EUROPEAN FORUM – Trivialization of discoursesthat kill

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Trivialization of discourses that kill

Geert Hoornaert

An International Transatlantic of Xenophobia settles. The language that speaks is a pedagogy of hate. There is us, and there is them; there is here, and there is elsewhere; there is inside and there is outside; there are friends, then there are enemies; those we know, and the foreign. By these words, it claims to describe only the immediate information of experience; it pretends not to speak: it merely reflects the imminent order of things, which, at the same time, prescribe an inexorable policy.

Political speech today has direct consequences on the bodies of thousands of people. It is because certain discourses serve not to restrain, but to provoke violence, while masking it. Euphemism is back, paired with other perversions of the language that our totalitarianisms handles. No one is exposed to death, no, no; we manage migratory flows.

We manage, and under the limitation of the need. The order of things constrains, and politics, it is the only interpreter of this order. But if it is things that speak, and if fate dictates politics, the free circulation of speech, the soul of democracy, has no more reason to exist. Politics then has only one task to accomplish: promoting consensus; solidify common sense; to translate the necessities of the moment to the people; submitted to "force majeure", which will be the One who will solve the desperate complexity of the world.

Political speech strives to erase the point from which it speaks. This point is related to what Freud identified as a real, each individual is, he noted, inhabited by a desire to dominate the other, to submit, kill, rape [1]. It is from this point that each one will have to position themselves, and to build their way of diverting these drives to the paths of realization. This is where an intrapsychic task meets the stakes of a civilization. But the gap between drive and civilization is slim, and there are only words that keep it open. So they matter, and not a little: history shows that they are perfectly capable of releasing the worst, justifying it with Good.

Today, the enemies of civilization are deafen their invariably stifling “solutions". They want to make believe that in what they say, they have nothing to do with it. They only translate the necessities of the moment that the constraining order of things imposes [2]. This erasure of the place from which it speaks gives us the Newspeak of today. In his words, commonplace evil takes shelter and spreads.

Because evil is never trivialized alone. It takes a whole language for that, which prepares the ground by sweeping the obstacles [3]. He will say, tirelessly, that instead of our choices, it is Necessity that speaks. And what Necessity speaks, it is things, not humans. This style has become ubiquitous. We erase the function of speech and destroy the field of language, to sow only messages – neutral, banal, ferocious. As in the Belgian psychiatric hospitals, where, in the name of the rights of the patient, it is informed, in neutrality of course, that a euthanasia procedure for "unbearable psychic suffering" exists; information with what the patient will be free to do what he wants, under condition that he abstains to see there a suggestion…

This Newspeak is covering all human issues; objectification of intimacy,  from the assessments in the work to the intrusion of the State into psychotherapies; reification of the public sphere reduced to an arena to manage; segregation of the foreigner in order to lock itself in a barricaded between- oneself, which will turn to be objectified. The discourses on the waves of immigration are thus paired with the injunction to purify the 'self': times require that the human thing consent to the sacrifice of its own. Therefore, by dehumanizing the other, we manage to objectify ourselves.

[1] S. Freud, Malaise dans la Civilization (1930).

[2] See J.-Cl. Milner, La politique des choses, Verdier, 2011.

[3] See, eg, V. Klemperer, LTI

Translation by Lorena Hojman Davis



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