Anton Carpinschi:Culture, geopolitics and captive thinking in Romanian society. Reflections of an involved observer

Culture, geopolitics and captive thinking in Romanian society.

                                                          Reflections of an involved observer


Anton CARPINSCHI, Professor Emeritus “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași (Romania)


Synopsis: Using the autobiographical narrative and participatory observation, this essay explores the symptoms of thinking enslaved by errors, illusions, and prejudices under and after communism.
Also, from a comprehensive reflexive perspective, the connections between geopolitical developments, the psychocultural profile of Romanian society and the phenomenon of captive thinking are explored.
Thus, at the meeting of the participatory observation with the comprehensive reflection, the reflections of the participant observer were born, an observer always aware of the precarious condition of the prisoner of captive thinking.
Keywords: culture, geopolitics, captive thinking, Romanian society, involved observer
The communist regime collapsed in Romania, but our thinking seems to have sometimes remained captive to the myths and prejudices of the communist era.
At the same time, maintained by large sections of the population, the new syndrome of captive thinking poisons communication networks with its subcultural skids.
Of course, the reactions to the old and the new syndrome of captive thinking depend on each person’s life experience, cultural background and family environment, but in this complicated puzzle, there are always factors, variables and, above all, imponderables which human judgment is not always able to discern and evaluate them.
Perceived as a syndrome, captive thinking hides in us and among us, its symptoms betraying its presence in our limits and errors, in illusions and prejudices, gestures and preferences.
More current than ever, “Captive Thinking”, the book dedicated by Czesław Miłosz to the perversion of thinking under the dictatorship of the communist ideocracy deserves to be (re)read carefully even today.
Because some of the concepts in this paper are unfamiliar to a general public a special glossary is included. You’ll find it at the end before the references.


        “Czesław Miłosz in Bucharest” or how an involved observer perceives the phenomenon of captive thinking


           Invited by the distinguished professor Constantin Geambașu, the Romanian translater of “Captive Thinking”, I had the honor to give a speech at the International Colloquium dedicated to the centenary of the birth of the great Polish poet, prose writer, essayist.
The materials of this colloquium were published in 2012 by the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures in Bucharest and the Association of Slavists in Romania in the volume entitled, “Czesław Miłosz in Bucharest”, (Carpinschi, 2012, pp. 49-61).
In those sunny October days I had the opportunity to talk with renowned researchers of the life and work of Czesław Miłosz about the phenomenon of captive thinking in today’s world and, above all, about the experiences of each of us in its vicinity.
This all the more so that, the avatars of captive thinking transcend the age differences, gender, ethnicity, religios or race, and the symptoms of captive thinking appear in various forms, more serious or less serious, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes untimely, not only in non-democratic political regimes and conservative societies.
Reflecting on my own experiences in the difficult and frustrating circumstances of the captive thinking, my attention gradually shifted its center of interest from the theoretical and bookish research of the phenomenon of captive thinking to the exploration of its symptoms on a personal level and in the society to which I belong.
 The decades lived under communism and after communism sum up numerous life experiences, but also the tribulations of thinking in a society with a composite psychocultural profile and a complicated history in an unfavorable geopolitical framework.
In front of the mind’s eye, all these are projected in a sequence of images that make up a narrative course sprinkled with numerous happenings and personal experiences.
I realized, thus, that the best position for researching the phenomenon of captive thinking is that of the involved observer, who can combine the observations of the objective researcher with the experiences of the participant.
Thinking about my own experiences in such difficult and frustrating circumstances I wondered how I refind myself — as an observer involved with a composite personal psycho-cultural profile (Polish-Catholic in paternal lineage, Greek-Orthodox in maternal lineage) — in the psycho-cultural matrix of the Romanian people in the midst of which I was born, grew up and I lived.
Far from solving the problems of this composite psycho-cultural identity, I believe that psychosociological researches and empirical observations of an honest and well-intentioned citizen reveal:
1) the emotional, educational, and moral links between the personal/family psycho-cultural profile and the national psycho-cultural profile;
2) the emotional, educational, and moral links between the surface psycho-cultural profile (how we are), the deep psycho-cultural profile (how we could be) and the institutional culture in which we formed and evolve (socio-institutional environment).
              But in order to explore the symptoms of personal and collective thinking fallen over time into the captivity of errors and manipulations, I should resort to an exercise of bringing into the horizon of memories many scenes and events that happened long ago.
Just as in cinematography and television we can achieve the effect of proximity or distancing with the help of a tool called transfocator, in real life we can achieve the same effect of proximity or distancing through the variable focus of perception and attention.
I call the ability to variable focus of perception and attention, mental transfocating.
The transfocating effect facilitates the involved observer the transposition into various captive thinking manifestation situations.
Thus, the phenomenon of captive thinking can be personalized and felt through its symptoms. And that’s how it all started for me!
Doing the mental exercise of transfocating, of bringing memories from a distant past into the horizon of consciousness, many images from my childhood years under Soviet occupation began to cross my mind, because the terrible times of the Sovietization of Eastern Europe had begun to encompass these lands.


           Terrible times had arrived over Romanian society …


              Terrible times had arrived over Romanian society and the veil of captive thinking darkened the minds of many of us.
Fragments of memories flash before my mind’s eye: “Govorit Moskva !” (Speak Moscow !), the solemn announcement in Russian, several times a day, when the news bulletins from Radio Moscow were broadcast in Romanian; the atmosphere strongly charged with emotion against the grave background of symphonic music at the funeral of the supreme leader of the Soviet Union, Generalissimo Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin; the menacing raids of the militia in the bright light of the searchlights that furrowed the night sky on the Danube’s shore; the imposing image of the Soviet officer who together with his family was living on the street of my childhood; the acronyms TARS — the Romanian-Soviet Air Transport – written on the bus that regularly made the race between the city center and the airport and ARLUS, the Romanian Association for strengthening ties with the Soviet Union.
As for the news bulletins, the first information always were referring to the activity and important political meetings of the Soviet leaders, to the superiority of Soviet communism in relation to the decadence of American imperialism and the crisis of the capitalist countries, to the successes of the working people in the big factories and collective farms, to the achievements of science, art, sports in the Soviet Union.
I remember I was watching the films and reading the war novels in which the victories of the Red Army in the great war for the defense of the homeland were glorified.
              I also remember “Tamara’s Station” lesson from the first grade Reading textbook. My colleagues and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the kindness of Comrade Stalin who, although so busy with state affairs,  was  reading late at night in his office in Kremlin the letter of little Tamara, a little girl about our age, who asked him to stop the train in her village to get to school more easily. Of course, my colleagues and I were overjoyed when, at the end of the reading, we found out that, thanks to the intervention of Comrade Stalin, the train now stops at Tamara station.
I also remember that at special communist education classes in the Pioneers organization, readings were organized from the works of the “classic” of Stalinist pedagogy, Anton Semyonovich Makarenko. Next, we watched propaganda films in which we saw Soviet youth re-educated in labor camps, lined up and enthusiastically singing hymns of praise to the great leader, Generalissimo Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin.
             Thus, through repetition and stereotyping, the image of the Soviet man and his world, the best man in the best world of all worlds, began to take shape in our childish minds.
Educated according to the principles of Soviet pedagogy, we – the generations born immediately after the establishment of the communist regime in Romania – lived the innocence of childhood and the first years of school in the whirlwind of an ideologically-propagandistic directed cognitive war, with the objective of conquering and enslaving our minds in formation through specific means.
Impressed by the Pioneer ritual, in the piercing sound of trumpets and the rhythmic beating of drums, organized in ideological-political training camps, lined up to go to patriotic work, constantly monitored, we were thus deprived of free time for the formation of personality and the cultivation of the autonomous spirit.
Systematically applied, this political-pedagogical strategy of “brainwashing” in training had no other purpose, as I would realize later, than the ideologizing of the young generation, the atomization of the person into an amorphous mass of dogmatic executors of communist party policy.
But, I perceived the first signs of captive thinking towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, especially in the classes on Scientific Socialism, when I faced the fears and impotence of expressing my own opinions in public.
          From the memories of a philosophy student during communism


            My first physical encounter with captive thinking took place in the restrictive atmosphere of the scientific socialism course and seminars,  where there prevailed citation and mechanical repetition of stereotyped phrases from party documents and the endless speeches of the general secretary.
I cannot forget the teacher’s surprise and concern when, in a seminar, I referenced the Western bibliography in the field of political science. The systemic analysis of political life in the vision of David Easton, the comparative politics configured by Gabriel Almond, the models of political communication and cyber control foreshadowed by Karl Deutsch, for example, were considered by some lecturers of the scientific socialism course as something strange and dangerous.
And yet, the countering of the Marxist-Leninist ideology, on a personal level, was possible through a critical examination favored in our faculty by the courses and seminars of formal logic and mathematical logic, epistemology and the history of philosophy.
Or, as a slightly older colleague from Constanța bitterly was joking — a former sailor who had made several cruises through Mediterranean ports — “at least we, after swallowing the expired cans of communist propaganda, can detoxify with a sip of the rum on which it says: Libertas philosophiae !”.
             In this order of ideas, a significant episode from one of the scientific socialism seminars comes to mind. I still remember today the silence that fell in the seminar room when an older colleague asked if the withdrawal of Soviet troops from our country in 1958 was a reward given to the Romanian party and state leadership for their collaboration during the Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolution of 1956.
We looked down, the assistant appreciated the question as a challenge and a departure from the seminar topic. Obviously, at that time we did not have the correct and complete information about the Hungarian anti-communist revolution in the fall of 1956 and about the complicity of the Romanian political leadership in the arrest of the Hungarian reformist communist leader Imre Nagy, who would later be summarily tried in Budapest and executed.
I also had no way of knowing whether our older colleague’s question was spontaneous or, as the assistant believed, a challenge.
However, neither I, nor my colleagues subsequently heard that anything significant had happened concerning taking some disciplinary measures after the episode at the seminar. But I was left, again, with a bitter taste generated by the fear and mistrust that crept into my soul through the courses and texts strongly ideologized by scientific socialism.
             What could we be feeling, for example, reading the first lines of the Preface of the book entitled, “Materialism and Empiriocriticism? Critical notes on a reactionary philosophy”?
“‘Materialism and empiriocriticism’ is the main philosophical work of V. I. Lenin. Its historical significance lies in the fact that in its content V. I. Lenin further developed Marxist philosophy, answered the fundamental philosophical problems facing the party at that time, and philosophically generalized the new conquests of the natural sciences.
In this work, Lenin subjected reactionary bourgeois idealist philosophy and philosophical revisionism to a comprehensive critique.
The work ‘Materialism and Empiriocriticism’ is a model of Bolshevik partisanship in the fight against the enemies of Marxism, a fight in which revolutionary passion organically combines with scientific rigor.
Creatively developing the teaching of K. Marx and F. Engels, V. I. Lenin elaborated in all aspects, according to the new historical conditions, all the constituent parts of Marxism, including dialectical and historical materialism.
Every work of Lenin, even if it is not devoted to strictly philosophical problems, represents a model of applying the materialist dialectic — the most profound and multilateral theory of development — to the analysis of the historical situation and the economic and political phenomena of social life” (Lenin, 1963, p. VII).
                    Mechanically repeated in the courses of Marxist philosophy and scientific socialism, formulations like the above were unable to provide an understanding of the world from the perspective of personal reflexive experience.
Received as a given, something that had to be taken up and repeated as such, the Marxist-Leninist ‘catechism’ could not make us relive the reflexive experience of the researcher in the act of thinking.
Piled in dogmatic texts permeated by a strong cult of personality and a virulent anti-democratic and anti-Western message, the courses on scientific socialism had no way of encouraging critical exegesis, nor reflexive experiences within the horizon of self-awareness.
Worse, forced to mechanically reproduce such stereotyped formulations and postcard clichés, a good part of the students, and not only from philosophy, but also from other faculties, as well as numerous party members and trade unionists regimented in the system of ideological education, risked becoming passive listeners and docile performers, or often duplicitous and opportunistic characters.
            Subjected to such rigors of forced ideologization, some of the philosophy students were looking for ways out. But how to get out of the dogmatic captivity of the Marxist-Leninist propagandistic discourse?
Some of us sought little refuges in less ideologically controllable cultural spaces: the history of philosophy, logic and epistemology, and psychology.
Fortunately, I had the chance to listen at the University of Iași a few professors trained during the interwar period.
I cannot forget the elegance and sophistication of Professor Ernest Stere’s lectures in the History of Ancient Philosophy course, the depth and clarity of Professor Petre Botezatu’s presentations in the Logic course, or the moving forays into great literature by Professor Vasile Pavelcu in the Psychology course.
Survivors of the communist terror, these were the teachers who, for me and some of my colleagues, opened our horizons of philosophy, taught us the principles of logic and correct thinking, familiarized us with the universe of foreign languages, guided us to the professional realms I aspired to.
But above all, they taught us to value the value of dialogue in the flow of free and critical thought.
To all this something important should be added. The reintroduction of sociology, against the background of a relative and brief ideological relaxation initiated for tactical-pragmatic reasons by the communist party, opened to students from the universities of Bucharest, Iași and Cluj in the second half of the 1960s a theoretical possibility of countering the Marxist-Leninist ideology.


     “An oxygen balloon”! The reintroduction of sociology in communist        Romanian universities.


