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Tuesday, September 29
by Rich on September 29, 2009 06:38PM (PDT)
In a country where one can be arrested for writing a book because it offends the sentiments of religious devotees or criticizing or for criticizing the judiciary this interview with Arundati Roy addresses sham democracy in India. One has to confront Arundati one by one on the issues she raises for social justice that are wide ranging and concern Maoist in Orissa, armed occupation in Kashmir, the ever latent potential for genocide within the power regimes couched within Hindu or Islamic fundamentalist movements or even more to the point, the model of Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism for ethnic cleansing that is being adapted by the Home Minister (and former Enron lawyer) India's new neo-liberal elite, its global corporations to move 85% of the population from the villages and countryside into mega-city slums, appropriating the lands of indigenous peoples, to harvest for themselves India's last remaining natural mineral resources, such as bauxite.... more »
Saturday, August 22
by Debashish on August 22, 2009 12:21AM (PDT)
Etienne Balibar (1942- ) is a French philosopher and political theorist who was among the principal students of Louis Althusser. In this thought dialog with Alain Badiou (a worthy counterpart of the interview on Universalism carried on sciy earlier), Balibar conducts a sophisticated investigation on universalism - its dichotomies, its establishment as truth and the responsibility implicit in its pursuit.
Why is universalism always ridden with contradiction? Can it be spoken of in a singular fashion or can it be reduced to the proper side of a single dichotomy? In tracing a speculative history of universality, Balibar moves through the variety of dichotomous displacements through history to bring to focus the intrinsically dialectical essence of universalism.
This leads him to the political question of the establishment of universalism. Balibar extends the philosophical discourse of dialectics to the perpetuallly revolutionary essence of the politics of universalism - that is, it is in ceaseless reviolution that the single-dual ideal of what Balibar calls "equaliberty" becomes the quasi-transcendental horizon of realization. One may say that social consciousness expands in this process in unpredictable dimensions.
Finally, on the question of the responsibility intrinsic to the pursuit of universalism, Balibar points out how the question of violence is also intrinsic to it. This question is not merely an external or extensive one, a fact of revolution as mentioned before, but an internal and intensive responsibility - that of the violence of internal exclusivism. This is the specter of the terror of totalism or absolutism which we are so familiar with today. Balibar points to the always present specter of this danger and something the responsibility of the pursuit of universalism needs to be constantly vigilant about. - db more »
Thursday, August 20
An Interview with Alain Badiou: “Universal Truths & the Question of Religion” by Adam S. Miller, Journal of Philosophy and Scripture
by Debashish on August 20, 2009 01:11AM (PDT)
Is universalism an ideology in the self-proclaimed name of the Human which is meant to spread its normative hegemony over all forms of particularism, with a discursive disciplinary and regulative mechanism so ubiquitous that it disappears into unnoticeability? And in doing so, does it indeed wipe out all particularisms, or being itself a particularism pretending to be undeniably universal, does it instead enable a numberless plethora of fundamentalistic particularims to be equal claimants to the right of universalism in innumerable contested definitions of the Human?
What then happens to universalism? Must we discsard this utopian ideal of the Enlightenment in the rubbish heap of History? Or is it an alternate locus that we must seek for it, a locus in which difference can inhere at the horizon of identity ? Alain Badiou (1937- ), prominent French philosopher and former chair of Philosophy at the Ecole Normale Superieure, addrersses these questions in a book on St. Paul, where he develops his notion of universalism as a revolutionary aspect of becoming rooted in the idea of the Event. Such an Event cannot be predicted outside the appearance of dialectical contradictions, but in its appearance, such contradications lose their contradictory significance, either in an indifference or in a coexistence where new properties subsume their significance beyond contradiction. Perhaps it may not be too far to apply Sri Aurobindo's phrase to this event-ual nature of the becoming: "Trasncendence transfigures," though to Badiou such transcendence does not bear any inevitability or predictability to it.
In the present interview with Adam S. Miller of the Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, Badiou expands on his views on universalism and also inflects his positions vis-a-vis that of Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Zizek. - db more »
Sunday, August 9
by Debashish on August 9, 2009 01:53PM (PDT)
This book review by William Connolly, one of the most original political philosophers of our times, turns its attention on Stephen White's book Sustaining Affirmation, inflected with the sensibility of contingent and unpredictable becoming borrowed from Don DeLillo's novel White Noise. But much more than a book review, it is an engagement with White's text so as to affirm a number of positions held by Connolly himself, pertaining to his existential faith in immanent naturalism and the ontological condiitons for an evolutionary pluralism in the micropolitcs of contemporarary social life.
Connolly constellates his thought with what he calls the radical Enlightenment of Spinoza and a lineage he draws from this leading through Nietzsche, Bergson, Foucault and Deleuze. What one may see as common among these thinkers is the affirmation of a creative Becoming-without-Being or a Being as Becoming. That there is an infinte abundance to this which exceeds the human power of thought but to which thought can lend itself as an instrument of meaning and a part of its generous creative process, form core aspects of the faith which Connolly calls "immanent naturalism." Among the most pertinent causes driving this geneaolgy of postmodern thinking is the reaction against ontotheology, where a transcendental Being is inscribed with the name of God and assimilated into a fundamentalist metaphysics with an ideology, teleology, theology and normative boundaries to differentiate an inside and outside and institutional strutures to enforce these boundaries. Modernity is characterized by a displacement of the ideology of the Enlightenment onto pre-modern ontotheologies with a totalitarian scope in terms of absolute systemic knowledge and a cosmic-scaled will to power as technology. This ontology of the modern has also transformed mysticisms of the past into ontothelogies.
It will be clear from Connolly's text that he is hardly against the private affirmation of a faith in transcendental Being, but that this needs to be scrupulously rejected from becoming an ideology and needs to be subordinated to a practice of creative Becoming through openness to temporal proceses leading towards ever greater horizons of meaning and experience. -db more »
Thursday, July 30
by Rich on July 30, 2009 11:32AM (PDT)
This is part of (midway through) an excellent lecture by Zizek on Fundamentalism. In this particular part of the lecture he considers the differences in how Derrida and Habermas treat the question of "the other" and how in his view they actually compliment each other. In the other parts of the lecture Zizek gives his insight into why, if Max Weber were writing today, he would call his book, "Taoism and the Spirit of Capitalism", (aka why westernized Buddhism or Taoism is the perfect compliment to neo-liberal globalization). Zizek also addresses the differences in fundamentalism between the type practiced by Tibetean Buddhist and Amish versus moral majority Christianity and radical Islam as well as eurocentric tendencies to exoticize the other
About half way through this part of the lecture are some questions raised (that are difficult to hear) but if one listens to the entire lecture (either the series of nine u tube videos or the mp3) one will be richly rewarded, because Zizek is here, at the top of his game wildly speaking to issues of fundamentalism, eurocentrism, orientalism, and otherness.
The link to the utube page with the entire series of nine videos and the mp3 download of the lecture is given in the body of the post.... more »
Thursday, July 23
by Debashish on July 23, 2009 04:26PM (PDT)
Bruno Latour (1947-) is Professor and vice-president for research at the Institut d'études Politiques de Paris. Latour is a leading and very influential anthropologist of Modernity whose major contribution may be called holistic politcal epistemology. This, for Latour, is not a form of idealism, but what, following William James, he calls "radical empiricism." Latour is (in)famous for his pronouncement "We have never been modern." By this he means that the overarching hubris of modernity for human autonomy and mastery is a sub-narrative in a larger embeddedness in holistic properties which is only beginning to make its imperative critical demands on human attention. This emergence depends on the recognition of a change of telos and and a political epistemology of interdisciplinarity which takes humanity beyond itself into the fullness of global embodiment. In this essay, he reflects on environmentalism, society, technology and theology. - db more »
by Rich on July 23, 2009 09:15AM (PDT)
The analogy between the terms "global" and "universal" is misleading. Universalization has to do with human rights, liberty, culture, and democracy. By contrast, globalization is about technology, the market, tourism, and information. Globalization appears to be irreversible whereas universalization is likely to be on its way out. At least, it appears to be retreating as a value system which developed in the context of Western modernity and was unmatched by any other culture. Any culture that becomes universal loses its singularity and dies. That's what happened to all those cultures we destroyed by forcefully assimilating them. But it is also true of our own culture, despite its claim of being universally valid. The only difference is that other cultures died because of their singularity, which is a beautiful death. We are dying because we are losing our own singularity and exterminating all our values. And this is a much more ugly death....
