Looks at the practice of torture as conscious policy and analyzes the fear of government as it is expressed in such texts as "The Gulag Archipelago" and "Kaffir Boy"
In Kate Millett's brilliant new book, her most important since the ground-breaking Sexual Politics, a work which forever changed our understanding of the interdependence of the political and the personal. Now in The Politics of Cruelty she sets out a new theory of politics for our time and offers a harrowing view of the modern state based on the practice of torture as a method of rule, as conscious policy.In assuming the power of torture over its citizens, government has made itself omnipotent, threatening the social and political progress of centuries. In many places throughout the world, the individual is faced with monumental force; fear of the state has become the condition of our time. Millett analyzes that fear through the rich literature of its expression, a mixture of literary text, the reports of witnesses, legal theory, and historical account. Included are Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece, The First Circle; Claude Lanzmann's Shoah; Mark Mathabane's Kaffir Roy; and Radha Bharadwaj's film, Closet Land. But it is the literary version of experience which prevails and persuades with the greatest effect: the reality of the victim; the social and psychological climate of life under dictatorship; the moment of arrest, capture; the moment when one falls down the rabbit hole and disappears; that pivotal electronic second, after which nothing is ever the same. And there is no going back...