The eighth gathering of Global Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness, which took place in Salzburg in March , provided a look at evil past, present, and future, from a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives. The notion of complicity was examined from a number of angles, and imbued the gathering with a sense of urgency: that our common goal was to engender change by raising awareness of the countless and ubiquitous ways in which evil can be actively or passively carried on and promoted. The papers selected for this volume provide a representative sample of the lively, provocative, and often disturbing discussions that took place over the course of that conference.
This volume also contains a few papers from a sister conference, Cultures of Violence, which was held in Oxford in These papers have been included here because of their striking relevance to the themes that emerged in the Evil conference of Truth, Reconciliation, and Evil. Truth, Reconciliation, and Evil analyses evil in a variety of forms—as an unspeakable crime, a discursive or narrative force, a political byproduct, and an inevitable feature of warfare.
The collection considers the forms of loss that the workings of evil exact, from the large-scale horror of genocide to the individual grief of a self-destructive homelessness. Finally, taken together, the fourteen essays that comprise this volume affirm that the undoing of evil—the moving beyond it through forgiveness and reconciliation—needs to occur within the context of community broadly defined, wherein individuals and groups can see beyond themselves and recognise in others a shared humanity and common cause.
Truth, Reconciliation, and Evil consists of expanded versions of papers presented at the Fourth International Conference on Evil and Wickedness, held in Prague in March The essays represent a variety of disciplinary approaches, including those of anthropology, linguistics, literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Terms and Conditions Privacy Statement. Powered by: PubFactory. Sign in to annotate.
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Philip Zimbardo. This disruption can be thought of as a dialectic-historical parallel of the messianic suspension of the law. It is at this point that the critical imperative obliges us to test our thesis in the context of the contemporary situation. Today the entire energy of the political institutional machinery is directed at suppressing terror as the opposite of the political, as its excess to the point where it is bound to affect, if not to suspend, some constitutive principles of modern politics the example of Guantanamo is unavoidable here In other words, it seems that the excess of the political terror is leading to a constitutive transformation of politics.
Are we facing an unprecedented political crisis? And not only a political crisis but a crisis of the political, that is to say, a crisis of the very potentiality of politics? In any case, there is no doubt that the thesis of global civil war points towards the key transformation of the contemporary situation. The classical form of terrorism, the form of terrorism analyzed by Benjamin, is essentially connected with the structure of the State as the monopolist of violence.
Violence between states is of a radically different order. Today there is talk of global terrorism, a transformation that obviously has to do with the exhaustion of the modern political model of the nation-state. In this sense, the expulsion of terrorism as an external enemy sustains, in a peculiar way, the modern mythical figure of violence. That is why the economy of the political inevitably transforms into economics , into economic determinations — that is to say, into exploitation.
The figure of the global Other converges with the organics of resources as nature. Does Agamben suggest a way out of the labyrinth of this crisis? In addition to the figure of the legal scribe Bartleby, for Agamben the privileged figure of this non-actualization is the messianic event — the event-interruption of order, the definitive suspension of the law. The future of the political is obviously messianic — in this respect Agamben , pp.
The state where the law is suspended by the coming of the messiah is a state where constituting power is retained and potentiality does not pass over into actuality. It does not have the character of divine violence, that is to say, of sovereign violence. It does not suspend the law as in Benjamin — through the excess of immediate violence, the violence of civil war — but by retaining the potentiality, by preventing the manifestation of violence: or through the empty presence of violence.
This event is represented, then, as pure or empty terror: it does not have violent content because it has no content. It is not part of the movement of history — it exceeds it radically: it is its boundary , its limit , its end. It is neither a revolution nor a terrorist attack; yet its ripple effects are like the reverberations of a bomb blast. This is the main paradox: it turns out that for Benjamin, the way out of the vicious circle of mythical violence, of the archaics of the political , if I may put it this way, entails revolutionary violence or terror. But how can we be sure that this violence will be the last?
That it will be a boundary or limit? And should we actually think of a boundary of the political — of the irreversible suspension of the violence of law? Our ultimate question, then, may be formulated as follows: can we identify contemporary terror with divine violence? Today, at this very hour, when the catastrophe that is alone capable of globalizing the world is probably already in the making, do we have a sense of the impending arrival of a messiah?
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Do we feel that the world is on the threshold of an exit or way out that will lead to salvation? The radical idea of the end of the mythical mode of the political is premised on the idea of violence as a substratum, that is to say, as nature of the political. In other words, this idea presupposes a positive anthropological basis and therefore a source and a constitutive moment of the political, which necessarily posits nature-violence as a negative background or resource, as violence of the foundation the figure of bare life is symptomatic in this respect: it signifies precisely a minimal condition of the human as a limit of the political — a critical limit at which the political is activated, but a limit nonetheless.
From this point of view, terror is not an exit or a way out, it is the excess of the mythical political. Thus, the messianic event leads to the annulment of the sovereign solution, that is to say, to radical interruption of the very structure of sovereign power. Even though in Language and Death Agamben , pp.
The empty presence of the messianic event seems to say, in agreement with Bataille: sovereignty is nothing. What is found after the law is not a more proper and original use value that precedes the law, but a new use that is born after it. Agamben, , p. Devoted to the debate between Benjamin and Schmitt on the state of exception, this chapter pays special attention to the concept of divine violence, which Agamben symptomatically insists on calling pure violence , ignoring its dominant attribute in Benjamin.
Indeed, Agamben , pp. In any case, there is no doubt that Agamben operates within a logic of substance, trying to think a positive original political human condition, marred by its contamination by the law and sovereignty. According to Agamben , p. At the same time, Agamben , p. Judging from elements in various works by Agamben, we may presume that he is promoting, surprisingly at first sight, a Spinozan idea of an immanentist expression, which is close to the Deleuze-Negri line.
Agamben , p. Contrary to the transcendental representation in Schmitt, the stake in Benjamin is reduced to an essentially Spinozan concept of expression, a concept that directly refers to the category life.