We are really not talking about a "clash of civilizations" here, but instead about an almost anthropological confrontation between an undifferentiated universal culture and everything else that, in whatever domain, retains a quality of irreducible alterity. From the perspective of global power (as fundamentalist in its beliefs as any religious orthodoxy), any mode of difference and singularity is heresy. Singular forces only have the choice of joining the global system (by will or by force) or perishing. The mission of the West (or rather the former West, since it lost its own values a long time ago) is to use all available means to subjugate every culture to the brutal principle of cultural equivalence. Once a culture has lost its values, it can only seek revenge by attacking those of others. Beyond their political or economic objectives, wars such as the one in Afghanistan  aim at normalizing savagery and aligning all the territories. The goal is to get rid of any reactive zone, and to colonize and domesticate any wild and resisting territory both geographically and mentally. more »
Saturday, July 18
by Rich on July 18, 2009 07:32AM (PDT)
Today, words like “progress” and “development” have become interchangeable with economic “reforms”, deregulation and privatisation. “Freedom” has come to mean “choice”. It has less to do with the human spirit than it does with different brands of deodorant. “Market” no longer means a place where you go to buy provisions. The “market” is a de-territorialised space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling “futures”. “Justice” has come to mean “human rights” (and of those, as they say, “a few will do”).
This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the tsars of the new dispensation. It has allowed them to marginalise their detractors, deprive them of a language in which to voice their critique and dismiss them as being “anti-progress”, “anti-development”, “anti-reform” and of course “anti-national” – negativists of the worst sort. Talk about saving a river or protecting a forest and they say, “Don’t you believe in progress?” To people whose land is being submerged by dam reservoirs and whose homes are being bulldozed they say, “Do you have an alternative development model?” To those who believe that a government is duty-bound to provide people with basic education, health care and social security, they say, “You’re against the market.” And who except a cretin could be against a market? more »
Saturday, July 4
by Debashish on July 4, 2009 11:50AM (PDT)
Partha Chatterjee, founding member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective, is director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and visiting professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Chatterjee's interests are diverse and include Bengali theater. He has acted in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's story The Namesake.
Chatterjee's work on anticolonial and postcolonial nationalism has left a definitive mark on contemporary scholarship. He has grappled with the problem of an Euro-American modernity politically institutionalized by the nation-state, in its implementations in terms of resistant cultural nationalisms among non-western and colonized peoples and their imagined communities.
The present inflection of his work moves towards postcolonial governmentality and the grassroots cultural politics of claiming identities within its categoric specifciations.
Chatterjee points out how the standard secular form of post-Enlightenment nationalism has been adapted in attempts to arrive at alternate forms within non-western cultures, yet how such adaptations have been marked by serious ambiguity, becoming co-opted by the forms they have sought to resist, rendered impotent or transformed into fascict ideologies. He calls for a continuous popular/communitarian creativity in understanding and dealing with such transformations, though his voice in this matter, judging by India's postcolonial history, tends towards pessimism.
For example, this is what he has to say about the moibilization of religion in its anti-colonial adaptations:
The innovations in nationalist thinking and nationalist mobilizations which have occurred in the postcolonial world have tended to get repressed by the emergence of fairly standardized forms of governance. Many of these innovations were actually repressed because they were not seen to be consistent with the known forms of the modern state. For instance, if you had movements or parties which were largely based on religion, this was seen to be somehow inconsistent with the idea of a modern constitutional state. Therefore, there was always this problem of what to do with such movements. Yet, those movements have been very influential and powerful in terms of mobilizing people against colonial rule.
So, once the objective of decolonization and transfer of power to a new nationalist elite had been met, the question was how to contain or manage these forces that had been released in the course of the national movement. That is where many of these tensions remained unresolved. If you look at the case of post-independence India, this whole debate about the "secular" state and what the secular state must do and what it means, in a sense, reflected this unresolved tension. In the historical process of the emergence of that state, a great deal of the mobilization had used religion, had depended on extremely powerful religious reform movements, of actually shaping what were seen to be religious beliefs and religious practices but changing them, reformulating them, in order to conform to what were seen to be the new challenges of the modern world.
