Identity creation and the culture of contrition : reconfiguring national identity in the Berlin Republic
The thesis examines the reconfiguration of concepts of national identity in postunification Germany in three broad sections. Section one examines the discourse of identity of neoconservatives and critical thinkers between the 1960s and 1980s. Neoconservatives advocated a return to conventional national identity based upon the patriotic identification with indigenous national traditions. Critical thinkers argued for a post-national Constitutional Patriotism based upon the critical reflection of national traditions. Both these approaches are located within the context of conflictual attitudes towards the concepts of "compensation" and "emancipation" in past and present and towards the experience of the National Socialist past. Section two examines the reception of unification within the liberal conservative and neue Rechte milieu. Liberal conservatives sought to synthesise the technocratic Westernisation of the post-war FRG with a traditional national concept. Neue Rechte conservatives rejected "Western" values and perceived in the collapse of Communism the discrediting of both the "utopia" of radical social alternative and also of the Kleinutopie of civil society. The post-Cold War constellation signified for these thinkers the opportunity for a return to pre-1945 traditions of German nationalism and offered an opportunity to relativise the national socialist past. Finally, section three offers an analysis of the reconfiguration of national identity which synthesises the concern for "national" identity with the left-liberal concept of "postnational" identity. The "Westernisation" of the concept of the German nation perceived positive antecedents in the bourgeois emancipation movements of the pre-national nineteenth century. The final chapter elaborates the thesis of a "culture of contrition" for the national socialist past which formulates a radical, "post-national" identity with emancipatory aspirations. The thesis perceives in this latter discourse of "broken" identity an attempt to reconfigure a sense of national "normality" in the present which is predicated upon the acknowledgement of "abnormality" in the past.