deutsche version
grafisches Element

De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis Or, The Dictator's Clinic

Rana Hamadeh »


About the piece:

This text explores the relationship between resistance and contagion by considering the plague in ancient Athens as an allegory for the ‘Arab uprisings.’ This piece is part of a series of works that goes under the title of Alien Encounters and it comprises different works including (lecture)-performances, cartographic projects, a film-in-progress, and several writing projects. The text focuses on the term ‘resistance,’ which, in the light of the current Arab uprisings, the artist finds incredibly dubious. The text interrogates this notion, attacks it, and re-thinks it. The work investigates the contrast between the dynamics of resistance and those of falling ill. It proposes thinking of contagion, rather than resistance, as a possible dynamic of propagation of dissent.


De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis [1]
Or, The Dictator's Clinic


The dissemination of a revolutionary movement is not carried by contamination, but by resonance. Something that surfaces here resounds with the shock wave emitted by something that happened over there.
The Invisible Committee [2]

Part I
Rats and Lice


In a televised address in 2011, the now deceased colonel Muammar Qaddafi vowed with fist-thumping rage to crush the Libyan revolt and to fight the demonstrators in every street and every house till his last breath. His famous question: ‘Who are you?’, which was stained with an inquiring, yet curious and suspicious tone of voice, is still subject to hundreds of jokes across several Arab countries. For, ‘I am the revolution’, he declared, ‘and, I am resistance’ – an affirmation, which would later require him to pose the following rhetorical question to both the Libyan people and the international community: ‘Since I am the revolution, Who are you?’

Days later, the colonel decided to answer his first question, again, in a televised interview: ‘I call upon the parents to pull these young kids off the streets’, he said in the tone of the concerned school director. ‘Their ages are seventeen. They are given pills at night, hallucinatory pills, in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, and their Nescafé.’

To the colonel, no sane person would have ever joined the protests against his rule. This meant that the protestors must have been either juveniles, drugged hysterics or pathologically insane. For weeks, the juveniles, drugged and insane were never picked up from the streets by their assumed parents, and the demonstrations became more and more violent. Qaddafi felt compelled to give a third televised speech in which he finally settled upon the fact that the demonstrators were, after all, rats – nothing but filthy rats, and should be treated as such. It was the state’s duty to protect its imagined subjects from the vile alien. And consequently, a call for a ‘green resistance’ against a possible contagion was announced. Today Qaddafi is dead. Yet the question still persists: rats? Why rats?

Note: Italian thinker Roberto Esposito mentions in his book, Bios, how the terms ‘bacteria’, ‘virus’ and ‘bacilli’, which were used to refer to the Jews in Nazi Germany, were in fact a weighty analogy that actually took form: for, the Jews didn’t resemble or behave as bacteria, but rather, they were bacteria who were to be treated as such. Therefore, Nazi politics was not, in Esposito’s views, a proper bio-politics. Rather, it was more literally and expressly a zoo-politics, directed at ‘human animals’.

‘Consequently, the correct term for their massacre – anything but the sacred holocaust – is "extermination": exactly the term used for insects, rats, and lice. Soziale Desinfektion it was called. Ein Laus, Ein Tod – a louse is your death was written on a washroom wall at Auschwitz, next to the couplet. Nach dem Abort, vor dem Essen, Hande waschen, nicht vergessen (After the latrine, before eating, wash your hands, do not forget).’

In this sense, keeping ‘rats’ and ‘lice’ away, in Nazi Germany was not a question of ideology, but, simply, a question of ‘cleanliness’ and ‘hygiene’. [3]

**********************

First Wave ‘Revolution’? First Wave ‘Resistance’?

