On self defense

By Waleed Majid, Staff Writer

The Hobbsian right to self defense is upheld by every society. However, as soon as the right to self defense transcends from a minuscule level to the level of empires and nations, it suddenly becomes a point of contention. 

The right of self preservation by any means necessary entails double standards, depending on who aggresses and defends. For example, it is obviously in consensus to state that Ukrainians have every reason to defend their land from Russian invaders. But if, say, Frenchmen were to hear that Algerians were well within their rights to erase their French invaders, they go into a fit of reactionary sentimentalism, justifications of genocide and cultural erasure.

We must remember that when faced with abject horror and the threat of immediate death, one doesn’t think “Oh, shall I justify my reactions with religion, myth, state propaganda or political philosophy?” Rather, one goes into a state of fight or flight and acts accordingly. 

Algerian reactions to the onslaught of French settler colonialism are fully justified then, since the 132 years of rape, pederasty, looting, murder, nuclear testing, torture and cultural genocide were indeed horrifying, and the Algerian body and conscious were in fact under the threat of immediate death. In the split-second decision to fight to live or fly to see another day, the country cannot be blamed for choosing the prior. 

This is a secular choice. A natural choice without pretext and pretense, it is a choice placed on us, as it is for every other animal. This makes the right to self defense what tethers human to tiger, and octopus to rat; a universal right that goes far beyond the bounds of humanity.

But in the 21st century, as more of our choices become secularized, we enter an era where pretext and pretense are losing their legitimacy. This means that in a global context, the actions of the occupier and the reactions of the Native don’t require ideology, excuses and religion to justify themselves as much as before. 

Since ideology isn’t strong enough to justify the violence, the contenders appropriate power over reason and put it in place of ideology. The occupier and the native then become more primal; more “animal” until they reach a point where rationalism and the schisms of human superiority are demolished, creating a truly equal stage with all of creation. Thus, they both embrace nature as the ultimate arena, rather than the public spheres and the ether of hypotheticals.

The duo simply applies their functions to their fullest application and become their truest, most reductive forms: one that wants to eat, and one that doesn’t want to be eaten. 

Every breath, step, thought and blink of the settler is done only to encroach, and every breath, step, thought and blink of the native is done only to survive. So long as conditions remain constant, there is nothing else these positions, or rather states of being can ever do. 

This is not a matter of good versus evil. But rather, it’s a matter of one who wants to keep surviving, to secure the bounty in life, versus one who will do anything to diminish that hope and remove the people enthralled by it. It is a matter of one who exists and wants to continue existing, versus one who is offended by that existence. 

The Palestinian, Angolan, Haitian, Yemeni, the Rohinga and the Sahrawi are all one of these two animals. They are the ravenous and desperate animal. 

They are angry and hungry, with nothing to consume and everything to lose. But there is only one living thing that they can eat. And there is only one living thing that drives them mad. And that living thing is their opposite that polarizes against her. And none can take away her right to fight.