Worthy and unworthy lives

SIMILARITY: In The Force of Nonviolence, Judith Butler writes that systematic discrimination is the main cause of all violence.

Ciftci is a journalist and actor.
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Published: 2020-03-01
The Force of Nonviolence
Author: Judith Butler
Verso Books, United Kingdom, USA

In the essay collection The Force of Nonviolence writes the American philosopher, gender scientist and literary theorist Judith Butler on the relationship between physical and mental nonviolence, systemic racism as well as other structural forms of discrimination. But how does systemic discrimination relate to non-violence?

Butler's academic language and analysis of the theories Michel Foucault, Frantz Fanon, Walter Benjamin and other philosophers at times make it hard to keep up, but the message still shines through: The philosophical, ethical and political approach to nonviolence is based on the fact that some people in society are systematically defined as more "grievable" (worthy of mourning) than others. .

Such a message means that some people are defined as more worthy than others, that their deaths mean more than the loss of people belonging to vulnerable groups: refugees, women, transgender people and so on, who are systematically defined as "ungrievable" (not worthy of mourning ).

Aggressive and sustainable

In contrast to how theories of physical and mental nonviolence are often associated with passivity and harmony, Butler redefines the theory of nonviolence into an aggressive and sustainable resistance movement to combat social inequalities in society. She writes that racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny make some lives more worthy of grief than others, and uses the Black Lives Matter movement, the refugee crisis and violence against Latin American women and trans women as a theoretical framework.

Racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny make some human lives more
worthy of grieving over others.

As an example of Butler's claim of worthy and unworthy lives, recently the tragic demise of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter more headlines in the media than, for example, the deaths of children in Yemen, who are dying in the thousands at this moment.

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