieties of Terrorism: extended to the experience of the terrorized, 2004; Varieties of Encroachment, 2004). That terror is not however seen as justifying the treatment of rape as an act of terrorism. Why not -- especially in the case of states supporting "rape" of other countries? Is the "terror" engendered by rape to be considered minor -- a "little terror" in contrast to a "big "terror" -- perhaps merely to be framed as "anti-social behaviour", as separately discussed (Guidelines in Response to Degrees of Anti-social Behaviour, 2011).
The definitional issue is further complicated to the extent that official proposals have been made to reframe terrorism as a form of extremism, as separately discussed (Norms in the Global Struggle against Extremism: rooting for normalization vs. rooting out extremism? 2005).
Complicity with leadership: The case of DSK has brought into focus the extent to which the leadership of societies, such as France, is characterized by a complicity of silence regarding the private lives of those in that milieu. As noted by Angelique Chrisafis (Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal forces France to face sex's link with power, The Guardian, 17 May 2011):
Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest has forced the Paris elite to confront the issue of the sexual behaviour, and at worst the alleged sex crimes, of its whole ruling class.
Although much may be known and discussed, this is not reported by the media -- under a degree of pressure from media leadership complicit in the cover-up. In the UK, this has recently taken legal form through the controversial use of "superinjunctions" which prevent reporting of the very existence of injunctions against such reporting.
Current commentary in France, as a consequence of the DSK case, now highlights the extent to which both journalists and politicians were complicit in avoidance of discussion of such matters -- or consideration of its wider implications for society and governance. Any attempt to do so has been constrained by pressure by employers and other interested parties. Reporting harassment and rape is recognized as having problematic implications for any career. A notable consequence is the cautious attitude of police in responding to complaints. This extends to the situation regarding male rape in prisons or other institutions.
Characteristic dalliance of leadership: Extensive references may be made as historical commentary, as in the study by Christophe Deloire and Christophe Dubois (Sexus Politicus, 2006), notably reviwed by Elaine Sciolino (Sex and the path to power in France - Europe, International Herald Tribune, 16 October 2006). This reports on the well-known behaviour of its presidents Francois Mitterand and Jacques Chirac, for example. As remarked in reviewing the book, Emma-Kate Symons (Code of silence protected IMF chief, The Australian, 18 May 2011):
France is a nation where politicians and journalists are literally in bed with one another. This erotically charged conflict of interest could explain what journalist and novelist Tristane Banon, who plans to take legal action against Strauss-Kahn for attempted sexual assault, says is a hushing up of Strauss-Kahn's violent past. The number of politician-journalist couples in France are legion, beginning with the accused himself and his third wife, broadcast journalist Anne Sinclair, who used to interview her future hubby on her excellent evening political program.
President Nicolas Sarkozy took Le Figaro political correspondent Anne Fulda as his mistress when his second wife ran off with her lover before leaving him for good. Later he was linked to TF1 network news presenter Laurence Ferrari. The Socialist presidential candidate tipped to run for the Elysee next year in the absence of Strauss-Kahn, Francois Hollande, left Segolene Royal for Valerie Trierweiler, the Paris Match political journalist who covered him in the 2007 election. Such dangerous liaisons are rarely declared until well established, if they are publicised at all.
The pattern is of course not confined to France. Prior to the case of Bill Clinton, most noteworthy in the USA was that of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as documented by Robert Dallek (An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, 2003). At the time of writing, an appeal has been launched by the former Israeli president Moshe Katsav against a seven-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault. In such cases, as in France, the question is the extent to which intercourse was "non-consensual" under the pressure of the context. When does a "liasion" with a person to whom power is imputed imply non-consensual sex -- potentially to be defined as "rape"? To what extent would such asymmetric liaisons necessarily imply "rape"? Were the women empowered to say "no"?
Marital "rape"?: The situation can be fruitfully understood through marital or spousal rape -- long treated as a topic to be avoided in public commentary since it could not be effectively alleged. Once widely condoned or ignored by law, it is now repudiated by international conventions and increasingly criminalized as one characteristic of domestic violence. Still, in many countries, spousal rape either remains legal, or is illegal but widely tolerated and accepted as a husband's prerogative. How couples relate sexually has been considered as a totally private matter framed by the marriage contract. This effectively gives legal form to the consent, reframing "rape", irrespective of the extent to which intercourse was non-consensual or experienced as painfully violent, diminishing the self-esteem of the victim.
Contract for non-consensual intercourse: Any sense of a "contract", whether legal, social or implicit, effectively defines a domain in which consent is assumed, or at least is very difficult to challenge successfully. This is evident in institutions where employees may choose (or be obliged) to accept harassment and unwanted intercourse in order to retain or advance their position in that environment. Failure to do so may readily result in being penalized in some manner. Such "consensual" sex within institutional settings (corporations, universities, military) is widely recognized as a kind of "royal road" to personal advancement and even survival. It may facilitate the conclusion of a business contract. In the case of a social milieu, defined by a much more subtle contract (as in France), the constraints and obligations experienced are similar. Should that be understood as "rape"?
"Prostitution"?: Whilst the comparison is notably avoided, it may be extremely difficult to distinguish "prostitution" from any decision to accede to such harassment for personal benefit and security. Prostitution of course highlights the question of whether it is undertaken "willingly", under financial pressure, or physical threat -- or some combination of these. It may offer a means of funding university education, as in the UK (Jonathan Milne, Female students turn to prostitution to pay fees, The Sunday Times, 8 October 2006). "Rape" may of course be a common experience for "sex workers", although reframed as "consensual" by the financial transaction. How is any such inherently "unwanted" intercourse to be distinguished from "rape" as criminally defined? Is it appropriate to argue more generally that society is effectively enabling the "rape" of individuals?
Wider implications: The example of unreported sexual harassment and rape highlights the question of what other domains may also be characterized by a conspiracy of silence -- and the nature of any wider social implication (Global Strategic Implications of the Unsaid: from myth-making towards a wisdom society, 2003; Varieties of the Unsaid -- in sustaining psycho-social community, 2003). Examples include bribery and corruption, reframed euphemistically as "commissions". Of particular interest are controversial topics -- the "hot potatoes" best avoided (Lipoproblems: Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem, 2009). As argued by The Economist (Decoding DSK: What his fall says about transatlantic differences in attitudes to sex, power and the law, 21 May 2011):
European tolerance of cavorting politicians carries the risk of creating a culture of silence and immunity that too easily blurs the lines between a consensual affair, harassment and outright assault. Henry Kissinger may have thought that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. But power can also be a means of extorting sexual and other favours. If state and media conspire to keep quiet about the debauchery of politicians, might it not be easier to hide other misdeeds, such as corruption?
