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Re: Neoprogressivism:

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  • matthew_piscioneri
    Gary, thanks for posting the Giddens material. Found it very interesting. If anything Giddens agenda appeared to me TOO unobjectionable in the sense of being
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 5, 2004
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      Gary,

      thanks for posting the Giddens' material. Found it very interesting.
      If anything Giddens' agenda appeared to me TOO unobjectionable in the
      sense of being an overly harmonious picturing of actually existing
      social/political/economic relations (to paraphrase Habermas's
      critique of Parsons from _TCA_) although I am not suggesting Giddens
      is a neo-Parsonian!

      Ironically, I detect in Giddens' analysis some of the problems I
      think detract from Habermas's _BFN_: an overly benign critique of
      actually existing social/political/economic conditions that confuses
      the normative edge of both his and Giddens' (re)constructive agendas.

      In other words, what role does social critique play in Giddens'
      neoprogressivist agenda? Giddens' appears to massage away the
      validity of ongoing social critique under the rubric of an outdated
      leftism... I just don't think we can comfortably and in all
      conscience join hands blithely in some grand tryst between
      corporatism and social democratic tendencies WITHOUT some ongoing
      mechanism of suspicious critique and review. It's not possible (or
      desirable?) simply to wish away the social injustices or the
      omnipresent and persistent manifestations of oppressive power
      relationships that pervade our lifeworlds.

      In plain language, then, how does Giddens' suggest his neo-
      progressive agenda will assure less people get screwed in his brave
      new world? By more *good* people becoming shareholders? The
      tendencies toward consumer democracy Giddens identifies, for example,
      ARE beneficial, but I fail to see how these types of big end of town
      reforms are going to address nuts and bolts social issues (glue
      sniffing, domestic violence etc.). I guess my overriding impression
      was that Giddens' focus betrayed his own social/ economic and
      political status: it's an agenda for the highly educated,
      technocratic, managerial, materially secure classes who shed more
      tears about the disappearance of a rare Amazonian tree frog than they
      do about, well, all sorts of less esoteric issues ;-).

      Anyway, having written this mild polemic I'll go back and re-read
      Giddens' essay and see where I may have gleaned a mistaken impression.

      Regards,

      MattP.
    • Gary E Davis
      Matt, I do appreciate your concerns about critique and elitism. The converse concern might be about critique that does nobody much practical good, neither
      Message 2 of 9 , Mar 5, 2004
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        Matt,

        I do appreciate your concerns about critique and elitism. The converse concern
        might be about critique that does nobody much practical good, neither ordinary
        folks (who want to gain opportunities for making a progressive difference) nor
        the elites (who have the chance, but no cohering vision).

        M> If anything Giddens' agenda appeared to me TOO unobjectionable in the
        sense of being an overly harmonious picturing of actually existing
        social/political/economic relations....

        G: Keep in mind that his discussion is a programmatic statement about going
        forward.

        M> .... I detect in Giddens' analysis....an overly benign critique of actually
        existing social/political/economic conditions that confuses the normative edge
        of .... (re)constructive agendas.

        G: If we give up the Hegelian dream of the intellectual who comprehends and
        accounts for All---if we take to heart the Habermasian ethic of a unity of
        reason in the "diversity of voices," then it's "your" responsibility to *make*
        the comprehensiveness out of the complementarity of voices---a
        comprehensiveness which is not one thinker's property, i.e., holism's
        appropriate sense is part of the *discursive* agenda that calls for all
        feasible modes of concern in the consideration (and what *are* all the modes
        that appropriately belong?). As I said earlier, Giddens looks like the
        "complement" to Habermas, the "other side of the coin" (if I recall correctly;
        that was certainly what I had in mind by sharing Giddens' modality of thinking
        about political practice for an audience, presumably, that is perhaps enough
        attuned to theoreticality, if you will).

        M> In other words, what role does social critique play in Giddens'
        neoprogressivist agenda?

        G: Very good question, of course. Yet, a converse concern would be: What world
        does social critique presume? Part of Giddens' agenda is that the world is not
        basically anymore the place that leftists think it is. First, understanding is
        a necessary condition for valid critique, *especially* if one is motivated by
        interest in being relevant for progressive practice. Giddens argues that
        globalization isn't what leftists believe it is, and many other features of
        reality aren't what leftists take them to be. *That's* a cogent kind of
        critical claim, don't you think? Also, for Giddens, "The Global Third Way
        Debate" (Polity 2001, 400+ pages) is a vert well-established critical
        discourse, calling for (in his view) *progressive* action in light of critique.


