Culture and Peace Or In search of interculturality

by | Apr 6, 2024 | 0 comments

Culture and Peace or in Search of Interculturality

Anton Carpinschi, Professor Emeritus “Al. I. Cuza” University of Iași (Romania)

          Synopsis: Starting from the observation of the worrying increase in anti-Semitic manifestations in Romania, a country with a small number of Jews, this essay pleads for addressing the biunivocal relations between culture and peace by educating intercultural competences and cultivating the spirit of interculturality. But, how could we cultivate the spirit of interculturality in a world at a crossroads, a world in which the civilization built on the foundations of democratic liberalism is increasingly threatened by pseudo-democratic illiberalism or even by the increasingly totalitarian tendencies of dictatorial regimes. For therapeutic reasons, the author assumes, at the meeting of practical philosophy, discursive pragmatics, cultural studies, a personalized approach of a reflexive nature inspired by his own life experiences.

Keywords: captive thinking; recognition culture; spirit of interculturality/discursive-pragmatic spirit of interculturality; dynamics of composite identities vs dialogue of connective identities;  civilization of common sense

 “It is hard to understand how in a country with a tiny number of Jews…”

          “It is hard to understand how in a country with a tiny number of Jews there is still an intense anti-Semitic load, which from time to time erupts in ways that still manage to surprise us (…). It is a cause of constant uneasiness for us Jews to note that many of those who attend to aspects of public life, a life lived by us as well, foster more or less anti-Semitic feelings”  ( › Știri locale › Constanţa. 24.09.2021 11:09). This is how Maximillian Marco Katz, director of the Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania, reacted, when a historian from Constanta, a former PSD local councilor, made anti-Semitic comments in connection with the allocation of funds from the local authorities’ budget for the restoration of the synagogue, a historical monument in a state of degradation. Referring to the anti-Semitic scandal in Constanța, Israel’s ambassador to Romania, His Excellency David Saranga stated the following: “It is worrying that in 2021 and just a few weeks before the National Holocaust Remembrance Day in Romania, a historian who should know the past trivializes the torments of some compatriots. Compatriots who perished in the Iasi Pogrom, in the Bucharest Pogrom, who suffocated in the “Death Trains”, were deported to Transnistria, where they endured inhumane conditions. The Holocaust in Romania remains an open wound, visible even today”( › Știri locale › Constanţa)

         The Constanța anti-Semitic scandal as well as other nationalist-xenophobic positions in the Romanian public space, draw our attention to the fact that, not by chance, the criminal anti-Jewish political actions that deeply marked the history of Romania during the Legionary and Antonescian dictatorships are distorted, relativized, minimized and nowadays. In these circumstances, the denial of the Holocaust in Romania and the campaigns to rehabilitate the memory of the dictator Ion Antonescu, the supreme leader of the country (Conducătorul) between 1940-1944 are among the most well-known nationalist-xenophobic and anti-Semitic manifestations after 1989. The anti-Semitic scandal in Constanța shows us, once again, how easily hatred and envy can be induced towards people of another ethnicity or religion, and how effective demagoguery, fear and incitement become when, out of ignorance, convenience and disinterest we are unable to assume an honest and responsible national history. But, beyond these general considerations, the question I ask myself and which I think is worth reflecting on is the following: why do anti-Semitic manifestations persist in Romanian society even after the mass emigration of Jews ?

          Reflecting on the deep causes of anti-Semitic manifestations in Romanian society and beyond, the following hypothesis took shape in my mind: the anti-Semitic manifestations in societies appear and are maintained, mainly, through the joint action of some serious psycho-cultural illnesses, among which: the syndrome of captive thinking and the absence of the culture of recognition. Of course, the intensity and extent of anti-Semitic manifestations are influenced by the size of the Jewish population, but in any community, regardless of the size of the Jewish population, the syndrome of captive thinking favors the absence of a culture of recognitionFalling into the captivity of ideological-propagandistic manipulations maintained through our own informational-cognitive limits, the errors of evaluation, judgment, and reasoning, nationalist-xenophobic emotional impulses, ethnic-racial prejudices and resentments, bigotry, and religious obscurantism bring us to the incapacity to recognize and dialog with other. Captive thinking generates and maintains the inability to recognize in the other – whether he is Romanian, Hungarian, Jewish, Palestinian, Ukrainian or Russian, etc. — a peer, a collaborator or even a friend and, worse, by propagating hostile messages in a foul language are favored triggering of instinctual-emotional reactions, negative attitudes and acts of hatred, violence, aggression, not rarely, of a criminal nature. Assuming the hypothesis according to which the syndrome of captive thinking and the absence of the culture of recognition favor anti-Semitic manifestations directs our approach towards clarifying the major psycho-cultural causes of anti-Semitism and, at the same time, towards exploring the reflexive-therapeutic spirit of the interculturality of a way to counter anti-Semitism. Symptom of an old psycho-cultural illness, the Constanța anti-Semitic scandal triggered, at the same time, in my mind a series of vivid memories.

The Constanța anti-Semitic scandal: the symptom of an old psycho-cultural

illness in Romanian society

           I learned about the horrors of the Pogrom in Iași in June 1941 during my philosophy student years, when professor Iosif Natansohn, a witness and survivor of the pogrom, told me about the violence and crimes that the innocent Jewish population of Iaşi suffered on the background of nationalist-xenophobic propaganda and suspicions specific to the war atmosphere. During one of our walks through the streets of the city center, Professor Natansohn showed me the place where the Court of the Iasi Police Headquarters was located. This is the place where on Sunday, June 29, 1941 — the day of Christian veneration of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul — several thousand Jews were gathered and fired upon. Sensitized by the conversations with Professor Natansohn, I began to document myself, and what remained strong in my mind are the vivid testimonies of survivors whom I had the honor of meeting and the mass graves around Iași that always remind us that the souls of our fellows not found peace even after death.

