From: TMB <tblan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 10:35:26 -0500 (EST)
From: aglynn <aglynn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> On Tue, 30 Mar 1999 13:17:36 -0500 (EST), TMB wrote:
> How would this be accomplished in terms of a situation such as Kosovo? A
> pacifism that is at the same time not a "paxification" would be
> extraordinarily appealing in terms of these kinds of events.
I wish I knew more about the history. Something going on there around 96
seemed to have been pretty nonviolent, and had good signs of being a good
series of protests. In any event, what would be possible there or in any
such situation would have to be founded on a fully developed nonviolence
ethos. *Not* a "nonviolent" (adjective), but where the fundamental move is
made to nonviolence being an issue in and for itself. It is here that
nonviolence parallels Heidegger's "being", in how it can either be a kind
of "aside", "empty concept", vague idea, or else it can be *turned
towards* and developed in and of itself. Given some kind of movement along
those lines, one would have to imagine something along the lines of
serious area-wide or even national strikes, but which would be
(adjectivally) nonviolent, and which therefore would not fuel the fires of
retribution. But they would also have to be very serious and would have to
involve real risk to participants. It's not as if not engaging in such
activities doesn't also entail risks. At this juncture you can see
precisely why nonviolence *has* to be properly grounded. A basic logic
develops here: there is risk either way. Without thematization (in a
political movement sense) of nonviolence, "risk" falls into a reactive
reality, with thematization, risk is taken up, enabling positive
resistance. A nonviolence movement in such an area, then, could hold up
and keep up the logic: there is less risk, and it is nobler risk, if we
strongly and positive resist with true nonviolence, in the face of these
rising draconian measures. On that basis, the general condition of
positive risking can ensue, in the form of strikes, marches, and suffering
retributions on purpuse, being arrested, being killed for "the cause",
etc. Such logics are at once "too much" and at the same time in fact what
are taking place, and what are risked, quite freely, in *violent*
resistance. This is hard stuff and it comes with the territory. It also
comes with the territory of "being-towards-death", but *this* kind of btd
is something that does not adequately emerge in the Heideggerian
registers, even if it is in certain ways implied. On the basis of such a
serious movement, which would be a "satyagraha", as opposed simply to a
"strike" or "any kind of resistance, violent or nonviolent", there are
variuus *dynamics* which themselves would have to be properly cared for in
such a movement. That caring-for would itself have to be founded in an
adequately thoughtful grounding in nonviolence, thought and action.
On that basis, then, one could see: actions, retributions, and so forth.
People would resist, be arrested, etc., while being totally (or nearly
totally) nonviolent. They would gain the moral upper hand almost
automatically. World opinion would be highly arroused in their favor, and
this arrousal would not take place due to genocide (if it happened early
on). If they were in fact doing their own protest, the need for direct and
simplistic intervention would be lessened. If it was properly nonviolent,
it would incur less backlash from the thugs. It is obviously still
possible that the thugs could just start enacting genocidal measures. If
and when this is the case, this leads to a raising of the stakes. IT
pushes things to more of a crisis. In a satyagraha, this means more
protests, fasts, resistance of various sorts, but not backing down on
maintaining that nonviolence, and that means, incidentally, a practiced
respect for Milosevic and his henchmen. Such a movement has to be able to
say things like "our brother Milosevic is spurned on by his love for our
city/country, but has fallen into the error of violence. We will not raise
a hand to attack him, but neither will we cooperate with his threats. We
will risk ourselves in resisting him nonviolently." Something like that.
Ideally this would lead to a very popular mass movement that could involve
most of the Albanians, which is a really formidable number of people. In
ideal circumstances this would be well supported by a peace movement
outside the country. But it could get ugly. Yet, according to the basic
logics of risk involved, it can get ugly in violent resistance, too (and
it already obviously is quite ugly). The general risk and leap of faith
here is that it is simly *more* ugly with violent resistance. But at this
juncture it remains important to imagine the most severe genocidal
measures, and it would be necessary to leave open the possibility of
violent resistance and intervention. The general issue then becomes wither
or not such a window of possibility is founded on a full-fledged
ethos/movement of nonviolence, or not.
> I am always quite ready to diverge from (though not to necessarily throw
> away) general trajectories when they are of little use in the situation.
