IPA Statement: Brutal attacks on democracy around the world 

The IPA is alarmed by the various manifestations of brutal attacks on democracy around the world. Recently in Brazil, Peru, and Israel, the states’ fundamental institutions and symbols that guarantee democracy (such as the supreme-court and the parliament), are being violently harmed or manipulated through three major modes: vandalism and crime; a cynical exploitation of the legitimate channels of democracy; and a sophisticated control over the social-network – through which fake news gains the exact same form as genuine news, and false narratives and confabulations are perverting and distorting our sense of the truth. These modes of violent attack on democracy are occurring throughout the world. 

We live in frightening times characterized by an outburst of violent attacks on democracy and on the virtue of truth. Governments and political groups have lost any responsibility over human rights and moral values. They have also lost any signs of shame and guilt that are fundamental for moral judgment and ethical standing. An uncanny feeling of deep confusion and chaos is everywhere.

From a psychoanalytic point of view, healthy psychic development and a mature personality are characterized by tolerance for otherness and the containment of complexities and even contradictions. An attack on democracy represents an extreme intolerance towards differences within ourselves and in the other. It attacks the existence of different agencies that balance each other (in the mind of an individual, in the society as well as the state’s institutions) in favor of an omnipotent and monolithic control. It forces one picture of reality which forbids variability and freedom of choice, speech, and way of life. It creates a split and polarized world in which otherness is demonized and basic rights are denied.  An attack on democracy is an attack on linking and thinking; an attack on our sanity, as individuals and as a society. 

We wish to express our solidarity with our colleagues around the world who suffer from these distressing phenomena and encourage us as psychoanalysts to take a firm stand, avoid silence, and make active efforts to confront these highly dangerous developments. 

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