           Returning to the present, I refer to the edifying and worrying data of an “Avangarde” survey applied by the face-to-face method on a sample of the Jewish population in Romania at the request of the “Elie Wiesel” Institute, a few days before the outbreak of the conflict between the Hamas group and Israel (period 01.08 – 01.10.2023). According to the available data, 71% of the respondents believe that there is anti-Semitism in Romania, and 23% appreciate that it is present “to a large extent”; 41% believe that anti-Semitism has increased in the last 5 years. Between 38% and 68% believe that anti-Semitism is a problem in political life, on social networks, in the mass media, etc.; 24% say they were the victim of anti-Semitic remarks, and 14% say they were the target of anti-Semitic actions; 51% believe that the state protects the Jews in Romania ( › Știri › Actualitate/16.10.2023/ 11:33). In these troubling circumstances captured by the cold data of the survey we might recognize that for some, anti-Semitism has become almost natural. “Anti-Semitism is like rain. It has become almost a natural phenomenon that cannot be avoided”, was observing with bitter irony Dorian Galbinski, member of the Jewish community, former producer and translator at the Romanian Section of the BBC World Service. To which he immediately added: “I know that we must continue to fight with the anti-Semitism. After all, hope dies last, right ? It’s just that, personally, I’m very skeptical that these efforts have any effect” ( › 2 HOME).

          Indeed, “anti-Semitism is like rain; it has become almost a natural phenomenon that cannot be avoided”. Basically, “Jihadists don’t like anyone, not just Jews. As is seen periodically in London, Paris, Amsterdam, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, etc., etc., etc.”. In other words, the jihadists and their sympathizers who have emigrated to the West do not like the multicultural world of globalization where they have found asylum and opportunities for work and professional achievement, and Islamist schools make proselytes on the conveyor belt. It is, of course, easy for all these opponents of liberal democracies to organize anti-Semitic demonstrations on the boulevards of Western metropolises. At the same time, it is incomparably more advantageous for the great undemocratic powers of the world to encourage destabilizing anti-Semitic organizations and movements within Western democratic societies. Or, as the foreign policy commentator Alexandru Lăzescu recently pointed out, it is as perverse as it is profitable for the great undemocratic powers of the world to “creatively reinterpret the genocide” and transform through a “cynical strategy” at the International Court of Justice from The Hague “Hamas’ attempted genocide as self-defense, and Israel’s defense against this criminal attack as “genocide” (A. Lăzescu, Reinterpretarea creativă a genocidului / The creative reinterpretation of genocide. Ziarul de Iași, 15.01. 2024). How else could we react when faced with a propagandistic embezzlement of a such magnitude ?

If “jihadists don’t like anyone, not just Jews”, how could we still react ?”     

About intercultural experiences and the therapeutic reconstitution of one’s

own narrative identity 

          How could we counter the anti-Semitic manifestations in the circumstances of a fragile geopolitical balance, endangered by the aggressive policy of the great authoritarian powers and the proliferation of non-democratic regimes, the management failure of underdeveloped states and the escalation of jihadist movements ? In these dramatic circumstances, countering anti-Semitism acquires, from the perspective of a personal intercultural education project, several major directions: 1) maintaining continuous dialogue between open and cooperative Christian, Islamic, Jewish or any other religious communities against the background of the discouragement of the aggressive policy of the great non-democratic powers trough NATO military politics; 2) physical and mental interpersonal securitization through identification the symptoms of captive thinking, cultivating mutual recognition and the spirit of interculturality in the multicultural environments; 3) careful evaluation, isolation and political neutralization of fanatical leaders and collectivities opaque to any dialogue and attempts at intercultural education. Basically, what “dialogue” could be achieved with the fanatical leaders and collectivities ? What “dialogue” could have been achieved with individuals from the terrorist and criminal commandos of Hamas on the fateful day of October 7, 2023 ? Of course, in such extreme political-military situations, the intervention of diplomacy, security forces, and intelligence services is required on a case-by-case basis.

We live in a world that Michel Foucault diagnosed as “a great asylum, where the rulers are psychologists and the people are patients”, a world where “political power is about to acquire a new function, which is therapeutic” (Foucault, 1994). Beyond this psychiatric diagnosis, the words of the French philosopher suggest a potential remedy: the therapeutic function of political power. But, a therapeutic function exercised only by the holders of political power causes fears and doubts. On the other hand, as Peter Drucker pointed out at the beginning of the 21st century, we are in an unprecedented situation in terms of the evolution of the human condition. “For the first time, literally, a substantial and rapidly growing number of people have options. For the first time, they will have to fend for themselves. And society is totally unprepared for this” (Drucker,  2000). We are, therefore, in a deeply dilemmatic situation: exercised only by the people of power, the therapeutic function of political power causes fears and sorrows, on the other hand, faced with the great challenges of the present and the future, society seems unprepared to manage its own problems.

In these circumstances, I return to the question, “If the jihadists don’t like anyone, not just Jews, how could we still react?”. How could we manage multiculturality in a world increasingly fragmented socially, politically, ideologically, ethnically-religiously and, at the same time, increasingly globalized informationally-communicationally, scientifically-technologically, managerially-corporately? How should we prepare for a reasonable management of multiculturality and countering anti-Semitism in such a world of paradoxes? Populist, sovereigntist and xenophobic ideologies, as well as fundamentalist-religious ones, aggressively and unproductively propagate policies hostile to multiculturalism and the spirit of interculturality. The impersonal, flat and exasperatingly repetitive descriptivism so often found in the press, everyday communication and sometimes even in specialized literature also condemns people and society to passivity and unpreparedness for managing multiculturalism. Consequently, we remain unprepared for managing multiculturalism if we do not prepare or are not prepared for the education of intercultural skills on a personal and collective level.

