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Cátedra Unesco y Cátedra Infancia : derechos humanos y políticas pública

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Bethania Assy

Sección I. Cátedra Unesco: política pública y violencias

Empowering the Subject of Injustice: Victim’s’ Historiography, Memory and Testimonial Narrative1

Bethania Assy

Résumé

It will focus notably on the idea of political event and testimonial narrative, both in terms of the empowerment of the political subject rather than his/her victimization and juridical capture. I will follow the theoretical approaches on certain Jewish tradition of the 1920’s, particularly Walter Benjamin and Franz Rosenzweig, by focusing on three features on the connection between history, politics, and subjectivity: rupture as the subject matter of history; singular events rather than universal progress as the raw material of politics; and the testimonial self-revealing narrative as empowering subjectivity. Political event and testimonial narrative can work as powerful tools to engender political-juridical hybrid spaces for creating public recognition, political visibility, for the unrepresented subjects of injustice. I will consider here as an illustration of those potential “in-between experiences of political-juridical hybrid spaces”, the personal testimonies of the public audiences of the Caravans of Amnesty of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. The Caravans of Amnesty deal with the political left-wing activists during Brazilian dictatorship.

Texte intégral

  • 1 This is a modified and expanded version of the paper published as “The Faithfulness to the Real: Th (...)

1Summary. Introduction. i. Rupture as the Subject Matter of History. ii. The Gap in History: The Historiography of the Singular Event. iii. A Self-Revealing Phenomenology: The Victim’s Singular Testimony. iv. Final Remarks. An Empowered Voice to Human Rights: The Public Audiences of the Brazilian Caravans of Amnesty. Bibliography.

It was impossible to maintain the idea of historical progress or of a purposeful meaning for history in the face of the irreducible war reality of human suffering (Mosès, 2009: 50).

INTRODUCTION

2The mainly (neo)Kantian normative grammar of law theories of justice privileges moral principles and proceduralist approaches, presumably universal from the viewpoint of representing the subject. Such normative narratives carry a very low capacity for grasping the unpredictable singular event of injustice. Each concrete phenomenon of injustice carries on an indiscernible zone between facticity and normative representation. As a required part of what I will call a phenomenology of injustice, this paper will discuss the modern historicity of law and its predominant narratives, particularly, the kind of rationality framed by the legitimacy of the rule of law, through its two more expressive sources: the historicity of the Hegelian theory of law, and the Kantian normativity. The subject of injustice is not an automatic by-product of a submissive willing towards the law of reason, a mere subject among others in a general equivalent system of rights and duties. The emblematic figures of those normative invisibilities stand suspended under the positivity of a given law or under the ontology of an autonomous freewill: the pariahs, the no-subjects, the outsiders, the defeated of justice, the social invisibles, the marginalized subjects of the social movements, the nameless ones of police confrontations, to quote few examples of so many national and supranational un-represented subjectivities. I aim to explore an epistemological notion of temporality based on the unpredictability of the brand-new, instead of the teleological progressive historicity. It will focus notably on the idea of political event and testimonial narrative, both in terms of the empowerment of the political subject rather than his/her victimization and juridical capture.

  • 1 In Remnants of Auschwitz, the unwitnessable life of the remnants, a pure survival and biopolitical (...)

3The current vocabulary of the “in-human human rights” permits us to confront the well-known Kantian normative accomplishment of human rights by referring to Agamben’s terms of the biopolitical nomos of insignificant lives. His approach to the defeated subject is marked by the historical mechanisms of the production of bare life and its juridical-political apparatus to provide the creation of a “state of exception that ceases to be referred to as an external and provisional state and comes to be confused with the juridical rule itself ” (Agamben, 1998: 168). In the current approaches on biopolitics, Agamben, among others, has quite well confirmed that a life unworthy living is not simply a matter of ethics, concerning mainly the personal expectations of each individual. Above all, ethics is a political concept1. This paper, however, aims to look at another side in the debate on human rights as political, notably on the idea of the political event in terms of the empowerment of the political subject rather than the biopolitical apparatuses of his/her oppression. That is the self-reveling empowerment of the, literally, invisibles.

