The Lysias Argument


The difficulty that faces me, gentlemen of the jury,
is not in beginning my accusation, but in bringing
my speech to an end : so enormous, so numerous are
the acts they have committed, that neither could lying
avail one to accuse them of things more monstrous
than the actual facts, nor with every desire to speak
mere truth could one tell the whole ; of necessity
either the accuser must be tired out or his time must
run short. It seems to me that our positions will be
the reverse of what they were in former times : for
previously the accusers had to explain their enmity
towards the defendants ; but in the present case
inquiry must be made of the defendants as to the
motive of their enmity towards the city in committing
such audacious offences against her. It is not, in-
deed, from any lack of private enmities and suffer-
ings that I make these remarks, but because of the
abundant reasons that all of us have for anger on
personal grounds, or in the interest of the public.
Now as for myself, gentlemen, having never engaged
in any suit either on my own account or on that of
others, I have now been compelled by what has
occurred to accuse this man : hence I have been
often overcome with a great feeling of despondency,
from a fear lest my inexperience might cause me to
fail in making a worthy and able accusation on my
brother’s and on my own behalf. Nevertheless I will
try to inform you of the matter from the beginning,
as briefly as I can.
My father Cephalus was induced by Pericles to
come to this country, and dwelt in it for thirty years :
never did he, any more than we, appear as either
prosecutor or defendant in any case whatever, but
our life under the democracy was such as to avoid
any offence against our fellows and any wrong at
their hands. When the Thirty, by the evil arts
of slander-mongers, were established in the govern-
ment, and declared that the city must be purged
of unjust men and the rest of the citizens inclined
to virtue and justice, despite these professions they
had the effrontery to discard them in practice, as
I shall endeavour to remind you by speaking first
of my own concerns, and then of yours. Theognis
and Peison stated before the Thirty that among
the resident aliens there were some who were
embittered against their administration, and that
therefore they had an excellent pretext for appear-
ing to punish while in reality making money ; in
any case, the State was impoverished, and the
government needed funds. They had no difficulty
in persuading their hearers, for those men thought
nothing of putting people to death, but a great
deal of getting money. So they resolved to seize
ten, of whom two should be poor men, that they
might face the rest with the excuse that the
thing had not been done for the sake of money,
but had been brought about in the interest of
the State, just as if they had taken some ordinary-
reasonable action. They apportioned the houses
amongst them, and began their visits : they found me
entertaining guests, and after driving these out they
handed me over to Peison. The others went to the
factory ° and proceeded to make a list of the slaves.
I asked Peison if he would save me for a price : he
assented, on condition that it was a high one. So I
said that I was prepared to give him a talent of silver,
and he agreed to my proposal. I knew well, indeed,
that he had no regard either for gods or for men ;
but still, in the circumstances, I thought it impera-
tive to get him pledged. When he had sworn, in-
voking annihilation upon himself and his children if
he did not save me on receipt of the talent, I went
into my bedroom and opened the money-chest.
Peison noticed it and came in ; on seeing its contents
he called two of his underlings and bade them take
what was in the chest. Since he now had, instead of
the agreed amount, gentlemen, three talents of silver,
four hundred cyzicenes, a hundred darics and four
silver cups, I begged him to give me money for my
journey ; but he declared that I should be glad enough
to save my skin. As Peison and I were coming out,
we were met by Melobius and Mnesitheides, who
were on their way from the factory : they lighted
upon us just at the door, and asked where we were
going. Peison declared that he was off to my brother’s,
for the purpose of examining the property in that
house also. So they bade him go his way, but told
me to follow along with them to Damnippus’s house.
Peison came up and urged me to keep silent and have
no fear, as he was coming on to that place. There
we found Theognis guarding some others ; they
handed me over to him, and went off again. Situ-
ated as I was, I decided to take a risk, since death
was already my portion. I called Damnippus and
said to him : ” You are in friendly relations with me,
and I have come into your house ; I have done no
wrong, but am being destroyed for the sake of my
money. In my great trouble, lend your own zealous
efforts for my salvation.” He promised to do
so ; and he decided that he had better mention it to
Theognis, as he believed that he would do anything
for an offer of money. While he was in conversation
with Theognis — I happened to be familiar with the
house, and knew that it had doors front and back — I
decided to try this means of saving myself, reflecting
that, if I should be unobserved, I should be saved ;
while, if I were caught, I expected that, should
Theognis be induced by Damnippus to take money,
I should get off none the less, but should he not, I
should be put to death just the same. With these
conclusions I took to flight, while they were keeping
guard over the courtyard door a : there were three
doors for me to pass through, and they all chanced
to be open. I reached the house of Archeneos the
ship-captain, and sent him into town to inquire after
my brother : on his return he told me that Erato-
sthenes had arrested him in the street and taken him
off to prison. Thus apprised of his fate, I sailed
across on the following night to Megara. Polem-
archus received from the Thirty their accustomed
order to drink hemlock, with no statement made as
to the reason for his execution : so far did he come
short of being tried and defending himself. And
when he was being brought away dead from the
prison, although we had three houses amongst us,
they did not permit his funeral to be conducted from
any of them, but they hired a small hut in which to
lay him out. We had plenty of cloaks, yet they re-
fused our request of one for the funeral ; but our
friends gave either a cloak, or a pillow, or whatever
each had to spare, for his interment. They had
seven hundred shields of ours, they had all that
silver and gold, with copper, jewellery, furniture and
women’s apparel beyond what they had ever ex-
pected to get ; also a hundred and twenty slaves,
of whom they took the ablest, delivering the rest to
the Treasury ; and yet to what extremes of insati-
able greed for gain did they go, in this revelation
that they made of their personal character ! For
some twisted gold earrings, which Polemarchus’s wife
chanced to have, were taken out of her ears by Melo-
bius as soon as ever he entered the house. And not
even in respect of the smallest fraction of our
property did we find any mercy at their hands ;
but our wealth impelled them to act as injuriously
towards us as others might from anger aroused by
grievous wrongs. This was not the treatment that we
deserved at the city’s hands, when we had produced
all our dramas for the festivals, and contributed to
many special levies ; when we showed ourselves
men of orderly life, and performed every duty laid
upon us ; when we had made not a single enemy,
but had ransomed many Athenians from the foe.
Such was their reward to us for behaving as resident
aliens far otherwise than they did as citizens ! For
they sent many of the citizens into exile with the
enemy ; they unjustly put many of them to death,
and then deprived them of burial ; many who had
full civic rights they excluded from the citizenship ;
the daughters of many they debarred from being-
given in marriage. And they have carried audacity
to such a pitch that they come here ready to defend
themselves, and state that they are guilty of no vile or
shameful action. I myself could have wished that their
statement were true ; for my own share in that benefit
would not have been of the smallest. But in fact they
have nothing of the sort to show in regard either to the
city or to me : my brother, as I said before, was put
to death by Eratosthenes, who was neither suffering
under any private wrong himself, nor found him
offending against the State, but eagerly sought to
gratify his own lawless passions. I propose to put
him up on the dais and question him, gentlemen of
the jury. For my feeling is this : even to discuss
this man with another for his profit I consider to be
an impiety, but even to address this man himself,
when it is for his hurt, I regard as a holy and pious
action. So mount the dais, please, and answer the
questions I put to you.
Did you arrest Polemarchus or not ? — I was acting
on the orders of the government, from fear. — Were
you in the Council-chamber when the statements
were being made about us ? — I was. — Did you
speak in support or in opposition of those who were
urging the death sentence ? — In opposition. — You
were against taking our lives ? — Against taking your
lives. — In the belief that our fate was unjust, or just ?
— That it was unjust.
So then, most abandoned of mankind, you spoke
in opposition to save us, but you helped in our arrest
to put us to death ! And when our salvation de-
pended on the majority of your body, you assert that
you spoke in opposition to those who sought our de-
struction ; but when it rested with you alone to save
Polemarchus or not, you arrested him and put him
in prison. So then, because you failed to help
him, as you say, by your speech in opposition, you
claim to be accounted a good citizen, while for having
apprehended him and put him to death you are not
to give satisfaction to me and to this court !
And further, supposing he is truthful in asserting
that he spoke in opposition, observe that there is no
reason to credit his plea that he acted under orders.
For I presume it was not where the resident aliens
were concerned that they were going to put him to
the proof. And then, who was less likely to be
given such orders than the man who was found
to have spoken in opposition to what they wanted
done ? For who was likely to be less active in
this service than the man who spoke in opposition
to the object that they had at heart ? Again,
the rest of the Athenians have a sufficient excuse,
in my opinion, for attributing to the Thirty
the responsibility for what has taken place ; but if
the Thirty actually attribute it to themselves, how
can you reasonably accept that ? For had there been
some stronger authority in the city, whose orders
were given him to destroy people in defiance of
justice, you might perhaps have some reason for
pardoning him ; but whom, in fact, will you ever
punish, if the Thirty are to be allowed to state that
they merely carried out the orders of the Thirty ?
Besides, it was not in his house, but in the street,
where he was free to leave both him and the decrees
of the Thirty intact, a that he apprehended him
and took him off to prison. You feel anger against
everyone who entered your houses in search either
of yourselves or of some member of your household :
yet, if there is to be pardon for those who have
destroyed others to save themselves, you would be
more justified in pardoning these intruders ; for it
was dangerous for them not to go where they were
sent, and to deny that they had found the victims
there. But Eratosthenes was free to say that he had
not met his man, or else that he had not seen him :
for these were statements that did not admit of either
disproof or inquisition ; so that not even his enemies,
however they might wish it, could have convicted
him. If in truth, Eratosthenes, you had been a good
citizen, you ought far rather to have acted as an
informant to those who were destined to an unjust
death than to have laid hands on those who were to
be unjustly destroyed. But the fact is that your
deeds clearly reveal the man who, instead of feeling
pain, took pleasure in what was being done ; so that
this court should take its verdict from your deeds, not
from your words. They should take what they know
to have been done as evidence of what was said at the
time, since it is not possible to produce witnesses of
the latter. For we were restricted, not merely from
attending their councils, but even from staying at
home ; and thus they have the licence, after doing
all possible evil to the city, to say all possible good
about themselves. That one point, however, I do
not contest : I admit, if you like, that you spoke in
opposition. But I wonder what in the world you
would have done if you had spoken in favour, when
in spite of your alleged opposition you put Polem-
archus to death.
Now I would ask the court, even supposing that you
had happened to be brothers or sons of this man,
what would you have done ? Acquitted him ? For,
gentlemen, Eratosthenes is bound to prove one of
two things, — either that he did not arrest him, or
that he did so with justice. But he has admitted that
he laid hands on him unjustly, so that he has made
your voting on himself an easy matter. And besides,
many foreigners as well as townsfolk have come
here to know what is to be your judgement on these
men. The latter sort, your fellow-citizens, will have
learnt before they leave, either that they will be
punished for their offences, or that, if they succeed
in their aims, they will be despots of the city, but, if
they are disappointed, will be on an equality with you.
As for all the foreigners who are staying in town, they
will know whether they are acting unjustly or justly
in banning the Thirty from their cities. For if the
very people who have suffered injury from them are
to let them go when they have hold of them, of
course they will consider it a waste of pains on their
own part to keep watch on your behalf. And how
monstrous it would be, when you have punished
with death the commanders who won the victory
at sea° — they said that a storm prevented them
from picking up the men in the water, but you felt
that you must make them give satisfaction to the
valour of the dead — if these men, who as ordinary
persons used their utmost endeavours towards your
defeat in the sea-fights, b and then, once established in
power, admit that of their own free will they put to
death many of the citizens without a trial, — if these
men, I say, and their children are not to be visited by
you with the extreme penalty of the law !
Now I, gentlemen, might almost claim that the
accusations you have heard are sufficient : for I con-
sider that an accuser ought to go no further than to
show that the defendant has committed acts that
merit death ; since this is the extreme penalty that
we have power to inflict upon him. So I doubt if
there is any need to prolong one’s accusation of such
men as these ; for not even if they underwent two
deaths for each one of their deeds could they pay the
penalty in full measure. And note that he cannot
even resort to the expedient, so habitual among our
citizens, of saying nothing to answer the counts of
the accusation, but making other statements about
themselves which at times deceive you ; they
represent to you that they are good soldiers, or have
taken many vessels of the enemy while in command
of war-ships, or have won over cities from hostility to
friendship. Why, only tell him to point out where
they killed as many of our enemies as they have of
our citizens, or where they took as many ships as
they themselves surrendered, or what city they
won over to compare with yours which they enslaved.
Nay, indeed, did they despoil the enemy of as many
arms as they stripped from you ? Did they capture
fortifications to compare with those of their own
country which they razed to the ground ? They are
the men who pulled down the forts around Attica,
and made it evident to you that even in dismantling
the Peiraeus they were not obeying the injunctions
of the Lacedaemonians, but were thinking to make
their own authority the more secure.
I have often wondered, therefore, at the audacity of
those who speak in his defence, except when I reflect
that the same men who commit every sort of crime
are wont also to commend those who act in a similar
way. For this is not the first occasion of his work-
ing in opposition to your people : in the time of the
Four Hundred ° also, seeking to establish an oligarchy
in the army, he abandoned the war-ship which he
was commanding and fled from the Hellespont with
Iatrocles and others whose names I have no call to
mention. On his arrival here he worked in opposition
to those who were promoting a democracy. I will
present you with witnesses to these facts.