So these religious reform movements were often completely part of the broader set of social changes that brought about nationalism, that brought about the new state, that brought about new political formations. They were integrally tied with many of those movements and yet the requirements of the secular state presumably forbade religion in public places or public life, or forbade political parties based on religion, because these were somehow inconsistent with a modern nation-state. Very often, there were all kinds of shortcuts or repressive ways of keeping those things under cover, as it were. Many of the tensions around secularism, for instance, and the kinds of challenges that emerged later on, in the case of India's Hindu right-wing in the 1980s for instance, were very much part of these unresolved questions from within the national movement. What the Hindu right then appealed to was not to say that nationalism was all wrong; they said, in fact, that they were the "true" nationalists. The reason why that could be said persuasively was because of a great deal of religious-based rhetoric and the presence, as I said, of these powerful religious reform movements, which were always part and parcel of nationalism.
So these remained unresolved problems. The overall frames remained derivative, almost imitations of forms of the state as developed in the West, but in actual practice what had to be done was to find completely innovative practices at the localized level. The real problem occurred when many of these local adaptations and innovations required a new translation into the larger frame. more »
Thursday, June 25
by Rich on June 25, 2009 08:36AM (PDT)
Thus Amos, unlike so many of the land-fixated commentators among his fellow countrymen, was one of the first to recognize that the settlements in the territories Israel has occupied since 1967 were a self-imposed catastrophe: "The settlements...have tied Israel's hands in any negotiation to achieve lasting peace.... [They] have only made it less secure." That a country with the strongest military in its region, and with an unbroken string of armed victories behind it, should be so obsessed with the security risks of relinquishing a few square miles of land may seem odd indeed. But it speaks to the changes that have overtaken Elon's homeland in recent decades.
As he foresaw in 2003, Israeli insistence upon ruling over an Arab population that will eventually become a majority within the country's borders can only lead to a single authoritarian state encompassing two mutually hostile nations: one dominant, the other subservient. With what outcome? "If Israel persists in its current settlement policy,...the end result is more likely to resemble Zimbabwe than post-apartheid South Africa." Many have since come to this depressing conclusion; I believe Amos was the first to make the point.
Amos wrote more in sorrow than anger. Many years ago, when few nonspecialists were even paying attention, he wrote despairingly of "the hu-man energies wasted for more than a generation on short-sighted settlement programs.... Think of what might have been achieved had the billions poured into the shifting sands of Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, been spent on more useful causes." Such misplaced efforts he attributed to what he called "the astonishing mediocrity of Israeli politicians." That was written in 2002. The incompetence and political cowardice of a generation of Israeli Labor statesmen, from the sainted Golda Meir to the egregious Shimon Peres, were already manifest. But there was worse to come: Amos Elon would live to see the resurrection of Benjamin Netanyahu and the obscene elevation to foreign minister of Avigdor Lieberman, sad confirmation of his assessment.... more »
Saturday, June 13
by Rich on June 13, 2009 08:12PM (PDT)
Pakistan and India have been at war since 1948. There have been occasional flare-ups, pitched battles between the two armies, but mostly the war has taken the form of a guerrilla battle between the Indian army and Pakistani surrogates in Kashmir. In 2004 the two countries began a cautious peace process, but rather than ending, the war has since migrated to Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas on the Afghan border. ‘Safe havens’ for a reinvigorated Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, the tribal areas are seen by the West as the ‘greatest threat’ to its security, as well as being the main cause of Western frustration with Pakistan. The reason is simple: the Pakistan army’s counterinsurgency strategy is not principally directed at the Taliban or even al-Qaida: the main enemy is India. more »
Saturday, May 30
by Ron on May 30, 2009 04:11PM (PDT)
With the 1978 publication of Orientalism, Edward Said launched a critique of Western scholarship on the Middle East that still reverberates through academia and government. By characterizing Middle Eastern cultures as incapable of adapting to modern life, the early Orientalists, in Said’s view, hid their colonial, and indeed racist, biases. In the process, he suggested, Orientalists fooled themselves—and Westerners generally—into believing that their studies were undertaken with total neutrality. Said particularly attacked Bernard Lewis as the contemporary exemplar of this entrenched view. In a series of exchanges, Said argued that such scholarly bias contributed to the failure of the West to recognize Palestinians as a distinct people or to value Middle Eastern nations except for their oil. While Said did not live to see how Lewis’s views would influence the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, the terms of his critique still divide scholars.