  • 2 I will use Badiou’s triangulation in dealing with the idea of communism: history, politics and subj (...)

4It will be approached from the perspective of a certain Jewish messianic tradition of the 1920’s, which focuses on three features of the connection between history, politics, and subjectivity (Badiou, 2010: 4)2 : Rupture as the antinomy of the means-end process as the subject matter of history; singular events rather than universal progress as the raw material of politics; and the testimonial self-revealing narrative as an empowering subjectivity. By making use of this messianic vocabulary, the main claims are: Empowerment of the defeated through political action; unpredictability as the raw-material of political action; and hope/promise as a redemptive political element. Hope emerges at the heart of political action as an ability to perceive what, at each moment, shows the ‘revolutionary energy’ of the new. This is the very basis of the redemptive power of action as one of the strongest categories of a politics of the extraordinary.

I. RUPTURE AS THE SUBJECT MATTER OF HISTORY

  • 3 Mosès offers a very accurate analysis on Rosenzweig interpretation on Hegel’s philosophy of history (...)
  • 4 In an analogous critique to Hegel, Arendt comments the time-concept of modern history in which “… t (...)

5To reject history as a progressive rational order derives from an experience of European history where man was surrendered to arbitrariness and violence. “In Rosenzweig’s eyes the war experience is decisive not because it refutes Hegel’s philosophy of history but, on the contrary, because it confirms its tragic truth. A history molded by the rivalries of states and the nationalistic passions of peoples can only be a catastrophic one. Yet Hegel had shown that modern European civilization represents the final stage –in other words, the supreme accomplishment– of the process of universal history” (Mosès, 1992: 43)3 Rosenzweig makes quite clear his criticism on the idea that the civilization of Modern Europe has constituted for Hegel the fulfillment of universal history. As a matter of fact, the last idealization of universal history accomplished through European modern philosophy rests upon war and violence4. What matters in Hegelian criticisms here is to highlight the pedagogical ambitions of eighteenth century ideology of progress able to match a purely formal dialectics to a historical dialectics, in such a way to equalize the universal judgment and the universal history, the rational and the real. Putted in Rosenzweig own words, “It is only because universal history is universal judgment pronouncing its irrevocable sentences in the name of the law of Reason that the real is rational” (Mosès, 2009: 42).

6Refuting the particular modern concept of the infinity progress of history, it stands the messianic analytics of Rosenzweig: the instant, the actual possibility of the arrival. The peculiar temporality of history is marked by an essential incompleteness, in an endless movement toward an impossible goal. This so-called redemptive time rises up the unpredictability of the brand-new (Rosenzweig, 2005: 57). The subject matter of history is these interruptions, the extraordinary, in other words.

7If we turn to Hannah Arendt’s historical time schema, by mentioning Greek historical narrative, as Leibovici calls attention to, Arendt aims to emphasize single events and its unpredictability as the subject matter of history. In Between Past and Future, she claims that

  • 5 I am focusing precisely on the relation among the notions of history and politics towards the notio (...)

What is difficult for us to realize is that great deeds and works of which mortals are capable, and which the topic of historical narrative, are not seen as parts of either an encompassing whole or a process; on the contrary, the stress is always on single instances and single gestures. These single instances, deeds or events, interrupt the circular movement of daily life in the same sense that the rectilinear βιος of the mortals interrupts the circular movement of biological life. The subject matter of history is these interruptions –the extraordinary, in other words (Arendt, 1977: 42-43)5.

8In this messianic diagram, birth itself holds the intensity of redemption, even by taking into account that by natality as a singular event Arendt meant a worldly event rather than a transcendental redemptive event. By approaching the reality of the world, Rosenzweig converges to Arendt’s conception of natality. Coincidently or not, Rosenzweig uses the expression “full miracle” referring to the phenomenological genesis of birth as the absolutely new. The reality of the world is its perpetual renewal; each birth is a negation of nothingness:

But the birth breaks forth in its individual result, as a full miracle, with the shattering force of the unforeseen, of the unforeseeable. There has always been coupling, and yet each birth is something absolutely new (Rosenzweig, 2005: 57).

