A community, whether spatially organized or defined according to other
criteria such as ethnicity or sexuality, is a particular kind of social group. It
will be remembered that Benedict Anderson insists that all communities are
imagined; they vary, however, according to their style of imagining, and this
style is expressed in both the nature of the group's boundaries and the
narratives that constitute the group imaginary. In situations of intercommunal
conflict—which, as we have seen, have economic, social, and/or political
determinants—processes of identity construction take on a particular character
because of the way in which they enlist the kinds of powerful group emotions
described by Georg Simmel and others. In particular, they become infused by
a complex amalgam of hatred and paranoia that give such conflicts an
indeterminacy that is irreducible to the material factors. Such conflictual
relations constitute, in Walter Benjamin's schema, a breakdown in the
relationship between self and other and thus lead to a paranoid style of
imagined community. This is equivalent to a defensive and paranoid struggle
in which each party experiences the existence of the other as a threat and seeks
to obliterate the difference.
As we have seen, Simmel calls attention to the integrating effect of
antagonism—the way in which it brings cohesion. Echoing Hegel, Simmel
argues that "the first instinct with which the individual affirms himself is the
negation of the other." And, if we follow this line of analysis, so it is with the
group: the group identity is affirmed in the act of negating the other. This
idea—that identity requires the negation of difference—has been a tenet of
much contemporary social and political theory, particularly poststructuralist
theory. But this suggests that identity is always constructed agonistically, not
through constructive relations with the other but in struggle with the other.
What Simmel referred to as polar differentiations we might think of as
antinomies. For Freud, love and hate constituted the basic antinomy
underlying emotional life. However, unlike Simmel and the poststructuralists,
Melanie Klein argues that there are two different ways of dealing with such
antinomies. One is to split them apart, thereby creating binary oppositions; the
other is to hold the tension implicit in the antinomy and live the contradiction.
The first state of mind Klein refers to as paranoid-schizoid; here, what is
experienced as being bad is repudiated in the self and projected onto the other
while what is experienced as good is attributed to the self. So in place of
ambivalence—the mixture of love and hate we feel toward ourselves and
others—we appropriate love for ourselves and our group by projecting hatred
onto the other, an other that is henceforth experienced as a source of danger
and persecution. Similarly with the group, solidarity and fellow feeling can be
strengthened so long as the rivalries, hostilities, resentments, and hatreds that
would otherwise dog the group can be projected onto the other.
【Group】51. What is the passage mainly about?
(A) Conflict is an integral part of a community.
(B) Social relations consist in imaginary feelings toward different groups.
(C) Group identities are constituted as a result of some conflictual relations.
(D) People tend to hate those who project negative feelings onto them.