File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 106


Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 15:57:02 +1000
Subject: Re: Fear.


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

--Boundary_(ID_zOd94hPUtZ7HDQXtBmu20A)

All,

In these discussions, a review of dictionary meanings is sometimes helpful, although only a starting point for clarifying the personal defintions that inform the words we write.

In the context of globalization and last weeks global demonstrations, I think of Transnational Corporations who use WTO, World Bank and other devices to transcend the laws of nominally "democratic" nation-states.

Within the U.S,  Republicrats, Corporations and their lobbyists and campaign contributors, routinely achieve control of elections and laws.  That control is essentially the standared definition of "plutocracy":

PLUTOCRACY - A political system governed by the wealthy people.


Compare with other system definitions:

DEMOCRACY - A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them


THEOCRACY - A political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided). 

ANARCHY - A state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government



~^*^~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^^~*^~*~*~^~^*~*~^*^~^~*~~^*~*~^*

Shawn wrote:


> I'm curious. If we do not acknowledge a basic difference in the economies
> of "obedience to [explicit] law" + "fear of the lord" and "the law of
> love,"
> then where, in terms of very practical critique, does that leave us? The
> conflation is useful if you want to lump all "religions of the book," but
> such talk of "tendencies" is simply ahistorical, and ignores essentially
> all
> of the conflict within the "western moral tradition." You end up in the
> position of claiming that very progressive social practices have been
> covertly "reactionary" because of some tendency (which they may even
> have been quite explicitly working against.)
> 
> I'm thinking, for example, of Mayor Samuel Milton "Golden Rule" Jones,
> of Toledo, OH, and very practically successful politician who, the record
> suggests, was far more progressive that most of the Progressives of his
> era, precisely because he paid close attention to the differences between
> these two economies of "law."
> 
> As an anarchist, it naturally warms my heart to hear folks claim that
> obedience
> to law is inherently reactionary. I even agree, within limits of how we
> define
> "law." But anarchism's specific form of the "what is to be done?" question
> revolves precisely around how the necessary functions of social
> organization
> are to be differentiated from "law" and "government." I won't pretend to
> answer those questions, though i have some strong opinions. However,
> one of those opinions i will advance is that only close attention to the
> fine
> dynamics of systems will bring anything like illumination. Isn't it, for
> instance
> the case that "original sin" is far from a uniform factor even within
> "Christian"
> practice - and that plenty of secular philosophies include some attention
> to
> the internal division of human beings which has much the same function?
> 
> -shawn
> 
> Eric wrote:
> 
> > All,
> >
> > Let me say first of all I thought Geof's position was rather eloquently
> > stated. I want to chime in, however, in favor of Steve's comment that
> > Levinas is reactionary. Perhaps, Geof is right about Levinas being hard
> > to put into politics terms because his ethics is concerned with a
> > mirco-level face-to-face basis regarding the other. I think it is still
> > possible to raise the issue that Levinas does not really break with the
> > moral tradition of the west, he simply finds new ways to defend it, and
> > therefore the core of his ethics remains conservative and even
> > reactionary.
> >
> > Certainly, at the heart of this western tradition there lies the notion
> > of original sin - the self left to own device becomes evil. This self
> > must always be subjugated through the law in order to be saved. When
> > this is done, the worship of god and the respect for the neighbor are
> > seen as the primary ends of ethics.
> >
> > Jewish tradition obeys the Torah; Christianity discards the rules of
> > kosher and ritual purification, but still maintains the law of love. One
> > of the ways this break is characterized (usually by Christians) is that
> > the old law is based upon 'fear of the lord' where god is seen as a
> > being who is wrathful and quick to anger. Nonetheless, this fear is
> > useful insofar as it teaches humility, the repentance to sin in sack
> > cloth and ashes. Christianity usually claims this fear must be overcome
> > by love and posits a new, more intimate relationship with god - Jesus is
> > my friend.  This kind of tenderness seems to be related closely to the
> > kind of positive fear that Geof was invoking. Levinas is interesting
> > because he rewrites this tradition in a way that stands Christianity on
> > its head and tends to validate the Jewish tradition from facile and
> > empty criticisms.
> >
> > The problem with all this, however, is that this disowned self under
> > both the Jewish and Christian traditions tends to be very negative. In
> > the Lacan-Badiou sense it gives up on desire. The western tradition
> > strongly advocates making the self at best, passive and at worst,
> > masochistic.
> >
> > Feminists have usually critiqued this kind of ethics as follows. It
> > tends to idealize service and for women, roles such as being a mother,
> > teacher, nurse, nun, - the so-called caretaker and nurturing roles are
> > valorized. Certainly these are concerned with the ethics of the other,
> > but in a way that tends to limit the woman herself. If a woman chooses
> > to become something else, such as an artist, writer, athlete these roles
> > tend to be seen as somehow suspect and less than the ideal.  Such a
> > woman may be described by religious judgment as being selfish when she
> > was really being ethical.
> >
> > Without going into the details, I think it is fairly obvious that
> > Levinas never really breaks with any of this basic orientation in his
> > ethics. He always tends to disavow the self (chez soi) versus the face
> > of the other.  In his system, alterity always trumps desire.
> >
> > In this sense, Badiou is more modern and more political in his approach.
> > Instead of the traditional self-other axis, his is an immortal-animal
> > axis which is guided by truth rather than god as the ultimate source of
> > its ethics.  This may be seen as contra-natural in the sense that
> > ontology-sets-difference-being are in some sense natural. It is not,
> > however, concerned with the care of self, but rather with the event of
> > truth. Who we ultimately become stems from this break; this encounter.
> >
> > In this way, ethics are always political in their import.
> >
> > eric
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > [mailto:owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu] On Behalf Of Don Socha
> > Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:23 PM
> > To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > Subject: Re: Fear.
> >
> > >G/all
> > >
> > >I had thought of the Levinas angle but discarded it, for
> > myself at
> > >least, because of my rejection of his ethics.  Beyond the
> > critique of
> > >Levinas by Badiou, there is something deeply reactionary in
> > statements
> > >such as "...Ethics is, therefore, against nature because it
> > forbids the
> > >murderousness of my natural will to put my own existence
> > first..."
> > >
> > >
> > >regards
> > >steve
> >
> > I don't see what's necessarily reactionary about this
> > position, Steve.  Surely you don't mean to suggest that
> > Levinas is anything like a biological determinist. Though I
> > don't want to overlook the always difficult context of his
> > work, isn't he simply saying that while nature is
> > indifferent, people need not be fatalistic?
> >
> > I've yet to read Badiou (plan to begin this week), but
> > doesn't Levinas mean something quite distinct when he
> > says "against nature"?  I do know he wasn't in favor of
> > putting his own existence first... rather, his whole ouvre
> > stands against precisely this.
> >
> > Or do you see ethics as something other than an artificial
> > means by which better versions of ourselves might be
> > explored?
> >
> > Don Socha
> 