II. THE GAP IN HISTORY: THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF THE SINGULAR EVENT

9The break of historical time holds an essential unpredictability regarding the arrival time of the event. The three plans of time, in Rosenzweig’s economy temporality, are not a homogenous succession of historical time. They rather exist simultaneously.

  • 6 Franz Rosenzweig. Briefe, Ausgenwählt und Herausgegeben von Edith Rosenzweig und Ernst Simon, Berli (...)

Past time is not annulled time. What has passed can, to be sure, not be at it were present, but must as something past coexist with the present […] What is future is not a present existence but it is has to coexist with the present, as something future. And it is equally absurd to consider being past as well as being future as complete nonbeing6.

  • 7 Michael Löwy calls attention to the fact that already in his doctoral dissertation Der Begriff der (...)

10Such time grammar emphasizes a particular approach on tradition, a discontinuous chronology, apart from the linear generational narrative of the ancestors. A discontinuous account of the events aims to overcome forgetfulness, to be precise, to transmit the flaws and breaks of history, away from rational causality. “A numerical chronology (the count of years) is converted here into subjective values, into a sum of personal experience, in short, into a memory” (Mosès, 1992: 60). In Rosenzweig’s time account, the past survives at the bottom of present and the future lives as a promise, as a sort of impatient waiting. The three dimensions of time do not lead to a synchronic gathering, in a sense of a coherent sequential fusion of historical horizons. As formulated by Walter Benjamin, history suffers a constant and abrupt actualization, turning the present into a present of awareness (Benjamin, 2002). The waiting qualifies the present. This means that the present is not a punctual fusion of three linear dimensions of time. Present is the hypertemporalization of time itself. Melted in the present instant of action, past, present and future are launched in the following instant. The present means precisely this always-new instant, upholding a meantime, a time-in-between (entre-temps) (Benjamin, 1985, 263/GS BI, 2: 704)7.

11This notion of the present brings to the fore two protagonists of politics and history that I want to call attention to: namely, the singular event and the personal narrative. For Benjamin the concept of interruption is crucial to politics. The entre-temps embraces a sort of detour, a discontinuity in the linear historical time, which determines the deviation in the logical temporality of historical time. It implies the deviation in the law, a deviation in the normative imposed by the rational authority of history.

12In her essay on Walter Benjamin, Arendt highlights that by experiencing the two world wars, Benjamin was very aware of the fact that the break in tradition and the loss of authority were irreparable. Benjamin found an original way of dealing with the traditional historiography. Benjamin’s form of “thought fragments” aims at “interrupting the flow of the presentation with ‘transcendent force’ (Schriften 1, 142-43) and at the same time of concentrating with themselves that which is presented” (Arendt, 1983, 194). In the same essay Arendt then contends that

… history itself –that is, the break in tradition which took place at the beginning of this century– had already relieved him of this task of destruction and he only needed to bend down, as it were, to select his precious fragments from the pile of debris. In other word, the things themselves offered, particularly to a man who firmly faced the present, an aspect which had previously been discoverable only from the collector’s whimsical (Arendt, 1983, 200).

  • 8 Concerning a full account on the many interfaces on the conception of history and tradition in Hann (...)
  • 9 It can be attributed to Arendt accounting on narrative and judgment with clear Benjamin’s credits o (...)

13According to Arendt, the image of the collector implies that “there is no more effective way to break the spell of tradition than to cut out the ‘rich and strange,’ coral and pearl, from what had been handed down in one solid piece” (Arendt, 1983, 196). Pearl diving is a fragmentary and discontinuous style of writing history, which turns historical material into a collection of singular-shared historical events, fragments, quotes or images, which are brought into new constellations with other fragments from the past8. By recalling Arendt’s account on Benjamin, the key point is precisely to accentuate the new place singular narratives take in political philosophy, accounting for the break with tradition and its opening up for a discontinuous way of dealing with the rational authority of history. The issue at stake here is to underline a powerful historiography of singular testimonial narrative with highly political implications, I will consider in the last topic of this paper9.