> Just as (to me) Keynes' economic trajectories need to be rethought (while
> not being thrown away) in terms of the economic events of the last few
> decades, Heidegger's thought needs to be constantly rethought. In many
> ways I've been frustrated lately with the constant harping about
> "Heidegger in the '30's" with the lack of thinking going on about
> ourselves in 1999.
Well I agree.
> >-- the opening of nonviolence as a substantive thematic issue
> In general I still understand nonviolence from the perspective of
> violence. Lewis in "The Wild Body" talks about the strange way in which
> his literary portraits of general social relations tend towards the
> 'mock-violent' in each social encounter. While Marxists such as Jameson
> find this abhorrent and necessarily fascistic, I personally find it
> interesting and of value in terms of the West's understanding of
> violence/non-violence. More on this in a future post when I have done
> more thinking on the topic.
One has to distinguish between, say, Gandhian nonviolence or that of
Tolstoy, and "the West's" conception. The latter is not the former by any
means. The West's general sense of nonviolence is wildly idealistic and
not pragmatic, and leads, typically, to hyper-violent backlash. I dont'
know what you meay by "understanding nonviolence from violence". I don't
know about the mock violent, either. I guess I think that the "mock
violent" in terms of military games, for example, childrens war games,
etc., all would be a preparation for violence. One would find a correlate
"mock nonviolence", though in fact this would not be a simple parallel.
Generally, nonviolence is typically reduced to *strategy* and is conjured
up as "alternative strategy, within the same action arche", which is why
nonviolence usually doesn't make it. Since nonviolence is a radical
disruption of the paradigm of violence, "mock nonviolence" would look more
like "deconstruction" and simly heightened engagement in thought and
world, not "practice strikes" and so forth. Indeed, "mock nonviolence"
could well entail the disruption and paradigmantic questioning, precisely,
of "mock violence".
> >-- the recognition of nonviolence (as continual maintenance-in) as a
> >fundamential "existentiale" or ensistentiale
> ... which from a western perspective would have usually only been apparent
> in a negative sense - in the postmodern canon we see mostly expressions of
> 'mock-violence' as alluded to above in the pseudo-couples common to
> Lewis/Beckett and other postmodernist writers, for example.
The "mock violence" thing would have to be spelled out better (for me).
But "mock" violence is usually: projected possibilities of defensive
retribution (if not attack). It can also entail projected possibilties of
amelioration and protection (playing "cops and robbers", the "good guy who
pulls the girl from the traintracks", etc.) But the general and simple
*sublimation of violence into play* is not at all the same as the
*deconstruction of violence*, which can not be accessed tha way, as far as
I can see. One of the crucial aspects of nonviolence is that it doesn't
"mock" at all when it comes to violence. It doesn't see violence as a
matter for play. It stops short when viewing a movie depciting violence,
for example, and says, "wait, that guy who was just shot, well there is a
plot to the movie and all, but wait, he has a wife and kids, how will she
suffer from this, how will his kids suffer, what was this guy lik as a
kid, what beauties and miraclous things have been lost in his having been
killed here", etc. It aims to disrupt the plot protocols and says,
specifically, that plots that proceed using violence miss the point of
something altogether. That violence is, in fact, a real abyss that
disrupts plots. Of course, the main "plot" is *history*. Nonviolence, in
this regard, is disruptive of history in certain ways.
The questioning ("wait a minute") does have a "mock" status, but at the
same time, it tends to lead one to flipping off the television set, or
just prompting others to groans ("Oh it's just a movie! It's play! Chill
out!") But here, for example, one can get a glimpse of something very
important, and this sort of insight really has to be developed more:
Nonviolence is underway and at work at times other than violence; the time
of play for violence may be a time of work for nonviolence, the time of
work for violence is the space of reality of attack (actual attack).
Nonviolence can't watch a simple comedy skit or action flick concerning
violence any more easily than a concentration camp victim can easily watch
a skit about the holocaust. But supposedy this is all "too serious". But
that's the point, violence *really is serious*, it's nothing to play with
or enter into in a mock way in any simple way. It's too serious for that.
