File nietzsche/nietzsche.0908, message 1

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Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 11:32:33 -0400
Subject: [Nietzsche] Sacred Violence/Sacrificial Soldiers




Dear Colleague,

We are happy to present two terrific papers published for the first time on
the Ideologies of War, Genocide and Terror website.

Paul Kahn observes in his paper  <> "Evil and
European Humanism" that the West has been torn between two views of the
source of the violent disruptions that have occurred throughout history. One
view is that evil arises from the failure of culture, as if "civilizing
forces have not been quite strong enough to overcome the brutish forces of
nature." The opposite view is that nature is innocent and that evil is "the
product of culture itself."

Evil and European Humanism <>  by Paul W.
Kahn, Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of
the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law

Kahn in his paper (and in his great book Sacred
<>  Violence:
Torture, Terror and Sovereignty) demonstrates that collective forms of
violence are inseparable from our attachment to symbolic forms. But evil
(the result of our attachment to symbolic forms) cannot be separated from
love: for the sovereign-and one's nation. What liberalism does not
comprehend, according to Kahn, is that in modern societies the domain of
politics contains-indeed embodies-the sacred. People seek self-transcendence
through their relationship to nation-states and make profound sacrifices in
the name of sacred ideals.

The problem is that each society has a different sacred ideal or idol-and
human beings are willing to sacrifice only for one God (their own). The rage
that powers war, Kahn hypothesizes, grows out of the fact that the enemy
"denies the self-transcending truth of the nation:" if their god exists,
then ours is a mere idol. One "proves the truth of one's faith by the murder
of the other."

Political forms of violence thus are variations on the theme of radical
Islam: death to the infidels; death to the non-believers. The "enemy"
symbolizes negation of those "self-evident truths" that define one's nation.
We kill out of faith: to maintain belief in that sacred ideal that contains
our society's fantasy of immortality.

Just War? Moral Soldiers? <> 
by Laurie Calhoun, Executive Editor, Transition: An International Review, W.
E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University

In  <> "Just War? Moral Soldiers?" Laurie
Calhoun confronts a fundamental paradox in our understanding of
soldiers-those to whom we delegate the task of entering battle, defeating
enemies and thus defending our sacred ideal.

On the one hand, soldiers' violence often is viewed from the perspective of
"male aggression." According to this conception (the "testosterone
hypothesis"), soldiers and military men are "exaggeratedly masculine" and a
"naturally bellicose lot."

The reality, Calhoun shows, is quite the opposite. Soldiers who act as
weapons against enemy soldiers are the "tools of the leaders of society."
The soldier is required "not to criticize but to submit, not to reflect but
to obey," in other words to be ready and willing to do whatever he is told
to do.

Calhoun's understanding is consistent with current research that views
obedience to authority as a central dynamic underlying societal forms of
violence. I have found <>  that the
horrors of Nazism were generated by the ideological imperative to become
"obedient unto death."

But if the essence of the role of the soldier is obedience, submission and
abandonment of one's own will in the name of executing the will of an
other-as clearly is the case-from whence comes the view that young men
become soldiers because they are violent, and that the role of soldier
embodies the essence of masculinity? Perhaps we create this image as a
lure-and in order to alleviate our guilt about selecting young men as
sacrificial victims.

Best regards,
Richard Koenigsberg   

P. S.  For information on how to sign up to receive the LIBRARY OF SOCIAL
HERE <> .


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