Of curious relevance too this argument is the fact that Henry Kissinger was once voted the sexiest man in America, as noted by John Gray (What drives Alpha males to keep on having affairs, The Guardian, 22 May 2011). Similar recognition was accorded Donald Rumsfeld in 2002.
With respect to the concealment of other "misdeeds", it could readily be argued that rape by the powerful is of a kind with the many instances of their implication in "breaches of confidence" -- especially when understood as "rape" of the public purse through embezzlement of funds, cultivation of a pattern of bribery, and the like. There are numerous examples of the leadership of countries implicated in such activity to an extraordinary degree (Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009). The victims of Bernard Madoff, operator of what has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history, would readily accept that they had been "raped". It is in this sense that the experience of many countries at the hands of the IMF and related bodies has also been described as "rape". In what sense might the complicity of the banking community in the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008-2009, and the sale of toxic assets, be appropriately described as a "rape of public confidence"?
Women in decision-making contexts: Such controversial topics necessarily include the role of women, as helpfully explored by Elise Boulding (The Underside of History: a view of women through time, 1976). Concerns extend into their role in board rooms or with respect to associated "entertainment" and "hosting". The issues are especially evident on the occasion of international meetings (Women and the Underside of Meetings: symptoms of denial in considering strategic options, 2009; Reframing Discourse on Sexual Harassment in Conferences, 1994).
Little is publicized regarding the extent of "bunga-bunga orgies" -- organized informally and independently by delegates as adjuncts to high profile international conferences -- where the invited can get "a bit on the side".
It has been argued that the financial crisis was primarily triggered by men -- characterized as "Masters of the Universe" -- in the hothouse environments of financial institutions, without the merit of the insights of a complementary cognitive mode. Commenting on discussions of the matter as "some of the most interesting" at the Davos World Economic Forum, Nicholas D. Kristof (Mistresses of the Universe, International Herald Tribune, 10 February 2009), indicated a consensus that the world would not have been in the same mess today if it had been "Lehman Brothers and Sisters" (see also "Mistresses of the Universe"? 2009). Kristof notes that the male-dominated environment results in "second-rate decision-making". The high testosterone levels (predictably associated with higher profitability), according to one study, could lead to greater assumption of risk and inhibit ability to engage in rational choice -- especially when surrounded by males of similar status.
Kristof's report has elicited further comment, as for example by Women's Voices for Change (Why Mistresses of the Universe Can't Wait, February 2009). The issues have been discussed in roundtable format by seven leading business women (Ruth Sunderland, 'We cannot return to the old macho ways', The Observer, 15 February 2009).
As noted with respect to the G20 Summit (London, April 2009), the absence of women in the formal operating environment of the IMF is clear and necessarily leads to consideration of a limited range of strategic options (Framing the Global Future by Ignoring Alternatives, 2009; Considering All the Strategic Options -- Whilst ignoring alternatives and disclaiming cognitive protectionism, 2009).
IMF complicity?: It is in this context that the IMF role in the complicity of silence regarding the emerging financial crisis is highlighted. As economics editor of The Guardian, the role of the IMF is clarified as follows (Gordon Brown and the IMF deserve better than this shabby treatment, 23 May 2011):
The IMF exists to ensure the smooth running of the global economy, to provide early warnings of problems ahead and to act as a firefighter when problems arise, as they inevitably will. It was found sadly lacking before and during the financial crisis of 2007-08 "" not just failing to identify trouble ahead but actively promoting the financial free-for-all that caused the speculative frenzy. When the bubble burst, the fund lacked the resources to fulfil its role as a lender of last resort.
The question here is the extent to which the IMF enables the "raping" of countries in crisis. To what extent is the IMF attitude to vulnerable countries consistent with that of DSK to vulnerable women? To what extent does the private behaviour of DSK reflect an implicit strategic attitude of the IMF and its partner organizations and governments? That DSK should be "disowned" with the utmost haste would be consistent with that attitude -- even though he benefits from a presumption of innocence. Is the IMF itself to be presumed to be "innocent" of any accusations that it enables the rape of countries? How complicit is it in abuse?
It is necessarily to be assumed that DSK would not have been appointed to the position unless the compatibility and consonance between his personal values and those of the IMF as an institution were considered appropriate -- following the due diligence process that precedes any such appointment. Conspiracy theorists would no doubt speculate on whether DSK, as a participant in meetings of the Bilderberg Group condoning his appointment, was effectively a representative of its values as well.
"Rape" by IMF?: The question is already being asked as to how "representative" is DSK of those values (Matthew Rothschild, The IMF Chief"™s Rape Charge: metaphor for the IMF"™s abuse of power, The Progressive, 16 May 2011; Ron Holland, Strauss-Kahn and IMF: will the rape and pillage continue? LewRockwell.com, 18 May 2011; Christine Ahn and Kavita Ramdas, The IMF: violating women since 1945, Global Fund for Women, 20 May 2011). The entanglement of roles is already being articulated through political caricatures and spoofs (IMF chief tried to fuck maid after mistaking her for a small financially crippled country, NewsThump.com, 17 May 2011).
Arguments have been made regarding the manner in which the IMF "rapes" the world (Dana Gabriel, The IMF: Raping The World, One Poor Nation at a Time, Borderfire Report, 24 April 2009; Lacy MacAuley, Don't Just Indict "DSK," Charge the IMF Too, Foreign Policy In Focus, 20 May 2011). For Walt Thiessen (IMF Head Rape Allegation Has Startling Parallels To World Economy, Nolan Chart, 15 May 2011):
In other words, the IMF wants to monetarily rape the population of the world, all in the name of "doing good", the way central banks have done for centuries. Central banks purport to "fix" banking and financial crises by creating mountains of new money out of thin air in order to give them to the banks that got themselves in trouble in the first place. The IMF does the same thing with governments that get themselves in trouble by borrowing more than they can afford to borrow. If the IMF gains the position of being the creators of a world-wide currency based upon SDRs, there is no doubt that they will do what all central banks in history have always done. In the long run, they'll destroy that currency and debase its value, thereby stealing money from every hard working person world-wide in order to enrich themselves and cover the enormous costs of their "good deed doing".
How can I tell a story we already know too well? Her name was Africa. His was France. He colonized her, exploited her, silenced her, and even decades after it was supposed to have ended, still acted with a high hand in resolving her affairs in places like Côte d'Ivoire, a name she had been given because of her export products, not her own identity.
Her name was Asia. His was Europe. Her name was silence. His was power. Her name was poverty. His was wealth. Her name was Her, but what was hers? His name was His, and he presumed everything was his, including her, and he thought he could take her without asking and without consequences.
His name was privilege, but hers was possibility. His was the same old story, but hers was a new one about the possibility of changing a story that remains unfinished, that includes all of us, that matters so much, that we will watch, but also make and tell in the weeks, months, years, decades to come.
Whilst it is to be expected that any such parallel or equivalence would be rejected as "ridiculous nonsense", it is appropriate to note how such rejection would be made in a manner which is remarkably similar to the rejection of accusations of "rape" in any male-dominated community.
Distinct from military uses of mass rape of individuals ("war rape"), is it credible to explore notions of collective "harassment" by one group of another in order to determine whether there are systemic or other parallels to the sexual harassment of vulnerable individuals? The fact that widespread metaphorical use is made of the term "rape" suggests that such a relationship is inherently meaningful in practice. The fact that both individuals and collectivities also refer to acceding to being "raped" reinforces the argument -- accepting use of the term "prostitution" in pursuit of their developmental agendas. Consistent with such metaphorical usage are references to contractual relationships between institutions as "being in bed together", ironically a phrase commonly applied to the IMF and the World Bank.
Can such parallels be found both with respect to harassment of women by men, as is widely discussed, or homosexual harassment, notably as practiced in institutions maintained by the state (prisons, military bases, etc)? Ironically it has been noted in the media that the place in which DSK is incarcerated pending trial -- Rikers Island -- is a place where the latter form of harassment is widely practiced.
The argument could be informed by the debate regarding corporate personhood, namely the question of what subset of rights afforded under the law to natural persons should also be afforded to corporations as legal persons. Because to the extent that the corporation is legally considered the "person," individual shareholders are not legally responsible for the corporation's debts and damages beyond their investment in the corporation. However, although any such institution -- classically multinational corporations -- may be described metaphorically as "raping" another body or country, it is unclear what responsibilities are to be recognized which might enable legal action. Is attempted "rape" to be taken as seriously as in the individual case? How does such "rape" relate to corporate social responsibility and its integration into any business model?
Viewed metaphorically, the "structural adjustment" of another may be understood or experienced as a a form of violence, even rape. This is consistent with the more general argument made regarding structural violence by Johan Galtung (Violence, Peace, and Peace Research, Journal of Peace Research, 1969). As applied by one collective (such as the IMF) to another (a country in crisis), it may indeed be usefully reviewed as a form of "rape". The complex arguments regarding whether the process is consensual -- or whether any call to "stop" will be heeded during the process -- are well known in the case of individual against individual. Their equivalents are potentially to be recognized in the case of collective against collective.
|Individual against Individual
(charges against DSK, Managing Director of IMF)
|Collective against Collective
(actions enabled and facilitated by IMF strategies)
|Oral and anal sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion (criminal sexual act in the first degree)||Use of the term "rape" (or its synonyms) is common in business, military and political jargon to describe the forcible actions of one group on another. (cf Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998)|
|Attempted sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion (rape in the first degree)||Corporate / Business rape: Occurs when a larger business or corporation forces it"™s will over a smaller corporation or business, ie. hostile takeover. The larger business will force it"™s will over the smaller business until the larger business gets what it wants, usually the sweet profit of the smaller business. This process can be extremely painful for those involved especially if the matter is tied up court for months in court listening to boring facts and figures. The end result being the company being taken over or not being taken over but left battered and bruised and lacking self worth. (Urban Dictionary)|
|Subjecting another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion (sexual abuse in the first degree)||The collective equivalent is potentially to be recognized through various notions of "encroachment", notably of a territorial nature, by one group with respect to the traditional domain of another with which collective identity is associated (cf Varieties of Encroachment, 2004)|
|Subjecting another person to sexual contact without the latter's consent (sexual abuse in the 3rd degree)|
|Restraint of another person (unlawful imprisonment in the 2nd degree)||Imposition of unwelcome restraints by one collective on another is widely recognized. It includes slavery, restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions on traditional practices and activities|
|Intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touching the sexual and other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading and abusing such person, and for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire (forcible touching)||Collective variants of this process are to be recognized in the actions of corporate bodies infringing on traditional (and sacred) lands -- as with the activities of mining companies on the Aboriginal lands of Australia. It is perhaps most evident in the deforestation of the Amazon and other tribal lands. The term "rape" is frequently used metaphorically in relation to deforestation. The term "cultural rape" is also frequently used with respect to the destruction of a cultural heritage. It is a form of cultural violence, also to be recognized in terms of "spiritual pollution".|
Is any such systemic equivalence to be totally denied, perhaps following the logic developed by the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick (The Myth of Moral Equivalence, Imprimis, 1986)?
Piroska Nagy, an IMF economist, who suppressed her complaint of having been obliged to sleep with DSK at the World Economic Forum (Davos, 2008) argued: "I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't" (Chris Greal, Dominique Strauss-Kahn admitted 'error of judgment' in 2008 sex case, The Guardian, 17 May 2011):
Nagy wrote that she had a high regard for Strauss-Kahn as a leader and a man with a vision of how to tackle the global financial crisis, but she feared he was a man with a problem, making him unsuited to head an institution in which he had authority over women.
Nagy's argument of being "damned if she did and damned if she did not" is characteristic of the experience of those constrained by an implicit contract affecting their survival and future. It includes the case of unwanted intercourse in marriage, irrespective of whether it is experienced as violence in physical terms, rather than as demeaning in some way.
The question is whether relationships between collectives -- especially those involving countries and corporations more powerful than countries -- can be understood in this light. Just as the IMF imposes austerity and other measures of conditionality on loans to countries faced with economic crisis, to what extent is such conditionality comparable with that imposed by an institutional superior in pressuring a "dependent other" into a sexual encounter?