When we can do this, and follow "interesting and exciting plot lines
according to desire", we fail to grasp what violence *is*, what is
happening in the act and event of violence. Violence is *so serious* that
should lead one into suspending certain kinds of play or engaging in them
rather differently. This would seem, at first glance, to entail a kind of
"freezing" and lack of preparadeness, but only closer and more
responsible examination could show why this is not the case.
In general, I guess I should point out that the hallmark of "mock
nonviolence" is not something "violence/nonviolence specific", but rather
*any heightening of substantivity*. Thus, doing *anything* well in a way
can be a part of nonviolence. Engaging anything more carefully, more
richly, with greater attention to detail, to the bigger picture, with more
artistry and finesse, subtlety and simple joy or seriousness, etc., all in
a certain way is a "practicing of nonviolence", albeit without the
specific substantive-themtic shift that is crucial and essential for
nonviolence as such. This strikes me as very important.
> >-- the conception of *positive conscience* (as in when we say "prisoner of
> >conscience", which can in no way be summed up in the Heideggerian
> >hermeneutics of conscience, but which is crucial in such issues of war,
> >violence and oppression for obvious reasons)
> It has never seemed to me (perhaps due to the Catholic conception of
> 'original sin' with which I grew up - and the concomitant human freedom it
> engenders) that Heidegger's 'originary guilt' was a particularly negative
> conception. I can see that "positive conscience" sounds clearer than
> "positive guilt" of course. What do you see as lacking in the hermeneutic
> if one takes away those negative connotations? I can't see that thinking
> on that ontological level has any "therefore's" in terms of practical
> ethics, but it doesn't necessarily seem a defect, or perhaps it seems a
> necessary defect, I'm not sure.
The most obvious case is the "prisoner of conscience", the good actors in
struggles for nonviolence of whatever sort, for "democracy" or cessation
of brutalitie, etc. It is absolutely ludicrous to imagine that someone
like An San Su Kyi of Burma is acting, in conscience, simply in order to
*avoid guilt*. Yet we must be able to say that it is some sense of
conscience operating. Therefore, this must be understood as some kind of
positive conscience. Such a "conscience", *totally* lacking in Heidegger's
sensibilities and work, is founded on a substantive, loving and thoughtful
engagmenet with the world, on courage and concern, on serious questioning,
etc. Obviously, such "postive conscience" occurs in the person of
Heidegger and his cause, "thiking", but this condition simply and
completely fails to register in the existential *Interpretation* at all.
It is a complete and total error, as far as I can see, and points in
general to a massive transcendental blind spot.
> >-- rethinking some basic conceptions such as "exsistence"
> >-- the problematization of thought and action
> >-- the critique of the basic posture of "the philosopher" in favor of a
> >primary nonviolence orientation as provisional necessity
> You allow then for provisional necessities, such as a thoughtful response
> now to the current events? Obviously the easy (and to me worthless)
> position is to take no position until the dust settles and a few hundred
> thousand less humans inhabit the planet. But in the midst of this
> violence (and as I alluded to before I think that violence of some sort
> inheres in many other social relations) it seems necessary to take both
> thought and action that may in their turn be judged as forms of violence.
That risk and danger is always there. It is on the basis of that
understanding that one may well choose to give nonviolence, as such, to
thoguht, not with absolute guarantees, but with hopes. Generally, there is
an improvement that comes simply with the entering into thoguht of
nonviolence, attributable if simply to the simple "world disclosive power
of language". I.e., bringing up "nonviolence" over and over again tends to
help to *light the world in certain ways, with a slant towards
nonviolence*. This does not entail the naive view that one would be
totally nonviolent but this admission of the possibility of failure can
never be an excuse for simply chosen violence! (I.e., well violence is
inevitable, so let's go beat up some kids.)
> >-- the critque of ethics, up to and including "postmodern" issues in
> >ethics, as generally fallen from its originating condition as/in
> >nonviolence as such (as opposed to moral rule/right/law, etc.)
> Heidegger's commentary in the "letter on humanism" seems not only to
> justify such a rethinking of practical ethics, but to nearly demand it.