              After two decades since its brutal elimination from university programs, sociology — decreed along with cybernetics and genetics during the Stalinist period as “reactionary bourgeois pseudoscience”–, was returning to Romanian universities.
The tradition of sociological education at the University of Iasi was an illustrious one. Starting from 1897, the year of the first sociology course taught by Professor Constantin Leonardescu, prominent personalities of Romanian culture had followed each other here: Dimitrie Gusti, Petre Andrei, Ștefan Zeletin, Alexandru Claudian. Our expectations as philosophy students were high. After the mainly ideological courses on scientific socialism we were curious and impatient to hear a course on sociology. The idea was forming in our minds that such a course should open up a new perspective on social life. In the meantime, we found out that the lectures of the General Sociology course would be given by Professor Iosif Natansohn.
              And here, the long-awaited day of the first lecture has arrived. In the amphitheater where we were going to listen to the General Sociology course,  a distinguished gentleman appeared, small in stature, with glasses and a beard. It was Professor Iosif Natansohn.
He began to speak to us in a low tone that gradually grew stronger and more passionate about the constitution and evolution of sociology as a science; the object and method of sociology in relation to philosophy, psychology, history, ethnology, anthropology; the development of sociology in the context of the capitalist modernization of Romania.
At the same time, we were beginning to familiarize ourselves with the names of great personalities of sociology, from A. Comte, E. Durkheim, M. Mauss, M. Weber, G. Simmel to H. Spencer, G. H. Mead, T. Parsons or R. Merton.
I was hearing for the first time, then, a discourse on social thinking that was different from the canonical, declarative and repetitive verbiage we were used to. I listened more and more enthralled to the inaugural lecture, aware of Professor Natansohn’s effort to familiarize us with the distinction between partisan-ideological discourse and objective-scientific endeavor. I realized then that we live in an important moment: the reappearance of sociology in the Romanian university environment as a chance to the emancipation of social thinking from the dogmatic captivity of scientific socialism.
              Later, during the semester, Professor Natansohn introduced us to the mysteries of social reality by talking about the specifics, criteria and signs of the social; the social fact; forms of sociability; status, role and social integration; social structures and stratifications; classes and social groups.
To all these were added lectures on social morphology, urban-rural geographic sociology, social demography, sociology of underdeveloped regions, politics in social life, typology of political regimes, sociology of human action, the system of social controls, culture and civilization.
Thus, at the end of the semester, I realized that Professor Iosif Natansohn was teaching us to direct our attention to the research of the social universe with the help of a new conceptual apparatus for us, but so operational and efficient. He also taught us to see society differently than through the prism of the theses and slogans of the Marxist-Leninist ideology and, moreover, to relate to social reality through the free act of critical and constructive thinking.
              I also auditioned for another course by Professor Natansohn which — at the time I had no way of knowing — was going to prepare me for my future specialization. It is about the history of political doctrines.
In that course, I approached some of the classical works of ancient and modern political philosophy, from Plato and Aristotle through Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke and Constant.
I was then concerned with several major themes: the human condition and the constitution of the polis; the mixed constitution as a synthesis of monarchy (consulate), aristocracy (senate), democracy (people’s assembly/vox populi) in the age of the Republic in ancient Rome; the cyclical theory of political evolution (anacyclosis); freedom, equality and social justice; political order and the meaning of history, etc.
In these formative circumstances, my choice to make a bachelor’s thesis in the field of political philosophy was not at all accidental. Thus, under the guidance of Professor Iosif Natansohn, I developed a work on Polybios, a political philosopher and after a few more years, at the meeting of the paradigm of functionalist structuralism with the informational-cybernetic dynamics of political systems, I completed a doctoral thesis focused on the topic of sociology and political leadership.
After the passage of so many years, I remember with emotion that period of postgraduate specialization. Consistent, open, intellectually and humanly engaging, the conversations with the professor and the man Iosif Natansohn proved to be of great help throughout my professional development before and after the fall of the communist regime.
              But, then when I think about the intellectual legacy that Professor Iosif Natansohn left us, I mean that controversial book, meaningfully titled, “The Sociology in Impasse ?” (Natasohn, 1972).
Densely, written in the first person in a conversational, sometimes polemical tone, this book is a testimony of the searches of a democratic intellectual who lived the experience of the horrors of the dictatorship, and not only the communist dictatorship, but also the fascist dictatorship of the national legionary state (1940 – 1941), followed by the military dictatorship of General Ion Antonescu (1941-1944). I remember that, from the first reading,
I was struck by the title. The query in the title regarding the situation of sociology, a science with such a problematic and tumultuous destiny in the communist regime, led me to think, even then, of a charade with a subliminal message.
What can you think, basically, when from the first lines of the Preface, we read the following: “If decades ago the sociological book was a rare event in vast regions of the globe, today its presence is as natural as possible on all meridians and at all parallels.
The word ‘magic’ of sociology is often associated with other words in various combinations, in the form of a noun and an adjective, enriching the dictionaries and ‘level’ discussions.
Let’s take for example the word contestation. By association with sociology, either a sociology of contestation, or a contestatory sociology, or a sociological contestation, or finally, even the contestation of sociology, can appear.
Such combinations may not impress those who hear them for the first time, but we are sure that the sociology of error, the sociology of failure, the sociology of deviance, or the sociology of imposture shocked and scandalized those who heard them for the first time.
A similar reaction caused the title of this attempt !” (Ibidem, p. 5). Indeed, only one year after the publication of the July Theses — the document of the Executive Committee of the Romanian Communist Party through which Nicolae Ceaușescu launched the 17 “proposals for measures to improve the political-ideological activity, Marxist-Leninist education of party members, of all working people” — the appearance of a book interrogatively titled, “The Sociology in Impasse ?” could shock and scandalize.
              Maoist in orientation, the Theses of July (1971) marked the end of the short and relative ideological relaxation initiated by the Declaration of April (1964) of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party and, at the same time, the beginning of the harsh attack against cultural autonomy by returning to the restrictions of socialist realism.
This was the beginning of the mini-cultural revolution in communist Romania that would culminate in the dictate of ideology in the social and human sciences, respectively, the abolition in 1977 of the sociology departments at the Universities of Bucharest, Iași and Cluj that had been established only a few years before.
Professional and aesthetic competence were to be replaced by ideological restrictions, professionals were to be replaced by activists and agitators, and culture was again to become a tool of political propaganda.
When, in these ideological-political circumstances, Professor Iosif Natansohn combined the words sociology and contestation, enumerating in a dizzying sequence a series of emergencies such as sociology of contestation, contestatory sociology, sociological contestation, sociology contestation, alongside the sociology of error, the sociology of failure, the sociology of deviance, the sociology of imposture, he knew very well what was at stake in what he said.
              The conflict between the researcher’s objectivity and the ideological partiality imposed by the propaganda and repression of the dictatorial regime fed the drama of thinking in the fight against his own captivity not only in the case of Professor Natansohn, but also in the case of other honest representatives of social thinking from all totalitarian regimes.
This was the “drama of sociology” experienced by the generation of our teachers, our generation and that of our students.
For me, half a century ago and today, Professor Natansohn’s attitude was a calculated one, precisely because the critical, contesting potential of sociology had been announced. On the horizon of a sociology of contestation, the imminent interventions of the sociology of error, the sociology of failure, the sociology of deviance, the sociology of imposture were already visible.
Against the background of the dysfunctions of the dictatorial regime and the social crisis of communism that we were witnessing, the bomb of contestation had already been detonated. And, as if to confirm the impact of the sociology of contestation, Professor Iosif Natansohn made the gesture of publicly contesting Ceausist national communism when he chose, together with his distinguished family, freedom of thinking and expression in other lands. As for me, I stayed here continuing my journey on the never-ending path of clearing my thinking.


Captive Thinking is not only a book, “captive thinking” is a metaphor-warning!


            In the mid-1970s, the philosophy and sociology departments of the University of Iași benefited from the visit of Professor Jean-William Lapierre, a renowned researcher in the field of political philosophy and sociology of power.
Distinguished intellectual, progressive spirit, the French professor then had the generosity to share with us his rich professional and life experience. Of course, we were impressed by his erudite and profound lectures on the systemic analysis of political life, the subtle dynamics of pre-state forms of power and social innovation in the tribal communities of the Nile Valley, or the maladies and contractions of Western democracies.
Among the works of the French professor, I was familiar with “L’analyse des systèmes politiques”, which I had used in the elaboration of my doctoral thesis. But, more important is the fact that in several private meetings, in addition to the invaluable suggestions regarding my doctoral thesis, Professor Jean-William Lapierre — the combatant in the anti-Nazi Resistance, the personality invested with responsibilities in the democratic construction of the Fifth French Republic  — talked about civic resistance during the dictatorship.
As a “case study”, Professor Lapierre presented Czesław Miłosz, the dissident Polish writer who had published in the early 1950s at the Parisian publishing house Gallimard a book with a title as attractive as it was strange: “La pensée captive. Essai sur les logocraties populaires”.
Professor Lapierre’s words sounded, then, somehow from a distance and yet close to a young Ph.D. student living in the communist age of the captive mind. In fact, the name of Czesław Miłosz would be known in Romania only after receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1980.
            A disturbing testimony of an intellectual who, trying to defend his moral identity, refuses to abdicate and serve the “New Faith” coming from Moscow, “The Captive Thinking” is also a superb lesson in awareness and decoding of the mechanisms of capturing thinking and “enslavement of the intellect”.
Appreciated by Karl Jaspers in the Preface to the original edition as “a document and at the same time a first-rate interpretation”, proving “a sense of justice refusing any alibi”, Captive Thinking appeared to the German philosopher as the authentic revelation of the Polish variant of enslavement of the spirit through the instruments of communist totalitarianism and, at the same time, a warning to the sophistry and subterfuges of thinking that has abandoned its moral condition. (Jaspers / Miłosz, 1953/1988, p. 9, p. 13).
However, I realized since then that the Polish writer’s essay, rich in reflections and autobiographical references, should be seen not only as a superb lesson in awareness and decoding of the mechanisms of domination and insecurity, disinformation and manipulation from the period of Stalinist communism.
Moreover, “The Captive Thinking” is not only a book! “Captive thinking” is a metaphor-warning, and “beyond the captive thinking” a call to all those who, feeling the gravity of this phenomenon, realize the risks of (in)voluntary enslavement and the increase of (inter)personal insecurity.
             The testimonies of intellectuals who were once captivated by the idealized and anti-plutocratic message of a romantic and cosmopolitan political left but who, disappointed by the distortion of principles and moral values during the Stalinist dictatorship, had the courage to publicly recognize their own mistakes and disillusionments began to become then, in the early 1970s, a theme familiar to some of us.
The political adventure of intellectuals, artists, poets, and musicians, sincere and valuable, well-intentioned, but often naive, captivated by deceptive and insecure ideological-political myths was painfully felt in the souls of some of us.
The confession of Czesław Miłosz was included — along with those of André Gide, Leszek Kołakovski, Arthur Koestler, or the Romanian Panait Istrate — in the spiritual family of those idealists who, sympathizing or adhering to an ideal of justice in their youth, experienced the disappointment caused of the distortion of principles and moral values through Stalinist ideological and propagandistic manipulation.
              Under these circumstances, the theme of captive thinking accompanied me for a long time, shaping the leitmotif of my thoughts during the late communism era and long after.
Not coincidentally, many years later, in a probably too optimistic essay titled, Emancipation of “captive thinking” or the exit from totalitarianism, I wrote the following: “Czesław Miłosz opted. After delusions and hesitations, at the beginning of the consolidation of communism in his country, when the communist realities brutally belied their own values and principles, Miłosz chose freedom. He self-analyzed the meanderings of his thinking, with exemplary intellectual and moral power he publicly confessed his mistake and thus saved his soul” (Carpinschi, 1995, p. 131).
More sad and burdensome seems to me, however, the fate of those who, indoctrinated in the spirit of Marxist ideology but cultivated, at the same time, at the great sources of universal thinking, aware of the aberrations of communism, we did not have the courage and strength to publicly denouncing the errors and horrors of communism thus freeing our souls from the burden of cowardice. The numerous paths of individual evolutions, from duplicity more or less guilty to marginalization more or less assumed, only certify, once more, the precarious condition of the prisoner of captive thinking.
              The communist regime has collapsed for over three decades in Romania, but we are witnessing the persistence of some symptoms of captive thinking with ideological roots and stereotypes coming from communism and, at the same time, we are witnessing what I would call the new syndrome of the captive thinking.
We experience the feeling that history is repeating itself and that certain customs, preoccupations and habits reminiscent of communist-era practices persist, more or less disguised, in the language and behavior of some of us today.
At the same time, maintained in broad categories of the population, the new syndrome of the captive thinking extends beyond the natural limits of each of us to the subcultural slippages of some social communication networks.
Felt as a syndrome, captive thinking lurks within us and among us, its individual and collective symptoms accompanying us from youth to old age in various guises and tendencies. This is, in fact, the permanent warning of the concept-metaphor “captive thinking”!
              Since we are talking about a permanent warning, a series of questions return to my mind: how does the phenomenon of captive thinking manifest itself in the Romanian sociocultural environment? What links exist between geopolitical developments, the Romanian sociocultural environment and the phenomenon of captive thinking?
But, above all, how do I, as an involved observer, perceive the tribulations of my own thinking and the psycho-cultural profile of my compatriots against the historical background of the geopolitical transformations in the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space?
In these circumstances, from the need to protect myself from the propaganda bombardment, the avalanche of fake news and my own mistakes and naiveties, I felt the need to activate the sensors of critical thinking and intuitive perception, but also that one to turn to the psycho-sociological research.
The verification of personal experiences lived throughout life in Romanian society with the help of psycho-socio-cognitive intercultural research could prove a way forward because the psychological traits of individuals and communities can be refound in their socio-cultural environment, i.e. in language, values, ideas, norms, institutions, beliefs, customs, thus configuring the psycho-cultural profile of the society. At the same time, a series of features of the psycho-cultural profile of a society can be refound in the psychological features of its individuals and collectivities.


          The drama of captive thinking and the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic space. A historical-geopolitical sketch.


