Monday, April 21, 2008

De Certeau on violence

Michel de Certeau writes: “What is true is that violence indicates a necessary change” (Culture in the plural, p. 36). What is not true is that such a change needs violence. It is not so that de Certeau says that change needs violence, or at least that some changes do, but his mystifying language does not make clear what he really means here and it actually both suggests that change needs violence and that it needs to be reached by political means. This makes me think of a saying by Mark Kurlansky. Many people, anyway too many, glorify violence. Other people find it acceptable but, as Kurlansky says: “War is always more popular with those who don’t experience it” (Nonviolence, p. 141). I want to say that the same is true for violence in general.

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