Monday, 21 February 2011

Repression and invention: a warning from Brecht

Good article by Robert Fisk about the way security forces ape each other: "Three weeks in Egypt show the power of brutality and its limits" 

He writes, among other things:

If the people once – just once – lost their fear, and rose up to crush their oppressors, the very system of pain and frightfulness would become its own enemy, its ferocity the very reason for its collapse. This is what happened in Tunis. This is what happened in Egypt.
That's a thing we all want to believe. Still, I'm worried about Libya and I do hope things will work out well there. As for Iran, the situation is wholly different there. I see so much more than mere repetition.

A warning from Brecht:

The oppressors do not work in the same way in every epoch. They cannot be defined in the same fashion at all times. There are so many means for them to avoid being spotted. They call their military roads motor-ways; their tanks are painted so that they look like MacDuff’s woods. Their agents show blisters on their hands, as if they were workers. No: to turn the hunter into quarry is something that demands invention.”(“Against Georg Lukács”, pp 68-85, in Aesthetics and Politics, London & New York: Verso 2007, p. 82f)
And here's Albert Hirschman, again about the need for invention:
[C]hange can only happen as a result of surprise, otherwise it could not occur at all, for it would be suppressed by the forces that are in favour of the status quo. (A Propensity to Self-subversion, Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 136)

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