              The following historical-geopolitical sketch could be configured in the mental horizon of an observer involved in today’s Romania. The late appearance, only in the middle of the 14th century, of the first state formations in the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic space put these small and fragile political formations led by the voivodes or the reigns in a situation of confrontation with the stronger medieval monarchies from Hungary and Poland that appeared hundreds of years ago before.
These historical-geopolitical circumstances explain the fall over the following centuries of the newly established medieval states of Moldova and Wallachia (Muntenia) under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, the entry of Transylvania under the occupation and administration of the Austrian Empire and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the occupation by the Russian Empire of Modova beyond the Prut.
As a consequence, the multi-secular absence in the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic space of a consolidated and unitary medieval state led to the late coagulation of the modern Romanian national state (1859/1918) and to a modest industrial-technological and economic development of Romanian society.
Despite social disparities, corruption, and the petty politics of private and group interests, the state consolidation and relative economic progress of the 1880s–1914 (la Belle Époque) and the short interwar period  (1918–1939) are probably the most successful periods in modern Romania.
And because the Romanians of the interwar era began to dream too beautifully after the disaster caused by the Second World War terrible other waves in a sinister succession followed: the Soviet occupation and the communist dictatorship for almost half a century; the difficult and confusing post-communist transition; finally, the institutionally fragile and behaviorally ambiguous democracy over which the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and the Russian-Ukrainian war in Romania’s immediate neighborhood have overlapped.
Unfolded at high speed, this historical course shows us that the unfavorable geopolitical developments in the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space favored the historical delay, the composite and vulnerable psycho-cultural profile of the population, the permanent deficit of institutional culture and, implicitly, the phenomenon of captive thinking in modern Romanian society.
             The contemplation of this historical-geopolitical sketch leads me to the following observations:
1) Placed geopolitically at the crossroads of the winds, the Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space is the matrix of some contradictory sociocultural processes: Romanian language, the folklore and modern culture, on the one hand, the deficit of institutional culture and the phenomenon of captive thinking, on the other.
2) At the same time, the Carpatho-Danubian-Pontic space has been a ground for fertile ethnocultural encounters. Craftsmen, merchants, scholars German, Austrians, Hungarians, Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, Turks, Tatars, Jews, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Macedonians contributed throughout history to the organization and enrichment of the sociocultural life of the native Romanian population. Unfortunately, the communist regime and the last decades of socioeconomic stagnation have led to a massive decrease of the Romanian population and all cohabiting ethnic groups (Ghețău, 04/03/2023).
3) Felt today through a number of characteristic features — the illusion of sovereignty in a world of increasing global interdependencies; the propaganda of extremist and xenophobic nationalism actually serving foreign interests to one’s own nation; the temptation of conspiracy thinking and forced scenarios; vulnerability to fake news, etc. — the phenomenon of captive thinking on an individual and collective level is the result of historical delay, deficit of institutional culture, depopulation through emigration, reduction of intercultural contributions in the current Romanian society.
            The diversity of manifestations of captive thinking reveals the harmful impact of this phenomenon on the cultural-institutional environment in Romania.
A closer look at the transition from the belief in the Marxist-Leninist utopia, more or less rigged during communism, to the routine of indifference, incompetence and disengagement today shows us that the phenomenon of captive thinking occurred against the psycho-cultural background of Romanian society dominated by generalized mistrust, the lack of tolerance and cooperation.
Referring in a cognitive-experimental monograph to the psychology of Romanians, Professor Daniel David pointed out in this vein: “I think that the psycho-cultural profile of Romanians is dominated by mistrust of people, which makes us less tolerant and cooperative with others for the common good (our cooperation is mostly one of survival, not success). The lack of cooperation does not allow us to use our intellectual and creative potential, which generates performances below its level. This leads to the exaggeration of the positive (…) as well as the exaggeration of the negative (…). Probably this psycho-cultural profile was born against the backdrop of chronic insecurity/insecurity throughout history” (David, 2015, p. 319). Coming from the depths of the ethnogenesis of the Romanian people, mistrust and duplicity have left deep traces in the psycho-cultural profile of the current population of Romania.
            In fact, a similar conclusion was reached through research carried out in the years 2001-2002 by specialists from the Universities of Bucharest, Iași and Cluj under the coordination of professor Adrian-Paul Iliescu.
Verified through field research and case studies, the project’s hypothesis supported the following: “Romania’s main handicap is not technological or cognitive backwardness, but institutional backwardness (…). Compared to other post-communist societies, Romania has a tradition of institutional ineffectiveness and institutional retarde. The local political culture is in many aspects unfavorable to the institutional solution of problems (it encourages personalized solutions, the recourse to deviant solutions, short-circuiting institutional routes, etc.). The resulting social context is, paradoxically, favorable to the perpetuation of behavioral deviance (…). Institutional backwardness encourages conic mindset deficiencies, and mindset deficiencies exacerbate institutional dysfunctions” (Iliescu, 2002, p. 7).
We move, therefore, in a vicious circle with deep geopolitical and ethnocultural roots and haunting historical reverberations. The fact that for over a century and a half we, as a people of modern Romania, have not been able to capitalize on the potential of the deep psychological profile – although the intellectual potential of the Romanians is at the level of any developed people in the Western World – remains a challenge not honored by the policies of the Romanian socio-institutional environment and after the fall of the communist regime. But why does the socio-institutional environment fail to value the deep psycho-cultural profile of Romanians?   
         Why does politics fail to value the psycho-cultural fund of Romanians?


              To answer this question, I should outline a mental image as truthful as possible of the psycho-cultural profile of Romanians and to understand why the socio-institutional environment has so far failed to put value on the deep psycho-cultural profile of the Romanian population.
In this cognitive adventure, I feel the need of some stronger and more operational methodological tools. I think The Dutch School of Cognitive Psychology and Intercultural Management could give me a helping hand (; › Wursten).
More precisely, I have in mind the model of the cultural dimensions of a society designed by Professor Geert Hofstede and his collaborators ( Hofstede, 2001; G. Hofstede, G.J. Hofstede, M. Minkov, 2010;;) and the model of the 7 mental images of national culture elaborated by Professor Huib Wursten (Wursten, 2019; Wursten, 2022; sergiocaredda. eu › Inspiration › Books; › Interviews).
            Using a globally representative database and well-calibrated samples on countries and national cultures, Geert Hofstede has identified with the help of statistical techniques and factor analysis a set of referential value dimensions that allowed understanding cultural diversity and  performing the optimization of cultural management in a number of states, companies, organizations and international institutions.
The standard model of the cultural dimensions provides us through its set of referential value dimensions — Distance from Power, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term versus Short-Term Orientation, Indulgence versus Restraint — a series of useful pieces of information for a framework-explanation regarding the existence of certain cultural traits in a country. Synthesizing the pieces of information, data and scores obtained through a series of applications of the Hofstede model in Romania, we could configure a research framework able to offer us a picture of the psycho-cultural profile of the current Romanian society ( › 2018/01/05 › geert-hofstede.; › document › Adina-Luca-Where-Do-We-Stand-A-Study; › doc › Romania-Din-Perspectiva-Dime..; › pdf › article ›).
            According to this research framework, we can say that the Romanian population is characterized by a high score on the indicator Power distance. This means that, in the absence of a developed civic sense and an organized civil society, the Romanian population is inclined towards centralization of power, acceptance of inequities and preference for populist autocrats apparently benevolent. We live in a society that favors the concentration of power and the (re)allocation of resources through informal, unprincipled relationships and not through the functional distribution and territorial decentralization of the institutions of political power and administration; a society that does not encourage the control of social behavior by meritorious awarding of rewards; a society in which the unwritten rules of the group are more important than the laws and legal norms of society; a society with a high degree of gender and age discrimination, with prejudices and bad treatments of the elderly and women. In such a type of society, with a deep level of collectivism, autonomous and creative individual initiatives are perceived rather as a threat to collective peace and security. In terms of avoiding uncertainties, the Romanian population presents a high level of avoidance of changes perceived most often not as opportunities for development, but as uncertainties full of dangers.
             Capitalizing on the contributions of Geert Hofstede and his collaborators, Professor Huib Wursten proposed, in turn, the model of the 7 mental images of national culture, perceived as a guide to leadership and management in a globalized world. This model shows that a comprehensive and meaningful understanding of national cultures cannot be achieved simply by comparing the six cultural dimensions separately, country by country. “Whole is more than the sum of parts !”, the Dutch teacher reminds us. A comprehensive understanding of one national culture or another can be achieved by grouping countries based on the combination of their value-quantified cultural dimensions. Combining the cultural dimensions of Power Distance (PDI), Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV), Masculinity versus Femininity, (MAS), and Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), Huib Wursten identified 7 groups of behavioral patterns that he called “7 mental images” because each group provides a “picture” of how organizational modes that polarize nation building appear in people’s minds.
             Each mental image represents a group of countries that have certain common characteristics by which people manage their actions in their cultural environment. Leadership and decision-making, meeting behavior, delegation patterns, control, conflict resolution, etc. it is among the characteristic features that allow the 7 different modes of political behavior to be outlined. Briefly described, they are as follows:
”1) Contest (‘winner takes all’). Competitive cultures with a small Power Distance (PDI), high Individualism (IDV), high Masculinity (MAS), and fairly weak Uncertainty Avoidance. Examples include Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US;
2) Network (consensus). Highly Individualist (IDV) and feminine cultures with a small Power Distance (PDI), where everyone is involved in the decision-making process. Examples are Scandinavia and the Netherlands;
3) Well-Oiled Machine (order). Individualistic societies with a small Power Distance (PDI) and strong Uncertainty Avoidance have carefully balanced procedures and rules, but not much hierarchy. Examples are Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary and German-speaking Switzerland;
4) Pyramid (loyalty, hierarchy, and implicit order)
Collectivist (low IDV) cultures with a large Power Distance (PDI) and strong Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI). Examples are Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Portugal, Arabian countries, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand:
5) Solar System(hierarchy and standardized job descriptions). This culture cluster is like the Pyramid, but more individualistic (IDV). Examples are Belgium, France, Northern Italy, Spain and French-speaking Switzerland;
6) Family (loyalty and hierarchy). Collectivist (low IDV) cultures with a large Power Distance (PDI), where we can observe powerful in-groups and paternalistic leaders. Examples are China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore;
7) Japan, the Seventh Mental Image (dynamic equilibrium). Japan is the only country in this ‘cluster’ due to the unique combination of dimensions not found in any of the before mentioned Six Mental Images. Japan has a mid-Power Distance (PDI), a mid-Individualism (IDV), a very strong Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) and a high Masculinity (MAS) score” (Wursten, 2019, p. 24).
Referring now to the application of the model of the seven mental images in the case of Romania, I would say that, with a low level at a series of indices such as – distance from power, individual autonomy, pragmatic confrontation of uncertainty, functional distribution of power, meritorious awarding of rewards – the psycho-cultural profile of Romanian society could be configured in the mental image of a bureaucratic pyramid in an insufficiently developed society.
            It is particularly serious that some negative features of the psycho-cultural profile, including the phenomenon of captive thinking, maintain numerous dysfunctions in the cultural-institutional environment, thus diminishing the chances of capitalizing on the intellectual potential of the Romanian people.
The deep psycho-cultural profile and the intellectual potential of the Romanian people remain, to a large extent, insufficiently exploited due to the harmful impact of captive thinking on the cultural-institutional environment in legislative, organizational, administrative, and educational terms.
More precisely, the harmful impact of the phenomenon of captive thinking is manifested by the increased share of counterselection of cadres and low professional expertise at all levels of the political system — parliamentary, governmental, central administrative and local — and, implicitly, in many sectors of social life.
The overlap and accumulation of these factors over such a long period have left deep traces not only in the behavior of people over generations but also in the functioning of society and institutions. Pretending to be something else or presenting yourself as someone else than you really are, claiming non-existent merits, and hiding or embellishing your political past, for example, that of communist servitude, marks many personal destinies and political careers in post-communist Romania.
Driven by duplicitous behavior, numerous deputies, senators, mayors, county, municipal and communal councilors switched over the last thirty years to all parties, whether they were crypto-communist, pseudo-socialist, nationalist-populist, vaguely liberal or allegedly ecological.
In these circumstances, ideological-political affiliation has become today only a false label, obviously duplicitous. Hence, the low trust in people and institutions, the deficiencies of cooperation for the common benefit and in civic solidarity, the tendency to distort reality by exaggerating the positive features (the high emotionality typical of the superiority complex), but also the negative features (the skepticism and cynicism typical of the inferiority complex).
In our daily discourse, we often oscillate from displaying an exaggerated national pride (Romanian protochronism, an expression of a superiority complex) to attributing all the faults of Romanians (the inferiority complex). Moreover, I could say that displaying a superiority complex is the reverse expression of an inferiority complex. How could we get out of this vicious circle of inferiority complexes transformed into superiority complexes?


