[Marxism] New from Verso: The Least of All Possible Evils by Eyal Weizman

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Tue May 8 10:13:48 MDT 2012





“Originality, ingenuity, and brilliance do not even begin to do justice to this amazing study, this architectural forensics of battle and human rights as pieced together from the study of the ruin and the terrifying logic of “the lesser evil”. How astonishing to see our new world this new way.”
Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University



May 11, 2012, 1.15pm
The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

Join architect, scholar and curator Eyal Weizman<http://www.versobooks.com/authors/412-eyal-weizman> for this lunchtime talk in which he discusses his approach to politics and philosophy with Achille Mbembe. A key figure within the study of contemporary humanism and architecture, Weizman's new book, THE LEAST OF ALL POSSIBLE EVILS investigates the genealogy of human rights, from classical and Christian ethics through to modern political philosophy and contemporary theory.

For more information: http://www.versobooks.com/events/443-culture-now-eyal-weizman

May 17, 2012, 6.30pm
London, NW8 8PQ

Book launch and talk for Eyal Weizman’s THE LEAST OF ALL POSSIBLE EVILS.

For more information: http://www.versobooks.com/events/445-eyal-weizman-book-launch-at-showroom

June 6, 2012, 7.00pm
A.M. Qattan Foundation Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW UK

Eyal Weizman appears at The Mosaic Rooms to talk about his new book on the principle of the “lesser evil” and its political consequences, The Least Of All Possible Evils.

For more information: http://www.versobooks.com/events/437-eyal-weizman-the-least-of-all-possible-evils


The principle of the “lesser evil”—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. From its roots in classical ethics and Christian theology, to Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the work of the Jewish Councils during the Nazi regime, WEIZMAN explores its development in three key transformations of the problem: the defining intervention of Médecins Sans Frontières in mid-1980s Ethiopia; the separation wall in Israel-Palestine; and international and human rights law in Bosnia, Gaza and Iraq. Drawing on a wealth of new research, WEIZMAN charts the latest manifestation of this age-old idea. In doing so he shows how military and political intervention acquired a new “humanitarian” acceptability and legality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The principle of the ‘lesser evil’, which asserts that it is acceptable to pursue an undesirable course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice, exercises a powerful influence on Western ethical philosophy and modern politics, most recently in the invasion of Libya. In THE LEAST OF ALL POSSIBLE EVILS, EYAL WEIZMAN examines the dark side of this pragmatism, arguing that too often the end becomes a mechanism for perpetuating the means.

WEIZMAN is the author of the critically acclaimed HOLLOW LAND which explored the political space created by Israel's colonial occupation. Following on from this, WEIZMAN pursues the problem of the lesser evil – the moderation and minimization of violence as a mechanism of government and control. THE LEAST OF ALL POSSIBLE EVILS investigates its political consequences and traces its intellectual genealogy from classical ethics and Christian theology, through the political theory of Hannah Arendt to contemporary debates on humanitarianism.

Through his signature forensic-architectural lens, WEIZMAN inspects sites of contemporary conflict: the relief centres set up by Médecins Sans Frontières during its intervention in Ethiopia in the 1980s; the legal debates around the building of the separation wall in Israel–Palestine; and developments in the application of international human rights law in Bosnia, Palestine and Iraq.

But it is in relation to Israel’s domination of the Gaza Strip that the theoretical and political reflections of the book converge. Gaza, where the principle of the lesser evil is invoked to justify a new type of humanitarian violence, is the proper noun for the horrors of our humanitarian present.



“Eyal Weizman’s work has become an indispensable source of both insight and guidance in these difficult times. He understands the evolving dynamics of war and sovereignty better than anyone.”Paul Gilroy, Professor of Social History, London School of Economics

“This is a wonderful book, written with clarity, precision, and passion. It takes the reader into the heart of contemporary necro-politics and calculations of “lesser evils” by powerful states and their humanitarian accomplices. Deeply learned and informative on every page, this is essential reading for anyone who cares about contemporary conditions of warfare and state-controlled violence; about the spatial practices that reinforce and regulate systemic forms of violence, such as the calculation of minimal requirements for human survival. In the spirit of Doctors Without Borders, Weizman is an architect without borders, at home in political philosophy, military history, just war theory, and the spatial systems of controlled, calculated violence that constitute Israel–Palestine, and much of the world today.” W. J. T. Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago


“The most astonishing book on architecture that I have read in years.” Edwin Heathcote, FINANCIAL TIMES

“Eyal Weizman brilliantly deconstructs Israel’s yoking of traditionally humanist disciplines and discourse to the service of its campaign against the Palestinians. This book is chilling but essential reading.” Ahdaf Soueif

“A masterpiece of political analysis.”
James Ron, The NATION

“Eyal Weizman has taken Edward Said’s thesis to a new level, generating extraordinary, and at times surreally uncomfortable, conclusions…Weizman’s book is of salutary interest.” Jay Merrick, INDEPENDENT

“ Weizman takes his readers on a tour of the visible and invisible ways in which Israel implements its control over Palestinians... Hollow Land is eloquent about the architectural chaos and confusion created by Israel in the Occupied Territories. ”
 LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS<http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n15/yonatan-mendel/imagined-territories>

“A passionate jeremiad.”

“Weizman’s rigorous account makes it possible momentarily to conceive of... built environment as a tool of liberation.” FRIEZE

 “Hollow Land is a remarkably original work that confirms Eyal Weizman’s indispensable role as a critic of the sinister and ubiquitous instrumentality of space in contemporary politics and life.” Michael Sorkin

“Hollow Land is a remarkable achievement. Scholarly and poetic in its epic reach, and narrated with the clarity of vision and sensibility of an artist, Hollow Land is destined to become a classic.” Karma Nabulsi

“A startling exercise in what it means to think through the axiomatics of occupation, capture and subjection... Weizman boldly attempts to create an entirely new method to conceptualize the relationship between surfaces, movement, and the tools of war.” Achille Mbembe

“The power of insight which this work achieves is frankly astonishing.” NEW HUMANIST

“A wrenching account of the multiple ways in which the land of Palestine has been hollowed out by Israeli occupation. Weizman's stunning combination of words and images is at once a brilliant critique of the politics of space and a searing indictment of colonial rule and dispossession.”  Derek Gregory


EYAL WEIZMAN is Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he directs the Centre for Research Architecture and the European Research Council funded project Forensic Architecture. He is also a founder member of the collective Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR) in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is the author of HOLLOW LAND and co-editor of A CIVILIAN OCCUPATION. He lives in London.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 647 7 / $26.95 / £16.99 Hardback / 208 pages


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