But there is something more radical about the history of art as practiced by Winckelmann. It is not merely a matter of accurately representing the ways of life and expression of people from the past. What matters instead is to think about the co-belonging of an artist’s art and the principles that govern the life of his people and his time. A concept captures this knot in his work: the concept of ‘style’. The style manifested in the work of a sculptor belongs to a people, to a moment of its life, and to the deployment of a potential for collective freedom. Art exists when one can make a people, a society, an age, taken at a certain moment in the development of its collective life, its subject. The ‘natural’ harmony between poiesis and aisthesis that governed the representative order is opposed to a new relation between individuality and collectivity: between the artist’s personality and the shared world that gives rise to it and that it expresses. The progress of primitive sculpture up to its classical apogee, then its decline, thus follows the progress and the loss of Greek freedom. The first age of a collectivity massively subjected to the power of aristocrats and priests corresponds to the rigidity of forms, due both to the awkwardness of art in its infancy and the obligation of following codified models. The golden age of Greek freedom corresponds to great and noble art with ‘flowing lines’. The retreat of this freedom translates into the passage to an art of grace, where style gives way to manner—that is to say, to the particular gesture of an artist working for the particular taste of a narrow circle of art-lovers. This history of art, understood as a voyage between the two poles of collective absorption and individualistic dissolution, was destined for a very long future…Many of our contemporaries still see this as an historicist ‘derailing’ of art. But this ‘derailing’ is nothing other than the route through which the concept of Art as its own world came to light. Art exists as an autonomous sphere of production and experience since History exists as a concept for collective life. And the person who formulated this conjunction was no sociologist spitefully trying to cut down the sublimities of art to the prosaic conditions of their production. He was a hopeless lover of ancient sculpture, hoping to provide it with the most suitable sanctuary for its veneration.

Jacques Rancière, Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

I look also upon what the bureaucratic destruction process – for this is what it was – as a series of minute steps taken in logical order, and relying above all as much as possible on experience, past experience. And this goes not only, incidentally, for the administrative steps that were taken, but also psychological arguments – even the propaganda. Amazingly little was newly invented until, of course, the moment came when one had to go beyond that which had already been established by precedent, and one had to gas these people or in some sense annihilate them on a large scale. Then, these bureaucrats became inventors. But like all inventors of institutions they did not copyright or patent their achievements, and the prefer obscurity.


They invented very little. And they did not invent the portrait of the Jew, which also was taken over love, stock and barrel from writings going back to the 16th century. So even the propaganda, the realm of the imagination and invention, even these – they were remarkably in the footsteps of those who preceeded them, from Martin Luther to the 19th century. And here again they were not inventive. They had to becom inventive with the “final Solution.” That was their great invention, and that is what made this entire process different from all others that had preceded that event. And, in this respect, what transpired when the “final Solution” was adopted, or to be more precise, when the bureaucracy moved into it, was a turning point in history.

Even here, I would suggest a logical progression, one which came to fruition in what might be called “closure.” Because from the earliest days, from the 4th century, 5th century, 6th century, the missionaries of Christianity had said, in effect, to the Jews, “You may not live among us as Jews.” The secular rulers who followed them from the late Middle Ages had then decided “You may not live among us.” And the Nazis finally decreed, “You may not live.”


General wording—the very wording “final solution” or “total solution” or “territorial solution” leaves something to the bureaucrat that he must infer. He cannot read that document. One cannot even read Goring’s famous letter to Heydrich at the end of July 1941 charging him in two paragraphs to proceed with the final solution,” and examining that document, consider that everything is clarified. Far from it.

[…] It was an authorization to invent. It was an authorization to begin something that was not as yet capable to being put into words.

However, attacks on culture quickly descended into attacks on people. Ignoring guidelines in the ‘Sixteen Articles’ that stipulated that persuasion rather than force were to be used to bring about the Cultural Revolution, officials in positions of authority and perceived ‘bourgeois elements’ were denounced and suffered physical and psychological attacks. Intellectuals were to suffer the brunt of these attacks. Many were ousted from official posts such as university teaching and allocated manual tasks such as “sweeping courtyards, building walls and cleaning toilets from 7am to 5pm daily” which would encourage them to dwell on past “mistakes”. An official report in October 1966 reported that the Red Guards had already arrested 22,000 ‘counterrevolutionaries’ [Red Guards - Wikipedia].

