File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 23

Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2001 18:36:34 +0100
Subject: Re: An Idea whose time will never come


The same attempts to shift things in the neo-liberal direction were part of
the shift personified by Thatcherism in the UK. The difference between the
USA and Europe is that in Europe the expectations of the welfare state,
founded on a stronger socialist current have remained in place. It is worth
noting that the almost complete failure of all the privatised elements of
the welfare state have helped enormously, only those elements that were
naturally industries that could be run for a PROFIT have succeeded,
everything else has been a complete disaster, from health care to the
railways a complete disaster.  Current public calls for the
renationalisation of the railways is a case in point... In the UK Blair's
third way is gradually losing the social-political transcendence that it
achieved originally with its invention of a neo-liberalism with a human
face, naturally being the UK it was organised with complete central
executive control, hence its failure...

The political shift that is happening at the moment will not however be to
the right but towards the left - evidence for this can be seen in the
working time directives - next year the EC imposes standard holiday rights
across Europe - and the anti-globalisation movements.

I'll extend the Lyotard ethics discussion elsewhere... (visitors from
finland have just arrived...)



> 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
> us.)
> 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
> determinative?
>  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
> reports)
> 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
> Abolitionists.
> thanks
> eric


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