But how should we prepare for the education of intercultural skills ? To answer this question, I start from an observation occasioned by my own experience in the multicultural collectivity of my hometown, Tulcea, a city at the gates of the Danube Delta. Managing life in a multicultural community relies on personal and interpersonal management of intercultural issues in everyday life. In these circumstances, for therapeutic reasons, I assume a personalized approach of a reflexive nature inspired by the intercultural (inter)personal experiences lived by me over time. Reconstructing the past in an autobiographical touch, filtering a series of significant memories, I try to configure as coherent as possible picture of my psychocultural profile. Against the background of my childhood memories spent in Tulcea, a still multicultural city in the middle of the 20th century, of the experiences of student and academic life in communism but, after 1989, also in university campuses in the West, I am writing several life narratives, thus outlining my own narrative identity perceived as, “a person’s internalized and evolving life story, which integrates the reconstructed past and the imagined future to give one’s life some degree of unity and purpose” (McAdams, & McLean, 2013). Starting from my own psychocultural profile transposed into a narrative identity, I try to understand why we are talking “again about anti-Semitism” or “why anti-Semitic manifestations persist in Romanian society even after the mass emigration of Jews”. However, in order to manage such a complex and difficult ideological-affective path, I feel the need to recharge my energy with moods and images from the multicultural Tulcea of my childhood.

          Flashback. Tulcea, mid-20th century or how the spirit of interculturality      

          survived on the banks of the Danube

           Tulcea, March 1945. A young man who had just returned from the front after participating for two years as a military doctor in an aviation squadron arrived in Tulcea. Born in a Polish refugee family in Bucovina following the suppression of the Polish people’s revolt against the occupation of the country by Tsarist Russia, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Iași, the young doctor Mihai Carpinschi was to contribute in the next four decades to putting in operation and good functioning of the Surgery Department in the city at the gates of the Danube Delta. Entering in a new psychocultural environment, what impressed him from the beginning — as he told me since my childhood years — was the diversity of languages spoken by the city’s inhabitants, the variety of port and customs of the population of the picturesque city spread on the green hills that guard the majestic course of the Danube.  Along with Romanians, were living here for centuries Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Turks, Tatars, Russians, Lipovians, Ukrainians and, more recently, German and Italian colonists hired by King Carol I at the great public works so necessary for modernizing Romania. It is not surprising that, under these unusual circumstances, the young doctor with Polish origins met and married a young lady of Greek ethnicity, Émili Anastásiu, a graduate of the Academy of Higher Commercial and Industrial Studies in Bucharest who, following the terrible American bombing of 4 April 1944 on the capital, she had taken refuge in his hometown.

          So, I spent my childhood in a multicultural family whose members honored their status as Romanian citizens with dignity both in peacetime and in wartime. Growing up in a Christian family with an ecumenical openness, in the first part of Sunday mornings I was listening enchanted  the vibrant chords of the organ music at the Catholic church, and in the second part at the Orthodox service at the Greek church — a beautiful edifice built in the middle of the 19th century  — I was letting myself be carried away by the warm voices and volutes of the Greco-Byzantine melodic line. The interwar multicultural climate was persisting, moreover, in those years in the school and in Tulcean society. Despite the vicissitudes caused by the precipitate installation in power of communist authorities, until the early 1960s you could still meet interesting people and beautiful customs of the interwar multicultural world in Tulcea.  Not by chance, among my childhood friends and colleagues, in addition to the Romanians Marius Vasilescu, Nicolae Batcu or Radu Tănase, there were Greeks such as Grigóris Violatos, Émili Paterake, Níkos Ioannidis, Élena Kostinoú, Jews such as Salomeea Feimblatt, Mircea Harnik and my good colleague from bank from the high school years, Ada Leibovici, Macedonians like Tase and Florica Matarangă, Turks like Cadâr and Eiub Musa or Lipovan Russians like Olga Efimov, Maria Andreev and Ivan Danilov. Growing up with them and among them, I participated in various family events,  birthdays, baptisms, weddings and funerals accompanied by the specific religious ceremonies. It was, therefore, nothing unusual for me during that period of personal growth and formation to listen the services and sermons in the Catholic and Orthodox rite, to watch the ceremonial praise and worship at the Tabernacle in the synagogue and to admire the emotional incantations of the cantor or to listen to the confession of faith and other prayers specific to the Muslim ritual.

          But the multicultural interwar climate in which I had been born and raised — which felt so familiar and safe because it had survived the first 15 years of communist dictatorship — changed dramatically after the 1960s. The shock for me then, as a child, was the demolition of the “Columns”, the famous bazaar from the Ottoman era located in the center of the city and of the entire complex of buildings around it, a chic commercial and residential complex specific to the lifestyle of the middle bourgeoisie in an old port on the Danube.  And today, I am convinced that the professional conservation of that impressive architectural monument from the long period of the Ottoman administration of Dobrogea, as well as of the historical center of the city, would have been a great gain, an investment that we would have benefited from cultural and touristic view even today. But, of course, the state rationale that guided the leadership of the Romanian Workers’ Party engaged in the five-year plans for the construction of socialism was different. Moreover, I was beginning to understand that I was the helpless witness to the triggering of events on a historical scale: the disappearance of the peasant class through the forced collectivization of agriculture, the social elimination of the bourgeoisie and the liberal professions, and, simultaneously, socialist industrialization and rur-urbanization focused on massifying and standardizing Romanian society.

