Transcript: Terry Eagleton on Terror and Modernity | Mar 06, 2004

Terry Eagleton stands behind a wooden lectern in a room addressing the crowded audience.
He's in his fifties. He has short grey hair and a beard. He wears glasses, a black suit, blue shirt and contrasting black tie.

A caption on screen reads "Terry Eagleton. University of Manchester. Terror and modernity. University of Toronto. January 26, 2004."

He says I'M HONOURED
AND DELIGHTED TO BE ABLE TO BE
INVITED TO GIVE THESE LECTURES,
I'M VERY GRATEFUL TO MY HOSTS
FOR THEIR HOSPITALITY, NOT LEST
IT GIVES ME THE CHANCE TO
REVISIT TORONTO AFTER SOME
YEARS, THE ONLY CITY I KNOW
WHERE IT SNOWS HORIZONTALLY.

[Laughter]

Terry continues IN MY SIMPLE,
NAIVE ENGLISH WAY, I ALWAYS
THOUGHT SNOW SORT OF CAME DOWN,
BUT I'VE BEEN DISABUSED OF THAT
FOLLY TODAY, THOUGH I JUST CAME
FROM MONTREAL, WHERE IT'S MUCH
COLDER, OF COURSE.
SO I'M, I'M DELIGHTED AND
TOUCHED THAT ANYBODY SHOULD BE
ABLE TO TURN OUT AT ALL, I
ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE IT MYSELF, SO
THANK YOU.
THERE ARE THINGS LIKE THE
SCOTTISH KILT WHICH ARE ACTUALLY
A LOT MORE RECENT THAN THEY SEEM
AND THERE ARE THINGS THAT ARE A
LOT OLDER THAN THEY APPEAR, LIKE
PAUL McCARTNEY, FOR EXAMPLE.

[Applause]

Terry continues POLITICAL
TERROR FALLS INTO THE FORMER
RATHER THAN THE LATTER CATEGORY,
IT'S ACTUALLY FAR MORE RECENT
THAN PEOPLE IMAGINE.
SO, IN FACT, AS A MATTER OF
INTEREST, DOES FUNDAMENTALISM,
WHICH IS AN EARLY 20th CENTURY
AMERICAN COINAGE, I MEAN THE
WORD "FUNDAMENTALISM" AND WHICH
WAS A SELF DESCRIPTION ON THE
PART OF SOME EVANGELICAL
PROTESTANTS, NOT, AS ONE MIGHT
HAVE SUSPECTED, A TERM OF ABUSE.
I MEAN, ONE CAN QUITE FREELY
CALL ONESELF A FUNDAMENTALIST AS
ONE WOULDN'T CALL ONESELF FATSO
OR FROGFACE, FOR EXAMPLE, OR
INDEED QUAKER OR LEFT-WING
EXTREMIST, WHICH NOBODY CALLS
THEMSELVES.
ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AS WE
KNOW IT ALSO DATES, WITH AN
INTELLECTUALLY PLEASING
SYMMETRY, FROM MORE OR LESS THE
SAME TIME.
IN FACT, FROM THE FOUNDING OF
THE EGYPTIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
IN 1928, SO TEXANS AND TALIBANS
HAVE A CHRONOLOGY IN COMMON,
AMONG OTHER THINGS AND, IN FACT,
A GOOD DEAL OF RADICAL ISLAMIC
IDEOLOGY DREW ON MODERN WESTERN,
IN SOME CASES, QUASI-FASCIST
SOURCES, VERY UP-TO-DATE,
ANYWAY, IT'S NOT MORE ARCHAIC
THAN THE KILT.
OF COURSE, AS FAR AS TERROR
GOES, HUMAN BEINGS HAVE BEEN
MASSACRING AND DISMEMBERING ONE
ANOTHER EVER SINCE THEY WERE
SHOWN THE DOOR OUT OF EDEN.
HISTORY HAS BEEN ONE LONG,
WRETCHED NARRATIVE OF BLOOD AND
HORROR OR AT LEAST WHAT MARX
WOULD HAVE CALLED PREHISTORY,
EVERYTHING THAT'S HAPPENED TO
DATE, HE WOULDN'T DIGNIFY WITH
THAT WITH THE TITLE OF HISTORY.
AS MISTER FORD WISELY REMARKED,
HISTORY IS BUNK AND I DON'T
THINK THERE'S ANYTHING OF THAT
WITH WHICH A MARXIST WOULD WANT
TO DISAGREE.
I THOUGHT YOU'D EXPECT ME TO
MENTION MARX, SO I GOT IT IN AS
QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

[Laughter]

Terry continues REASONABLY
PAINLESS, WASN'T IT, I PROMISE
NOT TO DO IT AGAIN, AT LEAST FOR
A BIT, SO TERROR, OF THAT KIND
OF COURSE, GOES BACK FROM THIS
TIME, BUT TERROR AS A POLITICAL
IDEA, I MEAN, UPPERCASE TERROR,
TERROR WITH A THUMPING GREAT
"T," RATHER THAN JUST THE COMMON
OR GARDEN VARIETY, TERROR WITH
THE PHILOSOPHICAL DIGNITY OF AN
"ISM," AS THOUGH YOU COULD MAKE
A PHILOSOPHY OUT OF FRIGHTENING
PEOPLE, IS OF FAIRLY RECENT
VINTAGE.
IT COMES TO US, INDEED, FROM ONE
OF THE FOUNDING EVENTS, I MEAN
FOR SOME PEOPLE I SUPPOSE, THE
FOUNDING EVENT OF MODERNITY, THE
FRENCH REVOLUTION.
INDEED, IT WAS EDMUND BURKE IN
HIS POLEMIC AGAINST THAT
REVOLUTION WHO GAVE US WHAT IS
PERHAPS THE FIRST MODERN USAGE
OF THE WORD "TERRORIST."
BURKE KNEW QUITE A BIT ABOUT
TERRORISM FROM HIS BACKGROUND IN
IRELAND.
IN A SENSE, TERROR AND MODERNITY
ARE TWINNED AT BIRTH.
IN ITS MIDDLE-CLASS, JACOBEAN
ORIGINS, TERROR BEGAN AS A
STRIKE BY THE STATE AGAINST ITS
ENEMIES AND NOT THE OTHER WAY
AROUND.
IT HAS AN IMPECCABLE BOURGEOIS
PEDIGREE.
IT SPRANG FROM THE VERY BOSOM OF
MIDDLE-CLASS SOCIETY.
THE ORIGINAL ANARCHIST WAS THE
CAPITALIST.
AS BERTOLT BRECHT REMARKED,
"WHAT'S ROBBING THE BANK
COMPARED TO FOUNDING ONE?"

[Laughter]

Terry continues IT WAS HEGEL
WHO FIRST NOTED THIS ANARCHIC
TERROR AT THE VERY HEART OF
BOURGEOIS ORDER.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, HEGEL
CONSIDERED, WAS THE TRIUMPH OF
WHAT HE CALLED ABSOLUTE FREEDOM
OR WHAT HE SCATHINGLY REFERRED
TO AS "THE FREEDOM OF THE VOID."
IT REPRESENTED THE UNMASKING OF
POLITE, SEDATE, MIDDLE-CLASS
SOCIETY, AN ABERRATION WHICH, AS
SO OFTEN WITH ABERRATIONS, CAST
INTERESTING LIGHT ON THE NORM.
CAPITALIST OR MARKET FREEDOM IS
A NEGATIVE KIND OF FREEDOM WHICH
KNOWS NO INHERENT BONDS OR
BOUNDS, NO END OR ORIGIN AND IS
THUS, IN HEGEL'S EYES, A FORM OF
TERROR OR BLIND FURY.
A KIND OF BAD SUBLIMITY, YOU
MIGHT SAY.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION WAS BAD
SUBLIME FOR BURKE, TOO, BECAUSE
IT'S ETERNALLY GENERATING, SELF
GENERATING, THIS ABSOLUTE
FREEDOM, IT KNOWS NO NATURAL
CLOSURE LIKE SAY A NARRATIVE BY
DANIEL DEFOE OR SAMUEL BECKETT.
FOR ALL ITS CRASS MATERIALISM,
IT HARBOURS A VIRULENT HATRED OF
THE MATERIAL, OF MATERIALITY,
BECAUSE THE MATERIAL IS
THWARTING OBSTRUCTIVE STUFF AND
THIS FEROCIOUSLY UNBOUNDED
FREEDOM ACKNOWLEDGES A LIMIT
ONLY IN ORDER TO TRANSGRESS IT.
IT NEEDS LIMITS AND OBSTACLES
AND ANTAGONISTS, TO BE SURE, IN
ORDER TO BE ITSELF, AS THE
SUBJECT NEEDS AN OBJECT TO
EMERGE INTO BEING.
IN THIS RESPECT, IF THE SOVIETS
HAVE DISAPPEARED, THEN YOU CAN
ALWAYS TRY THE MUSLIMS. BUT AT THE
SAME TIME, IT DETESTS THE VERY
FACT OF HUMAN FINITUDE AND
FRAILTY AND THE SHEER CREATURELY
BOUNDEDNESS OF THE HUMAN AND
IT'S THUS, FOR ALL ITS
GREEDINESS AND POSSESSIVENESS
AND INSATIABLE HANKERING, A
DANGEROUSLY DISEMBODIED OR
ABSTRACT KIND OF FORCE, WHICH
ISN'T REALLY, IN THE END,
INTERESTED IN OBJECTS, EXCEPT IN
ITSELF.
IT CAN SEE LIMITS ONLY AS A
BARRIER TO HUMANITY, RATHER THAN
AS CONSTITUTIVE OF IT. IT IS, IN
FACT, THE VERY EPITOME OF
IDEALISM, OF THAT BRAND OF
PHILOSOPHICAL MADNESS WHICH
COMES WHEN, LIKE OEDIPUS OR
LEAR, WE ARE UNHINGED FROM THE
VULNERABLE, SUFFERING BODY AND
THUS LOSE TOUCH WITH THE ROOTS
OF OUR OWN BEING.
CAPITALIST FREEDOM IS, IN THIS
SENSE, STRANGELY IMMATERIAL FOR
ALL ITS OBSESSION WITH TANGIBLE
THINGS YOU CAN EAT OR DRIVE OR
SNORT.
BECAUSE IT'S DIVORCED FROM THE
FLESH, IT CAN BLOW IT TO BITS
WITHOUT TOO MUCH COMPUNCTION.
IT'S THE KIND OF INSANE HUBRIS
WHICH, AS IN TRAGEDY, CAN BE
CURED ONLY BY BEING HAULED
THROUGH HELL.
TODAY IT'S THE CAN-DO, NEVER SAY
NEVER, SKY'S THE LIMIT,
FATIGUINGLY OPTIMISTIC IDEOLOGY
OF THE UNITED STATES, WITH ITS
CRAZILY VOLUNTARISTIC FAITH THAT
MATERIAL WORLD, WHETHER IT'S
IRAQ OR YOUR PROTRUDING EARS CAN
BE MOULDED INTO MORE APPEALING
SHAPE BY THE OMNIPOTENT WILL.
THE UNITED... THE AMERICAN WORD
FOR AN UTTER, IRREPARABLE
CATASTROPHE IS "CHALLENGE."
THERE ARE NO
DISASTERS, JUST LESSONS TO BE
LEARNED.
WHEN THE ANCIENT GREEKS
ENCOUNTERED THIS KIND OF
OVERREACHING, THEY TREMBLED AND
LOOKED FEARFULLY TO THE SKIES,
AWARE THAT IT WAS BOUND TO
RECEIVE ITS COMEUPPANCE AND IT'S
FROM THE SKIES THAT THE
COMEUPPANCE HAS COME.
IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE, THEN,
THAT IDEALISM OF ONE KIND OR
ANOTHER SHOULD SO OFTEN BE THE
PHILOSOPHICAL RATIONALE OF A
GROSSLY MATERIALIST SOCIAL
ORDER, OR RATHER THAT WE GET
THAT CHARACTERISTIC DUO OF THE
LATE CAPITALIST WORLD, CYNICISM
AND IDEALISM TOGETHER.
A PRACTICAL WORLD WHICH HAS NO
TIME FOR VALUE LINKED TO A
SOLEMN, SENTIMENTALIST RHETORIC,
WHICH PITCHES VALUE ALL TOO
HIGH.
NOR SHOULD IT COME AS A SURPRISE
THAT THE DOMINANT MYTH OF THIS
MODERN WESTERN WORLD SHOULD BE
THE FAUST LEGEND, THAT
INSATIABLE ASPIRANT, DOOMED TO
PERPETUAL DISENCHANTMENT.
FOR IF FREEDOM IS INFINITE, IF
FREEDOM IS, IN HEGEL'S SENSE,
ABSOLUTE, THEN HOW CAN IT NOT BE
DISPIRITED AND DEPRESSED BY ANY
ONE OF ITS PARTICULAR
UNAVOIDABLY FINITE SELF-
EXPRESSIONS?
THE REALISATION OF DESIRE IS A
THREAT TO DESIRE ITSELF, AS THE
ROMANTICS WERE WELL AWARE.
THIS UNASSUAGEABLE HANKERING OF
ABSOLUTE FREEDOM, TO WHICH, IN
LATE MODERNITY, AFTER IT'S
REALLY SOURED FROM ITS EARLIER
BUOYANCY, PSYCHOANALYSIS WILL
GIVE THE NAME OF DESIRE, FOR
DESIRE, OF COURSE, IS NOT A
PLEASANT THING, WHATEVER THE
POST-MODERNISTS MAY THINK, THIS
UNASSUAGEABLE HANKERING IS SO
ABSOLUTE AND INEXHAUSTIBLE THAT
IT'S BOUND TO FIND EACH OF ITS
OWN MATERIAL SELF-REALISATIONS
TRIVIAL AND VACUOUS.
IT'S ANGUISHED PERPETUALLY BY
THE CONTRAST BETWEEN ITS OWN
SUBLIME POTENTIAL AND A DINGY
REALITY THE WORLD CREATES, SO
HAVING CONQUERED AND ACHIEVED,
IT FINDS THE OBJECTS OF ITS
TRIUMPH TURNING TO ASHES IN ITS
ETERNALLY GAPING MAW.
WHICH IS WHY IT SWERVES AROUND
ITS TARGET ALWAYS AND MOVES
INSTANTLY ONTO THE NEXT
SUPREMELY VACUOUS OBJECT AND WHY
IT'S SECRETLY IN LOVE WITH
NOTHING BUT ITSELF, WHICH IS
PERHAPS ONE THING MARX MEANT BY
SAYING THAT CAPITALISM
ACCUMULATES FOR ITS OWN SAKE.
LOVE LOVES TO LOVE LOVE, AS
JOYCE PUTS IT IN ULYSSES,
WHICH IS NOT AT ALL AS COSY A
PROPOSITION AS IT MIGHT SOUND.
FOR ALL ITS RUTHLESS
INSTRUMENTALITY, THIS VORACIOUS,
SELF-CONSUMING DESIRE IS, IN THE
END, ALL ABOUT ITSELF, SELF-BORN
AND SELF-DELIGHTING, LIKE THOSE
TWO OTHER CANDIDATES FOR SUCH
AUTOTELISM, FOR SUCH END IN
ITSELFNESS, THE WORK OF ART AND
THE ALMIGHTY.
THE WORK OF ART BEING BASICALLY
A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ALMIGHTY,
BUT THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.
AGAINST THE FAUST LEGEND THEN,
AS A TERRIBLE WARNING TO
OURSELVES, WE HAVE TO PLACE THAT
OTHER GREAT WESTERN MYTH THAT
GRIPS THE ROOTS OF OUR
IMAGINATION, THE TALE OF THE
BROKEN, BLINDED OEDIPUS WHO HAS
LEARNED THAT THE HUBRIS OF POWER
AND KNOWLEDGE WILL END UP BY
PUTTING OUT YOUR EYES.
IT'S WHEN OEDIPUS AND LEAR AND
ALL THOSE OTHER MIGHTY, TRAGIC
PROTAGONISTS ARE FORCED TO
CONFRONT THEIR OWN FRAILTY AND
FINITUDE THAT THEIR MEGALOMANIA
GIVES WAY TO MERCY AND SELF-
KNOWLEDGE, NOT THAT THEY NOW
KNOW WHO THEY ARE IN SOME
BLINDING FLASH OF SELF-PRESENCE,
RATHER THAT THEY CAN NOW
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SELF... WHICH
LIES AT THE ROOT OF ALL
IDENTITY, THE FACT THAT WE ARE
STRANGERS TO OURSELVES, OF WHICH
INCEST IS A PECULIARLY GARBLED
IMAGE IN THE OEDIPUS PLAY AND
THAT THIS STRANGENESS TO
OURSELVES IS CONSTITUTIVE OF
OUR IDENTITY, THAT THE VERY
SOURCE OF THE SELF LIES THAT
WHICH IS IMPLACABLY ALIEN TO IT
AND NOTHING IN THE LEAST
PERSONAL.
THERE ARE NONE SO BLIND AS THOSE
WHO BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN OR
KNOW EVERYTHING, JUST AS THERE
ARE NONE SO PAROCHIAL AS THOSE
WHO, WITH THEIR MILITARY BASES
IN EVERY CONTINENT.
THOSE WHO
ASPIRE TO A GLOBAL IDENTITY ARE
OVERREACHERS WHO, LIKE MACBETH,
UNDO THEMSELVES AND BRING
THEMSELVES TO NOTHING IN THEIR
VAULTING AMBITION, WHICH
O'ERLEAPS ITSELF AND FALLS ON
THE OTHER, SINCE IDENTITY, OF
COURSE, DEPENDS ON DIFFERENCE
AND IF YOU CRUSH THAT DIFFERENCE
BENEATH YOUR HEEL IN THE HUNT
FOR AN ABSOLUTE SELFHOOD, YOU
WILL END UP KNOWING NOTHING AT
ALL, LEAST OF ALL YOURSELF.
IF YOU HAVE
NO OTHER TO RELATE TO, YOU WILL
END UP STUCK WITH YOURSELF
FOREVER FOR ALL ETERNITY LIKE
SOME BARROOM BORE.
A FEW YEARS AGO, THE CARDINAL
ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER IN
LONDON SUGGESTED IN THE PRESS
THAT HIS IDEA OF HEAVEN WAS
SPEAKING TO BEETHOVEN FOR ALL
ETERNITY, IT WOULD OF COURSE BE
BEETHOVEN'S HELL.

[Laughter]

Terry continues OR JUST HOPE
THAT HE WOULD STILL BE DEAF, YOU
KNOW, THAT HE HADN'T BEEN
PITILESSLY CURED OF HIS
DEAFNESS.
IN THIS SITUATION, ALL
RELATIONSHIP BECOMES A KIND OF
NARCISSISM, AT THE VERY PEAK OF
ITS DOMINION THEN, THE BOURGEOIS
SUBJECT IS STRUCK EMPTY AND
IMPOTENT.
HAVING SEEN OFF ALL ITS RIVALS,
IT BEGINS TO IMPLODE, IT BEGINS
TO COLLAPSE FROM WITHIN.
THE EXULTANT CRY, I'M MONARCH OF
ALL I SURVEY IS ONLY A WHISPER
AWAY FROM I'M SO LONELY IN THIS
UNIVERSE.
FOR WHAT, IF YOU'RE SOVEREIGN
OVER THE WHOLE OF REALITY, HAVE
YOU LEFT TO IMPOSE YOUR WILL ON
AND HOW THEN, IF THE
IMPERISHABLE WILL IS THE VERY
ESSENCE OF YOUR IDENTITY, ARE
YOU TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE AT ALL?
THIS, NO DOUBT, IS ONE OF
SEVERAL REASONS WHY THE WEST
NEEDS TO KEEP CONJURING ENEMIES
INTO EXISTENCE, A PROJECT
GREATLY FACILITATED BY THE FACT
THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE WHO
DETEST IT ANYWAY.
THE MORE I SQUARE UP TO OTHERS,
THE MORE I EXIST, I FIGHT
THEREFORE I AM AND IF MY
IDENTITY IS TO BE INFINITELY
CONFIRMED AND ASSURED, THEN THE
WAR MUST BE INFINITE, TOO, IN
THE UNOFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE
SLOGAN.
IN AN UP SENSE, HOWEVER, HAVING
A GLOBAL IDENTITY, FOR ALL THE
PROBLEMS IT BRINGS, ALSO SOLVES
THE LEGITIMATION PROBLEM OF THE
WEST AT A STROKE, SINCE IN A
SENSE YOU DON'T HAVE NOBODY TO
LEGITIMATE YOURSELF TO, WHICH IS
HIGHLY CONVENIENT.
THAT INDEED, SURELY, WOULD BE
THE MUCH-TRUMPED END OF IDEOLOGY
FOR WHICH THERE HAVE BEEN SO
MANY PREMATURE OBITUARY NOTICES,
THEN INDEED YOU COULD CEASE YOUR
SOLEMN INVOCATIONS OF FAMILY,
FREEDOM, GOD, NATION AND GOD'S
SPECIAL REGARD FOR THE VOTERS OF
FLORIDA AND COME OUT WITH THE
SIMPLE TRUTH THAT YOU JUST WANT
TO GET DISGUSTINGLY RICH.
WE ARE, PERHAPS, ALREADY ON
ROUTE TO THAT POST-IDEOLOGICAL
FUTURE, DESPITE ALL THE, AS I
SAY, PREMATURE WARNINGS OF THE
DEATH OF IDEOLOGY, OR PERHAPS
ALL QUICKLY CUSPED BETWEEN TWO
PHRASE... TWO PHASES HERE, IF
THE UNITED STATES STILL NEEDS
THE FIG LEAF OF FREEDOM AND
DEMOCRACY TO PURSUE ITS
PREDATORY INTERESTS ABROAD, ITS
RATHER MORE INSOLENTLY UP FRONT
ABOUT ITS DETERMINATION TO
PROMOTE ITS OWN NATIONAL
INTEREST AT THE EXPENSE OF
EVERYONE ELSE'S.
IN HEGEL'S VIEW, THIS FRENETIC
BOURGEOIS FREEDOM, WHICH IS
CHARACTERISED BY SHEER
NEGATIVITY, WHICH IS INDIFFERENT
AS TO CONTENT, BECAUSE CONTENT
WOULD, IN A SENSE, BE A LIMIT ON
THIS FREEDOM, WAS BOUND TO END
UP EATING ITSELF UP AS IN THE
JACOBEAN TERROR AND SINCE IT'S
NOTHING WITHOUT AN OBJECT TO
BOUNCE OFF AGAINST, IT BEGINS BY
DEVOURING ITS ENEMIES AND ENDS
UP BY CONSUMING ITSELF.
IN THE END, IT DISAPPEARS DOWN
THE BLACK HOLE OF ITS OWN
SUBLIME NEGATIVITY AND WE SURELY
SEE AN EXAMPLE OF THAT RIGHT NOW
AS THE WEST, YOU KNOW, IS BUSY
PROTECTING ITS FREEDOM BY
STAMPING ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
A SELF-CONSUMING, SELF-
THWARTING, SELF-UNDOING KIND OF
FREEDOM AS HEGEL SAW.
AND ALL THE VERY FRENETICNESS,
THE INCESSANT MOBILITY OF THIS
BRAND OF FREEDOM OUGHT, PERHAPS,
TO GIVE PAUSE TO THOSE GULLIBLE
POSTMODERN SOULS FOR WHOM
MOBILITY, INSTABILITY, DYNAMISM,
TRANSGRESSION, AND INFLUIDITY
ARE THE LAST WORD IN POLITICAL
RADICALISM.
THEY SEEM NOT TO HAVE NOTICED
THAT NO SYSTEM IS MORE DYNAMIC,
UNSTABLE, TRANSGRESSIVE,
PLURALISTIC AND SELF-INVENTIVE
THAN THE ONE WHICH IS CURRENTLY
OCCUPYING IRAQ.
IT'S HARD TO KNOW QUITE WHERE
THEY'VE BEEN ALL THESE YEARS.
NOBODY IN THE MOST INCONSPICUOUS
RECESSES OF THE GLOBE CAN SNATCH
ANY SLEEP DURING THIS INCESSANT
CLAMOUR.
IF THIS IS ONE SOUND, MIDDLE-
AGED REASON TO BE A SOCIALIST,
IT'S IN ORDER TO GET SOME REST.

[Laughter]

Terry continues AS... OR
PERHAPS TO PITCH IT A LITTLE
MORE POLITELY OR A MORE
DIGNIFIED WAY, AS WALTER
BENJAMIN FAMOUSLY REMARKED,
"REVOLUTION IS NOT A RUNAWAY
TRAIN, IT'S THE APPLICATION OF
THE EMERGENCY BRAKE.
ITS AIM IS TO RECALL US TO OUR
CREATURELINESS, NOT TO SUMMON US
TO THE STARS.
IT'S ABOUT RESTORING A SPOT OF
ORDER TO THIS FRIGHTFUL ANARCHY
IN WHICH, INDEED, THERE IS NO
STABLE ORDER, JUST A CONTINUALLY
PATCHED-UP DISORDER, FOREVER
TEETERING ON THE BRINK OF
FALLING APART."
WHAT HEGEL
SAW, I THINK VERY SHREWDLY, WAS
THE TRANSGRESSION WAS SOMEHOW
NATURAL TO THIS NEW KIND... THIS
FORM OF SOCIAL LIFE, FOR ALL ITS
APPARENT STATENESS AND
SEDATENESS, THOUGH NO DOUBT THAT
SET IN RATHER, RATHER LATER. THIS
TRANSGRESSION WAS THERE FROM THE
BEGINNING, RATHER AS THE SNAKE
WAS ALWAYS ALREADY CURLED UP IN
THE HAPPY GARDEN, A WHOLE RANGE
OF WRITERS DEFOE AND JOHN GAY TO
DICKENS AND CONRAD AND BRECHT
HAVE UNMASKED THE GUILTY SECRET
OF BOURGEOIS SOCIETY, NAMELY THE
SECRET, EMBARRASSING, SHAMEFUL
AFFINITY BETWEEN THE BUSINESSMAN
AND THE CRIMINAL.
BOTH OF WHOM, AFTER ALL, REQUIRE
MUCH THE SAME SORTS OF TALENTS
TO DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO.
THEY... THESE WRITERS HAVE
RECOGNISED, IN SHORT, EVEN, YOU
KNOW, WITHOUT CLAPPING EYES ON A
KENNY LAY OR A ROBERT MAXWELL,
THAT THERE IS SOMETHING
INHERENTLY LAWLESS ABOUT THIS
PARTICULAR KIND OF LAW AND
ORDER.
NOT JUST BECAUSE IT ENCOURAGES
MONSTERS OF GREED, LIKE MAXWELL
AND LAY, BUT BECAUSE SOMEHOW IT’S
NORM IS TO THRIVE... THRIVES ON
CEASELESS TRANSGRESSION.
MIDDLE-CLASS SOCIETY IS, FOR THE
MOST PART, FOUNDED ON CRIME,
THAT'S TO SAY, THE VARIOUS
CRIMES OF REVOLUTION, OF
INVASION, OF OCCUPATION, SO THAT
SOMETHING ALWAYS COMES BEFORE
THE RULE OF LAW AND THIS IS NOT
SO MUCH CRIMINALITY, BECAUSE
IT'S THE RULE OF LAW WHICH
DEFINES WHAT COUNTS AS THAT IN
THE FIRST PLACE, BUT RATHER THE
LAWLESSNESS INVOLVED IN THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LAW IN THE
FIRST PLACE.
THE COMING OF LAW AND ORDER WAS
NEITHER LAWFUL NOR ORDERLY.
WHAT FALLS OUTSIDE THE LAW'S
SOVEREIGN SWAY IS THE
ARBITRARINESS AND RAPACITY WITH
WHICH IT WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE
FIRST PLACE AND THIS, ONE MIGHT
CLAIM, IS THE TRUE ORIGINAL SIN.
THIS IS NATURALLY SOMETHING OF
AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR THE LAW,
WHICH, LIKE THE REST OF US,
DISLIKES THE IDEA THAT IT HAD A
DISREPUTABLE ORIGIN.
INDEED, SOMETIMES IT CAN'T
ACCEPT THE FACT THAT IT HAD AN
ORIGIN AT ALL, SINCE TO
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ONE WAS BORN IS
TO CONCEDE THAT YOU CAN DIE.
AT OTHER TIMES, LIKE THE SMALL
CHILD IN FREUD'S FAMILY ROMANCE,
IT DISAVOWS ITS ACTUAL SHADY
PARENTAGE AND FANTASISES THAT
ITS GENESIS WAS A LOT MORE
GLAMOROUS THAN IT ACTUALLY WAS.
THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE, I
THINK, OF MIDDLE-CLASS REGIMES,
WHICH ARE, OF COURSE, ANTI-
REVOLUTIONARY, BUT WHICH WERE,
FOR THE MOST PART, ESTABLISHED
BY SOME KIND OF REVOLUTIONARY
VIOLENCE, SO BY ANTI-
REVOLUTIONARY, THEY MEAN OPPOSED
TO OTHER PEOPLE'S REVOLUTIONS.
THE MIDDLE CLASS, AS MARX WHO
ADMIRED THEM GREATLY NEVER
CEASED TO INSIST, I REALISE I'M
BREAKING MY PROMISE ABOUT NOT
MENTIONING HIM MORE THAN ONCE,
BUT THERE YOU ARE, IS OR AT
LEAST WAS A FULL-BLOODEDLY
REVOLUTIONARY CLASS, EVEN IF YOU
WOULDN'T THINK IT TO LOOK AT
DICK CHENEY.

