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GENERIC
Life-making is a Western ideology which has driven the elimination of culture and
degradation of the importance of expenditure.
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
In todays Wenzhou, I also discovered the states insistence on the value of focusing on life
rather than death and the Afterlife beyond (Yang 2013). Traditionally, Chinese ritual
expenditures were especially elaborated around death, so funerals were more important than
weddings and birth rituals, and still often the case in rural Wenzhou today. Since the 1950s, the
Communist Party has had a policy of encouraging simple secular funerals, and the cremation of
corpses (Whyte 1988), although it has not always been successful in the implementation.
Elsewhere I have written about how in rural Wenzhou, there is a struggle between the local
people and their insistence on elaborate funerals, earth burials, and stone tombs that dot the
hillsides, and the state, which pushes them towards cremation (Yang 2004; 2013). From the
states point of view, tombs take up the space of the living, land that could be used to build
houses, shopping malls, and factories, even though tombs are located on mountainsides. In the
mid-1990s, the local government was still waging a campaign for more civilized ways of
dealing with the dead. This involved turning the people away from their earth burials which
supposedly take up arable land, and pursuing more modest funerals. The campaigns to impose
cremation, first in urban, and then in rural Wenzhou, met with a lot of resistance among the
local people. I heard some stories that, on the eve of instituting the ban on earth burials in rural
areas in 2000, groups of old people committed suicide to protest the ban, and to make sure that
their own bodies could enjoy an earth burial before the ban took effect. The ban meant the
destruction of the coffin-making industry, and adversely affected the diviners, fengshui masters,
and stone mason tomb-makers. Since traditional funerals are tied in with the rituals of burials,
the ban on earth burials also affected the conduct of funerals. The absence of a body at the
funeral took away some of the sacred atmosphere of the funeral, and removed the impetus for a
grandiose and raucous funeral procession from the deceaseds home through public streets to
the burial site. As people become increasingly prosperous in Wenzhou, there was a strong desire
for ever more extravagant mourning and burial rituals, which was now thwarted by the state. It
seemed that even in death, the modern Chinese state version of the Protestant Ethic that enjoins
thrift, hard work, and non-trafficking with the divine world had to continue. Even in death, the
people are not supposed to escape this earthly sovereignty for alternative divine sovereigns in
the Netherworld.
Oddly enough, it turns out that these restrictions on lavish funerals and burials have a venerable
history in China, and are not exclusive to modern times. Way back in ancient China, in the 5th
or 4th century BCE, the philosopher Mozi () had already adopted the position of advocating
frugal burials () in debates with the Confucians, and opposed the Confucian support of
generous burials (). The Confucians favored elaborate funerals and burials, in keeping
with their emphasis on ritual propriety, filial piety, and reverence for ancestors. Mozi, however,
attacked the Confucian position, with arguments that today sound strangely modern:
If we follow the rules of those who advocated elaborate funerals then the funeral of a king or
high minister will require several inner and outer coffins, a deep grave, numerous grave clothes,
a large amount of embroidery for decorating the coffins, and a large grave mound. If the family
of the deceased happen to be humble commoners the wealth of the family will be exhausted, and
if they are feudal lords their treasuries will be emptied. Now if the rulers and high officials are to
adopt [these lavish funerary practices], they cannot appear at court early and retire late, attend
to the five ministries and six bureaus, encourage farming and forestry, and fill the granaries.
Mozi: Basic Writings (Watson, trans. 1963: 67-68)

Mozi here pits the needs of the living against those of the dead, and clearly favors the former. He
feared that excessive mourning and lavish funerals and burials would exhaust the living family
members, distract state officials from their official duties, and impoverish the state. This kind of
rhetoric sounds almost like a modern secularist argument to stop wasting money on the divine
world and instead to focus on this world. Given that at that time, the human world as
conceived was still extremely porous with divine other worlds and their divine beings, Mozis
arguments must have represented a rather extreme position for his times. Certainly,
archaeological evidence of the lavish tombs and luxury grave goods offered during the Warring
States period shows that Mozis arguments had no impact on the burial practices of many
wealthy and powerful families.
Perhaps this Mohist position was too radical for its time, when life after death was too important, and people feared retribution from the discontented
souls of the dead. Nor did Mozis populism and antipathy to the wealthy and aristocratic powers help his cause, for his writings were banned by the
Legalists in the subsequent Qin Dynasty and by the state Confucianists in the Han Dynasty and beyond. It may be that what the growing power of
Legalist discourse in the Warring States era sought was a more persuasive strategy of argument for moderation in burials. About two centuries later, a
new text also addressed the issue of lavishness or moderation in burials, in the Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (). The writing of this
argument on burials was organized by the Legalist merchant and official Lu Buwei () around 239 BCE. By this time, Confucianism had already
started to come under Legalist influence, and perhaps more Confucians were open to more utilitarian modes of thinking. In this text, we find an
attempt to reconcile and combine Mohist and Confucian arguments together into a new synthesis (Riegel 1995: 328). While decrying lavish burials, the
text also used arguments that appealed to Confucian sentiments, in a seeming effort to persuade Confucian interlocutors. The selected passages below
from two chapters of the Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan mount an extended argument in favor of more moderate funerals and burials, decrying the
lavish expenditures that were the rule of the day among aristocratic families. In the gross disorder of our vulgar age rulers are ever more extravagant.
Thus in their burials their thoughts are not directed at taking precautions for the dead but instead have to do with how the living can outdo each other.
Extravagance is considered glorious, frugality demeaning. They are not motivated by what is of convenience to the dead but simply devote themselves
to what the living might blame or praise. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 307-08) As states grow larger and families richer,
burials become more elaborate. Such a burial includes a pearl put in the mouth of the corpse, a jade shroud that covers the body like fish scales, silk
cords and bamboo documents, trinkets and treasures, bronze goblets, tripods, pots, and basins, horse-drawn carriages, clothes and coverlets, as well as
halberds and swordsall too numerous to count. Every utensil required to nurture the living is included. The chamber is constructed of stacked wood,
the coffin and vault are in several layers, and these are surrounded on the outside by a pile of stones and a heap of charcoal. Spring and Autumn of the
Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 308-09) In the funeral processions of our vulgar age, a huge carriage transports the coffin: there are plumes, flags,
pennants and banners, as well as the sides and top of the carriage painted in a cloud design, all of which screen the coffin from view; pearls and jade
adorn it, embroideries and insignia embellish it; and it is moved by two ropes, each one pulled by myriad men, who are arranged in military formation.
Only when all is like this is the funeral procession thought appropriate. This makes a beautiful and extravagant spectacle for the world to see but it is
inappropriate treatment of the dead. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 309-10) A burial mound of the present day is made as tall
as a mountain and the trees planted on it are like a forest. The towers and courtyards that are erected, the chambers and halls that are constructed, and
the guest stairway that is fashioned, make the burial resemble a city. These features make a spectacle for the world to see and are a means by which to
display ones wealth, but to employ such features as a way to treat the dead is improper. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 310)
In the above passages, written before the Qin Dynasty got under way, we see that the wealthy tried to outdo each other in the amount of luxury goods,
jewels, and precious weapons with which they buried their dead, in the lavish funeral processions that carried the corpse to the burial place, and the
elabo-rate burial chamber and huge burial mound and funeral parks they constructed with great expenditures of labor. Unlike Mozi who favored the
needs of the living against the dead, the main objection here is that, instead of expressing true and sincere concerns for the comfort and peace of the
dead, these extravagant expenditures only benefit the social standing and prestige of the living. This text also pointed out that lavish burials were
inconsiderate towards the dead, because such riches attracted tomb robbers, and sooner or later, the tomb would be plundered, disturbing the peaceful
abode and rest of the dead. Thus, it suggested that people who insisted on lavish burials were selfish and only thinking of their own rivalries with other
families and their own social prestige. It implied that sincere and filial Confucians would want to give priority to the needs of the dead, and ensure that
their ancestors would enjoy an eternity of peace and rest in undisturbed graves. It would seem that for much of Chinese imperial history, this sort of
argument predominated over the radical utilitarianism of Mohism. However lonely and isolated was the Mohist voice throughout much of Chinese
history, it was an ancient indigenous Chinese force that had already prepared the ground against overindulgence in trafficking with the divine world,
and focusing peoples energies on the temporal life of production. The merging of Confucian and Legalist voices that are expressed in the Spring and
Autumn of the Lu Clan can be seen as paving the way for late imperial Confucian gentry condemnations of overindulgence in ritual wastefulness. It took
the powerful modern secularizing forces of the 20th century, to render Mozis ancient argument no longer radical, but widely shared and systematically
adopted and implemented.

At the beginning of the 21st century, what can we learn from this an-cient debate over funerals
and burials? While some of the common people back in ancient times might have sided with
Mozi against the profligacy of the rich, at the same time, most of them probably would not have
wished to shortchange their dead by skimping on their ritual honors. After so much modern
destruction of traditional Chinese religious culture, our understanding of this ancient quarrel
would be different from the ancients. From a Bataillean modern perspective, we might say,
What better way to waste and destroy wealth than burying precious goods deep into the ground
in graves where they will never be used or enjoyed by the living? Following Bataille, we can say
that such waste of resources on death instead of life is an expression of otherworldly religiosity
and a direct challenge to the modern focus on temporal and profane life. We now live a life that
has condemned us to an incessant grindstone of production, and a way of thinking that is about
rational-utilitarian maximization. This endless expansion of productivism is ultimately
unsustainable, as environmental degradation, labor exploitation, and global climate change are
all warning us. The modern world enjoins us to thrift, productivity, and maximization, but offers
very little in the way of destructive release through ritual and festival to transcend this temporal

world. Although Mozis populism can still speak powerfully to our modern world, the fact
remains that today in China, it is usually rural, peasant, and small-town people, such as my
fieldwork subjects in Wenzhou, who most insist on reviving traditional ritual expenditures,
wasteful religious festivals, and lavish funerals and burials. Indeed, the desire for ritual
expenditures in China is in direct relationship to the lack of exposure to modern formal
education provided by the state. Urban Chinese have for the most part been absorbed into the
consumerist expenditures that feed back into the productivism of the capitalist economy.
Absent the alternative, inherent surplus is expended through war as an investment
in an unstable economy of conquest
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
Batailles experience of the horrors of war as a soldier in the trenches of World War I informs his
theory of the modern decline of ritual expenditures and the modern obsession with industrial
productivism and military expenditures in his The Accursed Share, vol. 1. For Bataille, the law of
physics in the general economy of the universe decrees that surpluses must be destroyed in
order to rebalance the life and death, wealth and subsistence. With secularization and the
decline of religiosity, modernity closes off the joie de vivre of ritual profligacy and religious
destruction. Thus, modernity condemns us to the other single outlet for our destructive desires:
the catastrophic destruction of modern warfare. Thus, the more we diminish ritual destruction,
the more our destructive impulses turn to warfare. From the Reformation to the mid-20th
century, it was Europe that was constantly at war, having closed off the paths to ritualized
destruction of wealth. Since the early 20th century, as more of the Third World is brought into
the embrace of our common modern productivism, we have also seen a concomitant increase in
war throughout the rest of the world. We can see what happens with our surplus production of
weapons of war: the stockpiled weapons get used sooner or later.
Today, in the modern period, we have a quite different system of state-sponsored
destructiveness in ritual sacrifice, for the modern state has almost entirely captured the archaic
religious practice of sacrifice. Modern states, or would-be states, send off their young [people] to
death in wars and lavish rewards and monuments to the collective memory of state or
revolutionary martyrs. As the modern etymological dictionary Ci Hai shows, the modern notion
of sacrifice () retains the same connotations that were there in the archaic words for
sacrificial victims: making a donation (), giving up something (), or sustaining a loss of
wealth. Modern connotations that the term suggests are: making a sacrifice of ones time, ones
personal benefit or career, ones family, and ones power. However, the modern term does retain
the ancient meaning of the sacrifice of ones (or anothers) life, although in the modern sense,
sacrifice is usually understood as being for ones own country. All of these impetuses for sacrifice
focus on temporal and profane life, except for the latter, when one gives up ones life for a higher
and more transcendent cause. Thus, mortality becomes immortalized for the collective or the
state good. I submit that in this sort of modern self-sacrifice for the state or ones country, we
are back to the domain of religiosity, even for such an atheistic state as Communist China. This
suggests that although the modern state has exerted tremendous efforts to stamp out
extravagant and wasteful ritual expenditures in the domains of family and community life, at
the same time, it has quietly incorporated the last vestige of archaic religious sacrifice fully and
deeply into the state body. Thus, we should not be fooled by thinking in terms of the modern
state being secular, and religiosity lying in the private domain of the family or even the public
domain of civil society. Under cover of modern state secularization drives, the state has actually
appropriated the most powerful religious force, Batailles non-reciprocal gift for itself. Thus,
with self-sacrifice for state war-making, we are back to Batailles thesis that the decline of
traditional ritual expenditures and religious destruction of surplus values, conducted by families

and communities, has led to new outlets for modern state war-making.
How can we in modernity retrieve or re-appropriate some of this second logic of the gift, or this
powerful religious force back from the state that has captured it, and use it for communities,
families, persons, and other non-state social formations? In The Accursed Share, vol. 3, Bataille
(1993) introduces his notion of sovereignty, which he defines as life beyond utility or the
use of resources for non-productive ends. Whereas Marx focused on material production and
distribution by and for the proletariat, Bataille subverts Marx in conceiving of alienation as the
process whereby one is made into a mere instrument for production. In Batailles notion of
alienation, one loses ones sovereignty or the basic freedom of attaining moments of
transcendence from the chains of earthly profane life. Rituals and religious consumption allow
ordinary people to attain sovereign moments that used to be reserved for monarchs and
aristocracies leading lives of luxury. These sovereign moments attained in trance, prayer,
meditation, spirit possession, or in states of eroticism, sobbing, laughter, poetry, artistic
inspiration, and after drinking wine, are all moments when we experience a fundamental state
of freedom. Thus, in modernity, we can strive to hang onto and expand these sovereign
moments that have not been appropriated and deployed by the state. And we can continue to
engage in ritual expenditures that enhance local community solidarity and identity. These
include donations to charities, NGOs, social movements, and religious and kinship
organizations and ritual activities; constructing temples and monasteries, and so forth.
Impurity is contained to make the utopic Affirmative World seem benign, our
alternative is not a rejection, but sullying of the image of the 1AC. Such an undoing
of profanity reveals the contradictions of violence-as-peace in a visceral encounter
with the ugly eroticism of death, which provokes the profound laughter of
continuity
Benjamin Noys, professor of critical philosophy, 2000, Georges Bataille: A Critical
Introduction, The Subversive Image. Pluto Press. HHurt.
His negation of human nature is not based on belief in an order excluding total complicity with
all that has gone before (EA, 101). Bataille is not a writer of radical breaks because these breaks
are violent gestures of division and purification. To destroy all complicity with what has gone on
before would involve purifying ourselves of the past. The break is dominated by a belief in a new
pure state, a new pure human nature (for example, Che Guevaras new socialist man). Batailles
violent class rhetoric of the 1930s does call for the destruction of the bourgeoisie but it is not
clear that he means mass physical destruction. He is not a writer of purification but a writer of
the principle of contagion and contamination (CS, 109). Rather than negating human nature
with a break from all that has gone before we negate it by an act of contamination of its purity
and propriety. We do not flee the ugliness of our ancestors but we are attracted by it: There is
absolutely no thought of dispensing with this hateful ugliness, and we will yet catch ourselves
some day, eyes suddenly dimmed and brimming with inadmissible tears, running absurdly
towards some provincial haunted house, nastier than flies, more vicious, more rank than a
hairdressers shop (EA, 106).
It is not a matter of destroying the image, of creating a pure subversive image, but of embracing
what is hateful and ugly in that image. We are pulled back into the image, running into it out of
control. The irruptive forces revealed by Bataille flow out of the image and then flow back into it,
disrupting its propriety. However, once Bataille has drawn out these irruptive forces is it not
possible that they could be assimilated and put to use by science or philosophy? Could they not
be analysed conventionally? These irruptive forces do not settle within the conventional, and the
classifications of science or philosophy would be variations on the dictionary classifications
which work through imposing meaning. Like the dictionary, science divides up the world into
discrete units, trying to impose a mathematical frock coat (VE, 31) on the world. Philosophy, on
the other hand, tries to contain these forces within metaphysical wholes. What remains is the

leftover, the remainder, which cannot be assimilated. The event of eruption is like a fly on an
orators nose (EA, 102), whose comic effect of acute perturbation mocks the discourses of
knowledge.
Philosophy is more audacious because it tries to control the moment of irruption within itself by
assimilating it within, but It is impossible to reduce the appearance of the fly on the orators
nose to the supposed contradiction between the self and metaphysical whole (EA, 103). If the fly
could be reduced to the position of contradiction then it would simply be a negative moment of
the metaphysical whole. It would have escaped the image only to have become part of
philosophy. Although Bataille had yet to attend Kojves lectures on Hegel he was already aware
of some rudiments of Hegels philosophy. He knew, probably from the use of Hegels dialectic in
Marxism, how Hegel would use contradiction as a means of bringing any negative moments
within absolute knowledge. The fly refused to remain in the contradictory position, and so the
subversive image could not be controlled by a dialectical contradiction. The eruption that
explodes out of the wedding party photograph and plunges us back into it also shatters the
principle of human nature. At the same time it drags philosophy and science into this turbulent
play of forces, subverting them along with the image.
With a rapid movement that is dizzying Bataille moves from the image to science and
philosophy, and in doing so he suggests the hidden continuity between science, philosophy and
society. What they share is a common repression of the violent irruptive forces on which they
depend, but which they cannot fully control. In each case violent forces are repressed and
controlled by acts that are themselves violent but which dissimulate this violence. It is this that
makes them vulnerable, so when a fly lands on a human face which is trying to present itself as
serious and knowledgeable it provokes laughter. There is no fly visible in the photograph
Bataille discusses but he can see the fly buzzing around by sliding rapidly through the image. In
the flight of the fly in and out of the image the highest of human concerns are dragged into the
dirt as the fly is attracted by the odour of the rank and vicious. The fly is a provocation to the
image because it cannot be found there. It does not settle within the frame of the photograph but
flies out of it, buzzes around it and taunts it like the presence of the acute perturbation that
disturbs the calm surface of the image. In this sense it has a virtual presence, neither actually
appearing in the photograph yet not completely absent from it either. It is the haunting
possibility of the subversive image that rests in the photograph but only in so far as it is always
spilling out of it.
As the fly escapes from the image of the wedding party it moves on to more explicit images of
eruption. The photographs of slaughterhouses at La Villette in Paris by Eli Lotar break a taboo
on presenting violence. Bataille notes that In our time, nevertheless, the slaughterhouse is
cursed and quarantined like a plague-ridden ship (EA, 73). Eli Lotar has put us back into
contact with this work of death through images of animal carcasses, butchers and smears of
blood. What these images also reveal is that this violent slaughter, on which many of us nonvegetarians still depend, has become a mechanical and technical activity. In one of the
photographs a line of severed animal legs rests against a wall in an ordered arrangement that
represses the violence of the slaughter (EA, 74). We are doubly alienated from the
slaughterhouse: firstly, we do not wish to see what happens there and secondly, its activities
turn death into a productive and neutral event.
This limitation of violence is not a sign of the progress of civilisation. The curse (terrifying only
to those who utter it) leads them to vegetate as far as possible from the slaughterhouse, to exile
themselves, out of propriety, to a flabby world in which nothing fearful remains and in which,
subject to the ineradicable obsession of shame, they are reduced to eating cheese (EA, 73). Our
exile from the slaughterhouse does not put an end to the violence but transforms it from
something sacred to a technical activity from which we can hide ourselves. This transforming of
death into a secret, technical operation has been one of the factors at work in the
slaughterhouses of human beings in the twentieth century. Batailles response is to use these

images of the slaughterhouse to break the taboo that protects us from an intimate contact with
death. By breaking this taboo he challenges the distance which allows us to transform slaughter
into a technical activity, and he puts us into contact with a different experience of death.
Bataille is also nostalgic for a past that is supposed to have achieved a sacred relationship with
death, where in the act of sacrifice we found a primal continuity linking us with everything that
is (E, 15). He is contrasting the practice of joy before death with the organisation of death into
productive meaning. This desire for an intimate experience of death finds its most disturbing
form in an image, the photograph of the Chinese torture victim. Although it is contained in his
final book The Tears of Eros (1961) Bataille had possessed the image since 1925, when it had
been given him by his analyst Dr Adrien Borel (and this might indicate the unconventional
nature of Batailles analysis). It shows a Chinese man undergoing death by cuts: The Chinese
executioner of my photo haunts me: there he is busily cutting off the victims leg at the knee. The
victim is bound to a stake, eyes turned up, head thrown back, and through a grimacing mouth
you see teeth (G, 389). Bataille never commented on it in Documents and it is the hidden
secret of Documents. However, it is no longer secret and has become part of the counterculture
appropriation of Bataille circulating on the Internet.
If the wedding party of The Human Face is the most conventional image in Bataille then the
Chinese torture victim is, for Bataille, to my knowledge, the most anguishing of worlds
accessible to us through images captured on film (TE, 206). He returned to it again and again,
in Inner Experience, in Guilty and in The Tears of Eros, as if unable to turn away from it. In his
final work Bataille wrote, This photograph had a decisive role in my life. I never stopped being
obsessed by this image of pain, at once ecstatic (?) and intolerable (TE, 206). It is decisive
because Bataille finds in it an image of an ecstatic death that tears at the limits of the image and
provokes his last shuddering tears (TE, 207). Batailles use of this image makes him vulnerable
to the criticism that Adorno made of Heidegger that he offers a regression to the cult of
death.7 Certainly it is a disturbing, even sickening, image, but it cannot be rejected and should
not be celebrated. It reaches us through its violence, and in its violence it demands a response
from us.
It firstly provokes complex effects, and this provocative complexity indicates that the image is
not unequivocal. Bataille cannot be certain that it is the image of ecstatic death that he desires.
The strange beatific grin on the face of the torture victim may not be joy before death but the
result of the administration of opium used to prolong or relieve the suffering of the victim (TE,
205). There is an undecidable moment where the grin is indistinguishable from a grimace. This
undecidable moment undoes Batailles claim for a direct access to the sacred horror of
eroticism. Rather than having direct access Bataille is forced to interpret the image, and no
image, including this one, can offer direct access to the impossible. Instead the impossible
emerges in the undecidable oscillation between the grin and the grimace, a decisive moment of
reading when any decision lacks a secure foundation.
The image is not only equivocal but it also has tasks for Bataille; it is an opening to a
communication with the suffering of the Other. It cannot be passively contemplated because it
draws us in by taking us outside of ourselves. It is an experience of ecstasy as ekstasis (standingoutside) that leaves us undone: The young and seductive Chinese man of whom I have spoken,
left to the work of the executioner I loved him with a love in which the sadistic instinct played
no part: he communicated his pain to me or perhaps the excessive nature of his pain, and it was
precisely that which I was seeking, not so as to take pleasure in it, but in order to ruin in me that
which is opposed to him (IE, 120). Bataille is not a sadist, nor is he celebrating death, but for
him this image of pain makes a communication possible. This image is decisive because it so
profoundly overflows its limits, and it catches us up in the movement of death.
By drawing us into the movement of death the Chinese torture victim does not leave us at a safe
distance from death. This is in contrast to Christianity which admits the suffering body of Christ
but has a tendency to wholly and irreversibly obliterate the tortured body.8 Bataille thought

that the success of Christianity must be explained by the value of the theme of the son of Gods
ignominious crucifixion, which carries human dread to a representation of loss and limitless
degradation (BR, 170; VE, 119). Christianity has exploited this suffering through art, with
endless studies of the crucifixion but these representations of loss and limitless degradation
have always been contained by the narrative of the crucifixion in which Christs suffering
redeems us. Christianity is a cult of death which denies the power of death through the
resurrection and through the imposition of religious meaning on death. The image of the
Chinese torture victim restores Christs suffering body to a degradation without return or
benefit.
The Chinese torture victim also challenges the reduction of death to meaning by Hegel, who
draws on Christian thought. In particular, Hegel uses the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ
as the image of a passage from the infinite to the finite and again back to the infinite. The
Chinese torture victim disrupts this circle of spirit by dragging it back down into the suffering
body. Bataille resists the dialectical reduction of Christs pain by an image of suffering that does
not lead to meaning. Bataille found the attempt to put the divine to death in the crucifixion of
Christ comical (BR, 282). Hegel uses it to add on to the infinite a movement towards the finite
(BR, 282) that will eventually return to infinite, but for Bataille to make the divine finite is a
cause for more laughter. In laughing at death, which does not mean mocking suffering, we
become close to the pain of the Other in the paroxysms of laughter which seamlessly turn into
sobbing. This is no cult of death but a demand to experience death as an event that shatters us.

