For thousands of years, political leaders have unified communities by aligning them against common enemies. However, today more than ever, the search for “common” enemies results in anything but unanimity. Scapegoats like Saddam Hussein, for example, led to a stark polarization in the United States. Renowned neuropsychiatrist and psychologist Jean-Michel Oughourlian proposes that the only authentic enemy is the one responsible for both everyday frustrations and global dangers, such as climate change—ourselves. Oughourlian, who pioneered an “interdividual” psychology with René Girard, reveals how all people are bound together in a dynamic, contingent process of imitation, and shows that the same patterns of irrational mimetic desire that bring individuals together and push them apart also explain the behavior of nations.
“We must hope that this little book will become a sort of Prince for the twenty-first century.”
—Rémi Soulié, Le Figaro Magazine
“Bringing together the psyche, which is normally individual, and the political, which is normally collective, was an excellent idea. Oughourlian ventures onto terrain unexplored by Girard. The analysis of the psychological effects of globalized information is truly innovative.”
—Olivier Kempf, Professor at Sciences Po, Paris, author of NATO in the Twenty-First Century
“This book should interest all sorts of readers. . . . It expresses a spark of hope in the face of a future that is at best uncertain and encourages us to think about the concrete measures to be taken.”
—René Girard (from the preface)