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Re: Liberalism and Marxism

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  • irvhal
    Wil, If I may respectfully comment here, your power-dialectic strikes me, to paraphrase, Tennyson, as a dialectical struggle red in tooth and claw, and as at
    Message 1 of 42 , Sep 4, 2011
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      Wil,

      If I may respectfully comment here, your power-dialectic strikes me, to paraphrase, Tennyson, as a dialectical struggle red in tooth and claw, and as at variance with modern sociobiology that allows social cooperation -- inclusive of intergroup interaction that respects nationality and kinship -- as a precursor of evolutionary fitness. From a philosophical prospective, Being, the complex of meanings and relations in which we're thrown, may include power, but like Nietzsche's will-to-power, is harnessed to no particular finality or metaphysics.

      Irvin

      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "eupraxis" <eupraxis@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Jim,
      >
      > Sorry for a lateness of my response.
      >
      > Jim: "Yes, and isn't this a good thing [that liberal ethics is mainstream]? An indication of a civilised society in which we are expected to be, and usually are, polite and respectful towards others. We put into practice – to a large extent – Kant's Categorical Imperative (Second formulation)."
      >
      > Response: Yes, of course it is good thing that we treat each other with respect in society at large. The problem arises from the disconnect that entails in economic and political reality. There one side tosses aside all imperatives of the kind that you site for sake of the imperative of power. The noumenal value of the person has long ago been switched out for person-as-commodity with an exchange value, and nothing more. You cannot exclaim to Power, "Hey, value me as a Person!" without something to back it up, without a threat of some kind (which can mean strikes, boycotts, etc).
      > ---
      > Jim: "First, I think I can respect (in Kant's sense) all the other members of my society, and yet still argue with them, say they are wrong, insensitive, only interested in their own well-being, etc. In fact I can be a good liberal AND argue and agitate for a classless society."
      >
      > Response: We live in a society where SWAT teams are called for traffic violations and where banks can evict families for defaulted mortgages that they do not even have. Remonstrances of, "See here, my good man!" will have much effect.
      > ---
      > Jim: "I think the radical liberal can go beyond "second degree compromises", and I don't think the liberal has to endorse violence to be serious about fundamental change."
      >
      > Response: You can be as serious as you want to be, but your internal moods and affects do not mean much in the face of actual Power. Right now, 80% of the US population wants the US out of Afghanistan. There is no sign of a withdrawal anywhere at hand.
      > ---
      > Jim: "I think Zizek reveals a lack of imagination if he thinks only violence can bring about an equalitarian society. Who would have thought Mubarak, with his tight grip on power in Egypt, and his hordes of secret police and torturers could be overthrown by a non-violent revolution?"
      >
      > Response: First of all, the situation in Egypt is far from good. The same basic regime is in power there, and the struggle is ongoing. It also has not been as bloodless as you seem to think. Secondly, Zizek never said that "only violence can bring about an equalitarian society" -- and, in fact, has never called for violence as such. He has said that a THREAT of 'violence' (and not necessarily 'violent' violence) is necessary, that a certain fear on the part of Power must entail lest all social power be a moot thing, a joke. One mode of 'violence' might even be to reject elections, for example.
      > ---
      > Jim: "What is needed for a revolution is not the threat of violence, but a certain critical mass of the population. In fact without the critical mass, violence is useless, and with the critical mass it is unnecessary."
      >
      > Response: You are mixing things up here. A threat of violence doesn't facilitate revolution. A revolution is a dialectical event that occurs when the contradictions of the existing milieu are pushed beyond a certain point that makes obvious the negation of the supposed subtending 'social contract'. Typically, this is a situation where the life of the society is compromised by the 'superstructure', as it were. This negation is made manifest by the ' socio-economic power apparatus' itself (or whatever you want to call it) in its attempt to stabilize matters by rationalizing its power in the terms of the tradition that it is falsifying in that very attempt. It thus renders as false its own rationale for being. Thus the celebrated double negation of the progressive movement which cancels out the false, retains the true, and discovers freedom in the process. So, let's be clear here: the violence is perpetrated by power structure itself, not the mass of people.
      > ---
      > Jim: "You and I can see the injustices and internal contradictions involved in capitalism. When a critical mass sees things as you and I see them, capitalism will be swept away without the need for us to obtain AK-45's or whatever the terrorist weapon of choice is today."
      >
      > Response: So, when this critical mass event happens, the people just stand around and fume, and the system will down before us and say "sorry"? Why? You don't think that Wall Street and the rest do not already know that we hate them? Is your critical mass a situation that our discontent produces a massive letter writing campaign? A dress-down Thursday?
      > ---
      > Jim: "It may be that in the past "radical democracy ha[d] to be won and defended by undemocratic force", but I think Hegel's idea of progress in history is relevant here."
      >
      > Response: Hegel endorsed progressive militancy.
      > ---
      > Jim" "...We have progressed since the days of the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. In those days, arguments were decided by fists and bullets, now, in more enlightened times, the beautiful idea can triumph over the ugly, corrupt, contradictory idea...."
