The eminent Jungian psychoanalyst Luigi Zoja, when he published in 1998 on our journal his writing “Europe” (1), signalled the exceptionality of the attempt to construct «a - continental and multinational - new country», and not only because such union was «traced by rivers of money rather than by rivers of blood», but above all because it was about to come true «in the silence of myths, rites and symbols», even if formerly, in olden days, something named Europe existed; in fact the Greek myths narrate about the young girl Europe abducted by Jupiter, who, assuming the semblances of a bull, brings away her on his rump to satisfy his amorous covetousness; also Herodotus, in his “The Histories”, makes reference to one geographical entity that was called Europe.

Europe, Zoja sustains, should have a characteristic «definite, not mistakable: therefore, the European identity should be clear. Europe is an unity in the strength: it is the very idea of the strong State. At the same time it is extreme difference, pluralism: no world’s country assembles so much multiformity of cultures in such a narrow space. The same idea of National State is European. And the National State has been invented not for geographical or economic or dynastic motives, but for the reason that some ethnic differences existed … Europe is the casket that has opened and has given this treasure to the world: this tendency toward the unity and the differentiation at the same time».

From these assertions emerges a “Young Europe’s” image which should represent an extraordinary model of the Polis, capable to reconcile (coniunctio oppositorum) in a polyhedral unity the notable diversity among the peoples that composes it. Zoja is fully right to denouncing the lack of an uniting mythological background just proper unlike what happened in ancient Greece that plentifully fed itself on myths to consolidate the ties of a population dismembered in the myriad of small States that constituted it, and sometimes ruled by diametrically opposed forms of government. Certainly, the reality of a common language was able just to favour the common belonging to a “Greek progeny”. After all, also Europe had for long time an uniting people language, “the Latin”; while currently the English language, that is more and more today diffused world wide, in the long run can reveal itself unfit to substitute the Latin language for consolidating the identity of a great nascent nation, if nothing else because it represents one fundament of that other great grouping of States (the United States of America) on whose model it is wanted to construct Europe and without hidden ambitions of competition on the political and economic level.

However we have to not forget – this is what I have tried to underline by means of my writing “Transformations and symbolopoiesis” (2) – it is easy, when we deal with myths and of symbols, that the thought automatically turns to the past - to the Greek and Latin myths, to the ancient oriental myths, to those indios and so on –, in fact, more rarely we look at symbols and myths that are emerging from more recent or contemporary events. Effectively, during the continuum of the daily reality is lacking in the necessary time lapse so that one event, through the handed down narration, can acquire a paradigmatic valence and to have a symbolic transformation which require, on my opinion, initially a some change or a loss or a traumatic break-up or a violent experience happens. In other words, firstly, only discontinuity can lead to the symbolopoiesis and mythopoiesis; secondarily, the contemporary people anonymously and unconsciously concur to the construction of myths and symbols but only posterity is able to confer a mythic and symbolic value to past events.

It is my opinion that not only the myths and the symbols, also acknowledging their essential value, but also fables, romances (for example, the French Paladins narrated by the Italian Ludovico Ariosto), history, wars (we can consider the Holy Crusades), cultural movements, revolutions, social principles, forms of government, religions, conceptions about life, the prevailing institutional forms, economic models and so on, in their historical becoming, can be the base of an uniting cultural matrix and a community Historical Self that can consolidate the many people’s feelings of belonging and identity, and not only due to a more or less artificially constructed geographical extension. On the other hand it is not difficult to discover, if we like to be as sophisticated persons, that minor memberships (sometimes only a sentimental affiliation to ideal reference groups as it can happen on the sport field and, for instance, reason for a fan could use the “us” making reference to the sporting deed of some geographically distant club) can divide people belonging to the same region, or the same city, or, at times, to the same family. The belonging feeling, in fact, is something of very different from the registry and from the citizenry.