Now his life in the interval I will here pass over :
but when the sea-fight b took place, with the disaster
that befell the city, and while we still had a democracy
(at this point they started the sedition), five men
were set up as overseers by the so-called ” club-
men,” to be organizers of the citizens as well as chiefs
of the conspirators and opponents of your common-
wealth ; and among these were Eratosthenes and
Critias. They placed tribal governors over the tribes,
and directed what measures should be passed by their
votes and who were to be magistrates ; and they had
absolute powers for any other steps that they chose
to take. Thus by the plotting, not merely of your
enemies, but even of these your fellow-citizens, you
were at once prevented from passing any useful
measure and reduced to a serious scarcity. For
they knew perfectly well that in other conditions
they could not get the upper hand, but that if you
were in distress they would succeed. And they sup-
posed that in your eagerness to be relieved of your
actual hardships you would give no thought to those
that were to follow. Now, to show that he was one
of the overseers, I will offer you witnesses ; not the
men who then acted with him, — for I could not do
that, — but those who heard it from Eratosthenes
himself: yet truly, if they ° were sensible, they would
be bearing witness against those persons, and would
severely punish their instructors in transgression ;
and as for their oaths, if they were sensible they would
not have held them as binding to the detriment of the
citizens, and would not so have made light of breaking
those oaths for the advantage of the city. So much
then, I would say in regard to them : now call my
witnesses. Go up on the dais.


You have heard the witnesses. Finally, when he
was established in power, he had a hand in no good
work, but in much that was otherwise. Yet, if he
was really a good man, it behoved him in the first place
to decline unconstitutional powers, or else to lay infor-
mation before the Council exposing the falsity of all
the impeachments, and showing that Batrachus
and Aeschylides, so far from giving true information,
were producing as impeachments the fabrications
of the Thirty, devised for the injury of the citizens.
Furthermore, gentlemen, anyone who was ill-disposed
towards your people lost nothing by holding his
peace : for there were other men to speak and do
things of the utmost possible detriment to the city.
As for the men who say they are well-disposed, how
is it that they did not show it at the moment, by
speaking themselves to the most salutary purpose
and deterring those who were bent on mischief ?
He could say, perhaps, that he was afraid, and to
some of you this plea will be satisfactory. Then he
must take care that he is not found to have opposed
the Thirty in discussion : otherwise the fact will declare
him an approver of their conduct who was, moreover,
so influential that his opposition would bring him
to no harm at their hands. He ought to have shown
this zeal in the interest rather of your safety than of
Theramenes, who has committed numerous offences
against you. No, this man considered the city his
enemy, and your enemies his friends ; both of these
points I will maintain by many evidences, showing that
their mutual disputes were not concerned with your
advantage but with their own, in the contest of their
two parties ° as to which should have the administra-
tion and control the city. For if their quarrel had
been in the cause of those who had suffered wrong,
at what moment could a ruler have more gloriously
displayed his own loyalty than on the seizure of
Phyle by Thrasybulus ° ? But, instead of offering
or bringing some aid to the men at Phyle, he went
with his partners in power to Salamis and Eleusis,
and haled to prison three hundred of the citizens,
and by a single resolution b condemned them all to
After we had come to the Peiraeus, and the com-
motions had taken place, and the negotiations were in
progress for our reconciliation, we were in good hopes
on either side of a settlement between us, as both
parties made evident. For the Peiraeus party,
having got the upper hand, allowed the others to
move off : these went into the town, drove out the
Thirty except Pheidon and Eratosthenes, and
appointed their bitterest enemies as leaders, judging
that the same men might fairly be expected to feel
both hate for the Thirty and love for the party of the
Peiraeus. Now among these were Pheidon, Hip-
pocles, and Epichares of the district of Lamptra,
with others who were thought to be most opposed to
Charicles and Critias and their club : but as soon as
they in their turn were raised to power, they set up
a far sharper dissension and warfare between the
parties of the town and of the Peiraeus, and thereby
revealed in all clearness that their faction was not
working for the Peiraeus party nor for those who
were being unjustly destroyed ; and that their vexa-
tion lay, not in those who had been or were about
to be put to death, but in those who had greater
power or were more speedily enriched. For having got
hold of their offices and the city they made war on both
sides, — on the Thirty who had wrought every kind
of evil, and on you who had suffered it in every way.
And yet one thing was clear to all men, — that if the
exile of the Thirty was just, yours was unjust ; while
if yours was just, that of the Thirty was unjust : for it
was not as answerable for some other acts that they
were banished from the city, but simply for these.
It ought therefore to be a matter for the deepest
resentment that Pheidon, after being chosen to re-
concile and restore you, joined in the same courses
as Eratosthenes and, working on the same plan, was
ready enough to injure the superior members of his
party by means of you, but unwilling to restore the
city to you who were in unjust exile : he went to
Lacedaemon, and urged them to march out, insinu-
ating that the city would be falling into the hands of
the Boeotians, with other statements calculated to
induce them. Finding that he could not achieve
this, — whether because the sacred signs impeded,
or because the people themselves did not desire it, —
he borrowed a hundred talents for the purpose of
hiring auxiliaries, and asked for Lysander to be their
leader, as one who was both a strong supporter of the
oligarchy and a bitter foe of the city, and who felt
a special hatred towards the party of the Peiraeus.
Bent on our city’s destruction, they hired all and
sundry, and were enlisting the aid of cities and finally
that of the Lacedaemonians and as many of their
allies as they could prevail upon ; and thus they were
preparing, not to reconcile, but to destroy the city,
had it not been for some loyal men, to whom I bid
you declare, by exacting requital from your enemies,
that they no less wall get your grateful reward.
But these facts you comprehend of yourselves, and
I doubt if I need provide any witnesses. Some,
however, I will ; for not only am I in need of a rest,
but some of you will prefer to hear the same state-
ments from as many persons as possible.