[Laughter]

Terry continues IN A MERE
HANDFUL OF CENTURIES, IT
TRANSFORMED THE FACE OF THE
EARTH, SWEPT AWAY ALMOST ALL THE
TRACES OF THE ANCIEN REGIME,
EXCEPT IN ENGLAND FOR EVELYN
WAUGH AND THE ANTIQUES
ROADSHOW.

[Laughter]

Terry continues I WAS, I MUST
SAW, UTTERLY DELIGHTED WHEN I
SWITCHED ON MY TELEVISION IN MY
MONTREAL HOTEL ROOM AND SAW THAT
DEAR OLD COMFORTING PROGRAM.

[Laughter]

Terry continues YOU WENT UP
IN MY ESTIMATION.
YET ONCE THE MIDDLE CLASS IS IN
POWER, AND THIS IS THE POINT OF
EMBARRASSMENT... IS PRECISELY
THIS REVOLUTIONARY ZEAL THAT IT
HAS AT ALL COSTS TO LIVE DOWN.
IT HAS, AS IT WERE, YOU KNOW,
ONCE ENSCONCED IN POWER, THE
BOURGEOISIE, AS WE USED TO CALL
THEM IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS,
TURNED THEIR THOUGHTS
NECESSARILY FROM THE TURBULENT
BUSINESS OF HOW THEY GOT THERE
TO THE DISTINCTLY NON-REVOLUTIONARY
BUSINESS OF MAKING
AS MUCH MONEY AS THEY DECENTLY
OR INDECENTLY CAN, FOR WHICH, OF
COURSE, THEY NEED PEACE AND
STABILITY AND LAW AND ORDER, NOT
CONSTANT TURMOIL AND UPHEAVAL.
WHERE THEY WERE ONCE AGITATORS,
THEY ARE NOW ACCOUNTANTS.
EPIC DRAMA GIVES WAY TO THE
DULL, REALIST PROSE OF EVERYDAY
LIFE.
THE NEW ORDER, LIKE FREUD'S
EDIPAL SUBJECT, MUST DRAW A
VEIL OF OBLIVION OVER ITS OWN
ANARCHIC AND ILLICIT BEGINNINGS,
PUTTING ITS DISHEVELLED PAST
BEHIND IT AS FIRMLY AS A HIPPIE
APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL.

[Laughter]