III. A SELF-REVEALING PHENOMENOLOGY: THE VICTIM’S SINGULAR TESTIMONY

  • 10 [Dem Gedächtnis der Namenlosen ist die historische Konstruktion geweiht].

14The deeds and words of which we are capable of, your historical narratives, are not seen as parts of either an encompassing whole or a process. On the contrary, the stress is always on single instances and single gestures. These single instances, deeds or events, interrupt the circular movement of daily life. The subject matter of history is these interruptions – the extraordinary, in other word. Benjamin suggests transposing the experience of the lived time from the personal sphere to the historical level, “replacing the idea of objective liner time with the subjectivity experience of a qualitative time, each instant of which is lived in its incomparable uniqueness” (Mosès, 2009: 105). An exceptionalist idea of the present has to be presumed in order to be able to reach those qualitative experiences, in Benjamin own terms, a “conception of the present as the ‘time of the now’ (Jetztzeit)” (Benjamin, 1985: 263/gs bi,2:704), able to constantly challenge the meanings attributed to the past. This perception of time is political par excellence, since what counts for Benjamin is not the “deciphering” of any past, but the “reading in our present the trace of a forgotten or repressed past. The political vision of the present highlights the kinship of the situation we are living with the struggles and suffering of preceding generation” (Mosès, 2009: 106). As Benjamin emphasized, history demeans judgment. The latter depends on a choice, a political choice. A universal history requires universal judgment. Universal judgment, the raw material of normative universality, fixes its contents and meanings at the cost of erasing personal narratives. For Benjamin the universal history coincides with the history of the victors, with the conquest of the winners. What he calls for, instead, is a new logos able to narrate the nameless ones (Benjamin, gs bi, 3: 1241)10.

The very essence of this history, whose sentences constantly sanction the triumph of the strongest and the disappearance of the weakest, represents the history of the winners. On the contrary, judgment, in the sense that Benjamin understood it, indicates the ever-renewed fight of the living –including the historian– to try to save the heritage of the losers (Mosès, 2009: 109; Benjamin, 1985).

  • 11 See Benjamin’s considerations on law, violence and justice on Benjamin (1996: 249/GS Bii, 1: 179).

15However, the personal narrative of the defeated is not to be conceived of as one more claim made to the law of reason, as in a system of equivalent rights and duties aiming the merely reparation of the victims11.

16The deviation into personal narratives is no sentimental, subjective chaos, which must be domesticated through a normative totality. That is the most constant temptation of the progressive politics of history (Bensussan, 2001: 158). The detour, rather, creates the condition of possibility to the quest of justice be raised above the teleological vision of history (Bensussan, 2001: 159). The fracture overcomes the persistent veiled totality presented in the idea of progress as the logic of politics. Here the narrative of the defeated has a political role not only by its capability of bringing into the light the memory of the losing side. But mostly because each such narrative moment contains the potentiality of political emancipation.

17The political role of language depends on its anamnesis’ capability. For Benjamin memory and recollection mean “re-mebering (Zekher), which does not denote the preservation in memory of events of the past but their reactualization in the present experience”, each time, constantly renewing even itself (Mosès, 2009: 109). As Mosès accurately observes,

The task of recollection, wrote Benjamin, is to ‘save what has failed’, just as redemption (Erlösung) for him does not mean a tangential relationship to the future but the ever-present possibility of ‘achieving what we were refused (Mosès, 2009: 109; Löwy, 2006).

  • 12 [“Die Geschichte der Unterdrückten ist ein Diskontinuum – Aufgabe der Geschichte ist, der Tradition (...)

18Narrative in the shape of personal testimony gathers the possibility to reach narrative beyond the universal construction of discourse. At the same token, narrative is the experience of the impossible ad equation. Individuals do not come from the merely free-will submitted to the law of reason. It can be described as a voice without mediation. Justice is not staring either on the positivity of a law or on the ontological status of autonomy. The unjust cannot always be known from universal normative judgment. Personal testimony carries within itself, in each level of the exercise of justice, the potentiality of justice for the individual who properly exceeds the law. Particularly Rosenzweig and Benjamin insist that the defeated ones are rather the protagonists of history. “The history of the oppressed is a discontinuum – It is the task of history to get hold of the tradition of the oppressed” (Benjamin, gs bi, 3, 1236)12. For those authors,

Thinking over the so called “truth of the fact” means does not reduce reality to facticity, which means, one has to recognize that the unnamed ones, the non-subjects, the defeated and victims of history, they all take part of reality. Thinking over politics taking into account barbarity means to question the progress as the logic of politics (Mate, 2008: 170)

IV. FINAL REMARKS. AN EMPOWERED VOICE TO HUMAN RIGHTS: “THE PUBLIC AUDIENCES OF THE BRAZILIAN CARAVANS OF AMNESTY”

  • 13 According to Bensussan, the effect of a historical gap raises up nomos’ internal tension, in which (...)

19Singular narratives as an interruptive moment of language, reach a level beyond the pure exteriority of the law, transcending law’s own internal logics. Those announcements arrive precisely under the condition of breaking events, in which the inward tension of law arises. Reparation, as seen from Rosenzweig perspective, asserts for no merely “ponderable” rationality aiming to abolish or to equal the failures and splinters of universal law (din), as mainly considered by equitable fair-middle adjustment (Bensussan, 2001: 159). Law and reparation necessarily imply a link with another dimension of justice. It calls for a petition of justice, prior to the reflection regarding the rationality of the ends and the organization of communicational normative exchanges. Justice requires a calling, an invocation of the absented one (hessed), a qualified invocation that singular narratives give voice to13.

  • 14 Wayne Cristaudo adds: “On the other hand, a philosophical abstraction is the submission of a name t (...)

20Truth can only be disclosed by speech in action, neither through things nor to reason or ideas. “The durability of that truth, that is, the real significance of the experience lays in the circulatory continuity of the name, in its power to inform further action”14. That is a way to express the possibility of spread a universal experience potentially liberated in each and every individuation, not as a universal rule, but as an event, as a unique act (Rosenzweig 2000: 65). As evocatively putted by Zamora:

  • 15 [como Benjamin advierte en relación con otro fenómeno mítico, el derecho, bajo la relación de culpa (...)

[according to Benjamin] calls attention to, referring to another mythical phenomenon –namely, the law–, under the correlation between culpability and retribution is not possible to grasp the experience of time, which is not a figure of law, but rather, a figure of justice and forgiveness. This means that justice rather has to do with the possibility of something truly new, able to escape the imposition of repetition (Zamora, 2008)15.

  • 16 In the Jewish epistemology, testimony (Edout) gathers a double dimension: knowledge (daât) and an i (...)

21Singular narratives confirm the intellective value of who testifies, beyond all normative representation, whose main account of justice is at most metrical distribution, a quite recurrent vocabulary of human rights. The necessary of this impossible ad equation rather calls for the commitment with a politics of the extraordinary. It is a voice “as if” without mediation. That is the meaning of singular narratives, the temporal unforeseen event of the word and action towards its open creative potentiality. Even though it cannot normatively equalize thinking and announcement, it is precisely by such lack of equalization that narrative keeps the present in a continuous commitment of endless renewed expectation. Thus, to speak out, to bear witness, endorses a sort of ethical political dimension on narrative, related to the other, even to the radical other, so to speak. In the Jewish epistemology, to testify, to speak out, is precisely to promote a disjunction in the linear historical time, a deviation on time which leads to the impatience of the new: to hope and active expectation, that is, to the real promise of politics16.

  • 17 In the negative political theology of Benjamin’s grammar, as well interpreted by Floyd, redemption (...)

22Upholding testimonial narrative, political event empowers the defeated, those so far faceless, singular and common at the same time. It is singular because it is his/her voice, and common, because it is a political event. Instead of victimizing the wounded, the invisible, as a mere injured ingredient of the massacre of historical events, as a human rights victim of a fact, a government, or an economy, the testimonial narrative gathers the novelty of the political action and expands political emancipation17.

  • 18 Floyd calls attention to the idea of reconciliation for Adorno, which is neither “‘what tolerates n (...)

23On the other hand, in Rosenzweig’s idea of subtraction, the space left by the testimonial voice is the very possibility to remediate “the wound of the unfinished”. Personal narratives repair within itself the impossibility of fulfillment of any account of rational history (Bensussan, 2001: 157)18. As Benssusan has pointed out, the testimonial narrative of victims’ sufferings, as reflected by Benjamin, turns possible to think about an unfinished, permanently open, narrative on history. That is the very condition of possibility that keeps open an enduring aperture to accomplish justice (Bensussan, 2001: 156). Thoughtfully formulated by Mosès,

… it is the memory of the defeated alone that reveals the truth of history, since it is doomed to forget nothing, neither the rule of the powerful that victimizes them, nor the tradition of victims that it must perpetuate (Mosès, 2009: 110).

24It inverts the traditional relationship between victory and defeat, for it is the defeated that that carries the hope of redemption. It potentiates the victims of history with a voice. It can invert the traditional meaning of human rights, potentiating the subject of human rights with a political voice. What paralyzes action, and produce victimization is precisely the very trust in the rational progress towards the end of history. The only redemption left in the modern model of utopia is the redemption promoted by the accomplishing levels of reason’s embodiment through the State.

The work of Reason is slow, perhaps infinite. How can we know if the time is ripe for the realization of our plans? “Such thoughts”, writes Kafka, “paralyzed people’s power”. Does belief in the inevitable necessity of progress not lead just as inevitably to a kind of ataraxia, or in any case to the permanent postponement of action? (Mosès, 2009: 4).

25The act of testimonial discuss cannot be verified and limited to the motionless long-term rationalizing politics, trapped in a circle of patient waiting for progressive reasonable regular institutional process of accomplishing rights through the “celebrated” representational politics. For all kinds of defeated ones, the invisibles, the no-subjects, the urgency of injustice is a time out of join; it is a time out of right’s join.

  • 19 In Arendt’s Human Condition terminology, the promise implies precisely such plait on time. The act (...)
  • 20 Similarly, for Arendt, on the other hand, action as the experience of the extraordinary, the narrat (...)

26The openness towards the unpredictability of the event –not only as the immanent novelty but also as the redemptive event– does not annihilate human freedom; it rather empowers the creativity of political action19. For Rosenzweig, historical time as an incessant emergence of the new implies permanent creation. By re-situating history in the bare experience of life, Jewish Messianism opens up the utopian potential of a new stitch in the embroidering history of the events20. The permanent possibility of history’s rifts gives rather a new glance for hope, locating the power to believe at the heart of political action. As a narrative patchwork, its very fabric is made up of loose seemliness held together by hope, which emerges as the heart of political action.

As for the messianic hope, it must not be conceived as aiming for a utopia destined to be realized at the end of time but as an extreme vigilance, a capacity to detect what at each moment shows the ‘revolutionary energy’ of the new (Mosès, 2009: 109).

27Hope, the very basis of the redemptive power of action, is one of the strongest categories of the political event. It is left for us the task to demand a new history of human rights, the one in which the political subject empowers her-himself, the one in which them give themselves a voice.

28Political event and testimonial narrative can work as powerful tools to engender political-juridical hybrid spaces for creating public recognition, political visibility, for the unrepresented subjects of injustice. Empirically, I can exemplify this theoretical path with an illustration of the personal testimonies of the public audiences of the Caravans of Amnesty of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice installed the amnesty commission in August/2001. Its main legal demand is pecuniary reparation for those political persecuted, and ex-prisoner who confronted the Brazilian Dictatorship unable to exercise any economical activities for exclusively political reason between September 1946 to October 1988. It has completed in 2011, ten year of activity. The commission members are from several sectors of society committed with transitional justice. The Caravans of Amnesty deal with the political left-wing activists during Brazilian dictatorship. It concentrates mainly on pecuniary reparation and formal apology by the Brazilian State. Non-criminal itinerant tribunals taking place in public spaces at many cities, the caravans have the peculiarity of allowing spontaneous public speech of testimonies and theirs storytelling narratives.

29Considering the current increasing law legalization of memory through trials, and its high risk of history’s authenticity through State legitimation, so well portrayed by Benjamin, I think the public testimonies of Brazilian Caravans of Amnesty have disclosed a possibility on legal proceedings towards a real arena for the political empowerment of the subject of injustice, for testimonial narratives of contestation. Spontaneous and public narrative testimonies have verified a great capacity for aggregating meaningful political dimensions. Not only the capacity towards political singular events of empowering the subject of injustice, but also to rehabilitate a sort of private/public political memory commitment towards political responsibility, past and present.

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Zamora, J. “Dialéctica mesiánica: tiempo e interrupción en Walter Benjamin”, in G. Amengual, M. Cabot y J. L. Vermal (eds.). Ruptura de la tradición. Estudios sobre Walter Benjamin y Martin Heidegger, Madrid, Trotta 2008.

Notes

1 In Remnants of Auschwitz, the unwitnessable life of the remnants, a pure survival and biopolitical substance, is separated from every possibility of testimony. Among many other examples, it reminds me the faceless victims of the “death of the suspects in confrontation with the police” in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, the so-called “autos de resistance”, the technical criminalist terminology to kill out of any justification. Or to mention the last new method of the same state police in Rio in dealing with those in-human lives: the figure of the disappeared ones, the missing persons, those from whom nothing remains, not even a dead faceless body. Political invisibility reaches a level beyond the social imaginary; it refers literally to the invisibility of the body itself, this last spot of resistance.

2 I will use Badiou’s triangulation in dealing with the idea of communism: history, politics and subjectivity.

3 Mosès offers a very accurate analysis on Rosenzweig interpretation on Hegel’s philosophy of history and his ontology, in which Rosenzweig mainly deals with Hegel and the State. Hegel’s interpretation of necessity as the expression of morality in his Philosophy of Right is at the core of Rosenzweig’s critique on Hegel’s universal history. As well pointed out by Mosès: “For Rosenzweig, the issue was not to prove that the Hegelian view of history is false, but on the contrary, to show that it is true, far beyond what Hegel himself could image. In other words, to demonstrate the intrinsic perversity of such a philosophy, it is enough to show its workings, to follow its verification in the reality of contemporary history, in short, to take it literally” (Mosès, 2009: 38).

4 In an analogous critique to Hegel, Arendt comments the time-concept of modern history in which “… the immortalizing process has become independent of cities, states, and nations; it encompasses the whole of mankind, whose history Hegel was consequently able to see as one uninterrupted development of the Spirit” (Arendt, 1977: 75). For Arendt, the further step after Modern Hegel’s infinity process is the idea of an ultimate end as the end-product of a manufacturing process of politics.

5 I am focusing precisely on the relation among the notions of history and politics towards the notion of progress. I am aware of the debate on Marx, Benjamin and Arendt towards the progress, ideology, and imperialism critique. See Leibovici (2001).

6 Franz Rosenzweig. Briefe, Ausgenwählt und Herausgegeben von Edith Rosenzweig und Ernst Simon, Berlin, 1935, p. 346. Quoted by Mosès (1992: 43).

7 Michael Löwy calls attention to the fact that already in his doctoral dissertation Der Begriff der Kunstkritik in der deutschen Romantik (1919), Benjamin opposes a qualitative conception of infinite time (qualitative zeitlich Unendlichkeit) attributed to a romantic Messianism to an endless empty time (leeren Unendlichkeit der Zeit), characteristic of the modern ideology of progress (Löwy, 2001).

8 Concerning a full account on the many interfaces on the conception of history and tradition in Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin see De Valk (2010).

9 It can be attributed to Arendt accounting on narrative and judgment with clear Benjamin’s credits on it. As Gottlieb highly gives emphasis to, Arendt “closes her account of action not with an announcement to the effect that time is coming to a close, but by way of misquotation: ‘A child has been born unto us.’ Here, too, she adopts the redemptive procedure of ‘pearl diving’ that, as she herself indicates, gives Benjamin Messianism its extraordinary vitality”. See the outstanding discussion on Arendt’s Messianism on her notions of natality an action in The Human Condition (Gottlieb, 2003: 140).

