simone weil – the ring of gyges

REMEMBER MARIKANA

simone weil gravity and grace… We set things aside without knowing we are doing so; that is precisely where the danger lies. Or, which is still worse, we set them aside by an act of the will, but by an act of the will that is furtive in relation to ourselves. Afterwards we do not any longer know that we have set anything aside. We do not want to know it, and, by dint of not wanting to know it, we reach the point of not being able to know it.

This faculty of setting things aside opens the door to every sort of crime. Outside those departments where education and training have forged solid links, it provides a key to absolute licence. That is what makes it possible for men to behave in such an incoherent fashion, particularly wherever the social, collective emotions play a part (war, national or class hatreds, patriotism for a party or a church). Whatever is surrounded with the prestige of the social element is set in a different place from other things and is exempt from certain connexions.

We also make use of this key when we give way to the allurements of pleasure.
I use it when, day after day, I put off the fulfillment of some obligation. I separate the obligation and the passage of time.

There is nothing more desirable than to get rid of this key. It should be thrown to the bottom of a well whence it can never again be recovered.

The ring of Gyges who has become invisible—this is precisely the act of setting aside: setting oneself aside from the crime one commits; not establishing the connexion between the two.

The act of throwing away the key, of throwing away the ring of Gyges—this is the effort proper to the will. It is the act by which, in pain and blindness, we make our way out of the cave. Gyges: ‘I have become king, and the other king has been assassinated.’ No connexion whatever between these two things. There we have the ring!

remember-marikana

The owner of a factory: ‘I enjoy this and that expensive luxury and my workmen are miserably poor.’ He may be very sincerely sorry for his workmen and yet not form the connexion.

For no connexion is formed if thought does not bring it about. Two and two remain indefinitely as two and two unless thought adds them together to make them into four.
We hate the people who try to make us form the connexions we do not want to form.

Justice consists of establishing between analogous things connexions identical with those between similar terms, even when some of these things concern us personally and are an object of attachment for us.

This virtue is situated at the point of contact of the natural and the supernatural. It belongs to the realm of the will and of clear understanding, hence it is part of the cave (for our clarity is a twilight), but we cannot hold on to it unless we pass into the light.

REMEMBER MARIKANA.

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Excerpted from Simone Weil‘s Gravity and Grace. First French edition 1947. Translated by Emma Crawford. English language edition 1963. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

an open letter to barack obama

go away mat

… On the occasion of his 2013 visit to South Africa

From Andile Lungisa, president of the Panafrican Youth Union

Dear Mr Obama,

Your election as the first President of the United States of America of African ancestry aroused immeasurable passions among the great multitude in our continent and around the world. The forlorn hope was premised on the retrospectively foolish idea that because your forebears were of those who had been dehumanized, hunted, captured, brutalized and ‘civilized’ throughout history, your leadership of the sole hyper-power on the planet would usher a period of decency, respect of human life, justice and peace.

Listening to your ‘Hopey’ enunciations, our people believed that the God of the dispossessed, tyrannized and abandoned had at last heard their raw and enduring prayers and had raised a son of their seed to redeem their humanity and medicate their future. On the 27th of November 2008, the day of your election, we cried and danced in the slums of Nairobi, the barrios of Caracas, ghettos of Detroit, gutters of Khayelitsha, hell zones of Cite Soleil, the brutally occupied territories of Palestine, in Manshiet Nasser of Cairo, in the shanty towns of Mumbai, the Al Qaryahs of Bayda, and in the many wastelands around the globe. Your election, which was energized by the young people of the United States, we were convinced, was a repudiation of the callousness, force, contempt and criminality with which the powerful from the industrialized West treated the majority of men. More importantly we hoped your victory signalled the beginning of the end of the 500 year war that the West has waged against the rest of humankind.

The oratory subterfuge notwithstanding, your presidency, Mr Obama, has been a geyser of gunk, incessant deceit and vacuity. Not only have you inherited the boorish and fantastical logic of imperial grandiosity, but you have embellished it to frightening heights. In an attempt to arrest the terminal historic decline of the US’ global hegemony and retain its position as the gendarme of capital accumulation, you have cultivated and harnessed an infrastructure of control, domination, death and destruction and thus ensuring a brutal future for the majority of humanity. In a delicious irony, tragic-comic in proportion, Lady History has elected you Mr Obama, a lawman by trade of African descent, to preside over the systematic defiling of the rule of law, and in turn magnify the death of a democratic consciousness and ascendance of thuggery among the ruling elites in the West.

Your administration has overseen a historic transfer of wealth from the public to the rapacious banksters to whom you are beholden. You have exhibited cold indifference, save for the empty rhetorical platitudes, to the most serious job crisis since the Great Depression, which has devastated especially African American communities, and left millions in destitution. You have intensified the hunting of the Black liberation revolutionary, Assata Shakur, who sought refuge in Cuba in 1979, escaping from the racist American industrial gulag that disproportionately incarcerates Black and Hispanic youths.

In your sanctimonious lecturing, please tell the young people at the University of Johannesburg why you ordered the murder of the 16 year old, Abdulrahman al Alawaki. Better yet, advise them on the rationale for a former teacher of law to grant himself the right to secretly kill his own citizens and anyone else the corporate-industrial police state deems a ‘terrorist’. Mr Obama, exhibit some moral probity, not your strong suit I know, in front of the young, impressionable minds you will be addressing and express some remorse for the thousands of women and children that you have killed and injured in your ‘signature’ drone strikes.

Tell the young people why Bradley Manning, a real American hero, who exposed the true and ugly face of American militarism and criminality, has been arrested and treated in a ‘cruel and inhumane’ manner according to the United Nations, whilst those whom he exposed continue to live in impunity. The ‘humanitarian’ industrial violence you discharged on the then sovereign state of Libya, which you don’t consider to have been a war, because no American soldier died, has unleashed a racist pogrom against Black Africans by your ‘freedom fighters’. Any word for the victims of your liberators, Mr Obama?

Under your presidency, and largely because of the unforgivable stupidity of African leadership in this generation, the American empire is building the infrastructure for AFRICOM military command – a feat that your buffoonish predecessor could not achieve. You’ve continued aiding and abetting the Zionist criminal enterprise against the Palestinians. The apartheid state of Israel, which Archbishop Tutu deemed more egregious than apartheid South Africa, kills Palestinian children with weapons supplied by your administration.

You, Mr Obama, son of a Kenyan father, are no different from the Bantustan leaders that we had in this country, and no amount of lyrical gymnastics will change the facts of your presidency.