         Instead of conclusions:


            We live in a world of copy-paste and generalized propagandistic spectacle. In order to get out of the vicious circle of captive thinking and institutional backwardness, a guiding rule would be, let’s not mechanically copy cultural forms from outside. “Thinking that you can transfer best practices from one culture to another culture blindly is naive, Huib Wursten warned us. Forcing people to do things against the basic values of their culture is counterproductive” (Wursten, 2019, p. 79).
“Bottomless forms” are an old disease of Romanian society, so drilling into the deep layers of its psycho-cultural profile remains the way to discover and capitalize on its cultural identity. But to succeed in such an enterprise, we should first turn to identifying the faces and exploring the symptoms of captive thinking in the spectacle society of which we ourselves are consumers. Passers-by hurrying through life, do we still have the time to reflect on the phenomenon of captive thinking in its various manifestations?
And if we allow ourselves this respite, how could we transform the phenomenon of captive thinking perceived as information about certain cognitive, emotional, and volitional dysfunctions at an individual or collective level, into a syndrome felt through its symptoms as a traumatic personal experience? More precisely, how did the phenomenon of captive thinking that I began to be aware of during my high school and student years become internalized into a frustrating personal syndrome, aggravated by the lack of courage to counter him publicly during the communist dictatorship? Here are some questions that will guide my next steps on the never-ending path of clearing my mind. 
– Anacyclosis /Ανακύκλωση (gr)/ Recycling (en). The social cycle theories are among the earliest theories in philosophy of history and political philosophy. Unlike the theory of social evolutionism, which views the evolution of society and human history as progressing in some new, unique direction(s), the social cycle theory argues that events and stages of society and history generally repeat themselves in cycles.
– Captive thinking. The thinking caught in the captivity of errors, prejudices, ideological propaganda.  Concept-metaphor inspired by the title of the book-manifesto of the famous Polish anti-communist writer Czesław Miłosz, laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1980).
– Carpathian-Danubian-Pontic space.  The space between the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube River and the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus) where the Romanian people live.
– Ceausist national communism. Communist, nationalist, xenophobic ideological current and political practice promoted in Romania by the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu between 1965 and 1989.
– Contestatory sociology. Sociological current inspired by the Western New Left in the 1960s, 1970s against the background of criticism of the Vietnam War and the capitalist Establishment. The Western New Left was received with mistrust and hostility by the nationalist communist authorities in Ceausist Romania.
– Empiriocriticism. Theory of knowledge according to which the major task of philosophy is to develop a “natural concept of the world” based on pure experience. “A scientifically oriented phenomenalistic form of empiricism that endeavors to reduce knowledge to a description of pure experience and eliminate all aspects of apriorism, metaphysics, and dualism”. (Empiriocriticism Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster › dictionary › empiriocriticism).
– Materialism and Empiriocriticism is a polemical work by Vladimir Lenin in which he criticizes Empiriocriticism as an idealistic philosophy of knowledge. Materialism and Empiriocriticism is a seminal work of dialectical materialism, a part of the curriculum called “Marxist–Leninist Philosophy”. It was an obligatory subject of study in all institutions of higher education in the Soviet Union, and communist satellite countries. Materialism is the philosophy that matter is all that exists. It is a branch of naturalism that denies the existence of spiritual and supernatural entities. Lenin thinks that human perceptions correctly and accurately reflect an objective external world. That is why he considers the theory of materialism to be a theory that reflects reality as such, reality understood as objective, material.
– Historical materialism is the materialist-dialectical conception on society and the general laws of historical evolution elaborated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The fundamental problem of Marxist philosophy, the relationship between existence and consciousness, takes on within historical materialism  the particular form of the relationship between social existence and social consciousness . “It is not the consciousness of people that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness” is the fundamental thesis of historical materialism. According to historical materialism, the determining aspect of social life is the mode of production of material goods. The forces of production and the relations of production make up together the mode of production which determine the processes of social, political and spiritual life. The system of production relations constitutes the economic structure, the basis of a determined society, on which rises a corresponding legal and political superstructure and to which certain forms of social consciousness correspond. This allowed the presentation of the evolution of society as a “natural-historical” process, i.e. governed, like nature, by-laws without the knowledge of which there can be no question of any social science. The historical process is the succession of social formations, the replacement of an inferior formation with another superior one, determined by the internal dialectic of the mode of production and of the entire socio-economic formation. With the change of the economic base, the change of the entire superstructure occurs, more or less quickly. Concluding, historical materialism is the Marxist theory and method for studying the process of emergence, development and decline of socio-economic formations. Showing the objective nature of the structure of society and its dynamics, historical materialism constitutes, together with dialectical materialism, the theoretical foundation of scientific socialism.
– Historical “retarde” with the meaning of “historical delay”
– Institutional “retarde” with the meaning of “institutional delay”
– Protochronism. Current of ideas, opposed to synchronism, which often asserts, unjustifiably, the Romanian anticipation of some universal artistic and scientific creations. It was promoted, mainly, during the period of Ceausist nationalism (1965-1989), but also in the following period by xenophobic extremist nationalist parties (Greater Romania is one of them).
– Reflexive experiences. Experiencing states of self-reflexive thought. A method specific to the phenomenology of self-consciousness (Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty etc).
– Scientific Socialism is, along with dialectical materialism and historical materialism, one of the three constitutive parts of Marxism. Self-titled scientific, socialism is the social-political theory (doctrine) concerning the structure and dynamics of the processes of transition from the capitalist system to the communist system by applying the “general laws of the revolution and the construction of socialism” and of the principles of the organization and management of the socialist society. The strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle of the working class, the political ideology of the working class, the science of socialist construction are based on them. According to the followers of scientific socialism, a decisive role in the transformation of socialism from utopia to science was played by the creation of historical materialism. The union of scientific socialism with the labor movement led to the transformation of the working class into a conscious revolutionary class led by the Communist Party, a vanguard political party.
– Transfocating, the action of transfocating. (Zoom, the act of zooming). Used metaphorically in this essay, the term “mental transfocating” refers to the variable focus of perception and attention.
– Transfocating tool or transfocator. A lens with continuously variable focal length, used in cinematography or television to achieve the effect of quickly moving closer or further away from the subject.
Bogatu, A. (no year). Romania din perspectiva dimensiunilor culturale după metoda lui Geert Hofstede (Romania from the perspective of cultural dimensions according to Geert Hofstede’s method) › doc › Romania-Din-Perspectiva-Dime…
Carpinschi, A. (1995). Deschidere și sens în gândirea politică (Openness and meaning in political thinking). Iași: European Institute Publishing House. p. 131.
– Carpinschi, A. (2012). „Mintea captivă” și failibilitatea umană (”Captive mind” and human fallibility in the volume: Czesław Miłosz la București (Czesław Miłosz in Bucharest). Publishing House of the University of Bucharest. pp. 49-61. 
David, D. (2015). Psihologia poporului român. Profilul psihologic al românilor întro monografie cognitiv-experimentală (The psychology of the Romanian people. The psychological profile of Romanians in a cognitive-experimental monograph). Iași: Polirom.
Ghețău, V. (2023). Ultimele rezultate provizorii ale recensământului. Structura etnică a populației (Latest provisional census results. The ethnic structure of the population). 04/03/2023.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture′s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. 2 nd Edition. Sage Publications.
Hofstede, G, Hofstede, G.J., Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations. Software of the                    Mind. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival. 3 rd Edition.Mc Graw Hill.
– Iliescu, A.-P. (coord., 2002). Mentalități și instituții. Carențe de mentalitate și înapoiere                             instituțională în România modernă. (Mentalities and Institutions. Deficiencies of mentality and institutional backwardness in modern Romania). București. Ars Docendi Publishing House.
Lenin, V. I. (1963). Materialism și empiriocriticism. Însemnări critice despre o filozofie                         reacționară(Materialism and empiriocriticism. Critical Notes on a Reactionar.  Philosophy). In Lenin, Opere Complete (Complete works), vol.18. Bucharest: Political Publishing House, p. VII.
Luca, A. (2005). Where Do We Stand ? A Study on the Position of Romania on Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. › document › Adina-Luca-Where-Do-We-Stand-A-Study.
Mihuț, I., Lungescu, D. (2006). Dimensiuni culturale în managementul românesc (Cultural dimensions in Romanian management). › pdf › articole ›.
– Miłosz, C. (1988). La pensée captive. Essai sur les logocraties populaires, préface de Karl Jaspers. Paris: Gallimard. p. 9, p. 13.
Natansohn, I. (1972). Sociologia în impas ? (Sociology in Impasse ?). Iași: Junimea Publishing House.
Wursten, H. (2019). The 7 Mental Images of National Culture. Leading and managing in a globalized word. ISBN-10:1687633347 ISBN-13: 978-1687633347
Wursten, H. (2022). Mental Images and Nation-Building. The Pyramid › culture-impact-journal. Culture And Nation Building. Defining Culture – Impacting Our World. Special Editions. June 2022;
       See also:
It’s All In the Image. › Interviews. July 6, 2020. An interview with  Huib Wursten;
Book Review: The 7 Mental Images of National Culture. Inspiration › Books.
Culture and Migration.     The right to have rights, the problem of “Dirty Hands,” and the ethics of responsibility

Culture and Migration.   The right to have rights, the problem of “Dirty Hands,” and the ethics of responsibility

                                 Culture and Migration.

           The right to have rights, the problem of “Dirty Hands,” and the ethics of responsibility.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

              By: Huib Wursten. Author and consultant



This paper examines the role of governments in implementing immigration policies, the challenges of balancing morality, practical consequences, and accountability.  This is done by describing three television moments that triggered the author.

In recent years, immigration has become a pressing issue for many countries worldwide. Governments try to create and implement policies that address the challenges posed by immigration, which often involve complex moral considerations.

Self-evidently several cultural issues play a role. This paper emphasizes the cultural context of the specific type of “the rule of law”. The one that includes human rights”.  All European Union countries signed such a “narrow rule of law” (see note1) despite the enormous cultural diversity. Five of the seven cultural policy narratives distinguished worldwide are at work in the EU (see note 2). Because of the complexity, it makes the EU an example of what can be expected to happen globally. That’s why this paper will focus mainly on how the EU copes with migration.

Keywords: immigration, dirty hands, human rights, ethical dilemmas, policy considerations, humanitarian concerns, national interests, dirty hands in immigration, moral choices, accountability, just immigration practices.


-Television triggers 1 and 2. The Tunisia deal and “Dirty hands.”

While listening to the comments made by critics on television about the “Tunisia deal” announced on 16 July 2023, my thought went back to 63 years ago.  It was 4 April 1960.  I watched “Dirty Hands” with my parents, the play by Jean-Paul Sartre, on one of the two Dutch television channels of that time.

“Dirty Hands” evolves around the idea that individuals must take responsibility for their choices and actions, even in complex and morally ambiguous situations. The play raises questions about the nature of political engagement and the need to compromise when confronted with difficult choices in pursuing a greater political goal. The play’s theme was suddenly very relevant in the way the European Union deals with the “hot” issue of immigration.

This paper will address some of the moral dilemmas involved.

Migration trends. Some insights into the complex dynamics shaping human mobility.

Economic, political, environmental, and technological factors all contribute to the movement of people across borders, highlighting the interconnectedness of global issues. Understanding these trends and their implications is crucial for policymakers, governments, and societies to develop inclusive and sustainable solutions.

Right now, more people have been forced to flee their homes than ever before, with a staggering 110 million individuals displaced worldwide, according to a report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR Policy note #08 — 2017). This is more than any other time since World War II.

Some definitions and facts.

Some definitions:

Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are distinct categories of individuals who relocate to a different country, often due to persecution, conflict, or the pursuit of better opportunities. While there can be some overlap in their circumstances and experiences, the key differences lie in their legal status and the reasons behind their migration. Here’s a breakdown of each term. The 110 million from UNHCR includes refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.

Immigrants: Immigrants voluntarily move to a different country to establish permanent residence. They usually do so for reasons such as employment opportunities, family reunification, education, or simply seeking a better quality of life. Immigrants typically go through a legal process, such as applying for visas, work permits, or permanent residency, to gain legal status in their destination country. The EU is home to many immigrants from various countries around the world. The exact figures may vary, but in 2021, there were approximately 35 million immigrants residing in the EU member states, representing about 7% of the total population of the EU.

Refugees: Refugees have fled their home countries due to well-founded fears of persecution, violence, or conflict. They seek refuge in another country and are unable or unwilling to return due to the dangers they face. Refugees are protected under international law, notably the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which outline the rights and responsibilities of refugees and the countries that host them. They often receive assistance from international organizations and undergo a formal process to be recognized as refugees, including assessments to determine their eligibility for protection. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), by the end of 2020, there were approximately 3.8 million refugees in the EU. The largest number of refugees in the EU often come from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Asylum Seekers: Asylum seekers are individuals who have left their home countries and seek protection in another country as refugees. They apply for asylum upon arrival or shortly after and request legal recognition as refugees. Asylum seekers often need more legal status in the country where they seek asylum as their claims are being evaluated. The process involves providing evidence to support their claims of persecution or fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The host country’s authorities review their cases and decide whether to grant them refugee status and the corresponding protection.

The number of asylum seekers in the EU can vary from year to year based on global events and EU policies. In recent years, there has been some fluctuation in the number of asylum seekers in the EU. In 2020, around 461,000 asylum applications were submitted. Mostly from Syria, Ukraine, and Afghanistan

Illegal immigration

Coping with illegal immigrants is increasingly an important policy matter. Usually, Immigrants have different reasons, such as employment opportunities, family reunification, education, or simply seeking a better quality of life. Immigrants typically go through a legal process, such as applying for visas, work permits, or permanent residency, to gain legal status in their destination country. Receiving countries usually try to control the flow of immigration. Because of the restrictions, an increasing number of people try to reach the receiving countries illegally. The number of migrants staying, for instance, illegally in the European Union increased by almost 60% in 2022. In that year, EU countries together counted more than one million people without the right to reside there, reports the European statistical office Eurostat. Most illegal migrants live in countries at the EU’s external borders, such as Hungary, Croatia, and Greece, and in large Member States, such as Germany and France. 

Coping with illegal immigration

It is clear for an American like Thomas Friedman (Friedman 2023). He is convinced that the reference should be “well-understood self-interest”. He writes: “There is only one way to deal with the waves of migrants who will continue to come America’s way. And that is with a very high wall with a very big gate. How can we maintain a safe haven for the truly persecuted and attract the immigrants we need to thrive in the 21st century — both the high-energy, low-skilled immigrants and the high-IQ risk takers — and ensure that the flow of immigrants into America is happening at a pace consistent with our economic needs and our ability to assimilate those migrants culturally and socially.”

