So at a local scrimmage yesterday, I read a camp Muslim Surveillance Aff and my opponents read a radical orthodoxy k
How should I respond to this - maybe in the context of the aff or in general
Here's some of the cards: The culture of fear is a product of liberalism that finds its culmination in the fear of death. This culture of fear sustains the politics of being-for-death which creates the very insecurity, perpetual war, and suffering the affirmative attempts to solve. By defining life in relation to death and suffering the affirmative gives death permanence and traps us in the politics of being-for-death Bell '7 [Daniel M. Bell, Jr., Associate Professor of Theological Ethics, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, 2007 (Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, "The Politics of Fear and The Gospel of Life," JCRT 8.2 SPRING 2007 55, http://www.jcrt.org/archives/08.2/)] mph Thus, as we examine the culture of fear, we are looking as if into a mirror and glimpsing the truth of our liberal soul. Liberalism is founded on fear. As Judith Shklar has said so well, liberalism does not offer a summum bonum toward which all should strive; nor does it rest upon a theory of moral pluralism as many are wont to proclaim. Rather, its foundation is much more barren. Liberalism is erected on the sheer negative, the fear of a summum malum. As she says, "to be alive is to be afraid." 19 But in this way the contradiction at the empty heart of liberalism is exposed: The promise of liberalism - recall Montesquieu et. al. - was freedom from terror and fear: yet this it cannot and it dare not deliver. For without fear, liberalism's raison d'etre, even the very barren surface into which it sinks its sickly roots, erodes as if into nothing. Therefore, under liberalism, there can be no end to fear. Even death is not its terminus, but only its culmination and even its return, for death does not relieve our fears. Rather, as Hobbes's insightfully discerned, face to face with death we are reminded that whatever meager goods we seek out in the midst of this vale of tears - career, family, friends, etc. - are contingent upon actually surviving to pursue them. For an end to fear, for a politics that finally is not cannibalistic of either liberty or life and so holds forth the hope of nurturing human communion/community (the root meaning of politics), for a more generous politics beyond the (anti-)politics of color-coded insecurity and perpetual war with our neighbors, both foreign and domestic, we will have to look elsewhere. To this alternative we now turn. Even as we wander in liberalism's fields of fear, trying desperately to tend to the goods that constitute our lives - friends, families, neighbors, vocations - a word of hope, as if from on high, catches our ear: "Do not be afraid." The Christian gospel is frequently introduced in this way by both angelic messengers and Jesus. Juxtaposed to liberalism as a politics that begins by heightening fear, this gospel prelude is striking. Here we have the advent of a different and truer politics, a politics of life, and it begins with the dispersion of fear. To make sense of this gospel and its politics, we turn first to Alain Badiou's work on St Paul.20 Badiou's work is about the recovery of a philosophical politics in the midst of an age disfigured by the monumental destruction of all politics. Against the ravages of the present age, Badiou posits a philosophy of the truth-event, which is nothing less than the unexpected irruption of new way of being in the midst of the status quo characterized by what he calls imperialism, democratic totalitarianism, absolute injustice and more recently, "the disjunctive synthesis of two nihilisms," by which he means the politics of fear in both of its prominent contemporary manifestations - fascist terrorism and the western war on terrorism.21 What attracts Badiou to St Paul is that in Paul Badiou discerns a fellow traveler, who, under the shadow of the Roman Empire, witnessed a similar destruction of all politics.22 In the midst of these destructions both ancient and contemporary, Paul stands as the militant herald of a truth-event that ruptures being-for-death with the possibility of pure affirmation, being-for-life. According to Badiou, Paul sets forth the truth event that is Christ in terms of two subjective paths, that of the flesh and the spirit, of death and life. Actually, Christ does not present two paths. Rather, as a truth-event, Christ is a break or rupture with the surrounding site or situation, an interruption, an absolute beginning, an act of creation ex nihilo. Accordingly, Christ makes possible a path other than that of the surrounding situation. In other words, where there was only fear and being-for-death, with the truth-event of Christ there issues forth the possibility of life