> However I think that we need to think nonviolence/violence through in its
> historical incarnations, without any dialectical maneouvres, in order to
> move toward a non-moral (in the sense of Christian/metaphysical law)
Thinking historical manifestations is fine, but you can't get out of the
dialectics (or *thought*, for that matter). Indeed, part of the
progression of nonviolence is in how it *disrupts history* precisely where
history seeks, in order to put together his- (or her-) *story* and leaves
"to be thought" issues background in oder to weave the plot. There is no
way around that, which again doesn't mean you cant "do history" to some
extent. But, yes, no question, nonviolence problematizes history, and the
gesture you propose, a complete ("with any dialectical maneouvres")
suspension of thought is precisely what can't be done. Things like the
"Letter..." are all important kinds of texts. They still do entail some
willingness to take some radicaly non-Heiderrian stances at the same time,
of course. In any event, that's what I'm trying to do. The *simple*
"nonmoral" is quite dangerous, of course. My contention is that
nonviolence as an irreducible lived experience is the source of moral law,
where the latter tends to be degradation (however spurned by vague
necessity) of the former.
> >-- critique of "postmodern" metaphysics
> >-- development of post-postmodernism
> >-- the deconstruction of "evil"
> I'm not sure what you're referring to as post-modern metaphysics
> unfortunately, doesn't the term post-modern (in philosophy, not art)
> imply post-metaphysical thinking?
No, not at all. This is a sham. Postmodern metaphysics is metaphysics with
a preference for things like plurality, multiciplicity, indecideability,
indeterminateness, etc. These are entirely metaphysical conceptions. The
truly "post metaphysical" thought is nonviolence as such (though it is not
simly exclusiv to it). Even the thought of "the other", and "obligation"
still fails to make it to nonviolence, thoguht it gets closer. In some
sense, post-modern metaphysics is a really bad quagmire.
> What are your views on Arendt and the "banality" of evil? Milosevic seems
> a remarkably "banal" character to me.
Sure, blah blah. He's a banal character, doing very unbanal things, of
> >If one undertakes these and other paths in thinking, one becomes much more
> >able to respond intelligently and hopefully effectively to situations such
> >as those taking place in Kosovo and Iraq, and is able, in addition, to
> >develop potent and illuminating analyses of the Heidegger/Nazism problem
> >which are currently unable to come to any serious fruition. That problem,
> >rather, tends to lead to an state of continual aggravation without going
> >further or being able to put together alternative paths.
> >Our (who, we?) capacity to respond intelligently and effectively to these
> >sorts of atrocities (Kosovo, Iraq, etc.) is not really developing much at
> >all, and at this point it seems astounding to me. An intractable
> >conservatism appears to be at work, even in some of the most "avant garde"
> We are still always in the situation of having to make decisions regarding
> these events in a condition of being intentionally not given full details,
> being intentionally given "emotional activators and pacifiers" rather than
> crude realities and actualities of the situation, etc. To paraphrase
> Beckett, it is the situation "of the act, which, unwilling to act, unable
> to act, in the event acts, being obligated to act".
We can reduce to these logics of "the act", or not. It is part of action.
It isn't enough (this rubric/paradigm for thinking the act). The onus is
obviously on us to investigate matters more, rather than just going on
the restricted signals. But we cant' just jump into "than it's an act or
do not act scenario". It's still a matter of: what calls for action, what
*is* action, in what is the action embedded, what context, etc., and what
about the gravity of action that is nonviolence as such? These are the
fundamentals that can not be overridden, as far as I can see, without a
degradation to the precious, and that is where I draw the line. In any
event, you're doing the "indecidebiliyty and yet we must act" riff, which
is fine but I don't think it is hitting off enough. Or: such logics of
action obtain in *either* violent action or nonviolence. We never have the
absolute and full facts of the case. On the other hand, we can not use
this fact as an hysterical excuse to therefore take any action based on
any perception that we would like, at any time and in any way. So, yes,
the dimension you point to is there, and no, it should not be taken as the
absolutely placeholder for all action.
> >I am writing this out of conscience as these things appear to be be true
> >(to me) and it seems to be necessary to point out these possible paths
> >even though I doubt anyone will show much interest in pursuing them.
> I am definitely interested in pursuing them. It seems far more worthwhile
> than arguing about what a dead man should or should not have done in a
> bygone (though haunting) situation.
> >My apologies for reintroducing the usual themes I harp on about. I
> >genuinely care about these issue even if I can't quite "get right
> >with Heidegger" (or most other philosophy/theology).
> No apologies necessary. Thanks for responding to the post.
--- from list heidegger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ---