“The Eternal Recurrence of Intolerable Servitude”
The following is from a book, The Counterrevolution,” by Bernard E. Harcourt, a book about the political order that currently exists in the United States. This passage is from the last chapter of that book, and in the context of Harcourt discussing the resistance of Franciscan friar William of Ockham to the then prevailing tyranny of the Avignon papacy. The title of the chapter is: “Ockham’s Razor, Or, Resisting the Counterrevolution.”
“The eternal recurrence of new forms of intolerable servitude, and with them new forms of resistance, reveals that human history – rather than a progressive march toward absolute knowledge, the withering of the state, or the end of history – is a constant struggle over our own subjection, a recurring battle over the making of our own subjectivity, of ourselves as subjects. Once we recognize the perpetual recurrence of this struggle, then and only then will we know our task, for today and for the future: to resist the always encroaching forms of tyrannical power, those violent desires for subjection, the constant and recurring attempts to govern through fear, through terror, through absolute domination.
“Today, it is not the inquisitorial theocratic tyranny of Ockham’s time that we face, even though the inquisitorial dimensions are not entirely absent. No, what we face today in the West – in the United States and some of its allies – is a new form of governing rooted in the military paradigm of counterrevolutionary war. The very methods and strategies that we developed to contain the colonized other have come back to inflect the way that our government now governs us. We in the West now live, at home, shoulder to shoulder with the insurgent other – ourselves – and have started to govern ourselves, at home and abroad, as we brutally and mistakenly learned to govern the colonized others.” [p. 215]