By your leave, I will inform you also about Thera-
menes, as briefly as I can. I request you to listen, both
in my owm interest, and in that of the city ; and one
thing let no one imagine, — that I am accusing The-
ramenes when it is Eratosthenes who is on his trial.
For I am told that he will plead in defence that he
was that man’s friend, and took part in the same acts.
Why, I suppose, if he had been in the government
with Themistocles he would have been loud in claim-
ing that he worked for the construction of the walls,”
when he claims that he worked with Theramenes for
their demolition ! For I do not see that there is any
parity of merit between them. The one constructed
the walls against the wish of the Lacedaemonians,
w T hereas the other demolished them by beguilement
of the citizens. Thus the reverse of what was to be
expected has overtaken the city. For the friends of
Theramenes deserved no less to perish with him,
except such as might be found acting in opposition
to him : but here I see them referring their defence
to him, and we have his associates attempting to
win credit as though he had been the author of
many benefits, and not of grievous injuries. He,
first of all, was chiefly responsible for the former
oligarchy, by having prompted your choice of the
government of the Four Hundred. His father, who
was one of the Commissioners, was active in the
same direction, while he himself, being regarded as a
strong supporter of the system, was appointed general
by the party. So long as he found favour, he showed
himself loyal ; but when he saw Peisander, Cal-
laeschrus and others getting in advance of him, and
your people no longer disposed to hearken to them,
immediately his jealousy of them, combined with his
fear of you, threw him into co-operation with Aristo-
crates. Desiring to be reputed loyal to your people,
he accused Antiphon and Archeptolemus, his best
friends, and had them put to death ; and such was the
depth of his villainy that, to make credit with those
men, he enslaved you, while also, to make credit with
you, he destroyed his friends. Held in favour and the
highest estimation, he who by his own choice offered to
save the city, by his own choice destroyed it, asserting
that he had discovered a capital and most valuable
expedient. He undertook to arrange a peace with-
out giving any hostages or demolishing the walls or
surrendering the ships : he would tell nobody what
it was, but bade them trust him. And you, men
of Athens, while the Council of the Areopagus were
working for your safety, and many voices w T ere heard
in opposition to Theramenes, were aware that,
though other people keep secrets to baffle the enemy,
he refused to mention amongst his own fellow-
citizens what he was going to tell the enemy : yet
nevertheless you entrusted to him your country,
your children, your wives and yourselves. Not one
of the things that he undertook did he perform, but
was so intent on his obj ect of subduing and crippling
the city that he induced you to do things which none
of the enemy had ever mentioned nor any of the
citizens had expected : under no compulsion from
the Lacedaemonians, but of his own accord, he
promised them the dismantling of the Peiraeus walls
and the subversion of the established constitution ;
for well he knew that, if you were not utterly bereft
of your hopes, you would be quick to retaliate upon
him. Finally, gentlemen, he kept the Assembly from
meeting until the moment dictated by the enemy
had been carefully watched for by him, and he had
sent for Lysander’s ships from Samos, and the enemy’s
forces were quartered in the town. And now, with
matters thus arranged, and in the presence of
Lysander, Philochares and Miltiades,° they called
the Assembly to a debate on the constitution, when
no orator could either oppose them or awe them with
threats, while you, instead of choosing the course
most advantageous to the city, could only vote in
favour of their views. Theramenes arose, and bade
you entrust the city to thirty men, and apply the
system propounded by Dracontides. But you, not-
withstanding your awkward plight, showed by your
uproar that you would not do as he proposed ; for
you realized that you were choosing between slavery
and freedom in the Assembly that day. Theramenes,
gentlemen (I shall cite your own selves as witnesses to
this), said that he cared nothing for your uproar, since
he knew of many Athenians who were promoting
the same kind of scheme as himself, and that his
advice had the approval of Lysander and the Lace-
daemonians. After him Lysander arose and said,
when he had spoken at some length, that he held you
guilty of breaking the truce, and that it must be a
question, not of your constitution, but of your lives,
if you refused to do as Theramenes demanded. Then
all the good citizens in the Assembly, perceiving the
plot that had been hatched for their compulsion,
either remained there and kept quiet, or took them-
selves off, conscious at least of this, — that they had
voted nothing harmful to the city. But some few, of
base nature and evil purpose, raised their hands
in favour of the commands that had been given. For
the order had been passed to them that they were to
elect ten men whom Theramenes had indicated, ten
more whom the overseers, just appointed, demanded,
and ten from amongst those present. They were
so aware of your weakness, and so sure of their own
power, that they knew beforehand what would be
transacted in the Assembly. For this you should
rely, not on my word, but on that of Theramenes ;
since everything that I have mentioned was stated
by him in his defence before the Council,” when he
reproached the exiles with the fact that they owed
their restoration to him, and not to any consideration
shown by the Lacedaemonians, and reproached also
his partners in the government with this, — that
although he had been himself responsible for all
that had been transacted in the manner that I have
described, he was treated in this fashion, — he who
had given them many pledges by his actions, and
to whom they were plighted by their oaths. And it
is for this man, responsible as we find him for all
these and other injuries and ignominies, late as well
as early, great as well as small, that they a are going
to have the audacity to proclaim their friendship ;
for Theramenes, who has suffered death, not as your
champion, but as the victim of his own baseness, and
has been justly punished under the oligarchy — he
had already caused its ruin — as he would justly
have been under the democracy. Twice over b did
he enslave you, despising what was present, and
longing for what was absent,** and, while giving them
the fairest name, e setting himself up as instructor
in most monstrous acts.
Well, I have dealt sufficiently with Theramenes in
my accusation. You now have reached the moment
in which your thoughts must have no room for par-
don or for pity ; when you must punish Eratosthenes
and his partners in power. You should not show
your superiority to the city’s foes in your fighting
merely to show your inferiority to your own enemies
in your voting. Nor must you feel more gratitude
to them for what they say that they mean to do
than anger for what they have done ; nor, while
taking your measures against the Thirty in their
absence/ acquit them in their presence ; nor in
your own rescue be more lax than Fortune, who has
delivered these men into the hands of the city.
Such is the accusation against Eratosthenes and
those friends of his, on whom he will fall back in his
defence, as his abettors in these practices. Yet it is
an unequal contest between the city and Erato-
sthenes : for whereas he was at once accuser and
judge of the persons brought to trial, we to-day-
are parties engaged in accusation and defence. And
whereas these men put people to death untried who
were guilty of no wrong, you think fit to try according
to law the persons who destroyed the city, and whose
punishment by you, even if unlawfully devised,
would still be inadequate to the wrongs that they
have committed against the city. For what would
they have to suffer, if their punishment should be
adequate to their actions ? If you put them and
their children to death, should we sufficiently punish
them for the murder of our fathers, sons and brothers
whom they put to death untried ? Or again, if you
confiscated their material property, would this be
compensation either to the city for all that they
have taken from her, or to individuals for the houses
that they pillaged ? Since therefore, whatever you
might do, you could not exact from them an adequate
penalty, would it not be shameful of you to disallow
any possible sort of penalty that a man might desire
to exact from these persons ?
But, I believe, he would have the audacity for
anything, when he has come here to-day, before
judges who are no other than the very persons who
have been maltreated, to submit his defence to the
actual witnesses of the man’s own villainy : so pro-
found is either the contempt that he has conceived
for you or the confidence that he has placed in others.
For both possibilities you ought to be on the watch,
reflecting that, as they would have been unable to
do what they did without the co-operation of others,
so they would not now have ventured into court un-
less they expected to be saved by those same per-
sons ; who have come here, not to support these
men, but in the belief that there will be a general
indemnity alike for their past actions and for what-
ever they may want to do in the future, if you let
slip from your grasp the authors of our direst misery.
But you may well wonder, besides, whether those who
intend to take their part will petition you in the char-
acter of loyal gentlemen, making out that their own
merit outweighs the villainy of these men, — though
I could have wished them as zealous for the salvation
of the State as these men were for its destruction, —
or whether they will rely on their skilful oratory for
putting in a defence and making out that the
actions of their friends are estimable. Yet on your
behalf not one of them has ever attempted to mention
merely your just rights.
Now it is worth observing how the witnesses, in
testifying for these men, accuse themselves : they
take you to be singularly forgetful and simple, if
they believe that by means of you, the people, they
will save the Thirty with impunity, when owing to
Eratosthenes and his partners in power it was dan-
gerous even to conduct funerals of the dead. Yet
these men, if they escape, will be able again to de-
stroy the city ; whereas those whom they destroyed,
having lost their lives, can no longer look for satis-
faction from their enemies. Then is it not monstrous
that the friends of those who have been unjustly
put to death were destroyed with them, and yet the
very men who destroyed the city will have many
people, I imagine, to conduct their funerals, since so
many are making efforts to shield them ? Moreover, I
am sure it was far easier to speak in opposition to them
on the subject of your sufferings than it is now in de-
fence of what they have done. We are told, indeed,
that of the Thirty Eratosthenes has done the least
harm, and it is claimed that on this ground he should
escape ; but is it not felt that for having committed
more offences against you than all the other Greeks
he ought to be destroyed ? It is for you to show what
view you take of those practices. If you condemn
this man, you will declare your indignation at the
things that have been done ; but if you acquit him,
you will be recognized as aspirants to the same con-
duct as theirs, and you will be unable to say that you
were carrying out the injunctions of the Thirty, since
nobody to-day is compelling you to vote against
your judgement. So 1 counsel you not to condemn
yourselves by acquitting them. Nor should you
suppose that your voting is in secret ; for you will
make your judgement manifest to the city.
But before I step down, I desire to recall a few facts
to the minds of both parties — that of the town and
that of the Peiraeus — in order that you may take
warning from the disasters brought upon you through
the agency of these men, before you give your vote.
In the first place, all you of the town party should
consider that you were so oppressed by the rule of
these men that you were compelled to wage against
your brothers, your sons and your fellow-citizens a
strange warfare in which your defeat has given you
equal rights with the victors, whereas your victory
would have made you the slaves of these men. They
have enlarged their private establishments by means
of their public conduct, while you find yours reduced
by your warfare against each other : for they did not
permit you to share their advantages, though they
compelled you to share their ill-fame ; and they
carried disdain so far that, instead of enlisting your
fidelity by a communication of their benefits, they
thought to ensure your sympathy by a partnership
in their scandals. In return, now that you feel
secure, go to the limit of your powers, on your own
behalf as on that of the Peiraeus party, in taking your
vengeance. Reflect that in these men you found the
most villainous of rulers ; reflect that you now have
the best men with you in tenure of our civic rights,
in fighting the enemy, and in deliberating on affairs
of State ; and remember the auxiliaries a whom these
men stationed in the Acropolis as guardians of their
dominion and of your slavery. I have much else to say
to you, but I will say no more. And all you of the
Peiraeus party, remember first the matter of the
arms, — how after fighting many battles on foreign soil
you were deprived of your arms, not by the enemy,
but by these men, in a time of peace ; and next, that
you were formally banished from the city which
your fathers bequeathed to you, and when you
were in exile they demanded your persons from the
various cities. In return you should feel the same
anger as when you were exiles, and remember be-
sides the other injuries that you suffered from these
men, who with violent hands snatched some from the
market-place, and some from the temples, and put
them to death ; while others they tore from their
children, their parents and their wives, and com-
pelled to self-slaughter, and then did not even allow
them to be given the customary burial, conceiving
their own authority to be proof against the vengeance
of Heaven. As many as escaped death encountered
danger in many places, and wandered to many cities,
and were banished from each refuge : in want of sub-
sistence, having left behind you your children either
in your native land, now turned hostile, or else on
foreign soil, you came, despite many adversities, to
the Peiraeus. Beset by many great perils, you proved
yourselves men of true valour, and liberated one
party while restoring the other to their native land.
If you had been unfortunate, and had failed of these
achievements, in your turn you would have gone into
exile through fear of more afflictions like the past,
and owing to the methods of these men you would
have found no shelter from your wrongs in either
temples or altars, where even wrongdoers are secure.
Of your children, as many as were here would have
been foully assaulted by these men, while those in
foreign parts would have been enslaved for petty
debts, cut off from all possible assistance.
But I have no wish to speak of things that might
have befallen, when I find myself unable to recount
what these men have actually done : that is a task,
not for one accuser, nor for two, but for many. Never-
theless, of zeal on my part there has been no lack in
defence of the temples which these men have either
sold or defiled by their presence ; in defence of the city
which they abased ; on behalf of the arsenals, which
they demolished ; and on behalf of the dead, whom
you were unable to protect in life, and must therefore
vindicate in death. I fancy that they are listening to
us, and will know you by the vote that you give ;
they will feel that those of you who acquit these men
will have passed sentence of death on them, while
those who inflict the merited penalty will have acted
as their avengers.

