File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 19

Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2001 09:32:08 -0500
Subject: Re: An Idea whose time will never come

> Comments in various places;
 my own take on this is that the considerable work that has been
done by intellectuals as diverse as Foucault, Negri, Hardt, Habermas,
Deleuze, Lyotard, Moufe and Kristeva required marxist thought as a
starting point.... "Resistences are no longer marginal but active in the
center of a society that opens up in networks..."

I like this conception as well and agree with you wholeheartedly.  This
is my great hope as well.

The end of the nightmare of the failed revolution of
1917 will I hope be followed by the end of the failed American

A consumation devoutly to be wished. 

One of the many growing pains for me as an American has been the final
recognition that things in this country are getting far worse, not
better.  Call me naive, but at one time I truly believed the inherent
justice of the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the ecology
movement and the demands for economic parity would be eventually
recognised - that American society was moving in the right direction,
albeit slowly.  In the past twenty years, however, I have witnessed the
world turned upsidedown. The triumph of corporate fascism has been
realized in America.  

Where is the America of the Abolitionists, the Wobblies, Eugene Debs,
Frederick Douglas, Jane Addams, Haymarket Square, Mother Jones, Emma
Goldman, Abraham Lincoln? Here is another America that is now in the
process of being forgotten, paved over by Disney to create a new
historical theme park for the spectacle. (here we are now, entertain

I want that America to go away forever - I gag on its sanctimonious
racism, sexism and simple hatred of the poor. America's idea of heaven
today is a gated community, ruled over by Jesus (who hates gays and
uppity women), and well stocked with obedient and silent servants,
preferably from the temp pool and sweat shop. (As nike says - Just screw
it!) God is the C.E.O. of this alien corporate universe and is in the
process of raiding our historical pensions for increased ROI before the
final divestiture.) 
Where this Lyotardian model is problematic is in the failure to
recognise that 'judgement without criteria' is precisely condemming one
to the liberal politics which he and we rejects.

I don't see why ethical paralogy necessarily limits one to a politics of
liberalism. What criteria do you propose as necessary?  Do you see it as

 What Lyotard is attempting to achieve is
 to establish a mode of thinking which creates a role model for
subversive, non and anti-universalising  ways of thinking that argues
for difference rather than the contruction of essentialised thinking. In
understanding of theories of difference there is a common misassumption
that each point on the plane of difference is morally and socially
equivilant. This is not however the case for theories of difference
return to essentialising positions from behind, in that no theorist of
difference can accept that a supremicist position has equivilant value
to one arguing for equality and equivilance. Lyotard's clearest
discussion of this is related in his piece  'one of the things at stake
in women's struggles' where he discusses the essentialising problem that
exists in feminist movements. Lyotard's liking for the pagan, for
refusing political theories that are related to philosophies (or grand
narratives) runs aground on the rocks of sexual difference because it is
by nature philosophical, essentialist and deeply political - it is one
of the points from which any and all societies can be fairly judged -
'sexual difference would constitute the horizon of worlds more fecund
than any known to date...' This is not to refuse or deny the
attractiveness of the anti-humanist refusal of Lyotard's criticism of
forms of thought that over-inflate their abilities, theoretical
abilities to subourn difference to the over-specifics of a theoretical
perspective. (The anti-humanist focusing on the locality of thought and
action that is the hallmark of the generation of intellectuals that
Lyotard and Foucault were a part of is one of their most interesting
features - they all lived the situationist phrase 'act local think
global...') But it does raise the difficulty, near-impossibility of an
ethics founded on difference that is indeterminate... because the
examples used to justify the argument fail to convince. 

Wow, there is a lot to unpack here.  First of all, I agree with most of
the critique you are making about ethics of difference. I think its
political limitation have become all too apparent. N&H do a good job I
think in Empire of demolishing its pretensions.  

However, part of the problem is I don't think Lyotard is subsumed by
this and my other post is an attempt to explain partly why I think so. 
The woman's struggle essay might be a fruitful one for a later
discussion, as I would position this slightly differently as well.

My question to you to this. Given the limitations of identity/difference
ethics/politics, what is the new move you see N&H as making?  Do you
consider this a more valid and fruitful approach?

Nobody told the Arabs anyway... (see Thesinger and the recent Minority

I not familiar with these reports.  Would you be able to expand on this
a little?  Your reply was in reference to my comments about the




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