        M> .... I just don't think we can comfortably and in all conscience join hands
        blithely in some grand tryst between corporatism and social democratic
        tendencies WITHOUT some ongoing mechanism of suspicious critique and review.

        G: Who thinks otherwise here (not Giddens, not me----some other subscriber?).
        Indeed...

        M> It's not possible (or desirable?) simply to wish away the social injustices
        or the omnipresent and persistent manifestations of oppressive power
        relationships that pervade our lifeworlds.

        G: But that good point might be the rude awakening awaiting a lot of leftists
        who smugly believe they're on the leading edge of something (while actually
        still living in the middle of the 20th century).

        M> In plain language, then, how does Giddens' suggest his neo- progressive
        agenda will assure less people get screwed in his brave new world?

        G: Such questioning (a tacit call for follow-up reading) is part of the answer!
        What is the place of activism vis-a-vis critical theory? (What is the
        appropriate place of a Giddens in the diversity of voices?) To what degree does
        critique serve prospects for progress, rather than activism following the
        entailments of critique? (What's the motivation of critique if not a claim to
        insight about what's really progressive?)

        M> By more *good* people becoming shareholders?

        G: Sounds good to me.

        M> The tendencies toward consumer democracy Giddens identifies, for example,
        ARE beneficial, but I fail to see how these types of big end of town reforms
        are going to address nuts and bolts social issues (glue sniffing, domestic
        violence etc.).

        G: A great mistake of leftism was its romance with The Concept that is supposed
        to tie together micro and macro in some "Simple" integration of understanding.
        Habermas' work counters this kind of thinking. One might cover both glue
        sniffing and domestic violence through understanding / analyses of
        dysfunctional families and their neighborhood, economic, and political
        "poverty", such that one has to ask, relative to such broad-based issues (that
        mustn't be homogenized across cultural geographies with broad stroke
        explanations), what's the best relationship between local and regional politics
        when the economy is global (which is a matter for macroeconomic and
        macropolitical policies)?

        M> I guess my overriding impression was that Giddens' focus betrayed his own
        social/ economic and political status: it's an agenda for the highly educated,
        technocratic, managerial, materially secure classes who shed more tears about
        the disappearance of a rare Amazonian tree frog than they do about, well, all
        sorts of less esoteric issues ;-).

        G: You don't think that the highly educated, etc., need an agenda, too?

        cheers,

        Gary




        .
      • matthew_piscioneri
        Gary, thanks for the detailed reply. As usual thoughtful and thought- provoking. First, some general comments. One of the things I liked about Giddens essay
        Message 3 of 9 , Mar 6, 2004
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          Gary,

          thanks for the detailed reply. As usual thoughtful and thought-
          provoking. First, some general comments.

          One of the things I liked about Giddens' essay was the simplicity of
          the language he employed and his choice of dealing with very basic
          issues. Like Habermas, Giddens and yourself I agree that
          *traditional* leftist critique that imagines the social world of 2004
          to be identical with that of the mid-1800s requires innovation.
          However there are some very general motifs of critical reason that
          persist and retain validity from then until now.

          At the basis of critical reason it appears to me is the *judgment*
          that something is not right with the world and requires correction :-)

          Furthermore, Marx's concern with human happiness I think remains
          pertinent. Is it a naive question: Are *we* happy? Just as pertinent
          is the question: Are some happy at the expense of others? I realize
          that making happiness the central or defining component of moral-
          political discourse is unfashionable, but I think it is a useful and
          illuminating criteria. By this I mean it makes sense to ask: Why are
          so many of us unhappy? Lately I have been drawn towards examining
          what I term the politics of anxiety - social control via the
          stimulation of anxiety. I don't believe it's a modern technique, and
          I am not sure it is eradicable either....but I start to digress.

          > G: holism's
          > appropriate sense is part of the *discursive* agenda that calls for
          all
          > feasible modes of concern in the consideration (and what *are* all
          the modes
          > that appropriately belong?).

          Yes. The holistic pretensions of grand theory are one particular
          contribution to the overall diverse discourse.

