The following can be seen as an experiment in that it will employ the oscillation between various historical moments and events to illustrate various philosophical concepts. Since the event as a singularity that has a universal reach disrupts structures of meaning and makes everything apparent, then it would also be a great chance to portray theory in a way that can be easily grasped. Before these events were subsumed by the linear order of history, they were considered a sudden intrusion of reality that was not expected. At the point of these events, philosophy as a practice can deal directly with reality. In comparison, within the order of history, the philosophical analysis of reality is obscured by the mediation of structures. Though humans are always within structures and only understand reality through these structures, the event offers a small window in which to at least have a sense that there is more than the structural mediation of the experience of reality.
The Haymarket Riot that occurred on May 4th of 1886 in Chicago began as a rally to demand an eight hour workday. There was a police presence nearby, but no sign of violence. An anonymous person threw a bomb that was an instigation for the police to start firing into the crowd. After the tragedy, eight anarchists were arrested even though there was no evidence that any of them had thrown the explosive. All were found guilty, four were put to death, and one committed suicide. Before this event, there had been a growing labor movement for the rights of workers and farmers, but it was greatly suppressed in a time where corporations were guaranteed the same rights as individuals. But the corporate model as a structure has the clear goal of profit, and this is the only purpose that such a human creation as the corporation would ever have. The injustice of the event, as those in authority trying innocent men in order to dissuade any further efforts, illustrates that rights are inherent to human beings. In other words, they are inalienable and common to all. The freedom of inherent rights have no predetermined direction, resulting in multiple and various human creations to fulfill those rights. In comparison, the corporation is clearly not the same as the human in that it is overly determined by its primary function of profit. The success of corporate personhood is possible since the body is designated as the first form of property, and there is the necessity of property in order to express rights in an overarching capitalist system. Within the sphere of capitalism, the rights within the body are no longer inalienable in the public legal structures. This sets the stage for the situation where a vast majority of workers demand better treatment within the economy, but they can be easily villified as “bomb throwing anarchists” and their rights can be abridged in order to protect the system of law as order for capitalism. The relationship between the right to property and self-interest is organized in a certain way within the structure that was established by the time the Haymarket Riot occurred. In this interpretation of rights within capitalism, rights are defined as a property owned by humans that can be given up or exchanged within a social contract. These rights as property are used as social tools to express inherent rights which are seen as the natural source of all rights within a social or political system. However, the division between labor and capital allows for an asymmetric organization of rights. The view that rights come from a transcendent nature can easily be transformed into rights within the transcendent ideology of capitalism where it is defined as a form of property. Any opposition to this transformation is subsequently seen as a challenge to a natural order. The result is that the transcendent structure of natural rights within capitalism, rights limited to restricted economic terms and that serves to perpetuate the prevailing order, is disrupted by a more immanent sense of rights introduced by a movement that included those who attended the Haymarket rally.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor was considered the first attack on United States soil after the War of 1812. The sudden event prompted a great change in the social and political landscape, and as Word War II commenced the economic landscape also changed. After the war, there was a general sense that the reaction to the initial bombing was valid in that it overthrew a dictatorship. The aftermath obscured the idea of maintaining peace despite a time of war. During a war the real methods of peace become very hard to realize, especially the idea of the perpetuation of peace as the best method to prevent international conflict. A period of war introduces force as the only valid solution to the situation of an attack. Any attempt at peace through nonviolence is considered naive and not a serious approach to the situation. Force is based on the requirement of a division between ally and enemy, a division that is declared and determined by those in positions of authority in the preexisting political system. This division is introduced as a truth in itself and all parts of the government will propagate it. An initial attack will develop into a state of emergency and the identification of ally and enemy can channel any existing fear into the obedience of the people toward the existing state. This occurs regardless of what kind of government the state has. In a time of peace, or the demand for peace in a time of war, there is a recognition of multiple values which can lead to social pluralism and which refuses to see the world in the strict black and white terms of ally and enemy. Social pluralism as the understanding of the other that would usually be defined as the enemy can be the best long-term method for peace, disproving that force is needed to enforce peace. A consistent method of peace can be a practical way of preventing tyranny and world domination before the need of force and warfare. Tyranny in itself is the denial of peace as a political method, and it relies on force as one of its main instruments. Tyranny also consolidates the internal political body and marginalizes those who are external to it, while creating absolute values in an ideological relationship between the universal and its particulars. In this respect, tyranny is not necessarily a system of government but an attitude of government and the state that treats a time of peace as a time of war. Democracy during a time of war, since it is defined as a state of emergency, can easily emulate the characteristics of tyranny and be a challenge to the project of perpetual peace.