          The major social-political changes were beginning to be acutely felt in the psycho-socio-cultural urban landscape. Industrialization and collectivization according to the Stalinist model were also beginning to make themselves felt in the irreversible change in the appearance of my hometown. Through a natural demographic process of growth of the Romanian population and through an equally natural process of decrease until the disappearance of the interwar multicultural generations, through the massive migration to the city of the rural population dispossessed of their own identity and their own past, through a massive emigration of Jews and other ethnic minorities, there was a massification of Romanian society and, implicitly, an impoverishment of the multicultural landscape of Tulcea. The multicultural world of my childhood was disappearing naturally, but also through extermination in communist prisons. I had observed with chills, since the 1950s, how relatives and acquaintances had disappeared in the forced labor camps at the Danube-Black Sea canal and at Periprava, cutting reeds in the harsh conditions of the Danube Delta.

And yet, despite the inherent and painful losses suffered by the interwar multicultural world of Tulcea, the spirit of interculturality survived! The spirit of interculturality has continued to live, regenerating itself through the values, memories, reflections, and creations of those who value intercultural dialogue and dignified and honest civic behavior in the world we live in: the multicultural world of globalization. Today, amid the Russo-Ukrainian war in our immediate neighborhood and the military conflict between the State of Israel and Islamist extremist groups, I realize all the more that early personal and interpersonal assimilation of intercultural skills helps maintain the spirit of interculturality throughout life. But, the spirit of interculturality does not only mean the early assimilation of intercultural skills. The spirit of interculturality matures when, through the chance of wonderful encounters, it succeeds in cultivating lifelong interpersonal awareness and moral responsibility. Let’s continue, therefore, the exploration of the spiritual horizons of interculturality through the therapeutic reconstitution of my own narrative identity!

“Face-to-face” or responsibility towards the other. On the secular spirit         of interculturality and ethical accountability

  The therapeutic reconstitution of one’s own narrative identity through the “integration of the reconstructed past” would be incomplete without the evocation of an encounter that completed my perspective on the spirit of interculturality. In the 1970s, the reading room of the Central University Library in Iasi was heavily frequented, especially by young university students and researchers. A distinguished and discrete gentleman, always engrossed in reading, immediately caught my attention. He was Leon Volovici, a literary critic and, historian, scientific researcher at the time at the “Alexandru Philippide” Institute of Philology in Iași. As I was to find out later, Leon Volovici was preoccupied with the “Jewish problem” and researching the forms of intellectual anti-Semitism in Romania in the 1930s, a theme that would later be completed, after his emigration to Israel, in a reference book in the cultural space Romanian, but also in the international one. As I was documenting myself at the time for a course on political doctrines and ideologies, meeting such a knowledgeable specialist in the research of xenophobic nationalism and autochthonous intellectual anti-Semitism helped me a lot. The fine and balanced spirit, the critical and lucid analysis of the late Leon Volovici brought me closer to the exploration of those emotional-affective processes, popular sensitivities, ignorance, prejudices and general human naiveties that have been hijacked and exploited in a nationalist-xenophobic manner and racist during the Legionary and Antonescian dictatorships. Moreover, it made me understand how by staging a strange combination of fundamentalist orthodoxy and “Romantic legionary mythology”, the so harmful and painful syndrome called the “autochthonous intellectual anti-Semitism” was able to make his  ominous entrance into Romanian culture.

But I understood this better when, later, I encountered the thinking of the French philosopher of Lithuanian-Jewish descent, Emmanuel Lévinas. One of the ideas full of noble anti-authoritarian meanings that runs through Lévinas’ work is that, the true stake of metaphysics, as well as of religion, belongs to “the excellence of ethical proximity in its sociality” (Lévinas, 2000). Beyond the search for Being and obedience to God, both metaphysics and religion have in mind the personal honesty and responsibility in action. Not morally assumed, both metaphysical and theological discours are emptied of substance and meaning. “Metaphysics is played in ethical relationships,” wrote the French philosopher in Totality and Infinity. Without their meaning extracted from ethics, theological concepts remain empty and formal frameworks” (Lévinas, 1999). Affirming ethical excellence does not mean, of course, the annulment of ontology, but the fact that ontological reflection must be completed with the ethical commitment which confers identity authenticity and moral responsibility. The ethic, perceived by Emmanuel Lévinas as assumed responsibility, permeates and shapes the ontology. From this ethical perspective, “the other”, be it Christian, Mosaic or Muslim, is not just a being, and the relationship with “the other” is not just a comprehension of being. The “other” — Christian, Mosaic or Muslim — is an interlocutor whose comprehension presupposes a call, an invocation. “The other,” wrote the French philosopher, “is not first an object of comprehension and then an interlocutor. The two relationships get confused. In other words, invocation is inseparable from the understanding of the other. To understand a person already means to talk to him” ( Lévinas, 2000). The power of invocation therefore transforms the being invoked into a personalized interlocutor.

But, for Emmanuel Lévinas, the affirmation of ethical excellence also implies the fact that in any dialogic act, “I” and “the other” we know each other by meeting, we come to each other approaching face-to-face. The understanding of the other, Jew or Arab, Mosaic or Muslim, acquires for me – a Christian with an ecumenical openness – a vivid ethical meaning when it is carried out “face-to-face”. Such an encounter does not only involve seeing but also hearing and speaking, sensitizing, and making responsible. Therefore, such an encounter assumes the involvement of the moral consciousness in responsible actions and, implicitly, overcoming the ontological condition by signifying the ethical. Through meeting the other, described by Emmanuel Lévinas as a call and an invocation, the spirit of interculturality presents itself as an act of human security and responsibility. Just as for the French philosopher the relationship with the other is a “religion” without theology, a religion in which the “ethical resonance of the word” is enough to bring people the idea of the Absolute and the Infinite, for me the spirit of interculturality means meeting the other face-to-face in finding out together the way of mutual recognition and freeing thinking from the tentacles of political-theocratic fundamentalism and  ideological-religious slippages.

