3 September 2012
Colonized and racially subordinated subjects enter the realm of ethics as violence, and that phenomenon becomes their appearance. They are obligated, in other words, not to appear. Colonialism, understood in these terms, is tragic in the Hegelian sense of a conflict between two conceptions of right. The settlers see themselves as having a right to the land; however it was originally obtained, the transactions by which the generation of settlers facing the indigenous or anti-colonial fighters acquired their possessions was part of a legal and as far as they are concerned just system. They thus have a right to their possessions in the colony. The indigenous or prior inhabitants argue, however, that the land was stolen from them through acts of conquest or trickery. They therefore have a right to its repossession. Even if the settlers decide to give the land back, there is a deeper ethical argument that even that act of good will isn’t their right.