A bit further into Agamben, speaking of the SS:
The executioners unanimously continue to repeat that they could not do other than as they did, that, in other words, they simply could not; they had to, and that is all. In German, to act without being capable of acting is called Befehlnotstand, having to obey and order. Andy they obeyed kadavergehorsam, like a corpse, as Eichmann said. Certainly, even the executioners had to bear what they could not have had (and, at times wanted) to bear; but, according to Karl Valentin’s profound witticism, in every case “they did not feel up to being capable of it.” This is why they remained “humans”; they did not experience the inhuman.
– Remnants of Auschwitz, 77-78
This goes to the frustration some of us have felt in Rwanda in speaking with perpetrators – the rote response and the shift of blame. But the blame isn’t shifted actually (in some cases) – it was never there. There are perpetrators who are being more than semantic when they say that the devil made them do it, or that they acted under other compulsion… They (the perpetrators) as agents, as humans, stood apart from their actions – again, in an uncomfortable structural parallel (mirror, reverse) of mysticism –they voided themselves and made a space for a will not their own. They own nothing of the actions – they were where things took place, but did not do what was done, according to their sense of self and history.
Do we conveniently draw the territory of our selves smaller than the real reach of our actions? Do we leave a no-persons-land at our margins, where we can carry out actions for which we take no personal responsibility?
Does the structure of our theater reinforce this no-persons-land? Does it encourage a theoretical space which we can look into and play through, without owning? Or, do we embrace a social mission that breaks borders, and promotes a universal responsibility/co-ownership? What do the different approaches look like?