Summarizing, the encounter with the work of Emmanuel Lévinas, the conversations with the literary historian Leon Volovici as well as those with professor Iosif Natansohn during my intellectual training strengthened my confidence in the secular spirit of interculturality. In other words, they strengthened my faith in an interculturality freed from the dogmatic pressure of theocratic doctrines that cultivate in religious institutions and hierarchy the temptation to assume absolute power on earth in the name of divine Omnipotence. Moreover, the wonderful encounters during the period of my intellectual formation strengthened my faith in the reflexive and responsible spirit of interculturality. But how could the spirit of interculturality counteract anti-Semitic propaganda and manifestations ? More directly, how could we operationalize the spirit of interculturality ?

How could we operationalize the spirit of interculturality?

About conceptual networks and the discursive-pragmatic scenario 


Decanting moments and events from my own intercultural experience, I found that anti-Semitic propaganda through slogans stirring up the emotional pulsion of the masses cannot be neutralized just by a counter-propaganda limited to a thesis-ideological discourse. Sustained by propaganda and counter-propaganda, the war of false slogans keeps our thinking captive in the maelstrom of fake news, prejudice and negative emotional drives. This experience also showed me that, beyond the vociferations and shrills of anti-Semitic demonstrations, beyond the silence of the public voice terrorized by generalized fear, the self-reflexive mind is the one that remains in a permanent state of vigilance. An expression of self-awareness that self-interrogates within the horizon of moral values, the thinking in a state of waking is in search of a reflexive therapy with a securitizing purpose. In the confrontation with the emotional pulsion of the indoctrinated masses and the propagandistic manipulations of anti-Semitism, in the no less dramatic confrontation with my own unknowns and doubts, the search for a reflexive-securitizing therapy led me to the configuration of the discursive-pragmatic scenario. We meet again, now, with therapeutic self-reflection, the vigilant consciousness of the self which, in the exercise of its comprehensive and securitizing finality, calls upon the means of discursive pragmatics. Located at the meeting of knowledge-communication-action, discursive pragmatics tests the communicative potential of therapeutic self-reflection, valorizing acts of thought in the practice of interactive and securitizing discourse. Against the background of increasing geopolitical tensions in an increasingly complicated and uncertain world, deciphering the mechanisms of thinking of the actors involved, identifying the goals and effects of mental processes and linguistic-discursive constructs in divergent sociocultural environments give to the discursive-pragmatic scenario a growing operational importance.

           In the context of the growing importance of discursive pragmatics in intercultural management, I advance the following hypothesis: the spirit of interculturality can become effective in countering xenophobic nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism when, operationalized through a semantic network of conceptual structures, it transforms from a conceptual metaphor into a discursive-pragmatic scenario. But how could a semantic network of concepts and conceptual structures operationalize the spirit of interculturality, transforming it from a conceptual metaphor into a discursive-pragmatic scenario? And how could a discursive-pragmatic scenario implement the spirit of interculturality in the life of multicultural communities? Trying to answer these questions, I start from the following postulate: to manage the diversity of knowledge and interests in public and private life we rely on knowing our own self in its depths and in our relationships with others. Knowing oneself and relationships with others involves the conceptualization and problematization of one’s own states and experiences, in other words, it requires the encapsulation of these experiential-reflexive states in conceptual-experiential structures that help us manage the diversity of public and private knowledge and interests.

           As we will see in the following example, through the semantic combination of concepts we can compose conceptual-experiential structures suitable for managing the self in its depths and in relationships with others. Exercises in compositional semantics, the following examples confirm the theory of “lexical meaning in context” as the “architect of verbal and nominal change” (Asher, 2011). We will be able to outline, thus, with the help of explorations in the horizon of the phenomenology of self-consciousness, the philosophy of mind, discursive pragmatics, the semantic network of conceptual-experiential structures. The semantic network of conceptual-experiential structures configures the discursive-pragmatic scenario, thus giving meaning and significance to the spirit of interculturality

           Let us, therefore, penetrate into the depths of the spirit of interculturality guided by the semantic network of its concepts and conceptual structures. For example, the pairs of concepts “spirit” and “interculturality”, “culture” and “recognition”, “thinking” and “captivity” generate through their semantic combination in the flow of thinking and communication, the following conceptual-experiential structures: the “spirit of interculturality”, “recognition culture”, respectively “captive thinking”. By combining the expressions “behavioral model” and “deliberative-consensual”, we get the conceptual-experiential structure: “deliberative-consensual behavioral model”. By combining the concepts “self-reflexive”, “intercultural”, “project”, we configure the conceptual-experiential structure, the “self-reflexive intercultural project”. Connecting the concepts of “self-reflection” and “therapy”, we arrive at the conceptual-experiential structure: “therapeutic self-reflection”. Also, by connecting the concepts “multicultural”, “world”, and “globalization”, we can think and articulate a conceptual-experiential structure with its own semantic nuance: “the multicultural world of globalization”. Similarly, by connecting the concepts of “thinking”, “dialogue”, and “comprehensive”, we get a flexible and operational conceptual-experiential structure: “dialogical-comprehensive thinking”. By combining the concepts “dynamic”, “identity”, and “composite”, we get the conceptual-experiential structure: “dynamics of composite identities”. By calling on the term “connective identities” (Volkart,2001) and using it together with the term “dialogue”, we can construct another conceptual-experiential structure with therapeutic potential: the “dialogue of connective identities”. The ordering of these conceptual-experiential structures in a discursive-pragmatic scenario focused on the search for an intercultural lifestyle gives meaning and significance to the spirit of interculturality. But how does this discursive-pragmatic process take place ?

