Hannah Arendt on Terror

To be effective, some power must be held in reserve; power, like money or talent, mustn’t be used up. The victim also cannot be capable of forcing a particular reaction from the oppressor. An abused child might, for example, tell his father to go fuck himself and the father might just laugh it off or pat the kid on the shoulder. But later when the same child ties his shoes improperly, he might get a beating. If a prison inmate can spit in the face a guard and provoke a beating, then the guard loses his power. The point is, the beating must be unpredictable and arbitrary. The powerful force must be a self-determined system; it decides when and how to exert power.

Buddhism, Impermanence, Contingency

“All phenomena that are born, exist, and are subject to the influence of other phenomena, in other words, all phenomena that are composite, must abide by the law of impermanence and eventually cease to exist. They cannot exist eternally, without someday being destroyed. Everything we cherish and hold dear today, we will have to let go of and be separated from in the future. In not too long a time, I will also pass away. Therefore, I urge you to practice being an island unto yourself, knowing how to take refuge in yourself, and not taking refuge in anyone or anything else.”

Strategies & Tactics

I call a “strategy” the calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power (a proprietor, an enterprise, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated from an “environment.” A strategy assumes a place that can be circumscribed as proper (propre) and thus serve as the basis for generating relations with an exterior distinct from it (competitors, adversaries, “clienteles,” “targets,” or “objects” of research). I call a “tactic,” on the other hand, a calculus which cannot count on a “proper” (a spatial or institutional localization), nor thus on a borderline distinguishing the other as a visible totality. The place of the tactic belongs to the “other.”

Hannah Arendt on nationalism and imperialism

The truth was that only far from home could a citizen of England, Germany, or France be nothing but an Englishman or German or Frenchman. In his own country he was so entangled in economic interests or social loyalties that he felt closer to a member of his class in a foreign country than to a man of another class in his own. Expansion gave nationalism a new lease on life and therefore was accepted as an instrument of national politics. The members of the new colonial societies and imperialist leagues felt “far removed from the strife of parties,” and the farther away they moved the stronger their belief that they “represented only a national purpose.”

Complete system change?

The main problem here, as Michael King has observed, lies in the imprecise usage of the word system. What does the Green Party mean by system? When someone speaks of “complete system change,” we tend to assume there in just one system–or maybe just one system that matters, usually politics or the economy.

Lumping and Splitting

People working in various scholarly disciplines have been divided into two camps: the lumpers and the splitters. Lumpers create relatively broad categories and splitters create more narrow categories. Both create categories, classifications, or taxonomies, however, because that is what scholars or scientists do.

The self as an object

In a counseling or therapy setting, we are encouraged objectify the self, or to create a self and then talk about it. Even in casual conversation, if someone asks you are you’re doing, you are asked to objectify yourself–to fabricate a self to talk about. When you say “I’m fine” or “I’m not fine,” who is the I? We project an I and then assess its wellbeing. How is this I feeling today? A person might feel just fine, but when asked how she is doing, she might not feel so fine anymore. We are encouraged to almost constantly observe this objectified self. This process might be called introspection or self-reflection–and it is highly valued in environments that demand that people (or “personnel”) constantly improve or innovate or attain some goal.

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