The celebration of suffering

From Erica James in her book “Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti”:

“The opaque and sometimes secret crafts of activists, bureaucrats, and other humanitarian and development experts aiding Haiti made suffering productive. Their labor converted the suffering that embodies individuals after malevolent, inhumane interventions into what I call ‘trauma portfolios’, the aggregate of paraphernalia compiled to document and authenticate the experience of individual, family, or collective sufferers. The work of conversion created the identity of ‘victims’ or ‘survivors’ for individuals who were once [militants or activists]. It was a professional transformation of suffering that fed a growing humanitarian market.”

The greatest, deepest form of exploitation exploits exploitation itself. Sell someone a disease then sell them a cure. Punch them in the face and sell them a bandage.

A great form of exploitation is to cause someone suffering then teach them that suffering is noble. You like it this way. You want it this way. It’s ok – it builds character.


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