Just like peace starts where it wasn’t intended, as an effect of technical communication and unity, so too can the source of violence lay on a terrain, where it wasn’t expected, not only as a direct starting point, but also as a remote cause. This justifies a continued vigilance. And this vigil is then more related to the functioning of communication than to maintaining of values or to courageously standing prepared. Courage isn’t vigilance, contrarily it is the stubbornness of looking in just one direction. If you just aim your vigilance at the eventual effect, peace, you already enter a dialogue with violence and prepare for war. Here the paradoxical effect occurs, that only the last lesson of history is learned. An army that is ready is prepared for the war that’s past. Its courage comes too late, as a good intention that is discovered and emphasized immediately after a failure, not to say:invented as a lyrical compensation for a technical defect.
There is another aspect to this emphaticism that could be described as the identity of sentiment and violence. It is an insurmountable annoyance that those who are held responsible for the violence of war aren’t born criminals with typical criminal defects, but people with an almost lyrical ‘sense of duty’, with accuracy, and mostly with sentiment. They were imbedded into a system that was violent merely by its systemic nature, and their sentiment is the way in which the rebellion against violence gets bent in reconciliation and resignation. In this, they don’t differ from their contemporaries, and this circumstance robs us of the chance to disconnect them as scapegoats from the context of our own community and send them into the dessert as alien things. As a figure of speech it is just a coincidence that it wasn’t us in their place. The blame of violence can never be calculated fully and be individualized, and this too belongs to the obnoxious of violence. And of sentiment, we should add to that. For sentiment is one of the forces that obscures the problem of violence, and try to make it into an impenetrable mystery. It is of vital importance that reason, in its annoyance about violence, does not get blocked by a possibly superfluous darkness of sentiment, which would steer it towards a misty and untimely reconciliation, where only long-term rebellion and an effective revolution are commanded. Sentiment blocks the way out from annoyance, makes it evaporate into a reconcilatory mist of resignation instead of giving it the opportunity to walk the ways of technique and revolution. Sentiment is the adversary of technique.
As technique increases, sentiment is being pushed back and made superfluous, and it’s already visible that computers will dispose of a piece of sentiment made superfluous. Sentiment only has the right to exist as that which needs to be clarified and liquidated, as a dark spot that’s busy dissolving itself, as the cathartic effect of an encounter with reality. It is an experience of provisionality and approaching redundancy, homesickness to the manual labour of defenseless thought. In the emphasis on sentiment, there are a false profundity and conservative quasi-wisdom that thwart the progress of the work on a technical assignment. Sentiment puts itself in the service of the constituted by buying off its liquidation. Sentiment is, to put it in an unmasking way, nothing more than a resignation to violence, anesthetized rebellion. It borrows its prestige and temptation from the wisdom of resignation to the passive violence of death and natural disasters. The displacement from here to active violence betrays itself as sentimentality.
Just as courage is the kitsch of pure activity, sentiment is the kitsch of pure passivity. Courage and sentiment are the paradoxal effects of a complete obedience to an authority, to ethically hypostated principles and values, upon which liberty and sobriety prematurely closes, in which the respite prematurely gets caked in by moral kitsch and the constituated violence is being accepted, perhaps doggedly or resigned, but in any case with a misguided and unbusinesslike lyrical compensatory move. The colossal temptation of collective emotions are an indication here. In the emotion we are being handled by the obscurity of the constituted at the cost of the clarity of our annoyance. The emotion itself is the movement of this turbid mixture. It is the conversion to the constituted via a small detour, through which the annoyance gets integrated into the constituted. The cult of sentiment holds back a painful realisation and obstructs an insight into the origins of violence and into the true nature of human cruelty.
Sentiment is the flip side of violence. Therefore it cannot and will never be disconnected from it. If you cultivate one, you’ll also increase the other, even if you think you can turn against violence this way. War criminals were sentimental at Christmas, to serve violence the rest of the year without shock. Peace becomes a Christmas matter to justify and ensure the existence of wars. Guilt is ritually cranked up to sentiment and localized in a season, in which it can change very little of the normal way of things. It is no coincidence that the cosy winter fest gets celebrated during a time in which it was less opportune for the old Germanics to go to war. The ritual celebration channels the sentiment and puts it as it were in a remote place to make more room for bravery. This is how the equilibrium gets restored every time.
But an equilibrium between opposites is not yet an identity. The connection between sentiment and violence is more intimate than an opposition that will still give both opposites a chance to be insincere. Whoever cultivates the opposition gives sentiment and violence enormous opportunities and enables them to act as separate entities. Sentiment is at its most dangerous within this juxtaposition, that won’t recognise itself as its identity, because it’s precisely there that it seems most pure and innocent. The juxtaposition gets cultivated to hide the identity. But only within this identity does sentiment aim itself against violence, as a feint: it had already been incorporated into it in advance; it is the sultry heat itself with which the integration is forced. This sentimentality, forced back into a remote nook of existence, feeds violence and can make some of us into war criminals, others into hypocrites. Sentiment is violence, relapsed, palsied and postponed, but pure-bred violence. And ritually aroused sentiment is ritual violence. Ritual violence is even more dangerous than individual violence, because it releases the individual from the duty to personally justify for their actions and for the connection between their sentiment and their violence. The individual gets ritually collectivized and inspired to a lyrical form of cruelty. The feast of goodwill becomes a feast of personal powerlessness and impersonal violence. Good intentions get frantically emphasized to give violence a chance to escape.