Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The Re-Enchantment of the World


Yassin Al-Haj Saleh
(Raqqa / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2017/18)

Introduction: Leyla Dakhli
(Centre Marc Bloch)

Chair: Georges Khalil
(Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME)

Abstract
Tackling the dynamics of a re-enchantment of the world, this talk will focus on three current processes: securitization of politics in the time of the "war on terror" and the increasing role of security agencies in formulating the political planning of sovereign states; the rise of identity politics all over the world; and the crisis of objectivity and the introduction of a post truth era. What is common between these three dynamics is the presence of spirits, gods, demons, ghosts and monsters in forms of identity, culture, civilization, and alternative truths. This is related to the contradictions of the process of the disenchantment of the world that Max Weber talked about a century ago as well as to the victory of capitalism and the crisis of democracy. Weber himself reintroduced magic into his disenchanted world through his Eurocentric culturalist explanations of the origins of capitalism and of rationalism. But more importantly, the re-enchantment of the world is a pathological growth of a modernity privately and selfishly owned by the rich and the powerful.

A re-enchanted world is a neo-medieval world, a pre-modern and a fragmented one. The magic that is reproduced in our time is black, coupled with hatred, crime and violent death. And what is worrying most is that only few people are showing will to fight for a different world.

Now with the ecologic problems and global warming, it is vital that we think of the planet as a living unity, something that transcends the Weberian unequally disenchanted world (colonialism, racism and a feverish Earth are inevitable consequences) and a re-enchanted world with its defeated gods transformed into monsters, a process not restricted to Islam. 
For salvation we are called to explore prospects for a new animism that protects life and the living, a different organization of knowledge, of politics, and a new morality.  

Yassin Al-Haj Saleh is a Syrian writer who has been living in exile for 4 years. He was in jail for 16 years in the 1980s and 1990s. He is the author of six books on Syria, prison, con­temporary Islam, and on culture and intellectuals. His last book, The Impossible Revolution, was translated into English and published by Hurst in London in July 2017.