and being-for-life. What distinguishes these two paths, these two ways of being in the world? Being-for-life is characterized by love, which is a matter of pure affirmation and universal filiation. As universal filiation it is about the extension of the self in the direction of others. As pure affirmation, it is the denial of negation. It is indifferent to death. In contrast, being-for-death is life that is centered on death, that revolves around death, that leads inextricably toward death as its orienting point, even as that life-headed-toward-death may be consumed with resisting that destiny and slowing that descent.23 (In this regard, think of the practice of contemporary medicine, which draws its orientation not from health, but from illness and death.) Being-for-death is a labor of negation, whether it is confronting others or facing death. As such, it is either pure negation - as in nihilism - or the negation of negation - as in a dialectical vision that ineluctably tethers affirmation to negation, thereby ensuring that negation is never finally left behind but instead always lingers as the trace that is affirmation's condition of possibility. Theologically, this being-for-death takes shape in a vision of redemption that finds its center in Christ's death and the redemptive necessity of sacrifice and suffering. Vote negative to create a space for a new political order affirmed through the politics of being-for-life found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The truth-event of the resurrection is a radical act of affirmation that denies death and suffering meaning and ruptures the affirmative’s politics of negation with the relentless affirmation of life that overcomes the politics of fear and allows ceaseless giving in the face of terror. Bell 07[Daniel, M. Associate Professor of theological ethics, Lutheran theological southern seminary, Journal for Cultural and Religious theory, ‘The politics of fear and the gospel of life,” JCRT 8.2 Spring 2007 55, www.jcrt.org/archives/08.2/bell.pdf)]
Hence, the commonplace reading is not a tale of life but of fear and death and as such it does not hold forth the promise of deliverance from the culture and politics that currently afflict us. (Thus, it is unsurprising that many theological voices see in the liberal political order the proper analog to the Gospel) Yet, the commonplace reading is also a profound distortion of Christ’s work, the product of the transposition of the gospel of life into an alien and fundamentally negative key. For Christ’s work does not find its center in the death suffered on the cross but in the life of the resurrected. This is to say, Christ’s work of atonement is the gift, not of death, but of resurrected life. Being-for-life. Christ’s work was not that of negation – submitting to negation, and overcoming negation with an act of negation. Rather, Christ came not because he must die but so that we might live.Christ’s work of atonement is a labor of sheer affirmation. This affirmation upends the commonplace account of Christ’s work. To begin with, human offense, sin, does not call forth divine negation.26 The cross is not an instance of divine negation. As the much aggrieved Anselm noted long ago, it is not possible that human insurrection could thwart divine creative intent27 and as the more esteemed Augustine forces us to concede, there is finally nothing - which is after all the substance of sin, death, and rebellion – to be negated. Instead, as Anselm insisted and Scripture (including Paul) constantly affirms, the atonement proceeds according to the divine intentionality of/for life. In the face of human rebellion, God’s honor will not let the breach stand but desires that humanity be restored to the life, to participation in the abundance of the divine life, that from the beginning God intended for humanity. Therefore, the Father sends the Son, who goes willingly to continue the labor of love that is the gift of life. Christ’s labor is that of resurrecting life, not suffering death. The heart of Christ’s atoning work is resurrection, the taking up of humanity into life of charity shared by the blessed Trinity (theosis, deification), the effecting of ontological union with life. But, of course, there is no evading the cross. The cross is the site of this truthevent. Yet, recall that the truth-event that is Christ is a break, a rupture, with the surrounding site. Hence, while the cross is the site of the resurrection, it is not its condition of possibility. The resurrection, in Badiou’s terms, is a subtraction, not an addition, to the situation it breaks open. There is a disjunction between death and resurrection. The Gospels say as much when they testify that the response to the empty tomb is one of puzzlement and bewilderment. There is no way, beginning from death, being-for-death, that