      >
      > Response: Hegel argues precisely against your idea here. (In both the Phenomenology [see the part on Rameau's Nephew] and the Phil of Right.)
      > ---
      > Jim: "Just like a local dispute in a Tunisian market was the catalyst to the Arab Spring, a local dispute in the US or the UK could also be the catalyst to the overthrow of capitalism. Yes, this is just a possibility, but I think Zizek is being dogmatic and backward to rule it out absolutely."
      >
      > Response: But he doesn't rule it out. Where does he rule it out absolutely?
      >
      > Wil
      >
      >
      > --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Wil,
      > >
      > > Thank you for your detailed and illuminating reply. I'll reply in sections to parts of your post.
      > >
      > > W: Liberals have all kinds of great definitions and self-attributions, and most of us operate on a day-to-day level as liberals, even conservatives (sic). Even the sundry red neck in Louisiana interacts in society at large in a way consistent with liberal expectations. Exceptions to this rule are considered an
      > > extravagance, an oddity, regardless of the personally held prejudices that might otherwise be held. No one uses the "N word" on TV or in a public space or in ads, etc.
      > >
      > > Response: Yes, and isn't this a good thing? An indication of a civilised society in which we are expected to be, and usually are, polite and respectful towards others. We put into practice – to a large extent – Kant's Categorical Imperative (Second formulation).
      > >
      > > W: ... But that is precisely Zizek's formula for the liberal milieu as well: liberal politics operates in utter denial of its blind spot, of its internal contradiction. It knows that it is more interested in making bad feelings turn into good ones, than in transforming society into a classless one even if that means acting at the expense of someone's good feelings. Liberal politics at its extreme is only a push for second degree compromises with the power-elite structure of things. Moreover, the social-democrat who does a lot of lip service by means of complex theoretics and deep analyses (persons like myself, for example) are even more pathetic and hamstrung by an entrenched conformity and lack of political will. Zizek insists that many "socialists" (social democrats), like you and I, KNOW the futility of beautiful thoughts that lack the threat of violence. We are incapable of accepting the paradox that radical democracy has to be won and defended by undemocratic force.
      > >
      > > Response: Yes, this is a good précis of Zizek's attitude to liberalism, but I disagree with his analysis on a number of points.
      > >
      > > First, I think I can respect (in Kant's sense) all the other members of my society, and yet still argue with them, say they are wrong, insensitive, only interested in their own well-being, etc. In fact I can be a good liberal AND argue and agitate for a classless society.
      > >
      > > I think the radical liberal can go beyond "second degree compromises", and I don't think the liberal has to endorse violence to be serious about fundamental change.
      > >
      > > I think Zizek reveals a lack of imagination if he thinks only violence can bring about an equalitarian society. Who would have thought Mubarak, with his tight grip on power in Egypt, and his hordes of secret police and torturers could be overthrown by a non-violent revolution?
      > >
      > > What is needed for a revolution is not the threat of violence, but a certain critical mass of the population. In fact without the critical mass, violence is useless, and with the critical mass it is unnecessary.
      > >
      > > You and I can see the injustices and internal contradictions involved in capitalism. When a critical mass sees things as you and I see them, capitalism will be swept away without the need for us to obtain AK-45's or whatever the terrorist weapon of choice is today.
      > >
      > > It may be that in the past "radical democracy ha[d] to be won and defended by undemocratic force", but I think Hegel's idea of progress in history is relevant here. We have progressed since the days of the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. In those days, arguments were decided by fists and bullets, now, in more enlightened times, the beautiful idea can triumph over the ugly, corrupt, contradictory idea. If Mubarak can be removed by beautiful thoughts of justice and freedom and democracy, I don't see why our Western virulent form of capitalism cannot be removed by similar beautiful ideas, and a critical mass of people taking over Western city centres in peaceful direct action.
      > >
      > > Just like a local dispute in a Tunisian market was the catalyst to the Arab Spring, a local dispute in the US or the UK could also be the catalyst to the overthrow of capitalism. Yes, this is just a possibility, but I think Zizek is being dogmatic and backward to rule it out absolutely.
      > >
      > > Jim
      > >
      >
    • Josie
      Jim, You overlook the advantages of your parliamentary system. With our two-party, winner takes all elections, different platforms and perspectives are
      Message 42 of 42 , Sep 15, 2011
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        Jim,

        You overlook the advantages of your parliamentary system. With our two-party, winner takes all elections, different platforms and perspectives are obliterated from public discourse by the exigencies of running for office. I suspect you have less gridlock. With only two choices, we're forced to expect policies we despise and equal opposition to those we embrace. This is how idiotic candidate are elected by idiotic voters with idiotic results, to use Bill's parlance.

        Mary

        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <jjimstuart1@...> wrote:

        Even in your own country, the electorate has had the opportunity to vote for an anti-capitalist presidential candidate such as Ralph Nader in recent years.
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