Pain, Pleasure, and Revolution: The Body in Roger Casement’s Writings
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In The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt traces the genealogy of those forms of systematic terror inflicted on Europeans by their own states during the twentieth century, particularly during the Second World War, back to practices first implemented by Europeans on their colonial subjects at the turn of the century.1 For Arendt, the age of empire inaugurated the internationalisation of capital, when capitalist relations transcended the geographical and social boundaries of the nation and the moral boundaries of bourgeois liberal ideology. As a result, the concept of progress was eviscerated in the bourgeois imaginary and was no longer conceived as a dialectical and revolutionary process but in overtly racialised evolutionary terms. The two official Reports which Roger Casement produced for the British Foreign Office on conditions in the Belgian Congo (1904) and in the Putumayo region of Amazonia in South America (1911) are among the most striking contemporary critical diagnoses of this condition. These were two of the major areas of rubber extraction at the time, and Casement investigated the enslavement and exploitation of the native populations by the rubber industry in both places.