File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 115

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 19:59:07 +0100
Subject: Re: Terrorism

Eric and co,

A brief reply to the ethics comments.

Currently at least the ethical positions that seem most able to deal 
with the terror and destruction most adequately are those that simply do 
not attempt to construct a psuedo-universal ethics. Rather to quote 
Badiou 'Ethics does not exist. There is only the ethic of (politics, 
art....)' etc.  Whilst he is stretching his case somewhat I think he has 
a point given the unsatisfactory nature of the alternatives. (For 
example Levinas and even utilitarianism (from Bentham to Singer) which 
also functions from a universal principle also runs into trouble over 
this, though the Benthamite principle of 'can they suffer' is more 
acceptable. Perhaps we should explore these positions more....)

With regard to the Frankl piece - both Primo Levi and Bettelheim 
rejected that position - i don't particularly want to rehearse the 
argument but the key point is their refusal to accept that the 
reduction  of people to the inhuman state of muselmann, donkey, the 
living dead had anything to do with intellectuality, ethics or anything 
else... The guilt and shame at surviving is one of the results of the 
fascist experiment, which has been often repeated and with numerous 
colonial precursors, to transform the human into the non-human. The 
problem with Frankl (as with Des Pres who takes a similar position) is 
that he refuses to look into the eyes of the human transformed into the 
non-human, the inhuman....The death-camp survivor's guilt is the central 
core of the literature that defined and witnessed the camps - from  Levi 
and Bettelheim to Semprun.

I think Bettelheim said it all 'It will be strtling news to the 
survivors that they are strong enough, mature enough, awake enough "to 
embrace life without reserve" since only a pitiful small number of those 
who entered the German camps survived. What about the millons who 
perished?....only the ability to feel guilty makes us human, 
particularly if, objectively seen, one is not guilty'.

Those who survive the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan in the 
interests of globalisation will be represented in hollywood as the 
Vietnamese were represented in 'The Deer Hunter' as nasty savage 
subhuman brutes... Hiding in the process that it is globalisation which 
desires the inhuman.

It is the same inhuman that Lyotard believed was going to be the result 
of the society he referred to as 'development' ...



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