Time in Walter Benjamin’s Thesis on the Philosophy of History

Chung Chin-Yi


History has always been shown to empathize with these victors in history, or the rulers or political elites who have derived their power from the oppression of the lower classes or proletariat. As Benjamin puts it, this empathy with the victors in history is also an occasion of horror because the spoils of victory owe themselves to the anonymous toil of contemporaries as much as their great minds and talents who have created them. Thus Benjamin holds that there is no document of civilization which is not free from barbarism, it is the violence of class oppression which has allowed the victors in history to maintain their power and advantage. The task of the historical materialist is thus to brush history up against the grain and also depict the losers in history who will be eventually redeemed by the coming of the Messiah who will bring justice for them and give them a voice.
Keywords: Benjamin; History; Messianic Time; Class struggle; Redemption

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