Some phenomena - we can assemble them under the label “anti-Europeanist drives” by an increasing number of “European citizen” - bring us to go into an analysis that finds start points from different angles. First of all - keeping in mind that above all feelings and passions in common, before economic or political affairs, consolidate the sense of belonging to a group - I would like to underline the paradoxical fact that French, or Dutch or the Po valley people (or a good part of these ethnic groups) could feel very “European” wide united really by the same one, identical aversion towards a true European political union. If it is true, we have to ask us what can be the authentic causes for this aversion.

It appears unusual that, after the long itinerary driven by a confederation of States for acquiring an unique currency, the famous “euro”, and asking substantial sacrifices to its citizens, now one can see an increasing perplexity towards such choice as far as to reopen it also by some leading politician exponent.

Also about the economic matters, Raffaella Anania (3) points out, «apparently so rich of mathema, the “affective” factors result of fundamental importance. From this point of view, a certain attention deserves a Bion’s passage regarding the value standard of coin, whose birth seems also due to a particular necessity: to facilitate the transactions in the cases of wergeld» (in the ancient Germanic right, it was the value that was attributed to a man who had been murdered and, therefore, the price that the offender had to pay for indemnifying the family of the victim); «Both the wergeld and the acquisition cost of a bride”, Bion (4) writes, “can be considered as forms of reimbursement towards the group for the loss of one of their members”. But also in its function recognized more universally - that is the overcoming of the risks of transaction typical of the barter - the coin (what tool-symbol of the purchasing power) reveals its affective value: being a symbol and not-secure its value, it intrinsically derives from a great feeling of trust in the social system or potentate which guarantees it, in the future maintenance of its validity or purchasing power, and in its future usability as medium of exchange».

The Bateson’s (5) theories on the schismogenesìs (progressive differentiation) perhaps allow us to find some interpretative cues about contrasting phenomena that fight each other inside Young Europe: the ambitious project to create the “United States of Europe” and, at the same time, the uncontrollable impels toward regionalism and devolution. Bateson, in fact, affirms that “the intrinsic dynamism to the human one involves an interactivity schismogenic inside a system or a date polarity, with symmetrical-schismogenesìs transactions (similar mutual actions, for instance the case of competition or rivalry) or complementary-schismogenesìs transactions (dissimilar actions but reciprocally appropriate, for instance the case of authority-submission). But the same schismogenesìs … undergoes to unintentional mechanisms for so to say of servo-brake or regulation mechanisms that, according to the intensity of the process, favour or the integration or the social “fission”».

Firstly, what preliminarily misses, and on my opinion it is a condition “sine qua non” for reaching a real European political union, is a common conception of the Polis, a model of construction of the social reality, not only shared and shareable but also not-imported and, therefore, absolutely original: a constructing route but according to an original project, in other terms an “European way” to the construction of the social world.

Gioacchino Lavanco (6) suggests «the limit of the idyllic proposal of renewed editions of the Greek polis» since probably the Greek man was incapable to conceive an ampler “over the walls” community and to overcome the «deleterious mutations of the localism through the transformation of the mutual identifications (base of the membership) in closed and suffocating family nets». For Lavanco, it is necessary to orient ourselves toward a conception of the Polis «constituted by more communities having common origins, traditions and interests» and founded on «an uniting intents and wills, that reflects the strong tension to the sharing and the dialogue in the most peculiar place of meeting: the agora. The heart of the city is represented by the market, symbolic place of exchanging many goods which are a lot different from the usual ones: inside it, magically ideas and opinions are discussed, in a shut and felt comparison among the proposals on the present and future destiny of the community». An open “over the walls” Polis it is the choice for a social cohabitation in which the other one «is over the parental, political, social and ethnic borders» .

Secondarily, it is evident that the foundation of a supranational political union has fundamentally to succeed in offering enough guarantees that some specific and particular demands are safeguarded in relation to the necessities of every different local reality.

