Friday, August 6, 2010

against forgetting

"Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it 'the way it really was.' It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to hold fast to that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to the historical subject in a moment of danger. The danger threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it. For both, it is one and the same thing: the danger of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. Every age must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer; he comes as the victor over the Antichrist. The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious."

Walter Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" (1940), thesis VI.

It's a struggle - to remember the victims, to mourn and ask again what is to be done. To denounce the criminals and their crimes, refuse the unceasing invitations to their victory celebrations, their false reconciliations and commanded identities.

Genocidal techno-power is no accident. It is an appearance-form of a master logic: the unfolding of a global social process, capitalist modernity and its proliferating antagonisms, the sequential crystallizations of the social force field, its relations and tendencies.

The moments and turns of class struggle on a global scale, the hot house of racing accumulation and imperialist rivalry, the emergency mutations of the capitalist state, administration and integration, the use and normalization of terror - in a word, enforcement.

Now, this year, the spectacle announces, "the world" will commemorate Hiroshima Day. And for the first time, an official US envoy will "attend" ceremonies in the city destroyed by the first use of nuclear WMDs on this day 65 years ago.

What is the meaning of this "envoy" and this "attendance"? Does it announce that the perpetrating state will now express some form of official regret or apology? No. And what if it did? The only statement that would not be another dissembling victory of conformism would be a the speech of serious acts and measures toward disarmament and nuclear abolition.

Instead, the official rhetoric in this direction is covering a massive increase in US spending on the nuclear arsenals: 'modernization' processes that will lock in these WMDs and the US state's continuing dependence on them for another half-century.

The struggle against forgetting is waged from the bottom up. It has nothing to do with the official commemoration of states or the pseudo-critical mouthing of national stains. The work of this struggle is ours to do, with hell hounds at our heels.


1 comment:

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