In practice, the approach of receiving countries in fighting illegal immigration is less clear-cut. Sometimes it is even taking a morally doubtful shape.

Some examples:

The UK: Operation Maximise. “Cram them into a shoe box”.

The UK’s “hostile environment” policy, introduced in 2012, has faced criticism for creating a culture of suspicion and fear, particularly among immigrants and minority communities. Critics argue that this policy, aimed at deterring illegal immigration, has led to unintended consequences, such as denying essential services to legal residents and the wrongful targeting of individuals.  Enver Solomon (Solomon 2023) writes about “Operation Maximise”, the plan to cram people into absurd room-sharing arrangements: “It is cruelty by design”, the consequence of a significant shift from government ministers to purposefully make conditions for men, women and children seeking asylum in the UK as harsh as possible. A government spokesperson said: “Our Illegal Migration Bill will help to stop the boats by making sure people smugglers and illegal migrants understand that coming to the UK illegally will result in detention and swift removal – only then will they be deterred from making these dangerous journeys in the first place.”

The Zero Tolerance Policy at the US-Mexico Border

In 2018, the United States implemented a controversial immigration policy known as the “Zero Tolerance” policy at the US-Mexico border. Under this policy, adults crossing the border illegally were subject to criminal prosecution, resulting in the separation of families and the detention of children in separate facilities. Reports emerged of overcrowded detention centers, inadequate healthcare, and poor sanitation, raising questions about the ethical treatment of detainees and their basic human rights.

Another issue is the Criminalization of Asylum Seekers: The policy treated asylum seekers as criminals rather than individuals seeking refuge, challenging the moral obligation to protect vulnerable populations fleeing violence or persecution.

Due to public pressure and legal challenges, the policy was eventually reversed. Still, the long-term impact on the affected families and the integrity of the immigration system remains debated.

Detention of Asylum Seekers in Australia

Australia’s immigration policy includes mandatory detention for unauthorized arrivals, including asylum seekers who arrive by boat. The policy aims to deter unauthorized maritime arrivals and prevent human trafficking. The approach is criticized for several reasons:

  1. Indefinite Detention: Asylum seekers can be detained indefinitely while their refugee claims are being processed, which raises ethical concerns regarding the deprivation of liberty and the mental health impact on detainees.
  2. Offshore Processing: Australia established offshore processing centers in countries like Nauru and Papua New Guinea, outsourcing the responsibility for processing asylum claims and raising questions about the welfare and human rights of those in these facilities.
  3. Lack of Transparency: The policy has been criticized for its lack of transparency, limited access to legal representation, and restrictions on media reporting, hindering public scrutiny and accountability.

The EU:  Outsourcing external border controls and policies

Critics argue that the EU’s external border controls and procedures, and the outsourcing of asylum processing to non-EU countries, raise serious human rights concerns. The conditions in reception centers, including overcrowding, inadequate healthcare, and limited access to legal representation, have been heavily criticized.

Outsourcing to third countries to deter immigration is what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls “innovative” ways to tackle people smugglers and reduce the number of people who drown during risky crossings over dangerous seas.

Ideas like sending migrants away to countries deemed safe such as Rwanda, for which Danish Prime Minister Frederiksen campaigned, copying similar ideas in the UK, were not supported by most member states. Also, a judge ruled in the UK that the ‘Rwanda model’ contradicts British law.

  • The Turkey deal.

In 2015 almost 1 million refugees arrived in the European Union, while more than 3,500 tragically lost their lives making the dangerous journey. More than 75% of those coming to Europe had fled conflict and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.                                                                                                                                                        The increase in new arrivals dominated headlines, sparked heated public debate, and began to polarize public opinion. While there was a huge outpouring of support and solidarity from some countries and communities, several populist political parties and movements across Europe also employed strong anti-migrant messages and imagery to further their agendas.

The ‘EU-Turkey deal’ is often used to describe the ‘statement of cooperation’ between EU states and the Turkish Government, signed in March 2016.  It agreed on three key points:

  • Turkey would take any measures necessary to stop people traveling irregularly from Turkey to the Greek islands.
  • Anyone who arrived on the islands irregularly from Turkey could be returned there.
  • For every Syrian returned from the islands, EU Member States would accept one Syrian refugee who had waited inside Turkey.

In exchange, Turkey would receive €6 billion to improve the humanitarian situation refugees face in the country, and Turkish nationals would be granted visa-free travel to Europe.

The message was clear: those attempting to reach Greece irregularly would be swiftly returned, while those who waited patiently in Turkey would have the chance to enter.

While the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement may have contributed to the significant reduction in the number of people risking the tricky journey to Greece, the price for those that do make it to the EU has been very high, and the total sent back to Turkey under the deal has been negligible. Seven years since the agreement was implemented, mass returns have not been made from Greece to Turkey. Approximately 32,472 Syrian refugees have been resettled from Turkey to EU Member States under the agreement.

Refugee organizations are critical of agreements in which the EU cooperates with dubious leaders in exchange for money and economic support to limit the arrival of migrants.

But the recent Tunisia deal is seen as the blueprint for the EU migration policy of the future. The Union is ready to give Tunisia 100 million euros to strengthen border security, pick up migrant boats and send people back to their homeland. The agreement with Tunisia also provides for economic cooperation, including generating and exporting sustainable energy. In addition, more Tunisians will have the opportunity to study and work in the EU.

The European Commission expects similar agreements with Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.


Culture, morality, and immigration

Some critical remarks.

Democracy and the rule of law in the EU

In an earlier paper (Wursten, Lanzer,2012), the EU was described as a unique cultural experiment where five of the seven value systems (see Note 2) that can be defined worldwide are working together and developing a common decision-making structure for shared policies.                                                                                                     Understanding the EU in the context of the founding principle is crucial. The combination of democracy, the separation of powers, and a rule of law that includes Human Rights. To be accepted as a member, all the nation-states of the EU must adhere to this combination. These elements are inseparable.

Democracy implies that the member-states population has a say in what is happening in their countries. The majority can choose a government that is trusted to implement the preferred policies of such a majority. If the Government is not doing so, the majority can then send the Government away.

The rule of law makes, however, that the majority cannot take away the rights of the minority. These rights are guaranteed. The separation of powers makes that independent judges can force the majority to protect the rights of minorities.                                                                                                                                                                            To be accepted as a member state of the EU, all countries must sign for this combination and can be held accountable for the consequences. Some recent developments in Poland and Hungary show that it is worthwhile to be continuously alert.

The rule of law and Human Rights. Some of the implications.

  1. The right to have rights.

Human rights, in theory, belong to every person. But how are these rights guaranteed? Hannah Arendt suggested that one had to be a person and a citizen of a nation-state.

Arendt wrote: “The right to have rights, or the right of every individual to belong to humanity, should be guaranteed by humanity itself,” But, she said, “It is by no means certain whether this is possible.” Any new international mechanism, she wrote, still depended on the willingness of nations to enforce it—to protect the very people who had been rendered unprotected by losing their national affiliations.

Rights need a context, an audience, or a community in which to claim these rights. Rights don’t exist without a political community that grants and guarantees these rights.  First, this applies to the citizenship of democratic nation-states with a clear rule of law. This citizenship safeguards the most fundamental right: The right to have rights.

Who guarantees the rights of asylum seekers in the EU?

In the formal setup of the European Union (EU), the rights of asylum seekers are guaranteed by a combination of EU law, international conventions, and national legislation.

The key entities and legal instruments involved are:

  1. The EU’s main legal framework governing asylum is the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The CEAS consists of several directives and regulations that establish common standards and procedures for asylum across EU member states. It includes rules on asylum procedures, reception conditions, qualification for international protection, and the Dublin Regulation, which determines the member state responsible for examining an asylum application.
  2. European Court of Justice (ECJ): The ECJ is the highest court in the EU and plays a vital role in interpreting EU law, including asylum-related legislation. Its decisions and judgments help clarify member states’ rights and obligations concerning asylum seekers and refugees.
  3. European Asylum Support Office (EASO): EASO is an EU agency responsible for supporting member states in implementing the CEAS and ensuring a harmonized approach to asylum. It provides guidance, expertise, and technical support to improve the quality and consistency of asylum decision-making and reception conditions across the EU.
  4. European Commission: As the executive body of the EU, the European Commission proposes legislation, monitors the implementation of EU law, and enforces compliance by member states. It plays a significant role in shaping asylum policies and ensuring their adherence to fundamental rights.
  5. European Council: The European Council consists of the heads of state or government of EU member states. While it does not directly guarantee asylum seekers’ rights, it sets the overall direction and priorities for the EU’s asylum and migration policies. Decisions made by the European Council can significantly impact the rights and protections afforded to asylum seekers.
  6. While not an EU institution: the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): ECHR is not an EU institution, but an international body established by the Council of Europe. However, EU member states are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the rights of individuals, including asylum seekers, within the jurisdiction of those states. The ECHR adjudicates complaints of human rights violations, including those related to asylum and migration.
  7. National Legislation: Each EU member state has national legislation and asylum procedures that must comply with EU law and international obligations. National authorities are responsible for implementing and ensuring the protection of the rights of asylum seekers within their territories.

However, while the EU provides a framework for asylum policies, member states have varying levels of adherence to these standards, leading to disparities in the treatment of asylum seekers.

The complication: outsourcing

The difficulty is that the EU countries are not living up to its values but are outsourcing some of the dirty work around migration.   The result is what Kochenov and Ganty call the EU lawlessness law: “a steadily evolving system of conscious legal arrangements purposefully aimed at removing any accountability and or enforceable rights claims from the totality of the liminal context when dealing with the racialised ‘other’ attempting to reach European soil from the former colonies of the EU or claim EU law rights, once settled in the Union.”

According to Kochenov and Ganty, this is not an accident. The EU is built this way. The lawlessness law is the result of its design as a space in which those who hold union citizenship have all rights and those who do not have virtually any Kochenov/Ganty highlight three strategies for the use of lawlessness law:

  1. Informal repatriation and other agreements with mostly formerly colonized third countries, often coupled with development aid and visa facilitation, which have no legal character, are not controlled by any court, and in some cases, are not even made public.
  2. Then there is the uncontrolled and unaccountable spending of huge piles of money to buy the services of third parties for “migration management”, for whose respect for human dignity and any responsibility can always and easily be denied when things get ugly.
  3. And finally: Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency present everywhere, liable nowhere and for nothing, the institutionalized diffusion of responsibility. By the way, help from the EU Courts is not to be expected; on the contrary: The ECJ, with its refusal to exert any control over the EU Turkey Deal, can, according to Kochenov/Ganty, be called one of the architects of EU lawlessness law.


Dirty Hands

Back to the introduction: the dirty hands.

Immigration often forces policymakers to make morally challenging decisions, which can be framed within the context of the play by Jean-Paul Sartre. “Dirty Hands” revolves around the idea that individuals must take responsibility for their choices and actions, even in complex and morally ambiguous situations. The play raises questions about the nature of political engagement and the need to compromise when confronted with difficult choices in pursuing a greater political goal.

After watching the play on television, I had, as usual, a strong and emotional discussion with my erudite and open-minded father about the question of whether actions can be judged as good or bad without understanding the intent and the motivation behind actions. My father was clear: certain deeds, like knifing people, are always bad. In my puberal hybris, I asked him:  is putting a knife in somebody’s chest bad or good.? He fell into the trap I set for him and answered: “Bad, of course”. My reply:” But if the person behind this act is a surgeon operating?” The good sport he was, my father accepted that making dirty hands is inevitable in certain circumstances. But transparency about intent is a necessity. And, very importantly, those making dirty hands should always be accountable for their actions. In the case of the Surgeon, this implied that he needed to prepare for the operation with all the precautions necessary to avoid complications and that he stays accountable when making mistakes.

Applying this to immigration: The most significant consequence is that Member States may not presume the criteria to be met with the mere existence of an agreement between the EU and a third country and general assurances by that country that migrants will be ‘protected by the relevant international standards.

Under well-established human rights norms, states are obliged to carry out a ‘thorough’ assessment of the accessibility and effectiveness of a third country’s asylum system (see: Illias and Ahmed v. Hungary) and may not rely on diplomatic assurances that are not specific and independently monitored (see: Othman v. United Kingdom).

Furthermore, the vision of seeking endlessly to make refugees the responsibility of other states increasingly empowers those few third states willing to play this EU game, often exacerbating and supporting autocratic tendencies therein. The EU increasingly depends on these regimes, which can easily “coercively engineer” migration to extort the EU.

Ethical dilemmas.

Rise of populism and xenophobia: Immigration policies of the EU have been a topic of political debate, with populist and far-right parties capitalizing on anti-immigration sentiment. Critics argue that these policies have contributed to the rise of xenophobia, nationalism, and anti-European feelings in certain member states. Critics also highlight the difficulties in integrating immigrants into European societies, including language, employment, education, and social cohesion issues. They argue that EU immigration policies should prioritize effective integration programs to ensure the successful inclusion of newcomers.

Ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility.

The third television trigger in this paper was a discussion between a well-known actor and the politician responsible for immigration in the Netherlands. The politician was analyzing the practical problems of mass immigration. The consequences for housing, financial support, education, and integration. The actor stood up and shouted: “Do you think there is a price cap on acting on human principles?”

What is at stake here?

Of course, immigration policies that involve dirty hands have wide-ranging consequences. These consequences can manifest in various ways, including violating human rights, creating vulnerable populations, and perpetuating social and economic disparities. Governments must be accountable for their actions and decisions, particularly when they involve morally questionable choices. Governments often encounter conflicting moral imperatives. On the one hand, there is a duty to protect national security, uphold the rule of law, and safeguard the interests of citizens. On the other hand, there is an obligation to respect the dignity and rights of migrants, provide humanitarian assistance, and ensure fairness and justice. Finding a balance between morality and practical consequences in immigration policies is a formidable task for governments.

Transparency and legal frameworks are crucial in ensuring that governments are held responsible for the consequences of their immigration policies. Governments need to recognize the consequences of their actions and be held accountable for their decisions. By engaging in informed and ethical discourse, policymakers can work towards more just and sustainable immigration policies that respect the rights and dignity of migrants while addressing the concerns of their citizens.

Many philosophers and ethicists seek to integrate these elements.

One of the ethicists is Max Weber.

In “Politik als Beruf”, Max Weber introduced his famous distinction between two types of ethics:

The “Ethics of conviction”:  people act according to principles and tend to disregard potential consequences.

The “Ethics of Responsibility”: people leave aside principles and act according to what they believe will be the likely consequences of those actions.

In the ethics of conviction, one is bound solely to do the morally correct action; if one guides one’s action by an ethics of responsibility, one “… must answer for the foreseeable consequences of [one’s] actions”.


  1. The EU is a unique development. As we said before in the paper on the Culture and the EU (Wursten, Lanzer 2012), it is a system where countries with very different value backgrounds try to develop a shared future based on democracy and human rights. Like Timothy Garton Ash (Ash, 2023) says:                                                Europe is a universalist project, or it’s nothing. This is the continent that gave us the modern nation-state, that gave us a global state system, that had centuries of conflict, and that is now trying to find a better way of being a very diverse people and peoples living together well in peace and freedom.  It is essential that people with a migration background, people in the second and third generation, should absolutely feel at home in Europe and should not just have equal rights in theory but, in practice—have equal life chances”.
  2. It is a necessity to emphasize the importance of transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.
  3. Ensure that immigration policies are developed through open dialogue, considering the views and concerns of various stakeholders, including immigrants themselves.
  4. Policymakers should be held accountable for the outcomes of their decisions and address any unintended negative consequences.
  5. Politicians should recognize that it involves legal and economic considerations and social, cultural, and humanitarian aspects. Policymakers and individuals should approach immigration dilemmas with a comprehensive understanding of the various factors involved.
  6. They should balance competing humanitarian concerns, economic considerations, national security, social integration challenges, cultural diversity, and potential strains on public resources. Applying the ethics of responsibility requires carefully weighing these competing principles to find a balanced approach that considers the interests of immigrants and the host society.

 Bi0 Huib Wursten

Huib Wursten, born in 1942, specializes in advising companies and supra-national organizations on managing global teams. Huib graduated from the University of Amsterdam in educational psychology. Huib was co-owner of ITIM International. For over 30 years Huib has supported and advised organizations in correctly assessing intercultural and organizational culture issues and applying the results to create a winning approach.

Huib is the intellectual father of the “mental Images” By observing how the Hofstede dimensions intersect each other, he identified 7 combinations. He published a book about it in 2019: “The 7 Mental Images of National Culture” making it possible to quickly assess most cultures in the world



  1. The rule of law

In German, this is known as Rechtsstaat; in French, as Etat de Droit.

Two interpretations of “the rule of law” can be identified. They are (a) a broad definition (no democracy and human rights implied) and (b) a narrow definition.

1. The Broad (or formal) definition: The rules should be such that they can enable the control of Government and citizens’ behavior. The content and form of control are not an issue. All over the world, there are countries that can be identified as claiming they have the rule of law in this sense.

2. The Narrow definition however is found in a limited number of countries. Attributes of the broad- and limited definition:

Broad (or formal) definition                      Narrow definition
Attributes of the broad definition are:

  • The rules should be clear
  •  No retroactive action
  •  Not too many changes
  •  Consistency
  •  Independent judges
  •  Fair trials


           The rule of law also encompasses the following:

  •  a chosen parliament,
  •  a democratic system
  •  the separation of powers
  •  human rights are  recognised and respected


  1. The seven Mental Images



Arendt Hannah, The rights of man; what are they? In Modern Review summer 1949, p. 24-37

Ash Timothy (2023) Homelands: A Personal History of Europe Publisher: ‎ Bodley Head (2 Mar. 2023) ISBN-10 : ‎ 1847926614 ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-18479266

European Council on Refugees and Exiles Debunking the “Safe Third County” Myth. POLICY NOTE #08 — 2017

European Court Of Human Rights, Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary, Application No. 47287/15, 21 November 2019

European Court Of Human Rights, Othman v. United Kingdom App No 8139/09). 17.1.2012

Enver Solomon, 7 jun 2023  Cram them into a shoebox: that’s Britain’s new anti-migrant strategy – and it won’t work.The Guardian

Friedman Thomas L. May 16, 2023.  It’s Time for Biden to Out-Trump Trump on Immigration. New York Times

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the.Mind. Berkeley: McGraw-Hill

Kochenov, Dimitry and Ganty, Sarah, EU Lawlessness Law: Europe’s Passport Apartheid From Indifference To Torture and Killing (January 2, 2023). Jean Monnet Working Paper No 2/2022 (NYU Law School), Available: or

RSA Legal note/ 2021 EU-Turkey deal: 5 Years of Shame Rule of law capture by a Statement Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) Stiftung PRO ASYL e”

Weber Max “Politik als Beruf,” Gesammelte Politische Schriften (Muenchen, 1921),. Originally a speech at Munich University, 1918, published in 1919 by Duncker & Humboldt, Munich.

Wursten Huib (2019). The 7 Mental Images of National Culture Leading and Managing in a globalized world ISBN-10: 1687633347 ISBN-13: 978-1687633347

Wursten Huib, Lanzer Fernando. (2012) The EU: the third great European cultural contribution to the world.

Impact of culture. All articles and links

The impact of Culture on……….

 Specials, edited by Huib Wursten.

Art, Democracy, Identity, Nation-building, Sports Coaching, Education, Media Literacy, D.E.I., Migration


 All authors and links:

Culture and Art (2021) In: The International Research Journal on Cultural Diplomacy and Innovation_(2021)

.Arthur d’ Ansembourg: In search for a philosophy of African art

Huib Wursten: Reflections on Culture, Art and Artists in Contemporary Society.

Jan Vincent Meertens: A Journey to Macondo. Will outside readers ever be truly able to be able to crawl under the skin of the author, challenging their own cultural preconceptions?

Carel Jacobs: The vulnerable human being. A cultural anthropological study on life and work of Vincent van Gogh.

Eric Alexander de Groot: Culture and The Art Market 

Culture and Democracy In cooperation with JIME (Journal for Intercultural Management and Ethics) Issue No. 3/2019.

Berwyn Davies: Brexit and the Joy of Democracy

Stephen I. P. Martin: Culture and Brexit: A Catastrophic Partnership

Huib Wursten: Democracy and the Need for Autonomy  Https://

Anton Carpinschi: The Avatars of Democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. How Could Citizens Strengthen Democratic Integration in the European Union?Https://

Joseph Kessels: Democracy and Lifelong Learning, the Forgotten Sides of the Same Coin

Divya Susan Varkey: The Great Indian Democracy

Fernando Lanzer Pereira de Souza: Democracy in Latin America

Adnan R. Husain Cornelissen, Loes B. Husain-Cornelisse: Of Wise Old Men and Rebellious Youth

Luc Zwaenepoel: Democracy in Africa and Ubuntu


Culture Impact Journal: January 2022. Culture and Identity

Ligia Koijen Ramos: Identity and love

 Eliane Gabbay: Culture and Identity-a personal-reflection

 Anton Carpinschi, Ph.D.: Is the Culture of recognition still possible in the multicultural world of globalization

Daniela Kaneva: Identity in the perspective of so-called Eastern Europe

 Paulo Finuras, Ph.D.: Identity and trust. An evolutionary perspective

 Huib Wursten: Identity and the gravitational influence of Culture

 Huib Wursten: A shared future. A need for broader and more integrative identities

 Brigitte Opel: German culture and identity

 Fernando Lanzer: Identity and Culture. Joining the psychological and anthropological perspective


Culture Impact Journal: June 2022. Culture and Nation-building

 Chris Cartwright, Sultana Parvanta: Nation-Building: Applying Frames of Analysis a Case Study of Afghanistan.

Fernando Lanzer: So, you want to build a nation?

Huib Wursten: Mental images and nation-building.

 Luc Zwaenepoel: Culture and Nation-building in Africa

 Thom Imfeld: The Bani world and nation-building.

 Martin Karaffa: Samaritans and good nations


Culture Impact Journal: September 2022. Culture and sports

-Huib Wursten: The impact of Culture on sports coaching

-Mikael Søndergaard : Invisible cultural diffrences in sports. How do we study-how do we see the invisible cultural values

-Wursten and Finuras : Could national culture influence football referees?

Wim Koevermans: Applying cultural theory to sports coaching.

Jan van Loon: Coaching in the U.K. and Germany

-Kei Hisanaga: Factors contributing to foreign players” success in the JLague. Intervieuws with their interpreters

 Paulo Finuras: Why do men play more sports than women? From the male warrior to the crazy.bastard hypothesis, An evolutionary perspective.


Culture Impact Journal: 2023. Culture and education

Divya Varkey, Masako Kato, Huib Wursten “Educational practices and culture shockEducational practices and culture shock.

Agata Sowinska: “Dao, Li and Dalton education in China” :Dao, Li, and Dalton education in China

Fernando Lanzer: What are the objectives of Education in a challenging diverse world? What are the objectives of education a challenging diverse world?

Lisa DeWaard: Reflections on the state: The public school models of the United States and Russia REFLECTIONS OF THE STATE: THE PUBLIC SCHOOL MODELS OF THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA

Jan Vincent Meertens: Gaming in citizenship education Empathy Land and Education

Karina Bagration. Huib Wursten, Education in times of war Education in times of crisis

 Reiko Tashiro: Needs for CQ Education in Japan Absenteeism in Japanese Compulsary Education


Culture Impact Journal:  2023. Culture and Media Literacy

Anton Carpinschi, The Russian-Ukrainian war and media literacy. Thoughts and memories of an East-European

 Amer Bital:  Authority representation as a cultural discourse!

 Fernando Lanzer: Cultural filters and blind spots in media

 Huib Wursten:  Culture and Media Literacy. Truth, BS, and shibboleths.

 Martin Karaffa: True to whom?

 Dr Vedabhyas Kundu: Intertwining Nonviolent Communication in Media and Cultural Literacy programmes

 Dr. Hamid Doost Mohammadian. A Study of Social Cultural Sustainability and Holding a Discussion on the Effect of Information Disorder and Social Engineering on Media.


Culture Impact Journal: 2023. Culture, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Tessa Sutton (USA) & Chris Cartwright (USA)  Connecting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness with Intercultural Competence

 Pia Kähärä (Finland) and Valeria Rodríguez Brondo (UruquayThe Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) paradox.: how can we respect cultural diversity and, at the same time, be in line

Prof. Mette Zølner, (DenmarkWhich insights can alternative perspectives on Diversity management give us?

 Brigitte Opel (Germany, Netherlands) Diversity Equity and Inclusion in an international setting.

Elizabeth A. Tuleja, Ph.D., ACC (USA)  nclusive leadership. Finding solutions through cultural competence.

Fernando Lanzer (Brasil) Managing DEI in Different Cultures

Huib Wursten (NetherlandsDEI and Mental Images. The rules of the game.

Paulo Finuras, PhD (PortugalEvolution and the fear of rejection – why is the need for inclusion a human universal?

 Reiko Tashiro (Japan), Chika Miyamori (Japan) Gender inequality in the Japanese Workplace and the Influence of National Culture

Culture Impact Journal: 2023. Culture and Migration.


Sjaak Pappe: Migrants, a blessing in disguise? A cultural perspective.

Huib Wursten: Culture and immigration, the right to have rights, the problem of dirty hands,and the ethics of responsibility

Fernando Lanzer: Culture and Immigration. When tribes need to share territory 

Philip Sjögren: The Interplay of Culture in Migrational Patterns: A Swedish Perspective

Dr. Luc ZwaenepoelCultural congruency and conformity in the African Diaspora

Pernilla Rorso Culture and Migration. The case of Denmark



http links

http links

Click for full article

hgd6       http://interpretive-and-critical-perspectives-which-additional-comprehension-of-diversity-management    nterpretive-and-critical-perspectives-which-additional-comprehension-of-diversity-management





Synopsis: Using the autobiographical narrative and participatory observation, this essay explores the symptoms of thinking enslaved by errors, illusions, and prejudices under and after communism.
Also, from a comprehensive reflexive perspective, the connections between geopolitical developments, the psychocultural profile of Romanian society and the phenomenon of captive thinking are explored.
Thus, at the meeting of the participatory observation with the comprehensive reflection, the reflections of the participant observer were born, an observer always aware of the precarious condition of the prisoner of captive thinking.
Keywords: culture, geopolitics, captive thinking, Romanian society, involved observer
The communist regime collapsed in Romania, but our thinking seems to have sometimes remained captive to the myths and prejudices of the communist era. At the same time, maintained by large sections of the population, the new syndrome of captive thinking poisons communication networks with its subcultural skids. Of course, the reactions to the old and the new syndrome of captive thinking depend on each person's life experience, cultural background and family environment, but in this complicated puzzle, there are always factors, variables and, above all, imponderables which human judgment is not always able to discern and evaluate them. Perceived as a syndrome, captive thinking hides in us and among us, its symptoms betraying its presence in our limits and errors, in illusions and prejudices, gestures and preferences. More current than ever, "Captive Thinking", the book dedicated by Czesław Miłosz to the perversion of thinking under the dictatorship of the communist ideocracy deserves to be (re)read carefully even today.