I will here conclude my accusation. You have
heard, you have seen, you have suffered ; you have
the guilty
: give judgement.


Paris, närhetsprincipen och journalister så pass blinda att de inte ens hittar sin egen poäng

Egentligen förtjänar inte Hanne Kjöllers krönikor att bevärdigas med något svar. Men eftersom DN:s egna Bill O’Reilly denna gång gör en poäng som framförs lite bättre av lite mer sofistikerade kommentatorer tänkte jag här göra ett undantag.

I sitt senaste inlägg i debatten raljerar hon över hur “identitetsvänstern” har viftat med “rasistkortet” efter händelserna i Paris och över deras patetiska klagan om att terroristattacken i Beirut inte täcktes på samma vis. Hur kommer det sig då att kanadensiska skogsbränder får mindre uppmärksamhet än värmländska, frågar Kjöller retoriskt. Det handlar förstås om närhetsprincipen.

David Isaksson skriver som sagt en något mer genomtänkt kommentar på samma spår:

Ändå menar jag att det är helt igenom rimligt att vi skriver mer om Paris än om Beirut. Grunden är förstås närhetsprincipen. I Paris har vi semestrat, där känner vi människor. Det handlar också om kulturell identifikation: vi kan lätt se oss själva bland offren (och det finns som bekant en svensk bland de som dödades). Paris är dessutom en del av vårt politiska närområde: bombattentaten där påverkar den fria rörligheten i Europa, hur EU använder våra skattepengar och inriktningen på vår gemensamma utrikespolitik.

Det är oroande att både Kjöller och Isaksson så katastrofalt missar poängen. Även om de första reaktionerna inte har varit särskilt sofistikerade från något håll så är det ofattbart hur två journalister år 2015 kan missa att den verkliga kärnan i utropen “Beirut!” och “Nairobi!” är en kritik mot hur närhet konstrueras kulturellt och politiskt.

Isaksson visar ett uns av insikt (och ger ett lysande exempel på den polarisering som han varnat för en paragraf tidigare) när han skriver: “är det någon av oss som vill byta tvättstugan i Bagarmossen eller fredagskvällen runt Möllevångstorget, mot Hizbollahs Beirut eller Putins Ryssland? Nej, skulle inte tro det.” Det handlar alltså om något annat än bara sträckor mätta i kilometer.

Att avstånd inte bara speglar rent geografiska förhållanden men också är socialt konstruerade är en så pass grundläggande insikt från 1900-talets samhällsvetenskap att det är makalöst att det inte sitter i ryggmärgen hos de journalister som ska bevaka omvärlden. Hur vi uppfattar närhet bygger på kulturella, politiska, sociala och rasistiska föreställningar.

Vad är då den poäng de har som de båda är för blinda för att se? Jo, de tar båda den förhållandevis begränsade uppmärksamheten efter att ett passagerarflygplan från Ryssland exploderade på väg från Egypten som ett argument för att det är något annat än rasism som ligger bakom medias nyhetsvärdering. Den verkliga frågan är givetvis när och hur Ryssland blev så pass avlägset att ryska liv värderas lägre och vad det säger om den politiska och mediala verkligheten i Sverige idag.


The Many Ideological Labels of Homegrown Terrorism: Anarchy (1894–1914)

In his report to the U.S. Congress on how to combat the complex threat of American Jihadist Terrorism, Jerome Bjelopera explains that “homegrown” terrorism refers to plots “perpetrated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States.”

He goes on to say that the rise in this type of terrorism after April 2009, is most likely reflective of “a trend in jihadist terrorist activity away from schemes directed by core members of significant terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda” and it “suggests that ideologies supporting violent jihad continue to influence some Americans—even if a tiny minority.”

This type of terrorism poses a unique set of challenges for law enforcement and intelligence gathering:

Homegrown violent jihadists, some say, possibly lack deep understanding of specialized tradecraft such as bomb making. They may not have the financing, training camps, support networks, and broad expertise housed in international.These apparent shortcomings may keep some homegrown violent jihadists from independently engaging in large-scale suicide strikes. Because of this, they may turn to violence requiring less preparation, such as assaults using firearms.

Worse yet, the move from “simply believing in Jihad” to illegally pursuing it via violent methods” is highly individualized. That is to say “there is no single path that individuals follow to become full-fledged terrorists.” An individual can become radicalized in any number of ways, for example through contact with intermediaries, through social networks, while in prison or while surfing Internet.

However, the author remains positive that it is possible to combat domestic terrorism through preemptive policing, intelligence gathering and agent provocateurs; all the while “balancing” security and liberty.

Bjelopera’s definition of what constitutes a homegrown terrorist is both functional and liberal: not only terrorists with an American passport are to be considered homegrown, but even permanent residents and long-term visitors may be counted as such.

At the same time there is a curious tension implicit in the report. For while the individual terrorist is homegrown, the ideology – violent jihad – has a unmistakably foreign quality to it. This revealing tension has a history that stretches way beyond the conceptual framework of the current War on Terrorism, a history that will be covered in part here.

The following is the first out of three texts on the history of terrorism in Europe and France. Three periods will be covered: Anarchy (1894–1914), Nation (1914–1986), Jihad (1986–).


Before focusing on the development of anarchist terrorism in France, we will stay a moment in the United States. Not the U.S. of 2001 but of 1886, when a bomb detonated at Chicago’s Haymarket square in one of the earliest terrorist attacks in the nation’s history. Three years after the bombing, police captain Michael Shaak published his book on the subject in which he presented in detail, “as fairly and as impartially” as he could, not only the story of those “misguided men” who had been convicted for the crime, but also the history of the extremist ideology that had spurred them to take action:

THE conspiracy which culminated in the blaze of dynamite and the groans of murdered policemen on that fatal night of May 4th, 1886, had its origin far away from Chicago, and under a social system very different from ours.

