The Angel of History
“There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. It depicts an angel who looks like he's about to turn away from something he's fixed his gaze on. His eyes are wide, his mouth is open, his wings are ruffled. Thus, it must be the appearance that the angel of history must have. He has his face turned to the past.
Where a sequence of events is presented to us, he sees only one catastrophe, which never ceases to pile ruins upon ruins and hurl them at his feet. The angel would certainly like to procrastinate, awaken the dead, and bring together what is broken.
But a storm blows from the side of heaven that gets caught in his wings, a storm so strong that the angel can no longer close them again. She pushes him irresistibly towards the future, to which his back is turned, while the pile of ruins in front of him reaches to the sky. This storm is what we call progress."
At the core of Benjamin's thought is his opposition to historiography's belief in human progress as the product of the disenchantment of the world through rationality.
He conceives of modernity as a form of re-enchantment of the world that through a market-driven search for the ever-new creates an illusion of progress through ever-renewing forms of commodities and technology.
But behind this false image of progress lies the violence and destruction that often accompanies the conquests of the powerful and official history.
Today's system of usurious globalization and rapacious development, which destroys the social fabric and the natural environment, is a train with broken brakes, speeding towards destruction.
In the historical perspective of liberation, Benjamin represents the Angel as wanting to intervene on behalf of the people but not having the power to do so. The question today, at the beginning of the 21st century, is: do we have the strength for it?