Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Self-Assertion of an English Garden (After-Life Topoi of Nazi Desire) Chapter 2

1.     Il faut cultiver notre jardin   
2.     Pêcheurs de lune
3.     Iterability of the Nazi State (Economy of Genocide)
4.     Growth (and Form/Morphe)
5.     Decay
6.     Pompes Funèbres
6.1.  Type (Model, Example, Tupos)
6.2.  Usus Tyrannus (Interlude)
6.3.  The Ageing of a Note
7.      Critique of Beginnings
8.      Demonology of Defeat

2.  Pêcheurs de lune

The Australian Kimberly Cornish accused Wittgenstein of inspiring the “final solution” – equivalent to the final solution of philosophy’s problems.  Besides having had the misfortune to have been in the same school class in Linz as Hitler, Wittgenstein’s essential influence is supposedly his tenet of the non-private property of spirit or mind – any individual is only part of a cosmic collective will (sounds like Jung), leading to the idea of the will of the individual particle being swallowed by the collective will, an immanent ‘breaking of the will’.  But as this is supposedly always the case – this general annihilation of the will would be a poor explanation of the unique phenomenon of the German ecstatic/ek-static subservience to the will of their Führer.  Such mass self-erasure would be the equivalent of a freak accident of the collective will, (like the bearded lady or elephant man on the level of the will), but not its eternal nature.  (Wasn’t such an aberration of the will the basis of the plot of Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari 1919 – murder via hypnosis of the somnambulist-murderer was camouflaged as part of a fairground sideshow? The fairground hypnotist Caligari flees to a mental asylum of which he seems to be the director.  The murders are never really solved.)

If one considers the ‘collective will’ as a form of collective representation – then any theory of such a collective presupposes what it needs to explain – “the similarity of millions of people.” (Gabriel Tarde cited in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, London/New York, 2011, p. 240)

The non-private property of language and a non-private property of will need not be identical.  All of these ideas of a collective mind and will are in extreme opposition of course to the monadology of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus theories.
The transcendental Will is a Schopenhauer idea – the real mentor of Hitler according to Cornish – in keeping with his claim that this non-private property of spirit-will is a precursor of Nazi ideology.  Naturally any transcendental or metaphysical properties of will or mind would have had to be stripped of their universal appeal and transferred exclusively to the German race – this was the task of Heidegger not Wittgenstein (or Schopenhauer). Heidegger: “Aber heute gilt das Wir.  Jetzt ist die “Wirzeit” statt der Ichzeit.  Wir sind.” [“But today the we counts.  Now is the “we-time” instead of the I-time.  We are.” Einführung in die Metaphysik (1935), Tübingen, 1998, p. 53]   

In his serpentine rhizomist apologia for Heidegger, Roberto Esposito imputes to him exactly this move – from the idea of community as a general condition of ‘being-with-lack-in-common’ to community as the historical destiny of a particular people.  Esposito sees this as Heidegger’s original sin against self, in other words, “Heidegger’s Nazism” is a self-estrangement – an unknowing of his own philosophical self in the momentous remarkable ‘change’ Heidegger’s philosophy sustained between Sein und Zeit (1927) and the “Rektoratsrede” (1933) and beyond. “Here is the terrible syllogism that captures Heidegger within his own discourse and that imperceptibly changes the most drastic thought of community considered in its most traditional philosophical-political mythologeme.  It is one that transforms the “in common” of all in a particular community that masters its own future by rediscovering its own purest origin.  This and nothing else was Heidegger’s Nazism.” (Roberto Esposito, Communitas The Origin and Destiny of Community, Stanford, 2010, p. 100)  The “purest origin” though is not in the slightest German or Aryan – as Esposito notes (ibid.) – Heidegger migrates his ideal origin of Germany to there where German poets and thinkers had already set up their poetic-philosophical-political dream colonies – to ancient Greece.
Though, Goethe could not deceive himself so easily about any similarities between his time and that of ancient classical Greece.  In a conversation with Eckermann about the dreariness of contemporary German drama he remarks: “Die Zeit, in welcher Äschylus, Sophokles und Euripides schrieben, war freilich eine ganz andere: sie hatten den Geist hinter sich und wollten nur immer das wirkliche Größte und Beste.  Aber in unserer schlechten Zeit, wo ist denn das Bedürfnis für das Beste?  Wo sind die Organe, es aufzunehmen?” [“The time during which Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides wrote, was really quite a different one: they had the spirit behind them and always wanted only the truly greatest and the best.  But in our bad time, where is the desire for the best?  Where are the organs to perceive it?”, Johann Peter Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe, Insel, 1987, 20. Dez. 1826, p. 176)

But unlike Hegel, Hölderlin or Nietzsche to name a few – Heidegger does not just idolize and wish to imitate ancient Greece, he constructs an absolute identity or fusion between this purported ideal German origin in ancient Greece in particular the “birth of philosophy” and the outbreak of the Nazi State-People-Movement-Führer.  Heidegger invests the Nazi entity with metaphysical properties and the proper. 

Heidegger’s phantasm of a Nazi entity with an ancient Greek pedigree is one variation of those ‘traditional’ poetic mythologemes so credulously rendered in Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s and Jean-Luc Nancy’s “The Nazi Myth”. Attempting to establish a “fascist logic” or a “logic of fascism” Lacoue-Labarthe & Nancy are not at all disturbed by any “terrible syllogisms” as is Esposito – on the contrary – the Nazi state and people etc is the excrescence of a German propensity for rational (technical) myth-making (see Blumenberg’s Work on Myth) – which by its forced association with the Greek becomes ‘immediately’ a “work of art”.
“Henceforth, perhaps, one will better understand why National Socialism did not simply represent, as Benjamin said, an "aestheticization of politics" (to which it would have been sufficient to respond, in a Brechtian manner, with a "politicization of art," as if totalitarianism were not perfectly capable of assimilating that as well), but rather a fusion of politics and art, the production of the political as work of art.” (Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, “The Nazi Myth” Critical Inquiry 16, University of Chicago Press, Winter 1990, p. 303)
‘The political’ is nothing other than the German people and its bodies, supplements, extensions – just as community has become from ‘now’ on (now-time means Nazi-time) only the German one – the political as a work of art can only be the singular monocultural construction of that one sole remaining people or community. “The Nazi myth, as H. J. Syberberg (without whose Hitler, a Film from Germany the analysis that we attempt here would not have been possible) has so admirably shown, is also the construction, the formation, and the production of the German people in, through, and as a work of art.” (ibid.)  As Albert Speer reports, Hitler conceded the ‘world’ in this case the Japanese - one more hosting of the Olympic Games in 1940 – from then on the Olympics would have taken place forever in Germany. 

Cornish was not the first to couple or correlate ‘Jewish genius’ with the Nazi “Final Solution”.  Derrida in his commentary “Force of Law” had already sought to somehow obligingly redirect the blame/guilt for the infinitude of atrocities towards Walter Benjamin – in particular to his essay “Critique of Violence” (1921).  The real scandal for Derrida of Benjamin’s text “Critique of Violence” is that it reflects a dialectical revolutionary logic extracted from a materialist or Marxist philosophy of history – “Die Kritik der Gewalt ist die Philosophie ihrer Geschichte.” [“The critique of violence is the philosophy of its history.” “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” in Angelus Novus, Frankfurt, 1966, p. 65]  Benjamin would dismiss Derrida’s premise of “the mystical foundation of authority” (subtitle of “Force of Law”) in other words – the inevitability of the state – as a ‘bastardised’ form or hybridic amalgam of myth and law. “Von neuem stehen der reinen göttlichen Gewalt alle ewigen Formen frei, die der Mythos mit dem Recht bastardierte.” [“Now again the pure divine violence/force/rule has at its disposal, all the eternal forms which myth had bastardized with law.”, ibid., p. 66]
Benjamin’s revolutionary logic recognizes another sovereign (“die waltende”) force – not identical with human action, nor acting in its place, but constituting the possibility, “the insignia and seal” of “revolutionäre Gewalt” (revolutionary violence/force).  This “reigning force” is what he calls “divine violence/force” (göttliche Gewalt) beyond and above the state and law (the dialectical-historical immanent corruption of forms), a negative indiscernible force from a not so unimaginable (unimaginably distant - “Fernflucht”) future, which potentially would negate them. (see ibid.)
Such a force though is anathema for the likes of Derrida.
A provenance he tries to undermine and malign by associating it with its opposites or its ‘enemies’, so that the slur becomes nonsensical – “This text, like many others by Benjamin, is still too Heideggerian, too messianico-Marxist or archeo-eschatological for me.” (Jacques Derrida, “Force of Law: The “Mystical Foundation of Authority” in Acts of Religion, New York, 2010, p. 298)  Derrida does not seem to bother much about chronology – Benjamin’s text dates from 1920-1921 – Heidegger’s first major work Sein und Zeit was published in 1927.  The ‘Heideggerian’ did not yet exist in 1921.  Ernst Bloch’s Geist der Utopie (1918) rather than Heidegger is a more likely influence on Benjamin.

In Benjamin’s “Theologisch-politisches Fragment” appearing directly after “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” in Volume II of Benjamin’s Collected Writings (suggesting the editors considered them to be from the same period), Benjamin writes: “(…) The order of the profane can not be mounted upon the thought of the kingdom of God, that is why theocracy has no political but only a religious sense/meaning.  To have denied theocracy a political meaning with all intensity is the greatest virtue/contribution of Bloch’s “Spirit of Utopia”.” [“Darum kann die Ordnung des Profanen nicht am Gedanken des Gottesreiches aufgebaut werden, darum hat die Theokratie keinen politischen sondern allein einen religiösen Sinn.  Die politische Bedeutung der Theokratie mit aller Intensität geleugnet zu haben ist das größte Verdienst von Bloch’s “Geist der Utopie”.”Walter Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, Band II.1, Frankfurt, 1977, p. 203] 
The profane order, continues Benjamin, which is also ‘the political’ has to erect itself upon “the idea of happiness”. (ibid.) Nothing could be further than happiness from Derrida’s ‘Schmittian’ thought of the political.

By locating göttliche Gewalt (divine power) above the state and law (mythical power/violence)  - in fact as their potential destroyer – Benjamin also undermines any political theological paradigm – one which Derrida following Carl Schmitt is eager to assert.  In “Faith and Knowledge” Derrida stipulates that religion or the theological-political repertoire or medium is necessary to even isolate something one might even call ‘the political’: “The fundamental concepts that often permit us to isolate or to pretend to isolate the political (…) remain religious or in any case theologico-political (…) Carl Schmitt was obliged to acknowledge that the ostensibly purely political categories to which he resorted were the product of a secularization or of a theologico-political heritage.” (“Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of “Religion” at the Limits of Reason Alone” in Acts of Religion, New York, 2010, p. 63)
In other words, to purify ‘the political’ of any contaminating discourse of the economic or social etc one must recognize the secularized theological origins of this thought.

Benjamin’s notion of ‘divine violence’ as the opposition of positive law, the bastard form of myth, is also an anti-political theology par excellence.  Is that what annoys Derrida so much?
[Commentary:  In the text “World and Time” written shortly before “Critique of Violence” Benjamin explores similar terrain – a “critique of theocracy” is implicit in his concept of “divine power”, which can only enter the secular world destructively.  Perhaps for this reason Benjamin associates it with revolutionary force (in “World and Time” as later in “Critique of Violence”) – but not directly.  The “social” in the present (the time of writing) says Benjamin, “is a manifestation of spectral and demonic powers” – the tension within the social is the “effort (of these powers) to transcend themselves” – this transcendent drive is how the divine manifests itself in them but “only in revolutionary force”. (See “World and Time” in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, 1913-1926, Harvard, 2002, pp. 226-227)  Here Benjamin’s idea of divine power seems flavoured by some of Baudelaire’s thoughts on the infinite – any excessive or obsessive drive, such as the indulgence of opium or hashish, has a potential trajectory of the infinite, le gout d’infini.]

Derrida, on the other hand, with his formulaic theses – the mystical foundation of authority, the concomitant inevitability of the state/any state and its law/any law founded/unfounded on apriori force/violence – shows his own kinship with the Nazi ‘jurist’ Carl Schmitt’s thought of ‘the political’.  Although he does his best to infect Benjamin with this association – he and not Benjamin is magnetically drawn to a thought of the ‘theological-political’; Derrida posits a groundless ultimately violent grounding of any institution.  The overarching ‘chiastic’ framework, which makes any/whatever such ‘mystical’ foundational act possible, is the state (including theoretically the Nazi state), whilst at the same time the state supposedly arises out of similar mystical Ur-fog.  In the same sense of the beginning (origin, foundation) that Heidegger, in his Freiburg inaugural address, the “Rektoratsrede” of 1933 euphorically predicts will go on forever - Derrida’s state/authority/law is ultimately irrevocable.  The groundless grounding of authority is a beginning that never ends and extends far beyond now commanding ‘us’, says Heidegger, from an elusive future (Derrida’s “à-venir”).  Such a thought could be described as a paradigm of a speculative counter-revolution.  “Yet, the operation that amounts to founding, inaugurating, justifying law, to making law, would consist of a coup de force, of a performative and therefore interpretative violence that in itself is neither just nor unjust and that no justice and no earlier and previous founding law, no preexisting foundation, could by definition, guarantee or contradict or invalidate. (…) Its very moment of foundation or institution, besides, is never a moment inscribed in the homogeneous fabric of a story or history, since it rips it apart with one decision.” (“Force of Law”, ibid., pp.241-242).  Although Derrida is commenting upon texts of Pascal and Montaigne – one hears that Carl Schmitt is never far from his thoughts – as the first line of Schmitt’s Political Theology - “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception” with which Schmitt announces his notion of the absolutism of sovereign decision - reverberates in this paragraph.  Like Schmitt, Derrida also immediately retreats from this pronouncement – qualifying this testimony of faith in absolute sovereignty with an appeal to the ‘limit’.  Schmitt calls this ‘decision on the exception’ a “borderline case” – he is opening his treatise on “sovereignty” (Derrida’s “authority”) with something from the “outermost sphere” (Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, Cambridge/London, 1985, p. 5)  Similarly, Derrida reassures the reader/listener that “Discourse here, meets its limit – (…) It is what I propose to call here the mystical.  There is here a silence walled up in the violent structure of the founding act; walled up, walled in because this silence is not exterior to language. (…) I would therefore take the use of the word mystical in a sense that I would venture to call rather Wittgensteinian.” (ibid.)     

One cannot help but see Cornish’s spurious collection of anecdotes maligning Wittgenstein or Derrida’s denunciation of Walter Benjamin other than as intellectual/academic versions of the medieval ‘blood libel’.  In Derrida’s case, has he also ‘inadvertently’ slipped into the role of the ‘head Jew’ or the historical ‘Hofjude’?  A species of informer, collaborator or traitor - the Nazis could exploit this traditional mechanism or function well in their appointed “Judenräte”, the auxiliary functionaries of the extermination process – which produced such figures as the much loathed Benjamin Murmelstein, of whom both Gerschom Scholem and Hannah Arendt said he should have been hanged.  Murmelstein was a rabbi in Vienna, after the Anschluß appointed by the Nazis (Eichmann) to the Vienna Judenrat, later last surviving ‘Jewish Elder’ in Theresienstadt.  Murmelstein, was both inebriated and deadened by his close relationship with Eichmann and his entourage and the power they conferred upon him over the life and death of the Jewish population of Vienna.  He cooperated meticulously with all phases of the deportation (for instance – compiling lists of those selected either for ‘transport’ to the East alias death camps or forced emigration and the physical act of rounding up the victims and their detainment) besides the expropriation of Jewish property in Vienna.  In Theresienstadt, as ‘Jewish Elder’ he was largely responsible for the daily administration of genocide.  During his 11 hour filmed interview with Claude Lanzmann Murmelstein boasted frequently of his significance for Eichmann and his apparatus, the Gestapo:  “Everything that Eichmann knew about emigration he had from me.  It was like a correspondence course.” (See the transcript of the filmed conversation between Claude Lanzmann and Benjamin Murmelstein, online; see also Anna Hájkova, “Benjamin Murmelstein, The last Elder of the Jews from Theresienstadt, and his ambivalent relationship with Eichmann’s men”, German Studies Association, October 7-10, 2010.)  Murmelstein always insisted though that his actions had only been meant to save lives and ‘prevent the worst’.

Derrida, ‘katechon’ of the ‘academy’, summons Walter Benjamin posthumously, spectrally to appear before his court of academic ‘elders’.  The various lectures gathered together in “Force of Law” were his first foray into politics, justice and law in a ‘statist’ sense.  The “presiding judge” Derrida, like Genet’s judge invoked in Glas – “who under his red robes is stiff like justice” (Jacques Derrida, Glas, University of Nebraska Press, 1986 p. 76) has convened the court (he is addressing an assembly of legal specialists in New York) so that they and he “must think, know, represent for ourselves, formalize, judge the possible complicity among all those discourses and the worst (here the “final solution”).” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 298).  The court situation Derrida simulates resembles the trial of the sanctified murderer in Our Lady of the Flowers.  “The twelve jurors are twelve decent men suddenly become sovereign judges.  So, the courtroom has been filling up since noon.  A banquet hall.  The table was set.” (Genet cited in Glas, ibid.) 

Agamben feels compelled to ‘protect’ Benjamin from Derrida’s ‘wrath’ – although Agamben has distorted and mangled Benjamin’s thought in his own way; he feeds off it vampiristically, erecting his whole Potemkinian edifice (village) of “the Camp” as the paradigm of sovereign power and its favourite inmate “homo sacer” on the corpus of Benjamin’s critical term “mere life” and its correspondence with “mythical violence”. (see “Notes on Powerlessness” 26th December 2009, at Faust Series Opus 9, online)
But Derrida’s ‘excesses’ are in a way Benjamin’s ‘fault’, says Agamben, covering for Derrida’s ‘fallen mask’.  Agamben claims, the so-called third figure “divine violence” (göttliche Gewalt - whereby Gewalt in German means authority, power, force as well – as in the forces of nature or Naturgewalten) of Benjamin’s “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” is never really defined or identified,  (which is hardly the case, the typology of divine versus mythical authority/violence is the subject of the last third of the essay) and thus can lead to “the most dangerous equivocations”: “The definition of this third figure, which Benjamin calls “divine violence,” constitutes the central problem of every interpretation of the essay.  Benjamin in fact offers no positive criterion for its identification and even denies the possibility of recognizing it in the concrete case.  What is certain is only that it neither posits nor preserves law, but rather “de-poses” (entsetzt) it.  Hence its capacity to lend itself to the most dangerous equivocations (which is proven by the scrutiny with which Derrida, in his interpretation of the essay, guards against it, approximating it—with a peculiar misunderstanding—to the Nazi “Final Solution” [“Force of Law,” pp. 1044-45]).” (Homo Sacer Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford, 1998, pp. 64-65)

It is a hardly a misunderstanding – especially since Derrida objects not only to “divine power” – but to the whole of Benjamin’s text – in particular his negation of any “mystical foundation of authority”.  Derrida’s interpretation of Benjamin’s “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” is a feverish act of overwriting.  Derrida, the non-mystical commentator (with mystical affectation) wishes to reduce or miniaturize the mysterious author Walter Benjamin to a mere name or signature – even to just a forename – le prenom Walter.  In Derrida’s obsessional fictionalizing of its history, “Zur Kritik der Gewalt ” is signed simply Walter, 1921.  As if Benjamin were a village idiot known only by his first name – at the same time this “Walter” is not human, rather divinely sovereign (die Waltende), in fact, God himself.  Derrida in his awe of Benjamin and the text deifies it so as better to perform his Tartuffian genuflections. 

A symptom of Derrida’s non-mystical vapeurs (‘crise du nerfs’) is the proliferation of ‘mysticisms’ (some of which cancel one another) in the text “Force of Law” – already garnished with the subtitle “the Mystical Foundation of Authority”.  The two main mysticisms are that of authority (state, law, police) and the mysticism of justice, which is an infinite deferral.  The first mysticism is more or less equivalent to what Benjamin calls law positing/founding violence – although Derrida does not distinguish, as does Benjamin between law positing and law preserving violence. The “‘mystical’ limit” of authority, its origin is “a violence without ground”. (Derrida, ibid., p. 254)  Law is not justice, says Derrida – though justice is somehow dependent on law; certainly Derrida’s justice has nothing to do with “divine power (Gewalt)” as in Benjamin’s typology of mythic violence (Derrida’s authority) and its arch and only enemy “divine power”.  Justice for Benjamin is not a question of law or its positing/founding – but only possible as a form of divine power: “Justice is the principle of all divine determination of purpose (Zwecksetzung), power is the principle of all mythical positing/founding of law.” [“Gerechtigkeit ist das Prinzip aller göttlichen Zwecksetzung, Macht das Prinzip aller mythischen Rechtsetzung.”, “Zur Kritik der Gewalt”, ibid., p. 198] 
The justice Derrida has in mind is powerless, impossible, a pre-contractual infinite debt of everything to the ominous other, an indestructible, incalculable obligation without reward not even “recognition or gratitude”, a “gift without exchange” – reminiscent of the logic Rousseau discovered in government: “You are dependent on me, because I am rich, you are poor.  Let’s come to an agreement (make a contract) between us.  I will allow you the honour to accommodate me, under the condition, that you give me that little you have left, for the effort, I take upon myself to command you.” (Rousseau, Political Economy, 1755)  Derrida’s justice sounds very much like such a regime of “la servitude volontaire”.  Its apriori and unconditional servitude to the other resembles rather what Esposito calls the ‘the law of the gift’ – the unavoidable original founding debt of community, or lack thereof – the ‘nothing in common’ which is community, except this generic hereditary burden of debt or a ‘gift’ which can never be given.  Such a concept of justice (about which as Derrida writes deconstruction is ‘mad’) is rather modelled on the perpetuity of the national debt – into which one is born rather than accruing oneself.  In fact, the relation between debtor and creditor belongs to the misty beginnings of any law with validity beyond the clan, guild or religious orders, the oikos – the groups in which human society regulated its affairs on a daily basis prior to any political life in the polis.  The absolute rule of the head of the household was a model for the most perfect dictatorship throughout antiquity – bios politikos could only take place in the polis, a realm of relative freedom from labour and any kind of servitude.  It is rather the oikos or household, perhaps the true origin of community and Derrida’s justice, in which the idea of absolute unpayable debt to the other was formed.  Max Weber cites examples of early Roman civil law regulating creditor-debtor relations in his Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.  The earliest ‘debt’ though was a compensation (Sühne) determined by a judge in a trial against a defendant accused of a delict.  The two basic Roman exchange contracts nexum and stipulatio were both money contracts – though in the event of arrears the property of a debtor could not be touched but his physical body was the Pfand (security) and could be used in lieu of payment.  Liability in the case of money-debt was only attached to the physical person.  The debtor could be taken as a “debt slave” (Schuldknecht), to be sold into slavery or used directly by the creditor – and if there were more than one creditor, the Roman codex of the 12 Tables permitted the creditors to cut up his body into pieces and distribute it accordingly.  Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice with its intrigue revolving about a “pound of flesh” still reflects such early Roman debt and compensation legislation. [Hegel speaks of this “abscheuliches Gesetz” (hideous law) and Shakespeare’s dramatization of it in The Philosophy of Right (G.W.F. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, 7 Frankfurt, 1975 p. 39).]  The historical antecedents of Derrida’s idea of justice come from the origin of law in debtor-creditor relations and the legal instrument of the security, pledge or pawn.  The total indebtedness to the Other, the ghostly creditor – ‘who will always come’ (Derrida) - reflects the ‘extreme’ of debt law – when in the event of the inability to pay, the physical body of the debtor becomes the physical property of the creditor.  And with an infinite debt such as Derrida’s justice foresees – one will always be in arrears – and the more one pays the bigger it gets.

But beyond these, this deconstructionist justice positing an infinite servitude, a Being-indentured to the Other – apriori – without any reciprocity – this Derridean ‘justice’ resembles Heidegger’s initial original state of Dasein – “schuldig-sein” (being-guilty – whereby the German Schuld means both guilt and debt).  But as Dasein is immediately Mitsein – there never being a singular Dasein without its Mitsein or Being-with – Schuldig-sein is a quasi collective mode of being – or a Being-Guilty-With the other, where guilt/debt is ubiquitous and has no specific address, it is rather the climate, weather, air of Mitsein. “Prior to any knowledge of it - is being guilty.  And only because Dasein is guilty in the ground of its being and as thrown and falling closes itself off from itself, is conscience possible, when the call of this being guilty at the core makes itself otherwise understood.” (“Ursprünglicher als jedes Wissen darum ist das Schuldigsein.  Und nur weil das Dasein im Grund seines Seins schuldig ist und als geworfen verfallendes sich ihm selbst verschließt, ist das Gewissen möglich, wenn anders der Ruf dieses Schuldigsein im Grund zu verstehen gibt.”, Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, Tübingen, 1986, p. 286)

Derrida would rather call this meteorology of being – “a ghost story, a history of ghosts” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 278).  Ghosts, spirits and demons follow and surround the founding ‘mysticisms’ of the text as its retinue and guard of horror.  
In a rather peculiar tribute to the ‘spiritual’ police in “Force of Law” – Derrida seems to have gathered into one confluence the quintessence of his Heideggerian, historical debt legislation and actual
law-enforcement tributaries:  “Let us take the example of the police, this index of a ghostly violence because it mixes foundation with preservation and becomes all the more violent for this. (…) By definition, the police are present or represented everywhere there is force of law [loi].  They are present, sometimes invisible but always effective, wherever there is preservation of the social order.  The police are not only the police (today more or less than ever), they are there [elle est là], the figure without face or figure of a Dasein coextensive with the Dasein of the polis.” (ibid.)

Derrida takes umbrage in particular at a major distinction running through Benjamin’s “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” – that of the two ‘faces’ of law and its violent underpinnings – law founding violence and law preserving violence.  This seems to be for him the original sin of the essay.  Why is it so disturbing?  It is a transgression against “the paradox of iterability” a sovereign principle guiding the ‘bastardizing, contaminating’ methods of deconstruction – itself defined by Derrida as justice – “Deconstruction is Justice”.  For deconstruction there is no difference between founding and preserving violence – the second is inscribed in the former – and this means there is no interstice, lacuna or opening between the founding of law or state and the preserving of it.  Although this would seem rather technical – the concept of iterability has great consequences.  Whereas ‘justice’ as indebtedness belongs rather to the order of law (that of creditors and debtors, expiation); the “mystical foundation of authority” depends on the “paradox of iterability” – a mechanism guaranteeing the repetition of an instituted rule, a calculable preservation of law, state and its enforcing (preserving) organs – the police.  Iterability prescribes the “possibility of repetition at the heart of the originary” (“Force of Law, ibid., p. 272) – the police then could never overstep their powers in a Derridean authority – their powers are as absolute or total as any other organ of the state – preserving is founding just as founding is preserving of authority.  And yet – as Derrida is also affronted by the
revolutionary seizure of history immanent to Benjamin’s elliptical text –he claims for deconstruction’s legalistic “readings” the status of being themselves a “general strike” or a “revolution”, at least in “the academy”. (see ibid., pp. 271 -273)

In his concept of iterability, Derrida emulates Wittgenstein’s rule-thinking, not his ‘mysticism’ – but his mathematically determined theories of the formation and function of rules.  Wittgenstein would call iterability – the concept of “und so weiter” – “and so forth” – an expression Derrida uses frequently.       
A rule is the ordinary process/procedure or ‘myth’ – that which makes “und so weiter” possible.  “Und so weiter” (and so forth) is Wittgenstein’s crucial concept. 
“We need now the clarification of the concept of the atomistic function and the concept of “and so forth”.
The concept “and so forth”, in symbol “…”, is one of the most important and, like all others, endlessly fundamental.
Through it alone actually do we have the right to construct logic, respectively mathematics from the basic laws and Ur-symbols.
The “and so forth” comes into effect immediately in the very beginning of the old logic, when it is said, that we now according to the given of the Ur-symbol, can develop “so further” one symbol after the other.
Without this concept we would simply remain stuck at the Ur-symbol and could not go “further”.
The concept “and so forth” is equivalent to the concept of the operation. (… ) 
After the operation symbol follows the symbol “…”, which means, that the result of the operation can be taken again as the basis of the same operation, “and so forth”.”
[“ Wir brauchen jetzt die Klärung des Begriffes der atomistischen Funktion und des Begriffes “und so weiter”. 
  Der Begriff “und so weiter”, in Zeichen “ ...”, ist einer der allerwichtigsten und, wie alle anderen, unendlich fundamental.
  Durch ihn allein nämlich sind wir berechtigt, die Logik, resp. Mathematik, “und so weiter” aus den Grundgesetzen und Urzeichen aufzubauen.
  Das “und so weiter” tritt sofort im Uranfang der alten Logik ein, wenn gesagt wird, dass wir nun nach der Angabe der Urzeichen ein Zeichen nach dem anderen “so weiter” entwickeln können.
  Ohne diesen Begriff würden wir bei den Urzeichen einfach stehen bleiben und könnten nicht “weiter”
  Der Begriff “und so weiter” ist äquivalent mit dem Begriffe der Operation. (...)
Nach dem Operationszeichen folgt das Zeichen “...”, welches bedeutet, dass das Resultat der Operation wieder zur Basis derselben Operation genommen werden kann, “und so weiter”.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tagebuch, 21.11.16, in Sonderausgabe Europäischer Buchklub, Stuttgart, Zürich, Salzburg, p. 182-3)]  

[Commentary:  Fidelity is “and so forth”, the perpetuity of action, movement, world (in its ‘appearing’).  Fidelity approximates a perpetuum mobile – an impossibility in physical nature.  Infidelity is a cosmic principle of equal force – the ceasing or breaking of the perpetuity of movement, action, world – the cosmic principle that things come to an end.  Badiou as usual bets on both directions – his concept of fidelity to the event derived from an arch sentimental view of love or the amorous twosome – is neutralized by his demand that philosophy ‘interrupt’ the incessant flux of circulation of goods, images, thoughts etc. (see Infinite Thought).  Interruption is a mild or timid form of infidelity.  Infidelity is both action and rest – quiet and unquiet (those fundamental categories of the ancients – in all three approved ways of life), because infidelity ‘interrupts’ whatever precedes it – if action has preceded it, inaction is infidelity.  If inaction had preceded it – action is infidelity.  Fidelity has only one direction – it can not be other than continuous.  So fidelity precludes change – one of Badiou’s major questions is: ‘what does it mean to change the world?’ Fidelity is no change; infidelity is change (clinamen).  His concept of fidelity presupposes an established rule, even if self-imposed or invented – the only way out of such a rule is necessarily a betrayal or violation. 
Infidelity has at least a double valence in the same manner as stasis – for the Greeks both immobility and dissolution or discord, civil war. ]

One can substitute for the mathematical term operation in Wittgenstein’s formulation of the concept “and so forth” – the concept of authority – or more specifically, the result of the operation of law founding violence is the basis of the operation of law preserving violence, which becomes the basis of law founding violence and so forth.  Whereby, for Derrida there is absolutely no difference between the two.  Such that the iterability-state is logically and empirically a police state – or one in which law making and law enforcing can take place at any level of authority.  “Positing is already iterability, a call for self-preserving repetition.  Preservation in its turn refounds, so that it can preserve what it claims to found.  Thus there can be no rigorous opposition between positing and preserving, (…)” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 272)  

Iterability as Derrida proposes it eliminates or levels all distinctions in law and its violences – turning law into an automatic and calculable agent of its own self-perpetuation (the automatic subject).  His vision of iterability is one of a homeostatic or entropic hell.
He concedes that Benjamin had some awareness of this “law of iterability”, but of course Benjamin saw this as a cycle of self-destruction of law leading eventually to a “new law and a new decay”.  Although Derrida, also contemplates “revolutionary situations” in which law is suspended to found new law violently – the “law of iterability” would seem to preclude this ever happening.  In essence, there is a never a “new law” – all law has always been both new and old.  This levelling mechanism inherent within the law of iterablity allows Derrida to include Nazism without any friction or exceptions – within its domain.  Nazism is in a sense the radical achievement of iterablity – and thus the apotheosis of the “coextensiveness” of police and state apparatus.  Derrida’s “spirit of the police” is perfectly exemplified in the Gestapo – just as the most ‘vital’ part of the Nazi state was the double headed state and military police ‘institutions’ – roughly the Gestapo and SS – both in the hands of the most powerful official (after Hitler) in that ‘state’ – SS Reichsführer Himmler.

It is thus in Derrida’s iterability principle (a ‘political’ “and so forth”) that one recognizes the ‘aberration’ of the Nazi state and not in Benjamin’s categories or distinctions from “Zur Kritik der Gewalt”.  Fascism or Nazism is the pure iterability of the law – where every act of preserving violence has its sole rationale in the repetition and representation of the originary founding violence – Heidegger will call this the endless commencement (Anfang) of the Nazi movement/state in his inaugural address of 1933.  Iterability would also name a kind of messianic project for the Nazi state – as it is the principle of longevity of any state/law/authority.  And as Heidegger told his pupils in the 1935 lecture course Einführung in die Metaphysik – after Hitler is gone (eventually in 60 years or so – he would have been a centenarian by then) – the continuity of the state (its preservation) is up to us.

Benjamin’s text though is the one, which is “anti-statist”, a “condemnation of the state” in its present form, an attempt to project a ‘pure immediate revolutionary violence/authority beyond law’ – divine power itself is the destroying of law and its violences/authorities.
Yet within Benjamin’s text Derrida would have the reader discover the fatal pattern of a justification of the “final solution”.  How is that possible?  Speaking as if at a séance and in Benjamin’s name – Derrida utters what Benjamin would have said or could have said about Nazism and the final solution.  Using Benjamin’s determinations/typology of mythical or Greek violence – Derrida concludes supposedly in Benjamin’s ‘voice’ that “Nazism (is) the final achievement of the logic of mythological violence (…)”(“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 295) and that “Nazism leads logically to the “final solution” as to its own limit (…)”(ibid.).  He also has Benjamin say that with Nazism “a certain mythology of law was unleashed against a justice, which Benjamin believed ought to be kept radically distinct from law, (…)”(ibid.) – the two orders of mythological violence and divine violence being absolutely separate in Benjamin’s understanding.  How then could Benjamin’s thought think the thought of divine power manifesting itself in the ‘final solution’ as Derrida proposes on the last page of his essay?  Why would divine power act through mythical power or violence – be in need of mythical violence to act out justice when they are so radically distinct and in everything opposed to one another?  Nazism is the most radical form of preserving law (in the sense of an SS-Gestapo state) whereas divine power is destructive of law (rechtsvernichtend) says Benjamin.  Benjamin of course at the time of writing “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” could have heard neither of Nazism nor the final solution – but it is Derrida who has reconstructed this logic from his text leading him to the incommensurability of divine and mythic violence, the one necessarily excluding the other.  But his own ‘coup de théâtre’ – is to ‘bastardize’ these categories and ‘contaminate’ them in such a way as if Benjamin would have seen the gas chambers (had he known of them) as a mimicry of the bloodless expiation divine power acted upon Korah (an example Benjamin uses in “Zur Kritik der Gewalt”).  Derrida plants a so-called “temptation” in Benjamin’s text – this temptation is not in the text, Derrida brings this temptation into the world in general and in particular of “survivors or the victims of the “final solution,” to its past, present or potential victims.” (ibid., p. 298) who might read this text and “think” this “temptation” which the text according to Derrida “leaves open” – but only because Derrida put this opening there.  It is first of all Derrida’s temptation.  “Which temptation?  The temptation to think the holocaust as an uninterpretable manifestation of divine violence insofar as this divine violence would be at the same time annihilating, expiatory and bloodless, says Benjamin, a divine violence that would destroy current law, here I re-cite Benjamin, “through a bloodless process that strikes and causes to expiate. (…) When one thinks of the gas chambers and the cremation ovens, this allusion to an extermination that would be expiatory because bloodless must cause one to shudder.” (ibid.)

As if the final solution consisted solely in the final gassing of its victims – and were not an iterable evolving operation of the Nazi Staatsgewalt drawing on all parts of the society and state – bureaucratic, juridical, medical (the “political doctors”), technological (transport etc) police and military including blooded shooting massacres in ravines when more practical or expedient (such as at Babi Yar in the Soviet Union).  Derrida would have Benjamin dress up mythical violence (in Benjamin’s sense of state violence-Staatsgewalt) in the trappings of divine power – carrying out its (Nazism’s) own blood penalty – as if it were bloodless i.e. divine.  But Derrida also neglects an essential consideration of Benjamin’s argument – the concept of “mere life”.    It is not simply an accident of the killing method (blooded or bloodless), which determines if a power is mythical (“Grecoid”, Derrida) or divine (according to Benjamin) – the determinate element for Benjamin is what he calls “bloßes Leben” (mere life): “Blood is the symbol of mere life”. (“Zur Kritik der Gewalt”, ibid., p. 63)  The “mythical manifestation of immediate violence” (ibid., p. 62) is deeply implicated, says Benjamin, in all “legal authority” (Rechtsgewalt) – the corruption of its historical function is what preoccupies Benjamin – the destruction of this nexus (law-mythical violence) is what he sees as the “task” (Aufgabe).  A pure immediate power is needed to resist the ‘impure’ immediate blood power of mythic violence.  This pure immediate power is the antithesis of mythic violence – hence it is divine violence – characterized by an “absence of any founding of law (Rechtssetzung)”.  But mythic violence itself, although a constituent element of law and identical with it, constantly dissolves its own legality – and it does so pre-eminently when it strikes directly (immediately) at “mere life”.  One might call that the aporetic structure of mythic violence/authority.
“Mere life” in mythic thought is the “marked bearer of guilt/guiltiness” per se – so when mythic violence as in the case of Niobe (her 14 children are killed with arrows sent by the gods, she is eventually turned to stone) – is dispatched it exercises “blood violence” against “mere life”.  Mythic violence arrives out of the sphere of fate (Schicksalsschlag) – mostly as retaliation for hubris not for statutory crimes.  The guilty one atones for his transgression against the gods (and his innate guiltiness, his bloodguilt), but the compensation exacted frees him (entsühnt) not from his guilt but from law.  The very act of mythical retribution against “mere life” is also immediately the dissolution of legal authority (Auflösung der Rechtsgewalt).  “Mythical power/violence” concludes Benjamin, is “blood power/violence or authority (Blutgewalt) “over mere life” – and with “mere life, the hegemony of law over the living ceases.”(ibid.)

If divine power is the destruction of mythical blood power/“current law”, according to Benjamin, how could divine power at the same time oppose so-called mythical Nazi power - while ‘using’ that posited mythical power qua Nazism, at its logical “limit” of the “final solution”, to enact a ‘divine and bloodless expiation’?  The ‘final solution’ would have been for Benjamin the Nazi state’s extreme act of law preserving (law dissolving) violence – but as such inscribed in the demonic repetitiveness envisioned by Derrida’s ‘paradox of iterability’. 

Is the “final solution” then a ‘joint venture’ between mythical and divine power – at the “limit” between representable and unrepresentable power?  Benjamin with his rejection of the founding of the profane order upon the thought of the divine (“kingdom of God”) would not contemplate any such interpenetration – this is the idea of any theocracy.  The riddle though of Derrida’s text – or where it dissolves itself (like mythic violence) – is why he should cut off from the Nazi ‘authority’ that part of it in which its ultimate unity (contamination) of founding and preserving violence, its iterability, was encapsulated – in the “final solution”?  And export (excommunicate) it to divine power via the hijacking of Benjamin’s text? 
Derrida, (not Benjamin) with his impulse to offer a crypto-theological justification of all possible violence of the iterable state must see the ‘final solution’ as such a ‘divine’ manifestation. This is simply the continuity of the logic of the “mystical foundation of authority” or law.
“The law [loi] is transcendent and theological, and so always to come, always promised, because it is immanent, finite, and thus already past.” (Derrida, “Force of Law”, ibid., p. 270)
In the spirit of Heidegger 1933 and beyond – who spiritualizes the organs of state repression and extermination – Derrida commends the “spirit of the police” which is coextensive with the ‘polis’, Heidegger more directly as the spiritualizing of Nazism and its effects sans phrase. (see Derrida, Of Spirit Heidegger and the Question)    

[Commentary:  A fictional prison confession of a member of the SS written in documentary style by the German writer Rudolf Hagelstange describes his training in the various execution methods (Tötungsart) including the gassing method.  Gas was classified not as a “bloodless” extermination, as Derrida would imagine it, but as a “soundless” (lautlos) “extermination type” (Vernichtungsart).  Unterscharführer Hammer finds out that this like so much else in the Lagerwelt (the camp-world) is a cheat.  “Das Giftgas, das sich aus den eingeworfenen Kristallmengen entwickelte, arbeitete zwar lautlos, aber die Vergifteten selbst schrieen wie Tiere, manche fast zehn Minuten lang. (…) Ich fand diese Tötungsart irgendwie unmännlich und feige und war ziemlich fertig, als ich nach Mitternacht in mein Bett kroch.” (“The poison gas which developed from the inserted crystal quantity, functioned soundlessly, but the poisoned persons themselves screamed like animals, for almost ten minutes. (…) I felt that this killing method was somehow unmanly and cowardly and was pretty knocked out when I crawled into my bed at midnight.” (“Lebenslauf” in Alleingang Sechs Schicksale, München, 1974, p. 39)  Contrary to Derrida’s speculations, for the SS apparatus their “Vernichtungsarten” (modes of extermination) were neither singular nor supernatural – but technical, pragmatic, multiple, contingent, dependent on personnel, their sort of normal, a career – in the end any method was acceptable.]

With more than a hint of Schadenfreude or vigilantism, Derrida implies that Benjamin’s text has ‘ruined itself’ because it has dared to denounce (“target”) the police (of the Weimar republic), their usurping and suspending of the powers of the executive and legislative.  The police, says Derrida repeatedly, are themselves “the force of law”.
[He begins his “address” to the colloquium at the Cardozo Law School, October 1989 by ‘confessing’ to being “in love” with “your idiom (…) the word enforceability (…)” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 243)  Sometimes though it is in not enforcing the law that enforceability truly makes itself felt – of the law behind the law.  Or – if the police are “the force of law” – they do not need to enforce it.]

Benjamin’s text, says Derrida, is “an exemplary ruin that singularly warns us of the fate of all texts and all signatures in their relation to law – that is, necessarily (alas), in their relation to a certain police force.” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 277)  “The text does not escape the law …” (ibid.)  Someone like Benjamin (his text) says Derrida – is always going to get in trouble with the police – presumably Derrida will always be someone on the side of the law and the police – the same law and police someone like Benjamin and his text will never escape.  (One must recall Derrida is addressing an audience of ‘legal beagles’ in New York.)  All of these innuendos lead to the impression that Derrida here uses Benjamin’s text as a surrogate for his person – the physical Benjamin who did not escape fascist Europe and its (‘spectral’) supranational (Spanish fascist, Nazi Gestapo) police – just as his text will ‘alas’ not escape either?  The “exemplary ruin” of the text is really Benjamin himself - whose suicide was motivated by the expectation that this ubiquitous fascist police who refused his transit visa on the Spanish border would hand him over in France to the Gestapo – heir of that Weimar police whose honour Derrida so defends.

Or does Derrida also mean to “warn us” perhaps that Benjamin’s suicide in Portbou, Catalonia, where his escape route, blocked by this police, came to an end, was the late just revenge of “a certain police force” for Benjamin’s hubris in “Zur Kritik der Gewalt” – the text in which – according to Derrida – Benjamin would have foreseen (perhaps even desired) his own death as part of a coming Holocaust, as an “expiation and an indecipherable signature of the just and violent anger of God.”? (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 298)  Benjamin, would have been thinking since 1921, says Derrida the posthumous mind reader, of “nothing other than the possibility of this final solution that all the better challenges the order of representation since it would have belonged in his eyes to radical evil…” (“Force of Law”, ibid., p. 260)  What Benjamin was thinking of is far better documented in his own last known writing than in Derrida’s ‘hypotheses’ – it was also the thought: “auch die Toten werden vor dem Feind, wenn er siegt, nicht sicher sein.  Und dieser Feind hat zu siegen nicht aufgehört.”[“(…) also the dead will not be safe from the enemy, when he wins.  And this enemy has not stopped winning.” Geschichtsphilosophische Thesen (Paris 1940) in: Walter Benjamin, Illuminationen, Frankfurt, 1961, pp.270-271] 

The Benjamin of 1921 – in “Critique of Violence” – was motivated by the same historical materialist impulse as the Benjamin of 1940 in “Historical-Philosophical Theses” – to take possession of a memory, to hold an image of the past – as it “flashes in the moment of danger”:
Vergangenes historisch artikulieren heißt nicht, es erkennen “wie es denn eigentlich gewesen ist”.  Es heißt, sich einer Erinnerung bemächtigen, wie sie im Augenblick einer Gefahr aufblitzt.  Dem historischen Materialismus geht es darum, ein Bild der Vergangenheit festzuhalten, wie es sich im Augenblick der Gefahr dem historischen Subjekt unversehens einstellt.” 
[“To articulate the past historically, does not mean, knowing it “as it really was”.  It means, to take possession of a memory, as it flashes in the moment of a danger.  Historical materialism is concerned to keep an image of the past, as it breaks in suddenly,
for the historical subject, in the moment of the danger, .” ibid.]  

Here – in Derrida’s world, police and God are one hand – “the mystical foundation of authority” re-founded and preserved – on the French-Spanish border 1940.  The three words most revealing of Derrida’s ‘signature’ and ‘secret’ (or “material facts” in the language of insurance contracts) – and they are definitely his and not Benjamin’s – are when referring to the “final solution” he imagines not only past and present victims but also the future – “(…) its (…) potential victims”. (ibid., p. 298)  “Potential victims” imply (like Agamben’s “(…) we must expect (…) new camps”, Homo Sacer, ibid., p. 176) – the “final solution” is not yet finished, enacted – but still to come – ‘à-venir’ – like deconstructionist law and its justice. 

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