COLLECTED CARDS

LINKS

CIVILIZATION
The luminescence of knowledge degrades life to work
Georges Bataille, dies for the second time on May 7, 2027, The Sacred Conspiracy, 1936.
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/georges-bataille-the-sacred-conspiracy. HHurt.
What we have undertaken should be confused with nothing else, cannot be limited to the
expression of an idea and even less to what is justly considered art.
It is necessary to produce and to eat: many things are needed that are yet nothing, and this is
equally the case with political agitation.
Before fighting to the bitter end, who thinks to leave his place to men it is impossible to look
upon without feeling the need to destroy them? But if nothing could be found beyond political
activity, human greed would meet nothing but the void.
WE ARE FEROCIOUSLY RELIGIOUS, and insofar as our existence is the condemnation of all
that is recognized today, an internal requirement wants us also to be imperious.
What we are undertaking is a war. It is time to abandon the world of the civilized and its light. It
is to late to want to be reasonable and learned, which has led to a life without attractions.
Secretly or not, it is necessary to become other, or else cease to be.
The world to which we have belonged proposes nothing to love outside of each individual
insufficiency: its existence is limited to its convenience. A world that cant be loved to death in
the same way a man loves a woman represents nothing but personal interest and the
obligation to work. If it is compared with worlds that have disappeared it is hideous and seems
the most failed of all of them.
In those disappeared worlds it was possible to lose oneself in ecstasy, which is impossible in the
world of educated vulgarity. Civilizations advantages are compensated for by the way men profit
by it: men of today profit by it to become the most degraded of all beings who have ever existed.
Life always occurs in a tumult with no apparent cohesion, but it only finds its grandeur and
reality in ecstasy and ecstatic love. He who wants to ignore or neglect ecstasy is a being whose
thought has been reduced to analysis. Existence is not only an agitated void: it is a dance that
forces us to dance fanatically. The idea that doesnt have as object a dead fragment exists
internally in the same way as does a flame.
One must become firm and unshakeable enough that the existence of the world of civilization
finally appears uncertain. It is useless to respond to those who are able to believe in this world
and find their authorization in it. If they speak it is possible to look at them without hearing
them, and even if we look at them, to only see that which exists far behind them. We must
refuse boredom and live only on that which fascinates.
On this road it would be vain to move about and to seek to attract those who have vague
impulses, like those of passing the time, laughing, or becoming individually bizarre. One must
advance without looking back and without taking into account those who dont have the strength
to forget immediate reality.
Human life is defeated because it serves as the head and reason of the universe. Insofar as it
becomes that head and reason it accepts slavery. If it isnt free, existence becomes empty or
neuter, and if it is free, it is a game. The earth, as long as it only engendered cataclysms, trees,
and birds was a free universe; the fascination with liberty became dulled when the earth
produced a being who demanded necessity as a law over the universe. Man nevertheless
remained free to no longer respond to any necessity. He is free to resemble all that is not he in
the universe. He can cast aside the idea that it is he or God who prevents everything else from
being absurd.
Man escaped from his head like the condemned man from his prison.
He found beyond him not God, who is the prohibition of crime, but a being who doesnt know
prohibition. Beyond what I am, I meet a being who makes me laugh because he is headless, who

fills me with anguish because he is made of innocence and crime. He holds a weapon of steel in
his left hand, flames like a sacred heart in his right hand. He unites in one eruption birth and
death. He is not a man. But he isnt a god, either. He is not I, but he is more I than I: his belly is
the labyrinth in which he himself goes astray, led me astray, and in which I find myself being he,
that is, a monster.

ECONOMY
Restricted economic theories are doomed to collapse, prefer our model of a
general economy
Asger Srensen, Ph.D, February 2012, On a universal scale: Economy in Batailles general
economy. Philosophy & Social Criticism. 38(2) 175-176. Sage Publications. HHurt.
Bataille thus considers ordinary economical thinking, including both political economy and the
neoclassical scientification of economy, as an inappropriate reduction, which is wanting both
empirically and theoretically. He therefore distinguishes between such a restricted economy
and his own general economy. In the latter, resources, production, circulation, growth and
value are thought not just in relation to the societal or private economy, but also in relation to
the economy of nature and the universe. Taken together this constitutes economy in the very
broad sense mentioned in the first section, namely as our search for what we are missing.
When Bataille thus focuses on the resources that are necessary for human life it is then the
ontological necessity that becomes important, and within such a theoretical perspective the
traditional practical aims of economy are placed in brackets. From the very beginning Batailles
perspective means a displacement, since such a theoretical perspective means that material
resources are not just useful things or commodities, but primarily forms of accessible energy:
Essentially wealth is energy; energy is the basis and measure of the production.44 In the first of
the following two subsections I sketch the way in which economy according to Bataille must be
considered on a universal scale. In this perspective wealth is resources and resources energy.
Plants of the fields and animals are energy, which our labour makes disposable. We can devour
plants and meat and thus appropriate the energy that we had expended in our labour efforts.
Energy is the basis and measure of all production, and the general economy must therefore
account for the flow of energy through the universe, through nature and through society (A).
As described above, economy in the ordinary sense is normally about the practical handling of
human resources. Here one distinguishes between micro-economy and macro-economy, where
the former deals with the perspective of the single economical actor, whereas the latter assumes
a management perspective at a larger collective unit, typically the society as a whole. A macroeconomy in Batailles theoretical sense, however, comprises an objectified descriptive account of
the energy as such and all of its movements on earth, that is, the flow of energy in everything
earthly going from the physics of the earth to the political economy of human society through
the biological, the social and the historical, affecting the conscience and therefore ultimately also
thought, science and philosophy. Bataille can therefore allow himself to remark that the object
of the general economy is not completely separated from its subject,45 and it is the subjective
aspect of the general economy that is analysed in the second subsection. It is shown how Bataille
presents a micro-economy that also takes the subjective desire as its point of departure, but that
does not objectify it as kinetic energy and instead attempts to preserve the experience of the
desire and its objects as inner experiences (B)
In its most basic sense science demands that a phenomenon is shown to be governed by laws. In
the first part of The Accursed Share Bataille therefore presents those laws, which are valid for
the objective basis of the general economy. Natural laws are normally assumed to be universally
valid, and this is also the case here. When Bataille speaks of the scale of the universe it is to be
understood quite literally, that is, that the laws of the general economy are also valid for suns,
planets and their mutual relations. For the earth as a whole the ultimate source of wealth is the
sun, which both is producing and reproducing us, that is, by its surplus makes us alive and
thereby calls forth our surplus of living energy. When seen from the earth the radiance of the
sun is unilateral in its expenditure; in this radiance energy is expended and lost without any
calculation, without any retribution.46
Following the principles of the theory of relativity Bataille considers energy as matter in a fluid

form. As living organisms on the surface of the earth we are just passages, where the energy
surplus of the sun is accumulated and as matter for a time made accessible for earthly growth
and activity. Energy is only accessible in this sense, if there can be created a difference between
warmth and cold, and this is created by the sun and by the release of accumulated energy. The
difference, however, disappears again by the earthly exploitation of the energy, and it is this
movement of consumption that Bataille first focuses on. According to the second law of
thermodynamics, what happens because of the temperature differences on earth can be
considered just one stop in the course of the energy on its way to the infinite tepidness of the
universe. According to Bataille, as part of the growth of living matter on earth, we are thus
involved in delaying the flow of the energy, but when the limits of growth are reached, all of the
non-accumulated energy will be lost into the universe.

ENGAGEMENT
The decision to engage with china exports a logic of utility that forecloses the
possibility of engaging in heterogeneous aspects of china
Kulacki 2k [Gregory Kulacki is an expert on cross-cultural communication between the United
States and China. Since joining UCS in 2002, he has promoted dialogue between experts from
both countries on nuclear arms control and space security and has consulted with Chinese and
U.S. governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the U.S. House China
Working Group, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. National Academies, NASA,
and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Area Studies and Study Abroad The Chinese
Experience//ASherm]
For many Western students and scholars, contact with China is a foray into the irrational and the aesthetic ,
into what Georges Bataille called the heterogeneous; a realm that resists integration with the
Weberian rationalism that dominates the consciousness of the modern West . Joseph Needham opened
one of his later works on China with a discussion of how his wartime assignment in Chongqing sealed his fate, Gregory Kulacki 27
and how after living in China it was impossible to think of doing anything else but a book on the history of science, technology, and
medicine in China (1954: 149). This followed an initial attraction to the Chinese language that he described as being struck down
by a blinding light, like Saint Paul on the way to Damascus, with the feeling that I must learn this language with its marvelous script
or else burst. Needham surrendered a promising career in biochemistry to his emotional encounter

with China, to an aesthetic that was charged with an eroticism Bataille would have expected.
According to fellow Sinologist Simon Leys (1985), Needham once told him that Chinese civilization presents the irresistible
fascination of what is totally other, and only what is totally other can inspire the deepest love, together with a strong desire to know
it.1 Expressions of love and desire for China appear frequently in the ruminations of Western scholars interested in the Chinese
past, but they are noticeably absent in the social scientific literature on modern China. Needham self-consciously concludes his
studies at precisely the same historical moment that Jonathan Spence (1990) begins his Search for Modern China: the arrival of
Jesuit missionaries during the late Ming Dynasty. Hucker ends his introduction to Chinese history and culture in 1850, the year that
he believes marks the end of traditional or pre-modern Chinese civilization. Creel stands in the doorway of modern China, surveys
the intellectual terrain, and then retreats into what he sees as the contentment of traditional Chinese political philosophy. He
scorns the speedway of modern living, the saber-rattling, and the aggressive and competitive tendencies of modern life, whose
wreckage has to be patched up in the psychiatrists office. Leys, who once said he loved China more than his own country, summed
up the disposition of the classicist toward contemporary China: Why the interest in contemporary China? I was asked by one of my
elders in Sinology, a scholar who I like and respect. I confess that his question astounded me. Is there a Sinologist alive who does not
feel in exile when he is away from China? Another one, a dear friend, said to me, Your book Leys Habits neufs du President Mao
was a pretty piece, but I hope youll waste no more time with Chinese affairs. Leave that to the journalists, and come back to your
work on the classics. (1985: 1) 28 Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad While Leys and many others

with a passion for Chinas past feel compelled to ignore such advice, they look upon
contemporary Chinese culture as a burning forest and see themselves, as Leys sees himself and
his idols, as a flock of wild doves trying in vain to save their beloved China with drops of water
carried on the tips of their tired wings. Such a powerful identification sets classicists up as critics
of a destructive present that defines for them the very otherness that attracts them to China . In
conceiving China as the antithesis of the West, their lifes work becomes a mission to save China from
disintegration into the modernity that defines their own culture. So it is that the love and attraction many
Western scholars hold for the Chinese past sometimes engenders feelings of bitterness toward contemporary China. For those who
lack the classicists longing for return, for students and scholars who welcome modernity and do not seek to
escape it with a retreat into antiquity, this

bitterness is sometimes diluted into a nostalgic regret over what


needs to be sacrificed if China is to finally become part of their inevitable, scientific, technological,
predictable, and rational world. This nostalgia must not impede the social scientific enterprise. Lucian Pye, a prolific author
and the godfather of comparative political and psychological investigations of Chinese culture, once lamented that: once one turns to
the history of old China one is quickly swept into a marvelous and fascinating world, which is so intrinsically interesting and exciting
that the current China is drab and insignificant by comparison. This tendency has been substantiated time and time again in recent
years in the careers of young scholars who set out to study what they believe to be the excitement of Communist China only to be
seduced by the alluring appeals of earlier times. (1968: vi) Pye (1991) wants to help the Chinese outgrow what he calls the
irrational and bizarre traditional political culture he believes is frustrating Chinese efforts to join the modern world. He seems
unabashedly annoyed by the romanticism of scholars like Needham and Creel. In his view it distracts budding analysts from their
responsibility to resolve the pressing political crisis emerging from the clash between individual political cultures and the world
culture of modernization (Pye, 1990). studies boom, rely on this fear to sustain their interest in the pursuit of specialized knowledge
about contemporary China. For Bataille, fear, like love, is an expression of the forces of affective life

that break through and split off into the heterogeneous those elements, like Chinas bizarre

culture, which threaten the steady continuation of modern rationalisms power over human life. The
social scientific specialist in Chinese culture shares the classicists attraction to China as other .
But because their attraction is born from fear, they seek to liberate the Chinese people, and the
world, from the dangers the persistence of Chinas erratic culture (Pye 1991) creates for the culture of
modernization. In the introduction to his Anatomy of China, Dick Wilson expressed both the fear of
contemporary China and the social scientific will to tame it by intellectually dissecting it. He
believed scholars could employ their knowledge to force China, that most resistant other, to live within the confines of Western
rationalitys control: The outside world is awed and frightened by the spectacle of a country that

contains a quarter of mankind flexing her muscles for the first time in centuriesyet language,
culture, religion, history, and political ideology combine to insure that Americans and
Europeans misunderstand China more profoundly than they do any other part of the nonWestern world. Indians and Japanese, Africans and Arabs are all now to some extent
incorporated within a Europe-initiated world system. Only China resists, but the forces of the
contemporary Chinese revolution can be made to yield to analysis and comprehension in
Western terms, and that is what this book attempts. (1968) Although written in the 1960s, Wilsons remark would not be out of
place today on the floor of the U.S. Congress as it debates funding for cultural exchange with China or in
a corporate-sponsored roundtable for U.S. entrepreneurs in Beijing. The American publics fear of China,
according to a recent Luce Foundation survey (Watts 1999), has trebled during the last two decades, despite what they call the
historical American fascination with the worlds most populous nation. The Chinese studies
community must bear some responsibility for the creation of this fear, which one would have
expected to dissipate given the increased numbers of Americans interacting with China and the
waning of the ideological battles waged as part of the Cold War.
Their engagement maintains the discontinuity of discrete political agents which
can interact without communication
Stephen S. Bush, Ph.D in religious studies, Assistant Professor at Brown, June 2011, The
Ethics of Ecstasy. Journal of Religious Ethics. Vol. 39, Issue 2. 303-305. HHurt.
So we have a litany of consequential reasons to forego meditational practices like Batailles.
Nevertheless, whereas Hollywood acknowledges many of the above concerns as risks and
dangers, she seems to think that for the most part they are not inevitable. Or perhaps, she
suggests, if they are inevitable, they are necessary (Hollywood 2002,109). How are we to make
sense of this? Hollywood finds two principal features of Batailles meditative practice that
recommend it as a vital ethical discipline, perhaps even as the apex of the ethical and religious
life (Hollywood 2002, 5). The first is the possibility for a special form of communication to
arise between the meditator and other human beings. Communication, for Bataille, is a term
of art and does not referas it does in its ordinary senseto an exchange of verbal or nonverbal
messages among two or more people. Rather, it is something that occurs specifically in ecstatic
experiences when the boundaries between self and other dissipate, revealing a fundamental
bond between the subject and the other. A fusion between the self and other occurs. This
condition is only realizable when the subject undergoes a severe disruption of the sense of self, a
psychic laceration. The image of severe suffering, such as the photograph of a torture victim,
effects self-laceration and so occasions ecstasy, a state marked by the anguish of victimization
and self-abnegation and the joy of establishing communication with another. Communication is
generally not an engagement between two contemporary and co-present subjects; rather, it
occurs between individuals separated in time and space who have both undergone the same sort
of ecstatic dissolution. Hollywood sees important ethical and political potential in the
compassion that results from achieving communication. She views Batailles embrace of
mysticism as a form of community-building and claims that communication is necessary
before more goal-directed political projects can be usefully or meaningfully undertaken
(Hollywood 2002, 62, 15).
To understand how this is so, we must turn to the second principal ethical value that Hollywood

finds in Batailles meditation, namely the meditators refusal to incorporate the suffering
individual into any religious or political narrative. Earlier we registered this aspect of Batailles
practice as a cause for concern, but it turns out that it is of immense significance. A principal
criticism of Batailles meditation, as we saw, is that he wrests suffering individuals out of the
political, social, and historical contexts in which they meet their victimization. Hollywood claims
that such decontextualization is necessary to encounter the individual in her or his specificity,
without appeal to the narratives that would strive to make sense of the individuals suffering.
Hollywood insists that it is not Bataille who instrumentalizes suffering individuals, but those
who incorporate the sufferings of others into their own meaning-giving narratives, whether
soteriological or political. In appropriating the suffering that another has undergone into ones
own attempt to make sense of the universe or to direct political action, one subordinates the
victim to ones own aims and agendas. According to Hollywood, the communication that Bataille
establishes with the victim is oriented toward the individual, in his or her specificity, but also
takes the individual as a representative of suffering humanity in general (Hollywood2002, 90,
see also 82). By abstracting the suffering individual out of history, one acknowledges the
element in trauma that defies articulation even as one connects to those who have suffered
throughout history. Hollywood contrasts Bataille with the medievals on this point, because
however much his practice resembles theirs, it is a crucial difference that Christs suffering is an
episode in a larger narrative of salvific redemption, whereas Batailles victim is removed from all
redemptive narratives.
Hollywood says that Batailles demand for radical communication, a communication that
precludes sense-conferring narrativization, may also be a necessary contestation of more
immediately useful political projects (Hollywood 2002, 84). Indeed, Bataillean
communication is apolitical action in that it contests those who would subsume human suffering
to their own vision of politics:
We should distinguish between two conceptions of political action: one that would contest
power and injustice through narrativization, and one that would contest those very
narrativizations themselves in the name of that which is unassimilable to redemptive political
projectsthe bodies of those who can never again be made whole [Hollywood2002, 84]
It is important to note that it is not so much that Hollywood is in principle opposed to the
narrativization of suffering. She allows that one may eventually narrativize suffering for the sake
of political action. Her point is to insist, first, that there is some element of traumatic suffering
that a meaning-conferring narrative cannot encapsulate and, second, that prior to the political
or religious appropriation of victimization, a moment must occur in which one encounters the
victims suffering in all its bare particularity. That moment, Bataillean communication, may very
well be a necessary precondition for legitimate political action, Hollywood suggests.

ENVIRONMENT
The presumption that environmentalism must begin from a point of accumulation
terminally fails
Clark 11 [Nigel Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet//ASherm]
Whats important about bataille is not just his accounting for the role of energy in human and other forms of life but his assertion
that the sums would never add up and his dauntless pursuit of the implications of systems that could
never be closed. Because the solar flux always rains down more energy than we or other living
things require, the main problem of terrestrial existence for Bataille is not so much how to deal with
scarcity- as all the theorists of restricted economies have imagined, it is what to do about the excess of energy
and the proliferation of living things and productive forces that it engenders . Industrial capitalism
in this regard is especially problematic in that it has systematically sought to close the loop; to cycle its outputs
back into the system as inputs in a constant process of reinvestment and expanded
accumulation which bataille presciently noted has turned the whole world into a colossal
powder keg. Bataille did not explicitly engage with the issue of industrialized humankind tapping into fossilized biomass or
otherwise impacting on global climate. What he did understand was that the earth has physical limits and that
whenever growth exceeds these limits there must eventually be some kind of dieback or burn off .
In this sense, Bataille is not as far from environmentalist limits to growth theses as it sometimes appears. There is excess for
him precisely because flows and accumulations over shoot the very real limits that existing bodies
such as this spherical planet of ours present to the buildup of energy, life or productive
capacities. Where Bataille is at odds with environmentalist discourses of sustainability and with modern
economics in general is in his advice on what to do about this overreaching. And in his recognition that explosive
accumulation and bursts of instability inherent in the universe and not merely in our own
mismanagement of available matter and energy. As we might now say, bataille is a prophet of open and complex
systems, systems which do not settle into an equilibrium state. This means that human social life cannot content itself with
moderation with careful and judicious husbanding of its resources. We can confine ourselves neither to the

perpetual recycling that radical ecologists dream of, nor to the augmented circularity beloved of
modern economists that turns a loop into a spiraling growth curve . If there are resonances throughout
Batailles work with the vitalist notion of vast and generative stream of life it is just as important to note his insistence that all matter
and energy is eventually bound to use itself up in a pointless non generative expenditure. The glorious blazing away of stars is not
primarily a source of life giving energy, so much as a pure and pointless expenditure. Like it or not, humans and other life forms are
condemned to partake both in the patient accumulation of matter energy and in its periodic blow out. All economies with strategies
of stockpiling will sooner or later find themselves obliged to relieve themselves of what they have built up. Bataille did not live to see
the frenetic shopping culture that superficially seems to follow his guidance about pointless consumption, but he would have quickly
clicked that was more powder in the keg. We cannot simply accelerate the cycle that turns consumption into

more production. But neither can we resurrect the kind of restraint and hoarding that as Weber
recognized got us into the accumulation bind in the first place. We have to find new ways to
spend.

FEAR OF DEATH
The fear of ones death justifies massive levels of violence and devalues existence
Winnubst 6 [Shannon Winnubst, Queering Freedom, Indiana University Press]
For Bataille, the servility to utility is displayed particularly in the temporality of such a world the
temporality of anticipation. Returning again to the role of the tool, he writes, In efficacious activity man
becomes the equivalent of a tool, which produces; he is like the thing the tool is, being itself a product. The implication
of these facts is quite clear: the tools meaning is given by the future, in what the tool will produce, in
the future utilization of the product: like the tool, he who serveswho workshas the value of
that which will be later, not of that which is. (198891, 2:218) The reduction of our lives to the order
of utility forces us to project ourselves endlessly into the future. Bataille writes of this as our anguished state,
caused by this anticipation that must be called anticipation of oneself. For he must apprehend himself in the future, through the
anticipated results of his action (198891, 2:218). This is why advanced capitalism and phallicized whiteness

must ground themselves in a denial of death: death precludes the arrival of this future . It cuts us off
from ourselves, severing us from the future self that is always our real and true self. Re sisting the existential turn,
however, Bataille refuses to read this denial of death as an ontological condition of humanity. For
Bataille, this is a historical and economic denial, one in which only a culture grounded in the anticipation of the future must
participate. He frames it primarily as a problem of the intellect. In the reduction of the world to the order of
utility, we have reduced our lives and experiences to the order of instrumental reason. This order
necessarily operates in a sequential temporality, facing forward toward the time when the results will be achieved, the questions
solved, the theorems provedand also when political domination will be ended and ethical anguish quieted. As Bataille credits
Hegel for seeing, knowledge is never given to us except by unfolding in time (198891, 2:202). It never appears to us except,
finally, as the result of a calculated effort, an operation useful to some end (198891, 2:202)and its utility, as we have seen, only
drives it forward toward some future utility, endlessly. There are always new and future objects of thought to

conquer and domesticate. Within this order of reason, death presents the cessation of the very practice
of knowledge itself. Severing us from the future objects of thought and from our future selves ,
death prevents man from attaining himself (198891, 2:218). As Bataille explains, the fear of death appears linked from the start
to the projection of oneself into a future time, which [is] an effect of the positing of oneself as a thing (198891, 2:218). The fear

of death derives from the subordination to the order of utility and its dominant form of the
intellect, instrumental reason. While death is unarguably a part of the human condition, for Bataille
the fear of death is a historically habituated response, one that grounds cultures of advanced
capitalism and phallicized whiteness. In those frames of late modernity, death introduces an ontological
scarcity into the very human condition: it represents finitude, the ultimate limit . We must distance
ourselves from such threats, and we do so most often by projecting them onto sexualized, racialized, and classed bodies. But for
Bataille, servility to the order of knowledge is as unnecessary as servility to the order of utility. To die humanly, he argues,

is to accept the subordination of the thing (198891, 2:219), which places us in the schema that
separates our present self from the future, desired, anticipated self: to die humanly is to have of
the future being, of the one who matters most in our eyes, the senseless idea that he is not (1988
91, 2:219). But if we are not trapped in the endless anticipation of our future self as the index of meaning in our lives, we may not be
anguished by this cessation: If we live sovereignly, the representation of death is impossible, for the

present is not subject to the demands of the future (198891, 2:219). To live sovereignly is not to escape death,
which is ontologically impossible. But it is to refuse the fear, and subsequent attempts at disavowal, of death as the ontological
condition that defines humanity. Rather than trying to transgress this ultimate limit and prohibition,

the

sovereign man cannot die fleeing. He cannot let the threat of death deliver him over to the
horror of a desperate yet impossible flight (198891, 2:219). Living in a temporal mode in which anticipation
would dissolve into NOTHING(198891,2: 208), the sovereign man lives and dies like an animal (198891, 2:219). He lives and
dies without the anxiety invoked by the forever unknown and forever encroaching anticipation of the future. As Bataille encourages
us elsewhere, Think of the voracity of animals, as against the composure of a cook (198891, 2:83).

