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Thursday, 30 December 2010

The peace of the polemos

Been thinking a lot about peace - result of being in Beirut, crossing middle east borders, watching the last interview with Edward Said (by ICA) and having experiences like stepping on a giant Israeli flag placed in the floor of a crowded street in Damascus (official and compulsory hatred, of course). Peace not as an absence of conflict but rather as a mode of the polemos, a style for conflict (in the beautiful phrase suggested yesterday to me by my friend Monica Udler). Peace as something that is constantly weaved, not the peace of heavens or that of cementaries (those two often seem the same).

Any conflict can be unproductive or merely destructive. In this case, of the conflicting part at most one will have the chance to survive or come to light. Peace could be thought not as the opposite of violence, but as the opposite of prevailing. Like being in line with the productive character of the polemos, the disruptive capacities of conflict. Yes, it is there to disrupt, not to make any fixed thing prevail. It is not about imposing, it is about proposing. A love for piece as a love for many paths as opposed to just the single strongest.

This is what I like in the secular state solution championed, for example, by Said. No national property of the land - let the microconflict expose their micropolitics. Less nations, less states, less army wars. Peace comes easier when the conflict is spread throughout and new ways around emerge in different instances of it, instead of a single macropolitical solution coming up from a bunch of corporate-driven statemen and generals that are used to think that conflicts are opportunities to prevail.

I can't resist adding some lines of my favorite Amichai piece in a very free translation - I once thought I wanted to get married to this poem:

In the place where we are right
Flowers don' t grow in spring
The place where we prevail
is barren and useless

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