It is as if it was particularly difficult, in the history in which men retrace their own ideas and their own knowledge, to formulate a general theory of discontinuity, of series, of limits, unities, specific orders, and differentiated autonomies and dependences. As if, in that field where we had become used to seeking origins, to pushing back further and further the line of antecedents, to reconstituting traditions, to following evolutive curves, to projecting teleologies, and to having constant recourse to metaphors of life, we felt a particular repugnance to conceiving of difference, to describing separations and dispersions, to dissociating the reassuring form of the identical. Or, to be more precise, as if we found it difficult to construct a theory, to draw general conclusions, and even to derive all the possible implications of these concepts of thresholds, mutations, independent systems, and limited series - in the way in which they had been used in fact by historians. As if we were afraid to conceive of the Other in the time of our own thought.
 There is a reason for this. If the history of thought could remain the locus of uninterrupted continuities, if it could endlessly forge connections that no analysis could undo without abstraction, if it could weave, around everything that men say and do, obscure synthesis that anticipate for him, prepare him, and lead him endlessly towards his future, it would provide a privileged shelter for the sovereignty of consciousness. Continuous history is the indispensable correlative of the founding function of the subject: the guarantee that everything that has eluded him may be restored to him; the certainty that time will disperse nothing without restoring it in a reconstituted unity; the promise that one day the subject - in the form of historical consciousness - will once again be able to appropriate, to bring back under his sway, all those things that are kept at a distance by difference, and find in them what might be called his abode. Making historical analysis the discourse of the continuous and making human consciousness the original subject of all historical development and all action are the two sides of the same system of thought. In this system, time is conceived in terms of totalisation and revolutions are never more than moments of consciousness.

No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not onesided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.

At any rate, he did not enter the Party out of conviction, nor was he ever convinced by it – whenever he was asked to give his reasons, he repeated the same embarrassed clichés about the Treaty of Versailles and unemployment; rather, as he pointed out in court, “it was like being swallowed up by the Party against all expectations and without previous decision. It happened so quickly and suddenly.” He had no time and less desire to be properly informed, he did not even know the Party program, he never read Mein Kampf. Kaltenbrunner had said to him: Why not join the S.S.? And he had replied, Why not? That was how it had happened, and that was about all there was to it. Of course, that was not all there was to it. What Eichmann failed to tell the presiding judge in cross-examination was that he had been an ambitious young man who was fed up with his job as traveling salesman even before the Vacuum Oil Company was fed up with him. From a humdrum life without significance’ and consequence the wind had blown him into History, as he understood it, namely, into a Movement that always kept moving and in which somebody like him – already a failure in the eyes of his social class, of his family, and hence in his own eyes as well – could start from scratch and still make a career.

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


In Focus: World War I In Photos, an Introduction

A century ago, an assassin, a Serbian nationalist, killed the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary as he visited Sarajevo. This act was the catalyst for a massive conflict that lasted four years. More than 65 million soldiers were mobilized by more than 30 nations, with battles taking place around the world. Industrialization brought modern weapons, machinery, and tactics to warfare, vastly increasing the killing power of armies. Battlefield conditions were horrific, typified by the chaotic, cratered hellscape of the Western Front, where soldiers in muddy trenches faced bullets, bombs, gas, bayonet charges, and more. On this 100-year anniversary, I’ve gathered photographs of the Great War from dozens of collections, some digitized for the first time, to try to tell the story of the conflict, those caught up in it, and how much it affected the world. Come back next week for part 2.

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Capitalism - renewal or decline? Laurie Taylor explores the future of our market driven economy. He’s joined by David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Colin Crouch, Professor Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Warwick. Professor Harvey examines the contradictions at the heart of capitalism arguing that it’s far from being the permanent or only way of organising human life. Professor Crouch, conversely, suggests that only Capitalism can provide us with an efficient and innovative economy but it should be re-shaped to better fit a social democratic society.

Meanings of a building both in landscape and memory-scape can be changed ‘not only by its exterior features or interior functions but also by its way of uniting with the earth’ (Chung 1994: 49). In other words, placing a building as well as designing one is a key element in creating meanings in architectural forms. The intimacy of place and meaning is, in part, derived from the place’s primary role as a ‘container of experience’ and, therefore, its ‘intrinsic memorability’ (Casey 1987: 186). Memory, it is pointed out, ‘does not thrive on the indifferently dispersed’ (Casey 1987: 187). In this sense, the former Japanese Government-General Building (GGB), erected in front of a key palace of the last native royal dynasty, more than any other building evoked for Koreans painful and shameful memories of Japanese colonial rule.

Completed in 1926, the GGB bore witness both to the colonial and postcolonial periods of modern Korean history. In fact, its overall lifespan was more postcolonial than colonial. The colonial administration began the construction of the GGB in 1916 and completed it in 1926. For nearly two decades, until 1945, the building housed offices of the colonial government. However, the building survived for a further five decades of Korea’s turbulent post-liberation history, housing the US military government offices until 1948; providing a home to the government of the Republic of Korea in 1948; and briefly serving as the general headquarters of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea during the Korean War. Following the cessation of hostilities, the building served again as the main government building for the Republic of Korea from 1962 to 1982. It subsequently housed the National Museum of Korea until 1995.

