Hannah Arendt has a short book called On Violence that appears to be the closest thing she ever wrote to a pamphlet or zine for mass distribution. In the middle of the book is a glossary of sorts for some key concepts that get thrown around in political discourse haphazardly: power, strength, force, authority, and violence. I understand her desire to set the matters straight on these words’ meaning as an attempt to prevent political actors, people willing to take meaningful and directed political action, from falling into ideologically sterile beliefs or patterns of behavior that would disable that political action from taking effect. Continue reading “The Function of Violence”
A Judith Butler talk on the right of public assembly and the idea of popular sovereignty. Beyond the statist forms of representation, the performance of appearing in public (with thanks to Hannah Arendt) as the enactment of a people seeking to constitute themselves – the always sought after “we”. The difficulties in a politics of appearing in public come from the mediating technologies of representing such an assembled body; the prison, which blocks much of the population from appearing; police/state violence; and privatization, which subjects public spaces to market forces.
Novelty and freedom (as in freedom found in a city or isonomy) for revolution. The beginning, the foundation: desire for something new by way of radically inventive action. Revolution must contain a difference that transcends a negative criticism (dialectical necessity) and breaks away from the very framework of the (+,-) opposition available. Must utilize negative criticism for positive change, avoiding the traps of reintegration of the negative back into the (altered) whole and outright suppression; a new body. Will general assemblies, town-halls, and councils be forever a “new” organizational body if a history is done of them? What makes them novel if they keep recurring?
The need for a change, a break from dominant political power scheme must not be prepared by a scientific necessity, theoretical program, or seen as a moment in a cycle of history. This pushes the past onto the future when predicting the future is so very hard and un-absolute. History should be conceived as a story, not a formula. History (the past) is not a science. This would repeat the power structure of the past without a courage to discriminate against one’s present circumstance.
The impulse to the eternal, to find the truth or God, an origin or an enduring principle uncover-able in all things; this must be handled in a paradoxical way so as to promote action. For the action element requires its supplement (theory) to be non-totalizing and non-absorbing if the action is to break with the prevailing hegemony. Action can reflect the current of theories, mirror their principle movement and structure as they are written, delivered/received. For the act to be new (not totally brand-new – this gives rise to necessity/freedom debacle) but challenging and foundational (new in context to an intolerable present), theory must be obscure and open to interpretation, non-predictive and inconclusive as to next steps, i.e. ’the difference of EVERY moment’ ’the novelty common to ALL acts’.
Violence of state beginnings, the myth of violent (law-giving) birth
State “peace-keeping” force too strong (really this time), need revolution from within without ’non-violent’ principle to limit and divide in two (binary logic). Confrontation to show we’re serious, but violence must be reversed and made unambiguous.