In order that the reader may understand the tragedy, it will be necessary for me to go back to the commencement of the agitation, and to show how Anarchy in this city is the direct development of the social revolt in Europe.

The captain sought the roots of the Haymarket terror not in domestic conditions, but in foreign ideology. He drew an image of how the doctrine of Anarchy began as a form of radicalism in France that later developed in Germany. Listed among the main proponents of this dangerous ideology were Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin and Ferdinand Lassalle (“like Marx of Hebrew blood”).

While the captain condemned the “excesses into which the common people were led” during the social revolts of Europe, he did express some sympathy for the “oppressed classes” and an understanding of the underlying causes. However, such compassion did not extend to those “un-American in birth, training, education, and idea” who would “substitute for the ballot-box the dynamite bomb” in the United States.

According to the captain, the terrorists of Chicago were adherents of a nihilistic, German school of anarchism which had no place in the United States: “The Anarchists of Chicago are exotics. Discontent here is a German plant transferred from Berlin and Leipsic and thriving to flourish in the west. In our garden it is a weed to be plucked out by the roots and destroyed, for our conditions neither warrant its growth nor excuse its existence.”

Among the eight who were put on trial in connection to the terrorist attack on Haymarket square, six were of German descent. Conversely, they were convicted by a jury of their peers picked out by the court bailiff and that consisted entirely of non-immigrants.

Thus language and translation became key issues during the trial. Most of the evidence consisted of inflammatory handbills and newsletters written in German. Moreover, the language which the defendants had used between themselves at the day of the attack became an issue of possible incrimination; the mystic German codeword Ruhe was claimed by the prosecutor to have been a signal to militant activists to take violent action against the authorities. For the non-German jury to understand the evidence it was presented with, it was necessary to make translations. Translations which the defense unsuccessfully objected to as “incompetent, immaterial and irrelevant.”

All of the eight were convicted, seven were sentenced to death by hanging. Two had their sentences commuted and one committed suicide-by-dynamite in his cell. Four had their sentences carried out, humming La Marseillaise as they approached the gallows.


Illustration from Michael J. Schaak’s Anarchy and Anarchists. A History of the Red Terror, and the Social Revolution in America and Europe. Communism, Socialism, and Nihilism in Doctrine and Deed. The Chicago Haymarket Conspiracy, and the Detection and Trial of the Conspirators. Chicago, 1889

If we trust the good police captain of Chicago, we should look to the dark continent of Europe to find the origin of this ideology of terror. As the print above illustrates perfectly, the captain drew a direct line from the state terror of the French Revolution a hundred years earlier to the anarchist terrorists of his day. In partial agreement with the captain, historians often point to Europe as the place where modern terrorism was born, but at the end rather than at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the early 1880s, in the aftermath of the state terror that had ended the Paris commune, several successful assassinations of political leaders in Russia, Germany and Spain had managed to convince the anarchists of Europe to adopt a new tactic – propagande par le fait (“propaganda of the deed”). Through widely publicized acts of terror the anarchists would prove their revolutionary resolve and strike fear in the bourgeoisie.

The effectiveness of this tactic was ensured by a new invention – the dynamite. Patented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel, the dynamite made the anarchist terror so much more deadly. In late nineteenth century Europe, readers of the mainstream press would have perceived anarchism as synonymous with terrorism. The anarchists seemed to be able to strike at any place and at any time.

On 12 February 1894, the citizens of Paris were made acutely aware of this new reality when a lone anarchist detonated a homemade bomb in a downtown café. The following day, the attack was described in a Paris newspaper as such:

Yesterday, Monday, at exactly three minutes past nine in the evening, a bomb was thrown into the café of Hotel Terminus, which is located in the same building as the Saint-Lazare station. The café where this abdominal attack took place has a large main entrance that opens upon the Rue Saint-Lazare; another exit is located under the passages of the Cour du Havre /…/ A formidable explosion reverberated; a greenish smoke filled the room making it hard to breathe while an acrid smell spread everywhere; the loud crash of a large mirror shattering further increased the horror; then the screams of women, chairs overturned, bodies falling to the ground; we had been present at another anarchist attack.

The anarchist responsible for the attack was apprehended at the scene. At first, the anarchist refused to identify himself and it took a couple of days until the newspapers could reveal his name: Émile Henry. Born in Barcelona of French parents who had been exiled because of their involvement in the Commune.

Illustration showing how people fled the Café Terminus after the detonation of the bomb. Le Petit Journal, 14 February 1894

People fleeing in panic after the detonation of Émile Henry’s bomb. Le Petit Journal, 14 February 1894

While the terrorist in this case was a Frenchman, the newspapers made sure that the reader knew that the anarchist threat was an international one. Le Figaro speculated that the attack might have been the result of an international conspiracy overlooked by the authorities:

London is, as we know, since a long time the international center of the revolution and more recently of anarchism. A few days ago, there was open discussion during two meetings over the ways “to avenge Vaillant” [who had been executed in February 1984 after his bomb attack on the legislative assembly] It is probably after these two meetings that the scheme took form, and the “executors” were chosen /…/ The French police had actually been informed that four anarchists had left London on the 17 January in order to get to Paris. Four agents from the National Police had immediately been sent to wait for these individuals as they arrived and to follow them /…/ Among these individuals were Émile Henry /…/ This surveillance continued for a few days. Then, because nothing abnormal or troubling had been observed, he was left without surveillance, in fact they even stopped working on his case.

In fact, even though Henry did have many contacts among anarchists both in Paris and London, he seems to have acted on his own initiative this time. Even among the most radical, the majority disapproved of attacks that hit indiscriminately against members of the general public. Anarchist publications called Henry a “criminal” and a “scoundrel” and distanced themselves from his attitude of there being “no innocents” among the bourgeoisie.

In a commentary on the execution of Henry in the radical newspaper La Justice, the editor Georges Clemenceau wrote that he was appalled by the action of this anarchist, but even more so by the response by the state:

I find the crime of Henry horrifying. I am not trying to find any excuses for him. It is just that the spectacle of all these men uniting to kill him, following orders made by other officials, who are just as respectable and who are at this hour sleeping peacefully, is revolting to me due to its horrible cowardice. The crime of Henry is that of a savage. The way society acts seems to me a low form of revenge. That barbarians have barbaric ways, it is awful, but it is to be expected. But that the civilized and irreproachable, who have received the highest of educations, are not satisfied with rendering the criminal harmless, and insist virtuously upon cutting a man in two, this is something that cannot be explained except as an atavistic regression toward the primitive barbarian.

As a radical opponent of the liberal government, Clemenceau’s opinions in this matter might have been representative also for many anarchists. While many of them were appalled by Henry’s methods (or at least found them to be counterproductive), they did not abandon the idea of propaganda of the deed. Attacks against the police continued and political leaders were assassinated with unprecedented frequency. In 1897 the Spanish prime minister Canovas was assassinated, followed by the Empress of Austria in 1898, the Umberto I of Italy in 1900, and the U.S. President McKinley in 1901.

Out of these four political assassinations, all but the last were carried out by Italians. Many prominent anarchists at this time came from the newly founded Kingdom of Italy. Generally seen as dangerous subversives, they were persecuted both in Italy and in the countries where they sought refuge. Most Italian radicals only engaged in ordinary propaganda as missionaries of the anarchist ideal, but it was the minority that was prepared to preach through violent action that made them all infamous. Over the last decade of the nineteenth century, the subscriber of FrenchBritish or American newspapers would have read about numerous conspiracies and attacks and they would have learned to fear the Italian Anarchist.

At the very start of the string of anarchist assassinations of the second half of the 1890s, an influential assassination was carried out by an Italian anarchist in France. In June 1894, Sante Geronimo Caserio stabbed the French President Sadi Carnot to death during the International and Colonial Exhibition in Lyon. The assassination was intended as retribution for the execution of Vaillant and Henry, the latter having been executed only a month earlier.

But the fact that Caserio was a convinced internationalist who wanted to avenge two Frenchmen was not enough to protect the Italian community when the public learned of the assassin’s nationality. In Lyon, Italian businesses were demolished and military troops had to be dispatched to protect the consulate. As is often the case, there was no room for nuances or for distinguishing between different types of Italian communities.

The assassination of President Carnot. Le Petit Journal, 2 July 1894

The assassination of President Carnot. Le Petit Journal, 2 July 1894

Not only ethnic minorities were affected by the reaction to anarchist terrorism, it would have serious implications for the civil liberties that had contributed to making Paris the capital of the century. In a world of increasing imperial competition and partial abortion of newborn civil liberties in the vast empires of Russia, Spain, Germany and China, post-Commune Paris had become something of a safe haven for intellectuals and political radicals. As Walter Benjamin explains in his classic essay, it was during the reign of Louis Philippe (1830-1848) that the private individual had entered into history. In Paris there had developed a separation of the public and private sphere, what Walter Benjamin calls the interior: “the interior is the asylum where art takes refuge.”

Sadly, as the nineteenth century came to a close, the French authorities came to believe that the interior was also where anarchists took refuge. Inspired by similar anti-terrorist legislation in Germany and Russia, the French government swiftly put into place a set of laws intended to crush the anarchist movement. These exceptional laws soon became known as les lois scélérates (“the villainous laws”) because of their draconian character.