As part of national celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Liberation Day from Japanese colonial rule, the GGB was demolished. This article analyses the reasons why the building survived for half a century after the end of Japanese rule, and the debate during the early 1990s leading to the decision to demolish the building. How was the demolition of the GGB received by the various groups of people in South Korean society? Finally, what does the post-liberation history of the GGB reveal about public images and attitudes towards Japan in South Korea? In exploring these questions, I will first briefly summarize the history of the GGB. I will then analyse the political context for the official decision to demolish the GGB in the early 1990s, reflected in the media, at two levels: reaction from ‘specialists’ of various kinds (architects, city planners, and so forth), and the general public. In the process, I survey and attempt to explain changing attitudes and memories in contemporary Korean society with respect to Japan and the colonial past.

More than a dozen Western guests initially took shelter in the quarters of the U.S. consul general. But in the early hours of the morning while returning to her room, Nygaard saw what looked like sandbags piled in the courtyard. As she wondered what they would be used for, she spotted a flicker of movement and realized with a chill of horror that the sandbags were actually people lying face-down on the ground, their hands secured behind their backs.

"I remember so well, because I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, they’re breaking their arms when they’re doing that,’ " she told me.

Eventually, two trucks pulled up. Nygaard remembers that moment vividly: “They piled bodies into the truck, and we were, like, ‘There’s no way you could survive that.’ Certainly the people on the bottom would have suffocated. They picked them up like sandbags, and they threw them into the back of the truck. They threw them like garbage.”

Five separate witnesses described the same scene, which was also mentioned in a U.S. diplomatic cable. The witnesses estimated they had seen 30 to 100 bodies thrown into the trucks.

Hannah Arendt’s notions of a “banality of evil” and a “blurring” of responsibility between Nazi torturers and victims had become truisms. The phrase “triumph of the human spirit” had become a tagline. Theodor Adorno’s exhaustively quoted 1949 statement “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” had been thoroughly decontextualized and reduced to an edict that a parent might deliver to a child. The Holocaust had been officially commemorated many times over, but the promise to “never forget” was enunciated not in a dialogue but in a grand monologue that was listened to politely, respectfully, and even attentively, but was a monologue nonetheless. The majority of the civilized world had systematically absolved itself of responsibility for its own disaster, “a huge fact lying overturned,” in the words of the writer and historian Todd Gitlin, “square in the middle of the through route to progress.” In short, the Holocaust was something that had mysteriously happened to someone else.

WHAT THEN, would Rochau have made of all this? Going back to his original definition, it appears that much of what masquerades as modern realpolitik has strayed quite far from the original essence of the term.

The first thing to note is that he was an enemy of lazy thinking. He would have been unimpressed with those versions of realism that resemble a knee-jerk reaction that responds to idealism with a roll of the eyes and retreats to its own set of tropes and doctrines.

Realpolitik does “not entail the renunciation of individual judgement and it requires least of all an uncritical kind of submission,” he wrote. It was more “appropriate to think of it as a mere measuring and weighing and calculating of facts that need to be processed politically.” Above all, it was not a strategy itself, but a way of thinking: an “enemy of … self-delusion” and “the misguided pride which characterises the human mind.”

What Rochau was attempting to articulate was not a philosophical position but a new way of understanding politics and the distribution of power. “Experience has shown that treating it along abstract-scientific lines, or on the basis of principles is hardly useful,” he wrote. One had to contend “with the historical product, accepting it as it is, with an eye for its strengths and weaknesses, and to remain otherwise unconcerned with its origins and the reasons for its particular characteristics.”

Scientific management, also called Taylorism, was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management.

Its development began with Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s within the manufacturing industries. Its peak of influence came in the 1910s; by the 1920s, it was still influential but had begun an era of competition and syncretism with opposing or complementary ideas.

Although scientific management as a distinct theory or school of thought was obsolete by the 1930s, most of its themes are still important parts of industrial engineering and management today. These include analysis; synthesis; logic; rationality; empiricism; work ethic; efficiency and elimination of waste; standardization of best practices; disdain for tradition preserved merely for its own sake or to protect the social status of particular workers with particular skill sets; the transformation of craft production into mass production; and knowledge transfer between workers and from workers into tools, processes, and documentation.

Scientific management’s application was contingent on a high level of managerial control over employee work practices. This necessitated a higher ratio of managerial workers to laborers than previous management methods. The great difficulty in accurately differentiating any such intelligent, detail-oriented management from mere misguided micromanagement also caused interpersonal friction between workers and managers.