Brian Holmes on Thu, 15 Jan 2015 02:39:09 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Crisis 2.0 - the political turn (some comments)

Hello Miguel -

Personally, I think this kind of reasoning can lead to very dangerous
"dead-ends". Do you just need to speak of "colonialism" to take away
all individual responsabilities of human beings in their actions
towards others?

Well, no. That's exactly why I wrote, in response to Allan Siegel, that the issue here is NOT just about history. Instead it's about what's happening now. The Middle East been the focus of war in the world since the mid-seventies (before it was Asia: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). The US is still fighting its illegitimate war in Iraq, which now threatens to spread much wider. And you might have noticed some recent events in Palestine? These are ongoing realities, very negative ones, whose consequences we ignore at our own peril. To that, one must add the anti-Muslim racism that has been rising in France and throughout Europe over the past twenty years. It's another present reality with serious effects on civil peace.

As for individual responsabilities, I think the terrorists in France have committed heinous crimes, and there's no excuse for that. I also think there is a clear and present danger of more such crimes to come. That's the point. At a time when the world is closer to full-scale global war than it as been for many decades, I do not see the wisdom in throwing symbolic oil on real fire, which is what the authors of sacrilegious caricatures have been doing. I'm asking where does the clear and present danger come from, what supports it and how to diminish it? Since 2001, we have seen some very bad answers to this basic question.

The psychology of superego guilt that Zizek describes does exist, for sure. But not in what I write. I don't like that way of thinking either. And at the same time, I don't believe all responsibilities are individual. We live in a world of singular persons, but also of nations and of blocs. Individuals who commit murder should be punished. Those who plot it should be stopped. But if you think only in terms of criminals and crimes - that is, if you think only in terms of individuals - then war falls entirely off the scales of justice, and words such as exploitation, oppression, domination and ecocide have no meaning. We need to deal with the consequences of collective acts. That's politics, not psychology.

Anyway, this is a tremendously polemical subject and the details are worth arguing over, so I appreciate your remarks.

best, Brian

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