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy was the first modern political assassination that occurred in an emerging global society. The result of the tragedy was an investigation that created more questions than answers in the public mind, while eradicating a sense of idealism in the status quo and things as they should be. Before the killing, there was a general consensus of trusting the government as a defender of freedom. Democracy, as a stand-in for the government, was considered the attempt to reunite social divisions and the public forum where all were equal participants. Despite minor problems, it was felt that there could be the organization of a common good that can appear to be equally divided among citizens. In other words, the system seemed to be working. The assassination demonstrated a malfunction of this system to such a degree as to shed new light on the condition of the society particularly in areas of civil rights, free speech, and war. The major implicit revelation after the death of President Kennedy was that democracy could exist within the state and be used solely to perpetuate the state. With the fresh doubt about who committed or planned the assassination, there was also a questioning of the government commitment to justice and freedom. With the continuation of the form of the state, one could easily see that the initial hope of democracy was inverted to become an instrument of the state. Early democracy was seen as a new public community under the formal subsumption of the state where there was the possibility of having a democratic process and practice outside of government. Later democracy became the appeasement of political conflict under the real subsumption of the state where the government encompassed all social action and choices. The contrast between the period of formal subsumption and real subsumption illustrates that the fruitful characteristic of democracy is as the possible method of free agency outside of the state.
The attacks on September 11th in 2001 was the ultimate example of the event in that generation. The initial disruption of all that was assumed in the United States could have developed into two directions. There could have been a complete reevaluation of the foreign policy that would create so much resentment and suspicion in other countries and a chance to reform what the government does within the framework of the modern nation-state. The direction that was actually taken failed to address the possible causes of terrorism. Beginning with the assumption that Western democracy is the universal form of government and society in all places, the state becomes the creation of divisions between citizens and their exercise of power. The United States easily takes on the role of determining how democracy can be enforced throughout the world, an action taken on by the structure of the government that is abstracted from what citizens could actually wish to be foreign policy and a reflection of what they expect from the internal function of democracy. This gap between government practice and citizen expectations is covered over by the institution of a national identity and its actions which then become the enjoyment of the channeled desire of citizens. The hopes of individual citizens becomes the hope of a homogeneous national identity that appears to always do what is best in its own eyes. With the consolidation of the state under nationalism, there is the demand for making sacrifices for security, especially in terms of the rights afforded by the law under democracy. In the state of emergency, such as after September 11th, there is the placing of the subject outside of the law into a state of exception. The state of exception reduces humans to a bare life or its makes this bare life a special resource for the system of power. In other words, humans in the state of exception can be subjected to anything by the government because they are classified as existing outside of the law where there could have been an appeal for legal rights. Instead of a space of opportunity for a new form of government and society, the state of emergency reinforces the national identity that will in turn marginalize the process of democracy within the state.
The oscillation between structure and pure reality begins on a existential level before it can be demonstrated on a historical or political level. When a human is first born, they are in a unity with the mother that gave them life. This is a physical manifestation of a unity with pure reality. However, as the child grows, they become separated from the mother in a way that involves the imposition of the role of the father. The role of the father is also a manifestation of the imposition of a structure of meaning, such as language. The subjective self is separated from the objective reality in itself, and systems of meaning is the interaction of the subjective self with objective reality after the initial separation. Humans use systems of meaning in the hope of reuniting with pure reality in itself. Systems of meaning are a combination of partial difference and partial equivalence of the parts of reality, and these systems of meaning are the mediation of reality that includes and excludes parts of reality. The interaction with reality is also an internalization of the systems of meaning, that for humans will coincide with the development of identity as a child grows. However, over time there will be the internal change of the systems of meaning through the desire within each individual unconscious. This internal individual abstraction of the external collective concrete interaction with reality is the formation of unique identities and unconscious that can be the way that desire can try to express itself and oppose the restrictions of external structures. Each of the events that have been described has been a possibility for human desire to resist the structures of power, meaning, and production that limit human action. The event will always be a moment of change, but the important point to emphasize is that desire must act in order to make sure that the aftermath of the event is not a further and more complete eradication of human freedom.