           Unlike a number of concepts considered separately (spirit, interculturality, culture, recognition, thinking, captivity, deliberative, consensual, behavior, model, thinking, dialogue, comprehensive, skills, identity, composite, dynamic, connective, globalization, multicultural, intercultural), conceptual structures such as — “spirit of interculturality”, “recognition culture”, “captive thinking”, “deliberative-consensual behavioral model”, “dialogic-comprehensive thinking”, “intercultural competences”, “dynamics of composite identities”, ” the dialogue of connective identities”, “the multicultural world of globalization” — used in the chaining of ideas and the flow of discourse contribute to the flexibilizing of concepts, reasoning, argumentation and, implicitly, to the more adequate mental modeling of phenomena such as: globalization, multiculturalism, anti-Semitism. It can be observed that the discursive-pragmatic scenario of implementing the spirit of interculturality in the life of multicultural communities is based on the application of the operational network of conceptual-experiential structures in field research. Mental constructs with semantic potential and explanatory power, the conceptual-experiential structures appear as the nodal points of the operational semantic network thus participating, thanks to the informational-cognitive baggage concentrated in them, in the mental processing and solving of some intercommunity and intercultural problems. Connected in an operational semantic network, the conceptual-experiential structures advanced in this essay give meaning and significance to the spirit of interculturality by transforming it, through the cultivation of intercultural skills in open and cooperative collectivities, from a conceptual metaphor into a discursive-pragmatic scenario.

In conclusion, the assumption of terminology and the use of dynamic and flexible conceptual networks contribute to the operationalization of the spirit of interculturality. From a conceptual metaphor, the spirit of interculturality becomes a discursive-pragmatic scenario aiming, as I will show below, to convert the dynamics of composite identities into a dialogue of connective identities. The discursive-pragmatic operationalization of the spirit of interculturality and its presence, by cultivating intercultural skills in open and cooperative communities, brings us closer to an intercultural lifestyleand, implicitly, to a different strategy to counteract anti-Semitic propaganda. A different strategy for countering anti-Semitic propaganda requires, from the perspective of the discursive-pragmatic scenario, the change of the communication paradigm and discursive techniques to combat anti-Semitic speech inciting hatred. More precisely, I refer to the abandonment of “polemical denials” and sterile controversies confined to the automatic repetition of propagandistic lines to fundamentalist and xenophobic slogans full of “fake news” and insulting epithets, and, at the same time, to the assumption of a discursive-pragmatic scenario aimed at exploring and counteracting, from the perspective of cognitive psycho-sociology, the avatars of thought that have fallen into the captivity of limits and errors, manipulations and prejudices. But, before applying the discursive-pragmatic scenario on the ground, it is necessary to test it through a thought experiment.

           The spirit of interculturality in action or how a discursive-pragmatic    script can convert the dynamics of composite identities into a dialogue          of connective identities

 In this discursive-pragmatic scenario testing experiment, the first step towards converting the dynamic of composite identities into a dialogue of connective identities is to define the most appropriate concept of “identity”. As deep as so ambiguous, the term “identity” — was observing the American sociologist Rogers Brubaker — is “divided between the meaning of “hard” and the meaning of “soft”, between groups of peple, assumptions and constructivist qualifiers, between connotations of unity and multiplicity, similarity and difference, permanence and change. Understood in a “hard” sense — as implying a singular, enduring, fundamental likeness — “identity” tends to mean too much; understood in a “soft” sense — as multiple, fluid, fragmented, negotiated (…) — tends to mean far too little” (Brubaker, 2004). In this pluri-semantic context, I subscribe to the position of the American sociologist who claims that “the semantic load of the term ‘identity’ could be better expressed by several groups of less congested terms: identification and classification, self-understanding and social location, commonality and connection” (Ibidem). In our intercultural project of self-reflexive nature, the summation of such pairs of terms (clusters) capable of capturing the different meanings of the concept of identity was achieved through the composition of the following conceptual-experiential structures: the dynamics of composite identities, respectively, the dialogue of connective identities.

Starting from these two conceptual-experiential structures, I advance the following hypothesis:operationalized through a semantic network of conceptual structures, the spirit of interculturality manifests itself as a discursive-pragmatic scenario. Manifesting itself as a discursive-pragmatic scenario, the spirit of interculturality converts the dynamics of composite identities into a dialogue of connective identities through the culture of mutual recognition, in other words, through the cultivation of intercultural skills (Carpinschi, › is-the-culture-of-recognition-still-possible-in-the-multi….). As an observer involved over decades in the spectacle of public life, I noticed that the transformation of the dynamics of composite identities into a dialogue of connective identities is favored by the cultivation of intercultural skills. This means in the discursive-pragmatic spirit of interculturality, that “I” — a person with a composite (multidimensional) identity: profession, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, denomination, religion, race, etc. — I connect throughout my life through various contacts and dialogues with my peers — Jews, Hungarians, Palestinians, Russians, Ukrainians, etc. — people like me with composite identities, in other words, with multiplied identities related to profession, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, denomination, religion, race, etc. My composite identity — Romanian researcher (philosopher), man of Polish-Greek ethnic origins, Christian of ecumenical orientation — turns into a connective identity when, in the discursive-pragmatic spirit of interculturality, I enter into positive relationships with my peers Jews, Hungarians, Palestinians, Russians, Ukrainians, etc. who live, like me, in the dynamics of their own composite identities. Reconciling, through intercultural skills education, the various composite identities — mine and of my peers Jews, Hungarians, Palestinians, Russians, Ukrainians, etc. — the discursive-pragmatic spirit of interculturality converts the diversity of composite identities into a dialogue of connective identities. When abstract reason proves inoperative, the identification of concrete ways and opportunities for relating composite identities becomes possible through the discursive-pragmatic scenario of interculturality. Against the background of assumed reasonableness and accepted multiculturalism supported in moderate Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities, the discursive-pragmatic scenario of interculturality appears as a chance to counter the excesses and extremisms of anti-Semitic manifestations, as well as the fundamentalism excesses of any other ideological-religious orientation.