          > G: Giddens argues that
          > globalization isn't what leftists believe it is, and many other
          features of
          > reality aren't what leftists take them to be. *That's* a cogent
          kind of
          > critical claim, don't you think?

          More than being *cogent* I think it is almost THE contemporary
          critical claim going around at present. This is exampled by some of
          the discussion we have carried out on the modernization list, for
          example. Like many *leftists* (a.k.a dissenters from the ruling ideas
          of an epoch) I am not sure that globalization is what apologists for
          the new world order depict it as being. Having said that, I am enough
          of a progressivist to want to test the claims to validity made by
          globalization advocates as best as can be achieved in the here and
          now mindful both of the limitations of crystal ball gazing and the
          lessons of history.

          > G: To what degree does
          > critique serve prospects for progress, rather than activism
          following the
          > entailments of critique?

          Of course *progress* here is a slippery term. Whilst I am not
          suggesting the need to define basic concepts in our theory formation
          I consider it instructive to remain mindful of the nuances of this
          thing called *progress*. So I agree strongly:

          >(What's the motivation of critique if not a claim to
          > insight about what's really progressive?)
          --------------------
          > G: A great mistake of leftism was its romance with The Concept that
          is supposed
          > to tie together micro and macro in some "Simple" integration of
          understanding.

          And my suspicion is that a lot of *us* are(unknowingly?)romanced by
          the Hegelian vision of the overcoming of opposites through the
          establishment of a new world order. Giddens' critique of traditional
          leftism may be a denial of its place within the diversity of voices.
          I think we need both big picture and small picture thinkers and those
          who attempt to bridge the gap as you pointed out.
          ----------------
          > G: You don't think that the highly educated, etc., need an agenda,
          too?

          Do you mean other than being sent off to re-education camps in the
          interior :-)? Who doesn't have an agenda ;-)? I get your point
          though. Again I worry when this agenda becomes the dominant agenda on
          the critical social calendar. Although new class politics are
          understandable and even inevitable given the developmental trajectory
          of revolutionary consciousness over the last century.

          Thanks again for the response. Time to kickstart the old motor over
          again.

          MattP.
        • Gary E Davis
          ... Matt, I have little disagreement with you, you might have expected. I agree that concern for happiness is pertinent. But there s nothing especially Marxist
          Message 4 of 9 , Mar 6, 2004
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            > re Matt, "Re: Giddens' neoprogressivism"

            Matt,

            I have little disagreement with you, you might have expected.

            I agree that concern for happiness is pertinent. But there's nothing especially
            Marxist about that, since the concern is integral to human history and other
            thinkers have been more oriented to happiness than Marx, e.g., Aristotle,
            Renaissance humanism, utilitarians, existentialists, and human potential
            psychologists. What's notably pertinent about *Marx*'s concern with happiness?
            Indeed, ethical thought generally is about happiness, but who turns to Marx as
            an ethical theorist? L.W. Sumner (prof. in the Dept. of philosophy and in the
            Faculty of Law at U. of Toronto) has no reference Marx in his _Welfare,
            Happiness, and Ethics_ (Oxford 1996), but has an extensive focus on "life
            satisfaction" and differentiated concern for happiness relevant to policy
            analysis, in terms of "measurement of," "objective indicators of,"
            "self-assessments of," and "subjective indicators of" (from his Index), which I
            mention to merely emphasize the point that, if one is *really* concerned
            *practically* about happiness, why Marx? In fact, the concern for happiness is
            extensive in my own approach to things�has been for decades (as a philosophical
            psychologist)�but I left Marxism behind decades ago. Of *course*, ...

            M> ...it makes sense to ask: Why are so many of us unhappy?

