File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 28

Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001 00:16:50 +0100
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Weeping in a Toyota Tercel]


I ended up working in the corporate world as a direct result of the 80s and
90s total engagement in neo-liberal economic policies. If they had not been
so all-pervading at that moment I would have shifted into academia and
taught some variant of theories of representation, philosophy and culture.
The shift to the right forced me into the nuetral zone of information
technology, set theory and business. (Sigh). Of course I'd have been
personally much worse off...

[response to the below]
Usually my lack of clarity is so obvious that I simply hope for engagement
and perhaps a way of negotiating a way forward.

I agree that the below is an accurate statement of the dominant left poles.
However there are 'differences' which are the ones I believe are the most
interesting - some of which I tiresomely (mis)-represent and misquote such
as Hardt and Negri great text Empire. Irigaray and Kristeva's recent work
and the radical re-presenting of the democratic position of Laclau and
Mouffe. Arguably as you suggest, imply,  they belong within the span of the
two poles stated below and it may be my innate suspicion of binary systems,
caused no doubt by too much reading of, for example Baudrillard.... (note
the avoidance of saying Lyotard;  I usually feel that it is impossible
measure the oeurvre of Lyotard. It is so broad that you can only the
percieve the edges, especially in the forms of an email). But note that none
of these falls easily between the binary extremes as they are constructing a
radically different understanding of the state of things.

The struggle between capital and workers is accepted, assumng that the range
of other struggles gender, animal, environment are included within this
systematic struggle.

I very much enjoyed and appreciated what follows... I wn't comment at the
moment it's late. I believe however that the migratory and nomadic patterns
of people searching for work and a better life can only be interpreted as a
fascinating and positive sign of the times.

> Lyotard sees us as singularities, rather than subjects or individuals,
> negotiating our way between the human and inhuman.  We experience
> ourselves as the figure that interrupts the discourse, the sublime
> feeling that passively resists, but resists nonetheless, the totalizing
> Empire of Signs.  We choose and act even where no rules or paradigms
> exist, and by virtue of this reflective judgment each of us asserts his
> or her own power and autonomy.

There is nothing where rules and paradigms do not exist, they may be
profoundly mistaken however.

> Kant also regarded the dynamically sublime as revealed to the mind in
> those objects of nature characterized by might and dominance which tend
> to inspire fear in us.  Here is what he said in his Critique of
> Judgment:
> "Consider bold, overhanging, and, as it were threatening rocks,
> thunderclouds piling up in the sky and moving about accompanied by
> lightning and thunderclaps, volcanoes with all their destructive power,
> hurricanes with all the devastation they leave behind, the boundless
> ocean heaved up, the high waterfall of a mighty river and so on.
> Compared to the might of any of these, our ability to resist becomes an
> insignificant trifle .... we like to call these objects sublime because
> they raise the soul's fortitude above its usual middle range and allow
> us to discover in ourselves an ability to resist which is of a quite
> different kind, and which give us the courage to believe that we could
> be a match for nature's seeming omnipotence."
> As others beside Lyotard have said, what distinguishes the contemporary
> post-modern sublime from this Romantic conception is that today
> technology, capitalism and the planetary work machine have replaced
> nature as the majestic objects capable of evoking the sublime. Perhaps
> what I am calling autonomy is simply that part of us which resists
> capitalism and which the planetary work machine can never fully absorb.
> What Kant termed the supersensible is the excess; what cannot be
> encompassed unto the grid of representations, what remains after the
> productivity is extracted and strip-mined from inside each one of us and
> remains as an alien and an exile in the very midst of capital.

Capital is such a radical force, plainly the most revolutionary social
system so far invented by human beings that the difficulty lies in imagining
something effective enoough to replace it. The 'excess' however is always
with us pushing back the limitations of the global machines, the possible is
always imaginable but to approach the impossible, the unimaginary is the
radical challenge that is required. Hence the impossibility of accepting the
limitations of the binary machine defined above.

> This leads us back to the old question - what is to be done. Maybe I
> misunderstood you, but if you thought I was urging a return to the
> politics of the sixties, this is not what I meant at all. I don't
> believe in tie-dyed Utopias or paisley paradises.  I also don't want to
> return to the thrilling days of the Welfare State, socialism or the
> union of the soviets.  Politics is always more than just a program. The
> old dreams of the past are now over and good riddance.

Good - excepting that here and now the 'welfare state', 'socialism' are in
some definable sense slowing the neo-liberal juggernaut and asking what were
a breif time ago impossible questions about increasing taxation to support
the 'other'.

> 1. I agree with Gorz concerning the transnationals.  I am not arguing
> for anti-globalism.  I want to contest instead what globalism means and
> how it is received.  As one example of this, what if labor was allowed
> to become as mobile as capital currently is - no visas, customs,
> immigration etc. - Global citizenship.  Of course, this idea seems
> hopelessly utopian today, but what about 100 years from now?
> 2. The resistance to work needs to be continued, not merely as a
> strategy, but as a means of undermining the capitalist relation of work
> as domination.  Whether this takes the form of a Guaranteed Annual
> Income or some other form remains an open possibility to be tested and
> explored..
> 3. As I have argued here before, the free exchange of information is of
> paramount importance.  The whole idea of intellectual property is merely
> the imposition of the old industrial forms upon the new economy.
> Outside the framework of capital relationships; i.e. work as the primary
> form of legitimization, the idea becomes nonsensical.  This leads us
> into the new contract of cybernetic potlatch.  One that is based upon
> cooperation rather than competition as the basic paradigm - the
> co-evolution of sustainability.
> 4. This also leads back into a consideration of religion and the idea of
> a countervailing ethic as the basis of a new contract. This is a topic I
> will defer for another post.

Nicely put  - with regard to 4: I live in what I believe is the most secular
place on earth - one day I intend to investigate and analyse precisely why
the most popular religion here is secular and indifferent. What was so
perculier about british, english society that it produced the next best
thing to atheism as the state religion... I am told by M.S, the only
professional ecologist I know that all the signs are that England, Britain
is probably the future ecological model of the planet. When I asked him why
he told me that it is because the largest non-domesticated animal in the
place is the badger which of course only comes out at night. There used to
be wolves, bears and so on... In other words I live in a completely
industrialised landscape... Welcome to the future, it's here already..




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