Monday, April 30, 2007

Personal identity (1)

When "I" stumble, is it then I who stumbles or is it my body that stumbles?

Monday, April 23, 2007

On the origins of totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt wrote in The origins of totalitarianism (Harvest Book, Harcourt, San Diego etc. 1976, p.440):

"These camps correspond in many respects to the concentration camps at the beginning of totalitarian rule; they were used for ‘suspects’ whose offenses could not be proved and who could not be sentenced on ordinary process of law".

And a few pages hereafter:

"The first essential step on the road to total domination is to kill the juridical person in man. This was done, on the one hand, by putting certain categories of people outside the protection of the law and forcing at the same time, through the instrument of denationalization, the nontotalitarian world into recognition of lawlessness; it was done, on the other hand, by placing the concentration camp outside the normal penal system, and by selecting its inmates outside the juridical procedure in which a definite crime entails a predictable penalty"

(ibid. p. 447).
My first thought, when reading these passages was not that it was about the concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer War (where the first concentration camps in the world were established) in the first quotation, or about the concentration camps in Nazi-Germany and the former Soviet Union in the second quotation, but my first thought was: Guantanamo! That is something to think about. Is "Guantanamo" the first step to totalitarianism? Attacking crime is not simply a matter of catching criminals, but it is also, and most of all, a matter of defending one’s own values. And what is certain anyway is that Guantanamo is not the latter, defending one’s own values, whichever way you look at it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reason and cause

A reason is not a cause but the way something functions as a cause.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The real revolution is in the head, not in the street

In his The unconquerable world, Jonathan Schell defends the idea that in fact a revolution has already taken place at the moment the violence starts. Be it in the American Revolution, or in the French Revolution, or in the Russian Revolution, and so on, all violence used is not more than the finishing touch of the change that has already taken place in the heads of the people who rise in revolt. In one word, and that is my interpretation, violent revolution is superfluous. How nice would it be if also the governments opposed would realize that. Happily, many governments do. After the Spring in Prague, all revolutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have been nonviolent, and not only there dictators have been overthrown in a nonviolent way. "Living in truth" (Vaclav Havel), freedom within your mind, Schweik methods are in the long run stronger than any dictatorship would wish. How these mechanisms work is well shown by Roland Bleiker in his Popular dissent, human agency and global politics. It is a pity that he has done this by playing down the importance of a "La Bo├ętian" approach of opposition and that he has no eye for the organisational aspects of a nonviolent revolution that is "La Bo├ętian" (cf. Gene Sharp).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Un art moyen ?

Just the idea: A photo of me in front of the Eiffel Tower with Bourdieu’s Un art moyen in my hand. So sorry that you cannot read the title of the book then...