It is imperative to understand that within a mainstream Arab context [4], terms such as ‘resistance’ and ‘revolution’ cannot be simply dissociated from one another. Nor can they be understood as synonymous, nor as synchronous, with the vocabulary of dissent that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from Syria to Egypt, and from Yemen to Tunis, have been struggling to articulate in the past two years. In fact, this particular coupling of the two terms has been for several decades a fundamental tool for shaping the modern histories of most of the post-WWII/post-colonial independent Arab states, let alone the legal and constitutional discourses upon which such states have been founded.

Dictators such as Muammar Qaddafi and Hafez al-Assad for instance, who seized power respectively in 1969 and 1970 as a result of military coup d'états, gained their political legitimacy through promoting themselves retrospectively as the leaders of fictive popular revolutions. Inspired by military-pragmatic versions of anti-colonial Arab nationalist ideologies as well as a variety of versions of Arab socialism, they promoted themselves as the embodiment of a resurrective revolutionary force committed to the retrieval of the Arab pure and healthy ‘self’ from the tragedies of the colonial past.

In the case of Libya, Qaddafi’s self-proclaimed popular revolution resulted in the dissolution of all existing constitutional laws, and their substitution with his self-written manifesto-like Green Book [5] and other revolutionary enactments. Opponents of the ‘revolution’ – that is, of Qaddafi’s power – were all cleansed from the Libyan intellectual and political scene. And all the Libyan population were encouraged to carry arms in order to protect their imagined revolution. In this context, Qaddafi did not only promote himself as the young and charismatic embodiment of the revolutionary spirit against colonial and neo-colonial power and influence – but also as the supreme figure of resistance without whom Libya would fall back under Italian dominion. In fact, it is particularly through such a well-received epic rhetoric of resistance that Qaddafi could fortify his newly instituted powers for the next 50 years: ‘resistance’ as a politics of immunisation of the proclaimed revolution-state and revolution-leader [6] and ‘resistance’ as a politics of hygienification of the public realm from the possible impurities disrupting the flow of revolutionary progress.

Note: Today’s lack of a serious heterolingual approach to post-colonial critique in the Arab region, added to an almost non-existent discourse on post-communist socio-political transformations, can be seen as a direct consequence of such a politics of immunisation and hygienification. By adopting poor but populist versions of anti-colonial rhetoric, and while pertaining to a perverse, seemingly secular tone that would paradoxically appeal to the ‘still-persecuted’ Left(s) [7], Arab dictators – Qaddafi at the forefront – found in the lexicons of resistance a bio-political tool through which they could gain control over all possible immunological and ‘defecatory’ functions of the state. It is quite ironic, on the other hand, that it is also the systematic institutionalisation of this discursive lack that had turned it (the lack) into the main apparatus for perpetuating such politics.

Along these lines, we may consider the two terms, revolution and resistance, as the main dramaturgical dyad upon which the legalistic rationalisation of the culture of the coup d'état in the Arab contexts has always relied. Revolution, i.e. the seizure of power masqueraded with an anti-colonial or anti-capitalist stance, being the initial legitimating force of the military coup d'état; and resistance, i.e. the institutionalisation of power through the hijack and appropriation of revolutionary vocabulary and strategies of organisation, being the legalistic-constitutional paradigm upon which the state of emergency could breed its continuity. Being therefore, against the state – that is, against the leader of the state – meant and still means that one is either anti-revolutionary, anti-progressive and reactionary, or, of course, a paid saboteur: a mere mirroring of a ‘global capitalist war against the last remaining fortresses of Arab socialism’ on one hand (quoting Bashar al-Assad), and of a ‘Western plot to re-colonise’ the assumedly de-colonised Arab states (quoting Qaddafi) on the other. Just, for a moment now, picture Qaddafi sitting in his afternoon tent, sipping tea, and surrounded by all those anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, revolutionary and resistance-driven slogans. And let’s once again, in the same scene, contemplate rats.


**********************

Second Wave ‘Revolution’? Second Wave ‘Resistance’?

Hafez al-Assad’s rise to power on the other hand involves a totally different narrative from that of Qaddafi’s (yet still convergent with it at some points). Following Assad’s November 1970 coup d’état, the term ‘corrective revolution’ became emblematic of a new philosophy of power within the Arab region – a term that in my opinion steered the overall Arab history of totalitarianism towards its present highly complex synthesis. For, Assad’s coup d’état was not only propagandised as a revolution, but even further, as a revolution of a revolution – a two-fold ‘revolution’ that draws its legitimacy from the notion of ‘correctiveness’. ‘Correctiveness’, in the context of such regimes – is a term that exceeded the limits of its edifying patriarchal symbolism and religiosity, to become an active effectual expression of the unquestionable and un-criticisable sovereignty of the ruling regime. To be corrective, or to monopolise the capacity to permanently re-orient the potentially straying path of an anyways-fictive revolution, is in fact a major constitutional gesture that stands above all law and above all claims of ‘revolutionary legitimacy’. It is a gesture upon which Al Ba’ath’s/Hafez al-Assad’s ultimate sovereignty and un-touchability rested, and upon which Bashar al-Assad’s persistence in power today largely relies.

We are therefore not talking anymore of a regime constructing its founding myth upon the loose propagandist vocabulary of revolution as in the case of what I cynically pointed towards as ‘first wave Arab revolutions’ – but rather, upon the unyielding constitutional articulations of an ‘uber-revolution’. That is a complex regime of power which, to be decoded or dismantled, will require a force and a technology radically different from that of resistance that the regime simultaneously embodies and is immune towards. Otherwise, to be decoded, it will require a potentially not-meant-to-end civil war, the horrifying episodes of which we happen to bear witness to today.

Note: The paradox stemming from the concurrence of the de-colonisation of the Arab region, and the antithetical emergence of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as an annexation to, or as a mutation of the colonial language of power, is one self-evident pretext for the emergence of today’s perverse politics of state-sponsored narratives and machines of ‘resistance’ in places such as Syria and Lebanon. The rise of Hizbullah in Lebanon in the 1980s as the only official armed resistance movement against Israeli occupation is symptomatic of such perversion. For, the legitimacy of Hizbullah’s rise to power relied largely on the political and physical liquidation of the leftist movements that were fighting against Israeli occupation prior to that. Yet, what is even more symptomatic of this perversion today is the identification of the Lebanese and Syrian Left(s) – those same liquidated and once-persecuted Left(s) – with the machine of immunisation and hygienification operated by the resurrective-corrective alliance between Hizbullah and the Syrian regime.[8]

**********************

Bloodletting is the premise of the politics of hygiene. And hygiene, in medical discourse, is unthinkable outside the entire discourse on immunisation. In Arabic language, there is much less difference between the terms ‘resistance’, ‘immunity’ and ‘defiance’ than there is in the English language. Is it possible then that the 70,000 Syrians recently slaughtered by the machine of ‘resistance and defiance’ were swept away due to such a linguistic proximity among the three terms? Were they seen by the military machine of hygiene as a virus that had to be swept away due to epidemiological measures? Or is it that they were punished for not having learned well enough from the state how to embody the force of resistance? If the state, assumed in this text, is the emblem of resistance, then Qaddafi was right when he posed the question to us: ‘Who are you?’

Who are ‘we’? And who do we want to resist and why? Could it be possible that by thinking of resistance, we might be setting ourselves to the wrong set of questions?


**********************

Part 2
The Plague of Athens: an Anachronic Allegorical Introduction to the Arab Uprisings


In the summer of 430 BC, the Greek city-state of Athens suffered the outbreak of a devastating plague that baffled all description. Highly contagious and often fatal, the disease is reputed to have indiscriminately ravaged an estimated one-third of the Athenian population, irrespective of wealth, status or religious virtue. And as the calamity passed all bounds, people, ‘[…] not knowing what was to become of them, became utterly careless of everything, whether sacred or profane’.[9]

The earliest epidemiological accounts of the plague of Athens can be found in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War – a founding historical document that the author wrote while contracting the ill-famed disease himself, and while observing its course in others. Drawing from Thucydides’ reports, the diseased Athenians, worn out by the moans of the dying, appear to have reached in a short span of time a critical moral cliff, beneath which only legal apathy resided. They had no more regard for the limits of the law than they did for the limits of death. And to them, the limits of death had already become all too unworthy to even die within.

According to Thucydides, ‘men now coolly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before had nothing succeeding to their property. Perseverance in what men called honour was popular with none […] Fear of gods or law of man there was none to restrain them. As for the first, they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped the gods or not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected to live to be brought to trial for their offences. But each felt that a far severer sentence had been already passed upon them all and hung ever over their heads. And before this fell, it was only reasonable to enjoy life a little’.[10]

Thucydides’ stern matter-of-fact chronicling of the onset and course of illness stands out today as one of the first ‘secular’ interpretations of somatic suffering. That is, Thucydides’ method for observing and historicising the plague and its logics of propagation refers to no ideal or divine world beyond that of the polis. The plague – no matter what form it takes – is now thereby a condition peculiar to the constitutive porousness of the polis rather than to a form of divine vengeance. It is still a mysterious player though, enjoying a fatal game of hide and seek with the living. Yet, it is a player of a materiality and ecology akin to those of the human body on one hand, as well as to the human body’s kinetics of ‘social germination’, on the other. Along these lines, somatic suffering, according to Thucydides’ records, is as much of an attribute to the grievances of the individual bodies of the diseased, as it is to the aggregate social, political and legal body of the polis.

Insofar as the dynamic disclosed by contagion involves a great deal of contact and little resistance, contagion, after Thucydides, can nevermore be dissociated from the logics of the social. Nor can it be dissociated from the legal apparatus, which functions, in this case, as the social’s grammar of immunisation and hygienification. The evidence sifted through the historian’s observations, gives us a lot of reason to believe that the epidemic, in the eyes of the remaining Athenians, was as much of a biological attack ‘against the population’ (epi meaning ‘against’ and demos meaning the ‘populace’), as it was a form of morbid lawlessness – a form of legal apathy, which thereby required a firm and unyielding legal response.

As the Athenian society lapsed into seismic ramifications due to the scale of the contagion – i.e. the increasing apathetic attitude towards the law and societal moral codes [11] – two significant legal events unrolled simultaneously, bestowing a new sense upon the events described above by Thucydides. The first event involved the enforcement of an emergency law upon women. For, women are said to have enjoyed a radical – although transient – liberation from the tight bounds of the Athenian society. [12] As a consequence of this liberation, a special magistrate called the gynaikonomos (the ‘supervisor of women’) had to be appointed by the city-state in order to control women’s behaviour, maintain good manners among them, and restrain them from going outside their homes. The second event, however, followed a different course – that is, a strategy of legal ‘openness’ rather than one of legal containment. As the envisaged cluster of aristocratic candidates for political office was swept away by the infection, it became imperative and rather urgent that the strict and exclusive law of citizenship be set aside. Yet, it is relevant to know that it was Pericles, the influential military general and head of state who had sponsored the law of citizenship years before that made the special plea for this legal alteration to take place. His only purpose for this was to allow his non-Athenian son to be declared citizen after the death of his other Athenian sons from the plague.

The two events outlined above veered the Athenian society towards a radically new perception of the polis: that is, the ‘polis-as-demon’ as well as the ‘polis-as-patient’. A paradoxical duality whose sediments, I would argue, bear heavily on our contemporary understandings of the workings of the Foucauldian conception of bio-power on one hand, and of the epidemiological apparatus that unfolds the performativity of bio-politics, on the other. We can recall in this context the two waves of state-sponsored understandings of ‘resistance’ that I had outlined in the first part of the text within the context of Arab dictatorships: the demonic polis functioning as a harbour for human rats and the patient polis in a continuous need for a corrective vision.

I propose that the first legal response to the epidemic (i.e. the legal magistrate for controlling women) was symptomatic of the law’s inherent as well as constitutive epidemiological syntax. Women, in the eyes of Athenian law, did not necessarily bear the weaker bodies that were more vulnerable to virulence, but rather, they bore the weaker souls incapable of being morally resistant to the snare of the more vicious contagion. [13] Juvenile as they were – for, juvenility, is gauged by state institutions through the extent of one’s affectability (the capacity to affect and be affected), as well as through the extent of one’s infectability (the capacity to infect and be infected) – women had no other business than turning into the gruesome malady themselves. As if caught in a treasonous conspiracy, they were seen to form an alliance with the infection, to the extent that they consequently metamorphosed into infection themselves. They became the plague. They became epidemic. And their social liberation thus became the brewery of their (moral) contagiousness – the medium and dynamic of their propagation.

Resistance, according to this particular context, shall thereby be understood counterintuitively as a craft of the law, rather than the soul of revolt against it. It shall be particularly conceived as a ‘technology’ rather than just a force – and in this case, a technology of immunisation and hygienification of the social, which is intrinsic to the law’s epidemiological apparatus of disease containment. It is by no coincidence that epidemiology, or the study of what is upon the people, and criminology share today a common discursive lexicon. For, breaking the law is an event that directly corresponds to the event of falling ill. And the event of resisting illness and its contagion potential corresponds directly to the event of social immunisation, as well as social perseverance, against legal disorder. In other words, what is alien with regard to the law cannot be viewed outside the paradigm of criminal justice. Yet, crime itself cannot be viewed, either, outside the paradigm of disease and its physical and spatial logics of propagation. Crime, here, is to be therefore understood particularly as a crack in the order of social ‘sanitation’.

It only took Athenian women to fall (‘morally’) ill – that is, perhaps, to fall in love – for the city-state to declare a legal state of emergency, installing round their infectious bodies isolated clinical chambers of social and political sterility. In accordance with what was previously outlined, the notion of resistance, therefore, cannot be uncoupled from the legal power vested in the gynaikonomos – the law’s militant doctor, and the status quo’s guardian and fortifier.

Bearing in mind that the verb ‘to infect’ literally means ‘to perform into something’, resistance, in the context of this argument, becomes a force and a technology of defiance that is essentially counter-performative, counter-active, and antithetical to what the general contemporary political discourse desires from this notion. In this sense, resistance is to be seen here expressly as an anti-revolutionary force.

Note: A news item quoting current Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood prime minister Hisham Qandil as he addressed the issue of womens’ breast hygiene, diverting attention from some of the worst unrest since the uprising two years ago that ousted Hosni Mubarak: ‘I am certain, I don’t know, but am certain, that there are villages in Egypt in the twenty-first century where children get diarrhoea’ because ‘the mother nurses them and out of ignorance does not undertake personal hygiene of her breasts.’

Let us now leap back towards the second legal response to the Athenian plague, which culminated in temporarily abrogating the law of citizenship.

A gesture of such seemingly political openness towards non-Athenian citizens holds within it a strategic tone of succumbence towards the overwhelming power of contagion. The law now, as it seems to negotiate its power with that of the plague, is marked with a dynamic of perversion. That is, because it embodies a grammar of defeatism on one side, just as much as it embodies a grammar of conquest on the other. The law now assumes as much the status of the demonic caretaker of the polis, as it assumes the status of a frail one: demonic when it applies to women’s liberation, and frail when applying to citizenship. Of course, it is imperative to note that the meaning of citizenship in ancient Greece is different from that of today. Yet, as this text is functioning allegorically, I allow myself some space for projections, which otherwise I wouldn’t be too comfortable assuming.

A question here has to be raised: what processes of re-configuration and restructuring did the various modalities of power within the Athenian polis undergo, due to such an inclusive legal shift as the abrogation of the citizenship law? My answer would be: none. For, as the disease swept away most of the guardians of the political institution, the Athenian law had to re-constitute and appropriate itself in such a manner that would keep the traditional molecular tacticity of the political order intact. Thereby was the pronouncement of Pericles’ son as citizen. Here, and not so self-evident, the change in the law did not hold within it any form of revolutionary politics. Rather, the law benefited from its malleability only insofar as this malleability restored the power structures that the contagion was about to dismantle.

Note: We can recall here the regime-sponsored Syrian constitutional amendments, which appealed to the Lebanese leftists’ sentiments – gaining the regime more legitimacy and power, and more time and capacity to continue its cleansing operations.

Succumbing to the power of contagion becomes yet another strategic form of legal resistance against the potentiality and performativity of infection. Resistance, here, shall be seen once again as pertinent to the notion of immunisation. However, immunisation, in this new context, will obtain an added layer of meaning. This new meaning diverges from the idea of containment of moral illness, towards the legal understanding of immunity as a condition of untouchability. Italian thinker Roberto Esposito points out this relation between immunisation and untouchability, offering us the following clues:

‘As we know, in bio-medical language one understands immunity to be a form of exemption [esenzione] or protection in relation to a disease. In juridical language immunity represents a sort of safeguard that places the one who holds it in a condition of untouchability vis-à-vis common law. In both cases, therefore, immunity or immunisation alludes to a particular situation that protects [mette in salvo] someone from a risk, a risk to which an entire community is exposed.’ [14] Roberto Esposito draws a clear opposition between the term ‘immunity’ and that of ‘community’. Both words originally deriving from the term munus, which in Latin signifies ‘gift’, ‘office’, and ‘obligation’. But the first, communitas, has a positive connotation while the other, immunitas, is negative. ‘This is the reason’, he adds, ‘for which the members of a community are characterised by an obligation of gift-giving thanks to the law of care to be exercised towards the other. Immunity, however, implies the exemption or the derogation from such a condition of gift-giving. He is immune who is safe from obligations or dangers that concern everyone else, from the moment that giving something in and of itself implies a diminishment of one's own goods and in the ultimate analysis also of oneself.’ [15]

The notion of untouchability, the way Esposito associates it with the notion of immunity, opens up once again the discourse around contagion, where contagion can be seen as a possible dynamic for ‘deconstructing’ and decoding power: ‘the dynamic disclosed by contagion involves a great deal of contact and little resistance’ explicitly means that social porousness and vulnerability, and the social’s capacity to affect and infect, are inversely proportionate to the dynamics of resistance, which in this context is closely associated with the establishment of the immune. That is to say, that to become porous, one must let go of resistance.

**********************

Epilogue

I am not real. I am just like you. You are not real. If you were, you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So, we’re both myths.
Sun Ra, Space Is The Place, 1974

To infect, is to perform.

At the core of the conjunction of the law and epidemiology comes the question of performativity: if we consider the law to be the dramaturgy of the real – the grammar upon which the levels of visibility and invisibility of a people’s struggles and clashes relies, then justice, consequently, can be seen as the degree to which one can access the dramatic and performative means of representation. The degree of violence that the Arab uprisings have witnessed in the past two and a half years is directly linked to the fact that the regimes who had once enjoyed a total monopoly over the accessibility to the dramatic means of representation were challenged by a sweeping sea of performativity that undermined the dramaturgical authority of the law.

The Arab history of totalitarianism is not in fact based upon the ‘hijack’ of the meaning of resistance as one might desire to think. Rather, Arab history is a complex construct of actual moments of resistance that have ended up re-instating state power whenever ‘disease’ was meant to strike.

Michael Foucault tells us that where there is power, there will always be resistance. Taking this maxim literally, which Foucault warns against anyway, power and its resistance seem to me two forces that can only desire once – that is, can only desire through the imagination of a state. Resistance becomes therefore a technology of power that can only function from within the factuality and for-grantedness of the power it resists, but also, through its mimesis of this power: the Free Syrian Army; the Libyan rebels; the Muslim Brotherhood; The Islamic Resistance/Hizbullah; what is left from the Left in Lebanon and Syria; Al Ba’ath regime; Syrian Army; Qaddafi; Italian colonization of Libya; Israeli occupation of Palestine – one might ask what is the structural difference among these realms?

In fact, the question that I try to pose in this text is not whether resistance is a force that can or cannot reinvent itself. The question instead is whether resistance can be a force or a technology that can reinvent power outside the desire for a state. In response to this question, I am highly seduced by the notion of contagion – that is, contagion as a perverse dynamic of propagation and infection – not a force, nor a technology of power. Bearing in mind that a metamorphic virus is capable of rewriting itself completely, I ask whether there is a way of becoming a collective virus or of falling collectively ill in political terms – of literalising one’s own alienness rather than claiming sovereignty from the state, of becoming disease, becoming plague, rats, lice and fleas. It is not relevant to ask what the demonstrators have been infected by, for, in fact they were never infected by anything. Their performativity itself is the dynamic of contagion. In the hide and seek of plague and the law, it was the plague that was always exhausting the law’s possibilities rather than the other way round.

Footnote:

[ ] ‘De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis’ (On Contagion and Contagious Diseases), Girolamo Fracastoro, 1546. The first medical book to propose a scientific germ theory of disease, more than 300 years before its empirical formulation by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch.
[2] The Invisible Committee is an anonymous group of contributors to ‘The Coming Insurrection’, a French political manifesto that hypothesises the imminent collapse of capitalist culture, published in 2007 by La Fabrique.
[3]Bruno Esposito, Bios, University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Originally published as Bios: Biopolitica e Filosofia, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2004, p.117
[4] I am uncomfortable making general statements about an assumed singular homogeneous Arab context – generally referred to as ‘The Arab World’ – for such an ‘Arab’ world is not after all homogeneous socially, ethnically, politically, culturally, nor religiously. In fact, it is also the coupling of the two terms, revolution and resistance, that has led to the difficulties I personally face in expressing in language the complexities and heterolinguality/heterogeneity of the Arab political and social realms – for, both terms were used as the fundamental tools for the construction of what constitutes today the Arab-Islamic identity.
[5] The Green Book is a short book setting out the political philosophy of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi. The book was first published in 1975. It was intended to be required reading for all Libyans.
[6] Meant here as the revolution being the state, and the revolution being the leader.
[7] The raison d’être of the Arab left – particularly the Syrian/Lebanese left, i.e. communist party in particular, was in my opinion the same regime that had been persecuting them.
[8] Along similar lines, I see that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as adopting similar strategies of ‘revolutionary correctiveness’.
[9] The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, 431 BC
[10] The History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, 431 BC
[11] My reference to the plague from now on will be fluctuating between the reference to the disease itself and the reference to the growing disregard to the law.
[12] It is said that women were treated poorly in the Athenian society in comparison with the other neighbouring cities. Legal restraints confined women to their homes, and they in general were not allowed to participate in the public life of the city. I would compare the gynaikonomos’ role to that of the moral police in the Gulf states today – Saudi Arabia in particular. The law encouraged the segregation of women, allowing women to step no further than the front door of their homes.
[13] Women, seen mainly as over-sexed gossips whose main function is bearing healthy children. They were seen therefore incapable of taking control of their conduct in the loss of any legal frame to contain them.
[14] From an interview with Roberto Esposito, Diacritics, vol. 36 n. 2, 2007
[15] From an interview with Roberto Esposito, Diacritics, vol. 36 n. 2, 2007

* This text has been published in Move…ment, issue 4 of …ment journal. Edited by Federica Bueti and published by Book Works, London.




grafisches Element