Milena Pešić



Institute for Political Studies



Faculty of Political Studies, Belgrade University



Department of the theory of culture, Faculty of Political Sciences, Belgrade University



Faculty of Philology, Belgrade University



Milena Pešić, PhD, is a Research Associate of the Institute for Political Studies. Author of several papers on media discourse, public sphere, national identity. Author of the book: “Sloboda i javnost – određenje, problematizacija i značaj” (Freedom and the Public Sphere – Definition, Issues and Importance” (co-authored by Aleksandar Novaković, Institute for Political Studies, 2008).


Ketman – Transideological Phenomenon or Concept That Masks the Fear and Opportunism

The research on the pluralistic nature of the phenomenon of “ketman”, which is at the same time as the art of duplicity, manifested in the sphere of (political) communication, social- psychological and psychological level is the main topic of this paper. Czeslaw Milosz‘s interpretation of this phenomenon was more than instructive in this regard, so his insight gained the central importance in the paper. As a form of dissimulation, the system of response to the political repression, a hidden form of (political) differences and socially shaped form of concealment ,”ketman” presents a very complex phenomenon that goes well beyond such a term for  masking the sheer fear and opportunism, as determined by one of the critics of Czeslaw Milosz’s study. Starting from the idea of a religious mask, taken from the Islamic tradition, Czeslaw Milosz singled out two of its dimensions: the moral principle that justifies the application of religious cunning disguise, thus providing a kind of satisfaction and sense of superiority of one who practices ”ketman”, and the moment of the hypocrisy of skills. These two dimensions of Gabineau's idea were developed by deepening their psychological, cultural and anthropological sense. Exploring the phenomenon of “ketman” in Polish society under Stalinist repression, the author has come to the definition of modern ideological forms of “ketman”: “national ketman”, “ketman of revolutionary purity”, “ketman metaphysical”, “aesthetic ketman” and “ethical ketman”. Offering meticulous analysis of the circumstances, reasons and consequences of each of these types of “ketman”, both for those who practice them directly and for the society as a whole, the author has focused on the socio-psychological level of phenomena. Thus, in the falsification of identity to the public in its need to survive revealed a complex acrobatics of the mind which should do the cunning duplicity and preserve the moral and psychological coherence despite segregation, and destructive consequences of this form of selfmanipulation. Taking into account all these dimensions of its expression, it can be concluded that “ketman” is transcivilisational and transideological phenomenon, and that the degree of application of “ketman” in a society is an indicator of its repressive system of government, disorders in relations between the private and public spheres, and the states of the public life of that society, as well as its political culture.