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System’s Theory

Whoever first started talking about “society” as a “system” has a lot to answer for. The notion that society functions automatically, that dysfunctions can be repaired, externalities absorbed and crime and corruption recycled seems perfectly suited to put people to sleep, precisely when system failure starts to set in. After all, nothing that seems […]

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Victimary Terrorism; or, the Brinsley Left

There have been debates, going back to the 90s, at least, over whether ideologues and political figures should be held responsible for violent acts with which they can more or less plausibly be associated. Clinton strongly suggested that right-wing talk radio bore some blame for the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing; more recently and preposterously, […]

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Civilization, Violence, Oblivion

Humanity presupposes the deferral of violence; society presupposes shared norms enhancing and regularizing the capacity to defer violence; civilization further presupposes entire zones of existence in which the deferral of violence can be taken for granted, which is to say that means of deferral and rules for their deployment, need not be posited, even […]

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Civilization and Its End(s)

The paradox of civilization is that renunciation leads to benefits. This must be true even of earlier social forms, what our forefathers insensitively called “barbarism” and “savagery,” to some extent—among hunter gathering communities, for example, the man capable of exhibiting patience and discipline on the hunt would surely acquire “followers” and hence prestige and […]

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