            G: But it also makes sense to ask: Why are so many of us *happy*? *Genuinely*
            happy. What *does* make happiness? If one doesn't understand that, one is not
            nearly in a place to foster the conditions of happiness. *Concern* for
            happiness has to precede and override concern for the ingenuine *pretense* of
            happiness at the expense of others. So, critique is a supplement to concern for
            happiness. A key mistake of leftism is a primary interest in critique that has
            little constructive basis for responding to questions of the type: "OK,
            granting your critique, so WHAT?" "Given the opportunity, what would you DO?"
            The leftist's solutions have had their day in Europe, argues the Giddens of the
            world, speaking for a The Policy Network:

            http://www.policy-network.net/index.php

            "Policy Network works with governments, parties, experts, and decision-makers
            from over 25 different countries, providing them with a range of tools to
            promote debate, share ideas, and make it easier to find solutions. Policy
            Network widens the debate by involving the broader policy community,
            practitioners, business, trade unions and the public in each country. We
            address a broad range of themes, including: globalisation, modern public
            services, Welfare State reform, employment in a knowledge society, pension
            reform, new industrial relations, immigration and inclusion, education,
            inequality, the future of Europe, and EU-US relations"
            (http://www.policy-network.net/php/aboutus.php)

            G>>... holism's appropriate sense is part of the *discursive* agenda that
            calls for
            all feasible modes of concern in the consideration (and what *are* all the
            modes that appropriately belong?).

            M> Yes. The holistic pretensions of grand theory are one particular
            contribution to the overall diverse discourse.

            G: You may have missed my overall point: Inasmuch as the "diversity of voices"
            has an emergent property of holism, it's part of our discursive agenda to
            discern that (belonging to the diversity of voices). The "pretensions of grand
            theory" are more of a problem for this discernment than a good resource.
            Indeed, grand theory is "one particular contribution," I don't disagree; but I
            wanted to make a different kind of point about complementarity of perspectives
            that counters the common leftists tack of critiquing the other for insufficient
            holism standing alone, rather than bringing the other into the shared discourse
            that *finds* "the unity of reason" in our diversity of voices. Simply put,
            theory can't be validly expected to entail detailed practices apart from
            practical participation; practice can't be validly expected to imply
            comprehensive theory. (If justice is a great river, it's not the irrigation
            system that brings its water to the land; the latter requires strategical
            engineering).

            G>> Giddens argues that globalization isn't what leftists believe it is, and
            many other features of reality aren't what leftists take them to be. *That's* a
            cogent
            kind of critical claim, don't you think?

            M>.... I am not sure that globalization is what apologists for the new world
            order depict it as being.

            G: But Giddens' sense of globalization has nothing to do with *justifying* a
            status quo! So, yes, globalization is NOT what apologists for a ("the"?) new
            world order say it is.

            In _Runaway World: how globalization is reshaping our lives_, Giddens shows
            ("Preface to the Second Edition," 2003) accurate appreciation of the
            anti-globalization movement, while making the point that globalization isn't
            what it's taken to be.

            Giddens: "...globalisation today...is not identical either with Americanisation
            or Westernisation....neither the United States, nor the industrial countries as
            a whole, control the global economy, which is far too complex and encompassing
            for any nation or groups of nations to bend to their own
            will....Geopolitically, the United States[']...overall influence is probably
            less than it was during the Cold War [...and ascendancy of the EU and asian
            economies] are already affecting the composition of world bodies, where there
            is much more direct involvements of non-Western countries than there used to
            be---a trend that needs to be promoted further. American involvement is of
            course of crucial importance in the reform of global institutions and
            agreements. But if such involvement is not forthcoming, the rest of the world
            can often push on anyway [as demonstrated, Giddens adds, by the Kyoto Accords
            and the International Criminal Court.....Culturally,] a...profound effect of
            globalisation is to produce greater local cultural diversity, not homogeneity.
            The United States itself is the very opposite of a cultural monolith,
            comprising as it does a dazzling variety of different ethnic and cultural
            groups. Because of its 'push down' effect, discussed in the text, globalisation
            tends to promote a renewal of local cultural identities. Sometimes these
            reflect wider world patterns, but very often they self-consciously diverge from
            them. We need a similarly nuanced view of the role of the big corporations.
            Those who are critical of the expansion of corporate power have important
            points to make....Yet the power of the big companies can easily be
            exaggerated---and is greatly exaggerated by those who say that corporations
            'run the world'....As globalisation advances, it actually becomes more
            difficult for the big companies to act irresponsibly, rather than the other way
            round. A major reason is the rise of NGOs....which have the capability to
            monitor what companies do, in any part of the world, and to bring sanctions to
            bear upon them. ... Those in the anti-globalisation movement are surely right
            to emphasise that the divisions between rich and poor in the world are
            unacceptable....But...Is it true...that global economic inequalities are
            increasing? And if so, is this increase the result of globalisation? There is
            intense academic discussion of whether economic inequality is on the increase.
            The data from many countries are less than wholly reliable....For instance,
            comparisons are sometimes made between the GDP of different states without
            factoring in differences in prices and the cost of living---a more accurate
            measure....When the anti-globalisers blame inequality on globalisation they
            normally have in mind a much narrower interpretation of globalisation than I
            argue for in this book----they identify it with the growth of market
            competition and free trade. Yet even using such a restricted notion, the
            evidence suggests that these factors favour economic growth and on balance tend
            to cause inequalities to lessen, not intensify....In making these points [G:
            merely sampled in this long quotation,] I do not want to say that the worries
            of the anti-globalisers are without foundation. On the contrary, they are real
            and justified. A retreat from globalisation, however, even if it were possible,
            would not resolve them. We need to advance globalisation further rather than
            retard it, but globalisation has to be managed more effectively and equitably
            than has happened over the past few decades, and the ideological agenda of
            economic development [has to be] shifted. ... A country which opens up its
            economy to free trade without other social and economic reforms is likely to
            experience economic deterioration rather than growth. The guiding hand of the
            state is needed, as are institutional reforms promoting education and the
            emancipation of women, banking reforms and the fostering of a stable investment
            climate. ... Many countries on the margins of the world economy will require
            help from the rich societies, not only money for investment and technological
            assistance, but other kinds of knowledge and expertise that can guide
            institutional reform. The United Nations has declared its aim to halve world
            poverty by the year 2015. It will take some doing, but....the ambition can be
            met."