The autonomy invoked by the regionalist appeals does not represent an abstruse velleity to preserve or to increase the local power but also the aim to guarantee some particular demands: 1) the differentiation principle, so that competences are distributed according to the specific structural, organizational and demographic characteristics of the different local realities; 2) the vertical subsidiarity principle, so that the functions are practiced by the authority nearest to the citizens and, besides, so that their good exercise is guaranteed (adequacy principle); 3) the horizontal subsidiarity principle, so that there is a suitable distribution of competences between local public administrations and citizen.

About the devolution, Alessandro Anania (7) observes, «a certain light can derive from the experience already traversed by other Nations» which have had to find some formulas to reach a political union, «from this point of view, the United Kingdom has adopted a model for so to say “flexible” of devolution, devolving, the interviewee Lynda Clarck, Advocat General of the British Parliament for Scotland, says , “a part of powers to the peripheral offices, but by different kinds and measures. The powers delegated to Wales are different from those delegates to Scotland” (8) which has enjoyed of full administrative autonomy since 1998, having the Scottish parliament the full faculty to legislate on any subject. On Clarck’s opinion, the devolution is suitable to a greater flexibility in comparison with the federalism, in fact, making reference to USA, this nation has “precise accords among States which in mutual agreement decide the ways for sharing a sovereign power. In the United Kingdom, there is only a State within it is decided that certain powers work better if devolved to the periphery” while other subjects are thought that they necessarily fall within the pertinence of the State. About Scotland the connection with the central government is guaranteed precisely by the figure of the Advocat General that is a Law Officer of the United Kingdom for Scotland; the London government preserve the last power to legislate for Scotland nevertheless, subsequently to a accord denominated “Sewel Motion”, it is established that, in general, the English Parliament “doesn't legislate in relation to the delegated areas without the explicit consent of the Scottish Parliament.” An interesting aspect is represented by the forecast that if Scotland, legislating, had to exceed from the imposed limits to its authority, there is the possibility to resort to the court which “has the duty to restrictively interpret the laws of the Scottish Parliament”… The creation of a super partes ministerial committee, with consultative power, composed by exponents of the British Government, of the Scottish Executive, of the National Assembly of Wales and the Executive Committee of Northern Ireland, assures the mutual interdependence».

If one wants to realize a true political and social union there is the necessity to codify some legislative instruments of intervention, rectification, substitution or sanction in all that cases in which they eventually had to occur, in relation to the legislating regional power or to the local self-regulation power, lacks, omissions, disregards or violations in comparison with the fundamental principles decreed and advocated by the European community authority. In other terms, the realization of the “devolution”, on the legislative level, doesn’t have to be lacking in the forecasting some ways corrective of possible distortions for the guardianship above all of the (definitely recognized) rights but that - being more defenceless, if not else because more recently acquired - risks to be more or less partially eluded the moment that they are submitted to the periphery, on various levels, to establish in detail the way of proceeding to allow the citizens a practicable exercise of their rights.

In conclusion, also recognizing to a partial devolution a specific plausibility, it seems inescapable, if it is really wanted to construct the “New Europe”, to reach a legislative oneness, in addition to juridical and economic, that is overhanging the autonomy of the local governments, so that protects in an equal way all the European citizens in relation to the fundamental political, civil and social rights.

Bateson (9) asserts that the « schismogenic circuit, in addition to inside contextual factors of regulation, is subject to environmental or contextual outside factors». About that we can agree with Raffaella Anania (10), when she observes that some relatively recent phenomena what, for instance, the «economic collapse of Argentina … can represent a paradigmatic example of an opposite phenomenon to the cultural closure, to the “wall” erect to establish the confinements of the plausible membership, to the unavailability to the acceptance of the Other. Here there is another excess: an imported culture inflation, a uncritical embracement of the other’s cultural world, a depreciation of its own Latin American matrixes and its own values, including the worth of its own currency (we have previously examined its valence on the affective-political-cultural plan), for a total adhesion to the values of the other - in this specific case, represented by the neo-capitalistic North American system - including the life purposes and the relationship models».

