File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 45

Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2001 10:48:38 +0100
Subject: Re: An Idea whose time will never come (Lyotard)


In my references to Lyotard I am referring directly to the late work of
Postmodern Fables and The Inhuman - the work in these texts is precisely
understandable as being socially and politically pessimistic. His ironic
tone in the texts 'Maria goes to...' or 'a postmodern fable...' what is not
fatalistic or pessimistic about them? (I gave copies of the PM fable out to
people once as an SF tale and they interpreted it as truth....not irony). Of
course in theory it is possible to read them ironically but to do so
requires such a deep understanding of Lyotard's intellectual history that
they are almost unreadable in those terms... But I should remind you that I
am reading the texts in there historical context, a period of defeat and
contrary to most readings of Lyotard I believe it marks these texts...

I agree with you Lyotard and indeed the entire anti-humanist crew are in
allegiance with the work of 'Empire', indeed the work would be impossible
without the work of Lyotard.  The prime disagreement between us may lie in
the issue of Marx. What N&H do which is significantly different from Lyotard
is place a Marxist descended version of the Grand Narrative of Human
Emancipation back into the frame. Lyotard's philosophy did not and could not
accept such a return to grand-narratives. (The left during the 80s and 90s
accepted the death of marx and human emancipation - capital believed in the
grand narrative of the triumph of liberal capitalism). The synthesis that
you appear to be aiming  for, seems to me to be precisely the correct
intellectual direction... The way in which Lyotard's late work can be
re-radicalised is through pushing it back into the 'unanticipated
directions' that the anti-globalisation perspective enables.

Point taken about the differend - (actually I think that I dislike capital
being allowed globalised grand narratives and the left not...)

Empire is a political program - the pleaseure is in reading something with
such a purchase on the postmodern world...

regards as always


Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> Steve wrote:
> An analysis of the social founded on the construcution of a new
> political
> subject, read section 4.3. The political subject they are suggesting is
> simply another variant of the revolutionary subject (proletarian)
> derived
> from Marx and Hegel. The implicit refusal of the postmodern 'end of
> history', the end of the grand narrative of human liberation is
> interesting
> - mostly because of the nerve it has hit - quiescence is once again
> over.
> in other words it does not allow for the diverse ways in
> which such theories have been used - predominantly of course the
> varieties
> which start from a perspective of cirticism rather than 'the end of
> history'. The latter of course is much closer to Lyotard's own late
> counselling against an historical consideration of modernity and
> postmodernity.
> Lyotard's entire late writing derives from a relationship to political
> defeat - the pessimism of his late writing implies this most clearly.
> Look
> at the 'postmodern fables' - by default they argue that politics had
> turned
> into a form of 'system management', a pessimistic fable indeed.
> Steve/All:
> I don't want to cherry pick your statements.  You raise a number of
> issues and I want to respond to a few of them here in order to keep the
> conversation moving along.
> In the first place, let me say this.  I think you and I are mostly in
> agreement on "Empire."  I also see it as a good political synthesis that
> integrates many contemporary approachs into an powerful countermodel
> that effectively undermines what little intellectual capital
> neo-liberalism has. (The posse has come to hunt down the sheriff.)
> That being said, I think the main difference between our interpretations
> is two-fold. In the first place, I don't think this represents a return
> to Marx.  I think it is giving us Marx beyond Marx, pushing Marx with a
> certain amount of violence into new and unanticipated directions.
> Certainly, you must be aware conventional Marxists have been far from
> positive or enthusiastic in their reception of the book.  They tend to
> interpret it as the same kind of liberalism which you accuse Lyotard of
> practicing.
> Second, maybe it is just my own idiosyncratic way of reading Lyotard,
> but I don't see him as being guilty at all of the charges you are
> making. If anything, I see his philosophy as being isomorphic with the
> views that Negri and Hardt are pushing.  This seems hardly surprising to
> me, given that they are all operating from a postmodern perspective.
> I certainly don't think the philosophical points Lyotard was making in
> his many writings can simply be reduced to a mood of pessimism.  This
> attempts to undercut the philosophical points Lyotard was making by
> dealing with them in an ad hominid fashion.  Clearly, in his later
> writings, Lyotard was always very careful to frame his remarks as
> stories or fables.  They were, if you will, cautionary tales regarding
> certain tendencies.  Negri and Hardt's countermodel is in many respects
> very close to Lyotard's.  However, in their version, to speak crudely,
> the good guys(and cybergals) win.
> To present the argument in this way,however, is to misstate both
> positions.  None of these writers operate from a simple
> optimism/pessimism axis or an end of history perspective either - (in
> Lyotard, from despair; in Hardt and Negri from the eschatological
> triumph of the earthly city at the end of time. Hello, St. Augustine!)
> This would belie the immanance contained in these writers and the
> critique of transcendence they make, and, yes, I see Lyotard's critique
> of metanarratives as a critique of transcendence in this very sense. (no
> emancipation through speculative transformation!)
> However, I also think Lyotard would have agreed with the point N&H make
> that it is not longer representational, but constituent activism that is
> needed today - creative resistance.  This seems to me to be Lyotard in a
> nutshell and it certainly echoes his own critique of the intellectual.
> I also see Lyotard's concept of the differend as very compatible with
> the Marxist sense of class struggle, except that for Lyotard the
> differend is not limited to class.  It is far closer to Negri's concept
> of the autonomous social worker, except that Lyotard also critiques
> autonomy itself as still being too transcendental.
> You refer to 4.3, but what is that section if not a political program.
> It is utterly lacking in a sense of dialectical materialism with the
> dialectical outcome of overcoming alienation.  N&H speak of a
> proletariat, to be sure, but this proletariat has little to do with the
> working class.
> The program consists of three points:
> 1. Global citizenship
> 2. Guaranteed income
> 3. Reappropriation
> In line with Hugh's "new criticism" suggestion that we confine ourselves
> more to the text, perhaps it would be better to unpack these points to a
> greater extent before saying this is Marxist and not Lyotard or vice
> versa.
> For one thing, despite your objections to the Lyotardian concept about
> keeping information free, that is clearly what N&G seem to be implying
> as well in this section.  It underlies their concept of immeasurable
> time (which again has a certain resonance with Lyotard's own conception
> of temporality) and it also seems to be implicit in the very conception
> of reappropriation and biopolitics.
> N&H end their book saying: "against the misery of power, the joy of
> being."  Despite what you say against Lyotard, this sounds like the
> affirmative intensity of libidinal politics to me.
> eric


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005