            M>... Giddens' critique of traditional leftism may be a denial of its place
            within the diversity of voices.

            G: Or maybe not, since he's writing to an audience which includes the
            decades-long experience of EU nations with leftist government, not just the
            protest ethic of leftist students (which he shows intimate appreciation of, in
            the very long preface from which I've quoted).

            G>> You don't think that the highly educated, etc., need an agenda, too?

            M> Do you mean other than being sent off to re-education camps in the
            interior :-)?

            G: Such quips undermine your credibility. (Your smilies are often masks for
            insult.)

            M> Who doesn't have an agenda ;-)?

            G: I thought the subject at hand was a neoprogressive agenda by a specific
            group of theorists synopsized by Giddens, not a vague allusion to (hidden?)
            agendas.

            M> I get your point though.

            G: Do you?

            M> Again I worry when this agenda becomes the dominant agenda on the critical
            social calendar.

            G: What "this"? A neoprogressive agenda? What's to worry about? You got a
            better one to refer readers to?

            M> Although new class politics are understandable and even inevitable given the
            developmental trajectory of revolutionary consciousness over the last century.

            G: What? "Revolutionary consciousness"? How is such talk not a throwback to
            command-economic, statist ambition?

            M> Thanks again for the response. Time to kickstart the old motor over again.

            G: Sweet dreams, revolutionary.


            Gary





            .
          • matthew_piscioneri
            Gary, thanks for the enjoyable post, links and quotes. Again more to agree with than disagree. I appreciated your response to the digress on happiness. To pick
            Message 5 of 9 , Mar 6, 2004
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              Gary,

              thanks for the enjoyable post, links and quotes. Again more to agree
              with than disagree.

              I appreciated your response to the digress on happiness. To pick up
              one point:

              >What's notably pertinent about *Marx*'s concern with happiness?

              Well, what's notable about Marx? A third way, neoprogressivist
              revisionism surely doesn't have to exorcise Marx in toto does it?
              That's a shame for Marx had more than one or two good ideas. What i
              find notable about Marx and happiness is his innovative analysis of
              the *material* sources of alienation and the potential for happiness
              in the recovery of our species being etc. In short, Marx tied
              happiness to his critique of the political economy, and I think
              that's a useful [not the only] way of examining un/happiness.
              Alienated labour, the unequal distribution of wealth, the
              machinations of ideological apparati - all of these I consider
              contribute to the level of social and/or happiness.
              So:

              > why Marx? In fact, the concern for happiness is
              > extensive in my own approach to things—has been for decades (as a
              philosophical
              > psychologist)—but I left Marxism behind decades ago.