one can make sense of the resurrection. Resurrection is not the proper and expected encore to death in accord with some dialectical, rational protocol. This is the case because the resurrection does not answer death or even defeat death – both moves of dialectical negation that reify what they purport to overcome. Frankly, if the resurrection were simply the negation of death, then Lazarus, a resuscitated corpse, which, incidentally, amazed but did not bewilder, would be our hope.28 In contrast, the Resurrected One stands starkly, blindingly alive – life’s startling, naked interruption of death. As the interruption of the site of death, the resurrected Christ does not merely defeat death or tame it or subdue it, all of which presume a relation to death, all of which entail something with which one can be in relation. Such a presumption reifies death and being-toward-death. It grants death a substance, a reality and hence a permanence that it lacks. For this reason, the Scriptures speak of death destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26), of death “being no more” (Rev. 21:4). For this reason, Paul speaks of the resurrected Christ as raised into being (Rom. 6:4), with the implication that death and being-toward-death are in fact not being at all; they are nothing. The offer of resurrected life unmasks death and being-toward–death as the absence of power, a void, nothing.29 Hence, Badiou rightly observes that being-for-life is indifferent to death, because death precisely as nothing is nothing that can be taken into account. As nothing, death cannot make a difference. Hence, death makes no difference to Christ’s fidelity nor to those who would be faithful to the event of Christ and obedience even to the point of death only sounds like foolishness, only presents a stumbling block, to the unredeemed still in thrall to death, being-for-death. To the redeemed, the resurrected, death is no obstacle, no thing, nothing at all and thus no longer concerns us (cf. Matt. 8:22) nor is it to be feared (Matt.10:28). At this point we can see the cross for what it is, neither the satisfaction of a divine demand for death nor even a divine instrument for negating sin. Rather, the cross stands as the nadir of sin; it is the deepest depth of human rebellion. Granted the cross is a negation, or at least an attempt at such, but it is not a negation that God imposed; rather it the last futile human effort at negation. We refuse the gift of life and attempt to negate it. But alas God refuses to accept our negation. After all, since all that is, is only by participation in affirmation, negation cannot be accepted because finally it does not exist. Thus, God actually refuses nothing; conversely there is nothing in our refusal for God to accept. (In fact, as the precepts of medieval theology make clear, God has never been estranged from humanity.30) So, Christ is faithful, obedient to the labor of life, even to the point of suffering our absurd attempts at negation. This is the work of atonement: Jesus is the gift of God’s redemption, not because he endures divine negation in our stead, but because he embodies the divine refusal to negate humanity in its sin, a refusal that endures even to the point of death on a cross. And this divine refusal is nevertheless pure affirmation as the resurrected one returns to those crucified him with the offer of life. Similarly, just as Christ’s labor of affirmation reveals death to be nothing and the cross the last futile stand of an eternally foreclosed rebellion, suffering is now seen to be neither redemptive nor necessary. Whereas the commonplace account of Christ’s labor tends to privilege suffering, as in what makes Christ uniquely redemptive is that he suffered more than anyone (some responses to The Passion of the Christ come to mind), we now see that suffering too is nothing, that what is redemptive in Christ’s labor is his fidelity to life, his refusal to depart from this divine mission by repealing the offer of life in the face of suffering. In light of the surpassing glory, the life that is ours in Christ, suffering is unmasked as nothing (Phil. 3:8). Hence the supernatural calmness on display in the accounts of so many of the martyrs. In this regard, what is so remarkable about the martyrs is not their deaths, but their unflinching refusal to surrender their witness (the meaning of the Greek term, martyr) to life. Our perverse fascination with the manner of their deaths notwithstanding, what distinguishes the martyrs is their eternal life, on display with particular contrastive force at the moment of their death. Furthermore, it is clear that suffering is not necessary. The divine affirmation of life is an act of creation ex nihilio. It requires no preliminary or contrastive negation. Consequently, what suffering there is is revealed in the