The first of these law was passed only three days Auguste Vaillant’s attack on the Chamber of Deputies in December 1983. It was a law circumscribing the freedom of the press by extending the law against direct provocation to include indirect provocation. In other words, it became punishable by law not only to propagate for violent political action, but also to voice any kind of sympathy for such actions. A week later, another law extended the definition of criminal conspiracy (l’association de malfaiteurs), enabling the authorities to pursue members of anarchist groups whether they had committed a crime or not. A third law, passed shortly after the assassination of President Carnot in July 1894, targeted anarchist propaganda explicitly, making anarchist newspapers and magazines effectively illegal.

While these “villainous laws” were passed without much obstacle, they were heavily criticized at the time. The main charge was that they did not differentiate between terrorist acts and anarchist ideals, the latter would today fall into the category of violent extremism. The socialist leader Jean Jaurès was among the most vocal opponents of the new laws. In a speech held after the passing of the third law he attacked the very concept that lay at its foundation:

But this [the content of the first two laws] is still not enough for you. And you reappear before us, you tell us: The anarchist thinking, it can creep its way into a single suggestion, it can be carried by whispers from heart to heart, from ear to ear; it can be exhaled into a single cry of anger or of suffering, and because there is an anarchist threat within these suggestions, within these private discussions, in these exchanged letters, within these whispers of suffering or of anger, we are going to try to find them all in order to strike against them all; we are going to be eavesdropping on every consciousness, and in this way we will apprehend the propagation even of a murderous thought; we will neutralize the imperceptible germs of anarchy that may exist in the consciousness even before they have a chance to hatch and manifest themselves. Now there is the thinking behind your law.

These draconian laws were a hard blow to the anarchist press in France and led to the persecution of moderate anarchists, but as we have already seen it failed to stop both anarchism itself and the killing spree carried out in its name. The decline of anarchism as a political movement would not come until it was momentarily halted due to the calamity of World War I and then definitely overshadowed by the spread of bolshevism following the Russian revolution – the ultimate propaganda of the deed.

It seems proper then to end this brief account of anarchist terrorism with the political killing which was to serve as the catalyst for World War I. For while the members of the Young Bosnia group were inspired by anarchist ideals, and the way in which they carried out the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria certainly resembled the anarchist deeds, the immediate motivation was nationalism. A month after the murder of the Archduke, Jean Jaurès was shot to death at a café in Paris by French nationalist Raoul Villain. These assassinations mark the beginning of the twentieth century in the history of European terrorism; an era in which the dominant theme was no longer anarchism, but different configurations of nationalism.


What caused the rapid rise and equally swift fall of anarchist terrorism in late nineteenth century France? No full answer is provided here, but a couple of things should appear a bit more clearly. First of all, anarchist terrorism corresponded largely to the definition of homegrown terrorism provided above: many of the terrorists were either citizens or residents of France and violent anarchism had an influence on some French — even if a tiny minority. To be sure, anarchist ideology was at its very core internationalist and thrived in the cosmopolitan centers of the world, it was far from being a domestic phenomena. But the Chicago police captain’s charge that anarchism was an alien weed that had no conditions for growth in the United States still does not stick, precisely because of the way in which anarchism managed to attract radicals all over the world. Activists who in turn contributed to the development of its theory and practice.

It should be equally clear that anarchist terrorism was not so much an ideology, as a strategy employed in a very specific setting. Politically, the success of early political assassinations certainly helped to promote the idea of the propaganda of the deed, but so did the state repression that followed. The attacks carried out by the likes of Auguste Vaillant, Émile Henry and Sante Geronimo Caserio were all acts of vengeance following what was perceived as unjust executions of a fellow anarchists. Moreover, the state blindness to the nuances of the radical milieu contributed to further political polarization. It is important to note that this blindness was anything but a natural reaction to the shock of anarchist terrorism. Rather, it was a symptom of a polity that was already in a state of crisis, where the circumscription of civil liberties could gain support due to the rise of movements that were hostile to democracy: the anti-Dreyfusards and the Boulangists.

It goes without saying that this narrative of nineteenth century anarchist terrorism can be meaningfully related to recent events in Paris. It seems to me that the way in which the terrorist acts of today are habitually contextualized enables powerful nations to the north of the Tropic of the Cancer to carry out what should really not be called a “Global War on Terrorism,” but rather described as a “Civilizatory War on Barbarism.” In this war, the suicide bombings and violent extremism of the barbarians is answered by the drones and seeds of democracy that make up the arsenal of civilization. However, if we accept even the slightest kinship between the terrorists of the nineteenth century and the terrorists of today, this way of framing the issue must be called into question. A narrative in which these phenomena are seen as partly analogous would require a radical reconceptualization of how terrorism and counter-terrorism may be understood. If, for example, we understand President Hollande’s repeated designation of the enemy as  “barbarian” together with Georges Clemenceau, the effect is very unsettling. Where Clemenceau concluded that it was to be expected that barbarians commit barbaric acts but insisted that the state must not, Hollande has altogether different interpretation of the situation. To him, the barbaric character of the enemy is exactly that which justifies intensified warfare and further repression.

What may be the consequences of such an attitude? If the story presented here has any relevance, it may well be the “regression toward the primitive barbarian” that Clemenceau warned us about.


Global Economy and Anatomy of Shanghainese Nightlife

During the 2000s the center of gravity of the global economy shifted dramatically in a South-Eastern direction. Adjusting somewhat the North-Western bias of the 20th century, it moved from somewhere in the Arctic Ocean to a place near to the town Salekhard in Northern Russia. The major reason for this change is the increasing importance of China in the world economy.

It is tempting to see this change as a sort of return to normalcy, reflecting the high concentration of the global population living in East and South-East Asia. Indeed, historically speaking it is a return, as the prospected center of gravity in the year 2025 would be located rather close to the center in 1820.

The center of gravity of the world economy is determined by comparing the GDP of the countries of the world. If we compare it with the geographic center of the world population (“at the crossroads between China, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan”) we have an illustration of global inequalities in terms of national wealth, favoring the West and the North. It tells us nothing, however, of domestic inequalities.

A look at the domestic situation in China reveals an economic center with an Eastern rather than North-Western bias. Wealth is concentrated within the more developed – and politically powerful – cities close to the Eastern seaboard.

Among these cities, Shanghai stands out as particularly wealthy. As before, a map of regional discrepancies within the country leave us blind to local ones. In the case of Shanghai we ignore that the city has been shown to have a very low share of labor income to GDP, slow growth of household income and that the economy of its poorest inhabitants is improving at a slower rate than in other parts of China.

For present purposes, however, it suffices to note that Shanghai is a wealthy region, because we will be looking at a specific part of the Shanghainese economy: the nightclubs in the bustling heart of the city.

Modo Ultra Club, a hybrid establishment.

These consist both of high-end bars frequented by wealthy businessmen and of more modest establishments. The clientele of the latter consists mainly of middle class Chinese and younger foreigners who are either students or who have landed menial jobs, such as teaching or consulting.

Generally, lower-end nightclubs across China may be roughly divided into two types.

Nationwide chains like Babyface, Soho and Mayflower are examples of the first type of clubs. These mainly cater to Chinese customers who arrive in groups and get a table where they will remain throughout the night. At the table someone will most likely order a bottle of American whisky and ice tea — paying for the whole group. The night is spent talking and playing drinking games while enjoying entertainment provided by the club’s team of singers and dancers.

The second type of establishments more closely resembles nightclubs in Europe and a disproportionate portion of its customers are foreigners. More common in larger cities with considerable expat communities, these clubs do not provide much more than alcohol, dance floors and a DJ with varying qualifications.

However, in the most international of cities – like Shanghai or Beijing – a hybrid has come into being. These clubs combine features of the two types of club and have a mixed clientele.

In a highly competitive business environment, these hybrid nightclubs employ promoters who use social media networks like WeChat to draw foreign visitors to their club with promises of free alcohol and a good time.

At the club, foreigners in their twenties flock around the tables of free alcohol before proceeding to the dance floor to show of their skills.

Surrounding the dance floor another type of customer sit at the tables, closely attended upon by one or several waiters. This is a very different clientele dominated by local patrons. Ignoring the free alcohol they order whisky, beer or champagne in abundance. The waiters running back and forth to accommodate their wishes.

It is here, at these tables, where we find the economic center of the Shanghainese nightclubs. The patrons sitting here are dominated by the upper middle class that is increasingly propelling Chinese consumption and growth. They are the ones who keep these businesses running and through their lavish habits they are subsidizing the free alcohol enjoyed by the foreign exchange students.

Thus, the foreigners who are frequenting these nightclubs are not the clients. As with free drinks being given away during Ladies’ nights in bars around the patriarchal globe, the alcohol is anything but a sign of privilege. Like the entertainment provided by Russian dancers and second-rate American rappers, the foreign guests are not the consumers, they are part of the package being sold to the real patrons. 


Friday Morning and The End of Civilization

Today is Friday August 28th, 2015.

This morning the satanic mills of production and speculation seemed to have slowed down enough for the PM2.5-infested smog to clear momentarily, allowing the news agencies of the world to take a glance at the ruins-in-making we call home.

Friday morning at the New York Stock Exchange, 1963

Reuters reports that the global turbulence caused by the imploding stock market bubble in China may very well disrupt the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to rise the interest rate. The New York Fed President William Dudley conceded that the idea of rising the rate in September “seems less compelling” than last week, but that we should not overreact to “short-term” market moves.

