File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 27

Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 08:18:38 -0500
Subject: Re: Politics and Ethics as Paralogy

Shawn wrote:

I have always understood Lyotard as positing an incredulity towards
master narratives which nevertheless continue to be in play, exert
pressure, etc. This seems in line with his alternate explanation of the
postmodern as irruptive within the modern. The potential parallels with
Negri may be clearest in _Insurgencies_, where the opposition between
constituent and constituted power is at center-stage. 


Good to hear from you again.  Hope all is well with you.

You make an excellent point. I agree with you that certainly in the case
of the differend the lack of a tribunal able to resolve the differences
stems from the gap between constituent and constituted power that Negri
postulates. The irruptive is the articulation of constituent power that
belies the tribunal's assumption of the constituted power to regulate.
Thus it happens. 

One of the things I find interesting about Negri is the affirmative
reading he gives to Machiavelli, recognizing both the extent to which
politics is a mediation between differing velocities of power and the
extent to which America modeled itself on the concept of the Roman
republic, as this was valorized by Machiavelli in terms of power

Here is a comment Negri makes about Machiavelli in "Insurgencies"
(88.90) that sounds a little like Lyotard's own concept of paralogy:

"With this, we have come to a central point of Machiavelli's thought -
that is, to the discovery that, even when all the conditions exist for
the ideal to become real, and virtue to become history, even in this
case the synthesis does not realize itself.  If something ideal becomes
real, it becomes such as an "impossible combination", as an
extraordinary case that time will soon consume.  In fact, rupture is
more real than synthesis.  Constituent power never materializes except
in instances: vortex, insurrection, prince. Machiavelli's historical
materialism never becomes, to use modern terms, dialectical materialism.
It finds moments of neither synthesis nor subsumption.  But it is
precisely this rupture that is constitutive."

Although Lyotard doesn't discuss Machiavelli in any detail of I am aware
of, he seems at times to offer us a version of  "The Prince" from below,
proposing the kind of pagan ruses and paralogical moves needed to
continue to make it happen in the face of the sublime terror of
capitalism. Here is a very Lyotardian passage from "The Prince":

"A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must
imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from
traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves.  One must
therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. 
Those that wish to be lions do not understand this....

But it is necessary to be able to disguise this character well, and to
be a great feigner and dissembler: and men as so simple and so ready to
obey present necessities, that one who deceives will always find those
who allow themselves to be deceived."



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