Terry continues NATIONS FIND
THIS HARD TO DO, BECAUSE THEIR
ORIGINS ARE STILL TOO RAW AND
RECENT, WILL RANK AMONG THE MOST
UNSTABLE.
ISRAEL AND NORTHERN IRELAND
WOULD BE, I THINK, EXAMPLES IN
OUR TIME AND I MIGHT ADD THAT
MANAGING, MANAGING TO LIVE YOUR
REVOLUTION DOWN, MANAGING TO
THRUST IT, AS IT WERE, INTO THE
HISTORICAL UNCONSCIOUS, IS VERY
IMPORTANT, BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT
YOU'RE LESS LIKELY TO REMIND
YOUR POLITICAL ANTAGONISTS OF
THE FACT THAT THE WORLD CAN,
AFTER ALL, BE CHANGED.
IF YOU COULD DO IT, SO CAN THEY.
THE SCANDAL, THEN, IS CLEAR, LAW
AND ORDER WOULD SEEM LARGELY A
QUESTION OF AMNESIA, OF
FORGETTING YOUR ORIGINS, THE
GREAT DAVID HUME WRITES THAT IF
WE INVESTIGATE THE ORIGINS OF
ANY NATION, HE SAYS, WE SHALL
FIND, I QUOTE, "REBELLION AND
USURPATION.
TIME ALONE," HE COMMENTS, WITH
THIS DISARMING CANDOUR, I QUOTE,
"RECONCILES MEN TO AUTHORITY AND
MAKES IT SEEM JUST AND
REASONABLE, TIME ALONE."
WHAT BECOMES THE IN BURKE
DOCTRINE OF PRESCRIPTION.
POLITICAL POWER, IN SHORT, IS
FADED... IS BASED ON NOTHING
MORE SOLID THAN FADING MEMORY,
AS PRIMORDIAL CRIMES GROW ON US
LIKE OLD CRONIES.
LEGITIMACY IS LONGEVITY.
THE SHEER PASSAGE OF TIME, IT
SEEMS, IS SUFFICIENT TO TURN
BANDITS INTO BANKERS.
AND THIS IS A VIEW WHICH HUME
SHARES WITH BLAISE PASCAL, WHO
SAYS MUCH THE SAME THING AND
INDEED IMMANUEL KANT, WHO LATER
ON MAKES MUCH THE SAME POINT
ABOUT THE UNWISDOM OF INQUIRING
TOO DEEPLY INTO THE ORIGINS OF
NATION STATES.
AS INDEED
DOES THE IRISHMAN EDMUND BURKE,
GREAT BRITAIN'S SECRET WEAPON
AGAINST THE JACOBEANS, BRITISH
WARS HIRED THE IRISH FOR THEIR
ELOQUENCE WHEN THEY'VE NEEDED IT
AND DUMPED THEM AGAIN WHEN THEY
DIDN'T.
IN BURKE, THIS BAN ON DELVING INTO
CRIMINAL OR ILLICIT ORIGINS
TAKES A SEXUAL TURN AND HERE
FOLLOWS THE ONLY PART OF MY
LECTURES THAT SOME OF YOU MIGHT
ACTUALLY REMEMBER IN THREE
WEEKS' TIME.
FOR BURKE, YOU'RE FORBIDDEN TO
UNVEIL THE PRIMAL SCENE OF
POWER.
THERE'S SOMETHING INDECENT ABOUT
DOING SO.
THIS IS THE BLASPHEMY OF
THE JACOBEANS, WHO STRIPPED THE
LAW OF ITS AGE-OLD MYSTIQUE AND
TURNED THE PITILESS SEARCHLIGHT
OF PURE REASON ON THE MURKY
SOURCES OF AUTHORITY, WHICH ARE
TO BE AT ALL COSTS, TO BURKE,
DECENTLY DRAPED.
THE LAW FOR BURKE IS MASCULINE
IN ITS SUBLIME AND ABSOLUTE,
POTENTIALLY ABSOLUTE TERROR, BUT
IT MUST DRAPE ITSELF IN ALLURING
DRESS OF A WOMAN IF ITS TO
CONCEAL ITS OMINOUS MUSCLES AND
MAKE US LOVE IT RATHER THAN
SIMPLY BE AFRAID OF IT.
UNLIKE MACHIAVELLI, BURKE THINKS
THAT IT WON'T DO JUST TO BE
TERRIFIED OUT OF OUR WITS BY THE
LAW, A CERTAIN TERROR INDEED IS
NECESSARY, BURKE IS A TERRORIST
IN THAT SENSE, BUT THAT WE NEED
SOMETHING CALLED HEGEMONY, WHICH
IS, AS IT WERE, THIS RATHER
FEARSOMELY MASCULINE LAW DRAPING
ITSELF IN MORE SEDUCTIVE AND
ALLURING GARMENTS, THE LAW, FOR
BURKE, IS A CROSS-DRESSER AND
THE WORD WE USE TODAY FOR HOW
POWER MAKES ITSELF SWEET AND
SEDUCTIVE I SUPPOSE IS HEGEMONY.
LIKE THE STEREOTYPICAL FEMALE
SEDUCER, THE LAW MUST LULL US
INTO AN OBLIVION BOTH OF ITS OWN
SUBLIME TERROR, OF ITS OWN
BRUTALITY AND ITS OWN INFINITY
OF BRUTALITY, SO TO SPEAK, THE
FACT THAT IT'S SECRETLY
UNRESTRAINED AND MUST BE TAKEN
IN HAND, MUST... THIS LAW, WHICH
IS POTENTIALLY CRAZED AND OUT OF
CONTROL MUST BE CONFINED RATHER
AS THE EXTRAORDINARY AND EXTREME
VINDICTIVENESS OF THE SUPEREGO
MUST, FOR FREUD, BE TEMPERED AND
CONFINED, OTHERWISE IT GETS OUT
OF HAND AND ISSUES COMMANDS FAR
TOO IMPERIOUS AND MALICIOUS FOR
US TO OBEY, THE LAW MUST BE
LULLED INTO AN OBLIVION... MUST
LULL US INTO OBLIVION BOTH OF
ITS OWN SUBLIME TERROR, BUT ALSO
OF ITS OWN DISCREDITABLE
ORIGINS.
YET THERE'S ALWAYS THE UGLY...
AN UGLY BULGE IN ITS ALLURING
GARMENTS.
WE MUST ALWAYS BE REMINDED OF
THE POTENTIAL TERRORISM OF THE
LAW, FOR BURKE, BASICALLY
CUTTING A LOT OF CORNERS, MEN
ARE SUBLIME AND WOMEN ARE
BEAUTIFUL AND ONE NEEDS BEAUTY
TO SOFTEN THE SUBLIMITY, SUBLIME
TERROR OF BOURGEOIS POWER, OR IT
HAS TO BECOME EFFECTIVE AND
CONSENSUAL AS BURKE REALISED
THAT BRITISH POWER, IN IRELAND
PRECISELY, HAD NOT, THAT WAS ITS
GREAT MISTAKE, IT COULD NEVER
BECOME HEGEMONIC RATHER THAN
COERCIVE.
BUT IT’S NOT JUST THE ORIGINS OF
BOURGEOIS SOCIETY WHICH ARE
REVOLUTIONARY, WHICH EMBODY THIS
KIND OF ABSOLUTE TERROR OF
FREEDOM, IF THAT WERE SO,
PERHAPS ONE COULD SUCCEED IN
DRAWING A DECOROUS VEIL OF
OBLIVION OVER THEM, REVOLUTION
IS NOT JUST HOW THIS PARTICULAR
KIND OF SOCIETY COMES TO POWER,
THAT MAY BE SO OF MANY
HISTORICAL FORMATIONS, IT'S ALSO
SOMEHOW CHARACTERISTIC,
EMBARRASSINGLY, OF HOW IT
BEHAVES WHEN IT GETS THERE, HOW
IT BEHAVE... BEHAVES WHEN IT
GETS TO POWER.
CAPITALIST SOCIETY IS ONE
ENDLESS TUMULT, AGITATION AND
UPHEAVAL IN WHICH, RATHER LIKE
SOME OF THE CHARACTERS IN
ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ONE
HAS TO RUN VERY HARD JUST TO
STAY ON THE SPOT.
IT'S FOREVER TRANSFORMING,
DISSOLVING, DISRUPTING,
DESTROYING, REINVENTING.
THE REVOLUTIONARY DYNAMIC WHICH
FOUNDS IT CONTINUES THROUGH IT
IN THE, IN THE GUISE OF THE
PERPETUAL, SELF-CONSUMING
DYNAMISM OF ACCUMULATION FOR ITS
OWN SAKE AND IT'S DRIVEN BY ITS
INNER NEEDS TO SPREAD THIS
AGITATION ALL AROUND IT
THROUGHOUT THE GLOBE.
IT'S THE ONLY FORM OF LIFE, ONE
MIGHT ARGUE, HISTORICALLY
SPEAKING, IN WHICH TRANSGRESSION
IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE BUT
ACTUALLY OBLIGATORY.
THE AMERICAN WAITER'S SINGLE
RAPPED-OUT COMMAND, ENJOY,
CAPTURES THIS PARADOX, I THINK,
VERY WELL.
UNLESS YOU'RE FRENETICALLY
REINVENTING YOURSELF, YOU DON'T
REALLY EXIST.
I AM NOT WHO I WAS, THEREFORE I
AM IS THE NEW CARTESIAN CREDO.
IN THE INNOCENT OLD DAYS OF
EDEN, IT WAS POSSIBLE TO IMAGINE
THAT GOD OR THE LAW WERE ON ONE
SIDE AND DESIRE, TRANSGRESSION
AND THE SERPENT ON THE OTHER.
THE TRUE FALL SURELY CAME ABOUT
WHEN WE REALISED THEY WERE
SECRETLY ONE AND THE SAME.
JUST AS IN CONRAD'S THE
SECRET AGENT, A NOVEL
WHICH STARS THE FIRST SUICIDE
BOMBER OF ENGLISH LITERATURE,
WHICH I WILL SPEAK ABOUT IN A
FUTURE LECTURE AND WHICH WE...
WOULD BE OF GREAT INTEREST TO
THE WHITE HOUSE IF THERE'S
ANYONE THERE WHO CAN READ,
THE...

