In his article, “Facing the Ruler, Facing the Village,” Zvi Ben-Dor Benite seeks to broaden the boundaries of the discussion about complicity by taking it away from late 20th-century and contemporary debates about it. At the same time, he wishes to highlight the many faces that the problem of complicity could have in different historical moments. Following Czesław Miłosz, this article understands that there are many roads to complicity that have been articulated in different ways across time and space. This article is, therefore, an integrated meditation on complicity bringing together two radically distant approaches to the question. Reading the ancient Chinese thinker Mengzi, this article highlights two key situations leading to what we should call “complicity.” The first is concerned with the thorny issue of the intellectual at the court "facing the ruler." The second place the intellectual within the people, “the village” in Mengzi's words. Mengzi identifies both of these situations as highly problematic and potentially leading to the deviation from past moral principles to which one must adhere. With this insight, this article turns to Julien Benda's famous, notorious, portrayal of the “treason of the intellectuals,” and discusses it along the parameters articulated by Mengzi.
Benite, Zvi Ben-Dor
"Facing the Ruler, Facing the Village: On the Roads to Complicity Following Mengzi and Benda."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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