              This suprises me actually because I respect your theoretical
              pluralism. BTW, I am not advocating Marx-as-oracle, but Marx-as-still-
              useful.

              > The leftist's solutions have had their day in Europe, argues the
              >Giddens of the
              > world,

              which doesn't follow that wholly market oriented solutions are
              preferable although I don't think this is what Giddens (or you) are
              suggesting.
              -----------------------
              Gary, you often miss my intended self sending-up:

              > G>> You don't think that the highly educated, etc., need an agenda,
              too?
              >
              > M> Do you mean other than being sent off to re-education camps in
              the
              > interior :-)?
              >
              > G: Such quips undermine your credibility. (Your smilies are often
              masks for insult.)

              No they're not. They are intended to indicate exactly the opposite;
              to guard against any mistaken comprehension and ironically this is
              still what occurs. Sacre bleue :-(. It's a black joke about stalinist
              leftism that results in the horrors of the gulags, killing fields
              etc. to signpost my agreement that this form of leftism is well and
              truly beyond its use by date.

              > G: What "this"? A neoprogressive agenda? What's to worry about? You
              > got a better one to refer readers to?

              Well agendas in general worry me Gary. There's a lot to be said for
              neagtive dialectics IMO and a lot to be said against doing nothing. I
              find *agendas* indicative of (either overt or submerged) power laden
              objectives.

              How's that for naivety? Haven't I read my Foucault? Can power be
              disassociated from politics, from life, from the universe... Is
              *power* necessarily *bad*? No, but it's complement/effervescence
              appears to be domination. So do we *need* more or less agendas? And
              isn't the argument against agendas simply another agenda?
              ---------------
              > M> Although new class politics are understandable and even
              inevitable given the
              > developmental trajectory of revolutionary consciousness over the
              last century.
              >
              > G: What? "Revolutionary consciousness"? How is such talk not a
              throwback to
              > command-economic, statist ambition?

              Habermas talks historically of *revolutionary consciousness*. The
              latter sections of _TCA2_ concerns this developmental trajectory; see
              also the appendix to _BFN_. You have misunderstood me. I am
              acknowledging the *disappearance* of revolutionary consciousness and
              thereby the contemporary groundlessness of *command-economic, statist
              ambition[s] which seems to me pretty close to certain of Giddens' and
              your own premisses.

              The emergence of the new politics in the early 1970s is what JH
              writes (TCA2)of in terms of concerns more to do with the *grammar* of
              life than with traditional motifs of wealth distribution etc. And I
              think Giddens also is sympathetic to the change in western *critical*
              politics more towards issues to do with quality of life and
              difference.

              MattP
            • Gary E Davis
              Excellent response, Matt. I now have much less misunderstanding of what you were earlier intending to say. Thanks! I don t believe I m exorcising Marx by
              Message 6 of 9 , Mar 6, 2004
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                Excellent response, Matt. I now have much less misunderstanding of what you
                were earlier intending to say. Thanks!

                I don't believe I'm "exorcising Marx" by asking you what's notably
                pertinent---I might have added *pertinent for our Time*. I wouldn't exorcise
                any other major figure in the history of social thought. But what's
                "innovative" for the 19th century also tacitly proffered a materialist ontology
                (Habermas' key point in KHI) that became dangerously misapplied in dogmatic
                socialism of the 20th century.

                Marx's wonderful notion of "species being" is probably inherited from Herbert
                Spencer and is, in any case, a pre-Darwinian poetic that's not pertinent at all
                for, say, an "ethic of the species" that Habermas seeks in _The Future of Human
                Nature_.

                But once upon a time, I was in love with Marx, so I appreciate (I hope) your
                enthusiasm (not to sound dismissive, please).

                I agree with you that tying the potential for happiness to a critique of
                political economy is useful. But I think that David Hume, John Stuart Mill,
                Adam Smith and Jeremy Bentham preceded Marx there, as Marx soaked up London (I
                could be mistaken in my chronology here, but the point is that Marx expresses
                an atmosphere of the English times, not something especially Marxian). I don't
                exorcise intellectual historiography, so I wouldn't exorcise the importance of
                Marx for intellectual history.

                I'm adament about theoretical pluralism! But that doesn't mean that I'm
                uncritically ahistorical. Marx was great; Marxism wasn't and isn't. But I'm
                definitely open to new arguments (though I'm not going to subscribe to, say,
                the Spoon Collective list on Marx and Marxism).

