Thursday, April 26, 2012
If there is a God, then everything is permitted (link) →
Slavoj Zizek writing for ABC Religion and Ethics (Apr 17 2012):
[t]he religious suspension of the ethical was already proposed by Augustine who wrote, “Love God and do as you please” (or, in another version, “Love, and do whatever you want” - from the Christian perspective, the two ultimately amount to the same, since God is love). The catch, of course, is that, if you really love God, you will want what he wants - what pleases him will please you, and what displeases him will make you miserable. So it is not that you can just “do whatever you want” - your love for God, if authentic, guarantees that, in what you want to do, you will follow the highest ethical standards.
…However, the ambiguity persists, since there is no guarantee, external to your belief, of what God really wants you to do - in the absence of any ethical standards external to your belief in and love for God, the danger is always lurking that you will use your love of God as the legitimization of the most horrible deeds.
…If the gift of Christ is to make us radically free, then this freedom also brings the heavy burden of total responsibility.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Lessons from History for the Occupy Movement
Last Thursday, Sim and I went to a small group discussion of the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat that ended the presidency of Salvador Allende on “the other 9/11.”
One of the participants emphasised that Chile is the perfect example of how just getting a socialist government democratically elected is not enough to transform society in any lasting way. As the group discussed the history of the Chilean revolution, it emerged that Allende’s government had attempted to appease the generals earlier that year by, for example, bringing some of them into his cabinet. This strategy of placation clearly didn’t work, ending in the military coup of September 11 1973 and Allende’s death.
We also learned that one of the strategies in place in Chile to deal with student protests today is the conscription of youth into the military, which, as another participant commented, seems to be a dangerous strategy (dangerous for the dictarship, that is) because such a conscription means that the rank and file of the state apparatus (military and police) are drawn from the same social strata as the protestors. And we wondered whether this commonality between the military, police, and protestors was the reason that the army in Tunisia and Egypt, for example, refused to use force on the protestors.
If the military and the police exist (along with the judicial courts) to prop up the State, then lessons from Chile suggest that the Revolution should seek not to appease the military establishment but to win the rank and file of the military and the police to the Cause. They will then refuse to fire on protestors, refuse to use tear gas and flash grenades, and, in this way, refuse to be the instruments of the State and the Status Quo.
Could the Occupy Movement learn from these reflections on the relationship between the Revolution and the State Apparatus? Especially in light of the violence of Oakland Police Force against protestors in California?
What does the Occupy Movement need to do to win the police and the military to the Cause?