LIBERALISM
I am not saying this. I am impossible.
Georges Bataille, dies for the second time on May 7, 2027, : Lexprience Intrieure. 1954.
Editions Gallimard. HHurt.
On this point many Christians resemble me (but there remains the convenience of a pfoject
which one ;s not really forced w bel;eve in). A good deal of artifice already enters in the concern
of a for at (the identity of a, ay, at ;s reduced ta the thread uniting the moments of a changing
being, estranged from itself /rom one hour to the next). Death breaks the thread: we can only
grasp a continuity if a threshold which interrupts it is lacking. But a movement of liberty,
moving abruptly, suffices; ad and k appear to be equivalent.'
This immense interest in k throughout the ages is moreover neither purely comical nor purely
sordid. To be interested as much in k, without knowing that it was him!
"All of my hardworking fervor and all of my nonchalance, all of my mastery of self and my
natural inclination, all of my bravery and all of my trembling, my sun and my lightning soaring
out of a black sky, all of my soul and all of my mind, all of the solemn and heavy granite of my
"Self', all of this has the right to repeat to itself without end: "What does it matter what I am?"
(Nietzsche, fragment of 80-81).
To imagine oneself effaced, abolished by death, that there would be missing in the universe . . .
Quite to the contrary, if I continued to exist, and with me the throng of other dead beings, the
universe would grow old, all these dead beings would leave a bad taste in its mouth. 1 can bear
the weight of the future only on one condition: that others, always others, live in it-and that
death washes us, then washes these others without end. 10
The most off-putting element in the morality of salvation: it assumes a truth and a multitude
who, for want of seeing it live in error. To be juvenile, generous, fond of laughter and-what goes
hand in hand with this-Loving that which seduces, girls, dancing, flowers, is to err: if she weren't
foolish, the pretty girl would wish to be repulsive (salvation alone matters). What no doubts the
worst: the happy defiance of death, the feeling of glory which intoxicates and makes breathed in
air invigorating, so many vanities which cause the sage to mutter under his breath: "if they knew
... "
There exists on the contrary an affinity between on the one hand, the absence of worry,
generosity, the need to defy death, tumultuous love, sensitive Navet; on the other hand, the
will to become the prey of the unknown. In both cases, the same need for unlimited adventure,
the same horror for calculation, for project (the withered, prematurely old faces of the
"bourgeois" and their cautiousness).
That an anaemic, taciturn particle of life, showing reluctance before the excesses of joy, lacking
freedom, should attain-or should claim to have attained-the extreme limit, is an illusion. One
attains the extreme limit in the fullness of means: it demands fulfilled beings, ignoring no
audacity. My principle against ascesis is that the extreme limit is accessible through excess, not
through want.
Even the ascesis of those who succeed in it takes on in my eyes the sense of a sin, of an impotent
poverty.
1 don't deny that ascesis is conducive to experience. 1 even insist on it. Ascesis is a sure means of
separating oneself from objects: it kills the desire which binds one to the object. But at the same
time it makes an abject of experience (one only killed the desire for objects by proposing a new
object for desire).
Through ascesis, experience is condemned to take on the value of a positive object. Ascesis asks
for deliverance, salvation, the possession of the most desirable object. In ascesis, value is not
that of experience alone, independent of pleasure or of suffering; it is always a beatitude, a
deliverance, which we strive to procure for ourselves.

Experience at the extreme limit of the possible nevertheless requires a renouncement: to cease
wanting to be everything. While ascesis understood in the ordinary sense is precisely the sign of
the pretense of becoming everything, by the possession of God, etc. Saint John of the Cross
himself wrote: Para venir a serlo todo . . . " (ta come to be everything).
It is doubtful in each case if salvation is the abject of a true faith or if it is only a convenience
permitting one to give the shape of a project to spiritual life (ecstasy is not sought for its own
sake, it is the path of a deliverance, a means). Salvation is not necessarily the value which, for
the Buddhist, equals the end of suffering, which for Christians, Muslims, non-Buddhist Hindus
equals God. It is the perspective of value perceived from the point of view of personal life.
Moreover, in both cases, value is totality, completion, and salvation for the faithful is "becoming
everything": divinity directly for the majority, non-individuality for the Buddhists (suffering is,
according to Buddha, what is individual).
The project of salvation formed, ascesis is possible. Let one imagine now a different and even
opposite will where the will to become everything" would be regarded as an obstacle to that of
losing oneself (of escaping isolation, the individual's turning in on himself). Where "becoming
everything" would be considered not only as the sin of man but of all that is possible and even of
God! To lose oneself in this case would be to lose oneself and in no way to save oneself. (One
will see further on the passion which man brings to the contesting of each slip in the direction of
the whole, of salvation, of the possibility of a project). But then the possibility for ascesis
disappears!
Nevertheless inner experience is project, no matter what. It is such-man being entirely so
through language which, in essence, with the exception of its poe tic perversion, is project. But
project is no longer in this case that, positive, of salvatio", hut that, negatille, of abolishing the
power of words, hence of project.
The problem is then the following. Ascesis is beside the point, without support, without a reason
for being which makes it possible. If ascesis is a sacrifice, it is only so in a part of itself which one
loses with an eye to saving the other. But should one desire to lose oneself completely: that is
possible starting from a movement of drunken revelry; in no way ;s it possible without emotion.
Being without emotions is on the contrary necessary for ascesis. One must choose.

LIFE
The privileging of life over death is accumulation par excellence, this farce has
empirically been used to erase culture and force conformity
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
In todays Wenzhou, I also discovered the states insistence on the value of focusing on life
rather than death and the Afterlife beyond (Yang 2013). Traditionally, Chinese ritual
expenditures were especially elaborated around death, so funerals were more important than
weddings and birth rituals, and still often the case in rural Wenzhou today. Since the 1950s, the
Communist Party has had a policy of encouraging simple secular funerals, and the cremation of
corpses (Whyte 1988), although it has not always been successful in the implementation.
Elsewhere I have written about how in rural Wenzhou, there is a struggle between the local
people and their insistence on elaborate funerals, earth burials, and stone tombs that dot the
hillsides, and the state, which pushes them towards cremation (Yang 2004; 2013). From the
states point of view, tombs take up the space of the living, land that could be used to build
houses, shopping malls, and factories, even though tombs are located on mountainsides. In the
mid-1990s, the local government was still waging a campaign for more civilized ways of
dealing with the dead. This involved turning the people away from their earth burials which
supposedly take up arable land, and pursuing more modest funerals. The campaigns to impose
cremation, first in urban, and then in rural Wenzhou, met with a lot of resistance among the
local people. I heard some stories that, on the eve of instituting the ban on earth burials in rural
areas in 2000, groups of old people committed suicide to protest the ban, and to make sure that
their own bodies could enjoy an earth burial before the ban took effect. The ban meant the
destruction of the coffin-making industry, and adversely affected the diviners, fengshui masters,
and stone mason tomb-makers. Since traditional funerals are tied in with the rituals of burials,
the ban on earth burials also affected the conduct of funerals. The absence of a body at the
funeral took away some of the sacred atmosphere of the funeral, and removed the impetus for a
grandiose and raucous funeral procession from the deceaseds home through public streets to
the burial site. As people become increasingly prosperous in Wenzhou, there was a strong desire
for ever more extravagant mourning and burial rituals, which was now thwarted by the state. It
seemed that even in death, the modern Chinese state version of the Protestant Ethic that enjoins
thrift, hard work, and non-trafficking with the divine world had to continue. Even in death, the
people are not supposed to escape this earthly sovereignty for alternative divine sovereigns in
the Netherworld.
Oddly enough, it turns out that these restrictions on lavish funerals and burials have a venerable
history in China, and are not exclusive to modern times. Way back in ancient China, in the 5th
or 4th century BCE, the philosopher Mozi () had already adopted the position of advocating
frugal burials () in debates with the Confucians, and opposed the Confucian support of
generous burials (). The Confucians favored elaborate funerals and burials, in keeping
with their emphasis on ritual propriety, filial piety, and reverence for ancestors. Mozi, however,
attacked the Confucian position, with arguments that today sound strangely modern:
If we follow the rules of those who advocated elaborate funerals then the funeral of a king or
high minister will require several inner and outer coffins, a deep grave, numerous grave clothes,
a large amount of embroidery for decorating the coffins, and a large grave mound. If the family
of the deceased happen to be humble commoners the wealth of the family will be exhausted, and
if they are feudal lords their treasuries will be emptied. Now if the rulers and high officials are to
adopt [these lavish funerary practices], they cannot appear at court early and retire late, attend
to the five ministries and six bureaus, encourage farming and forestry, and fill the granaries.
Mozi: Basic Writings (Watson, trans. 1963: 67-68)

Mozi here pits the needs of the living against those of the dead, and clearly favors the former. He
feared that excessive mourning and lavish funerals and burials would exhaust the living family
members, distract state officials from their official duties, and impoverish the state. This kind of
rhetoric sounds almost like a modern secularist argument to stop wasting money on the divine
world and instead to focus on this world. Given that at that time, the human world as
conceived was still extremely porous with divine other worlds and their divine beings, Mozis
arguments must have represented a rather extreme position for his times. Certainly,
archaeological evidence of the lavish tombs and luxury grave goods offered during the Warring
States period shows that Mozis arguments had no impact on the burial practices of many
wealthy and powerful families.
Perhaps this Mohist position was too radical for its time, when life after death was too important, and people feared retribution from the discontented
souls of the dead. Nor did Mozis populism and antipathy to the wealthy and aristocratic powers help his cause, for his writings were banned by the
Legalists in the subsequent Qin Dynasty and by the state Confucianists in the Han Dynasty and beyond. It may be that what the growing power of
Legalist discourse in the Warring States era sought was a more persuasive strategy of argument for moderation in burials. About two centuries later, a
new text also addressed the issue of lavishness or moderation in burials, in the Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (). The writing of this
argument on burials was organized by the Legalist merchant and official Lu Buwei () around 239 BCE. By this time, Confucianism had already
started to come under Legalist influence, and perhaps more Confucians were open to more utilitarian modes of thinking. In this text, we find an
attempt to reconcile and combine Mohist and Confucian arguments together into a new synthesis (Riegel 1995: 328). While decrying lavish burials, the
text also used arguments that appealed to Confucian sentiments, in a seeming effort to persuade Confucian interlocutors. The selected passages below
from two chapters of the Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan mount an extended argument in favor of more moderate funerals and burials, decrying the
lavish expenditures that were the rule of the day among aristocratic families. In the gross disorder of our vulgar age rulers are ever more extravagant.
Thus in their burials their thoughts are not directed at taking precautions for the dead but instead have to do with how the living can outdo each other.
Extravagance is considered glorious, frugality demeaning. They are not motivated by what is of convenience to the dead but simply devote themselves
to what the living might blame or praise. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 307-08) As states grow larger and families richer,
burials become more elaborate. Such a burial includes a pearl put in the mouth of the corpse, a jade shroud that covers the body like fish scales, silk
cords and bamboo documents, trinkets and treasures, bronze goblets, tripods, pots, and basins, horse-drawn carriages, clothes and coverlets, as well as
halberds and swordsall too numerous to count. Every utensil required to nurture the living is included. The chamber is constructed of stacked wood,
the coffin and vault are in several layers, and these are surrounded on the outside by a pile of stones and a heap of charcoal. Spring and Autumn of the
Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 308-09) In the funeral processions of our vulgar age, a huge carriage transports the coffin: there are plumes, flags,
pennants and banners, as well as the sides and top of the carriage painted in a cloud design, all of which screen the coffin from view; pearls and jade
adorn it, embroideries and insignia embellish it; and it is moved by two ropes, each one pulled by myriad men, who are arranged in military formation.
Only when all is like this is the funeral procession thought appropriate. This makes a beautiful and extravagant spectacle for the world to see but it is
inappropriate treatment of the dead. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 309-10) A burial mound of the present day is made as tall
as a mountain and the trees planted on it are like a forest. The towers and courtyards that are erected, the chambers and halls that are constructed, and
the guest stairway that is fashioned, make the burial resemble a city. These features make a spectacle for the world to see and are a means by which to
display ones wealth, but to employ such features as a way to treat the dead is improper. Spring and Autumn of the Lu Clan (Riegel, trans. 1995: 310)
In the above passages, written before the Qin Dynasty got under way, we see that the wealthy tried to outdo each other in the amount of luxury goods,
jewels, and precious weapons with which they buried their dead, in the lavish funeral processions that carried the corpse to the burial place, and the
elabo-rate burial chamber and huge burial mound and funeral parks they constructed with great expenditures of labor. Unlike Mozi who favored the
needs of the living against the dead, the main objection here is that, instead of expressing true and sincere concerns for the comfort and peace of the
dead, these extravagant expenditures only benefit the social standing and prestige of the living. This text also pointed out that lavish burials were
inconsiderate towards the dead, because such riches attracted tomb robbers, and sooner or later, the tomb would be plundered, disturbing the peaceful
abode and rest of the dead. Thus, it suggested that people who insisted on lavish burials were selfish and only thinking of their own rivalries with other
families and their own social prestige. It implied that sincere and filial Confucians would want to give priority to the needs of the dead, and ensure that
their ancestors would enjoy an eternity of peace and rest in undisturbed graves. It would seem that for much of Chinese imperial history, this sort of
argument predominated over the radical utilitarianism of Mohism. However lonely and isolated was the Mohist voice throughout much of Chinese
history, it was an ancient indigenous Chinese force that had already prepared the ground against overindulgence in trafficking with the divine world,
and focusing peoples energies on the temporal life of production. The merging of Confucian and Legalist voices that are expressed in the Spring and
Autumn of the Lu Clan can be seen as paving the way for late imperial Confucian gentry condemnations of overindulgence in ritual wastefulness. It took
the powerful modern secularizing forces of the 20th century, to render Mozis ancient argument no longer radical, but widely shared and systematically
adopted and implemented.

At the beginning of the 21st century, what can we learn from this an-cient debate over funerals
and burials? While some of the common people back in ancient times might have sided with
Mozi against the profligacy of the rich, at the same time, most of them probably would not have
wished to shortchange their dead by skimping on their ritual honors. After so much modern
destruction of traditional Chinese religious culture, our understanding of this ancient quarrel
would be different from the ancients. From a Bataillean modern perspective, we might say,
What better way to waste and destroy wealth than burying precious goods deep into the ground
in graves where they will never be used or enjoyed by the living? Following Bataille, we can say
that such waste of resources on death instead of life is an expression of otherworldly religiosity
and a direct challenge to the modern focus on temporal and profane life. We now live a life that
has condemned us to an incessant grindstone of production, and a way of thinking that is about
rational-utilitarian maximization. This endless expansion of productivism is ultimately
unsustainable, as environmental degradation, labor exploitation, and global climate change are
all warning us. The modern world enjoins us to thrift, productivity, and maximization, but offers
very little in the way of destructive release through ritual and festival to transcend this temporal

world. Although Mozis populism can still speak powerfully to our modern world, the fact
remains that today in China, it is usually rural, peasant, and small-town people, such as my
fieldwork subjects in Wenzhou, who most insist on reviving traditional ritual expenditures,
wasteful religious festivals, and lavish funerals and burials. Indeed, the desire for ritual
expenditures in China is in direct relationship to the lack of exposure to modern formal
education provided by the state. Urban Chinese have for the most part been absorbed into the
consumerist expenditures that feed back into the productivism of the capitalist economy.

NUCLEAR WAR
You just make the lines of hell longer, who cares? Nuclear wars acceptance signals
an animal indifference to death, an opening to the sacred
Sivak 2015. Andrew Mark, Ph.D., History of ConsciousnessUC Santa Cruz, Peer Reviewed.
Destroyer of Worlds: War and Apocalypse in the Nuclear Epoch.
The philosophical counter-argument to the theory of Hiroshima as event articulated by Anders
was established years prior to this flare up with Jaspers by Georges Bataille, in his critical review
of John Hersey's Hiroshima, which opened with a 162 Anders, Theses, 494-5. 142 provocative
formulation of infernal recurrence. Let's admit it, he admonished, the population of hell
increases annually by fifty millions souls . . . A world war may accelerate the rhythm slightly, but
it cannot significantly alter it. To the ten million killed in the war from 1914 to 1918 one must
add the two hundred million who, during the same period, were fated to die natural deaths.163
Hell did not stop expanding after Hiroshima. Furthermore, there was for Bataille nothing
particularly noteworthy about the ways in which the victims at Hiroshima suffered: If the
misfortunes of Hiroshima are faced up to freely from the perspective of a sensibility that is not
faked, they cannot be isolated from other misfortunes. The tens of thousands of victims of the
atom bomb are on the same level as the tens of millions whom nature yearly hands over to
death. One cannot deny the differences in age and suffering, but origin and intensity change
nothing: horror is everywhere the same. The point that, in principle, the one horror is
preventable while the other is not is, in the last analysis, a matter of indifference.164 163
Bataille, Concerning the Accounts, 221. 164 Ibid, 228. Emphasis added. However, the human
meaning of Hiroshima's burning, as distinct from the animality of bodily suffering and death,
was important to Bataille, who in this passage distances himself from the contextualizing moves
represented by Churchill and the dehumanizing descriptors used by Truman and Life: But the
death of sixty thousand is charged with meaning, in that it depended on their fellow men to kill
them or let them live. The atom bomb draws its meaning from its human origin: it is the
possibility that the hands of man deliberately hang suspended over the future. And it is a means
of action: the fear produced by a tidal wave or a volcano has no meaning, whereas uranium
fission a project whose goal is to impose, by fear, the will of the one who provokes it. At the same
time it puts an end to the projects of those whom it strikes. It is by representing possible
projects, which in turn are intended to make other projects impossible, that an atom bomb 143
The horrific carnage and mass death had precedent. Arguing for the exceptionality of Hiroshima
was, according to Bataille, a cheap form of sentimentality and in the end, dishonest. The
cruelties of the Second World War did nothing to alter the underlying situation of death: the
lines at the gates of Hell are only getting longer. Death by fire, in whatever form, was in
Batailles eyes unremarkable, for each fire is all fires. What so moved Bataille about atomic
bombs and the idea of nuclear war, contra Anders, was not escalating thresholds of death
(individual, collective, the end of a world shaped by humanity) and he disdained moralistic
critiques, especially those based on a concern for the suffering of others. For Bataille, what the
nuclear bomb revealed was the dark truth of human destinynot what we have since become
due to a twist of fate but what we were from the very start, though we could not see it. Over a
decade after his review of Hiroshima, revising his earlier interpretation of Hiroshima's bombing
being more of the same, he wrote in another article titled, Unlivable Earth, that We know that
we cannot attain this world without denying, without suppressing what we are. But in catching
sight of it, we are led to forget its real takes on a human meaning. Otherwise, it would merely
have the animal meaning of smoking out termites. Ibid, 226-7. 144 spirit, its horrible tribal
wars, its tortures, its massacres; or, in a less primitive civilization, the reduction of an
unfortunate group of conquered men to slavery, men transported by force, under the lash,
toward unspeakable markets. Only by dint of grievous lies can we conceal the accursed truth of

history. There is something frightful in human destiny, which undoubtedly was always at the
limit of this unlimited nightmare that the most modern weaponry, the nuclear bomb, finally
announces.165 And later in the same piece: The first men, as well as some very primitive savages
today, think they are really animals: because animals are, in their mind, the most holy, having a
sacred quality, which men have lost. Thus, according to the simplest among us, animals, not
men, are gods: animals alone have retained these supernatural qualities, which men have lost.
Of course it is hard for us to think that we are becoming completely wretched! And yet . . . we
might have a sublime idea of the animal now that we have ceased being certain that one day the
nuclear bomb will not make the planet an unlivable place for man.166 The deep truth of nuclear
war is that it announces the revelation of our lost animality. By contextualizing the atomic bomb
in this way, Bataille was not (in the vein of someone like Churchill) attempting to diminish the
significance of atomic bombs. To the contrary, driven by the will to create a force, starting from
an awareness of the misery and the grandeur of this perishable existence that has befallen us,
Bataille once 165 Bataille, Cradle of Humanity, 176. 166 Ibid, 178. 145 proclaimed: STANDING
AND FACING DESTINY remains in my eyes the essential aspect of knowledge.167 For him, the
nuclear bomb did not reveal a new situation, as Anders believed, so much as it represented the
real of an old situation that seemed preoccupied with continuity but was suicidal from the start.
According to Bataille, the nuclear epoch did not threaten humanity so much as it was
indistinguishable from humanity. Nuclear war would constitute an infernal return of an animal
indifference to deaththe sacred core of humanity's origins.
The collective decision to assign political signification to death inherently negates
ones ability to retain sovereignty
Bataille, 47 [Georges, Bataille On Hiroshima, http://www.unz.org/Pub/Politics-1947jul00147, //ASherm]
LET us face it; the population of hell is annually increased by some fifty million souls. A world war
may accelerate the rhythm slightly, but cannot precipitate it. The ten millions killed in the war
from 1914 to 1918 must be compared with the two hundred millions who, during the same
period, were fated to die natural deaths. People speak of the evil effects of science; these remain outweighed by its
benefits. The average span of life in the 17th Century was considerably lower than it is today. In those days all sorts of plagues
decimated human life. Since such is the case, the relative apathy of the masses is not so surprising.

Consumed by the desire to react against the impotence we find everywhere; we forget that the
margin of misfortune we might conceivably control is relatively small; the kernel of darkness
remains inaccessible. Who would not liberate the world from fear? This task takes precedence over all others. And yet! The
most ardent of the would-be liberators are not so deeply troubled as they would like to be, while the masses merely shake their
heads. The last two wars broke out in spite of the general desire for peace; the mass murder that

took place revolted the popular consciousness and yet the great dread that these wars inspired
was nevertheless a sheepish, inconsistent dread . . . and swaddled in curiosity. The horror of these events must
have left the world quivering with fright^in principle, at least. (In the last analysis, what is the principle?). Nevertheless, the
result has been that the desire to avoid any more such experiences has become more numbed
than ever. We live in darkness now, without fear and without hope. Even political parties no longer have the heart to use the
"struggle against war" as an instrument of propaganda. They no longer anathematize war with the blind passion of faith. In fact, they
have nothing to say about preventing it; they prefer to attract (might one not say, to distract?) our attention to more immediate
problems. We continue to cry needlessly for "wise men," failing to see what really matters; we are like the patient in the

