Okay, so I have to admit that the title was what originally caught my attention, before I read this interview. (I mean, I tend to not expect the words “carefully crafted” and “fuck you” put together.) However, once I started to read it, I was glad that I did. Butler and the interviewer spoke on a variety of topics, such as grieving, different presidential administrations, social privelege, while the topic for most of the interview is war.
Butler makes many interesting points in this interview. Below are a few that I found to be especially compelling-
“Guernica: In the book’s introduction, you set out a principled vision for how we might go about defining life—
Judith Butler: I am not at all sure that I define life, since I think that life tends to exceed the definitions of it we may offer.”
“Judith Butler: …I think that we have seen quite cynical uses of feminism for the waging of war. The vast majority of feminists oppose these contemporary wars, and object to the false construction of Muslim women “in need of being saved” as a cynical use of feminist concerns with equality. There are some very strong and interesting Muslim feminist movements, and casting Islam as anti-feminist not only disregards those movements, but displaces many of the persisting inequalities in the first world onto an imaginary elsewhere.”
In the second quote, above, I really appreciated the way Butler spoke about the inequalities present in the first world, and of the “imaginary elsewhere.” It made me think about how a lot of the time, when people who live in the first world speak about inequality and injustice going on somewhere other than where they live, they often form their thoughts and ideas through a lense of the social privelege that they have, without even realizing it. I think it’s a challenging situation, not being able to see past the privelege that one has, and not being able to see that one is treating people as “other”, when that is not the intention.
The failure to recognize a possession of social privelege is something that effects me, personally. As a woman of color, and as a member of the LGBT community, it would probably seem easy to assume that I don’t have social privelege, but I do (regardless of whether or not I’m always conscious of it). As a person who gets to eat three meals a day, and make glib remarks about being “addicted” to Dunkin Donuts, & as someone who lives in a “first world” nation (a term that I’m honestly not too fond of), yeah, I’m priveleged.
*Here are a couple of other points Butler made that I appreciated-
“Judith Butler: Let us remember that Marx thought of thinking as a kind of practice. Thinking can take place in and as embodied action. It is not necessarily a quiet or passive activity. Civil disobedience can be an act of thinking, of mindfully opposing police force, for instance. I continue to believe in demonstrations, but I think they have to be sustained. We see the continuing power of this in Iran right now. The real question is why people thought with the election of Obama that there was no reason to still be on the street? It is true that many people on the left will never have the animus against Obama that they have against Bush. But maybe we need to protest policies instead of individuals. After all, it takes many people and institutions to sustain a war.”
“Judith Butler: Perhaps the issue is to become less ferocious in our commitments, to question certain forms of blind enthusiasm, and to find forms of steadfastness that include reflective thought. Nonviolence is not so much about the suppression of feeling, but its transformation into forceful intelligence.”
Alright, so I know that I put quite a few quotes in this post, but I highly suggest that you click the link at the top of this post and read the whole interview because it’s totally worth it.
Source- Guernica Magazine