What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The fetishisation of the victims of direct violence as a symptom of structural violence?

I will certainly not link to every piece of endoctrinating material seeking justification for (or comfort in) direct violence circulating out there on the internets that somebody happens to tumble over, to critically address it, but this just really made me want to get in on the scientifically appreciable side of the debate, as it is related to 9/11 and the justification of the Afghan campaign. So, if you look at the caption in the picture you can get to via the link above, what you can read there is that:
"Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of victims."
(This happens to be a quote from environmentalist author Derrick Jensen, actually, and it was taken out of context, to be used together with the image that the link went to, by someone.)
I know this is the kind of debate where arguments will not matter that much. A premise behind the above quoted statement is that we are components of a structure way larger than us. If you accept this, you cannot fight the above statements with arguments, after all you are then supposed to be basically just a structural phenomenon, and a reactionary at that. If you don't accept the above premise, you are even more of a reactionary.
But, come on, does not the fetishization of victims of direct violence occur among perpetrators and proponents of direct violence? Among those claiming to be lower on the hierarchy that is supposedly so "widely accepted" that they are violently not accepting it? Aren't they focused on (using) victims, including named victims, ones given names and faces? Isn't the fetishisation of victims (and a construction of "victims") a strong tool in the service of propaganda for any ideology or political objective, in general? Would I need to hurt the feelings of the followers of a number of religions, to give examples regarding this? Nationalist feelings basically anywhere where they can be found? And so on.
Finally, something that is truly unthinkable to me is that anything good could come from any individual who sees ideological value in a human being's choice to jump from the window of a tall building because his/her situation happens to be so desperate. In fact, while I always considered what happened in this case tragic, I did not pay so much attention to this aspect of the series of events on 9/11, in particular - well, now I do.
This is not to deny that a fetishisation of the victims on 9/11 did take place. Or to deny that it had significance, and that a desire for "vengeance," or "to use a language they understand" (as some put it) was a very basic, primitive (albeit at the same time strategically not necessarily terribly inappropriate) instinct there, affecting the decision to move against the Taliban, in Afghanistan.
Or, the tragic irony that a fetishisation of fallen soldiers and that of tax dollars sacrificed for war spending vs. health care is what is now a major stimulus to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan, while many more (so-called "hopelessly corrupt") Afghan policemen, and also Afghan soldiers, die anonymously and facelessly.

No comments: