The Past is Never Past

PARIS – A nation’s relationship with its past is crucial to its present and its future, to its ability to “move on” with its life, or to learn from its past errors, not to repeat them.

There is the past that “isn’t dead and buried.  In fact, it is not even past,” in William Faulkner’s famous phrase.  Such a past obsessively blocks any possible evolution towards a necessary reconciliation with oneself and a former or current foe.

Such a past is painfully visible today, for example, in the Balkans, a world largely paralyzed by a painful fixation on the conflicts that tore the region apart in the 1990’s. An absolute inability to consider the point of view of the other and to go beyond a sense of collective martyrdom still lingers, unequally to be fair, over the entire region.

What the Balkans needs nowadays are not historians or political scientists, but psychoanalysts who can help them transcend their past for the sake of the present and the future. It is to be hoped that the promised entrance into the European Union will constitute the best “psychoanalytical cure.”