[Laughter]

Terry continues IN CONRAD'S
NOVEL, THE POLICE AND THE
ANARCHISTS PLAY SELF-CONSCIOUSLY
THE SAME GAME, EITHER SIDE OF
THE SAME COIN.
WITHOUT SIN, HOW CAN THERE
POSSIBLY BE VIRTUE?
WITHOUT SATAN, HOW CAN GOD
EXIST?
IT WAS WHEN
IT BEGAN TO DAWN UPON US THAT
GOD WAS ACTUALLY FURTIVELY
EGGING THE SERPENT ON, SINCE
WITHOUT A FALL, NO REDEMPTION,
FELIX COOPER, THAT WE BEGAN TO
SHED OUR INNOCENCE, THAT WE
TRULY FELL, IT WAS WHEN WE
REALISED THAT THE LAW OF
CAPITALIST CONSUMERISM ACTUALLY
WANTS US TO BE GREEDY, RUTHLESS,
CALLOW AND SELF-REGARDING THAT
WE BEGAN TO SUSPECT THAT THIS
LAW HAS FEET OF CLAY. BENDING
NORMS, DISSOLVING FOUNDATIONS,
KICKING OVER THE TRACES IS PART
OF ITS ROUTINE BUSINESS.
AUTHORITY ITSELF IS AN
ANARCHIST.
IT IS IN CAHOOTS WITH
CRIMINALITY, AS WE CAN SEE ALL
THE WAY FROM DEFOE'S MOLL
FLANDERS OR FIELDING'S JONATHAN
WILD, THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
TO BALZAC'S LAUTRAIN, DICKENS'
MISTER MYRTLE AND CONRAD'S MISTER
VERLAC IN THE SECRET AGENT.
THERE ARE, TO BE SURE,
SIMPLEMINDED PEOPLE AROUND THE
PLACE WHO HAVEN'T QUITE GRASPED
YET THIS RATHER SHOCKING TRUTH,
TO THEM BENDING NORMS IS
DANGEROUSLY RADICAL, RATHER THAN
CAPITALIST ROUTINE.
DESIRE IS ONE OF THEIR
BUZZWORDS, JUST AS IT IS FOR
EXXON.
TRANSGRESSION THEY SEE AS
TRENDY, NOT AS THE FAMILIAR
LOGIC OF THE MARKETPLACE.
PLURALITY AND HETEROGENEITY THEY
REGARD AS INHERENTLY VIRTUOUS,
JUST AS THE MARKETPLACE DOES.
THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL
LIVING IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, AS
CONVINCED AS ADAM AND EVE WERE
THAT THE LAW IS A BIG DADDY WHO
IS OUT TO ROB US OF OUR
THRILLINGLY TRANSGRESSIVE
PLEASURES, RATHER THAN A CO-
CONSPIRATOR, WHO IS ALL FOR
DISRUPTION AND SUBVERSION, AS
LONG AS THESE THINGS TIGHTEN ITS
HOLD OVER US.
ANOTHER NAME FOR THIS CONDITION
IS ADOLESCENCE, IN WHICH WE NEED
TO BELIEVE THE LAW IS AGAINST
OUR ILLICIT DESIRES IN ORDER
THAT WE CAN HAVE ILLICIT DESIRES
IN THE FIRST PLACE.
YET OF COURSE, THIS CAPITALIST
ANARCHY, WHICH IS UTTERLY
INHERENT TO THE KIND OF NEGATIVE
FREEDOM, HEGEL'S ABSOLUTE
FREEDOM, THAT WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT, HAS ITS LIMITS.
INDEED, THE GREAT IRONY OF THE
SYSTEM IS THAT YOU CAN ONLY
RELEASE SUCH ANARCHY IF YOU ALSO
HAVE RIGOROUS ORDER.
WHAT THAT MEANS THEN IS YOU END
UP WITH A SOCIETY, A SOCIAL
ORDER WHICH IS RATHER LIKE A
SHODDY WORK OF ART, IN THAT ITS
CONTENTS ARE TOO AMORPHOUS AND
ITS FORMS ARE TOO RIGID.
TO LET MARKET FORCES
LICENTIOUSLY RIP, YOU NEED A
FRAMEWORK OF POLITICAL
STABILITY, JUST AS YOU NEED A
GOOD DEAL OF DISCIPLINED CO-
OPERATION TO BREAK INTO FORT
KNOX.
THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT THE
MARKET FORCES CONTINUALLY
THREATEN TO UNDERMINE THE VERY
ORDER YOU CREATE TO PROTECT THEM
AND THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN
ESCAPE FROM THAT CONTRADICTION
AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THAT FORM OF
LIFE.
THE SYSTEM ITSELF IS SELF-
THWARTING AND SELF-UNDOING, ITS
VALUES ARE PERSISTENTLY VIOLATED
AND ITS ORDER CONSISTENTLY
DISRUPTED, NOT JUST BY SCRUFFY
LEFTISTS WITH A DANDRUFF ON
THEIR COLLARS, BUT BY ITSELF.
THE MORE, FOR EXAMPLE, IT
EXTENDS ITS ANARCHY TO THE REST
OF THE GLOBE, THE MORE IT NOW
RISKS A TERRORIST BACKLASH
AGAINST IT, WHICH CAN... IT CAN
PROTECT ITSELF AGAINST ONLY BY
BECOMING INCREASINGLY
AUTHORITARIAN, THUS TURNING
EVENTUALLY, PERHAPS, INTO AN
OBEDIENT MIRROR IMAGE OF THOSE
IT'S FIGHTING, WHICH IS NO DOUBT
ONE OF THEIR PRIMARY AIMS.
BUSH AND HIS FANATICAL CRONIES
AND OSAMA BIN LADEN AND HIS
MURDEROUS THUGS ARE PRETTY ALIKE
IN SOME RESPECTS ALREADY.
NEITHER PARTY, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS
THE LEAST INTEREST IN THE
WELFARE OF COMMON PEOPLE,
COMPARED WITH THEIR INTEREST IN
TURNING SACRED TEXTS INTO
WEAPONS WHICH CAN REND THE
FLESH.
BUT THIS WILL NO DOUBT... THEY
WILL NO DOUBT GROW EVEN MORE
UNCANNILY ALIKE AS TIME GOES ON,
SINCE ANARCHY BREEDS AUTOCRACY
AND THAT, IN TURN, ANARCHY, AS
SURELY AS FEAR LIES AT THE ROOT
OF HATRED.
AS HEGEL PERCEIVED THEN, AND
THAT'S ALWAYS AN IMPRESSIVE WAY
OF STARTING A SENTENCE...

