Die Ökonomie der Vergeltung. Einige Überlegungen zur Ätiologie und Bedeutung des ‚Geschäfts der Rache’

Journal Article or Monograph

Title: Die Ãkonomie der Vergeltung. Einige Ãberlegungen zur Ãtiologie und Bedeutung des Geschafts der Rache
Year: 2004
Authors: Sievers, B., & Mersky, R. R.

Throughout the history of mankind, revenge and vengeance
have been deeply ingrained in the social fabric
and have been richly portrayed in literature, music,
drama, and film. Vengeance can be understood as a
defence against annihilation anxieties, stimulated by
the reactivation of injuries and losses experienced
earlier in the lifetime of a system, fed by an institution’s
inability to acknowledge guilt and to integrate
love and hate, and driven by the desire for ›repair‹ via
retaliation. As open and direct acts of both revenge
and violence are largely taboo, they are broadly denied
in contemporary society at large and in organizations
in particular. Despite that denial, the underlying
feelings and the desire to persecute remain real.
Thus revenge often is wreaked unconsciously by sophisticated
and hidden means.

In the same way that violence can be understood as
an attempt to overcome mortality, vengeance can be
viewed as the violent attempt to deny mortal fears
and anxieties through the (potential) annihilation of
the Other. To the extent that organizations are unable
to acknowledge guilt for their aggression, sadism and
destructiveness, the actual experience of injustice, loss
and injury within the organization is projected outside,
thus turning the ›Other‹ into an evil object which
can then be blamed or persecuted.

The paper is guided by the working hypothesis that
the psychoanalytic perspective on vengeance does not
sufficiently take into account the social understan-
ding of vengeance. From a socio-analytic perspective,
vengeance appears as a psychosocial phenomenon and
dynamic of the collective, i.e. the community or polis
of related people. Vengeance in social (political and
economic) contexts and its inherent aggression and
annihilation often must be hidden behind an apparent
logic of rationality, justice and competition.

The question that presents itself is: how are feelings
and actions related to revenge and vengeance actually
contained, maintained and ›digested‹ and how are
they expressed individually, organizationally, societally
and economically? In the last section we illuminate
some ways that vengeance is a constituent dynamic
of contemporary economy.

Keywords: Revenge, vengeance, socioanalysis,
Language: German

Journal: Freie Assoziation
Volume: 7
Issue: 2
Start page: 65
End page: 92
Publisher ID:

Submitted by:
Burkard Sievers

Corresponding author:

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