Kevin Logan at HSBC Securities, however, does not seem to think there is any reason to worry about an “overreaction”, or indeed that it would be possible to designate any type of reaction as excessive:

“The years when China could keep on growing and pump things up – that’s over. So you look around the world and ask who can take up the slack, and really the answer is nobody /…/ I don’t see how it’s possible that inflation will be picking up in the United States. We’re just going to have a stronger dollar, falling commodity prices, growth prospects that aren’t that good, more competition from imports in the U.S. market so that labor won’t have any bargaining power and wages won’t be going up.”


The sustained slowdown of the global economy in combination with recent disasters – including but not limited to low oil prices, weak growth in Europe and the stock market crash in China – puts a downward pressure on inflation globally, which the U.S will need to adapt to.

Bad for the working people of America, good for inequality. Lately, the latter looks like one of the few economic indicators exhibiting real growth. Next year the richest one percent will be able to celebrate that their combined wealth will succeed that of the remaining 99 percent of the world population.

Wall Street Journal provides us with a possible counter-narrative from China. Desperate for any positive signs in the Chinese economy, the Journal takes a look at consumer spending. Domestic consumption, we are told, will save China by bringing with it the wonder of sustainable growth.

In the words of IMF High Priestess and growth aficionado Christine Lagarde: “Slower, safer, and more sustainable growth is good for China and its people – and it is good for the world /…/ By brewing its economic cup of tea more slowly, China will end up with a richer taste.”

The Chinese consumers are not only drinking tea, however, they are guzzling oil.

Wall Street Journal illustrates the increasing importance of consumers vis-a-vis the industry by showing how diesel sales decline as gasoline sales grow. As industrial production slows down the demand for diesel weakens, while the increasingly mobile Chinese consumer craves gasoline for her car and kerosene for the commercial airlines taking her on vacation. The Chinese oil companies have been able to take advantage of low oil prices to increase purchase of crude oil, while these same depressed prices pushes oil exporting Venezuela toward humanitarian crisis.

Chinese consumer spending is growing, environmentally sustainable or not, even as the stock market plummets and industrial sales fall. However, in an increasingly unequal world, it becomes clear that not all consumers are created alike. The pretty picture of a growing Chinese middle class of consumers is beginning to crackle. As the Boston Consulting Group’s Jeff Walters delicately puts it:

Entrants into China’s middle class propelled high growth in China from 2005 to 2012, benefiting foreign consumer goods companies as shoppers bought their first branded shampoos and lotions. Companies tailored their strategies to those consumers, but now their growth is tapering off and many of these companies are scrambling.

New growth in China is being propelled by the upper middle class, those who make between 12,000 RMB and 20,000 RMB monthly household income. These are the consumers who are traveling and buying wine, looking more like the American consumer.

The upper middle class is a rapidly growing force, while the number of emerging middle class households is growing at a decreasing pace. The Chinese dream of a moderately prosperous society is a pipe dream. Ours is a time of excess, not moderation.

In Europe, the barbarians continue their war against humanity.

Today it was reported that 71 refugees had been found dead in a truck in Austria, prompting Austria’s interior minister to denounce the traffickers: “This tragedy is a concern for us all. Smugglers are criminals. They have no interest in the welfare of refugees. Only profit.”

The trafficking business is a booming business in an otherwise hurting world economy, a direct consequence, of course, of the European criminalization of migration. As the European countries build barbed wire fences to keep out refugees and attempt to externalize immigration control, human smuggling thrives and the number of dead in the Mediterranean multiplies.

In other news, it looks like the racist Sweden Democrats are continuing to grow. A new survey found that 17.8 percent would vote for them if Sweden were to hold an election today.

These were just some of the news this Friday. A day like any other in this age of apocalypse (rated PG-13, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender).



Abnormal Death 5: The Official Definition

As I have tried to show in previous posts, the line between normal, acceptable loss of life and abnormal, unacceptable death is difficult to draw.

For the state, however, it is often necessary to make a difference between the two. Not in the least at a time of transitional justice or when dealing with crimes committed or made worse by the state itself.

In the case of the reconciliatory policies following the Cultural Revolution, a “Cadre Personnel Work Manual” (干部人事工作手册) from Shanghai (1986) provides a definition of “abnormal death” (非正常死亡), which in turn clarifies which obligations the state has toward the deceased and her/his family:

When it comes to abnormal deaths from the “Cultural Revolution,” one must differentiate between different situations. All cases where people were beaten to death; or were driven to suicide through cruel punishment, forceful confessions or bodily harm; or died as a consequence of the torment inflicted upon them while in  solitary confinement, or because the confinement worsening their medical condition, must be treated as cases of “being persecuted to death.” The verdicts must be reversed. All those who took their lives after being attacked during the reactionary ideological current of “doubting everything and overthrowing everything” are actually victims, we cannot keep saying things like “they committed suicide due to a failure to understand the policy.” They must receive the same treatment as revolutionary cadres dying from illness.



The Auschwitz imperative and the heresy of the Swedish Green Party

Although it did not constitute the geographical center of the Shoah, Auschwitz has become the ultimate symbol of the destruction of the Jews.

In his reflections on Auschwitz, Giorgio Agamben quotes the scribbled down and buried testimony of Zelman Lewental, a member of the Sonderkommando:

Just as the events that took place cannot be imagined by any human being /…/ so is it unimaginable that anyone could exactly recount how our experience took place /…/ we, the small group of obscure people who will not give historians much work to do.

But the opaque reality of Auschwitz keeps giving historians and others work to do. Agamben goes as far as to say that what took place in the camp constitutes a fundamental problem for historical knowledge: “a non-coincidence between facts and truth, between verification and comprehension.”

In other words, Auschwitz ultimately defies understanding, but at the same time it is vital that we never stop trying. Thus, we must admit that total comprehension is unattainable, while knowing that it is possible to gradually better our partial understanding:

Some want to understand too much and too quickly; they have explanations for everything. Others refuse to understand; they offer only cheap mystifications. The only way forward lies in investigating the space between these two options.

Over time, the Nazi genocide has become the defining genocide of modernity. It is the genocide standing above all others as an ideal version of itself. By virtue of being something that can neither be understood entirely nor forgotten it has gained an almost magical efficacy.

As such, it is not only historically challenging, but politically seductive. Because, today, the example of Auschwitz is inseparable from the moral imperatives of “Never Forget” and of “Never Again.”

This goes to explain both the recent statement of Swedish Green Party spokesperson Åsa Romson (“We in Europe are in the process of making the Mediterranean into a new Auschwitz”) and the indignant, disciplinary response with which it was met.

To be sure, Romson’s assertion could be interpreted as an attempt to understand “too much and too quickly.” This is certainly the view of the chairperson of the Central Council of Jews in Sweden who made the following comment:

The industrial killing that was carried out during the Shoah cannot be relativized. With an extreme-right advancing in Europe, one cannot be allowed to make such a comparison. It is ignorant and absurd.

Faced with criticism from just about everywhere, Åsa Romson was quick to retract her statement.

She excused herself by saying that the comparison was made “in the heat of the moment” and triggered by “the human crime” currently taking place in the Mediterranean.

She continued to admit that”the situation cannot be compared with what happened in Nazi Germany /…/ Hitler’s crimes against the Jews, against the Gypsies [sic], against homosexuals and Hitler’s crimes in the gas chambers are beyond comparison.”

In the end she swore her allegiance to the common principle of how to remember the Shoah; she was made to repeat publicly what we already know: that the crime associated with Auschwitz is singular, unprecedented and incomparable.

Of course, Romson was already aware of this principle. In fact, by mentioning Auschwitz she was not trying to make a historical comparison, but to mobilize public opinion by evoking the moral capacity connected with this singular example.

Thus, she did not mistakenly utter something out of historical ignorance, but because she wanted to tap into the mystical force given to the Auschwitz example precisely due to the fact that it is beyond comparison.

This raises a question: if Åsa Romson’s crime was not historical ignorance, what was it? The short answer is that her crime was heretical in nature.

It should be recalled that the power of Auschwitz is neither a consequence of the historical character of the Nazi genocide, nor even of the way it has been represented in historical writings.

Rather, Auschwitz has become powerful because of the authority of the institutions who have been urging us to remember it and told us how it should be interpreted. To a large extent, these institutions provide the rules for how the Nazi genocide may be remembered and how it might be used politically. It is not up to anyone to harness the power of Auschwitz as they see fit.

Therefore, the project uniting institutions like the Swedish government agency Living History Forum and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is first and foremost a political one, not a historical one.

The former was created as a result of an international initiative motivated – at least in part – by diplomatic concerns. The latter provides leadership training and works actively to “galvanize policy makers both in the US and around the world to create the tools and structures needed to avert the next crisis” by linking the memory of the Holocaust to the Responsibility to Protect.

Åsa Romson bypassed these powerful interests and appropriated (in a clumsy manner) the Auschwitz imperative in what amounts to a heretic disregard of the proper order of Holocaust remembrance.

It is interesting to note that following Åsa Romson’s transgression, the supreme sorcerers of the UN Human Rights Commission and the Living History Forum have made statements to very much the same effect, albeit without direct reference to Auschwitz.

Sadly, it is probably too optimistic to think that these wizards possess the power to mobilize the European leadership against the crimes in the Mediterranean.


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Abnormal Death, 4: Everyday crimes against humanity

A petrified tree, Lesbos

A petrified tree, Lesbos

Even if it is not immediately clear from the headlines, the ongoing “Mediterranean crisis” predates the European debt crisis.

While it is said to have been comparatively easy to reach Europe alive in the 1990s, refugees started dying en masse in the early 2000s, when conventional paths were successively closed as a result of the criminalization of migration. In recent years, new EU directives have made life more difficult for refugees, for example by introducing carriers’ liability and allowing for prolonged detention.