According to the previous hypothesis, the chance of countering anti-Semitic manifestations depends, to a considerable extent, on the cultivation of intercultural competencies (skills). In the last decades, research in cognitive psychology, sociology of communication, and intercultural management have made certain contributions to the theory and practice of intercultural competencies. For Brian H. Spitzberg and Gabrielle Changnon, for example, intercultural competence means the appropriate and effective management of interaction between people, referring to different or divergent affective, cognitive, and behavioral orientations in relation to the world. But, “any comprehensive model of intercultural competence will need to conceptualize at least five components, the authors conclude: motivation, knowledge, skills, context, and outcomes.” ( Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009.). Capitalizing on the role of group interactions through empirical research and quantitative analysis in the university intercultural environment, Darla K. Deardorff proposed a “pyramid model” of intercultural competence. Thus, a number of components/factors were brought into focus, among which: 1) the desired external result (effective and appropriate behavior and communication); 2) the desired internal result or the informal framework (adaptability, flexibility, ethnorelative vision, empathy); 3) knowledge and understanding (cultural self-awareness, sociolinguistic awareness); 4) skills (listening, observing and interpreting, analyzing, evaluating and relating); 5) necessary attitudes: respect, openness, curiosity, discovery (Deardorff, 2006).

From the perspective of the participant observer, I assimilated a number of components of the “pyramid model” of intercultural competencies through my own intercultural experiences over time. Projected in a sequence of imaginary frames, the imaginary film of personal memories brings together several significant sequences. First of all, my childhood years in multicultural Tulcea, when my circle of friends included Jews like Salomeea Feimblatt, Mircea Harnik and Ada Leibovici, but also Muslims like Cadâr and Eiub Musa. Long conversations with Professor Iosif Natansohn, my guide in learning about the tragic events of the Iași Pogrom in June 1941, followed during my student years. From my first years of university activity, the conversations with Leon Volovici were significant for me when I managed to understand the nefarious role of university anti-Semitism beyond the attempts of some to mask or minimize the “Jewish problem” in Romanian history and culture. In this process, I was concerned with the configuration of self-awareness against the background of awareness of sociolinguistic diversity, cultivating the skills of observation, listening, evaluation, relating and educating the appropriate attitudes. The outcome ? A mixture of curiosity, respect, openness and satisfaction, discoveries and coexistence in the colorful landscape of multiculturalism.

Pleading for the plurality of ways of life, the discursive-pragmatic scenario of converting composite identities into connective identities proposes a general common sense idea that good can be achieved through different psycho-cultural models. The existence of multiple ways in which people can thrive and even be happy leads to the idea that, despite the fact that these ways of life are different and even competing, none of them is best for everyone. Modus vivendi, or the coexistence of different ways of life, is based on the idea of the existence of several psycho-cultural models that are profitable for people precisely because none of them is the best for everyone. Modus vivendi does not mean the search for the ideal regime but the achievement of a reasonable compromise through the institutional and/or interpersonal reconciliation of different ways of life and psycho-cultural patterns. Here, it is about a reasonable compromise based on the existence of socio-psycho-cultural pluralismModus vivendi, therefore, does not mean raising standards to a superordinate value that all ways of life should respect, but accepting the idea that all ways of life contain values and interests that make from peaceful coexistence a necessity and reasonable compromise. In other words, I plead for a realistic-pragmatic method for interpersonal securitization (Carpinschi, 2002).

But, these statements with a melioristic tone may seem too abstract and too vague. In this frustrating ideological context, I felt the need to collaborate with researchers from the so-called “Global South”, dramatically confronted with the problems of inequities and psycho-cultural disparities. So that, in a collaborative study with an African researcher from the Republic of Togo, I developed the idea that — in the absence of real intercultural dialogue and inclusive policies based on addressing the issues of judicious redistribution of resources, reallocation of values and social reproduction — a modus vivendi is impossible (Carpinschi, Tonyeme, 2011). If modus vivendi cannot be perceived as a universal rule in a world torn by irremediable contradictions, terrorized by anti-Semitic extremism, a question remains: is there still a chance for the “commonsense” civilization in this world?

  Is there still a chance for common sense civilization in this world?

   It is becoming increasingly evident that, superimposed on the old Islamic communities established in the West, the migration waves of the last 15-20 years have raised new challenges for the functioning of democratic regimes. In the circumstances of the increasing dangerousness of anti-Semitic extremism, propagandistic polemics, raising the tone, and increasing the climate of violence are proving completely unproductive. Under these circumstances, pursuing the implementation of a self-reflexive intercultural project, I tried to demonstrate that by converting the spirit of interculturality from a conceptual metaphor into a discursive-pragmatic scenario and the dynamics of composite identities into the dialogue of connective identities we could assimilate moderate multicultural communities the culture of mutual recognition as a deliberative-consensual behavior model capable of making the multicultural world of globalization more inclusive and desirable. By cultivating intercultural competencies, we, people with composite identities, can gradually assimilate a “culture of connectivity” (van Dijck, 2013), thus manifesting ourselves in the multicultural world of globalization as connective identities capable of shaping interculturality as a lifestyle through the behavioral model of the culture of mutual recognition. By assuming the culture of mutual recognition we assimilate the lesson of the dialogue of connective identities in the multicultural world of globalization. It is about a moral judgment that reveals, from the perspective of common sense, the absurdity of any manifestation of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobic nationalism and theocratic fundamentalism maintained, against the backdrop of the dictatorship of fear and pseudo-religious oppression, through the tribulations of captive thinking and the absence of a culture of recognition. In this unfolding of ideas, the fight against anti-Semitic extremism appears from the perspective of therapeutic self-reflection as a psycho-socio-cognitive and moral effort aimed at the survival of common sense in a multicultural world. And yet, looking around to the world at the crossroads of some politico-cultural contradictions that seem irreconcilable and of some unknowns with existential impact, an unsettling question always accompanies me: is there still a chance for the “common sense” civilization in such a world?