--Boundary_(ID_zOd94hPUtZ7HDQXtBmu20A)

HTML VERSION:

All,
 
In these discussions, a review of dictionary meanings is sometimes helpful, although only a starting point for clarifying the personal defintions that inform the words we write.
 
In the context of globalization and last weeks global demonstrations, I think of Transnational Corporations who use WTO, World Bank and other devices to transcend the laws of nominally "democratic" nation-states.
 
Within the U.S,  Republicrats, Corporations and their lobbyists and campaign contributors, routinely achieve control of elections and laws.  That control is essentially the standared definition of "plutocracy":
 
PLUTOCRACY - A political system governed by the wealthy people.
 
Compare with other system definitions:
 
DEMOCRACY - A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them
 
THEOCRACY - A political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided).
ANARCHY - A state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from a failure of government
 
 
 
~^*^~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^^~*^~*~*~^~^*~*~^*^~^~*~~^*~*~^*
 
Shawn wrote:
 
 
> I'm curious. If we do not acknowledge a basic difference in the economies
> of "obedience to [explicit] law" + "fear of the lord" and "the law of
> love,"
> then where, in terms of very practical critique, does that leave us? The
> conflation is useful if you want to lump all "religions of the book," but
> such talk of "tendencies" is simply ahistorical, and ignores essentially
> all
> of the conflict within the "western moral tradition." You end up in the
> position of claiming that very progressive social practices have been
> covertly "reactionary" because of some tendency (which they may even
> have been quite explicitly working against.)
>
> I'm thinking, for example, of Mayor Samuel Milton "Golden Rule" Jones,
> of Toledo, OH, and very practically successful politician who, the record
> suggests, was far more progressive that most of the Progressives of his
> era, precisely because he paid close attention to the differences between
> these two economies of "law."
>
> As an anarchist, it naturally warms my heart to hear folks claim that
> obedience
> to law is inherently reactionary. I even agree, within limits of how we
> define
> "law." But anarchism's specific form of the "what is to be done?" question
> revolves precisely around how the necessary functions of social
> organization
> are to be differentiated from "law" and "government." I won't pretend to
> answer those questions, though i have some strong opinions. However,
> one of those opinions i will advance is that only close attention to the
> fine
> dynamics of systems will bring anything like illumination. Isn't it, for
> instance
> the case that "original sin" is far from a uniform factor even within
> "Christian"
> practice - and that plenty of secular philosophies include some attention
> to
> the internal division of human beings which has much the same function?
>
> -shawn
>
> Eric wrote:
>
> > All,
> >
> > Let me say first of all I thought Geof's position was rather eloquently
> > stated. I want to chime in, however, in favor of Steve's comment that
> > Levinas is reactionary. Perhaps, Geof is right about Levinas being hard
> > to put into politics terms because his ethics is concerned with a
> > mirco-level face-to-face basis regarding the other. I think it is still
> > possible to raise the issue that Levinas does not really break with the
> > moral tradition of the west, he simply finds new ways to defend it, and
> > therefore the core of his ethics remains conservative and even
> > reactionary.
> >
> > Certainly, at the heart of this western tradition there lies the notion
> > of original sin - the self left to own device becomes evil. This self
> > must always be subjugated through the law in order to be saved. When
> > this is done, the worship of god and the respect for the neighbor are
> > seen as the primary ends of ethics.
> >
> > Jewish tradition obeys the Torah; Christianity discards the rules of
> > kosher and ritual purification, but still maintains the law of love. One