light of Christ to be the contingent effect of sin. Suffering is a contingent, historical consequence of sin and rebellion and not of the liberative and redemptive heart of God. Hence, it is only temporal, temporary, passing, and finally nothing. (In this regard, there is no such thing as radical evil whose effects persist, threatening the peaceful ontology of life.31) That one faces suffering and crucifixion points not to the necessity of suffering as the path of redemption but to the stubborn persistence of sin’s refusal of affirmation and the brutal resilience of the culture of fear and death in producing both crosses and executioners. Finally, as is the case with both the cross and suffering, sacrifice is transformed as it is repositioned within the theo-logic of affirmation or of being-for-life. Typically sacrifice is viewed as pernicious. This is to say, it is usually linked with negation. Sacrifice is understood as reductive, necessarily entailing a loss – a loss of self, a loss of dignity, a loss of identity, a loss of life. Pernicious or reductive sacrifice is always a giving up or a surrender of the lesser to the greater – the present to the future, women to men, men to the state/corporation, all to the greater good (market). Thus, morality under the sign of modernity oscillates between egoism and altruism, between self-preservation and self-sacrifice. And perhaps unsurprisingly, modern Christian ethics has tended to embrace altruism and “self-sacrifice.” In so doing, however, it rightly earns the censure of liberationists and others, for such pernicious sacrifice does not open a path to affirmation and life but only reinforces our capture by the logic of negation, loss, and death. It remains an instantiation of being-for-death. In contrast, the truth-event of Christ initiates a non-reductive sacrifice that entails neither negation nor loss. Christ’s sacrifice is one of pure affirmation. It should be clear by now that what is offered in Christ is not a death, but life. The substitutionary sacrifice Christ offered at the site of the cross is the fidelity and praise (the return of love) of the Son to the Father. Christian sacrifice is a living sacrifice (Rom. 21:1). In this way, the Christ-event ruptures the smooth space produced by our contemporary culture and politics of fear and death, with the result that sacrifice becomes gain (Luke 9:24) and we can give ourselves in love as a gift of life to our neighbors without end and without loss (Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31). In Christ’s sacrifice nothing is lost and everything is gained. Through his sacrifice sin, which as privatio is precisely nothing, is lost. Through being joined to his sacrifice, the “nothing” that we lose is the terrified, fearful self that only has the eyes to see and ears to hear the sacrifice of love as loss. The “nothing” that is overcome is the contemporary fantasy of absolute security, the pursuit of which only entrenches us more deeply in insecurity, terror and fear and leads us (willingly!) to surrender those very goods (life, love, liberty) such security purportedly promises to preserve and protect. The “nothing” that is lost is the illusion that the politics of fear can ever deliver us from terror, conflict, and death. The “nothing” that is dispelled is the “fog of war” that deceives us into thinking that the war against terror can be anything other than a war without end – a permanent emergency, perpetual war, that offers neither peace nor hope but only grief intensified as loss is compounded by loss. What is gained in Christ’s sacrifice is abundant life, the possibility of living life as pure affirmation, as ceaseless non-reductive giving (and receiving) the gift of life. In other words, Christ’s sacrifice creates the possibility of facing others without armed suspicion as well as non-reductively sacrificing oneself to and for others that life might be extended. Put concretely and too concisely, Christ’s sacrifice clears a space for a politics of life, a politics of relentless affirmation, of ceaseless giving even in this midst of terror. Christ’s sacrifice creates the possibility of a politics that fearlessly pursues justice not as an act of counter-terror, torture, and death but as a work of mercy whose end is the extension of communion.32 We have now come full circle. Christ is pure affirmation, the resurrection of life. And this gift of life is the love that casts out fear enabling us to live in peace with and service to our near and distant neighbor. Because finally no negation, loss or even death stands – they are all revealed to be nothing – in Christ we are freed from culture of fear and politics of terror and death it underwrites and so can give our life to and for others without fear of loss, in expectation only of the gain that is filiation and communion.