By ANTHONY HOWELL.
As for our enemies, shouldn’t we restrict
Their freedom of expression, scandalised
When they advocate violence that costs them
Their lives since it flies in the teeth
Of the violence we mete out from some
—From a poem by the author.
IT OCCURS TO ME that there is a paradigmatic relationship between drones and suicide bombers. In his chapter on “Lordship and Bondage” in The Phenomenology of Spirit, Georg Hegel wrote:
… it is only through staking one’s life that freedom is won; only thus is it proved that for self-consciousness, its essential consciousness is not (just) being, not the immediate form in which it appears, nor its emergence in the expanse of life, but rather that there is nothing present in it which could not be regarded as a vanishing moment, that is pure being-for-self. The individual who has not risked his life may well be recognised as a person, but he has not attained to the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness.
For Hegel, writing in the midst of the Napoleonic wars, the master is one who is prepared to die for his cause, while the one who is not prepared to take this risk, whose consciousness accepts bondage rather than loss of life, will inevitably become enslaved.