Connecting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness with Intercultural Competence

Connecting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness with Intercultural Competence

Authors: Tessa Sutton, Ph.D. & Chris T. Cartwright, MPA, Ed.D


The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging space is brimming with stellar insights into how to find and root out systemic inequities. These insights are also often North American-centric and need clear evidence of effective implementation rather than concepts on paper. For the deep changes we seek to take hold in our global organizations and society, we must consider individuals’ role in creating cultures of inclusion from a broader, more global perspective. In this chapter, we explore insights from an in-depth review of how organizations and individuals can learn to build inclusive organizations and simultaneously cultivate intercultural competencies.

People hold and reveal the culture of their organizations and societies. As social beings, we create values, norms, and behaviors that can foster a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, as we create ‘in-groups,’ we by default create ‘out-groups’; the effect is often devastating to societies and organizations and debilitating for those who fall in the out-group in any given context. To break negative out-group patterns and foster societal and organizational belongingness, we need to engage in the deep work of culture change, which requires building capacity for individual change and systemic organizational development. We can cultivate the change we need by connecting organizational systems of transformation with people skills to intended goals, outcomes, and desired changes.

In any community and organization, there needs to be a structured and intentional way to change organizational behaviors and patterns. Organizational Development (OD) is a network of systemic practices and structures designed to connect individuals to support the desired changes and outcomes of the institution and meet their unique dispositions (Durkheim, 1973). Hofstede (2001) corroborated individual need disposition within an organizational culture in remarking, “When people are moved as individuals, they will adapt to the culture of their new environment; when they are moved as groups, they will bring their own culture along” (p. 201). OD practices empower individuals and groups to think differently but act together (Hofstede, 1982). The core OD elements for systemic change are values, goals, structure, and climate. These informal systems enable leaders to steer the formal organizational systems (Jones, 1981) to ensure equity and belongingness. These elements form a diagnostic system that helps leaders build individual, administrative, and organizational capacity, such as imparting skills, developing cross-cultural competence, and providing coaching and funding to enact cultural transformation, resulting in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness (DEIB). OD sustains cultural transformation and bridges the gap between diverse individuals or group dynamics and expected strategic outcomes (Rothwell et al., 2015, p. 9). OD also involves individuals in the change process, promoting diverse perspectives and resulting in high-level engagement, ownership, and motivation. The contemporaneous OD challenge, however, is to use DEIB and the unique strengths of generations while understanding complex group nuances and intersectionality in intercultural contexts. With DEIB at the core of an organization’s strategic plan, its values are embedded in systems and become the culture–the way we do things around here–each member has equal opportunities and skills to perform their best work and feels valued.


The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging space is brimming with stellar insights into how to find and root out systemic inequities. These insights are also often North American-centric and need clear evidence of effective implementation rather than concepts on paper. For the deep behavioral changes, we seek to take hold in our global organizations and society, we must consider individuals’ role in creating cultures of inclusion from a broader, more global perspective. In this chapter, we explore insights from an in-depth review of how individuals and organizations can learn to build inclusive organizations and simultaneously cultivate intercultural competencies with inclusion practices.

People hold the culture of their organizations and societies. As social beings, we create values, norms, and behaviors that can foster a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, as we create

‘in-groups,’ we by default create ‘out-groups’; the effect is often devastating to individuals, organizations, and societies because a superior or siloed mindset leads to extreme microaggressions and exclusionary behaviors that can be debilitating for those who fall into the constructed out-groups in any given context and are best described as “… pin pricks, a psychic assault, and death of a thousand cuts” (Sue, 2005, p.100). To break these negative out-group patterns and foster societal and organizational belongingness, we need to engage in the deep work of culture change, which requires building capacity for systematic individual change and systemic organizational development. Individuals and organizations need to believe, act and behave differently. We can cultivate the needed change by connecting organizational transformation systems with people skills to intended goals, outcomes, and desired changes. Equally, to address the negative impact of socially constructed “isms” such as racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, classism, and homophobia, we need individuals and organizations to possess intercultural competencies and enact inclusive priorities, policies, and practices to counter them. These “isms” are rooted in culture, laws, communities, behaviors, and attitudes–and historically in governing constitutions that hinder the full participation of certain populations in organizations and society. Paradoxically, isms also negatively impact the so-called “in-group” because organizations and society are interdependent ecosystems that disrupt all societal participants.

Organizational Development (OD) is a network of systemic practices and structures designed to connect individuals to support the desired changes and outcomes of the institution and meet their unique dispositions (Durkheim, 1973). Hofstede (2001) corroborated individual need disposition within an organizational culture in remarking, “When people are moved as individuals, they will adapt to the culture of their new environment; when they are moved as groups, they will bring their own culture along” (p. 201). OD practices create structures and space for individuals and groups to think differently but act together (Hofstede, 1982). The core OD elements for systemic change are values, goals, structure, and climate. These informal systems enable leaders to steer the formal organizational systems (Jones, 1981) to ensure equity and belongingness. These OD elements form a diagnostic system that helps leaders build individual, administrative, and organizational capacity, such as imparting skills, developing intercultural competencies and inclusive practices, and providing coaching and funding to enact cultural transformation, resulting in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness (DEIB). OD sustains cultural transformation and bridges the gap between diverse individuals or group dynamics and expected strategic outcomes (Rothwell et al., 2015, p. 9). OD also involves individuals in the change process, promoting diverse perspectives and resulting in high-level engagement, ownership, and motivation. The contemporaneous OD challenge, however, is to use DEIB and the unique strengths of all diverse populations while understanding complex group nuances and intersectionality in intercultural contexts. With DEIB at the core of an organization’s strategic plan, its values are embedded in systems and become the culture–the way we do things around here–each member has equal opportunities and skills to perform their best work and feels valued.

Our purpose in writing this chapter is not only to outline the need, value, and possible paths for types of organizations and individual-level changes required for effective DEIB work, but to discuss the value and possible paths toward bridging these two silos of thought and practice in a more global context. The act of building the bridge that will connect individual and organizational development for DEIB is a place where sustainable growth and change can be realized.

The premise behind leveraging diversity as a value and an outcome of systems change work is that representation of a broad spectrum of people, perspectives, and the cultures they hold to the benefit of organizations and society. It is a form of demographic accounting with a lens for equity and inclusion. Throughout human history, patterns of exploration, trade, or wars that have resulted in migration, refugees, and even slavery have consistently emerged. These movements of humans have acted as conduits, introducing individuals, organizations, and societies to new and diverse people and cultures. Unfortunately, the introduction of people, organizations, societies, and cultures to new ones has not always gone well (Bennett, 1993). In the current context, a person can rarely live in a truly culturally homogenous place anywhere in the world; there may well be a cultural preference or bias to believe this is possible, but connecting with differences is unavoidable. To engage difference effectively, we need to ask ourselves three questions: ‘Am I a neutral being without diversity?’ ‘Is there only one way of knowing?’ ‘Are these differences seen, heard, and valued in all contexts?’ And the answer is, ‘No.’

Equity is a value designed to redress long-standing inequities that impact marginalized populations, meet people where they are, and redistribute resources so individuals and groups can fully participate in a community–a value that supports the population’s needs. This is different from equal participation. The leadership body that values equity recognizes patterns of inequity and seeks to remedy them. Comparatively, the leadership values of equality assume that all individuals and populations within organizations and society can fully participate, and our human history clearly indicates that this has never been true. Just as there have and always will be in-groups and out-groups, power and privilege have always been held unequally. So, the need for reframing this value and commitment to equity and redressing inequities in our organizations and societies is essential.

Inclusion is an action or behavior that flows from the value sets of diversity and equity. The Ford Foundation defines it as follows:

Inclusion is the act or practice of building a culture of belonging by actively inviting the contribution and participation of all people. Every person’s voice adds value and creates balance in the face of power differences. No one person can or should be called upon to represent an entire community. – Adapted from Ford Foundation

This practice can and needs to be learned by individuals and organizations to foster sustainable organizational and societal change. It is the space where the culture can be witnessed.

Intercultural competence is the ability to engage effectively across difference (Cartwright, 2020), and we assert that it plays an essential role in cultivating inclusion and belongingness. If an individual and organizational or societal preference is particularly mono-cultural (has a strong preference for cultural homogeneity), seeking, engaging, valuing, and supporting diverse people and perspectives will be impossible. Instead, intercultural competence must be cultivated at the individual, organizational, and societal levels to grow a more multicultural or pluralistic society. The path toward bridging the more Western-centric DEIB field to the global context with intercultural competence is a level of adaptability some would call humility or intelligence.

Interculturalists fondly use metaphors to describe the phenomena they observe in cultural groups. In the ‘Tree Metaphor,’ the roots are the unseen aspects of a culture, the history, values, and norms that ground the tree; the trunk can represent organizations or society that is the focus of observations; the branches are the behaviors that are exhibited by a member of this organization or society; the leaves are the members who are fed by and thrive on this tree; and finally the flowers or fruit are the benefits shared by the organization or society. In this instance, the practices of inclusion are the branches that can be observed, that hold the diverse spectrum of leaved (people) that can grow on this tree, and the flowers or fruit to be shared is that sense of belongingness that is the outcome of all this cultivation—yet one system. Recent biological researchers have learned that the roots of a tree are often three times the size of the tree’s canopy and that these root systems engage subtly and continually underground with one another. and our

Similarly, our cultural values are engaging with each other in subtle and profound ways, growing organizations and societies with behaviors and members of a full spectrum of outcomes. So, our challenge is to cultivate biodiversity instead of singularity and exclusivity.

Individual Development for Inclusion

We have seen too many times where a policy or set of procedures are enacted to attract and value more historically marginalized, diverse populations to foster and support greater equity; the effort creates no discernible change in any of the organization’s elemental OD systems.

The goal may have been to cultivate or nurture greater inclusion and, therefore, an improved sense of belongingness within an organization. However, some constellations of difference categorized by intersectional race, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation dimensions were not adequately included, and the overall outcome was incomplete. When we see why these changes have not had the intended impacts, we can see that the societal or organizational culture did not adequately shift to enact systems that cultivate the new levels of DEIB. Either peer community members, leadership, or national policies hold (consciously or unconsciously) a set of values, beliefs, and norms (a culture) that keep such endeavors from growing beyond the planning documents that map them out. As with OD interventions, intentional culture change at the individual level takes concerted effort and commitment from the facilitator and the members of the organization or society. That is why we assert that individual development of intercultural competencies and inclusion practices needs to be combined with OD initiatives to find a deeper systems-level change toward the full benefits of DEIB outcomes.

Again, Hofstede states (2000), “When people are moved as individuals, they will adapt to the culture of their new environment; when they are moved as groups, they will bring their own culture along” (p. 201). Both scenarios are possible, and the experienced DEIB professional will recognize these engagement patterns and tailor their interventions to be most impactful for their initiative. Interculturalists have been trained to guide individuals in learning about their own cultural preferences and those of others (Hofstede, 2001; Hall, 1976; Wursten, 2020). Intercultural competency development can be initiated by either learning one’s capacity to adapt to a new culture (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985) or by learning about the differing cultural practices and then gauging your capacity to stretch in order to engage effectively (Gundling, 2003); frequently, both approaches are recommended.

The visceral reaction to cultural difference is where biases (conscious and unconscious) and prejudice are witnessed. In order to address biases and prejudices, it is important to introduce inclusion practices, which are a close cousin to intercultural competencies. These consist of a specialized form of self-knowledge that is open to changing oneself based on our impacts on others, along with the adaptability needed to make those changes. We are always called to engage across difference. Leadership scholar Lipman-Blumen asserts that we live in an era “… where inclusion is critical and connection is inevitable” (Lipman-Blumen, 1996, pg. xiii). In connecting positively with others, we gain relationships that will support us in working effectively across difference. However, the nuance of reading another’s cultural differences can be complex. This is why our capacity to learn about our preferences and biases, especially in communication styles, is so valuable. Finally, inclusion practices require bridging difference, valuing diverse perspectives, seeking them out, and seeing that they are heard, understood, and valued, followed by being sensitive to power and privilege. Power is always present in all engagements with individuals, organizations, and societies; we practice inclusion by recognizing these phenomena and learning to read and finesse these differentials for the betterment of the whole.

At the core of individual development for inclusion is recognizing that we have a deep need to belong to civilizations and that this need requires us to live and work with strangers. Mother Teresa was fond of saying that the problems of humankind were due to our drawing the boundaries of our ‘family’ too tightly. Theologian Richard Mouw framed this idea as follows:

“… to be civil comes from “civitas” and it means learning how to live in the city. The origin with a guy like Aristotle, the ancient philosopher, who said early on, as little children, we have a natural sense of kinship. We have strong positive feelings toward those who are blood relatives, my mother, my father, sisters and brothers, cousins and the like. And then as we grow up, we have some of those same positive feelings that develop toward friends. So we go from kinship and we build on that to a broader sense of friendship where you have that same sense of bonding or something like it that isn’t just based on blood relative stuff.

But he said to really grow up, to be a mature human being, is to learn in the public square to have that same sense of bonding to people from other cities, people who are very different than yourself. And that’s not just toleration but is a sense that what I owe to my mother because she brought me into this world, what I owe to my friends because of shared experiences and memories and delights, I also owe to the stranger. Why? Because they’re human like me and I have got to begin to think of humanness as such as a kind of bonding relationship.” (Mouw & Tippet, 2011)

Psychologist Richard Pettigrew (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2013) conducted a meta-analysis of studies based on his mentor Gordon Allport’s (1954) work in Contact Theory. The basic premise of Contact Theory is that when individuals of differing races, ethnicities, and genders, for example, were caused to be together over extended periods, the participants’ mindsets could be changed and be more welcoming (read inclusive) of difference. Pettigrew found that there are stages of development that could be observed and intentionally facilitated by a DEIB professional. First, the participants need to establish safety; when they learn that no harm will come to them by engaging with strangers, they are more open to going deeper. Next, they need to establish mutuality, have reason or agency to engage, and the relationship can be reciprocal. Finally, in the third stage, they learn to hold multiple perspectives as possibilities for knowledge, values, and behaviors; psychologists call this ‘cognitive complexity.’