10 [Dem Gedächtnis der Namenlosen ist die historische Konstruktion geweiht].

11 See Benjamin’s considerations on law, violence and justice on Benjamin (1996: 249/GS Bii, 1: 179).

12 [“Die Geschichte der Unterdrückten ist ein Diskontinuum – Aufgabe der Geschichte ist, der Tradition der Unterdrüker habhaft zu werden”].

13 According to Bensussan, the effect of a historical gap raises up nomos’ internal tension, in which it can be particularly considered Rosenzweig’s structure of the Hebraic law: juridical (din); the compassionel (rahmanout); the justiciel, and the gift (hessed) (Bensussan, 2001: 159).

14 Wayne Cristaudo adds: “On the other hand, a philosophical abstraction is the submission of a name to a particular process of analysis in which only the universal is allowed to persist. It is a means of delimiting and ultimately of devitalizing” (Cristaudo, 2006: 262).

15 [como Benjamin advierte en relación con otro fenómeno mítico, el derecho, bajo la relación de culpa y venganza no puede haber experiencia del tiempo, que no es una figura del derecho, sino de la justicia y el perdón, es decir, que tiene que ver con la posibilidad de algo verdaderamente nuevo que escape a la coacción de la repetición].

16 In the Jewish epistemology, testimony (Edout) gathers a double dimension: knowledge (daât) and an impatient patience (ad). Raphaël Draï. La pensée juive et l’interrogation divine: Exégèse et épistémologie, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1st ed., 1996, p. 66. Quoted in Bensussan (2001: 156).

17 In the negative political theology of Benjamin’s grammar, as well interpreted by Floyd, redemption has a Messianic and transformative power: “Redemption means, rather, the recovery of the particular from its dominating-hierarchical subsumption under some larger category” (Floyd, 1993: 543).

18 Floyd calls attention to the idea of reconciliation for Adorno, which is neither “‘what tolerates nothing that is not like itself ’, nor is it the mere resignation of subject and object to the false security of an illusory ‘relationship’ of static presence to each other” (Adorno. Negative Dialectics, E. B. Ashton (trans.), New York, Seabury Press, 1973, p. 142 [Negative Dialektik, Gesammelte Schriften 6]), Quoted by Floyd (1993: 548).

19 In Arendt’s Human Condition terminology, the promise implies precisely such plait on time. The act of promising is constituted by a word that keeps entirely open the possibility to the singular narrative of the defeated one. In Arendt, the promise is the word opened to the future. To speak, to announce, is at once to promise. Promising is the meta-ethical commitment of politics.

20 Similarly, for Arendt, on the other hand, action as the experience of the extraordinary, the narrative of lexis as the advent of the new opens up the possibility of the novelty, which is for her the political category per excellence. “Human action, like all strictly political phenomena, is bound up with human plurality, which is one of the fundamental conditions of human life insofar as it rests on the fact of natality, through which the human world is constantly invaded by strangers, newcomers whose actions and reactions cannot be foreseen by those who are already there and are going to leave in a short while” (Arendt, 1977: 61). In Arendt’s vocabulary, one could say that testimonial narrative could be described as a half way between the pure performative actor and the redemptive storyteller spectator. In Arendt’s own theory of political action there is a paradoxical tension between the self-manifestation of the event and the protagonist of free action, as well as, between the storyteller and the actor.

Notes de fin

1 This is a modified and expanded version of the paper published as “The Faithfulness to the Real: The heritage of the Losers of History, Narrative, Memory and Justice”, in Bethania Assy, Carolina Melo, João Dornelles y José Maria Gomez (coords.). Direitos Humanos: Justiça, Verdade e Memória, Rio de Janeiro, Lumen Juris, 2012, pp. 15-31. This new version was presented at the Symposium: Law’s Contra-Archive at Birkbeck Institute of Humanities –bih–, University of London, March 15, 2013.

© Universidad externado de Colombia, 2013

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