The relationship of violence between agents in traditional society can be represented in terms of three concentric circles. There's a first circle where explicit, obvious, external violence is absolutely ruled out. And at the same time, within that circle, there's a very strong solidarity between all the members. So how is that circle defined? It's usually essentially defined by kinship relationships, in other words, your brother, sister, parents, grandparents, cousins and so on. And then there's a bigger circle, and in that circle there's still solidarity to some extent, but it is more measured and it is more balanced. In other words, if you give a gift, you're supposed to get a gift back. And violence is recognized as a possible way of solving conflicts, but this violence remains to some extent limited, there are rules which limit its exercise. And beyond that there's another circle, in which everything is permitted, in which you don't owe anything to the other ones. So these are the ones you can destroy, you can annihilate or you can even eat, so to speak, right? Cannibals.
Now, we can represent the international space of, let's say, until the beginning of the 20th century, as having something like that structure. There's a nation, and inside the nation the explicit use of violence is forbidden. But that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, it is forbidden. Then there are relationships with other European countries, where violence is possible, but it is, in a sense, measured violence. There are the laws of war, there are rules as to what you can do. You can fight with the Germans or you can fight with the Belgians or you can fight with your neighbour, but there's a limit to what you can do. And then there's the colonies. There you can do what you want. You can actually exercise a very very strong violence, you can exterminate one-quarter of the population, things which will be unthinkable in Europe. Unacceptable, radically unacceptable. There you can do that.
Now, as I was saying earlier, what has happened is that this space has kind of lost that structure, and now instead of having the worst enemies the furthest away, in a sense the worst enemy is the closest to us, being the terrorist. Now what is the otherness in this context? Well, I think what we used to think as the concept of otherness and the reason why we're living in an identity crisis is because as long as this structure existed, there were three types of distance which coincided. There was a coincidence of three types of distance. Between physical distance, we live in the same country, we're not too far away, between cultural distance and between moral distance. So in that system, those who were the furthest away in space, those who lived in the colonies, were the furthest away in cultural space, and they were also furthest away in what we would call moral space. And therefore we could exert against them the greatest violence. But today what we find is completely different, because the enemy who is the furthest away in moral space, in a sense, might be the closest to us in both cultural and physical space.
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