Hiroshima hospital who, as Hersey describes, was desperately afraid that he had syphilis (this time was on
August 6, 1945, just before 8:15 A.M.). But this man, who died a moment later from an entirely different
cause, could not possibly know what was in store for him . Our case is different. We know. And it is due to
our lack of imagination, our insensate frivolity that, whimpering, we busy ourselves with "blood
tests." Such, at least, is what the "wise men" keep telling us. But the enhghtened wisdom of the "sages" is not always more correct
than the blind wisdom of the people. The levity with which the problems of atomic power are generally facedlevity in a relative
sense, when the importance of the problem is taken into considerationis not this levity itself taken lightly? The double tide of panic
(in the realm of discourse) and indifference (almost total in the realm of action, and quite real in the realm of feeling) is almost the
same as it was ten years ago. Might one not have exaggerated the eventual consequences of the atom

bomb? (One even fearsrather proudlythe destruction of the globe. We can no more exclude the
possibility of such a denoument than we can that of a cosmic cataclysm. But for the moment, the chances of a global explosion, of
either human or celestial origin, are still very slight.) The blind wisdom of the masses is perhaps the better

wisdom when it leads them to react as if losses of life and material goods can in no case put an
end to civilization. Civilization is no longer synonymous with an aristocracy painfully maintaining order in an empire
sheltered from the invasions of nomadic tribes. The world that would survive the torrents of bombs could not be the wasteland some
have described. And we have been too quick to believe that the moral resources of man are not equal to even a truly insane
exj)erience. It seems to me that Albert Camus is wrong in asserting unreservedly: ". . . the coming war will leave humanity so
mutilated and so impoverished that the very idea of law and order will become anachronistic" (COMBAT, 26-11-46, in the
remarkable series of articles entitled. Neither Victims nor Executioners). And yet. . . . The possibility of seeing the world

delivered up to uranium obviously justifies some general reaction. And it is strange that, in the
atmosphere of uneasiness in which we now live, the human voice, which was formerly so potent when it
summoned men to sacred war or to revolution, no longer has the slightest force, even if it should speak for
the most significant cause in history. The leaders of the smallest and weakest parties evoke some echoes, but one does
not even see born the movement that would meet the deep anxiety of the modem world with acts as well as with phrases. It is clear
that between the mind's habitual standards of measurement and the possibilities of atomic power there is a disproportion that
makes the imagination wander deliriously in its attempt to grasp the ungraspable. On the other hand the remoteness of the places
where the bombs fell is not merely geographic in character. One cannot deny that the spiritual bonds between the Nipponese world
and our own are very tenuous. Consequently, the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki provoke our

thoughts more than our feelings. Had they fallen on Bordeaux or on Bremen^ we would not tend
to regard the use of the atom bombs as a quasi-scientific experiment. The Americans,
geographically closer to Japan, linked to the Japanese by those sad ties created by their mutual
attempts to destroy each other, and obsessed by the awareness of having invented,
manufactured and launched the bombs, are far more unhappy than the French: their nervous
sensibility is affected. (Similarly with the British, who were deeply involved in the war against Japan and in the invention of
the atomic weapon). Thus the little book by John Hersey the first to give a meticulously precise account of the experiences of the
victims, an account made up of a complex network of detailscorresponds more to the problems of the Anglo-Saxons than to those
of the French. Yet it is of greater interest to the French, who most lack what in essence this book provides: a concrete description of
the cataclysm. . . . Hersey conforms to the methodology of modern journalism. (The American effort to give reportage a foundation
of rigorously factual detail is almost unknown in France). He reduces his description to a succession of scenes recorded by the
memories of his witnesses. The method he uses achieves this notable result: the recollections that the author reports

with the most praiseworthy care are reduced to the level of animal experience . The human
description of the catastrophe was that given by President Truman; it placed the destruction of
Hiroshima in its historical context and defined the new possibilities that it had introduced into
the world. The description provided by Mr. Tanimoto, on the other hand, has only emotional value, since in it intelligence is
limited to the role of misunderstanding. Error is the human aspect in the experiences described, and what stands out as true is what
the memory of any animal would have retained. The entire first chapter, in which the recollections of various witnesses follow one
another, all dealing with the fall of the bomb and the moments following (according to a descriptive technique which Jean-Paul
Sartre's Le Sursis introduced in France), presents the perspective of the animal, walled in, deprived, by an error, of passage into the
future through the understanding of an event that significantly affected the destiny of man. This fundamental difference

likewise separates the description of the battle of Waterloo in The Charterhouse of Parma from
the historical account of that event. But a particular aim humanizes Stendhal's battle; he appeals to another kind of
human interest; his famous narrative finds a historical place within the truly human description for the otherwise quasi-animal
perspective of the individual. . . . On first reading Hiroshima, I was struck by this: if there had been no other reasons

for my being affected, the scene of horror would in itself have left me more or less indifferent. As
it was, I read with anguish, as if in contact with the most oppressive reality. For I was in the know, and so experienced all the banal
reactions of one conscious of the possibilities created by the manufacture of atomic bombs. I realized then that the annual

death of fifty million human beings has no human meaning . (This, indeed, we cannot avoidand if we could,
we should soon be made aware that the effect of preventing such deaths would be worse than a thousand Hiroshimas, since the
simple fact is that innumerable deaths are essential for the uninterrupted renewal of life.) But the deaths of the sixty

thousand victims in Hiroshima are charged with meaning, in that those victims depended on the
decision of their fellowmen to kill them or to let them live. The atom bomb gets its meaning from
its human origin: it represents the possibility that the hands of man are on the point of
deliberately grasping the future. And it is an instrument of action. The fear created by tidal
floods or volcanic eruptions has no significance, for the tidal wave and the volcano do not create
fear in order to compel surrender. Whereas uranium fission is a project whose objective is to impose by means of fear
the will of those who provoke the fear. At the same time it puts an end to the projects of those whom it strikes. It is as a symbol

of possible projects, and as a means of making other projects impossible, that an atom bomb
acquires human significance. Otherwise it would merely have the animal significance of smoking
out termites. If we go along with John Hersey's narrative, the dis~ proportionate effect soon takes us into the depths of the
anthill. Those who witnessed the event, enduring its impact without dying, no longer possessed
the necessary strength to form an intelligent image of their misfortune: they submitted to it as the ant
submits to the unintelligible destruction of the anthill. At first, they thought what was happening was being caused by ordinary
bombs; then it appears they realized the enormity of the disaster, but without, for all that, being able to recover from a kind of
inhuman daze. It is probable that the all too natural vertigo which the idea of catastrophe producesthat

this requires on the one hand enough proximity for the sensitive imagination to operate, and on
the other, a minimum degree of immunity. But at Hiroshima, horror attained the point where
reflection, which demands sustained concern, and beyond concern, that hope which is its
foundation, could only carry on feebly. One must read Hersey's book entirely; short excerpts do not convey the
complexity of the facts, monstrous or slight. . . . Finally, it appears that whatever humanity could be sustained by the unfortunate
Hiroshimans, had to be laboriously asserted against a background of animal daze. . . . At first sight one imagines that there is

an emotional element lacking in the historically intelligible descriptions of the catastrophe, an


element that only purely C[ualitative descriptions provide and without which reflection has no
effect (since it is not followed by the necessary intense reactions). But one soon realizes that the appeal to the emotions is of
negligible value. In fact it is actually at the expense of effective action that emotion enriches the feelings of those who are depressed,
since reflection creates either a virile attitude, or none at all. . . . And it may be

PRODUCTION
Economic engagement misses the founding point of economics, i.e. the necessity of
expenditure. The Occidental imposition of production has devolved to violence
and undermines communal ritual economies, the affirmative is a perfect example
of the elimination of Wenzhou culture which has characterized the violent
Westernization of the Other.
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2000, Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place:
Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure Current Anthropology Volume 41,
Number 4. HHurt.
Classical economics [cannot imagine] that a means of acquisition such as exchange might have
as its origin, not the need to acquire that it satisfies today, but the contrary need, the need to
destroy and to lose. (Bataille 1985:121)
The sacred is that prodigious effervescence of life that, for the sake of duration, the order of
things holds in check, and this holding changes into a breaking loose, that is, into violence. It
constantly threatens to break the dikes, to confront productive activity with the precipitate and
contagious movement of a purely glorious consumption. The sacred is exactly comparable to the
flame that destroys the wood by consuming it. (Bataille 1989a: 5253)
In his analysis of capitalism, Marx was primarily interested in production, and this befitted the
kind of society he was located ina society that was undergoing the tremendous productivity
born of the Industrial Revolution and the ascendancy of the productivist principles of utility and
rationality. It was in production that modern workers lost their autonomy and humanity in
alienated labor and that their surplus value was extracted by the bourgeoisie. Where Marx
sought to intervene was in emphasizing distribution, calling attention to unequal relations of the
distribution of factors of production and of the wealth produced by workers. Marx did not assign
any independent structural impetus to consumption, since for him whether production and
consumption are viewed as the activity of one or of many individuals, they appear in any case as
moments of one process, in which production is the real point of departure and hence also the
predominant moment. . . . Consumption thus appears as a moment of production (Marx
1973:94, my emphasis). No economic analysis of rural Wenzhou would be complete without
taking into account how collective consumption and community redistribution outside of the
state apparatus take hold of a significant portion of the economic surpluses produced. Individual
and private household consumption is always tempered by the social necessity for participation
in public ritual expenditures and escalating gift exchange, as the almost daily public funeral and
wedding processions and the frequent fundraising drives for temple, ancestor hall, and church
construction attest. Thus, in the current spurt of economic development, although often
overshadowed by productive accumulation and reinvestment in production (kuoda
zaishenchan), the spirit of an ancient economy of expenditure still courses perceptibly and may
even be part of productions secret driving force. Bataille noted that in primitive societies social
rank is won on the condition that [ones] fortune be partially sacrificed in unproductive social
expenditures such as festivals, spectacles, and games, [while] in so-called civilized societies, the
fundamental obligation of wealth disappeared only in a fairly recent period (1985:123). In rural
Wenzhou, despite the important outlets for surplus (private consumption, taxation, and
productive expansion), the obligation of wealth is still very significant, to the extent that
families are willing to go into debt for ritual expenditure.
One site for ritual expenditure can be found in the kinship economy, of which lineage
organizations are one form. These lineage revivals have proceeded despite the objections of a
state evolutionary discourse condemning feudal remnants (Yang 1996) and the states deep
fear of alternative bases of local leadership and interlineage armed conflicts (xiedou). Although
Wenzhou lineages no longer own land and are not productive units, they are economically

important in other ways. Since lineage communal land was confiscated and collectivized during
the land reform of the early 1950s, the most significant economic dimension of the revived
lineages today is not lineage-organized production or commerce but consumption which
supports the lineage and the ancestors. Lineage members donate money to finance such lineage
activities as collecting family histories for the lineage genealogy, restoring or building the
ancestor hall, holding the annual ritual of sacrifice to the ancestors, repairing key ancestral
tombs, undertaking the collective rites of the Qing Ming Festival, and sending poor children to
advanced schools. A sense of lineage pride leads well- financed lineages to stage impressive
ritual celebrations and maintain beautiful halls to the admiration of other lineages and future
generations. The wealthy are expected to give generously. One lineage manager told me he had
stepped down to allow an illiterate fisherman to take his place because he could not sustain the
huge outlays expected of a lineage head. The fisherman had several wealthy sons.

UTILITY
The mindset of utility reduces everything to its relation to production and
reinvestment
Georges Bataille, not very lucid, 1933, La notion dpense La Critique sociale. ditions lignes.
HHurt.
Every time the meaning of a discussion depends on the fundamental value of the word useful
in other words, every time the essential question touching on the life of human societies is
raised, no matter who intervenes and what opinions are expressed it is possible to affirm that
the debate is necessarily warped and that the fundamental question is eluded. In fact, given the
more or less divergent collection of present ideas, there is nothing that permits one to define
what is useful to man. This lacuna is made fairly prominent by the fact that it is constantly
necessary to return, in the most unjustifiable way, to principles that one would like to situate
beyond utility and pleasure: honor and duty are hypocritically employed in schemes of
pecuniary interest and, without speaking of God, Spirit serves to mask the intellectual disarray
of the few people who refuse to accept a closed system.
Current practice, however, is not deterred by these elementary difficulties, and common
awareness at first seems able to raise only verbal objections to the principles of classical utility
in other words, to supposedly material utility. The goal of the latter is, theoretically, pleasure but only in a moderate form, since violent pleasure is seen as pathological. On the one hand, this
material utility is limited to acquisition (in practice, to production) and to the conservation of
goods; on the other, it is limited to reproduction and to the conservation of human life (to which
is added, it is true, the struggle against pain, whose importance itself suffices to indicate the
negative character of the pleasure principle instituted, in theory, as the basis of utility). In the
series of quantitative representations linked to this flat and untenable conception of existence
only the question of reproduction seriously lends itself to controversy, because an exaggerated
increase in the number of the living threatens to diminish the individual share. But on the
whole, any general judgment of social activity implies the principle that all individual effort, in
order to be valid, must be reducible to the fundamental necessities of production and
conservation. Pleasure, whether art, permissible debauchery, or play, is definitively reduced, in
the intellectual representations in circulation, to a concession; in other words it is reduced to a
diversion whose role is subsidiary. The most appreciable share of life is given as the condition
sometimes even as the regrettable condition of productive social activity.
The refusal to expend excess energy provides the justification for torture, war, and
financial crashes
Crosthwaite 10 [Paul Crosthwaite 'Blood on the Trading Floor: waste, sacrifice, and death in
financial crises' Angelaki, vol 15, no. 2, pp. 3-18.//ASherm]
The delirious media coverage of such crises, meanwhile, both reflects and amplifies their
investment of the texture of everyday life with a new pace, intensity, and excitement; we are
thrilled and stupefied suffused, as Baudrillard would have it, by masochistic delight as
these great pyres of wealth are immolated before our eyes. Similarly, if the traders themselves
experience each loss as like having a death, face in any reduction of the value of their portfolio
the possibility of annihilation of the self, describe losing money in the 23 deathly, sacrificial
terms of getting killed or burned, and yet may undergo such torments as many as a hundred
times in even an ordinary days trading,65 then we may conclude, as Lyotard says of the English
proletariat, that there is jouissance in it that there is an element of libidinal satisfaction in
the very agony of destruction, dissolution, and decomposition. More fanciful and
contentious, no doubt, is the affinity suggested by the eerie resemblance of traders in the midst

of a bear market heads flung back or cast forward, faces contorted, hands lifted as if in prayer,
eyes transfixed on the vast screens that preside over the trading floor to photographs of a
young man undergoing the Chinese ritual execution known as lingchi, or the death by a
thousand cuts, photographs which became fetishes for Georges Bataille, who detected in the
transfigured expression of the man the indivisible blend of suffering and ecstasy that is the
essence of expenditure.66 Whatever the validity of such an association, the horrific cruelty
captured in these images should direct us towards the ethical stakes of expenditure, even in the
less overtly violent realm of the financial markets. In his article In Praise of a Virtual Crash
(1988), Baudrillard is content to characterize the October 1987 crash as a tragicomedy, an
episode in which our desire for the sacrificial destruction of wealth could be harmlessly
indulged, for the capital lost was, after all, only ever speculative, fictional, virtual. 67 It is true
that this crisis had surprisingly little impact on the wider global economy, but, as Baudrillard
tacitly acknowledges through references to 1929, such an outcome can by no means be assured.
In Libidinal Economy, Lyotard provides a chilling vision of the fallout of the 1929 crash. As
noted above, he argues that the mass of libidinal energy captured by the foregoing phase of
speculative accumulation had placed acute strain on the social fabric, but, far from being eased,
this stress was redoubled by the sudden and chaotic unbinding of these energies: 24 The crisis of
29 attests that the alleged social body in fact millions of rags of the patchwork unified in
principle under the capitalist, paranoiac law of reproduction can fall apart, be taken to pieces,
and go to pulp for a long time (right up until 1950-5, that is a quarter century counted on the
clock of Weltgeschichte), and atrociously (millions and millions of deaths, millions of ruins),
without any other reason than the frenzied, jealous impulsions.68 If, today, the financial crash
is the privileged means by which capitalisms accumulated reserves of wealth are unproductively
squandered, then as the shock waves of the latest crisis in the global markets continue to
reverberate through the real economy of labour and commodities the horrors of the Great
Depression so starkly evoked by Lyotard might give us pause to reflect on the dysfunctional
nature of a social formation that, beyond the massive dissipations of spasmodic, asymmetrical
war, provides few other significant outlets for the seemingly inextinguishable urgings of
expenditure

IMPACTS

MILITARY EXPENDITURE
Expenditure is inevitable Its only a question of Ritual or War
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
Batailles experience of the horrors of war as a soldier in the trenches of World War I informs his
theory of the modern decline of ritual expenditures and the modern obsession with industrial
productivism and military expenditures in his The Accursed Share, vol. 1. For Bataille, the law of
physics in the general economy of the universe decrees that surpluses must be destroyed in
order to rebalance the life and death, wealth and subsistence. With secularization and the
decline of religiosity, modernity closes off the joie de vivre of ritual profligacy and religious
destruction. Thus, modernity condemns us to the other single outlet for our destructive desires:
the catastrophic destruction of modern warfare. Thus, the more we diminish ritual destruction,
the more our destructive impulses turn to warfare. From the Reformation to the mid-20th
century, it was Europe that was constantly at war, having closed off the paths to ritualized
destruction of wealth. Since the early 20th century, as more of the Third World is brought into
the embrace of our common modern productivism, we have also seen a concomitant increase in
war throughout the rest of the world. We can see what happens with our surplus production of
weapons of war: the stockpiled weapons get used sooner or later.
Today, in the modern period, we have a quite different system of state-sponsored
destructiveness in ritual sacrifice, for the modern state has almost entirely captured the archaic
religious practice of sacrifice. Modern states, or would-be states, send off their young [people] to
death in wars and lavish rewards and monuments to the collective memory of state or
revolutionary martyrs. As the modern etymological dictionary Ci Hai shows, the modern notion
of sacrifice () retains the same connotations that were there in the archaic words for
sacrificial victims: making a donation (), giving up something (), or sustaining a loss of
wealth. Modern connotations that the term suggests are: making a sacrifice of ones time, ones
personal benefit or career, ones family, and ones power. However, the modern term does retain
the ancient meaning of the sacrifice of ones (or anothers) life, although in the modern sense,
sacrifice is usually understood as being for ones own country. All of these impetuses for sacrifice
focus on temporal and profane life, except for the latter, when one gives up ones life for a higher
and more transcendent cause. Thus, mortality becomes immortalized for the collective or the
state good. I submit that in this sort of modern self-sacrifice for the state or ones country, we
are back to the domain of religiosity, even for such an atheistic state as Communist China. This
suggests that although the modern state has exerted tremendous efforts to stamp out
extravagant and wasteful ritual expenditures in the domains of family and community life, at
the same time, it has quietly incorporated the last vestige of archaic religious sacrifice fully and
deeply into the state body. Thus, we should not be fooled by thinking in terms of the modern
state being secular, and religiosity lying in the private domain of the family or even the public
domain of civil society. Under cover of modern state secularization drives, the state has actually
appropriated the most powerful religious force, Batailles non-reciprocal gift for itself. Thus,
with self-sacrifice for state war-making, we are back to Batailles thesis that the decline of
traditional ritual expenditures and religious destruction of surplus values, conducted by families
and communities, has led to new outlets for modern state war-making.
How can we in modernity retrieve or re-appropriate some of this second logic of the gift, or this
powerful religious force back from the state that has captured it, and use it for communities,
families, persons, and other non-state social formations? In The Accursed Share, vol. 3, Bataille
(1993) introduces his notion of sovereignty, which he defines as life beyond utility or the
use of resources for non-productive ends. Whereas Marx focused on material production and
distribution by and for the proletariat, Bataille subverts Marx in conceiving of alienation as the

process whereby one is made into a mere instrument for production. In Batailles notion of
alienation, one loses ones sovereignty or the basic freedom of attaining moments of
transcendence from the chains of earthly profane life. Rituals and religious consumption allow
ordinary people to attain sovereign moments that used to be reserved for monarchs and
aristocracies leading lives of luxury. These sovereign moments attained in trance, prayer,
meditation, spirit possession, or in states of eroticism, sobbing, laughter, poetry, artistic
inspiration, and after drinking wine, are all moments when we experience a fundamental state
of freedom. Thus, in modernity, we can strive to hang onto and expand these sovereign
moments that have not been appropriated and deployed by the state. And we can continue to
engage in ritual expenditures that enhance local community solidarity and identity. These
include donations to charities, NGOs, social movements, and religious and kinship
organizations and ritual activities; constructing temples and monasteries, and so forth.

RATIONAL VIOLENCE
The idea that their restriction is whats best for China is falsification of
differentiation which allows the Other to survive only as an object of domination
Jessica Benjamin, Ph.D in sociology from NYU, Spring 1980, The Bonds of Love: Rational
Violence and Erotic Domination. Feminist Studies. Vol. 6, No. 1. Page 166. HHurt.
Extending Winnicott's line of thought, I would suggest that the subject is seeking to express a
basic differentiating impulse. This quest persists as violence until it succeeds. The repeated
experience of frustration does not so much diminish the differentiating impulse, as it converts
and distorts its expression by combining it with rage. First, the act of placing the other outside is
converted into assertion of control or possession over her or him, in a denial of one's own
dependence. Second, the effort to control the violent impulse rationally is substituted for
satisfaction of the original need.
The effort to control the differentiating impulse, instead of acting on it, is what makes for the
rational character of this violence. Because the other does not provide a boundary, which both
contains and permits the differentiating drive, one has to provide one's own boundary. One has
to play both roles oneself-and, like playing any game by oneself, it is lonely. In adult erotic
domination, the sadist has to check and control her or his own impulses and does not have the
satisfaction of the other providing a boundary. The masochist does get this satisfaction, but not
for her or his own differentiating impulse, only vicariously for the sadist's.
Rational violence repeats or reenacts the original process of false differentiation. The
containment of violence through adherence to a rational boundary substitutes for the
differentiating act of negating the other and enjoying her or his survival. In false differentiation,
the other may be formally recognized as another subject, but in fact is felt as an object or an
instrument. In rational violence, the other survives only as an object, not another subject who
can recognize and release us. I am arguing that although all violence is a failure of
differentiation-an inability to recognize the other's right to exist for herself or himself-rational
violence is a special case. It employs the will or volition of the violated and demands the rational
control of the violator (in nonrational violence, the victim plays no part at all). The players
infuse the relationship with the yearning for recognition and for separateness while protecting
themselves from the real experiences of aloneness or reciprocity. Rational violence, as played
out in sadomasochism, is a calculated substitute for real self-transcendence and true
differentiation. It is also a substitute for the pain and rage of being unable to successfully destroy
and rediscover the other.

VALUE TO DEATH
You just make the lines of hell longer, who cares? Nuclear wars acceptance signals
an animal indifference to death, an opening to the sacred
Sivak 2015. Andrew Mark, Ph.D., History of Consciousness UC Santa Cruz, Peer Reviewed.
Destroyer of Worlds: War and Apocalypse in the Nuclear Epoch.
The philosophical counter-argument to the theory of Hiroshima as event articulated by Anders
was established years prior to this flare up with Jaspers by Georges Bataille, in his critical review
of John Hersey's Hiroshima, which opened with a 162 Anders, Theses, 494-5. 142 provocative
formulation of infernal recurrence. Let's admit it, he admonished, the population of hell
increases annually by fifty millions souls . . . A world war may accelerate the rhythm slightly, but
it cannot significantly alter it. To the ten million killed in the war from 1914 to 1918 one must
add the two hundred million who, during the same period, were fated to die natural deaths.163
Hell did not stop expanding after Hiroshima. Furthermore, there was for Bataille nothing
particularly noteworthy about the ways in which the victims at Hiroshima suffered: If the
misfortunes of Hiroshima are faced up to freely from the perspective of a sensibility that is not
faked, they cannot be isolated from other misfortunes. The tens of thousands of victims of the
atom bomb are on the same level as the tens of millions whom nature yearly hands over to
death. One cannot deny the differences in age and suffering, but origin and intensity change
nothing: horror is everywhere the same. The point that, in principle, the one horror is
preventable while the other is not is, in the last analysis, a matter of indifference.164 163
Bataille, Concerning the Accounts, 221. 164 Ibid, 228. Emphasis added. However, the human
meaning of Hiroshima's burning, as distinct from the animality of bodily suffering and death,
was important to Bataille, who in this passage distances himself from the contextualizing moves
represented by Churchill and the dehumanizing descriptors used by Truman and Life: But the
death of sixty thousand is charged with meaning, in that it depended on their fellow men to kill
them or let them live. The atom bomb draws its meaning from its human origin: it is the
possibility that the hands of man deliberately hang suspended over the future. And it is a means
of action: the fear produced by a tidal wave or a volcano has no meaning, whereas uranium
fission a project whose goal is to impose, by fear, the will of the one who provokes it. At the same
time it puts an end to the projects of those whom it strikes. It is by representing possible
projects, which in turn are intended to make other projects impossible, that an atom bomb 143
The horrific carnage and mass death had precedent. Arguing for the exceptionality of Hiroshima
was, according to Bataille, a cheap form of sentimentality and in the end, dishonest. The
cruelties of the Second World War did nothing to alter the underlying situation of death: the
lines at the gates of Hell are only getting longer. Death by fire, in whatever form, was in
Batailles eyes unremarkable, for each fire is all fires. What so moved Bataille about atomic
bombs and the idea of nuclear war, contra Anders, was not escalating thresholds of death
(individual, collective, the end of a world shaped by humanity) and he disdained moralistic
critiques, especially those based on a concern for the suffering of others. For Bataille, what the
nuclear bomb revealed was the dark truth of human destinynot what we have since become
due to a twist of fate but what we were from the very start, though we could not see it. Over a
decade after his review of Hiroshima, revising his earlier interpretation of Hiroshima's bombing
being more of the same, he wrote in another article titled, Unlivable Earth, that We know that
we cannot attain this world without denying, without suppressing what we are. But in catching
sight of it, we are led to forget its real takes on a human meaning. Otherwise, it would merely
have the animal meaning of smoking out termites. Ibid, 226-7. 144 spirit, its horrible tribal
wars, its tortures, its massacres; or, in a less primitive civilization, the reduction of an
unfortunate group of conquered men to slavery, men transported by force, under the lash,
toward unspeakable markets. Only by dint of grievous lies can we conceal the accursed truth of

history. There is something frightful in human destiny, which undoubtedly was always at the
limit of this unlimited nightmare that the most modern weaponry, the nuclear bomb, finally
announces.165 And later in the same piece: The first men, as well as some very primitive savages
today, think they are really animals: because animals are, in their mind, the most holy, having a
sacred quality, which men have lost. Thus, according to the simplest among us, animals, not
men, are gods: animals alone have retained these supernatural qualities, which men have lost.
Of course it is hard for us to think that we are becoming completely wretched! And yet . . . we
might have a sublime idea of the animal now that we have ceased being certain that one day the
nuclear bomb will not make the planet an unlivable place for man.166 The deep truth of nuclear
war is that it announces the revelation of our lost animality. By contextualizing the atomic bomb
in this way, Bataille was not (in the vein of someone like Churchill) attempting to diminish the
significance of atomic bombs. To the contrary, driven by the will to create a force, starting from
an awareness of the misery and the grandeur of this perishable existence that has befallen us,
Bataille once 165 Bataille, Cradle of Humanity, 176. 166 Ibid, 178. 145 proclaimed: STANDING
AND FACING DESTINY remains in my eyes the essential aspect of knowledge.167 For him, the
nuclear bomb did not reveal a new situation, as Anders believed, so much as it represented the
real of an old situation that seemed preoccupied with continuity but was suicidal from the start.
According to Bataille, the nuclear epoch did not threaten humanity so much as it was
indistinguishable from humanity. Nuclear war would constitute an infernal return of an animal
indifference to deaththe sacred core of humanity's origins.

WHITENESS
The liberal understanding of limitations to excess paves the way for the
indoctrination of a system of liberal phallicized whiteness
Winnubst 6 [Shannon Winnubst, Queering Freedom, Indiana University Press//ASherm]
Cultures of phallicized whiteness are grounded in the constitutive and categorical exclusion of
useless expenditure. While Locke attempts to maintain the absolute reign of utility by reasserting
a different kind of use in the functions of money as capital , the fundamental tension between
systems of value based in utility and those grounded in endless expenditure threatens utilitys
domination. This tension worsens as politics of race, sexual difference, and sexuality compound this nascent politics of class
(and, less explicitly, religion) that we find in Lockes texts. While money appears in Lockes texts to be the inevitable outgrowth of
utilitys preference for future-oriented labor, cultivated land, and private property, it also introduces an order of value that may not
be reducible to the final judgment of utility.Theintroduction of money appears to render utilitys closed system rather fragile, a
phenomenon and tension that will resurface repeatedly across the following chapters. The sort of worldview that we find

in Locke is thereby one dominated by the twin logics of property and utility . Labor, which man must
undertake due to an ontological lack, co nnects these twin logics: it encloses the world and ones self into
units of private property and then, elevated into the form of money, invites reason to overstep
utilitys boundary and hoard more property than one can use. Labor initiates the twin expressions of the logic
of the limit: enclosure and prohibition. We ought not own more than we can use; yet, true to the dynamic of desire grounded in lack,

we are drawn toward transgressing the fundamental prohibition of waste proclaimed by natures
law, reason. Labor develops into a system of expression that appears to twist the dynamics of scarcity and abundance beyond
the reach of utility, while simultaneously using utility to judge all acts within it: ones labor must be deemed useful if
one is to enter into the desired life of propertied abundance, a possibility that will always be
scarce in advanced capitalist cultures of phallicized whiteness . Lockes normative model for the liberal
individual thereby becomes he who is bound by his ability to labor within a concept of the future sufficient to stake out a piece of
land as property. While Cynthia Willett gives Locke credit for trying to articulate a middle-class resistance to the leisure class and
its idle games, she nonetheless argues that Locke remains entrapped by a conception of rationality in terms of the English middleclass appreciation for the market value of productive labor and property (2001, 71). Not only are his concepts of rationality shaped
by these historical preferences, but his concepts of mans conditionmans desire, destiny, labor, and individuality all carry these
historical preferences into universalized discourses that continue to serve as the bedrock of many of our cultural assumptions and
practices. Although Lockes politics were moderately progressive for the late seventeenth century, the lasting damage of these
concepts still haunts our political quandaries and the very frameworks through which we continue to seek redress. T he logic of

limit as enclosure, as the ways that the state of society becomes demarcated fromand always
preferred over, even while romanticizingthe state of nature, continuously rewrites itself in
several registers across the political histories of the U.S. It fundamentally grounds our understanding of the
individual as the person who is clearly demarcated from nature. The individual becomes that civilized man who takes his natural
origin, as an enclosed body that is a product of Gods labor, and produces private property that is enclosed into durable forms which
persist into and even control the future. From this critical enclosure of the world and the self, written in the register of property,
other modern epistemologies and political projects easily attach themselves to this clear and distinct unit,the individual. (Adam
Smith, for example, quickly comes to mind.) The individual, carved out of nature through productive labor
and conceiving the world and himself on the model of appropriating private property, emerges

as the cornerstone of
political theories and practices in cultures of phallicized whiteness . The individual thereby
comes to function as an ahistorical unit defined by its productive labors distancing relation to the
state of nature, not by any historico-political forces. (With his unhistorical thinking, Locke acts perfectly as a
liberal individual.) Classical liberalism writes the individual as the (allegedly) neutral substratum of all political decisions,
positioning it as separable from historico-political forces. In carving the individual out of both the natural and socio-historicopolitical landscapes, modern political and epistemological projects turn around Lockes fundamental metaphors of enclosure.The
individual, that seat of political and personal subjectivity,is enclosed and thus cut off from all other forces circulating in the social
environment. The individual effectively functions as a piece of private property, with the strange

twist of owning itself, impervious to all intruders and protected by the inherent right of ownership, derived from the
ontological right to ones own enclosed body. History then is reduced to a collection of what Kelly Oliver has aptly called discrete
facts that can be known or not known, written in history books, and [that] are discontinuous with the present (2001, 130). History
is that collection of events that occurred in the past and is now tightly sealed in that past. History is simply what has happened, with
no fundamental effect or influence upon what is happening now or might happen in the future. Historicity is unthought and
unthinkable here. The modern rational selfthe liberal individualexists in a temporally and historically sealed vacuum, made
possible by the clear disjunction between past,present,and future. Cartesian concepts of time as discrete moments

that do not enter into contact or affect one another dominate this conception of the individual . 10

The logic of the limit thereby demarcates the past sharply and neatly
fromthepresent,turningeachintoobjectsaboutwhichwecandevelop concepts, facts, and truths. The future, that temporal horizon
initiated by preferred forms of complex labor, becomes the sole focus of intention and desire. But the future never arrives. Therefore,
if historicity and the historical mean reading present ideas, values, or concepts as undergoing a constant shaping and reshaping by
material forces, this divorce of the past from the present effectively renders all temporal zonespast, present, future, and all
permutationsahistorical. Existence itself is radically dehistoricized. And the individual, that bastion of

political activity and value, accordingly resides in a historical vacuum, untouched by historical
forcesthe very realm of whiteness. This ahistorical view of history perpetuates the modern project of classical
liberalism and its damages, creating a particular kind of individual. The
individualbecomesthelocusofidentity,selfhood,andsubjectivityinthe modernpoliticalproject.Demarcatedfromhistoricalexistence,it
also requires careful delineation from other bodies, whether persons, institutions, history, or social attitudes. This concept of the
individual develops with a pronounced insistence on its neutrality, rendering specific attributes of the individual merely particular
qualities that function, again, on the model of private property: characteristics such as race, gender, religion, or nationality remain at
a distance from this insistently neutral individual. (I use the pronoun it to emphasize the function of this alleged neutrality, a
dynamic that is central to the valorization of the white propertied Christian male as the subject of power in phallicized
whiteness.)This insular existence, underscored by its ahistorical status, is further ensured by claims

of radical autonomy, whereby the individual is the source, site, and endpoint of all actions , desires,
thoughts, and behaviors: we choose what we do. And we choose it, of course, because we are rational: Kantian ethics become the
proper bookend to Lockes initiating of high modernitys 11 schemas. This demarcation of the individual then

carves the critical division between internal and external, and its political-psychic counterpart, that between
self and Other. The self is located squarely and exclusively in ones rational faculties, the natural law
that, according to Locke, civilizes us into economies of labor, utility, and a strange mix of
scarcity and abundance. The modern rational self is radically self-containedenclosed. It is a sovereign self, unaffected by
and independent from any thing or force external to it, whether materiality or the Other. Assuming it exercises rationality
appropriately, this self is radically autonomous, choosing its own place in the world. (Pointing to America, Locke insists that civilized
men are free to leave society.) It does not heed any call of the Other. It is effectively autogenous, existing in a pre-

Utility and its epistemological counterpart, instrumentality,


subsequently become the operative conceptions of power in this schema of the liberal individual
as the self. Autonomous, autogenous, and ahistorical, the modern rational individual is in full control of its self. Its power is
thereby something that it owns and wields, as it chooses. Power is not some force that might shape the
individual without its assent or, at a minimum, its acknowledgment. It is something that an
individual, even if in the form of an individual state, wields intentionally. It can still use this power
Hegelian philosophical world. 12

legitimately or illegitimately, but that is a matter of choice. The individual controls power and the ways that it affects the world: this
is its expression of freedom. Accordingly, the role of the law becomes to vigilantly protect this ahistorical unit, the individual, from
the discriminations and violences of historical vicissitudes. The role of the law is to protect the individuals power, the seat of its
freedom. We are far from Foucaultian ideas that perhaps power and history constitute the ways we view and experience the world,
shaping our categories and embedding us in this very notion of the individual as autonomous, autogenous, and ahistorical. The

liberal individual, untouched by material, political, and historical conditions, is a neutral


substratum that freely wields its power as it chooses: this is the liberal sovereignty and mastery of freedom.
Because the individual is this neutral substratum, differences may or may not attach themselves to it. But those differences
are cast into that inconsequential space of material conditions along with history and the Other.
The odd twist of self-ownership surfaces more fully here. Following Lockes metaphors of enclosure, the
individual is enclosed and sealed off not only from all historical and social forces in the environment, but also from the very
attributes of difference within itself. While specific attributes that constitute difference in North American
culture continuously shift, with new categories emerging and old ones receding, the particular
vector of difference that matters depends on our historical location, and all its complexities . 13
Consequently, these attributes do not fundamentally affect the neutrality of the modern individual. These differences occur at the
level of the body and history, realms of existence that do not touch the self-contained individual. The neutral individual relates to
these differences through the models of enclosure and ownership . It experiences these discrete parts of itself (e.g.,

race,gender,religion,nationality)as one owns a variety of objects in economies of (scarce) private


property: one chooses when one wishes to purchase,
own,display,orwearsuchobjectsasonefreelydesires. The unnerving influence of power surfaces, however, as we
realize that this free choice becomes the exclusive power of the subject position valorized in
culturesof phallicized whiteness, the white propertied Christian (straight) male 14 who determines when, how,
and which differences matter.

Capitalist understanding of the utility of land justified the spread of whiteness


Winnubst 6 [Shannon Winnubst, Queering Freedom, Indiana University Press//ASherm]
Eroticism has been reduced to sexuality precisely because sexuality is the domain of experience
in which instrumental reason can assert itself forcefully, driving so deeply into the social psyche
that it shapes the very core of the modern selfnamely, ones desire. Instrumental reason can
demand that sexuality must be useful. As we have seen, it is from the installation of this
fundamental value,utility, that white supremacism and homophobia collude to produce more
general forms of xenophobia:ifanactisnotuseful,itis
notproperlyhuman;andifsexualityisnotreproductive,itisperverse.
Highmodernityusheredtheageofutilityfullyintobeing.ForLocke, andforthehardworking,industrious,bourgeoisculturesthatarethephallicizedculturesunderexcavationhere, the
site of our humanizing is the abhorrence of all that is not useful. Locke cannot read the Native
Americans as human because they are not using the land onwhichtheylive:tobehuman is to be
useful.Or,putinthelanguageofBatailleseroticism,tobehuman
istofindtheuselesssquanderingofanimallifeabhorrent.Why must we, ontologically, distance
ourselves from the contact with animality thatisat therootofhumansexuality?Because it is
useless .To abhor squandering uselessness or,at the other end of production,to abhor excessive
waste is to distance oneself from animality:itistohumanizeonesselfandtogive
reason,particularlyinstrumentality,itsfullestreignoveroursocialandpsychic lives. This larger
distancing movement from animality has itself been erased from late modernitys
consciousness.Bataille argues that this distancing from animality functions as the primary
criterion for separating humankind into socialclasses,races,tribes,groups
intodifferences.Hewrites,And while it is true that wealth makes this observance[to
distinguishment from one another] easier ,it is not so much wealthbeyond physical strength,
or the power to commandthat distinguishes, that qualifies socially, as it is the greatest distance
from animality(198891,2:69).Butwelatemodernscannot even recognize this originary moment
of abhorrence. Not allowed to admit that any horror can enter into consideration (1985, 117),
we can only recognizetherighttoacquire,toconserve,andtoconsumerationally,but
[wemust]excludeinprinciple nonproductive expenditure (1985, 117). We
mustjumpoverthepossibilityofuselessness,justaswealwaysjumpover the chaotic spaces of
contested meanings prior to the reign of reason. Batailles schemas of generale conomy,
sovereignty, expenditure,
andimpossibilitywillfurtherenrichourpracticesoffreedomenactedinqueering.But
Iwanttofocusforamomentonthisfundamentallogicofutilityatthe
heartofsexualityandthewaysthatwemightresistitbyexceedingitslimited notions of eroticism.
The logic of utility forecloses the possibility of engaging with phallicized whiteness
Winnubst 6 [Shannon Winnubst, Queering Freedom, Indiana University Press//ASherm]
Just as the infinite deferral of pleasure enacted in hoarding can never be seen by the one who is
busily accumulating private property, so too does utility subordinate its practitioners in a
circular infinity that a singular act
cannevergrasp.WearetrappedinHegelsbadinfinite.Utilitysimplyinsists that it grounds itself
that it is self-evidently the telos of all acts. It thereby silences the more general question of what
makes utility itself
desirable.Eachsingularmomentwithinthesequentialmarchofutilityisconsequently prone to a
judgment whose final criterion the singular moment
canneverprovide.Suchacriterioncallsformoregeneralprinciples,such as those invoked by
Batailles general economy, that necessarily supersede the singular moment. Shutting each
separate act off from the possibility of accounting for its orientation toward this (alleged) final
telos of usefulness, utility thereby enacts phallicized whitenesss utopianamely, the culture in
which no singular moment or person or race or class can account for why phallicized whiteness
and its trappings are desirable. No singular moment or person or race or class can account for

the seduction of phallicized whiteness and its alleged


freedom.Consequently,onecannotescapeitsgrasp.Tostateitinawaythat dangerously lacks
subtlety: phallicized whiteness is the regulative ideal of
U.S.cultureand,consciouslyorunconsciously,thatwhichwealldesireand aspire towardeven, and
perhaps particularly, when such a desire makes no
senseor,worsestill,whensuchadesirebecomesviolent,evenself-violating. And yet we all, regardless
of bodily signifiers or socio-economic standing, inevitably fail in this desire to be whitea
desire that anticipates its pleasureinfinitely.Justasnoonehasthephallusortheenjoymentattheend
of utility, so too no one is white; hence the perniciousness and violence of
theendlessattemptattheimpossible,the pleasure of being white.We kill ourselves in the endless
asymptotic approach to the impossible. Utility writes itself into our bodies in this culture of
advanced capitalist phallicized whiteness in the very temporalities we inhabit.Andtheeffects
across the social map of power are abundant, expressing the distinct registers of oppression.
When we hear that damning phrase Make yourself useful! the conscience of phallicized
whiteness stings.We are judged nothing but guilty by this Protestant
demand.Thereisnothingtodowiththatguilt,
nowheretogowithit.Andsowe,thesubjectsofpowerinthiscultureof phallicized whiteness, project
that guilt across bodies of lesser power, changing the phrase accordingly

ZOMBIFICATION
Our impact is naturalized imperial war, it outweighs everything
Heike Hrting, Associate professor with a 4.7 on ratemyprofessors.com, May 2006, Global
Civil War and Post-colonial Studies Globalization Working Papers 06/3. HHurt.
As with other civil wars, global civil war affects society as a whole. It "tends," as Hardt and Negri
argue, "towards the absolute" (2004, 18) in that it polices civil society through elaborate security
and surveillance systems, negates the rule of law, militarizes quotidian space, diminishes civil
rights to the degree in which it increases torture, illegal incarceration, disappearances, and
emergency regulations, and fosters a culture of fear, intolerance, and violent discrimination.
Hardt and Negri, therefore, rightly argue that war itself has become "a permanent social
relation" and thereby the "primary organizing principle of society, and politics merely one of its
means or guises" (ibid., 12). What Hardt and Negri suggest is new about today's global civil war
is its biopolitical agenda. "War," they write, "has become a regime of biopower, that is, a form of
rule aimed not only at controlling the population but producing and reproducing all aspects of
social life" (ibid., 13). For example, the biopolitics of war entails the production of particular
economic and cultural subjectivities, "creating new hearts and minds through the construction
of new circuits of communication, new forms of social collaboration, and new modes of
interaction" (ibid., 81). The ambiguity of Hardt and Negri's notion of biopower subtly resides in
their adaptation of the language of social and political revolution, for it seems to be the regime
of biopower, rather than the multitude, that absorbs and transvalues the revolutionary, that is,
anti-colonial, spirit inscribed in the rhetoric of "new hearts and minds." At the same time, they
argue, that a biopolitical definition of war "changes war's entire legal framework" (ibid., 21-22),
for "whereas war previously was regulated through legal structures, war has become regulating
by constructing and imposing its own legal framework" (ibid. 22). If none of this, at least in my
mind, is marked by a particular originality of thought, then this may have to do with Hardt and
Negri's reluctance to address the historical continuities between earlier wars of decolonization
and contemporary global wars, the legacies of imperialism, and the imperative of race in
orchestrating imperial, neo-colonial, and today's global civil wars.
In fact, while biopolitical global warfare might be a new phenomenon on the sovereign territory
of the United States of America, specifically after 11 September 2001, it is hardly news to "people
in the former colonies, who," as Crystal Bartolovich points out, "have long lived at the
'crossroads' of global forces" (2000, 136), violence, and wars. For example, in Sri Lanka global
civil war has been a permanent, everyday reality since the country's Sinhala Only Movement in
1956, and become manifest in the normalization of racialized violence as a means of politics
since President Jayawardene's election campaign for a referendum in 1982, which led to the
state-endorsed anti-Tamil pogrom in 1983. Similarly, according to Achille Mbembe, biopolitical
warfare was intrinsic to the European imperial project in "Africa," where "war machines
emerged" as early as "the last quarter of the twentieth century" (2003, 33). In other words,
although Hardt and Negri argue convincingly that it is the ubiquity of global war that
restructures social relationships on the global and local level, their concept tends to dehistoricize
different genealogies and effects of global civil war. Indeed, not only do Hardt and Negri refrain
from reading wars of decolonization as central to the construction of what David Harvey sees as
the uneven "spatial exchange relations" (2003, 31) necessary for the expansion of capital
accumulation and of which global war is an intrinsic feature, but they also dissociate global civil
wars from the nation-state's still thriving ability to implement and exercise rigorous regimes of
violence and surveillance. As for the term's epistemological formation, global civil war has been
sanitized and no longer evokes the conventional association of civil war with "insurrection and
resistance" (Agamben 2005, 2). Instead, it has become the effect of a diffuse new sovereignty
(i.e., Hardt and Negri's Empire), a sovereignty that no longer decides over but has itself become

a disembodied, that is, denationalized and normalized, state of exception. Yet, to talk about the
disembodiment of global war not only reinforces media-supported ideologies of high-tech
precision wars without casualties, but it also represses narratives about the ways in which the
modi operandi of global war come to be embodied differently in different sites of war.
In her short story "Man Without a Mask" (1995), the Sri Lankan writer Jean Arasanayagam
describes the global dimensions of a war that is usually considered an ethnic civil war restricted
to internally competing claims to territorial, cultural, and national sovereignty between the
country's Sinhalese and Tamil population. Told by an elite mercenary who clandestinely works
for the ruling members of the government and leads a group of highly trained assassins, the
story follows the thoughts of its narrator and contemplates the politicization of violence and
death. As a mercenary and possibly an ex-SAS (British Special Air Service) veteran the Sri
Lankan Government hired after the failure of the Indo-Lankan Accord, the narrator signifies the
"privatization of [Sri Lanka's] war" (Tambiah 1996, 6) and, thus, the reign of a global free
market economy through which the state hands over its institutions and services to private
corporations, including its army, and profits from the unrestricted global and illegal trade in war
technologies. Like a craftsman, the mercenary finds satisfaction in the precision and methodical
cleanliness of his work, in being, as he says, "a hunter. Not a predator" in his ability to leave
"morality" out of "this business" (Arasanayagam 1995, 98). He is an extreme and perverted
version of what Martin Shaw describes as the " 'soldier-scholar,'the archetype of the new
[global] officer" (1999, 60). As a self-proclaimed "scholar or scribe" (ibid., 100), the mercenary
plots maps of death. Shortly before he reaches his victim, a politician who underestimated the
political ambition of his enemy, he comments that bullet holes in a human body comprise a new
kind of language: "The machine gun splutters. The body is pitted, pricked out with an
indecipherable message. They are the braille marks of the new fictions. People are still so slow to
comprehend their meaning" (ibid., 100). These new maps or fictions of global war, I suggest,
describe what Etienne Balibar calls ultra-objective and ultra-subjective violence and
characterize how global civil war both generates bare life and manages and instrumentalizes
death.
According to Balibar, ultra-objective violence suggests the systematic "naturalization of
asymmetrical relations of power" (2001, 27) brought about, for instance, by the Sri Lankan
government's prolonged abuse of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which, in the past plunged
the country into a permanent state of emergency, facilitated the random arrest of and almost
absolute rule over citizens, and thus created a culture of fear and a reversal of moral and social
values. As the story clarifies, under conditions of systematic or ultra-objective violence,
"corruption" becomes "virtue" and "the most vile" man wears the mask of the sage and
"innocent householder" (Arasanayagam 1995, 102). In this milieu, the mercenary has no need
for a mask, because he bears a face of ordinary violence that is "perfectly safe" (ibid., 102) in a
society structured by habitual and systemic violence. But the logic of the "new fictions" of
political violence is also ultra-subjective because it is "intentional" and has a "determinate goal"
(Balibar 2001, 25), namely the making and elimination of what Balibar calls "disposable people"
in order to generate and maintain a profitable global economy of violence. The logic of ultrasubjective violence presents itself through the fictions of ethnicity and identity as they are
advanced and instrumentalized in the name of national sovereignty. The mercenary perfectly
symbolizes what Balibar means when he writes that "we have entered a world of the banality of
objective cruelty" (ibid.). For if the fictions of global violence are scratched into the tortured
bodies of war victims, the mercenary's detached behavior dramatizes a "will to 'de-corporation',"
that is, to force disaffiliation from the other and from oneself not just from belonging to the
community and the political unity, but from the human condition" (ibid.). In other words, while
global civil war becomes embodied in those whom it negates as social beings and thereby
reduces to mere "flesh," it remains a disembodied enterprise for those who manage and
orchestrate the politics of death of global war. It is through the dialectics of the embodiment and

disembodiment of global violence that the dehumanization of the majority of the globe's
population takes on a normative and naturalized state of existence.
Arasanayagam's short story also casts light on the limitations of Hardt and Negri's
understanding of the biopolitics of global civil war, for the latter can account neither for the new
fictions of violence in former colonial spaces nor for what Mbembe calls the "necropolitics"
(2003, 11) of late modernity. Mbembe's term refers to his analysis of global warfare as the
continuation of earlier and the development of new "forms of subjugation of life to the power of
death" and its attendant reconfiguration of the "the relationship between resistance, sacrifice,
and terror" (2003, 39).4 Despite the many theoretical intersections of Hardt and Negri's and
Mbembe's work, Mbembe's notion of necropolitics sees contemporary warfare as a species of
such earlier "topographies of cruelty" (2003, 40) as the plantation system and the colony. Thus,
in contrast to Hardt and Negri, Mbembe argues that the ways in which global violence and
warfare produce subjectivities cannot be dissociated from the ways in which race serves as a
means of both deciding over life and death and of legitimizing and making killing without
impunity a customary practice of imperial population control. If global civil war is a
continuation of imperial forms of warfare, it must rely on strategies of embodiment, that is, of
politicizing and racializing the colonized or now "disposable" body for purposes of selflegitimization, specifically when taking decisions over the value of human life. After all, on a
global level, race propels the ideological dynamics of ethnic and global civil war, while, on the
local plane, it serves to orchestrate the brutalization and polarization of the domestic
population, reinforcing and enacting patterns of racist exclusion and violence on the non-white
body. In contrast to Hardt and Negri, then, Mbembe invites us to articulate imperial genealogies
for the necropolitics of today's global civil wars.
In other words, if imperialism was a form of perpetual low-intensity global war, the biopolitics
of imperialism aimed at creating different forms of subjectivization. For example, while in India,
the imperial administration sought to create a functional class of native informants, in Africa
and the Caribbean, the British Empire created the figure of homo sacer. The latter, as Agamben
argues, refers to the one who can be killed but not sacrificed. Homo sacer, Agamben clarifies,
constitutes "the originary exception in which human life is included in the political order in
being exposed to an unconditional capacity to be killed" (1998, 85). Thus, the native is included
in the imperial order only through her exclusion, while, simultaneously her humanity is stripped
of social life and transformed into bare life, ready to be commodified on slavery's auction blocs
and foreclosed from the dominant imperial psyche. Agamben's understanding of bare life
derives from his reading of the Nazi death camps as the paradigmatic space of modernity in
which the distinction between "fact and law" (ibid., 171), "outside and inside, exception and rule,
licit and illicit" (ibid., 170) dissolves and in which biopolitics takes the place of politics and
"homo sacer" replaces the "citizen" (ibid., 171). While the notion of bare life is instrumental for
theorizing biopolitics and the normalization and legalization of state violence under the pretense
of, for example, protective arrests and preemptive strikes, it also suggests that the human body
can be read as pure matter or in empirical terms. What goes unnoticed is to what extent the
production of bare life depends on ideologies of race, that is, on the racialization of bodies,
citizenship, and the concept of the human. For instance, under imperial rule, bare life is
subjected to death and its politics in ways slightly different from those suggested by Agamben.
More specifically, the killing of natives or slaves as bare life then and today, as Rwanda's racebased genocide clarifies not only configures human life in terms of its "capacity to be killed"
(Agamben 1998, 114), that is as homicide and genocide outside of law and accountability, but
also measures the value of human life on grounds of race. The making of bare life is a racialized
and racializing process rooted within the necropolitics of colonialism. For, killing the native or
slave presupposes the remaking of the human into bare life both through ideologies of pseudoscientific racism and by subjecting them to what Orlando Patterson calls the "social death"
(1982, 38) of the slave, that is, to a symbolic death of the human as a communal and social being

that precedes physical death.5 Thus, imperialism's necropolitics involves the making of
disposable lives through practices of zombification and the "redefinition of death" itself
(Agamben 1998, 161). In this sense, imperialism not only facilitated the extreme forms of
racialized violence characteristic of global civil war, but it also helped create the conditions for
making bare life the acceptable state of being for the present majority of the globe's population.
Not unlike Jean Arasanayagam's short story, Mbembe's account of the Rwandan genocide and
the Palestinian intifada suggests that the new global subjectivities are not so much the
networked multitude Hardt and Negri imagine. Rather, emerging from the "new fictions" of
global war, they are the suicide bomber, the mercenary, the martyr, the child soldier, the victim
of mass rape, the refugee, the woman dispossessed of her family and livelihood, the mutilated
civilian, and the skeleton of the disappeared and murdered victims of global civil war. What
these subjectivities witness is that, on one hand, living under conditions of global civil war
means to live in "permanentpain" (Mbembe 2003, 39) and, on the other hand, they refer back
to the dialectical mechanisms of colonial violence. For under the Manichaean pressures of
colonialism, colonial violence always inaugurates a double process of subjection and subject
formation. Frantz Fanon famously argues that anti-colonial violence operates historically on
both collective and individual subject formation. For, on the one hand, "the native discovers
reality [colonial alienation] and transforms it into the pattern of this customs, into the practice
of violence and into his plan for freedom" (1963, 58), and on the other, a violent "war of
liberation" instills in the individual a sense of "a collective history" (ibid., 93). Thus, as Robert
Young suggests, anti-colonial violence "functions as a kind of psychotherapy of the oppressed"
(2001, 295). Yet, it seems that read through the necropolitics of imperialism, global civil warfare
no longer aims at the "pacification" of the colonial subject or the "degradation" of the
"postcolonial subject" (ibid., 293) but, as I suggested earlier, at the complete abolishment of the
human per se. We may therefore say that if global civil war produces new subjectivities, it does
so through, what I have referred to as a process of zombification. Understood as sustained acts
of negation, zombification a term that harks back to Fanon refers to a dialectical process of
the embodiment and disembodiment of global war. The former refers to the exercise of ultraobjective violence that is, the systematic "naturalization of asymmetrical relations of power"
(Balibar 2001, 27) in order to regulate, racialize, and extinguish human life at will, while the
latter suggests the production of narratives of "de-corporation" (ibid., 25) and detachment by
those who manage and administrate global civil war. The notion of zombification, however,
connotes not only the exercise of, but also the exorcism of, the ways in which global war is
scripted on and through the racialized body. Thus, a post-colonial understanding of global war
needs to think through the necropolitics of war, including the uneven value historically and
presently assigned to human life and the politicization of death. The latter issue will be
addressed in the last section of this paper. The next section examines the cultural production
and perpetuation of normative narratives of global warfare.