Intriguingly the disciplinary insights of economics then apply more generically to the economy of trust and confidence in any exchanges, most notably with respect to any economy of truth. Just as UNICEF endeavoured to ensure that a "human face" was placed on those austerity measures, so it is appropriate that the "human face" should require a higher degree of "austerity" from those that claim authoritative knowledge (Richard Jolly, Adjustment with a human face: a UNICEF record and perspective on the 1980s, World Development, 1991). With respect to globality, this might be said to have been been envisaged by the president and managing director of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab and Claude Smadja (Globalization Needs a Human Face, International Herald Tribune, 28 January 1999).:
Framed in this way does Nagy's perception apply to countries engaging with the IMF. Are those countries "damned if they do", because of the unwelcome invasive consequences (exemplified by multinational corporations), and "damned if they don't", because of their dire economic straits and need to develop? Is it appropriate to consider the enforced "structural adjustment" -- ensuring their increased "receptivity" to external institutions and investment -- as echoing that of an unwelcome interpersonal sexual encounter?
Enhancing attractiveness: It is a natural tendency of every individual to endeavour to increase attractiveness, however this is understood. There is a huge worldwide investment -- whether on the part of individuals or of bodies offering services -- in the process of increasing that attractiveness. Standards of attractiveness are promoted through every form of advertising. Implicit in the message, whether addressed to men or women, is that better things are enabled by being more attractive. This is the fundamental cultural setting for current psychosocial dynamics of every kind.
French culture and advertising is renowned for the emphasis it places on enhancing the capacity to séduire and on appropriate provocation. DSK, as a French man, emphasized one response to this pattern -- however diversely it is appreciated in France, or in other cultures.
Whilst the opportunities for enhancing the attractiveness of women are widely recognized, however controversial, that of men is both more obvious and more subtly problematic. The point is perhaps appropriately made by recalling the codpiece -- as disported by the most powerful (notably in England) at a particular period in the history of fashion, and as it continues to be employed in some tribal cultures and in kinky sexual gatherings (possibly even at bunga-bunga parties of the powerful?). The challenge for men, as recognized by the advertising industry, is to enhance their attractiveness through "codpiece surrogates" such as automobiles. This was most notable in the case of DSK, controversially photographed with an iconic Porsche -- one week before his arrest.
Selective attraction: Difficulties become apparent as a consequence of such enhanced attractiveness. A particular difficulty relates to assumptions that the "attractor" has control over potential "attractees" -- namely that "attraction" can be effectively "turned on" in order to "turn on" selected "attractees", excluding (or deprecating) any effect on those not so selected. The difficulty is exacerbated by the unconscious dimensions of the process, notably what is to be selected and excluded and under what conditions, especially where the arena of attraction may be dynamic.
Undirected attractiveness: The matter is further complicated by the extent to which the person seeks simply to be attractive primarily for their own sense of self-esteem -- or claims to do so -- rather than with any conscious objective of achieving any effect on others. A related case is that of an individual who is naturally attractive to others, without making any effort to be so, being conscious of it, or seeking to enhance that attractiveness.
Burkha?: One extreme response to this dilemma is the use of the burkha, as prescribed by Islam, to restrict exposure of attractiveness to selected attractees. It is therefore an extreme irony at this time that its use should have been prohibited by new legislation in the country of which DSK is a citizen. (Burkha as Metaphorical Mirror for Imperious Culture? 2009). Rather than complaining of sexual harassment, should consideration be given -- as a "French exception" -- to the value of a "burkha" for (female) journalists seeking interviews with politicians in which any "follow-up" to their attractiveness is unwanted?
Called but unchosen: In this fluid situation it is necessarily unclear -- and commonly preferred that way -- to what process enhanced attraction is expected to lead. In the extreme case an individual would be universally and powerfully attractive but would be empowered to choose only to engage with preferred attractees. It is not clear what those "called but unchosen" are then expected to do as a consequence of that exposure.
Is the implicit agenda that of engendering a "lookee-lookee" culture in which "touchee-touchee" is deprecated and potentially to be framed as harassment? What then to make of the cross-cultural issues? How to distinguish harassment from the propensity of people variously to touch each other (allegedly 180 times per hour in Rio de Janeiro, over coffee; 120 in Paris; 0 in London)? How is the effort to maximize "pull" by an attractor on attractees to be distinguished from the deprecated process of "cock teasing"?
"Seducing investors": There is a curious irony to the fact that the same adjective -- "attractive" -- is applied preferentially with respect to choice of economic investment. Potential investments are widely promoted using this term. Countries and regions specifically endeavour to promote their attractiveness to desirable investors. Public relations skills may even be used to perform cosmetic surgery on the image of the investment, or to advise on the use of "deodorants" to render an investment "irresistible".
As with the individual case, the question is what is to be done about the bodies attracted by such potential but considered to be undesirable and therefore unwanted. The IMF has played a significant role in enabling "unwanted" investors to work their will on a country for their own benefit. This is exemplified by the classic case against multinational corporations enraging with developing countries through "doors" opened by the IMF as a feature of its conditionality arrangements. Rather than as a "rapist", is it more appropriate to compare the IMF role metaphorically with "pimping" on behalf of other bodies -- pimping for MNCs?
It is in this sense that metaphorical sexual connotations are typically used to frame investment opportunities and their exploitation. This is analogous to the use of military metaphors in corporate strategy development, as separately discussed (Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998). In that language, might it be said that investors -- enabled by the IMF -- are attracted irresistibly to the opportunity offered by "women"? Is this consistent with the recognized "addiction to women" of DSK, as the Managing Director of the IMF?
Do attractive countries "have it coming"?: Much is made by feminists of the dubious logic associated with the "they had it coming" defence of males in the face of an unwelcome response to female attractiveness. Is inappropriate response to investment opportunities triggered by a pronounced "décolleté" or a provocative "mini-skirt" -- long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting? Should an analogue to the feminist criticism be applied to countries subject to unwelcome exploitation -- even "rape" -- of their widely-publicized "attractive" resources?
Responsibilities of attraction: Whilst much is made of the responsibilities of the attracted in avoiding non-consensual interaction, little is said of the responsibilities of the attractive and those engendering attraction. Are there conditions of "irresponsible attractiveness" -- as some religions would claim? How to transcend the tendency to simplistic analysis when every effort is made to invest in attraction -- seemingly functioning within psychosocial systems as does gravity in astrophysical systems?
In discussing the role of the media in exacerbating the problematic aspects of attraction, Deborah Orr (Newspapers don't put a brake on sexual antics; they fuel them, The Guardian, 19 May 2011) concludes:
Again, a common generalisation is that powerful men are commonly a sexual menace, assuming that they can help themselves to women, when they can't. Can I suggest that although this sort of view is considered, rightly, to be militantly feminist, the truth is that it characterises women as blank and passive, every bit as much as the pre-feminism credo that insisted that women did not really like sex at all.