The present-day anti-Europeanist spurs, just inside the same European Union, are not limited only to combat the political union of the nations adherent to the European Community but also the same so much laboriously constructed currency unit: it is the same “euro” that is reopened. It can seem paradoxical the choice of Argentina to devote itself to the dollar, but what to say about the worth of the European stock exchanges that, as one can easily verify, bullish oscillate with the rising of dollar in comparison with the euro and instead they fall in value when the dollar is exchanged at an inferior price? [By the way, these variations appear paradoxical because they are in opposite sense to the export facilitation of European products that should derive from a raising value of the dollar]. And besides what to say about the extreme dependence of the European stock exchanges in relation to the USA stock exchange indexes? Why Europe has to depend on the American economic events? But if the currency, we have seen, is the tool-symbol of a purchasing power whose value bases on a simple affective guarantee, constituted by the great trust in the social system or potentate that issues it, why, emotionally and on its stock-exchange, western Europe gets over when the USA economy and the dollar do well? The possible explanations are manifold, they probably condense some “complementary possibilities” and some “hidden truths”: a) people don't believe and/or don't have trust in the New Europe; b) people believe in the New Europe but don't have trust in the politicians that should realize it; c) the economic-political potentates, that affirm to want to realize it, in reality feel guaranteed about their own affairs only by the permanence of the political-economic hegemony of the USA; d) the New Europe is only a way according to which the economic-political potentates can continue to maintain their power without some substantial change happens (advancing pseudo-reforms for substantially maintain their status); otherwise some processes, disruptive for the actual governance, could start.

If, as Francesco Alberoni (11) affirms, the nascent state is first of all a mental event, a cognitive experience that is outside the ordinariness, a metanoia that «interrupts the woof of the daily life and gives her a new course … a subversion, a turn, a new way of looking the world and oneself», the citizens of the future European Political Union probably have the feeling that to such new reality doesn't correspond the birth of a new Polis, a substantial change in the construction of the common social reality. Before new laws and the usual politician, there is need of thinkers, of community psychologists, of men able to conceive an original model of the Polis, of men able to formulate new projects rather fast talkers of proclamations. Without any change about men and styles of management of the European res pubblica there is the risk to see yes a New European Unity but only on the base of an without precedent anti-Europeanist feeling; but, in the event that this last possibility had to come true, we aren't capable to foretell how much Old America would keep on feeling the actual discreet intimate satisfaction.

* The identity disorder on the clinical field is characterized by some of the following subjective insecurity troubles: long-term objectives, career choice, way of friendship, sexual orientation and behaviour, religious identification, social values, group-membership .
Extrapolating some of these characteristics, that are pertinent to the individual personality disorders, and applying them to community psychology, it is possible to attribute a possible collective identity disorder to determined social context, groups, population or aggregate populations.


(1) Zoja Luigi; Europa; Psicologia Dinamica, n. 1-2-3, 1998.
(2) Anania Alfredo; Trasformazioni e simbolopoiesi; Psicologia Dinamica, n. 1-2-3, 1998.
(3) Anania Raffella; Matrici culturali e trasformazioni della comunità; Psicologia Dinamica, n. 1-2-3, 2000.
(4) Bion Wilfred R.; Esperienze nei gruppi; Armando ed.; Roma; 1976.
(5) Bateson Gregory; Verso un’ecologia della mente; Adelphi Ed.; Milano; 1976.
(6) Lavanco Giacchino; Polis e/è comunità: la convivenza come progetto; in Di Maria Franco (a cura di), Psicologia della convivenza; Angeli ed.; Milano; 2000.
(7) Anania Alessandro; Privacy, governance, convenance; in Aspetti psico-sociali della privacy; Editoriale;; 22.12.2004-19.02.2005.
(8) Stasio Donatella, Devolution flessibile, un’idea dalla Scozia; il Sole-24 Ore, 17 dicembre 2002.
(9) Bateson Gregory; op. cit.
(10) Anania Raffella; op. cit.
(11) Alberoni Francesco; Genesi; Garzanti ed.; Milano; 1989.


June 17, 2005©

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