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Re: Liberalism and Marxism

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  • Jim
    Wil, Thank you for your full response to my criticism of Zizek s attitude to violence. You put forward a robust defence of the Zizek position. However I am not
    Message 1 of 42 , Sep 10, 2011
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      Wil,

      Thank you for your full response to my criticism of Zizek's attitude to violence. You put forward a robust defence of the Zizek position. However I am not totally convinced.

      I think you mischaracterize my position if you think that I think that the only forms of non-violent direct action against the forces of capitalism are mass letter-writing campaigns and dress-down Thursdays.

      I would include strikes, boycotts, rejections of elections, takeovers of city centres (like in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, etc.). From what you write, you seem to think these forms of protest count as acts of violence. You write: "One mode of 'violence' might even be to reject elections, for example."

      Another indication that you do not take the word `violence' to mean what I take it to mean is suggested by this sentence of yours: "the violence is perpetrated by power structure itself, not the mass of people."

      For myself, non-violent direct action by the mass of the people, which I approve of, would include strikes, boycotts, rejections of elections, takeovers of city centres, mass trespasses, damage to property. Such mass actions can bring a nation to a standstill and can drive a ruling elite from power.

      The sort of violent direct action I disapprove of is shooting people, poison gas attacks, setting off bombs, attacking people with fists, sticks, baseball bats, rocks, etc. Such actions kill and maim. These are examples of violence.

      Perhaps we are just disagreeing about the definition of the word `violence' rather than what we advocate as acceptable actions in our streets and subways, and on our buses, trains and planes.

      However, I do think there is a disagreement of substance between myself and Zizek. Consider this passage from "In Defense of Lost Causes":

      [Simon Critchley blurs] the crucial difference between two opposed political logics: radical egalitarian violence (what Badiou calls the "eternal Idea" of the politics of revolutionary justice at work from the ancient Chinese "legists" through Jacobins to Lenin and Mao), and anti-modernist "fundamentalist" violence – a new version of the old liberal-conservative identification of the right and left "totalitarianism." (p. 348)

      In others words, for Zizek there is "good violence" (the radical egalitarian violence of Lenin, Mao, etc.) and "bad violence" (the anti-modernist "fundamentalist" violence of al-Qaeda). From what you have written, I think you follow Zizek in this distinction.

      My rejection of Zizek's view as expressed here is that violence, like power, corrupts, and those Russian and Chinese idealists who resorted to violence – killing, maiming, torturing their opponents, became corrupted by their violence acts and their resulting utopias became the dystopias of Soviet and Chinese communism where the mass of people were NOT free, NOT equal, and were murdered and tortured by the former idealistic revolutionaries who became the cruel ruling elite.

      If a revolution cannot start well, it will not finish well, in my view. Compare the Russian and Chinese revolutions with non-violent revolutions – those of Gandhi's idea, Havel's Czechoslovakia, for example. These non-violent revolutions did result in something better than what went before. Gandhi's independent India, Havel's capitalist Czechoslovakia were not perfect, but they were, arguably, better than what went before. Hopefully this will also be the case for Tunisia and Egypt.

      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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