Creative Tension: The Role of Conflict in Shaping Transnational Identity at Comecon
The meeting of national and international interests within the framework of an international organization, such as the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA), inevitably leads to conlict. Through a micro-analysis of speciic disputes within the CMEA, this article endeavours to determine the creative power of these conlicts. Disputes between CMEA oicials and representatives from those oicials’ country of origin are examined to understand the logic of the conlicts and their resolution. In the conlicts, the question of the rationality principle is raised among actors with reference to their actions. This article develops a typology of conlicts. First, at international meetings, CMEA oicials might reproach their national counterparts for having insuicient international competence, while concomitantly stressing their transnational expertise. Second, some CMEA staf avoided conlict, by not attending negotiations where oicials from their country of origin might try to use them to advance nationalist goals at the international level. Third, in a few cases, conlicts of interest did lead to open conlict, an outcome CMEA oicials tried to avoid. Exploring these three modalities of conlict allows us to characterize the transnational self-awareness of CMEA workers as arising from a dual loyalty. Factoring in CMEA oicials’ use of the phrase “the common interest of the member states” in their public statements allows the historian to understand their double embedding in national and international networks of power from which they tried to enforce a transnational and CMEA-speciic point of view.