Source: (2008) European Journal of Social Theory. 11(3):367-383.

How do experiences of shame and guilt shape or reflect the ways in which the vanquished are reconciled (or not) to the new world order established by the victors? Shame and guilt are universal experiences in the emotional landscape of post-war politics, albeit for different reasons and with radically different political effects. An examination of Germany after 1918 and of Japan after 1945 reveals that experiences of shame and guilt may be pivotal for creating conditions of possibility for reconciliation marked by political and moral transformation. This transformative potential of shame and guilt, however, is a double-edged sword. In threatening old identities, values and beliefs, experiences of shame and guilt may provoke defensive, reactionary and violent political responses, and thus may precipitate hideous rather than salutary transformations. Political leadership and political culture are crucial factors in shaping the kind of reconciliation – reactionary or transformative – as well as the specific nature of transformations that experiences of shame and guilt may motivate the vanquished to pursue. (author's abstract)