> > of the ways this break is characterized (usually by Christians) is that
> > the old law is based upon 'fear of the lord' where god is seen as a
> > being who is wrathful and quick to anger. Nonetheless, this fear is
> > useful insofar as it teaches humility, the repentance to sin in sack
> > cloth and ashes. Christianity usually claims this fear must be overcome
> > by love and posits a new, more intimate relationship with god - Jesus is
> > my friend.  This kind of tenderness seems to be related closely to the
> > kind of positive fear that Geof was invoking. Levinas is interesting
> > because he rewrites this tradition in a way that stands Christianity on
> > its head and tends to validate the Jewish tradition from facile and
> > empty criticisms.
> >
> > The problem with all this, however, is that this disowned self under
> > both the Jewish and Christian traditions tends to be very negative. In
> > the Lacan-Badiou sense it gives up on desire. The western tradition
> > strongly advocates making the self at best, passive and at worst,
> > masochistic.
> >
> > Feminists have usually critiqued this kind of ethics as follows. It
> > tends to idealize service and for women, roles such as being a mother,
> > teacher, nurse, nun, - the so-called caretaker and nurturing roles are
> > valorized. Certainly these are concerned with the ethics of the other,
> > but in a way that tends to limit the woman herself. If a woman chooses
> > to become something else, such as an artist, writer, athlete these roles
> > tend to be seen as somehow suspect and less than the ideal.  Such a
> > woman may be described by religious judgment as being selfish when she
> > was really being ethical.
> >
> > Without going into the details, I think it is fairly obvious that
> > Levinas never really breaks with any of this basic orientation in his
> > ethics. He always tends to disavow the self (chez soi) versus the face
> > of the other.  In his system, alterity always trumps desire.
> >
> > In this sense, Badiou is more modern and more political in his approach.
> > Instead of the traditional self-other axis, his is an immortal-animal
> > axis which is guided by truth rather than god as the ultimate source of
> > its ethics.  This may be seen as contra-natural in the sense that
> > ontology-sets-difference-being are in some sense natural. It is not,
> > however, concerned with the care of self, but rather with the event of
> > truth. Who we ultimately become stems from this break; this encounter.
> >
> > In this way, ethics are always political in their import.
> >
> > eric
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > [mailto:owner-lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu] On Behalf Of Don Socha
> > Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 3:23 PM
> > To: lyotard-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> > Subject: Re: Fear.
> >
> > >G/all
> > >
> > >I had thought of the Levinas angle but discarded it, for
> > myself at
> > >least, because of my rejection of his ethics.  Beyond the
> > critique of
> > >Levinas by Badiou, there is something deeply reactionary in
> > statements
> > >such as "...Ethics is, therefore, against nature because it
> > forbids the
> > >murderousness of my natural will to put my own existence
> > first..."
> > >
> > >
> > >regards
> > >steve
> >
> > I don't see what's necessarily reactionary about this
> > position, Steve.  Surely you don't mean to suggest that
> > Levinas is anything like a biological determinist. Though I
> > don't want to overlook the always difficult context of his
> > work, isn't he simply saying that while nature is
> > indifferent, people need not be fatalistic?
> >
> > I've yet to read Badiou (plan to begin this week), but
> > doesn't Levinas mean something quite distinct when he
> > says "against nature"?  I do know he wasn't in favor of
> > putting his own existence first... rather, his whole ouvre
> > stands against precisely this.
> >
> > Or do you see ethics as something other than an artificial
> > means by which better versions of ourselves might be
> > explored?
> >
> > Don Socha
>
--Boundary_(ID_zOd94hPUtZ7HDQXtBmu20A)--

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