Despite decades of controversy, however, neither Said’s most recent supporters, such as Juan Cole and Rashid Khalidi, nor his most ardent critics, Raphael Patai and Daniel Pipes, have succeeded in subjecting Said’s concerns to a serious analysis that might address the central question: can scholarship on the Middle East ever be freed from its political context? ... more »
Saturday, May 16
by Rich on May 16, 2009 10:36AM (PDT)
The Congress party delivered its best performance for decades, and while it will still need the support of regional parties outside its United Progressive Alliance (UPA), it was expected to form a considerably more powerful government that it did in 2004, and one more able to push through an ambitious reforming programme. more »
Monday, April 13
Cybernetics Is An Antihumanism: Advanced Technologies and the Rebellion Against the Human Condition: Metnexus (Global Spiral)
by Rich on April 13, 2009 10:25PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 years of Sri Aurobindo on evolution
In those places where Heideggerian thought has been influential, it became impossible to defend human values against the claims of science. This was particularly true in France, where structuralism—and then poststructuralism—reigned supreme over the intellectual landscape for several decades before taking refuge in the literature departments of American universities. Anchored in the thought of the three great Germanic "masters of suspicion"—Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud—against a common background of Heideggerianism, the human sciences à la française made antihumanism their watchword5, loudly celebrating exactly what humanists dread: the death of man. This unfortunate creature, or rather a certain image that man created of himself, was reproached for being "metaphysical." With Heidegger, "metaphysics" acquired a new and quite special sense, opposite to its usual meaning. For positivists ever since Comte, the progress of science had been seen as forcing the retreat of metaphysics; for Heidegger, by contrast, technoscience represented the culmination of metaphysics. And the height of metaphysics was nothing other than cybernetics.
Let us try to unravel this tangled skein. For Heidegger, metaphysics is the search for an ultimate foundation for all reality, for a "primary being" in relation to which all other beings find their place and purpose. Where traditional metaphysics ("onto-theology") had placed God, modern metaphysics substituted man. This is why modern metaphysics is fundamentally humanist, and humanism fundamentally metaphysical. Man is a subject endowed with consciousness and will: his features were described at the dawn of modernity in the philosophy of Descartes and Leibniz. As a conscious being, he is present and transparent to himself; as a willing being, he causes things to happen as he intends. Subjectivity, both as theoretical presence to oneself and as practical mastery over the world, occupies center stage in this scheme—whence the Cartesian promise to make man "master and possessor of nature." In the metaphysical conception of the world, Heidegger holds, everything that exists is a slave to the purposes of man; everything becomes an object of his will, fashionable as a function of his ends and desires. The value of things depends solely on their capacity to help man realize his essence, which is to achieve mastery over being. It thus becomes clear why technoscience, and cybernetics in particular, may be said to represent the completion of metaphysics. To contemplative thought—thought that poses the question of meaning and of Being, understood as the sudden appearance of things, which escapes all attempts at grasping it—Heidegger opposes "calculating" thought. This latter type is characteristic of all forms of planning that seek to attain ends by taking circumstances into account. Technoscience, insofar as it constructs mathematical models to better establish its mastery over the causal organization of the world, knows only calculating thought. Cybernetics is precisely that which calculates—computes—in order to govern, in the nautical sense (Wiener coined the term from the Greek xvbepvntns, meaning "steersman"): it is indeed the height of metaphysics. more »
Monday, December 15
Thursday, November 27
by Rich on November 27, 2008 05:57PM (PST)
The juxtaposition is what creates the magic
— Suketu Mehta
Our recommended links represent some of the best resources we have found on the web for integrating global perspectives with critical reflections....
Open Democracy and Global Voices (who it seems C.N.N has just discovered) move along complimentary liminal pathways in the cybersphere of global journalism to engage important perspectives left out in the corporatist Media-net
Kanishk Tharoor is an assistant editor of Open Democracy and he raises an interesting question regards the agenda post-Mumbai for a similar Patriot Act in India as in the States post 9/11. more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler