If one looks into the abyss , can you be able to hold the stare? To test the strength of he gaze? Or, as Nietzsche said, will the abyss look back at you and in that case who will flinch first? You can only look for so long before almost imperceptibly, magnetically, you are drawn to the edge, then to the lip, before falling into the predetermined very unpleasant known unknown. But this abyss, is this the rage of unconscious human automatism beyond comprehension and control, an unstoppable force of destruction. Or, to get at that edge, have we not been merely shaped by politics, and by “free will” being actors as the continuation of policy by other means?
Max Weber defined the state as “the rule of men over men based on the means of legitimate, that is allegedly legitimate, violence”. Benjamin adds organized labor to the nation state as the only legal subjects entitled in Europe to exercise violence. The many forms of violence sanctioned and reserved by the state for the state include militarism, conscription, the death penalty, and so on. On the theme of revolution, Benjamin teaches us to think of it as a specific kind of violence directed towards a law-making or law-positing function….
Which brings us back to war and its nihilistic subtext. The idea of Clausewitz is a simple one: war is the continuation of policy, and not an activity in itself. Somehow, in the modern age, Freud and the aesthetics of surrealism with its slow waltz through the madhouse locked apartments of the mind became an outhouse of explanations to leave treated in a sphere where there was no sewage. Stinking to high hell, war became linked to psychic self-gratification, an intrinsic lust for combat, the castration complex, the death drive, the martyr gene and so on that reaches like strolling bacteria in the Paris arcades into the secret places of the individual heart infecting the soul with the cult of the eternal weapon.
…The new distinction Benjamin introduced in the “Critique of Violence” is between what he calls the mythic violence needed by the activity of law-making, and the law-preserving violence needed to maintain a state (or a state-of-affairs) created by the first kind of violence. Mythic violence is a manifestation of the power of fate over the human. Fate personified and pluralized gives us the gods, as in Greek myth, and the narratives we invent for these pagan gods are a way of humanizing the inscrutable force exercised over us and our puny freedom, a violence whose endurance is our destiny. Benjamin opposes this system with the Judaic-Messianic, in which true justice is promised and delivered in divine endmaking.Read More:http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/ellpatke/Benjamin/benjamin_violence.htma
It can even be affirmed that are near-naturalized ethno-religious conflicts best suit our current version of capitalism. After all, what else is there really to fight and squabble over where the perverse logic of commodity fetishism has to latch onto the trivialities of women in veils not permitted to wear metal tipped shoes or girls with sleeveless blouses on a Jerusalem bus. Again, are we fighting because of a particular culture or sex, but because what we refer to as pathological crazies in anthropological terms are really instruments of reasoned and deliberate policy? If we want to understand war, politics will inform us that the mystification of the war drive is generally and predictibly an apologia for militarism and not the populist prejudice that war is guided by the inhuman and the insane. However, it is pragmatic to deny any deliberate conceptions of modern warfare, since there has nothing to validate it.
Most central to Benjamin’s project is the critique of allegory, understood as a real religious position. In a surrealistic manner his position is close to the Cabalistic, lacking a positive religious faith. His pessimism discloses the presence of violent conflict between two tendencies: a positive optimistic utopian tendency and a pessimistic – the latter culminating in a negative utopianism and merging into the tradition of thought of Jewish redemption. His pessimism discloses the presence of violence within the continuity of “the whole time everything is the same” as a cosmic fate, a fate grounded in mystic necessity….
…He regards reality as essentially tragic, jet not as a partial historical stage or as an accident, but as normality itself. “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’, in which we live is not an exception, but a rule. The fact that “everything continues as usual” is the eternal “catastrophe,” which according to Benjamin discloses the boundless dominance of the mythical. This is the basis of the “Kafka-like situation,” which determines the subject as described in the article “Franz Kafka.” The “original sin” makes itself present at each moment in history, and according to Benjamin it turns out to be a reaction to the subject’s being a victim of cosmic injustice permanently directed against him.Read More:http://construct.haifa.ac.il/~ilangz/Utopia4.html
Zizek:Where, then, did the fundamentalist features—religious intolerance, ethnic violence, fixation upon historical trauma—which the West now associates with ‘the Balkan’, originate? Clearly, from the West itself. In a neat instance of Hegel’s ‘reflexive determination’, what Western Europeans observe and deplore in the Balkans is what they themselves introduced there; what they combat is their own historical legacy run amok. Let us not forget that the two great ethnic crimes imputed to the Turks in the 20th century—the Armenian genocide and the persecution of the Kurds—were not committed by traditionalist Muslim political forces, but by the military modernizers who sought to cut Turkey loose from its old-world ballast and turn it into a European nation-state. Mladen Dolar’s old quip, based on a detailed reading of Freud’s references to the region, that the European unconscious is structured like the Balkans, is thus literally true: in the guise of the Otherness of ‘Balkan’, Europe takes cognizance of the ‘stranger in itself’, of its own repressed.Read More:http://libcom.org/library/against-human-rights-zizek