hainamoration

Violence by Slavoj Zizek, page 202:

Divine violence should thus be conceived as divine in the precise sense of the old Latin motto vox populi, vox dei: not in the perverse sense of “we are doing it as mere instruments of the People’s Will,” but as the heroic assumption of the solitude of sovereign decision. It is a decision (to kill, to risk or lose one’s own life) made in absolute solitude, with no cover in the big Other. If it is extra-moral, it is not “immoral,” it does not give the agent licence just to kill with some kind of angelic innocence. When those outside the structured social field strike “blindly,” demanding and enacting immediate justice/vengeance, this is divine violence. Recall, a decade or so ago, the panic in Rio de Janeiro when crowds descended from the favelas into the rich part of the city and started looting and burning supermarkets. This was indeed divine violence … They were like biblical locusts, the divine punishment for men’s sinful ways. This divine violence strikes out of nowhere, a means without end -or, as Robespierre put it in his speech in which he demanded the execution of Louis XVI:

“Peoples do not judge in the same way as Courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts.” [Robespierre, Virtue and Terror, p. 59.]

This is why, as was clear to Robespierre, without the “faith” in (a purely axiomatic presupposition of) the eternal idea of freedom which persists through all defeats, a revolution “is just a noisy crime that destroys another crime.” This faith is most poignantly expressed in Robespierre’s very last speech on 8 Thermidor 1794, the day before his arrest and execution:

“But there do exist, I can assure you, souls that are feeling and pure; it exists, that tender, imperious and irresistible passion, the torment and delight of magnanimous hearts; that deep horror of tyranny, that compassionate zeal for the oppressed, that sacred love for the homeland, that even more sublime and holy love for humanity, without which a great revolution is just a noisy crime that destroys another crime; it does exist, that generous ambition to establish here on earth the world’s first Republic.” [Ibid., p. 129.]

The implication of these lines is, again, that divine violence belongs to the order of Event: as such, its status is radically subjective, it is the subject’s work of love. Two (in)famous passages from Che Guevara bring this point home:

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” [Quoted from Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, New York: Grove Press, 1997, p. 636.]

“Hatred is an element of struggle; relentless hatred of the enemy that impels us over and beyond the natural limitations of man and transf orms us into efective, violent, selective, and cold killing machines. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.” [Available online at http://www.marxists.org/archive/guevara/1967/04/16.htm%5D

These two apparently opposite stances are united in Che’s motto: “Hay que endurecerse sin perder jamas la ternura.” (One must endure-become hard, toughen oneself-without losing tenderness.) [Quoted from Peter McLaren, Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution, Oxford: Rowman & littlefeld, 2000, p. 27.] Or to paraphrase Kant and Robespierre yet again: love without cruelty is powerless; cruelty without love is blind, a short-lived passion which loses its persistent edge. The underlying paradox is that what makes love angelic, what elevates it over mere unstable and pathetic sentimentality, is its cruelty itself, its link with violence -it is this link which raises it “over and beyond the natural limitations of man” and thus transforms it into an unconditional drive. So while Che Guevara certainly believed in the transformative power of love, he would never have been heard humming “love is all you need” -you need to love with hatred. Or as Kierkegaard put it long ago: the necessary consequence (the “truth”) of the Christian demand to love one’s enemy is

“the demand to hate the beloved out of love and in love … So high -humanly speaking to a kind of madness- can Christianity press the demand of love if love is to be the fulfilling of the law. Therefore it teaches that the Christian shall, if it is demanded, be capable of hating his father and mother and sister and beloved.” [Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, New York: Harper & Row, 1962, p. 114.]

Kierkegaard applies here the logic of hainamoration, later articulated by Lacan, which relies on the split in the beloved between the beloved person and the true object-cause of my love for him, that which is “in him more than himself” (for Kierkegaard: God). Sometimes, hatred is the only proof that I really love you. The notion of love should be given here all its Paulinian weight: the domain of pure violence, the domain outside law (legal power), the domain of the violence which is neither law-founding nor law-sustaining, is the domain of love.

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