Portraits of Violence: An Illustrated History of Radical Critique by Brad Evans & Sean Michael Wilson

Portraits of Violence: An Illustrated History of Radical Critique by Brad Evans & Sean Michael Wilson

Author:Brad Evans & Sean Michael Wilson [Evans, Brad]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: New Internationalist
Published: 2016-10-16T16:00:00+00:00

world. When politics becomes an extension of hate and economic distress, it

offers no guarantee to enlighten people politically. We now live at a time in

which people are diverted into a politics that celebrates saviors, denigrates

relations of power and policy, and provides a mode of escape in which

heartfelt trauma and pain are used not to mobilize people into democratic

movements but to blame others who are equally oppressed.

Atomization on a global scale thus points to a new form of invisible violence

because it shackles people to become prisoners of their own experiences,

cut off from the larger systemic forces that both shape them and for which

they bear little responsibility and over which they have no control. Anger,

indignation and misery need to take a detour through those ethical, political

and social models of analysis that connect individual issues to larger social

problems in ways that fight, rather than justify, that transformation of

grievances into a contemporary version of political fascism.

While there are no guarantees that a critical education will prompt

individuals to contest various forms of oppression and violence, it is clear

that in the absence of a critical formative democratic culture the forces of

authoritarianism and state violence will only become stronger. One can

easily extend this insight by arguing that as long as oppression and violence

are normalized and the larger public depoliticized through educational

practices that legitimate various forms of domination, any vestige of a strong

democracy will wither and violence will reign unchecked.

Such a task does, however, come with its challenges. Troubling knowledge

cannot be condemned on the basis of making students uncomfortable,

especially if the desire for safety serves merely to limit access to difficult

knowledge and the resources needed to analyze it. Critical education should

be viewed as the art of the possible rather than a space organized around

timidity, caution and fear. Confronting the intolerable should be challenging

and upsetting. Who could read the works of the authors and deal with

the examples featured here and not feel intellectually and emotionally

exhausted? It is the conditions that produce violence that should upset us

ethically and prompt us to act responsibly.

Under the present circumstances, it is time to remind ourselves that critical

ideas are a matter of critical importance. Those public spheres in which

critical thought is nurtured provide the minimal conditions for people to

become worldly, take hold of important social issues and alleviate human


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