                Matt, there's something screwy about your association of "agenda" in
                neoprogressive theory with Stalinism. It could be that you're not oriented
                toward organized activism, but in fact an agenda is necessary for coordinating
                anything effectively, be it a meeting that accomplishes something, a discussion
                that covers prior inputs all around (e.g., Giddens' essay, which attempts to
                integrate a set of essays that his essay introduces), or an organization's
                implementation of its raison d'etre. Having an agenda is just part of being
                well-organized. It's also integral to any programmatic advocacy or
                well-conceived argumentation.

                If you go back to Habermas' discussion of revolutionary consciousness in TCA2,
                you'll find that it's not about advocating that idiom for contemporary thought;
                likewise for the appendix of BFN, which is historiographical.

                I certainly didn't get it that you were acknowledging "the 'disappearance' of
                revolutionary consciousness." How could anyone get that reading from your
                association of "the developmental trajectory of revolutionary consciousness"
                (whatever *that* is) with a "new class politics" (not Giddens' kind of point)
                that is "even inevitable." You may have missed, by the way, Giddens' overt
                dissociation of his view from "the commanding heights," which is an allusion
                (footnoted by Giddens) to the study by Daniel Yergen and Joseph Stanislaw, _The
                Commanding Heights_ (1998), which is an extended critique of command-economic
                statism.

                I like your point about Habermas intending, in TCA2, to write about "the
                *grammer* of life," and you offer a very good idea for further pursuing a
                complementarity between theory (Habermas) and practice (Giddens) in terms of
                quality of life.

                cheers,

                Gary
              • matthew_piscioneri
                Gary, Thanks for the reply and as this thread is losing focus (mea culpa) so I ll keep my comments short and hopefully pertinent. ... critique of ... I m ...
                Message 7 of 9 , Mar 7, 2004
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                  Gary,

                  Thanks for the reply and as this thread is losing focus (mea culpa)
                  so I'll keep my comments short and hopefully pertinent.

                  Glad to hear both counts:

                  > I agree with you that tying the potential for happiness to a
                  critique of
                  > political economy is useful.

                  > I'm adament about theoretical pluralism! But that doesn't mean that
                  I'm
                  > uncritically ahistorical.
                  ----------------
                  My suspicious point here had more to do about *positive* critical
                  theory... agendas as prescriptive programs... dialectical inversion
                  and more misery... adorno and horkheimer etc.

                  > there's something screwy about your association of "agenda" in
                  > neoprogressive theory with Stalinism. It could be that you're not
                  oriented
                  > toward organized activism, but in fact an agenda is necessary for
                  coordinating
                  > anything effectively,

                  co-ordination = control = oppression... that's the theme i was
                  hinting at.

                  To invoke Horkheimer's schema I am playing the theoretical pessimist
                  to your practical optimism/activism. There is - like it or not - the
                  *business* of politics to conduct, and so we have to do something. I
                  consider philosophy has a vital role to play in the shaping of this
                  *business*, and clearly the energy you give to this venue and other
                  discursive practices suggest you feel the same way.

                  Real or not the globalization imaginary has, well, a grip on many of
                  our contemporary critical social imaginations and almost demands
                  engagement even an antithetical engagement.

                  My divergence from the thrust of Giddens' essay was intended to
                  highlight the possibility that if something gets talked about enough
                  it is almost brought into being ... like a new meme ... like the
                  information superhighway of a few years ago, dot.coms and bust.

                  This is why I raised questions about the ideological background to
                  the globalization paradigm ... is it the domineering paradigm of a
                  hegemonic, neo-imperialist agenda? I think we should be careful about
                  constructing critical frameworks, world views and agendas that take
                  as a given the universal impact of what's known as globalization. It
                  certainly has impacted on the likes of you, me and Giddens and Wall
                  St., but we are still not the world, as it were.

                  Still as the quotes you provided from Giddens indicated the validity
                  of the globalization paradigm is hotly contested and that's a good
                  thing.

                  MattP.
                • Gary E Davis
                  Matt, It seems to me that I agree with you completely. Gary
                  Message 8 of 9 , Mar 7, 2004
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                    Matt,

                    It seems to me that I agree with you completely.

                    Gary
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