„Regimes based on hatred are actually based on love“1
This quote points towards a distinction used quite naturally these days – hate | love. Here, these words are applied to the emotional motivation regimes are based on. Simultaneously with its introduction, the distinction is abolished or, more correctly, crossed out. This crossing out allows for the movement within the sentence.
Additionally, by using the word ‘based’, the sentence opens another distinction. As a consequence it states that the difference does not lie in the motivation—as according to the sentence every regime would be driven by the same, namely love—but rather in the outcome and the way we experience it. I’m not saying that love has to be the only motivation (or one at all), but let’s assume for a moment that it is and play through to where this assumption might lead.
To cross out a distinction, but to still leave the original distinction visible, can be just as necessary as drawing it in the first place might have been.
We need to differentiate. We need to draw distinctions in order to be able to act and interact. We are used to using categories; we have chosen words, defined them (which doesn’t in itself mean that they are static) and set them in oppositions to one another. The corners of the room have been marked. Now we can move within it.
There is a movement, though not just of late, which clearly shows that right-wing and nationalist-parties are gaining more and more support.
To not differentiate (enough) can be as much of a problem as insisting upon distinctions, just in a different way: there might be nothing to react to, because nothing is graspable.
A precondition for the tendency of right-wing parties gaining support is that parties in the centre seem to be lacking a clear profile and appear to be all too similar. Pierre Bourdieu was one of the first who saw this as a danger quite early on and critiqued it. He warned that in the end, the fringe parties would get stronger, which is what has happened—mainly, however, on the right. This lack of definition in the centre is not the only reason for this tendency, but one part of a complex puzzle that contributes an important element to this picture.
To draw distinctions is necessary. It gives us the opportunity to communicate, to operate and it allows us to take a definitive stand. Though if misused in order to create a hierarchy in power it is highly problematic. To not draw distinctions would cause differences to go unseen or—in case we do not differentiate enough—into a field of perpetual in-between, which becomes blurry. That too can become just as problematic as overly clear distinctions than lack the possibility of variation and alternatives.
To cross out a distinction, but to still leave the original distinction visible, can be just as necessary as drawing it in the first place might have been. As Michael Hardt did, for example, when recasting the distinction between ‘regimes based on love | regimes based on hate’ as a single concept, namely ‘regimes based on love’. Thereby piling these meanings on top of one another and transforming them in the formulation ‘all the regimes are actually based on love’.
I have, so far, been able to distance myself from one side of this dichotomy; ‘regimes based on hate’. But I have now gathered the understanding that I can no longer ontologically distance my motivations for desiring particular regimes from those of my opponents. Because they are the same, as mine—love.
Love – suddenly becomes something with a cruel flip side to it, one that is not lying in its absence, nor in its missing reply, but which lies in love itself.
To suddenly develop even a slight understanding of what motivates something I maybe never wanted to be able to gather any understanding of feels cruel. Understanding tempers the pure feeling of rage and prevents it for reaching a climax.
This leads me to the second distinction introduced more indirectly in the opening of this piece, that of the use of the word ‘based’. Using what has been played out so far in reference to the before mentioned right-wing parties, I will take this further through the use of this qualifier. Even though the motivation, or what a regime is based upon, maybe ‘love’, the outcome or the turn this love takes is not something I can agree with. Therefore it is still an against, but one where the distinction ‘pro right-wing parties | against right-wing parties’, has re-entered one side, namely the against-side. But a different against this time. How can it be that my love and their love are striving so fundamentally in different directions? Fear would seem to be an important force in this choice. Not the only one, but a strong one, motivating the tendency of increasing support for right-wing parties. A fear of losing what is known and loved. A fear of not knowing what will follow. A fear that asks for closure from the unknown. This fear needs to be addressed by all other parties if they are to counterbalance the right-wing’s opportunistic gains from this fear and their stirring of it.
I am lucky. My fears are different from theirs, therefore I have different forces that direct me in political love. My fears in politics, on the minor and major plane, is the exclusion caused by closure; a closure resulting from the misuse of distinctions in order to create a hierarchy of power, followed by oppression—one of the most inhumane acts.
Michael Hardt—if I remember correctly—states that there is a choice between love and fear and I disagree with him on this point. I don’t believe that one can be distinct from the other, as it appeared to be with hate and love. I’ll be gladly refuted on this closeness of fear and love. However, the question one would have to ask oneself is, how to forestall the fear. Maybe with similar aspects intimate love needs. Clarity and stability, directed towards the immediate situation and the future as well, which allows for trust and security. But this stability must not lead to stagnation and closure, as this would be the end of love, which needs changes to be able to happen.
I would like to end with a poem, which picks up on some of the ideas mentioned above. Written by James Keys…
My love is like a sun for you
To warm you, melt you, let you free,
It lights on every one for you
And what it melts returns to me.
My love is like a fuel to you,
You burn me up, to fire your sun,
I only could be cruel to you
To stop the way my love would run.
I am the thread that comes between
To bind you and to let you part:
What could be, is, and might have been,
I am the cord that cleft your heart.
…or should I say, George Spencer-Brown, best known for his ‚Laws of Form’? ; )
End of moment.
Photo by Fabien Ducrot
Michael Hardt in Every Day Words Disappear by Johan Grimonprez
Pierre Bourdieu in ‘Noch feinere Unterschiede?’ by Michael Reitz
‘The Candle’ by James Keys a.k.a. George Spencer Brown
- Michael Hardt in the film Every Day Words Disappear by the artist Johan Grimonprez, shown as a part of the exhibition How to live together in Vienna. Whether Michael Hardt uses the term ‘regimes’ with a negative connotation, as it is often done nowadays, or if he uses it in the original, neutral form, which I find more interesting for the following, remains unclear. ↩