ALTERNATIVES

CONTAMINATION
Impurity is contained to make the utopic Affirmative World seem benign, our
alternative is not a rejection, but sullying of the image of the 1AC. Such an undoing
of profanity reveals the contradictions of violence-as-peace in a visceral encounter
with the ugly eroticism of death, which provokes the profound laughter of
continuity
Benjamin Noys, professor of critical philosophy, 2000, Georges Bataille: A Critical
Introduction, The Subversive Image. Pluto Press. HHurt.
His negation of human nature is not based on belief in an order excluding total complicity with
all that has gone before (EA, 101). Bataille is not a writer of radical breaks because these breaks
are violent gestures of division and purification. To destroy all complicity with what has gone on
before would involve purifying ourselves of the past. The break is dominated by a belief in a new
pure state, a new pure human nature (for example, Che Guevaras new socialist man). Batailles
violent class rhetoric of the 1930s does call for the destruction of the bourgeoisie but it is not
clear that he means mass physical destruction. He is not a writer of purification but a writer of
the principle of contagion and contamination (CS, 109). Rather than negating human nature
with a break from all that has gone before we negate it by an act of contamination of its purity
and propriety. We do not flee the ugliness of our ancestors but we are attracted by it: There is
absolutely no thought of dispensing with this hateful ugliness, and we will yet catch ourselves
some day, eyes suddenly dimmed and brimming with inadmissible tears, running absurdly
towards some provincial haunted house, nastier than flies, more vicious, more rank than a
hairdressers shop (EA, 106).
It is not a matter of destroying the image, of creating a pure subversive image, but of embracing
what is hateful and ugly in that image. We are pulled back into the image, running into it out of
control. The irruptive forces revealed by Bataille flow out of the image and then flow back into it,
disrupting its propriety. However, once Bataille has drawn out these irruptive forces is it not
possible that they could be assimilated and put to use by science or philosophy? Could they not
be analysed conventionally? These irruptive forces do not settle within the conventional, and the
classifications of science or philosophy would be variations on the dictionary classifications
which work through imposing meaning. Like the dictionary, science divides up the world into
discrete units, trying to impose a mathematical frock coat (VE, 31) on the world. Philosophy, on
the other hand, tries to contain these forces within metaphysical wholes. What remains is the
leftover, the remainder, which cannot be assimilated. The event of eruption is like a fly on an
orators nose (EA, 102), whose comic effect of acute perturbation mocks the discourses of
knowledge.
Philosophy is more audacious because it tries to control the moment of irruption within itself by
assimilating it within, but It is impossible to reduce the appearance of the fly on the orators
nose to the supposed contradiction between the self and metaphysical whole (EA, 103). If the fly
could be reduced to the position of contradiction then it would simply be a negative moment of
the metaphysical whole. It would have escaped the image only to have become part of
philosophy. Although Bataille had yet to attend Kojves lectures on Hegel he was already aware
of some rudiments of Hegels philosophy. He knew, probably from the use of Hegels dialectic in
Marxism, how Hegel would use contradiction as a means of bringing any negative moments
within absolute knowledge. The fly refused to remain in the contradictory position, and so the
subversive image could not be controlled by a dialectical contradiction. The eruption that
explodes out of the wedding party photograph and plunges us back into it also shatters the
principle of human nature. At the same time it drags philosophy and science into this turbulent
play of forces, subverting them along with the image.
With a rapid movement that is dizzying Bataille moves from the image to science and

philosophy, and in doing so he suggests the hidden continuity between science, philosophy and
society. What they share is a common repression of the violent irruptive forces on which they
depend, but which they cannot fully control. In each case violent forces are repressed and
controlled by acts that are themselves violent but which dissimulate this violence. It is this that
makes them vulnerable, so when a fly lands on a human face which is trying to present itself as
serious and knowledgeable it provokes laughter. There is no fly visible in the photograph
Bataille discusses but he can see the fly buzzing around by sliding rapidly through the image. In
the flight of the fly in and out of the image the highest of human concerns are dragged into the
dirt as the fly is attracted by the odour of the rank and vicious. The fly is a provocation to the
image because it cannot be found there. It does not settle within the frame of the photograph but
flies out of it, buzzes around it and taunts it like the presence of the acute perturbation that
disturbs the calm surface of the image. In this sense it has a virtual presence, neither actually
appearing in the photograph yet not completely absent from it either. It is the haunting
possibility of the subversive image that rests in the photograph but only in so far as it is always
spilling out of it.
As the fly escapes from the image of the wedding party it moves on to more explicit images of
eruption. The photographs of slaughterhouses at La Villette in Paris by Eli Lotar break a taboo
on presenting violence. Bataille notes that In our time, nevertheless, the slaughterhouse is
cursed and quarantined like a plague-ridden ship (EA, 73). Eli Lotar has put us back into
contact with this work of death through images of animal carcasses, butchers and smears of
blood. What these images also reveal is that this violent slaughter, on which many of us nonvegetarians still depend, has become a mechanical and technical activity. In one of the
photographs a line of severed animal legs rests against a wall in an ordered arrangement that
represses the violence of the slaughter (EA, 74). We are doubly alienated from the
slaughterhouse: firstly, we do not wish to see what happens there and secondly, its activities
turn death into a productive and neutral event.
This limitation of violence is not a sign of the progress of civilisation. The curse (terrifying only
to those who utter it) leads them to vegetate as far as possible from the slaughterhouse, to exile
themselves, out of propriety, to a flabby world in which nothing fearful remains and in which,
subject to the ineradicable obsession of shame, they are reduced to eating cheese (EA, 73). Our
exile from the slaughterhouse does not put an end to the violence but transforms it from
something sacred to a technical activity from which we can hide ourselves. This transforming of
death into a secret, technical operation has been one of the factors at work in the
slaughterhouses of human beings in the twentieth century. Batailles response is to use these
images of the slaughterhouse to break the taboo that protects us from an intimate contact with
death. By breaking this taboo he challenges the distance which allows us to transform slaughter
into a technical activity, and he puts us into contact with a different experience of death.
Bataille is also nostalgic for a past that is supposed to have achieved a sacred relationship with
death, where in the act of sacrifice we found a primal continuity linking us with everything that
is (E, 15). He is contrasting the practice of joy before death with the organisation of death into
productive meaning. This desire for an intimate experience of death finds its most disturbing
form in an image, the photograph of the Chinese torture victim. Although it is contained in his
final book The Tears of Eros (1961) Bataille had possessed the image since 1925, when it had
been given him by his analyst Dr Adrien Borel (and this might indicate the unconventional
nature of Batailles analysis). It shows a Chinese man undergoing death by cuts: The Chinese
executioner of my photo haunts me: there he is busily cutting off the victims leg at the knee. The
victim is bound to a stake, eyes turned up, head thrown back, and through a grimacing mouth
you see teeth (G, 389). Bataille never commented on it in Documents and it is the hidden
secret of Documents. However, it is no longer secret and has become part of the counterculture
appropriation of Bataille circulating on the Internet.
If the wedding party of The Human Face is the most conventional image in Bataille then the

Chinese torture victim is, for Bataille, to my knowledge, the most anguishing of worlds
accessible to us through images captured on film (TE, 206). He returned to it again and again,
in Inner Experience, in Guilty and in The Tears of Eros, as if unable to turn away from it. In his
final work Bataille wrote, This photograph had a decisive role in my life. I never stopped being
obsessed by this image of pain, at once ecstatic (?) and intolerable (TE, 206). It is decisive
because Bataille finds in it an image of an ecstatic death that tears at the limits of the image and
provokes his last shuddering tears (TE, 207). Batailles use of this image makes him vulnerable
to the criticism that Adorno made of Heidegger that he offers a regression to the cult of
death.7 Certainly it is a disturbing, even sickening, image, but it cannot be rejected and should
not be celebrated. It reaches us through its violence, and in its violence it demands a response
from us.
It firstly provokes complex effects, and this provocative complexity indicates that the image is
not unequivocal. Bataille cannot be certain that it is the image of ecstatic death that he desires.
The strange beatific grin on the face of the torture victim may not be joy before death but the
result of the administration of opium used to prolong or relieve the suffering of the victim (TE,
205). There is an undecidable moment where the grin is indistinguishable from a grimace. This
undecidable moment undoes Batailles claim for a direct access to the sacred horror of
eroticism. Rather than having direct access Bataille is forced to interpret the image, and no
image, including this one, can offer direct access to the impossible. Instead the impossible
emerges in the undecidable oscillation between the grin and the grimace, a decisive moment of
reading when any decision lacks a secure foundation.
The image is not only equivocal but it also has tasks for Bataille; it is an opening to a
communication with the suffering of the Other. It cannot be passively contemplated because it
draws us in by taking us outside of ourselves. It is an experience of ecstasy as ekstasis (standingoutside) that leaves us undone: The young and seductive Chinese man of whom I have spoken,
left to the work of the executioner I loved him with a love in which the sadistic instinct played
no part: he communicated his pain to me or perhaps the excessive nature of his pain, and it was
precisely that which I was seeking, not so as to take pleasure in it, but in order to ruin in me that
which is opposed to him (IE, 120). Bataille is not a sadist, nor is he celebrating death, but for
him this image of pain makes a communication possible. This image is decisive because it so
profoundly overflows its limits, and it catches us up in the movement of death.
By drawing us into the movement of death the Chinese torture victim does not leave us at a safe
distance from death. This is in contrast to Christianity which admits the suffering body of Christ
but has a tendency to wholly and irreversibly obliterate the tortured body.8 Bataille thought
that the success of Christianity must be explained by the value of the theme of the son of Gods
ignominious crucifixion, which carries human dread to a representation of loss and limitless
degradation (BR, 170; VE, 119). Christianity has exploited this suffering through art, with
endless studies of the crucifixion but these representations of loss and limitless degradation
have always been contained by the narrative of the crucifixion in which Christs suffering
redeems us. Christianity is a cult of death which denies the power of death through the
resurrection and through the imposition of religious meaning on death. The image of the
Chinese torture victim restores Christs suffering body to a degradation without return or
benefit.
The Chinese torture victim also challenges the reduction of death to meaning by Hegel, who
draws on Christian thought. In particular, Hegel uses the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ
as the image of a passage from the infinite to the finite and again back to the infinite. The
Chinese torture victim disrupts this circle of spirit by dragging it back down into the suffering
body. Bataille resists the dialectical reduction of Christs pain by an image of suffering that does
not lead to meaning. Bataille found the attempt to put the divine to death in the crucifixion of
Christ comical (BR, 282). Hegel uses it to add on to the infinite a movement towards the finite
(BR, 282) that will eventually return to infinite, but for Bataille to make the divine finite is a

cause for more laughter. In laughing at death, which does not mean mocking suffering, we
become close to the pain of the Other in the paroxysms of laughter which seamlessly turn into
sobbing. This is no cult of death but a demand to experience death as an event that shatters us.

CONTINUITY
Lose yourself in discontinuity, solves any reason death could be bad.
Georges Bataille, died the same year Nietzsche et la philosphie was published (coincidence?),
1945, Sur Nietzsche. ditions Gallimard. HHurt.
"Life," I said, "is bound to be lost in death, as a river loses itself in the sea, the known in the
unknown" ( Inner Experience). And death is the end life easily reaches (as water does sea level).
So why would I wish to turn my desire to be persuasive into a worry? I dissolve into myself like
the sea--and I know the roaring waters of the torrent head straight at me! Whatever a judicious
understanding sometimes seems to hide, an immense folly connected with it (understanding is
only an infinitesimal part of that folly), doesn't hesitate to give back. The certainty of
incoherence in reading, the inevitable crumbling of the soundest constructions, is the deep truth
of books. Since appearance constitutes a limit, what truly exists is a dissolution into common
opacity rather than a development of lucid thinking. The apparent unchangingness of books is
deceptive: each book is also the sum of the misunderstandings it occasions.
So why exhaust myself with efforts toward consciousness? I can only make fun of myself as I
write. (Why write even a phrase if laughter doesn't immediately join me?) It goes without saying
that, for the task, I bring to bear whatever rigor I have within me. But the crumbling nature of
thinking's awareness of itself and especially the certainty of thinking reaching its end only in
failing, hinder any repose and prevent the relaxed state that facilitates a rigorous disposition of
things. Committed to the casual stance--I think and express myself in the free play of hazard.
Obviously, everyone in some way admits the importance of hazard. But this recognition is as
minimal and unconscious as possible. Going my way unconstrained, unhampered, I develop my
thoughts, make choices with regard to expression--but I don't have the control over myself that I
want. And the actual dynamic of my intelligence is equally uncontrollable. So that I owe to other
dynamics--to lucky chance and to fleeting moments of relaxation--the minimal order and
relative learning that I do have. And the rest of the time . . . Thus, as I see it my thought proceeds
in harmony with its object, an object that it attains more and perfectly the greater the state of its
own ruin. Though it isn't necessarily conscious of this. At one and the same time my thinking
must reach plenary illumination and dissolution . . . In the same individual, thought must
construct and destroy itself.
And even that isn't quite right. Even the most rigorous thinkers yield to chance. In addition, the
demands inherent in the exercise of thought often take me far from where I started. One of the
great difficulties encountered by understanding is to put order into thought's interrelations in
time. In a given moment, my thought reaches considerable rigor. But how to link it with
yesterday's thinking? Yesterday, in a sense, I was another person, responding to other worries.
Adapting one to the other remains possible, but . . .
This insufficiency bothers me no more than the insufficiency relating to the many woes of the
human condition generally. Humanness is related in us to nonsatisfaction, a nonsatisfaction to
which we yield without accepting it, though; we distance ourselves from humanness when we
regard ourselves as satisfied or when we give up searching for satisfaction. Sartre is right in
relation to me to recall the myth of Sisyphus, though "in relation to me" here equates to "in
relation to humanity," I suppose. What can be expected of us is to go as far as possible and not to
stop. What by contrast, humanly speaking, can be criticized are endeavors whose only meaning
is some relation to moments of completion. Is it possible for me to go further? I won't wait to
coordinate my efforts in that case--I'll go further. I'll take the risk. And the reader, free not to
venture after me, will often take advantage of that same freedom! The critics are right to scent
danger here! But let me in turn point out a greater danger, one that comes from methods that,
adequate only to an outcome of knowledge, confer on individuals whom they limit a sheerly
fragmentary existence--an existence that is mutilated with respect to the whole that remains

inaccessible.
Having recognized this, I'll defend my position.
I've spoken of inner experience: my intention was to make known an object. But by proposing
this vague title, I didn't want to confine myself sheerly to inner facts of that experience. It's an
arbitrary procedure to reduce knowledge to what we get from our intuitions as subjects. This is
something only a newborn can do. And we ourselves (who write) can only know something
about this newborn by observing it from outside (the child is only our object). A separation
experience, related to a vital continuum (our conception and our birth) and to a return to that
continuum (in our first sexual feelings and our first laughter), leaves us without any clear
recollections, and only in objective operations do we reach the core of the being we are. A
phenomenology of the developed mind assumes a coincidence of subjective and objective
aspects and at the same time a fusion of subject and object. * [This is the fundamental
requirement of Hegel's phenomenology. Clearly, instead of responding to it, modern
phenomenology, while replying to changing human thought, is only one moment among others:
a sandcastle, a mirage of sorts.] This means an isolated operation is admissible only because of
fatigue (so, the explanation I gave of laughter, because I was unable to develop a whole
movement in tandem with a conjugation of the modalities of laughter would be left suspended-since every theory of laughter is integrally a philosophy and, similarly, every integral philosophy
is a theory of laughter . . .). But that is the point--though I set forth these principles, at the same
time I must renounce following them. Thought is produced in me as uncoordinated flashes,
withdrawing endlessly from a term to which its movement pushes it. I can't tell if I'm expressing
human helplessness this way, or my own . . . I don't know, though I'm not hopeful of even some
outwardly satisfying outcome. Isn't there an advantage in creating philosophy as I do? A flash in
the night--a language belonging to a brief moment . . . Perhaps in this respect this latest moment
contains a simple truth.
In order to will knowledge, by an indirect expedient I tend to become the whole universe. But in
this movement I can't be a whole human being, since I submit to a particular goal, becoming the
whole. Granted, if I could become it, I would thus be a whole human being. But in my effort,
don't I distance myself from exactly that? And how can I become the whole without becoming a
whole human being? I can't be this whole human being except when I let go. I can't be this
through willpower: my will necessarily has to will outcomes! But if misfortune (or chance) wills
me to let go, then I know I am an integral, whole humanness, subordinate to nothing.
In other words, the moment of revolt inherent in willing a knowledge beyond practical ends
can't be indefinitely continued. And in order to be the whole universe, humankind has to let go
and abandon its principle, accepting as the sole criterion of what it is the tendency to go beyond
what it is. This existence that I am is a revolt against existence and is indefinite desire. For this
existence God was simply a stage and now here he is, looming large, grown from unfathomable
experience, comically perched on the stake used for impalement.
My method has confusion as a consequence--and in the long run this confusion is unbearable
(particularly for me!). This is something to be corrected if possible . . . But for now, I want to
elucidate the meaning of the above words.
For me nothingness is a limit of an individual existence. Beyond its defined limits--in time and
in space--this existence or being no longer exists, no longer is. For us, that nonbeing is filled
with meaning: I know I can be reduced to nothing. Limited being is only a particular being.
Although, does there exist such a thing as the totality of being (understood as the sum of
beings)?

INDIGENOUS CAPITALISM
Whereas modern engagement is based on the incorporation of China into the
institutions of the West, we propose the Wenzhou model of indigenous
capitalism. When the affirmative responds with guilt ridden defense of
production, they will have ignored the gods and disconnected the material from
the sacred. This is the most profane impact.
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 30/05/2007 Ritual Economy and Rural
Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics. HHurt.
What really intrigued me about this area was the distinctive revival of traditional culture and
popular religion alongside the economic development, a fact rarely examined or even mentioned
by Chinese scholarship on the Wenzhou model of development. Despite official restrictions on
the expansion of popular religion, and a long, still-ongoing twentieth-century history of radical
state secularism,11 this religious revival in Wenzhou not only kept pace with economic growth
and prosperity, but often seemed to drive it. Each time I returned to Wenzhou, I found new deity
temples and lineage ancestor halls built or restored and the local people emboldened further to
expand their religious rituals, festivals, and ritual processions.12 Each village had more than one
deity temple dedicated to one or more of the multitude of gods and goddesses in the popular
Chinese pantheon. Temples gathered together local worshippers on the birthdays of their
tutelary gods and other festivals to hold rituals and share a collective banquet. Most townships
or county seats had reclaimed their City God temple, which had been appropriated by the state
and turned into offices or storehouses in the Maoist era. A new Buddhist temple in Jinshan
County was being built in 2004, with a huge five-story-high wooden statue of Guanyin, the most
important Chinese Buddhist deity, going up inside. I talked with the village leader, who told me
of his efforts in scouring the Buddhist centers of the country for models upon which to base his
villages temple, and for a reputable Buddhist priest to head the temple, and of his ambitious
plans to rebuild the Buddhist monastery and seminary that once flourished there in the Song
Dynasty. Lineages had resumed their ritual sacrifices to ancestors and competed with each other
to collect the most elaborate genealogies, build the biggest and costliest ancestor hall, or put on
the most impressive sacrificial ritual. Families also competed with each other in the collective
wealth of all family members, as expressed through the scale of the funeral rituals and feasts
they could provide for their dead. Christian churches are also part of this religious revival, and
many churches dot the countryside here.
All of these religious resurgences of course require money, which comes from the willing,
sometimes eager donations of ordinary people, especially the wealthy, who have stronger
obligations to give. Besides building and restoring their religious sites, and paying for ritual
expenditures, temple associations, lineage organizations, and churches all serve as conduits for
charitable donations and social welfare: they gather money from the rich and distribute it to the
poor and needy (widows, orphans, disaster victims) in local communities, and finance efforts for
the public good, such as building schools, roads, and bridges. Religious sites all make public
their annual lists of donors or special fund-raising event records, and the amounts that they
donated are written on paper and plastered on temple walls or carved into permanent stone
steles reminiscent of imperial times. These public records further spur on the will to be
generous. Thus, a significant proportion of the wealth generated from industrial production and
commerce is diverted into non-productive uses, such as community welfare and construction
that increase ones merit accumulation, or investments in the divine world.
In addition to donations to temples, lineages, and churches, and the expenditures on a plethora
of different life-cycle and religious rituals, there is another type of ritual expenditure that is part
of the ritual economy of rural Wenzhou and should be counted as part of its economic growth.
This is the expenditure by local people on the services of ritual experts: geomantic masters are

hired to select the most propitious sites for tombs and new houses; diviners using tortoise shells
and the sixty-four hexagrams of the ancient Book of Changes (Yi Jing)13 are employed to tell
fortunes or to calculate the most propitious dates for lowering a coffin into the ground, getting
married, or opening a new business; and Daoist and Buddhist monks and nuns are paid to
perform a range of different rituals for the community and its individual families. New temples,
ancestor halls and churches have also spurred the growth of a skilled artisan craftsman
occupational group: wood carvers (of deity statues), temple mural painters, coffin-makers,
traditional architecture masters, religious scripture and lineage genealogy printers, and others
who cater to religious and ritual needs. These artisans are not averse to technological
innovations. I talked with one young printer of genealogies who in the early 1980s learned how
to carve individual Chinese characters out of wood and ran a wood-block printing press (Song
Dynasty technology) to serve lineage organizations in the area. He said genealogies are always
printed with Song-Dynasty-style characters (Songti), to commemorate the scholar-official Ou
Yangxiu of the Song, who promoted genealogies for the common people, not just the aristocracy.
In the year 2000, he switched to computer desktop printing and uses the Chinese software
programs Song-style font for his Chinese characters. In the space of twenty years, he had leaped
from an eleventh- to a twenty-first-century technology.14
It is not clear when the practice of burning paper spirit money for the gods and ancestors
started, but certainly Chinese popular religion underwent expansion and innovation in the
commercial revolution of the Song Dynasty (9601279 ce), which witnessed the invention of
both paper money used in trade, and wood-block printing. Today in Chinese popular religious
practice, spirit money is one important medium of communication and exchange between the
temporal and divine worlds. In rural Wenzhou, important occasions for burning spirit money
are such rituals as funerals, ancestor sacrifices, birthday festivals for deities, and the Ghost
Festival (Zhongyuan pudu) in the seventh lunar month. These money offerings to gods, ghosts,
and ancestors ensure their blessings on the living. In funerals, the most important life-cycle
ritual, money is burned for the use of the deceased in the Underworld, where the soul is taken
after death to stand judgement before each court of the Ten Kings of Hell. Although the burning
of spirit money produces only a symbolic loss of wealth, the idea is significant: wealth can be
made by families, but not all of it should be consumed or kept in material form. One must invest
or divert part of ones wealth to other divine worlds for ones future good fortune, ones family
and descendants, and ones larger community.
It is evident to me that if the Chinese state, whether the central government or Party, or the local
Wenzhou municipal or county officials did not restrict the expansion of popular religion so
much, due to their internalization of nineteenthcentury Western and Christian condemnations
of backward superstitions, religious and ritual development in rural Wenzhou would be even
stronger and more able to exert beneficial social transformations. Religious revival is engaged in
rebuilding an ethical system damaged by decades of class struggle, in which individuals,
families, and groups were pitted against and betrayed each other in loyalty to the state, and by
increasing popular cynicism towards Communist Party ideals and homilies. The homage to
deities and ancestors in community rituals also bolster an important element, prominent in late
imperial China, but virtually eroded in the course of twentieth-century nationalism: local
identities. The gods, goddesses, and ancestors are icons of local identity, autonomy, local
initiative and self-organization, building blocks of an indigenous rural Chinese civil society,
while the rituals and festivals put on for them gather and celebrate local communities, thus
counter-balancing the hegemonic and monolithic nationalism disseminated by public schools
and the state media.
Finally, Chinese popular religion and its aforementioned signs of revival can be seen as an
indigenous response to the perennial problem of capitalism: the unbridled and socially
destructive profit-motive. Given Chinas long history of commercialization, capitalism is not
entirely new. As China today joins the world of global capitalism, some of its rural coastal

regional cultures, such as rural Wenzhou, have drawn upon imperial Chinas petty
entrepreneurial and commercial cultural legacy, where the market economy was embedded in
and also checked by cultural institutions such as the family, lineage organizations, temple
associations, Daoist and Buddhist institutions, and community ethics. Unlike the urban areas,
they have not embraced the (Western) version of capitalism that is much more disembedded
from the traditional encumbrances of kinship and family obligations and religious commitments
to the divine world.15 In the indigenous capitalism that we find in places like Wenzhou, the
capitalist drive for accumulation of wealth is tempered by the religious and kinship ethics of
generosity and social rivalries of giving away wealth. The significance of the Wenzhou Model
of economic development lies not in its economic success, but in its ability to show Chinese state
policy makers that just as the West modernized without having to wipe out superstitious
Christianity, which also has an ethos of generosity and charity16 economic development in
China, especially in rural cultures, cannot do without religious inspiration. Whereas in many
other places in China, a century of radical state secularization swept away the religious impulses
that could both drive the money-making ethos of capitalism as well as counter its destruction of
the social fabric, rural Wenzhous capitalism has managed to preserve or reinvent a distinctive
anti-capitalist component. Here, the emphasis is not just on material investment, but also on
investments into the non-productive realms of community welfare, ritual consumption, and
conversion of material wealth into the currency of transcendent divine worlds. In rural
Wenzhou, the local culture exerts pressure on capitalism to conform with the outlines of an
ancient ritual economy, where rituals must be financed and performed, the gods must receive
offerings, and wealth must be diverted from this temporary world to other more powerful and
lasting realms of the cosmos.