[Laughter]

Terry continues... THERE'S
SOMETHING TERRIFYING
UNMASTERABLE AT THE VERY HEART
OF THIS MIDDLE CLASS STABILITY,
WHICH HAS THE FURY AND THE
PITILESSNESS OF ALL BOUNDLESS
THINGS IN A FINITE WORLD.
IT'S A FURY WHICH ITSELF RIPS
APART THE VERY MORAL AND
METAPHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS IT
APPEALS TO TO LEGITIMATE ITSELF.
THINK, FOR EXAMPLE, OF THE
PHRASE "MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM,"
WHICH IS JUST AS OXYMORONIC AS
ALABAMAN HAUTE CUISINE.
HOW ON EARTH
COULD THIS TURBULENT, EMPTY,
ETERNALLY UNAPPEASABLE DRIVE
ACTUALLY PROVIDE SOCIAL LIFE
WITH SOLID FOUNDATIONS?
HOW CAN YOU HAVE MARKET
FOUNDATIONALISM OR
FUNDAMENTALISM?
IN SEEKING LIKE THE... WITH THE
NEO-CONSERVATIVES TO YOKE GOD
AND THE MARKET TOGETHER, HOW CAN
THE LATTER NOT SIMPLY END UP
UNDERMINING THE FORMER?
HOW CAN A REALITY WHICH IS
ENDLESSLY FLUID AND TURBULENT
AND CHANGEABLE NOT CALL INTO
QUESTION THE VERY TIMELESS,
STATIC, ETERNAL VALUES IT USES
IN ORDER TO VALIDATE ITSELF?
IN THIS SENSE, THE TRUE CLASH OF
CIVILISATION, SURELY, IS ONE
WITHIN THE WEST, BETWEEN THOSE
WHO BELIEVE TOO LITTLE, POST-
MODERN SCEPTICISM AND THOSE WHO
BELIEVE TOO MUCH, RIGHT-WING
FUNDAMENTALISM.
I NEED HARDLY ADD THAT EACH CAMP
FEEDS THEN OFF THE OTHER IN A
KIND OF STALLED DIALECTIC, THAT,
IN A WORD, BLANDNESS AND
BRUTALISM, RIBALDRY AND
REPRESSION, I REALLY DO
APOLOGISE FOR THIS APPALLING
ALLITERATIVE TICK THAT I SUFFER
FROM, FORREST GUMP AND KILL BILL
ARE SIMPLY SIDES OF THE SAME COIN.
WE EUROPEANS SUFFER FROM THE
SAME CULTURAL SCHIZOPHRENIA,
ONLY MORE DISCREETLY AND
HYPOCRITICALLY, AS IS OUR WONT.
WE ENGLISH IN PARTICULAR ARE A
MODERATE PEOPLE, IF EVER WE TAKE
TO DRIVING ON THE RIGHT-HAND
SIDE OF THE ROAD, WE SHALL DO SO
GRADUALLY.

[Laughter]

Terry continues IN THE GOOD
OLD DAYS, IT WAS ACTUALLY RATHER
EASIER TO RECONCILE GOD AND THE
SYSTEM, IN OTHER WORDS,
FOUNDATIONAL VALUES AND WHAT YOU
PRACTICALLY, PRAGMATICALLY,
ACTUALLY GOT UP TO, WHICH IS THE
GREAT RIFT THAT WE SUFFER FROM
CULTURALLY NOW, THIS WAS EASIER
SURELY WHEN THE CAPITALIST
SYSTEM WAS IN ITS EARLIER
INDUSTRIAL OR MANUFACTURING
PHASE AND THE NAME FOR THIS
RECONCILIATION, ONE NAME ANYWAY,
WAS PROTESTANTISM. YOU KNOW,
WHICH, BY BEING WORLDLY AND
UNWORLDLY SIMULTANEOUSLY
SUGGESTED THAT GOD AND MAMMON
MIGHT NOT BE SO ANTAGONISTIC
AFTER ALL.
MATERIAL SUCCESS MIGHT ITSELF BE
A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL VOCATION.
ONE COULD FIND A TRACE OF THE
TRANSCENDENT IN THE PROFANE OR
INDEED, DISMANTLE THE OPPOSITION
ALTOGETHER.
BUT IT'S EASIER TO BELIEVE THAT
GOD WANTS YOU TO BE PRUDENT,
THRIFTY, INDUSTRIOUS,
ABSTEMIOUS, SELF-DISCIPLINED AND
CONSCIENTIOUS, ALL OF THOSE
EARLIER, AS IT WERE, INDUSTRIAL
VIRTUES, THAN HE WANTS YOU TO
WATCH HARD-CORE PORN, DEMOLISH
EIGHT PACKS OF COOKIES IN A ROW,
AND BUY A NEW CD PLAYER EVERY
SIX WEEKS.
THE SAME SYSTEM DOESN'T REALLY
WORK, THE SAME MORAL APPEALS
DON'T REALLY WORK IN A LATER
CONSUMERIST PHASE OF THE SYSTEM,
ASSUME, IN OTHER WORDS, AS THE
SYSTEM HITS ITS CONSUMERIST
PHASE, THAT PARTICULAR WAY OF
BRIDGING THE GAP IS IN RATHER A
LOT OF IDEOLOGICAL TROUBLE.
THE SYSTEM COULD LESS PLAUSIBLY
CALL UPON ITS CITIZENS TO BE
DISCIPLINED AND RESPONSIBLE AND
SELF-DETERMINING AND SO ON WHEN
IT ALSO WANTED THEM TO BEHAVE
LIKE MONSTERS OF UNBRIDLED
DESIRE AS SOON AS THEY SET FOOT
IN THE NIGHT-CLUB OR THE
SHOPPING MALL.
I SEEM, HOWEVER, TO HAVE COME A
LONG WAY FROM TERROR, IF I EVER
GOT VERY NEAR IT IN THE FIRST
PLACE, TOMORROW, HOWEVER, WE
WILL RETURN TO IT, IN TOMORROW'S
LECTURE, ALONG WITH SUCH TOPICS
AS SADISM, ANAL EROTICISM AND
THE LIBIDINAL BODY, NOT REALLY,
I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU
COME BACK.

Watch: Terry Eagleton on Terror and Modernity