Bibliographical references (in order of citation)

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6. Alexandru Lăzescu, Reinterpretarea creativă a genocidului la Curtea Internațională de Justiție de la Haga. (The                           Creative Reinterpretation of Genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague), Ziarul de Iași, 15. 01. 2024.

7. Michel Foucault, Le monde est un grand asile. In Michel Foucault, Dits et Écrits, ÉditionsGallimard, Paris, 1994,  Tome II. Texte n°126. p. 434.

8. Peter F. Drucker, Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself, Leader to Leader, No.16, Spring 2000.

9. Dan P. McAdams, & Kate C. McLean, Narrative Identity in Current Directions in Psychological Science (2013),  Volume 22, Issue 3, pp. 233-238.  

10. Emmanuel Lévinas, Între noi. Încercare de a-l gândi pe celălalt (Between Us. Trying to Think the Other), Editura All, Bucureşti, 2000, p.155.

11. Emmanuel Lévinas, Totalitate și Infinit. Eseu despre exterioritate (Totality and Infinity. Essay on Exteriority), Polirom, Iași, 1999, p. 61.

12. Emmanuel Lévinas, Între noi. Încercare de a-l gândi pe celălalt (Between Us. Trying to Think the Other). Editura All, Bucureşti, 2000, pp. 14, 15. 

13. Nicholas, Asher, Lexical Meaning in Context. A Web of Words, New York, Cambridge University Press2011, p. IX.

14. Yvonne Volkart, „Connective Identities” in Catalogue essay of the Internet and CD-ROM, part of the show double life. Identity and transformation in contemporary art, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2001.

15 Rogers Brubaker, Ethnicity witout Groups, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2004, p. 4. 16. Ibidem.

17. Anton Carpinschi, Is the Culture of Recognition still Possible in the Multicultural World ? › is-the-culture-of-recognition-still-possible-in-the-multi… Jan.24. 2022.

18. Brian H. Spitzberg & Gabrielle  Changnon, Conceptualizing Intercultural Competence in The  Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence (Edited by Darla K. Deadorff), Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc. 2009, p. 44.

19. Karla K. Deardorff, Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization in Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol.10, Issue 3, 2006, pp. 241-266.

20. Anton Carpinschi, Tolerarea ca „modus vivendi” (Toleration as “modus vivendi”). Studiu introductiv la volumul: Michael Walzer, Despre tolerare (On Toleration), Institutul European, Iași, 2002,  pp. I – XVI.

21. Anton Carpinschi, Bilakani Tonyeme, Cultural Minorities and Intercultural Dialogue in the Dynamics of Globalization. African Participation, Culture, Peter Lang Academic Publishing Group. Volume 8, Number 1, 2011, pp. 7-26.

22. José van Dijck,  The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.

 Bibliographical references

– ASHER, Nicholas (2011), Lexical Meaning in Context. A Web of Words, New York, Cambridge 

                 University Press.

– BRUBAKER, Rogers (2004), Ethnicity witout Groups, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

– CARPINSCHI, Anton (2022), Is the Culture of Recognition still Possible in the Multicultural World ? › is-the-culture-of-recognition-still-possible-in-the-multi…    Jan. 24. 2022.

– CARPINSCHI, Anton (2002), Tolerarea ca „modus vivendi” (Toleration as “modus vivendi”).  Studiu  introductiv la volumul: Michael Walzer, Despre tolerare, Institutul European, Iași, pp. I – XVI.

– CARPINSCHI, Anton and TONYEME, Bilakani (2011), Cultural Minorities and Intercultural Dialogue in the Dynamics of Globalization. African Participation, Culture, Peter Lang Academic Publishing Group. Volume 8, Number 1, 2011, pp. 7-26.

– DEARDORFF, Karla K. (2006),  Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization in Journal of Studies in International Education,Vol.10, Issue 3, 2006, pp. 241-266.

– DRUCKER, Peter F. (2000), Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself, Leader to Leader No.16, Spring 2000.

– FOUCAULT, Michel (1994), Le monde est un grand asile. In Michel Foucault, Dits et Écrits, Éditions Gallimard, Paris, Tome II. Texte n°126. 

– LĂZESCU, Alexandru (2024), Reinterpretarea creativă a genocidului la Curtea Internațională de Justiție de la Haga (The Creative Reinterpretation of Genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague). Ziarul  de Iași, 15. 01. 2024.

– LÉVINAS, Emmanuel (1999), Totalitate și Infinit. Eseu despre exterioritate (Totality and Infinity. Essay on Exteriority), Polirom, Iași.

– LÉVINAS, Emmanuel (2000), Între noi. Încercare de a-l gândi pe celălalt (Between Us. Trying to Think the Other). Editura All, Bucureşti.

– McADAMS, Dan P. & McLEAN, Kate C. (2013), Narrative Identity in Current Directions in Psychological Science (2013), Volume 22, Issue 3, pp. 233-238.  

– SPITZBERG, Brian H. & CHANGNON, Gabrielle (2009), Conceptualizing Intercultural Competence in The Sage Handbook  of Intercultural Competence (Edited by Darla K. Deadorff), Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

– Van DIJCK, José (2013), The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media, Oxford University Press,  Oxford.

– VOLKART, Yvonne (2001), Connective Identities in Catalogue essay of the Internet and CD-ROM, part of the show Double Life. Identity and transformation in contemporary art, Generali Foundation, Vienna. 


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