Facilitating intercultural competencies and inclusion practices is as varied as the people who might agree to participate. In the global context we need to be aware that the salience of differences, isms, and intersectionality varies greatly around the world; to assume that what is salient in one context or set of individuals is the same in another is naïve. The astute DEIB facilitator will take the time to get to know their participants  and understand the full range of intersectional identities that are salient to them, and then guide their participants to engage and learn through deeper and deeper levels of complexity across difference.

Purdue University’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Assessment, and Research (CILMAR) recently compiled a simplified guide based on the work of intercultural scholar Janet Bennett that combines Nevitt Sanford (2017) construct of ‘Challenge and Support’ in learning across difference with the Intercultural Developmental Continuum (Hammer, 2011) that offers a starting point for individual development for intercultural competency: (Yngve, 2023). For guidance on facilitating of inclusion practices is equally intentional and complex. For guidance on adding a layer of development focused on inclusion practices, Kincey, Zemrani, & Bailey, (2022) have a chapter on how they employed an assessment-to-development process employing personal development plans and reflection to support their learners.


Organizational Development for DEIB



Kurt Lewin, the pioneer of Organizational Development Theory (1946), and researchers Getzel & Guba (1957) emphasize the dynamic relationship between an organization and its members within a social system. This system encompasses political, cultural, and behavioral aspects. In this dynamic, two essential interactions occur simultaneously: the organization’s efforts to socialize individuals according to its objectives and values and individuals’ endeavors to influence and shape the organization to align with their own ideals and dispositional needs.

Organizational Development (OD) emerges as a pivotal catalyst in harmonizing these constant interactions and advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness on a global scale. OD serves as a powerful intervention to facilitate planned changes that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belongingness within the social fabric of an organization or community. In today’s interconnected world, it is important to recognize how culture and context shape countries’ approaches toward differences. Lewin (1946) explains the interplay between the organization and inhabitants within a social system:

An attempt to improve intergroup relations has to face various tasks. It deals with problems of attitude and stereotypes regarding other groups and one’s own group, with problems of development of attitudes and conduct during childhood and adolescence, with problems of housing, and the change of the legal structure of the community; it deals with problems of status and caste, with problems of economic discrimination, with political leadership and with leadership in many aspects of community life. It deals with the small social body of a family, a club, or a friendship group, with the larger social body of a school or a school system, with neighborhoods, and with social bodies of the size of a community of the state, a nation, and with international problems. (Lewin, 1946, p. 36)

The significance of culture and context cannot be overstated in applying OD interventions. Each country and organization have a unique cultural fabric and social dynamics that shape its approach toward diversity and inclusion. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness (DEIB) professionals must recognize and appreciate OD and these nuances to design interventions sensitive to diverse communities’ specific needs and aspirations. By understanding and adapting to cultural differences, leaders can effectively navigate challenges, leverage strengths, and foster inclusive practices that resonate across borders.

Organizational Development (OD) is crucial in building internal capacity to drive systemic change. It focuses on creating long-term practices and operationalizes the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness goals. It also bridges the gap between individual needs and organizational strategic outcomes. Moreover, OD interventions are designed to understand how success is measured, identify actions necessary for individuals to thrive, and recognize stakeholders’ importance to the organization or community’s success. This alignment between the organization and its members fosters a shift in mindset from individual or fragmented perspectives to a collective focus on broader organizational goals. It cultivates inclusive spaces that influence outcomes and experiences within a social system.


Historical Context and Global OD Considerations of Difference:


Understanding the impact of historical context is crucial when examining how different countries approach diversity, equity, and inclusion through organizational development. Historical events, cultural traditions, and societal norms shape organizational practices and attitudes. Exploring diverse approaches to diversity and inclusion across various regions is important to gain valuable insights into the nuanced cultural dynamics and allow Organizational Development (OD) professionals to address the specific needs and challenges different communities and societies face.

Leaders of organizations increasingly recognize the importance of gender parity and the development of women in their careers. By actively promoting workforce diversity targets and fostering inclusive environments, they can empower women to succeed and bridge the gaps that have historically existed between them and their counterparts. Organizations can support women’s career advancement and create a more equitable and inclusive workplace through organizational development approaches, such as mentorship programs, leadership development initiatives, and addressing biases.

In the United States context, it is essential to acknowledge the history of race as a social construct and its implications for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Recognizing the historical injustices and systemic discrimination experienced by marginalized racial and ethnic groups allows organizations to confront and dismantle these barriers. Organizational development initiatives can include anti-racist training, creating inclusive policies and practices, and providing resources for marginalized communities to thrive within the organization. By addressing race as a social construct and actively working towards racial equity, organizations contribute to a more just and inclusive society.

In other regions of the world, leaders of organizations increasingly recognize the importance of creating inclusive environments and ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals, including those with intellectual disabilities, as an example. By embracing diversity and actively hiring individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities, organizations can tap into a valuable talent pool and foster a culture of inclusivity. Through organizational development approaches, such as providing training, accommodations, and support systems, organizations can empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to thrive in the workplace and contribute their unique perspectives and skills. Furthermore, as we progress towards more inclusive societies, it is essential to acknowledge and celebrate marginalized groups’ cultural heritage and contributions. For instance, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day highlights the significance of indigenous cultures and their valuable contributions to our global community. By incorporating the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion into organizational development efforts, organizations can actively engage with and support indigenous communities, promoting a sense of belongingness and honoring their cultural perspectives and wisdom.

Organizational Development interventions can foster belongingness, address historical racial and other intersectional disparities, harness the power of diverse perspectives, and drive positive change on a global scale. Although multinational dynamics may vary, there exist universal principles inherent in OD interventions that can be universally applied to transform leadership styles, organizational structures, and individual behaviors.

Core OD Universal Elements for DEIB Systemic Change:


The four core universal elements of organizational development that can guide initiatives on a global scale, regardless of cultural differences, include values, goals, structure, and climate.

  • Values represent respect, fairness, and collaboration and serve as a foundation for fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness. These values should be upheld in all organizational contexts, transcending cultural boundaries and creating a shared understanding of how individuals should interact and work together.
  • Goals align with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness objectives. While the specific goals may vary based on cultural nuances and regional contexts, it is crucial to ensure that they are aligned with the broader objectives of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. By considering and respecting the cultural nuances of each region, organizations can tailor their goals to address the specific needs and challenges faced by diverse communities, fostering a sense of belongingness and inclusivity for all employees.
  • Structures that facilitate inclusivity and provide equitable opportunities are a fundamental universal principle in global OD initiatives, creating systems and processes that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of the organization. By promoting diverse representation in leadership positions, implementing fair recruitment and promotion practices, and fostering a culture of inclusivity, organizations can provide equal opportunities for all employees to thrive and contribute to the organization’s success. These structural adaptations help create a supportive environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds can fully participate and feel valued.
  • The climate encourages psychological safety, open dialogue, and cultural sensitivity is essential in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness. A climate that values and respects individuals’ diverse perspectives and backgrounds enable open discussions about sensitive topics and facilitates sharing of different viewpoints. Organizational leaders can encourage employees to engage contextually, contribute ideas, and engage in meaningful dialogues. This communication and cultural sensitivity foster an inclusive culture where everyone feels heard, valued, and included.

Building Capacity for DEIB through OD:


Building capacity for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness (DEIB) requires equipping individuals and organizations with the necessary skills and competencies. Organizational development (OD) interventions are crucial in developing intercultural competence among leaders and employees. Organizations can enhance their capacity to implement diversity and create inclusion by providing training and development opportunities that promote cultural understanding. Additionally, offering coaching and mentoring programs can support cultural transformation and empower individuals to become change agents within their respective roles.

Furthermore, allocating financial resources to initiatives that promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness (DEIB) is a tangible way for organizations to demonstrate their commitment. By investing in a DEIB champion who leads, develops, and enforces DEIB strategies, organizations signal their dedication to fostering an inclusive and equitable climate. This financial commitment can be directed towards initiatives such as diversity recruitment programs, employee resource groups, and intercultural competency and inclusion practices training. By allocating resources to these endeavors, organizations proactively invest in creating an environment where all individuals can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

Challenges, Opportunities, and Measuring Impact in Global OD:

Implementing organizational development (OD) initiatives in diverse cultural environments presents challenges and opportunities. Organizations must navigate power dynamics, address implicit biases, and understand the nuances of different cultures. Leveraging the unique strengths and perspectives of different generations and cultures can enhance the effectiveness of OD interventions. OD professionals should seek collaboration and knowledge-sharing opportunities with other global entities to broaden their understanding and advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and belongingness.

To ensure the effectiveness of OD interventions, measuring their impact on DEIB is crucial. Developing robust metrics and evaluation frameworks enables organizations to assess progress and make data-driven decisions, combining quantitative indicators, such as representation and retention rates, with qualitative assessments, including employee surveys and feedback. By capturing both tangible and intangible aspects, organizations gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of OD initiatives on DEIB. Demonstrating the correlation between OD efforts and organizational success reinforces the importance of DEIB initiatives and helps secure ongoing support and resources.

Sharing best practices and lessons from successful global OD initiatives is essential for fostering continuous improvement and mutual learning. Organizations can benefit from the experiences and insights of others by engaging in knowledge exchange platforms and communities of practice. Collaborating with peers and industry leaders allows organizations to gain new perspectives, refine their strategies, and address emerging challenges. By actively sharing and disseminating information about successful OD interventions, organizations contribute to the collective knowledge in the field and inspire others to take action toward fostering DEIB.



Individual development for intercultural competence and inclusion practices is essential to an overall DEIB intervention, where the culture of exclusion can be transformed into one of belongingness. Without appropriate attention given to individuals, their culture, biases, prejudices, and the power and privilege that reinforces organizational and societal structures that limit full participation by all members, we cannot expect to make deep systemic change. This is particularly true when we consider global contexts where the salience of intersectional identities can be complex and held in ways very different from the ways that DEIB professionals are trained to view in North American-centric ways.

Organizational Development (OD) is equally vital in globally promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness (DEIB). Organizations can create inclusive environments by embracing universal principles while respecting cultural contexts. Ongoing research, collaboration, and knowledge exchange are crucial for advancing DEIB through OD practices. The core elements of OD—values, goals, structure, and climate—form the foundation for operationalizing DEIB. Inclusive structures, equitable opportunities, culturally relevant communication interactions, and intercultural acuity are essential. Building cross-cultural competence, measuring impact, and sharing best practices further enhance DEIB efforts. Implementing OD in diverse cultural environments requires addressing challenges while leveraging strengths for effective DEIB change. Together, these two sets of practices (individual and organizational) inform each other and form a strong foundation for deep systematic change for inclusion



Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards Ethnorelativism: A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity in Paige RM (ed.) Education for the Intercultural Experience.
Cartwright, C. T. (2020). Understanding global leadership in eastern and central Europe: the impacts of culture and intercultural competence. In Understanding National Culture and Ethics in Organizations (pp. 63-74). Emerald Publishing Limited.
Durkheim, E. (1973). Emile Durkheim on morality and society. University of Chicago Press.
Ford Foundation; Diversity, equity, and inclusion. (Retrieved May 31, 2023)
Getzels, G. W., & Guba, E. G. (1957). Social behavior and the administrative process.
The School Review, 65(4), 423–441.
Gundling, E. (2003). Working GlobeSmart: 12 people skills for doing business across borders. Nicholas Brealey.
Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Anchor.
Hammer, M. R. (2011). Additional cross-cultural validity testing of the Intercultural Development Inventory. International journal of intercultural relations, 35(4), 474-487.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. sage.
Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. J. (1982). Dimensions of national cultures. Diversity and unity in cross-cultural psychology, 173-187.
Jones, J. E. (1981). The organizational universe. In J. E. Jones & J. W. Pfeiffer (Eds.).
The 1981 annual handbook for group facilitators. Pfeiffer & Co (pp. 155–164).
Kincey, S. D., Zemrani, A., & Bailey, T. L. (2022). Demystifying Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Among Students in Higher Education. In J. Butcher & W. Baker (Eds.), Addressing Issues of Systemic Racism During Turbulent Times (pp. 93-104). IGI Global.
Lewin, K. (1946). Action Research and Minority Problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2(4), 34–46.
Lipman-Blumen, J. (1996). The connective edge: Leading in an interdependent world. Jossey-Bass.
Mouw, R., & Tippett, C. (Producers). (2011, August 18). Restoring political civility: An evangelical view. On Being. Retrieved from:
Mendenhall, M., & Oddou, G. (1985). The dimensions of expatriate acculturation: A review. Academy of management review, 10(1), 39-47.
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2013). Does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Recent meta-analytic findings. In Reducing prejudice and discrimination (pp. 103-124). Psychology Press.
Rothwell, W. J., Jackson, R. D., Ressler, C. L., Jones, M. C., & Brower, M. (2015). Career planning and succession management: Developing your organization’s talent—for today and tomorrow: Developing your organization’s talent—for today and tomorrow. ABC-CLIO.
Sanford, N. (2017). Self and society: Social change and individual development. Routledge.
Sue, D. W. (2005). Racism and the conspiracy of silence: Presidential address. The Counseling Psychologist, 33(1), 100-114.
Wursten, H. (2020). There Is a System in the Madness. The 7 Mental Images of National Culture and the Corona Virus. Journal of Intercultural Management and Ethics, 3(1), 7-17.
Yngve, Katherine (2023); Challenging & Supporting Learners Along the Intercultural Continuum, Purdue University, CILMAR HUBCLE, (retrieved May 31, 2023).