LINGCHI
The meditation on the sacrifice of Fou Tchou Li offers an opportunity for
laceration as a means to destroy subjectivity
Robbins 12 [GEORGE BATAILLE AND THE MASOCHIST ETHICS OF (THE LOVE OF)
ANGUISH://ASherm]
Anguish, the desire for communication provoked by the agonizing alienation of existence, and horror resulting from the
disruptive nature of the experience of communication, remains central to understanding the affective
dimension of Batailles meditation upon the lingchi image. More importantly for broaching the subject of
the
young and seductive Chinese man of whom I have spoken, left to the work of the executionerI
loved him with a love in which the sadistic instinct played no part: he communicated his pain to me
or perhaps the excessive nature of his pain, and it was precisely that which I was seeking, not so as to take pleasure in it,
but in order to ruin in me that which is opposed to ruin .28 Batailles emphasis here on his love of the experience
of or engagement with the (image of the) eroticized/fetishizedhere described as seductive, and tortured body of
Fou-Tchou-Li as not being that of the sadistic instinct is insightful, albeit perhaps still troubling. The kernel of troublesomeness
masochistic ethics, as Bataille points out, is the role of love discovered within the demarcation of ecstatic communication. [Of ]

within this passage is in the potentiality to conflate this fetishization and the love to which Bataille refers with the violence of
torture. However, Bataille states that the love he felt for the torture victim was not of the sadistic type. Although he states that the
victim communicated his pain and that this was precisely what he was seeking, he also specifically states that this was not
to take pleasure in it, but to ruin that which is opposed to ruin. This internal component which

is opposed to ruin is
the self. The self, or the notion of the self, is one of our most treasured things . It is, of course, an illusion29
being the psychological product of the order of differentiation. We are only separate individual selves by way of
the world of temporality and utility that has worked to establish, measure, and maintain individuation and objectivity.
What communication does, especially vis -vis recourse to the horror of violent death, is to rend the self (or notion
of self) into oblivion. Thus, by implication the gesture made by Bataille in his reflection on the experience of
communication with the excessive pain of the lingchi victim is masochistic. That is, this love for the victim
is, not one that relishes in his suffering. Rather, given the identificatory nature of the Bataillean meditation, this
love masochistic in that it gives to the meditating subject the pain and horror of the victim. Especially in
that this love is one with-sufferinga love in suffering, it is a love grounded on the internalization of suffering, thus a love of
suffering, not a love of the suffering in others. To understand this manoeuvre better, a return to the concept of non-knowledge is
drawn. Batailles assertion is that: NON-KNOWLEDGE COMMUNICATES ECSTATY. Non-knowledge is ANGUISH
before all else. In anguish, there appears a nudity which puts one into ecstasy. But ecstasy itself (nudity, communication) is elusive if
anguish is elusive. Thus ecstasy only remains possible in the anguish of ecstasy, in this sense, that it cannot be satisfaction, grasped
knowledge.30 Herein lays the communication of the truth in the anguish of Fou-Tchou-Lis torture

being as beautiful as a wasp. Communication is a type of knowledge that undoes knowledge, the latter
knowledge being epistemic in nature. Non-knowledge, however, is more or less intuitive, although this term is lacking due
to its descriptive force making the knowledge of inner experience appear to be something of an essential quality. The
aestheticization of the monstrous torture of the lingchi victim is fundamental to Batailles
attempt to translate the masochistic ecstasy in the communication of suffering into language. Yet,
as he points out in several places throughout his corpus, discursive language cannot and does not access (or communicate)
communication. At best, poetic language in its capacity to sacrifice words and images 31 discursive, objective
activityis

the only language left to use to attempt to articulate communication. Fou-Tchou-Lis


suffering, which becomes Batailles suffering, his torture, his pain, and this ecstasy of communication, is beautifulan
aestheticization of lacerationa beautiful anguish! If in beauty is found that which is desirable and pleasing to the senses, that which
is excellent, and that which is pleasurable, enjoyable, delightful, one finds in Batailles identification with the

lingchi victims anguish, not the delight in the others suffering, but the ecstasy in the cathexis of
internalization of the laceration. Identification with the lacerated other evokes the rupture of oneself through the
recognition of ones own laceration. In the section of Inner Experience that follows Batailles meditation, titled, Second Digression
on Ecstasy in the Void, one finds a more complex explication of communication aestheticized with the word beautiful (and
sublime.) Contemplating night, I see nothing. I remain immobile, frozen, absorbed in IT. I can image a landscape of terror,
sublime, the earth open as a volcano, the sky filled with fire, or any other vision capable of putting the mind into ecstasy; as
beautiful and disturbing as it may be, night surpasses this limited possible and yet IT is nothing, there is nothing in IT which can be
felt, not even finally darkens. In, IT, everything fades away, but, exorbitant, I traverse an empty depth and the empty depth traverses
me. In IT, I communicate with the unknown opposed to the ipse which I am; I become ipse, unknown to myself, two terms merge
in a single wrenching, barely differing from a voidnot able to be distinguished from it by anything that I can graspnevertheless

differing from it more than does the world of a thousand colors.32 Batailles explanation for this moment posits that after (or upon
going deeper into) the meditation

upon the objectthe lingchi image in this caseeverything slips away


into an ecstasy of nothingness. This night of nothingness is sublimeboth beautiful and disturbing, and it
transgresses the limits of the self, of the possible, of the knowable. The laceration of the other (the object)
becomes the laceration of the subject, and this laceration, not only tears asunder the self of the subject, but totally
consumes, annihilates, the selfthe sense of separate isolation, opening the inner being up to the ultimate woundedness and
incompleteness of all beingsof existence itself. The wasp like beauty, the communication of laceration, in the meditation on the
lingchi image ruins in Bataille that which is opposed to ruin, metaphorically, just as a wasp is a predatory, parasitic, carnivorous, and
aggressive creature that carries a venomous sting, but simultaneously is a being with an aesthetically pleasing bodily configuration,
both physically and in coloration. The beautiful, and the sublime, being categories of aestheticization, then, maintain a structural
parallel to Batailles notion of the poetic. Thus, it is also the case that this moment in relation to the lacerating effect of the lingchi
image is a sacrificial one. The seductive beauty of the lingchi torture victim functions in a similar way

as, according to Batailles conception of sacrifice, does a method of religious sacrificial ritual , and
then by extension of course as the poetic disruption of objective, discursive language. This beauty then is a masochistic
aestheticization of pain, beholding of a beatific transfiguration in and from the anguish communicated. This beauty is parasitic on
the self and the consciousness of reason. It ruins the calculating, individuating network of rational

consciousness that differentiates between self and other, subject and object, the beautiful and
monstrous, ruination and manufacture, pain and pleasure. The ecstatic ruination of oneself in
masochism occurs with the breakdown of the distinction between (viz. fusion of) pleasure and
pain.

RELIGION
The alternative is ritual expenditure
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
Religion is the satisfaction that a society gives to the use of excess resources, or rather to their
destruction This is what gives religion their rich material aspect, which only ceases to be
conspicuous when an emaciated spiritual life withdraws from labor a time that could have been
employed in producing. The only point is the absence of utility, the gratuitousness of these
collective determinations. They do render a service, true, in that men attribute to these
gratuitous activities consequences in the realm of supernatural efficacy; but they are useful on
that plane precisely insofar as they are gratuitous. (Bataille, The Accursed Share, vol. 1)
Ritual or religious expenditures in which there is destruction of property or squandering of
wealth, defies modern rationality, because they are expenditures without a return, or things
given whose return is either meager, far from guaranteed, or explicitly made impossible.
Contrary to Mauss, it is this very goal of non-reciprocity found in competitive potlatch-giving
that Bataille wanted to salvage from the human past for modernity. When hard-earned wealth is
recklessly squandered in exaggerated generosity so as to prevent any return, then people who
cannot understand or accept this behavior call it wasteful. So below, I would like to turn to
discuss a second logic of the gift besides that of reciprocity and redistribution, a logic that was
neglected by Mauss.
This is how Franz Boas describes the potlatches he witnessed at the end of the 19th century on
Vancouver Island: The rivalry between chiefs and clans finds its strongest expression in the
destruction of property. A chief will burn blankets, a canoe, or break a copper, thus indicating
his disregard of the amount of property destroyed and showing that his mind is stronger, his
power greater, than that of his rival. If the latter is not able to destroy an equal amount of
property without much delay, his name is broken. (Boas 1966: 93)
If we think about the potlatch, the aim of the hosts was actually not reciprocity from their
guests, for they would be most happy if their guests did not challenge them back with a bigger
potlatch. That way, the hosts could keep their exalted social status gained from the last costly
ritual feasting. To destroy such huge wealth and have no challengers who could reciprocate was
to attain the pinnacle of potlatch power, even though the family or clan would be reduced to
difficult material conditions for years to come. It was this spirit of profligate destruction of
material wealth in the potlatch, acts of bravado that reached for something beyond material
reciprocity, and in the context of modernity, were transgressions of utilitarianism, that caught
Batailles theoretical fancy.
A potlatch usually had to be returned within a year if a guest wanted to challenge the host, and
the interest rate for the credit incurred in being a guest was very high: the response must be a
return potlatch worth 100% more (Codere 1950). Sometimes, a rival and his clan could never
repay such a gift, and they must accept humiliation. If there was a return, over time, this would
cause a spiraling inflation that would ultimately be unsustainable. Helen Codere noted that
there was a built-in mechanism to defuse or dissolve the inflation, which involved the dramatic
destruction of coppers (Codere 1950: 75-77). Copper-making was a native technology present
even before the en-counter with the West. The mineral was smelted and hammered into a
rectangle of about 3 feet long, with a rounded head that flared outward, and raised ridges on the
lower half. These coppers represented the accumulation of great wealth, and were mainly owned
by powerful families and clans who could afford to gather the huge amount of blankets, animal
skins, and other forms of wealth needed to purchase them. So rare and precious were these
finished coppers, that they were each given their own names, and most potlatches did not
feature the destruction of a copper. However, on occasion, a potlatch would involve the host

engaging in the ultimate unbeatable act: he would break off a piece of his precious copper and
either give it to a guest or throw it into the sea or into the fire, where it could not be retrieved.
Sometimes a whole copper would be destroyed, and this might even lead to suicide on the part
of his shamed rival who had no hope to match such profligacy. Great boxes of precious eulachon
fish oil would also be thrown into the fire, singeing guests blankets and smoldering roof rafters.
Canoes were also burned, and in the old days, slaves were sometimes killed.
In comparing Mauss and Bataille, Mauss emphasis on a return for the gift given, seems more
compatible with the utilitarianism of modern capitalist societies. However, Batailles work takes
the Nietzschean spirit of anti-utilitariansim to new heights. Central to Batailles passionate
critique of modernity was his notion of ritual expenditure as a key form of non-productive
consumption that has all but disappeared in our utilitarian and future-oriented modern life.
These expenditures include religious festivals, massive rituals and sacrifices, competitive
spectacles, lavish court luxuries and ceremonies, large non-productive monastic communities,
and giant monuments like the Egyptian pyramids and medieval European cathedrals, that we
moderns consider wasteful and useless (Bataille 1985; 1989a).
For Bataille, these expenditures allowed people to maintain a deep connection with the sacred
realm of the gods, ancestors, and supernatural beings. He envisioned archaic humanity as being
like the state of animality, where consciousness is in a state of original oneness and immanence
with the world. This original non-differentiation between self and the world he called the state of
intimacy (Bataille 1989b). Batailles notion of intimacy resonates with the Daoist state of
original cosmic unity. However, what breaks up this originary monistic world for Bataille is not
language, as in Daoist philosophy, but tool-use, reflecting the Marxist influence on Bataille. For
Bataille, increasingly in human history, distinctions are drawn between human and animal, and
between humans and supreme beings, whereas before there was a sense of continuity between
humans, animals, and gods (Bataille 1989b). With progressive tool-use, not only animals
become things for the use of humans, but humans themselves become increasingly objectified
as things. According to Bataille, the longing for a return to our original lost intimacy is then
partially satisfied through periodic effervescent religious rituals and festivals that refocus people
on the present and allow them to indulge in an excess of material waste and loss. To destroy
material wealth is to destroy the thingness that has come to imprison us and to allow us to get
back to intimacy with the gods for a time. For example, Bataille points out that in animal
sacrifice, wild animals are seldom offered in sacrifice. It is domesticated animals, draft animals
or meat-bearing animals that are slaughtered, in keeping with this posited need to destroy the
useful in the animal.
Turning now to the Chinese cultural past, we find waste not only in banqueting, but also in
rituals and festivals of a religious nature, when sacrifices are offered to transcendent beings
residing in other worlds. Sacrifices in China are a form of religious gifts given to the gods and
ancestors. The characters , both with the spirit radical, refer to the act of making a
sacrifice to spiritual forces or supernatural beings. The ancient Chinese characters display
the cow or ox radicals, and referred to animals used for sacrificial rites, such as oxen, goats,
and pigs (Ci Hai 1976: 872). In sacrifice, the gift that is given represents the transfer of wealth
from this world to another world beyond this one, and return is quite uncertain or not at all.
Sacrifice is an archaic mode of ritual common to all ancient cultures. In sacrifice, the simple
Maussian notion of reciprocity in the gift does not suffice. Certainly there is the hope that in
sacrifice to ancestors and spirits, these beings would respond () to such gifts and reward the
sacrificers. However, sacrifice also reaches for something beyond a return. Sometimes, in
excessive no-holds-barred sacrifice, there is simply the desire for destruction or self-destruction
for its own sake, a transgression of the supposedly natural human instrumental pursuit of life,
survival, and species expansion. So Bataille wanted to explore a dimension of sacrifice where it
ceases to be a mere means to gain a repayment from the gods, but displays an excessiveness that
becomes a spiritual end in itself. This second logic of the gift, found in the excess of the gift,

enables one to transcend the means-end relationships that entrap us in the conventional world.
I must say here that I did not start doing fieldwork in rural China hav-ing already read Bataille,
but I discovered Batailles relevance to Chinese culture after my fieldwork encounters with the
frequent theme of prohibition of waste (Yang 2000). Local officials in rural and small-town
Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province where I did fieldwork in the 1990s to 2012 were always calling
on the people to scale down their rituals and avoid waste or going into debt to pay for lavish
weddings and funerals. Many large-scale religious rituals and ritual processions were just
banned altogether. The reasons that officials chastised the local people for excess ritual
expenditure were that people would not have enough money for investing in their family
businesses, in childrens education, and that these activities were superstitious.6 While
officials expected the peoples excessive waste of money on rituals to decline with increased
prosperity and exposure to the rational influences of modern urban culture in the area, the
opposite occurred. As local people had more money to spend, their family and community
rituals became more lavish. Wenzhou local officials attempt to scale down ritual expenditure
reminds me of the Canadian colonial authorities in 19th century British Columbia who banned
potlatches because they encouraged heathenism and indolence (even though they always
noted how energetically the natives prepared for potlatches) (Cole 1991). Below are two entries
by colonial agents in British Columbia:
1883 The energy they display in collecting property is certainly remarkable but
unfortunately, so much is squandered at feasts and otherwise, that they have not as they ought
to have, continuous comfort. 1890 I am sorry to say that I cannot report any improvement
among these Indians; they seem to have given themselves up again to the Potlatch, which has
absorbed the whole of their time and energies, and, in conse-quence they have earned very
little money, though they could all have ob-tained remunerative employment at the different
canneries had they chosen to work. (Codere 1950: 82-83)
Anthropologists who have studied the Northwest Coast natives observe that they were quite
hard-working, especially for their potlatch accumulations. They were also quick to adapt to the
Western money economy and were skillful in becoming economically prosperous, compared to
other Native American groups. According to Douglas Cole, amongst the four recorded reasons
for the European banning of potlatches in 1885, the economic reason was doubtless the most
important: the [potlatch] system was based on the hoarding of goods, not for savings and
investment, but for seemingly senseless waste The potlatch was not only a waste of time, but a
waste of resources, and incompatible with the governments goal of Indian economic and social
progress (Cole 1991: 140).7 Thus in the entries by colonial agents above, what the colonial
authorities really objected to was that the natives did not spend enough time working in the way
that they approved of, in fulltime and permanent employment attached to the modern
disciplinary apparatus of capitalist economy. Like the Canadian colonial officials before them,
the Chinese Communist Party in contemporary Wenzhou are also trying to bend the local people
to the modern rational enterprise of ascetic and disciplined savings, investment, accumulation,
and productive expansion ( ). The local culture of Wenzhou, which indulges in
excessive ritual waste, is today an anomaly in China, an obstinate holdout in an oceanic tide of
utilitarianism.
Earlier in China, Rebecca Nedostup has shown how the Guomingdang government in the 1930s
also tried to put an end to lavish expenditures in Nanjing for the lunar calendar Ghost Festival
and other traditional festivals by switching to a solar calendar (Nedostup 2008). Later, the
Chinese Communists of course went much further than the Guomindang in prohibiting public
religious rituals altogether, and persecuting those who dared defy the ban. Thus, we can see
clearly here that both the colonial Canadian authorities and the Chinese Guomindang and
Communists were modern colonizing state forces who sought to systematically suppress archaic
Bataillean cultures of excessive generosity and ritual destruction of wealth in order to promote
modern utilitarian mechanisms of productivity and disciplinary power.

However, at the same time, I have also discovered that in China, the condemnation of wasteful
ritual expenditures is not limited to either the Republican era or the Communist period, but has
a venerable genealogy stretching back into ancient Chinese history. For example, one often finds
sentiments by educated Confucian scholars like this one, traveling through the Wenzhou area
during the Qing Dynasty, chastising Wenzhou people for their wastefulness:
The local custom of the people within the Commandery of Wenzhou is to support spirit mediums and get access to spirits and ghosts. They hold
elaborate Buddhist ceremonies and Daoist rituals, engaging in extravagant expenditures and exhausting their energies in these efforts. Unconcerned
with heavy-duty wastefulness, each year during the first lunar month, they hold a lantern festival that lasts over ten days. These attract festival-goers
late into the night, the men mixing freely with the women. They also get into competitions of dragon lanterns, each with fine detailed craftwork. Well
over several tens of gold pieces are wasted on a single large dragon lantern. Gongs and drums are beaten thunderously, the boisterous din is insane. In
just a few days, the dragon lanterns are then put to the torch. This sort of reckless wastefulness must be immediately prohibited. Lao Daoyu, Leisurely
Tour of the Ou River (Oujiang Yizhi),

Unlike modern Chinese elites who wanted to end the superstitions that prevented China from
developing modern science and economic growth, what disturbed educated Confucian
sensibilities in late imperial China about popular religion was its wastefulness and the foolhardy
ritual extravagance of poor people. Confucians in late imperial China did not oppose religion
against science, or see religion as backwards or primitive in a linear history, but they looked
down on the customs of the common people and decried the popular overindulgence in religious
sentiments. In Qing Dynasty Quanzhou, a city that was Chinas greatest cosmopolitan port city
in the Song and Yuan Dynasties, Confucian officials also objected to wasteful expenditures:
During the Universal Salvation Festival, all households in Quanzhou put their offerings in the
streets. They set up opera stages and display many precious things. These cost people all their
property and exhaust the funds of temples Even though poorer families are strained by the
amount of expenditure, they never stop trying to make more offerings than the others. (Xu and
Xu 1990; quoted in Wang, M.M. 1995: 62)
Popular religion in late imperial China was not the only culprit of excessive ritual expenditure.
Going back in time, the Buddhists in China in the fifth to tenth centuries C.E. were also guilty of
wasteful and destructive ex-penditures. As Buddhists, they did not make blood sacrifices, but
they made lavish presentations of wealth to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas: gold, jewelry,
entertainments, foods, and even human life in self-sacrifice. According to the French sinologist
Jacques Gernet:
The Buddhist faithful competed in spending, and ruined themselves in the process. It cannot be
said that this claim represents simply a literary formula, for it recurs too frequently, in official
memorials, decrees, and even in stele inscriptions. It must therefore be assumed that these
competitions in wastefulness reveal a trait that is peculiar to the religious phenomenon itself
Certain Buddhist festivals provided the occasion for an extraordinary display of sumptuousness.
They created an atmosphere of exuberance and of collective excitement that is palpable in the
descriptions of the historians. At such times, fervor reached its paroxysm and acts of selfsacrifice and the renunciation of wealth became commonplace. These great reunions, where
entire fortunes were squandered gratuitously for entertainments and as offerings and where
self-mutilations and self-immolations by fire took place, therefore provide an opportunity for
apprehending the scope and underlying aims of the religious phenomenon. (Gernet 1995: 23435)
When the court was overtaken by the Buddhist religious imaginary, as in the Wei, Jin, the
Southern and Northern Dynasties, and the Tang Dynasty eras, the state was often the largest
contributor to extravagant ritual expenditures, as Jacques Gernet shows in these lavish courtsponsored Buddhist public rituals. Self-mutilations and self-immolations were the ultimate
destruction and sacrifice. The destruction of material goods and in non-Buddhist rituals,
sacrificial animals for gods and ancestors, was merely the destruction of the fruits of ones labor,
thus they were only the temporary ridding of the thingness as an attribute of oneself. However,
offering up ones own human body and life was much more, it was the religious desire to
completely and permanently kill the thingness in oneself, and meld with the vast sacred
universe beyond profane life. I will return to sacrifice at the end of this chapter. Suffice to state
here that in almost every period of Chinese history, we can find examples of Batailles rituals of

non-reciprocal and wasteful destruction of wealth. Often ranged against these excesses were
educated Confucian gentry or imperial state discourses calling for moderation in ritual
expenditures, or condemning such excessive practices. However, pushing further back into
ancient history, we find a time when the Confucians themselves were in support of excessive
ritual destruction.