Even for those who managed to get to the other shore of the Mediterranean deplorable conditions await. Already in 2008, Medicins sans frontières accused the Greek government of being responsible for a “humanitarian crisis” on the island of Lesbos.

The head of the organization’s Greek migration assistance program reported that the migrants were only allowed outside for half an hour every day and that rooms were clogged with stagnant water. In a month the number of migrants had increased from 150 to 800, resulting in a “horrible” medical situation and an “urgent humanitarian crisis.”

In a statement very similar to the ones produced on the current debt crisis, the Greek government defended itself by saying that it had insufficient funds to handle the issue and that other members of the EU did not do enough to support the country in this “pan-European problem.”

A year later the situation had not improved much. UN’s refugee agency expressed concern over the situation at a Lesbos detention camp. The UN observers were “shocked” at the conditions in the facility where 850 people, including 200 unaccompanied children, were being held in a centre with the capacity for 250-300.

They described the situation on Lesbos as symptomatic:

The situation in Pagani is indicative of broader problems relating to irregular migration and Greece’s asylum system. Last year, UNHCR, with the support of the Greek Ministry of Interior, presented recommendations for a complete overhaul of the asylum system, including specific measures to protect asylum-seeking children. To date, these proposals have not been implemented.

As the government remained unable to solve the crisis, members of the local community set up their own centre to help the asylum seekers, with the help of private donations.

Last year, Al-Jazeera reported that when the government-run facility – Moria -would run out of capacity, the police brought the migrants to the community-run centre – PIKPA – instead.

While the former is a detention center surrounded by barbed-wire fence, the latter is an open facility.

Efi Latsoudi, one of the key individuals behind PIKPA, rejects the idea of detaining migrants upon their arrival. “This is totally against our idea of how to treat refugees … It’s a policy to humiliate them, make their life really difficult, and push them to illegal ways to stay and leave the country.”

In a recent paper, legal scholars Ioannis Kalpouzos and Itamar Mann argue that agents working for the Greek government and for the European border agency Frontex might be guilty of what they call “banal crimes against humanity.”

The paper is an appeal to the International Criminal Court to not only prosecute spectacular cases, but also everyday atrocities. Such crimes may be “normalized occurrences” that have more to do with social and economic evolutions than with radical politics.

In support of their claim that crimes against humanity have occurred in Greece, Kalpouzos and Mann refer to the European Court of Human Rights that have found evidence of “inhuman and degrading treatment” of asylum seekers in Greece in a number of cases.

However, as pointed out by the Greek government itself, the issue does not only concern Greece. Kalpuzos and Mann maintain that Frontex border guards “knowingly transferred” asylum seekers to “inhuman and degrading treatment” in the detention centers.

While the general trend in Europe seems to be in favor of an even more inhumane migration policy, the new government in Greece has declared that it will change the country’s migration policy radically.

The new immigration minister, Tasia Christodoulopoulou, has emphasized the need to protect asylum seekers and spoken of detention as an “exceptional measure” rather than as a norm.

The Syrzia strategy toward migration issues appears to be identical to its fiscal strategy: to act decisively in hope of disrupting the new normal in Europe. This strategy has already failed in the battle against the Troika, it remains to be seen what it can do for Europe’s asylum seekers.


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Spirits and Hegemony – comforting stories for daft intellectuals

There has not been much evidence to support Weber’s claim that a “protestant work ethic” makes up the “spirit of capitalism.” Some economists find a correlation between the saturation of protestant values and economic growth, others do not. It would seem that it is necessary to choose your sample carefully to find any support for this weak hypothesis.

But even if we disregard the fact that nobody seems to have been able to produce any convincing evidence in the hundred years since Weber first came up with his theory, the concept of protestant work ethic is disturbing in itself.

Not only does it fail to acknowledge the repressive nature and the “bloody legislation” of modern society, it pays little heed to the violent struggles of workers taking place both in Weber’s society and ours.

As blogger Jehu puts it in his critique of the “insane bullshit”:

[T]he struggle for the eight hour day was happening out the window as Weber penned his essays […] Even as that dick, Weber, was putting his essays on the work ethic down on paper, Colorado was being convulsed by miners strikes seeking an eight hour day.

How did Weber come up with such a far-fetched theory? How come an idea so far removed from reality continues to be so influential?

The answer might be as simple as this: this kind of explanation gives political intellectuals like Weber a raison d’être. After all, ideas and ideologies are their domain and if we say that these have a determining impact on society and economic growth, how could we afford losing our great thinkers?

Within the academic left, a similar idea has had a huge theoretically impact over the last couple of decades; the concept of “hegemony”  as it appears in the prison notes scribbled down by stalinist strategist Antonio Gramsci.

But the concept did not originate with Gramsci, it was used by the Russian revolutionaries as the object of the struggle to attain political influence over the working class. It was Lenin who answered the question of what was to be done starting a newspaper called Spark.

In Gramsci’s fragments, hegemony is diffused by the bourgeoisie through civil society (which is not always separated from the state in Gramsci’s work) as an alternative to direct domination.

As the imprisoned leader of the Italian Communist Party, Antonio Gramsci was first and foremost concerned with Marxist political strategy; his main influences were Machiavelli and Lenin.

For him the battle for hegemony was a “war of position” to win over the masses to revolutionary socialism in a united front against the bourgeoisie and against fascism. The direct impact of Mussolini’s success on Gramsci’s thinking has been underlined by Perry Link:

From 1921 to 1924, the years when the Comintern seriously tried to secure the implementation of United Front tactics towards the PSI Maximalists in Italy, both Bordiga and Gramsci refused and resisted the line of the International. By the time Gramsci had assumed the leadership of the party in 1924, and rallied to a policy of fidelity to the International, fascism was already installed and the Comintern–now radically changed in character–had largely abandoned United Front tactics itself. Thus Gramsci’s insistence on the concept of the ‘united front’ in his Prison Notebooks in the thirties does not represent a renewal of his political past: on the contrary, it marks a conscious retrospective break with it.

Hegemony was a key notion for a revolutionary strategy focusing on the vanguard role of the party. While these revolutionaries were not blind to the struggles taking place around them, they aimed to direct these struggles in what they believed to be the right direction.

From a strategical point of view, they were interested in the common class interest of the proletariat (as interpreted by themselves) and were therefore looking to repress the constant competition between workers who, of course, had diverse and conflicting interests among themselves, both individually and on a regional or national level.

It should therefore not be necessary to point out why it is ridiculous to employ the notion of hegemony as an analytical concept. It should be clear why presenting hegemony, as in an oft-cited article on the key concepts of postcolonial, as a term “useful for describing the success of imperial power over a colonized people who may far outnumber any occupying military force, but whose desire for self-determination has been suppressed by a hegemonic notion of the greater good, often couched in terms of social order, stability and advancement, all of which are defined by the colonizing power” is beyond stupid. The claim that the ruling-class might suppress the interest of a population desiring “self-determination” through hegemony is politically dishonest. Scientifically it is retarded.

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Abnormal Death, 3 : Counting

As we live out our lives, the probability of death steadily approaches 1. It follows that most deaths appear insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, when death occurs with a certain frequency and within a given space, death may be filled with meaning.

Take, for example, Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. In his study, social historian Jin Dalu uses official accounts to show that the death rate during the most violent years of the Cultural Revolution was actually comparatively low. Throughout the ten years (1966-1976) the average death rate was only 5.4%.

The death rate was actually lower during the early “violent” years of the movement than later on. It started rising in 1974 and it stayed on a level higher than during the previous”decade of calamity” throughout the eighties. In 1980 the death rate was 6.5%, in 1990 it was 6.74%. Jin Dalu remarks that this trend “merits the attention of medical and public health sectors.”

Yet, the 11,500 people who are reported by the official annals of Shanghai to have died “an abnormal death due to persecution” during the Cultural Revolution seem to merit attention for some other reason.

The feeling is that counting these “abnormal” deaths might help us evaluate the historical significance of this political movement. This number provides a bottom line if we want to compare (how “bad” was the Cultural Revolution?) or classify (does it make sense to call it a holocaust?).

Counting may also be a memorial activity. While it is not quite as effective naming (which is generally reserved only for the most “prominent” of victims), counting provides the victims with a collective identity. While individuals disappear into abstraction, the group that they are associated with may be remembered, as might the approximate conditions of their demise.

Assessing under- and over-reporting thus become an important challenge, because it affects our understanding of the collective identity of the victims.

Moreover, it directly affects a more controversial – and politically significant – task: the balancing of death. While such comparisons might seem morbid, they are necessary if we aim for any kind of equality in the way that we remember our dead.

But it is far from a straight-forward operation. As I have tried to indicate above, not all death is comparable. Death by pollution is usually not comparable to death by gunfire and death by hunger is generally not weighed against death by tumor. While the justification of the killer is rarely a factor to take into account, the direct or indirect nature of the violence generally has to be.

However, all such division of dead bodies into different categories has severe consequences for the metrics that are used to evaluate politics and conflict. In modern society, there are some lives that are disposable. In the Mediterranean, it is clearly so. In the one-sided Drone War, some deaths count and some do not.

It is difficult to keep cool while counting dead, it is downright revolting to try to determine which dead are “equal” to others. Nevertheless, critically comparative, disinterested body counts may be among the best tools to disturb ideological fairytales and to confront murderers with “good intentions.”