13 January 2010

en fraternité

"When, echoing the French Revolution, the black slaves in Haiti revolted in the name of the same principles of freedom, equality and fraternity, this was "the crucible, the trial by fire for the ideals of the French Enlightenment. And every European who was part of the bourgeois reading public knew it"... In Haiti, the unthinkable (for the European Enlightenment) took place: the Haitian Revolution "entered history with the peculiar characteristic of being unthinkable even as it happened". The ex-slaves of Haiti took the French revolutionary slogans more literally than did the French themselves: they ignored all the implicit qualifications which abounded in Enlightenment ideology (freedom - but only for rational "mature" subjects, not for the wild immature barbarians who first had to undergo a long process of education in order to deserve freedom and equality...). This led to sublime "communist" moments, like the one that occurred when French soldiers (sent by Napoleon to suppress the rebellion that occurred and restore slavery) approached the black army of (self-)liberated slaves. When they heard an initially indistinct murmur coming from the black crowd, the soldiers at first assumed it must be some kind of tribal war chant; but as they came closer, they realized that the Haitians were singing the Marseillaise, and they started to wonder out loud whether they were not fighting on the wrong side."
- Slavoj Žižek, "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce", pp111-112
You can donate here to Oxfam Ireland who have a presence on the ground in Haiti , as do Concern who also have an emergency appeal, or to the agency of your choice in your home country.

Nous sommes tous les enfants de Toussaint l'Ouverture.



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