It must surely be acknowledged that even women, we paragons of virtue, are capable of finding power, esteem and wealth to be sexually attractive, and that these predatory men are not operating entirely in a strange vacuum, unrelated to reality? Their assumptions of female sexual availability are based on experience, not delusion.
I am not excusing such attitudes here, far from it, but simply asking whether attempts to draw such unrealistically stereotyped sketches of monseigneurial assumption and underling reluctance, might cast more heat than light on the highly important issue of sexual relations between men and women? Whatever the outcome of Strauss-Kahn's trial, allegations about his antics over many years will offer a global lesson in how not to treat women. First and foremost, it ought to be understood quite simply that women are not all the same. It is important to remember that men, even powerful men, are not all the same either, and no more helped by crude stereotyping than women are.
The much-publicized antics of Silvio Berlusconi, as president of Italy, have given a degree of legitimacy to "bunga-bunga" parties offering "interaction" between celebrities and women variously motivated to participate (Beppe Severgnini, Bunga bunga in the Medici court of Silvio, Financial Times, 7 December 2010). They have drawn attention to this modality in a range of influential environments -- whatever the downside (Paddy Agnew, Special Davos meeting considers cost of Berlusconi's 'bunga, bunga' business, The Irish Times, 31 January 2011). Such "parties" and "entertainment" have long been a feature in rewarding marketing executives and closing deals with valued customers.
Despite the tolerance of liaisons in French culture, it necessarily remains unclear how widespread is this phenomenon and how central it is to leadership at the highest level in an increasingly globalized society. Is there effectively a "Bunga Bunga Brigade" promoting a "bunga bunga culture"? To what extent are institutions like the IMF implicated in this culture in undertaking negotiations with lenders and borrowers? Is there a need for a global equivalent to the study by Christophe Deloire and Christophe Dubois (Sexus Politicus, 2006)?
More crucially, to what extent does this culture contribute to global misleadership (Emergence of a Global Misleadership Council misleading as vital to governance of the future? 2007; Framing the Interplay of Leadership and Misleadership, 2007). How credible is the dramatic tale offered by the movie Eyes Wide Shut (1999)?
Whether in the male-female dynamic, as notably valued and exemplified at every level of French culture, or in the bunga-bunga context valued by some political elites, considerable recognition is given to the inherent "game-playing". In a larger context, the notion of game-playing is used as a framework for exploration of strategic relationships by institutions -- whether with respect to business game-playing or foreign relations.
Games resulting in "rape" are clearly those which are unwelcome to the "loser", however much they are valued by the "winner". One challenge is to explore ways of reframing the approach to games, as exemplified by the arguments of James P. Carse (Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility, 1987), helpfully reviewed by Flemming Funch.
The concern with respect to the different levels of "game" in which DSK and IMF are variously engaged is to distinguish the individual from the collective but to detect patterns of equivalence between them as patterns of game-playing with significant "others".
One approach is to make use of the pattern of interactions highlighted by Edward Haskell (Generalization of the structure of Mendeleev's periodic table, 1972) in his work on the coaction cardioid. This can be interpreted as the systemic possibilities of relationships between two parties -- most significantly in terms of the effect on each of engaging in one of nine particular processes. Typically one is recognized as potentially stronger and the other as weaker -- although roles may be exchanged dynamically in the process of "intercourse".
Haskell's insights (as represented in the figure below) have been very usefully (and extensively) adapted by Timothy Wilken (The Relationship Continuum, 2002) to an ordering of the spectrum of personal relationships in terms of adversity -- neutrality -- synergy.
|Possible 8-fold Positive-Negative Hybrid Conditions|
|.||.||Y = "Control component"|
Haskell introduced two neologisms indicated in the above figure:
The pattern may be applied to distinguish within the pattern in the figure below:
|Indication of systemic relationship between individual and collective patterns of interaction
(tentative elaboration of the pattern above)
appreciation of the other, beneficial catalytic effect of the other
synergy, mutual benefit, symbiosis
|.||exploitation of resources to the other's disadvantage||enhancement through presence of an attractive other country||mutually beneficial collaboration between countries||.|
|.||.||(sexual) predation on the vulnerable other person||enhancement through presence of a (sexually) attractive other person||mutual enhancement through mutual attraction||.||.|
separation to the disadvantage of the other
|(neo-) colonialism||effective separation from the other, diminished by occasional encounters||mutual indifference
|colocation -- enabling the pleasure, benefit or inspiration from the other||contiguity-- enabling benefit and inspiration of the other||+1.0
copresence to the advantage of the other
|.||.||mutually destructive (sexual) codependency between people
||stronger diminished by interaction with an unaffected other person||draining dependency of the needy
|.||mutually destructive relationship between two countries||.||stronger diminished by interaction with an unaffected other country||.||draining dependency of one country on another,||.|
The crudity of the above schematic highlights the need for richer representations of the pattern of relationships with any "other". The graphic representation of the above relationships can be taken much further, as tentatively explored in the following:
The challenge can be fruitfully presented otherwise through acknowledgement of a subtlety which French culture brings to that pattern through the above-mentioned "art of seduction" of which DSK was both master and victim. His current wife, Anne Sinclair, said of his pattern of dalliances in an interview with L'Express magazine: I am proud of it! It's important for a politician to be able to seduce. Curiously, in anticipation of the trial of the incarcerated DSK, the style magazine of The New York Times offers a lengthy adaptation of a book by Elaine Sciolino (La Séduction: How the French Play the Game of Life, 2011) under the title: Opération Séduction: Is everyone in France out to rope you in? (21 May 2011). In clarifying the nature of the game, the author comments:
Séduction and séduire (to seduce) are among the most overused words in the French language. In English, "seduce" has a negative and exclusive sexual feel; in French, the meaning is broader. The French use "seduce" where the British and Americans might use "charm" or "attract" or "engage" or "entertain". The word's omnipresence in the French consciousness can be unsettling.... Clearly, seduction in France does not always involve sex. A grand séducteur is not necessarily a man who easily seduces others into making love. The term might refer to someone who never fails to persuade others to his point of view.... A key component of seduction -- and of French life -- is process.... For centuries, the most perceptive experts on seduction in France have been its female courtesans.
