Derrida: Remembered in his First Anniversary


Derrida: Remembered in his First Anniversary
- Dr. Govinda Raj Bhattarai

This article is an essay from Dr. Gavinda Raj Bhattarai's book titled Uttaradhunik Aina literally, Postmodern Mirror 2005; translated by Karnakhar Khatiwada into English.

Derrida's first anniversary is in the doorsteps. Advocating the philosophy of destructive and revolutionary thoughts, he walked throughout his life and later returned to ancient norms, values and ideals. He was struggling to establish cosmopolitanism through reconciliation and forgiveness.
It seems quite natural to recall him this moment since the present day world is being ruined due to the lack of those values these days.
Derrida observed-- the history of the present day world is full of bloodcurdling events and traumatic experiences. The prominent cause for this is the regular production of and easy access to arms but its driving motive is the blind force in the hands of the people. The driver of the force will be the ruler or state and those willing to get hold of the power will be the antagonists. Both are eager to finish the other and consequently they will be attracted towards the massacre. That is why examples of ethnocide, suicide, massacre, genocide, expatriation, imprisonment, political ban are abundant in the world today. These are the dark sides of human civilization. This is a matter of serious concern that our country is also practicing such things. It has been an eyewitness of such incidents and their consequences. It is suffering itself and causing us to suffer. All are involved in it.
Such practices of narrow-mindedness have been the sole cause to create these sorrows and pains. Observing this, Derrida said– everything like our thoughts, philosophies, speculations and experiments are meant for human beings. These are only for the protection of his body and soul. If the very existence of human being has been always in the transition and crisis what is the use of our thoughts and philosophies? Derrida's work entitled On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness written to make the people understand this point was published just before three or four years of his death. It consists of two long essays– one regarding cosmopolitanism and the other on forgiveness. His last philosophy is proposed in it.
Derrida perceived that there were divisions and sub-divisions among people which has created a wide unbridgeable chasm. Can we survive in this way as long as the human civilization exists? It is quite uncertain. We would like to be consolidated with the bondage of affection, endurance, human ties and rules and regulations. We would like to be free from anarchism and barbarism. Thus, Derrida had proposed the practice of cosmopolitanism and forgiveness to tie up the people.
Derrida's essays seem to be written after an observation of the condition of our country itself. But, in fact, it is not so. He was aware of the pains and sorrows that the world is facing after the terrible world wars. One of the serious concerns of his is the problems of refugees at present. Almost one fourth of the world's population are one of those who are uprooted, prosecuted, killed or whose whereabouts is unknown. So many others have been deprived of human rights, are expatriates, migrated, displaced and so on. All these causes create the problem of refuge. Again there are so many foreigners, immigrants, students, travelers and tourists to severe the problem. The latter will be in the continuous process of the world but those who are in the first group become refugees and this creates a problem everywhere. Today, our country is facing a serious problem that we had never thought of in the past. It is almost one and half decades that thousands of Bhutanese people are in the temporary camps in Nepal. Those displaced from their past, are looking at us devoid of their future and the children without identity are wandering barefooted hither and thither along the dusty roads. Their parents are not getting proper supplies of edibles like turmeric, chilies and vegetables and they cannot work to earn outside the camps either. They linger around the camps with underfed bodies and in the imagination of shattered past and uncertain future. These are not refugee camps instead, torture camps. Without committing any mistake they are undergoing severe punishment. Recalling their previous homeland, they are wandering around the Mechi bridge (eastern border of Nepal) like rag balls always thrown by the super-powers. (Such anxieties can be found in the forthcoming volume of essays entitled Samaya Sunami written by Krishna Chandra Singh Pradhan.)
Having observed the increasing problem of the refugees in the world, Derrida had proposed– universal human rights and duties should be implemented in the world for those who are political asylum seekers, different kinds of refugees, banished, displaced and immigrants. There should be 'open cities' or refugee towns for them. He proposed, it should be passed as refugee town by the international communities. In these places the concerned should feel free from torture, difficulties and fear. They should not only pass their days and nights fearlessly but also should be able to fulfill the basic human needs such as education, health maintenance, honor and enjoy fundamental human rights. Derrida had considered such places as cosmopolitan cities. Such cities being self-governed and autonomous, would be under the rules and regulations of the state. People from different categories and groups like refugees, deported, called backs, displaced and immigrants will get shelter there. A minimal foundation of hospitality and thin thread of manner will be found there. He had envisaged this having observed the probable violence in the world.
Sometimes the state itself becomes responsible for creating such a chaos– like Bhutan for the burning example. Mental and physical torture, censorship and different kinds of slavery and terrors create such a painful situation. It can be created either from the state or by others. Those who are victimized can be anonymous groups. Many intellectuals, thinkers, scholars, media persons, writers and those speaking against the injustice will always be targeted. We are witnessing an exact similar situation in our country.
Derrida has proposed the concept of forgiveness which can be useful to decrease existing situation of murder, violence and torture in different forms. We have observed the most terrible scenes of massacre along with the First World War to the present situation in Kosovo. The people in this very world are doing such heinous deeds. Is it reasonable to blame others? We are fighting against ourselves. Derrida concluded, the brutal deeds are the result of the human heart loosing kindness, love, affection and forgiveness. Therefore, he proposed the principle of forgiveness.
The concept of forgiving might be an instrument to enhance the present notion of globalization. It increases fraternity in the world and also helps to decrease the thought of revenge, jealousy and ill-thinking raised against any of the group, race or party. Our history has taught us many of such lessons. The Japanese Prime-Minister asked the Korean people for their pardon for the violence from his side in the past and so did the whites to the blacks for their past deeds in South Africa. It is the time for the past imperialists and feudalists to beg a pardon everywhere. The wounds in our heart can be recovered by this process. There are so many enemies of democracy who are creating obstacles against the entry of freedom in our inner courtyard. The days are to come when they should beg a pardon for their criminal acts on the people. We shall see, the King of Bhutan should say sorry to those people who have been victimized through his brutal deeds these days.
Derrida puts, real forgiveness is to forgive those who are unforgivable. The concept of forgiveness cannot exist if only the forgivable is forgiven. The massacre in the name of blacks and whites should be included in it. There can arise a question– whether the law and order is obsolete. Surely, it is not so. The term forgiveness has always been paradoxical. Derrida suggests this to take as an experiment to eradicate the sorrowful results created by errors, emotions, egos and shortsightedness and proposes establishing reconciliation and worldwide fraternity. The terms like friendship, affection, law, cosmopolitanism, forgiveness and death penalty are interrelated and among these, freedom is of highest value. The time has come to forgive the unforgivable and unify the incompatibles. This is the time to fight for individual and social freedom honoring each other's co-existence. The present art and literature should highly encourage such norms and values.
Thank you very much.