FRAMEWORK

A2: DELIBERATION
Debate is impossible, dialogue is the mask by which communication is replaced
with dogmatic back-and-forth. As such, framework becomes an insidious flirtation
with governance to demarcate rigid parameters outside of which discussion may
not stray. Turns switch side debate and deliberation.
Nick Land, Bataille groupie, 1992, The death of sound philosophy Thirst for Annihilation:
Georges Bataille and virulent nihilism (an essay in atheistic religion). Routelege. HHurt.
Pessimism, or the philosophy of desire, has a marked allergy to academic encompassment.
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Freud all wrote the vast bulk of their works from a space
inaccessible to the sweaty clutches of state pedagogy, as, of course, does Bataille. The most
perfectly distilled attack upon institutional philosophy is probably that found in Schopenhauers
Parerga and Paralipomena, in its section entitled On University Philosophy. By the end of this
text Schopenhauer has argued that the university is inextricably compromised by the interests of
the state, that this necessarily involves it in the perpetuation of the monotheistic dogmas that
serve such interests, and that the consequent subservience to vulgar superstition completely
devastates it; degrading it to a grotesquely hypocritical sophistry, fuelled by a petty careerism
spiced by an envious hatred of intellectual independence, and articulated in a wretchedly
obscure and distorted jargon that allows its proponents both to squirm away from the
surveillance of the priests, and to hypnotize a gullibly adoring public. It is scarcely surprising
that he comes to conclude: if there is to be philosophy at all, that is to say, if it is to be granted to
the human mind to devote its loftiest and noblest powers to incomparably the weightiest of all
problems, then this can successfully happen only when philosophy is withdrawn from all state
influence [Sch VII 200]. This distaste has been fully reciprocated. One need only take note of
Heideggers remarks on Schopenhauer to get a taste of the universitys revenge upon its
assailants. The crass dismissal of Schopenhauers aesthetics in the first volume of Heideggers
Nietzsche lectures is a quite typical example, and others can be found in Introduction to
Metaphysics, his Leibniz lectures, What is Called Thinking, etc. What is at stake in both cases is
not argument, however rancorous, but the relation of mutual revulsion between the academy
and a small defiant fragment of its outside. Neither recognizes the legitimacy of the others
discourse; for the university considers its other to be incompetent, whilst the part of this other
admittedly a very small partthat has seized and learnt to manipulate the weaponry of
philosophical strife, considers the voice of the university to be irremediably tainted by servility.
Little progress can be made in interpreting this conflict so long as one remains attached to
idealistic notions of controversy or debate. The constitution of debates is the dominant mode
of pacification employed by the university: the validation of certain manageable conflicts within
the context of institutionalization, moderation, and the indefinite deferral of consequences.
What is transcendental to academic debate is submission to socio-economic power. It might
even be fair to suggest that it is Schopenhauer who first spoils the possibility of debate in this
case; that Heidegger, for instance, is already provoked. The famous story about Schopenhauer
setting his lectures at the same times as Hegel would be an example of this; a dramatization of
the relation of exclusion that is at least as basic to the university as dialogue. Anybody who
dismisses this gesture as mere perversity is lending implicit credence to the notion that the
university gives each a chance to speak, providing a neutral space for the encounter of divergent
types of thought. Schopenhauer does not take any such suggestion of academic impartiality
seriously: the state has at all times interfered in the philosophical disputations of the
universities and has taken sides, no matter whether it was a question of Realists and
Nominalists, or Aristotelians and Ramists, or Cartesians and Aristotelians, of Christian Wolf,
Kant, Fichte, Hegel, or anything else [Sch VII 187]. Furthermore, the intervention of the state is
a perpetually operative force that is immanent to the institution itself. University philosophy

polices itself as part of its sordid flirtation with state power: It never occurs to a professor of
philosophy to examine a new system that appears to see whether it is true; but he at once tests it
merely to see whether it can be brought into harmony with the doctrines of established religion,
with government plans, and with the prevailing views of the times. After all this he decides its
fate [Sch VII 167]. By precipitating a non-dialogical collision with Hegel, Schopenhauer certainly
demonstrated a measure of tactical ineptitude, but not strategic blindness. For it is difficult to
imagine that anyone would want to suggest that an impartial space for the discussion of atheistic
philosophy was available at the University of Berlin during the early 1820s. The power of
Schopenhauers diagnosis is that it is able to attend simultaneously to both the metaphysical
conflict between philosophy and monotheism and the institutional forestalling of this conflict.
This amphibiousness invests his critique of optimism with an enduring energy of dissent.
Optimism is the general form of apology; at once the key to the metaphysical commitments of
theology and the protection of these commitments from vigorous interrogation. Monotheism,
with its description of the world as the creation of a benevolent God, or at least, of a God that
defines the highest conception of the good, justifies an all pervasive optimistic framework for
which being is worthy of protection. For the optimist revolt, critique, and every form of
negativity must be conditioned by a projected positivity; one criticizes in order to consolidate a
more certain edifice of knowledge, one revolts in order to establish a more stable and
comfortable society, one struggles against reality in order to release being into the full positivity
which is its due. All of which inevitably slows things down a great deal, because, unless one has a
persuasive plan of the future, negativity is de-legitimated by a prior apologetic dogma. The
suggestion is always that at least this is better than nothing, a slogan that some Leibnizian
demon has probably scrawled above the gates of Hell (not that I have any argument with Hell).
Their deliberation isnt communication, turns education
Robbins 12 [GEORGE BATAILLE AND THE MASOCHIST ETHICS OF (THE LOVE OF)
ANGUISH: //ASherm]
Communication is not a discursive act between two or more speaking subjects but a communion
through identification with the victim in his/her anguishinevitably, or ultimately, this
communion is not with another being but with death. Etymologically speaking, the word
communication stems from the Latin root communicare, which literally means, To make
common, but also carries the signification of, to share, divide out; communicate, impart,
inform; join, unite, participate in. 9 Throughout Batailles work, he connects communication
with other categorical concepts such as religious sacrifice and continuity. Thus, through close
reading of Batailles use of the term in relation to his meditative practices, and his concept of
continuitythe condition of existence prior to and outside of the sense of separate isolated
existence founded on the world of utilityit is clear that his meaning is closest to the
etymological roots rather than its contemporary diachrony. The appropriation of this specific
meaning of communication is significant for understanding the relationship to anguish, death,
and masochism in Bataille. Before delving deeper into this particular motif, it is important to
explain fully the concept of continuity and the role this plays in relation to Batailles approach to
death. The concepts of continuity and its opposite discontinuity appear in the text of Erotism, in
which Bataille writes, We are discontinuous beings, individuals who perish in isolation in the
midst of an incomprehensible adventure, but we yearn for our lost continuity. We find the state
of affairs that binds us to our random and ephemeral individuality hard to bear. Along with our
tormenting desire that this evanescent thing should last, there stands our obsession with a
primal continuity linking us with everything that is.10 Discontinuity is the state of isolated
existence of all individualsdifferentiated from one another in the field of alterity, work,
temporality, utility, etc. Continuity is that state of being in which all barriers of separation have
been transgressed and a phenomenological form of fusion or unification occurs. Erotism relates
continuity to that form of communion or fusion that is evoked in the process of ritual sacrifice,

which elevates [its] victim above the humdrum world where men live out their calculated lives.
11 Thus, sacrifice is important because it pierces the veil of discontinuity which serves to alienate
individuals, things, objects from the reality of existence and the reality of what we are. For us as
discontinuous beings death implies the continuity of being.12 Death reveals to those who
experience it vicariously through the victim this moment or space of continuity, unity, fusion,
communication. For Bataille, the ritual act of religious sacrifice formulates a means of
identification between the subject (i.e. those participating in the ritual) and the victim of the
sacrifice. This identificatory move is what engenders communication, communion with the
otherbut even more precisely with death. As will be discussed below, the role of identification
with a victim is crucial for Bataillean masochistic ethics, which becomes much clearer upon
reflection of Batailles meditation on the lingchi photo. Bataille posits that his meditation upon
the photo of the victim of lingchian image given to him by his psychoanalyst Adrien Borel
and communication in general evokes ecstasy, the standing outside of oneself associated with
mystical experience, and often orgasmic sexual experience and/or eroticism, as Bataille does in
Erotism. Eroticism and orgasm are not specifically linked in Inner Experience with the ecstasy
before the point that is in the case of the meditation in question the image of the lingchi victim
in the photo, it is certainly the case that Bataille hints at the structural similarities but further
fetishizes the image of the Chinese mans tortured body. It is specifically within the space of the
Batailles meditation upon and fetishization of this image that the masochistic ethical impulse
emerges. Amy Hollywood is among the scholars who posit that Batailles meditation on the
lingchi photograph is related to his fetishization of the image of the Chinese mans tortured
body.13 Indeed, Batailles appropriation of the lingchi image as a meditational object that he
refers to as the point through which one can access the inner experience engendering ecstasy
and communication.

A2: EDUCATION
Why not untruth?
Freidrich Nietzsche, Batailles prequel, 1873, ber Wahrheit und Lge im auermoralischen
Sinn. HHurt.
In some remote corner of the universe, flickering in the light of the countless solar systems into
which it had been poured, there was once a planet on which clever animals invented cognition.
It was the most arrogant and most mendacious minute in the 'history of the world'; but a minute
was all it was. After nature had drawn just a few more breaths the planet froze and the clever
animals had to die. Someone could invent a fable like this and yet they would still not have given
a satisfactory illustration of just how pitiful, how insubstantial and transitory, how purposeless
and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature; there were eternities during which it did
not exist; and when it has disappeared again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has
no further mission that might extend beyond the bounds of human life. Rather, the intellect is
human, and only its own possessor and progenitor regards it with such pathos, as if it housed
the axis around which the entire world revolved. But if we could communicate with a midge we
would hear that it too floats through the air with the very same pathos, feeling that it too
contains within itself the flying centre of this world. There is nothing in nature so despicable and
mean that would not immediately swell up like a balloon from just one little puff of that force of
cognition; and just as every bearer of burdens wants to be admired, so the proudest man of all,
the philosopher, wants to see, on all sides, the eyes of the universe trained, as through
telescopes, on his thoughts and deeds.
It is odd that the intellect can produce this effect, since it is nothing other than an aid supplied
to the most unfortunate, most delicate and most transient of beings so as to detain them for a
minute within existence; otherwise, without this supplement, they would have every reason to
flee /142/ existence as quickly as did Lessing's infant son.[1] The arrogance inherent in
cognition and feeling casts a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of human beings, and because
it contains within itself the most flattering evaluation of cognition it deceives them about the
value of existence. Its most general effect is deceptionbut each of its separate effects also has
something of the same character.
As a means for the preservation of the individual, the intellect shows its greatest strengths in
dissimulation, since this is the means to preserve those weaker, less robust individuals who, by
nature, are denied horns or the sharp fangs of a beast of prey with which to wage the struggle for
existence. This art of dissimulation reaches its peak in humankind, where deception, flattery,
lying and cheating, speaking behind the backs of others, keeping up appearances,[2] living in
borrowed finery, wearing masks, the drapery of convention, play-acting for the benefit of others
and oneselfin short, the constant fluttering of human beings around the one flame of vanity is
so much the rule and the law that there is virtually nothing which defies understanding so much
as the fact that an honest and pure drive toward truth should ever have emerged in them. They
are deeply immersed in illusions and dream-images; their eyes merely glide across the surface of
things and see 'forms'; nowhere does their perception lead into truth; instead it is content to
receive stimuli and, as it were, to play with its fingers on the back of things. What is more,
human beings allow themselves to be lied to in dreams every night of their lives, without their
moral sense ever seeking to prevent this happening, whereas it is said that some people have
even eliminated snoring by will-power. What do human beings really know about themselves?
Are they even capable of perceiving themselves in their entirety just once, stretched out as in an
illuminated glass case? Does nature not remain silent about almost everything, even about our
bodies; banishing and enclosing us within a proud, illusory consciousness, far away from the
twists and turns of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream and the complicated
tremblings of the nerve-fibres? Nature has thrown away the key, and woe betide fateful curiosity

should it ever succeed in peering through a crack in the chamber of consciousness, out and
down /143/ into the depths, and thus gain an intimation of the fact that humanity, in the
indifference of its ignorance, rests on the pitiless, the greedy, the insatiable, the murderous
clinging in dreams, as it were, to the back of a tiger. Given this constellation, where on earth can
the drive to truth possibly have come from?
Insofar as the individual wishes to preserve himself in relation to other individuals, in the state
of nature he mostly used his intellect for concealment and dissimulation; however, because
necessity and boredom also lead men to want to live in societies and herds, they need a peace
treaty, and so they endeavour to eliminate from their world at least the crudest forms of the
bellum omnium contra omnes.[3] In the wake of this peace treaty, however, comes something
which looks like the first step towards the acquisition of that mysterious drive for truth. For that
which is to count as 'truth' from this point onwards now becomes fixed, i.e. a way of designating
things is invented which has the same validity and force everywhere, and the legislation of
language also produces the first laws of truth, for the contrast between truth and lying comes
into existence here for the first time: the liar uses the valid tokens of designationwordsto
make the unreal appear to be real; he says, for example, 'I am rich', whereas the correct
designation for this condition would be, precisely, 'poor'. He misuses the established
conventions by arbitrarily switching or even inverting the names for things.
If he does this in a manner that is selfish and otherwise harmful, society will no longer trust him
and therefore exclude him from its ranks. Human beings do not so much flee from being tricked
as from being harmed by being tricked. Even on this level they do not hate deception but rather
the damaging, inimical consequences of certain species of deception. Truth, too, is only desired
by human beings in a similarly limited sense. They desire the pleasant, life-preserving
consequences of truth; they are indifferent to pure knowledge if it has no consequences, but they
are actually hostile towards truths which may be harmful and destructive. And, besides, what is
the status of those conventions of language? Are they perhaps products of knowledge, of the
sense of truth? Is there a perfect match between things and their designations? Is language the
full and adequate expression of all realities?

2NC BLOCKS

A2: BATAILLES A FASCIST


Bataillian fascism is good, especially in China empirics.
Bataille, scary monk, May, 1947, Le Paradoxe du Tibet Critique. HHurt.
The position of Tibet in this schema is in a sense opposite to those of Islam or the modern world.
From time immemorial the waves of successive invasions from the immense plateaus of central
Asia had swept toward the regions where life was easier, to the east, to the west and to the south.
But after the fifteenth century this overflow from the barbarian plateaus ran up against the
effective resistance of cannons. 13 The urban civilization of Tibet already represented in Central
Asia an incipient outlet for the surplus in a different direction. No doubt the hordes of Mongol
conquerors used every possibility of invasion (of grow'th in space) available to them in their
time. Tibet offered itself another solution, which the Mongols themselves were to adopt in turn
in the sixteenth century. The populations of the poor tablelands were periodically condemned to
attack the rich areas: Otherwise they would cease to grow; they would have to abandon the
barbarians' outlet of warfare and find another use for their energy overflow. Monasticism is a
mode of expenditure of the excess that Tibet undoubtedly did not discover, but elsewhere it was
given a place alongside other outlets. In Central Asia the extreme solution consisted in giving the
monastery all the excess. Today one needs a clear grasp of this principle: A population that
cannot somehow develop the system of energy it constitutes, that cannot increase 1 its volume
(with the help of new techniques or of wars), must wastefully expend all the surplus it is bound
to produce. The paradox of Lamaism, which reached a perfect form after the invention of
firearms, answered this necessity. It is the radical solution of a country that has no other
diversion and ultimately finds itself in a closed container. Not even the outlet consisting in the
need to defend oneself, to have resources and human lives available for that purpose. A country
that is too poor does not really try. One invades it without occupying it and "the books" that a
monk spoke of to Bell could not lie, assuring that Tibet would be invaded from time to time, but
no one would stay. Thus, in the midst of a richer and well-armed world, the poor country in its
closed container must give the problem of surplus a solution that checks its explosive violence
within: an internal construction so perfect, so free of controversion, so unconducive to
accumulation, that one cannot envisage the least growth of the system. The celibacy of the
majority of monks even presented a threat of depopulation. (This was the concern confided to
Bell by the commander-in-chief of ~: the army.) The revenue of the monasteries ensured the
consumption of resources, supporting a mass of sterile consumers. The equilibrium would soon
be jeopardized if this mass were not unproductive and childless. The labor of the laity suffices to
feed them, and the resources are such that their number could scarcely be increased. The life of
most of the monks is hard (problems would result if there were an advantage in doing nothing).
But the parasitism of the lamas resolves the situation so well that the living standard of the
Tibetan worker, according to Charles Bell, is higher than that of the Hindu or Chinese worker.
Furthermore, writers on Tibet agree in noting the happy disposition of the Tibetans, who sing
when they work, are easy to get along with, morally permissive, and light-hearted (yet the winter
cold is terrible and the houses have no glass in the windows and no fireplace). The piety of the
monks is another matter: It is of secondary importance, but the system would be inconceivable
without it. And there is no doubt that lamaic enlightenment morally realizes the essence of
consumption, which is to open, to give, to lose, and which brushes calculations aside.
The Tibetan system spread to Mongolia at the end of the sixteenth century. The conversion of
the Mongols, even more a change of economy than of religion, was the peculiar denouement of
the history of Central Asia. The age-old outlet of invasions being closed, this last act of the
drama defines the meaning of Lamaism: This totalitarian monasticism answers the need to stop
the growth of a closed system. Just as Islam reserved all the excess for war, and the modern
world for industrial development, Lamaism put everything into the contemplative life, the free

play of the sensitive man in the world.


If the different stakes are all played on the same board, then Lamaism is the opposite of the
other systems: it alone avoids activity, which is always directed toward acquisition and growth.
It ceases - true, it has no choice - to subject life.to any other ends but life itself: Directly and
immediately, life is its own end. In the rites of Tibet the military forms, evoking the age of the
kings, are still embodied in the figures of the dances, but as obsolete forms whose loss of
authority is the object of a ritual representation. In this way the lamas celebrate the victory won
over a world whose violence is crudely unleashed toward the outside. Their triumph is its
unleashing within. But it is no less violent for all that. In Tibet, even more so than in China, the
military profession is held in contempt. Even after the reforms of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, a
family of nobles complained of having had a son commissioned as an officer. It did no good for
Bell to point out that in England no career was more respected; the parents begged him to use
his influence with the Dalai Lama to support their request for a cancellation. Of course, while
monasticism is a pure expenditure it is also a renunciation of expenditure; in a sense it is the
perfect solution obtained only by completely turning one's back to the solution. But one should
not underestimate the significance of this bold solution; recent history has accentuated its
paradoxical value. It gives a clear indication concerning the general conditions of economic
equilibrium. It confronts hu-man activity with its limits, and describes - beyond military or
productive activity - a world that is unsubordinated by any necessity.

A2: WESTERN THOUGHT


No Westernization
Mayfair Yang, Professor of Religious Studies, 2013, Two Logics of the Gift and Banquet: A
Genealogy of China and the Northwest Coast. HHurt.
Now, we often hear from nationalistically inclined Chinese intellectuals that, as Chinese
thinkers, we should not be slaves to Western theory. Instead, we should seek to sinicize
modern Chinese thought. After all, did not the ancient Confucian thinkers already recognize the
social importance of gift-giving over two millennia before Marcel Mauss classic The Gift, which
was only published in 1925?
In the highest antiquity they prized (simply conferring) good; in the time next to this, giving and
repaying was the thing attended to. And what the rules of propriety value is that reciprocity. If I
give a gift and nothing comes in return, that is contrary to propriety; if the thing comes to me,
and I give nothing in return, that also is contrary to propriety. Qu Li in Book of Rites (Legge,
trans. 1885: 65)
This is of course true, that many ideas in modern Western critical theory can be found scattered
in many ancient Chinese texts, albeit in quite different configurations and contexts. However,
the problem with native Chinese theories is that they were formulated in a vastly different world
that did not experience the tremendous shocks and transformations of the modern age. There is
indeed a wealth of ancient Chinese wisdom that can address our contemporary situation, but
they are too deeply embedded in ancient discursive structures that no longer speak to the
modern age. We need to formulate new discursive structures which can retrieve ancient Chinese
culture and re-embed them into modern thought in new ways.
While the desire to avoid parroting Western theory is totally understandable, however, we must
not be in denial of the vast transformations of culture that have already taken place in 20th
century China that have cut off modern Chinese thought from the flow of ancient Chinese
discourse. Much of these transformations took place through the uncritical absorption of earlier
hegemonic Western theories and their modernizing discourses of evolutionism, nationalism,
individualism, secularism, liberalism, Marxism, and so forth. This absorption has already taken
place and has had deep-seated cultural impacts in every aspect of Chinese life, and that is why
native theories no longer speak so compellingly to us. For almost all non-Western cultures
around the globe, the entry into modernity was a step into a world which from the beginning,
was not of their own making. If the modern world was constructed largely out of Western
theories, then all modern societies are to different extents already caught up in this world, and
so, even the wish to avoid Western theory may itself be based unconsciously on one set of
Western theories which opposes another set of Western theories. My suggestion here is that
certain alternative Western theories that have not had much impact in China can help us return
to Chinese cultural traditions in a new way and retrieve those elements that can redress the
excesses of the earlier Chinese embracing of hegemonic Western theories of high modernism.
The task before us now is not avoiding Western theory, for we cannot undo what has already
occurred in the last century, but to be critical and selective as to which Western theories are
beneficial or appropriate to deal with the current situation (and in which domains), and which
native theories could be developed to address the conditions of modernity. This critical and
selective attitude towards Western theory would be guided by how it can be reconciled with deep
Chinese cultural imperatives or concerns, or how the theory could be reworked and adapted to
them. Simply put, we no longer live in a world where it is possible to avoid Western thought
because we ourselves are a part of it. However, we can be selective and deploy one set of
Western theories against another that have become hegemonic and unconsciously accepted. By
turning to Durkheim, Mauss, and Bataille, whose theories were critical of the very Western
theories that have become hegemonic in China today, I hope to prepare the groundwork for a re-

examination of native theories of the logics of the gift in Chinese tradition.


Although Durkheim, Mauss, and Bataille never undertook the study of Chinese culture, each of
them devoted much time exploring premodern and non-Western societies, through works
written by anthropologists and travelers. Durkheims notions of collective effervescence and
social solidarity would not have been possible without his consideration of the Australian
aborigine examples. Marcel Mauss detour through the potlatch (or feasting) cultures of Native
Americans in the Northwest Coast and the kula exchange of the Trobriand Islands in Melanesia
allowed him to conceive of the relationship between gift-giving and social cohesion. Cultures as
diverse as Northwest Coast Native Americans, the Aztecs, Tibetan Buddhists, and medieval
European Christendom, all provided contrastive examples that inspired Batailles critique of
Western industrial modernity. All three writers derived much inspiration from non-Western
cultures for their theories addressing the problems of modernity.
We all know how the May Fourth Movement and the Chinese Communist Revolution have led to
the wholesale rejection of ancient Chinese thought and culture, and the eager adoption of
Western linear history, teleology, and narratives of progress. This is because sadly, many
modern Chinese intellectuals had accepted Western social evolutionism and the Orientalist
binary categories of advanced and backward cultures, the East vs. the West, and were not
able to step outside of these powerful categories and see Chinese culture in any other terms. Nor
did native theories have much of a chance to engage adequately with the conditions of
modernity, except briefly during the Republican era, before they were snuffed out. Whether
Marxism, liberal individualism, utilitarianism, democracy, or other Western doctrines or
solutions, they cannot work in modern China without being integrated and reconciled with deep
cultural and often unconscious channels of social meaning and practice. Today, we need to find
new non-dogmatic, non-defensive, and creative ways to re-engage with ancient Chinese culture
to address the issues and problems of Chinese modernities.
What Durkheim, Mauss, and Bataille all shared, was their anthropological interest in archaic
non-Western cultures, and I am especially interested in how their anthropology can help us to
appreciate ancient Chinese cultural knowledge in a new way. They used the anthropology of
primitive and archaic societies as an external fulcrum from which to reflect upon and critique
Western modernity. Contrast this Western interest in what primitive societies have to offer
modernity with May Fourth and some contemporary Chinese intellectuals who assume that only
modern Western societies have anything to offer the Chinese in their efforts to critique and
reform Chinese culture. Due to the May Fourth and Communist acceptance of Western social
evolutionism, they hardly considered that primitive or archaic societies had anything to teach
them, so anxious were they to escape the state of backwardness. I believe that the
anthropology of these three French thinkers can enable Chinese thinking to escape the
Orientalist binary that has beset Chinese thought for too long. By going through a third party,
i.e., primitive and archaic societies, we can re-examine and re-valorize some aspects of ancient
Chinese culture and think about their relevance for addressing problems we face today.