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June 15, Syn­tag­ma Square in Athens. One among the dozens of con­fronta­tions between police and pro­test­ers, but a rather remark­able one.

While the police inter­venes relent­less­ly and launch­es tear gas on peo­ple in all impuni­ty, a group of musi­cians, in the cen­ter of the Square, give voice to their insr­tu­ments with brio. Wear­ing masks, they con­tin­ue play­ing, thus pro­tect­ed, with a sar­cas­tic rejec­tion of State vio­lence. Anger is what trans­forms this total­i­tar­i­an asym­me­try into a beau­ti­ful thing: a joy­ous anger, a dig­ni­fied anger.” 1 John Hol­loway is the one speak­ing, in the intro­duc­tion to a text titled “Days of Anger.”

The word anger is defined as a show of aggres­siv­i­ty in the face of a threat or of a per­ceived humil­i­a­tion. Anger is a reac­tive emo­tion, or a dev­as­tat­ing force gen­er­al­ly born from per­son­al top­ics or dis­putes. Thus, the notion of anger is often framed as neg­a­tive or destruc­tive.

Hol­loway, the author whose excerpt I used in intro­duc­ing this arti­cle, was not sat­is­fied with the sole destruc­tive aspect of anger, and attempt­ed to look fur­ther. He says we must choose care­ful­ly the areas and the sit­u­a­tions towards which we can chan­nel our angers, and take them beyond the sub­jec­tive. He spec­i­fies that the huge waves of social anger sud­den­ly trans­form into an extreme­ly pow­er­ful flow when they encounter those angry ones who make an effort to swim against the cur­rent and make their way through the chinks.

Indeed, usu­al­ly, we get angry at our lovers, our friends, our boss­es. We get angry because we don’t have enough mon­ey to make it to the end of the month, or because we failed an exam… But this indi­vid­ual anger, call­ing forth argu­ments, is often destruc­tive and reduc­tive. Rather, Hol­loway sug­gests a col­lec­tive anger, beyond indi­vid­u­als, and in the face of pow­er. This sug­ges­tions seems like an appro­pri­ate piece of advice worth lis­ten­ing to.

The ire and vio­lence of dom­i­nant pow­ers are con­stant­ly legit­imized by law, where­as the peo­ple’s anger is treat­ed as ille­gal. The peo­ple’s “com­mon sense” is con­stant­ly appealed to in order to main­tain this anger under con­stant con­trol. To para­phrase Hol­loway, anger is con­stant­ly shown as anti-ratio­nal. But when fac­ing a dom­i­nant pow­er that has lost its mind, there can­not exist a rea­son­able or “com­mon sense” reac­tion. Anger is the only reac­tion can that respond to it.

This is exact­ly why we must change the flow of anger. It can be the most appro­pri­ate pos­i­tive emo­tion when fac­ing pow­er and oppres­sion. As Hol­loway says so well, “we must let our anger lead to the gov­er­nance of dig­ni­ty”. 2

Of course, Hol­loway also offers sug­ges­tions on the ways in which this anger would be reflect­ed. In his opin­ion, slo­gans such as “Kill the bankers!”, “Kill the wealthy!” may be extreme­ly appeal­ing, but struc­tural­ly, they are no dif­fer­ent from “Kill the Jews!” or “Kill the migrants!”. Killing a police­man is on the same lev­el. This is prob­a­bly why the “dig­ni­fied pro­test­ers” in the Unit­ed States set the police sta­tion on fire after hav­ing the build­ing evac­u­at­ed. For what these crowds real­ized was the fact that one police­man could not per­son­al­ly rep­re­sent pow­er. Leav­ing them to burn would be no more than let­ting loose indi­vid­ual anger, where­as set­ting the build­ing on fire, as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of pow­er, would dis­turb the author­i­ties.

Not only in the Unit­ed-States but in every cor­ner of the world, inequal­i­ties, injus­tices, vio­lence and fas­cism are on the rise. This reac­tion demon­strat­ed in the face of a rise in fas­cism is not acci­den­tal, and it is nei­ther use­less nor irra­tional. It is an appro­pri­ate and legit­i­mate aggres­siv­i­ty. It is a pos­i­tive agres­siv­i­ty, in the name of action and rebuild­ing.

Michel Fou­cault said “where there is pow­er, there is resis­tance”. So, if pow­er hard­ens, so must resis­tance and anger. Because, we have now learned to say “our dreams will not hold in your satchels, they will explod­ed them.” That is anger, like a fine instru­ment, on the con­di­tion of using it in a well-tuned fash­ion.

As Tami­ka Mal­lo­ry said: “We learned vio­lence from you!”


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges iknowiknowiknowblog.wordpress.com
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