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<nettime> Frederic Neyrat: For the benevolence of expression.
Patrice Riemens on Sat, 7 Oct 2006 18:02:12 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Frederic Neyrat: For the benevolence of expression.


For the benevolence of expression and against the 'clash of
civilisation' discourse.


Against a commonly held belief, the "clash of civilisations" monicker
is not a descriptive, but a prescriptive statement.

Thinkers, university professors, publications that pretend to be
'modern', and politicians, all have actively participated in the
manufacture of conflicts between a West gone delirious and the Orient
it imagines.

This mind-set is grounded in despise and fuelled with insults. When
the aggrieved party reacts violently, one can exclaim : "Didn?t we
tell you so? They?re all savages !"

This is a vicious circle. No identity, no civilisation will be ever
its outcome - but deaths certainly will. This circle must be broken.

As far as intellectual work is concerned, this first and foremost
requires to avoid the pitfalls of what Hegel has called "the
fiendishness of expression".

The media would like to impress on us that one is entitled to say
whatever one likes to whomever one likes in whatever way one likes.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Words do matter. They shape the reality in which we live.

The issue at stake is not one of (self-)censorship, or of freedom of
expression, but is about the need for a 'benevolence of expression' :
we must avoid those words that make our common space unliveable.

Then, there will be no need to call in the police, to demand
protection from the state, and no man shall henceforth need to live in
fear.

Frédéric Neyrat,

(on the appeal by French intellectuals for a Salman Rushdie
style protection of Robert Redeker, a philosopher threatened by
fundamentalist groups after publishing statements deemed insulting to
Muslim culture in general)

(translated by yrs truly from the Multitudes internal list and by
permission.)




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