The description recalls the intention articulated by James Carse (Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility, 1987). This is exemplified by Sciolino's quotation of one of the courtesans: You must choose your words carefully, as you would in a war... The way you seduce depends on whether you want to win or you want to lose. This phrase highlights the limitations of any idealisation of the "win-win solution". It might then be said that the "art of winning" is to know when to lose -- reframing the significance of "winning" and "losing" within a larger framework.
Sciolino herself concludes: understanding the French would require a fine appreciation of ambiguity, process, tension and playfulness -- in other words séduction. However an uncomprising response is provided to this elegant argument by the author of Baise-Moi (2002), Virginie Despentes (Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the game only one side plays, The Guardian, 23 May 2011):
This idea that "seduction" is just a friendly French practice couldn't, for example, explain why the national assembly is almost exclusively male? Or the council of ministers? And all the editors of major newspapers?... But from the moment DSK appeared handcuffed and flanked by cops, sent to jail under the cameras, he became a sympathetic character. Which he never was to me before. Because if anything is as disgusting and incomprehensible as rape, it's prison: this rape by the state, this abject, useless destruction of humanity.
What does prison create? It is no solution, just the face of inhumanity, the dirty mirror reflecting how poorly we live together, how we only know how to respond to violence by unleashing more violence. No practice whose purpose is to demolish the individual, to strip him bare and break him, deserves any sympathy. Whether it is called rape or jail, we need to ask ourselves how we developed the sordid habit of considering either one as part of the landscape, or as tolerable.
How is the emergence of Carse's "infinite games" to be facilitated, if the primary focus is on the quest for culpable parties?
Prejudging an individual: DSK exemplifies for women the problematic male tendency to harassment and possibly to non-consensual intercourse. This is widely documented as being traumatic in the extreme. An appropriate question is how those recognizing this proclivity would want someone like DSK to be judged and sentenced. Is nothing too painful? Are there mitigating circumstances? Especially interesting -- despite the legal principle of assumption of innocence until guilt is proven -- is the nature of the "pre-judgment" only too evident in the media coverage of the incarceration of DSK.
Is the extrajudicial "trial by media", in the absence of appropriate presentation of evidence in a court of law, to be understood as consistent with the case of Osama bin Laden, as separately discussed (Iconic Extrajudicial Execution of Jesus through Osama by US? 2011).
Other more fundamental challenges of "pre-judgment" are illustrated by the highly controversial and mediatised coverage of the misjudgments occasioned by the authorities of the International Association of Athletics Federations regarding the sexuality of Caster Semenya -- assumed initially to have been a "woman". When a "woman" is sought for (international) office, how is the evidently embarrassing issue of provision of proof to be resolved? Is the requisite invasiveness to be construed as "rape" under another guise?
Pre-trial detention of an individual: This is the process of detaining arrested suspects in a police-cell, remand prison or other detention centre before trial or sentencing -- as widely publized in the case of DSK. Individuals may spend months or years incarcerated in this way -- in anticipation of a trial through which their guilt or innocence is proven. Curiously, at the time of writing, the BBC TV has aired a documentary on life in a pre-trial detention centre in the USA by Louis Theroux (Miami Mega Jail, 2011).
The appropriateness of such pre-trial detention has also been brought into focus by the considerable controversy associated with the conditions of detention of Bradley Manning in relation to the dissemination of diplomatic cables via Wikileaks. As noted by Peter Tatchell (One year in jail, Bradley Manning is a hero, New Statesman, 18 May 2011):
For nine months, 23-year-old Manning was imprisoned in harsh, inhuman conditions at the Quantico marine corps base in Virginia. He was subjected to long periods of solitary confinement and many extreme deprivations, which amounted to pre-conviction punishment. This mistreatment was condemned by more than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars.
The abuse of Manning constituted illegal "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment", contrary to the UN Convention Against Torture and to the Eighth Amendment to the US constitution. It is arguable that President Obama should be indicted by the International Criminal Court. He bears direct personal and legal responsibility for the mistreatment of Manning. He knew about it, publicly endorsed it and did nothing to stop it.
Given the level of violence tolerated in pre-trial detention facilities in the USA, the curious situation is created in which those alleged to have committed acts of violence (however defined) are imprisoned with the (undeclared) intent that violence be enacted upon them -- in such a way that the intent can be denied and the consequence officially deplored.
Is some variant of this vindictive, pre-trial treatment what world public opinion would desire for DSK -- or for Julian Assange, if he is extradited from Sweden?
Prejudging a collective: As with DSK, the IMF exemplifies, for many experiencing economic misery and vulnerability, the tendency for institutions and corporations to exploit that vulnerability in forms of economic "intercourse" experienced as "unwanted" and inherently degrading in the light of the self-image and self-esteem of those exposed to it. Again the appropriate question is how those collectivities recognizing this tendency would want bodies like the IMF to be judged and sentenced? Again, is nothing too painful? Are there mitigating circumstances?
Given the "pre-judgment" and pre-trial detention of DSK, is there a case for envisaging a form of "pre-judgment" in the case of the IMF or its primary financial partners? Would its role in failing to anticipate the disastrous financial crisis of 2009-2010, and its laxity with regard to factors which triggered it, be considered appropriate cause for such "incarceration" -- until it can prove its innocence? Is the distinction between the IMF and the World Bank such as to avoid any corporate responsibility on the part of either or both?
Curiously, with respect to an earlier widely-publicized incident involving an IMF staff member, DSK acknowledged an "error of judgment". A subsequent IMF investigation of the matter set it aside without further consequence. This suggests a degree of complicity.
Pre-trial "incarceration" of collectives?: Given the virtually total inability to identify corporate responsibility for the financial crisis in legal terms, is the behaviour of the institutions central to the crisis to be compared in any way to the "flight risk" justifying the preventive incarceration of DSK -- prior to legal proceedings? The "flight of capital" is after all a well-recognized phenomenon. Many of those bodies are renowned for their skills in tax avoidance and tax evasion.
Following the logic applied in the case of DSK, is there no case for the "pre-trial incarceration" of those bodies and their assets on some analogue to Rikers Island -- a proactive alternative to that offered by tax havens from which institutions under judicial review could operate pending their proof of their own innocence? Should such bodies be placed under constant supervision -- analogous to the "suicide watch" in the case of DSK -- to prevent them taking measures to "cease to exist" legally (such as through declaration of bankruptcy)?
What would the underprivileged and exploited countries of the world consider to be a fair judgment and sentencing of institutions like the IMF -- as a consequence of the exploitation to which they have been exposed?
Misjudgment and miscarriage of justice: The extent of miscarriage of justice in relation to individuals is highlighted at the time of writing by the case of John Thompson who spent 18 years in a US prison for robbery and murder -- 14 on death row -- only to be released after evidence concealed by prosecutors surfaced just weeks before the execution date (The Prosecution Rests, but I Can"™t, The New York Times, 9 April 2011; Connick v. Thompson, 2011). Whatever the evidence presented (or concealed) in the case of DSK, there is every probability that many will continue to question whether DSK was himself framed by his political enenies -- as might be argued in the case of the many held in Guantanamo Bay without trial for many years. Judgment against institutions in the court of public opinion, as in the case of the IMF -- if such were to be successful -- could similarly be upheld as unfair.
Identity and justice: Who or what is on trial? What is the nature of the most appropriate form of justice? One consideration is a notion of "metaphorical justice" to which Aristotle refers (Ethic, v. 11), as noted in the Summa Theologica: Justice (Secunda Secundae Partis) of Thomas Aquinas:
Nevertheless in one and the same man we may speak metaphorically of his various principles of action such as the reason, the irascible, and the concupiscible, as though they were so many agents: so that metaphorically in one and the same man there is said to be justice in so far as the reason commands the irascible and concupiscible, and these obey reason; and in general in so far as to each part of man is ascribed what is becoming to it. Hence the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 11) calls this "metaphorical justice."
A notion of "symbolic justice" has been specifically raised in relation to serial rapists, and in relation to the recent execution of Osama bin Laden (Isadora Lares, Symbolic justice could cause negative consequences, The Post Standard, 16 May 2011). The term was applied in a review of a biography of supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall by David Garrow (The Symbolic Justice, The Free Library). The term "virtual justice" has now been applied to issues relating to virtual reality, perhaps to be considered one characteristic of a mediatised world (Greg Lastowka, Virtual Justice: the new laws of online worlds, 2010).
Any exploration of the larger significance of an individual, "representing" an institution, in the midst of a highly mediatised process, could be facilitated by the argument of Kenneth Boulding (Ecodynamics; a new theory of social evolution, 1978).
Our consciousness of the unity of self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of group, organization, department, discipline or science. If personification is a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors -- we might be one ourselves.
Poetic justice: Is DSK usefully to be recognized as a "metaphor" for the IMF in the eyes of public opinion -- encouraging a questionable lynch-mob need for a scapegoat? Does the focus on DSK disguise a quest for catharsis through some form of symbolic or poetic justice ? What subtlety can only be effectively embodied through the latter form in a an increasingly complex society? Does this suggest the need to adapt to an understanding of justice the argument of Gregory Bateson (Our Own Metaphor, 1972):
One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don't ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we're not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping of complexity to complexity.
Embodying the problematique: Commentators on the case of DSK have been quick to remark the level of his tax free salary, exceeding that of the President of the USA. There is a degree of complicity in the silence regarding salaries and perks typical of intergovernmental institutions, and inviting the well-merited criticism of the New Rules for Global Finance Coalition. DSK appropriately embodies the salary inequalities widely deprecated. As noted with respect to corporations by Peter Wilby (Anxiety keepts the super-rich safe from middle-class rage, The Guardian, 18 May 2011), FTSE 100 chief executives are on average paid 145 times the median wage "" and, on current trends, will be paid 214 times the median by 2020. In the financial sector, the highest-paid banker in the UK receives four times the CEO's earnings and 1,128 times more than the lowest-paid employee receives.
As an embodiment of these discrepancies, it is therefore more than appropriate that the trial of DSK should be undertaken in a society primarily inspired by a Christianity whose founding myth is that of the capacity of a "son of man" to "take on" and "embody" the unresolved problems of the world in the service of a larger cause.
Framed in this way, the trial could well prove of significance for justice in the governance of social processes characterized by patterns of relationships normally too complex for the human mind to grasp.
"Passion play": It is in this sense that those with roles in this drama are effectively carriers of larger significance -- irrespective of the outcome of the trial. Ironically it might be usefully understood as a form of "passion play" in which all the traditional ingredients are fruitfully present -- but with a different dramatic twist -- and in which the media have as yet been only simplistically engaged:
More intriguing is the international community of which DSK was an icon and champion, especially for the IMF:
Reframing through metaphor: The dramatic setting offers the marvellous complementarity between Wall Street, as the temple of finance and money lending, and Rikers Island, as the place of ultimate incarceration -- between an acknowledged form of "heaven" and an acknowledged form of "hell" -- one being the systemic counterpart and "shadow" of the other. Etymologically and appropriately, "riker" is readily associated with both "rich" (Dutch rijk) and an imperial domain (German Reich). Rich Mens Island?
In an effort to characterize a significant aspect of the global decision-making culture relevant to this argument, consideration could appropriately be given to the "psychic prison" metaphor, one of eight alternatives identified by Gareth Morgan (Images of Organization, 2007). Given the proportion of male leadership in economic institutions of the world, this could be usefully related to the above-mentioned analysis by Human Rights Watch of male-on-male rape in such penal institutions. Is there a form of institutional male-on-male rape -- effectively condoned, if not promoted, by the IMF culture (as suggested by the remarkable tolerance of male-on-male rape in the prisons of its member governments)? Morgan also suggests framing organizations through a "flux and transformation" metaphor, namely "unfolding logics of change". This might be understood as consistent with the dynamics of "relational game-playing" discussed above -- by which individual and collective tragedy must necessarily be encompassed (including "rape").
Both perspectives highlight the need for artful (if not playful) engagement with the unsaid and the unforeseen, as previously discussed (Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010; Global Strategic Implications of the Unsaid: from myth-making towards a wisdom society, 2003; Enacting Transformative Integral Thinking through Playful Elegance, 2010).
Depth psychology?: The arguments of depth psychology merit consideration, most notably as articulated by Andrew Sameuls (Machiavelli and Shadow Politics, International Minds, 1994; The Political Psyche, 1994; From Sexual Misconduct to Social Justice, Psychoanalytic Dialogues:the International Journal of Relational Perspectives, 1996).
Is there not every possibility that the future will consider the current articulation of global issues as a premature and simplistic closure on the nature of a more complex reality within which people and institutions can be engaged in richer ways. As separately discussed, it is that subtler reality that is vulnerable to exploitative harassment, when some form of "seductive" process might be more appropriate (Beyond Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual harassment as a metaphor, 1994). The charged symbolism of rape may then obscure much subtler implications for collective conception and growth (Engendering Invagination and Gastrulation of Globalization: reconstructive insights from the sciences and the humanities, 2010). This notably has implications for richer understandings of collective "intercourse" and "intervention" (Human Intercourse: Intercourse with Nature and Intercourse with the Other, 2007; Intercourse with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle, 2009).
As the institution calling for "structural adjustment with a human face", UNICEF is naturally preoccupied with the child emerging from intercourse -- including rape. Hence its articulation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Concern with the emergence of new possibilities as a result of collective intercourse calls, however, for some form of adaptation, as might be speculatively suggested by a Convention on the Rights of the Child Within (1997). The complex of issues associated with rape, contraception, abortion and overpopulation merits reframing in terms of emergence of the new -- and its inhibition, most notably by institutional mindsets.
But notions of the "child within" also highlight the challenges of the immaturity -- characteristic of the tendency to rape -- and its integration into an institutionalized society (Grant Cameron, The Child Within, 1997; Charles L. Whitfield, Healing The Child Within, 1987; Pamela Brockman, Your Inner Child - Divine Child - Child Within; Steven C. Hayes, Compassion For the Child Within, Psychology Today, 20 March 2009). How to understand the "child within" collective undertakings?
To what extent is the behaviour of IMF to be seen as comparable to that of its Director? If their values were not consonant, why was he appointed to the position? Might it be correct to say, according to the above-noted judgment, of Piroska Nagy, that it is appropriate to have a "high regard" for the visionary leadership of the IMF in response to the global financial crisis, but -- as she feared in the case of DSK -- the IMF is an institution "with a problem", making it unsuited to lead the international community where it has any "authority over women"? The concern is especially relevant given the crucial importance attached to the empowerment of women in constraining the rate of population increase.
Within the larger global context, DSK could be appropriately considered as having been indicted "on behalf of the IMF" -- in embodying, to a degree, its institutional values into his private activity. In this sense DSK is effectively being tried in the court of the world as a surrogate for the IMF -- namely in an exercise symbolizing the trial of the IMF culture. This is the trial that ought to happen but never will, given the complicity of the international community.
If the IMF is however to be judged as innocent of any such "ridiculous" charge of being implicated in "raping" countries, then equivalent arguments could be made for considering DSK to be innocent with respect to the rape of which he is accused -- especially if it is to be understood that he was effectively "set up" by the culture of which he is the chosen champion. In a male-dominated society such charges of rape by the powerful are of course typically dismissed as fantasies.
However, to the extent that media coverage has already, at the time of writing, prejudged DSK as "guilty as charged", prior to formal court proceedings to decide that matter, is there a case for an equivalent presumption of the "guilt" of the IMF in "raping" countries -- and until it is able to prove its innocence in relation to its complicity in the global financial crisis? Many would be prepared to offer evidence. Ironically, in the words of Nagy, there is a sense in which the IMF is "damned if DSK is inculpated" and "damned if he is not".
There is a further irony to the fact that it is now suggested that the outcome for DSK will depend on a so-called "word versus word" trial ("he said, she said") in which the jury is asked to consider the credibility of the two main parties' testimony. The irony lies in the central and larger role of "credibility" and "trust" in the recent financial crisis in which the IMF was implicated and for which justice is still widely sought -- despite having been effectively denied in a return to "business as usual" (Credibility Crunch engendered by Hope-mongering: "Credit crunch" focus as symptom of a dangerous mindset, 2009; Varieties of Confidence Essential to Sustainability, 2009; Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009).
Given the logic of the argument above with respect to DSK, and the rationale and extent of "pre-trial detention" in the US, consideration could be usefully given to the possibility of a form of "pre-trial incarceration" of bodies like the IMF, alleged by the public to have engaged in the collective "rape" of countries -- or of the global financial system. This could be an equivalent to the pre-trial detention facilities of Rikers Island, namely an appropriately restrictive counterpart to the facilities offered by tax havens -- from which institutions under judicial review could operate, pending their proof of their own innocence. With their "hands tied", such bodies could be placed under constant supervision -- analogous to the "suicide watch" in the case of DSK -- to prevent them taking measures to "cease to exist" legally (such as through declaration of bankruptcy).
Arguably the relative incoherence of discussion of "rape" by the variously concerned parties offers a useful reflection of the incoherence of the discussion of other charged issues facing the international community, most obviously regulation of the financial system overseen by the IMF, and more fundamentally the challenges of overpopulation -- to which non-consensual sex may significantly contribute (Overpopulation Debate as a Psychosocial Hazard development of safety guidelines from handling other hazardous materials, 2009). The assertive "polarization" of such discourse strangely echoes the rapist mindset so widely deplored -- and with little capacity or desire to transcend it.
In embodying symbolically the various ills of the system, DSK may well need to be "sacrificed" to complete the "poetic justice" of the psychodrama. Like Bradley Manning, should he be required to stand naked outside his cell on a daily basis -- a symbol of justice well-done -- perhaps for all the world to see via on-demand video podcast? His "martyrdom" may however achieve far more of benefit to the health of the system than those calling for, and ensuring, that sacrifice would wish.
Gregory Bateson. In: Mary Caterine Bateson. Our Own Metaphor; a personal account of a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adaptaton. Knopf, 1972.
William Bloom. Personal Identity, National Identity and International Relations. Cambridge University Press, 1993
Elise Boulding. The Underside of History: a view of women through time. Sage,1976
Kenneth Boulding. Ecodynamics; a new theory of social evolution. Sage, 1978
James P. Carse. Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility. Ballantine Books, 1987
Robert Dallek. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963. Little, Brown and Company, 2003
Christophe Deloire and Christophe Dubois. Sexus Politicus. Albin Michel, 2006
Virginie Despentes. Baise-Moi. Grove Press, 2003
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Jeane Kirkpatrick. The Myth of Moral Equivalence Imprimis, January 1986, Vol. 15, No. 1
Greg Lastowka. Virtual Justice: the new laws of online worlds. Yale University Press, 2010
Gareth Morgan. Images of Organization. Sage, 2007
John Ralston Saul. The Unconscious Civilization. Free Press, 1999
Elaine Sciolino. La Séduction: How the French Play the Game of Life. Times Books, 2011 [summary]
Katharine Tellis. Rape as a Part of Domestic Violence: a qualitative analysis of case narratives and official reports. LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2010
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