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A heavy, opaque and suffocating atmosphere… – Giorgio Agamben

“A heavy, dull and suffocating atmosphere has settled over the country, the men are depressed and discontented and, nevertheless, they are willing to suffer anything without protest and without being surprised.

This is the characteristic situation of times of tyranny. The general discontent, which superficial observers regard as an indication of the fragility of power, actually means exactly the opposite. A dull and widespread discontent is compatible with an almost unlimited submission for tens of years; when the feeling of disaster is combined, as is the case today, with the absence of hope, men obey until an external backlash restores hope to them “.

(Simone Weil, 1940)

“The feeling of security is profoundly altered. It is not necessarily a bad thing, since there can be no security for man on this earth and the need for security, beyond a certain limit, is a dangerous illusion that distorts everything and makes minds dull, superficial and foolishly satisfied; it was well seen in times of prosperity, and it is still seen in those social categories that believe themselves to be safe today. But the total absence of security, especially when the catastrophe that is feared seems to exceed the resources of intelligence and courage, is no less harmful. We have seen in the past the economic crises deprive young people of all hope of being able to fully enter the ranks of society and earn a living and nurture a family. Now we see a whole generation of young people in the same impasse … The modern media of communication, the press, the radio and the cinema are, after all, powerful enough to influence the mood of a whole people. Of course, life continues to defend itself, protected by instinct and some form of unconsciousness; and yet the widespread fear of great collective catastrophes, passively awaited like a flood or an earthquake, increasingly conditions the feeling that each one can have of his future “.

(Simone Weil, 1939)

Source: Giorgio Agamben – QUODLIBET

  • Translated