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Mormons In Space George Caffentzis & Silvia Federici

     

Space is but Time congealed. An arrangement of Work/Life in integrated sequences. The Earth is another Matter however. So why this urge to get out of Earth? To simultaneously destroy it and transcend it?

Is this capital’s nasty little secret: the destruction of the final recalcitrant Body? The in-itself of capitalist functionality, the residue of a billion years of noncapitalist formation . . . why should there be Mountains here, Rivers there and an Ocean exactly here after all?

Why indeed space shuttles, space colonies mixed with such a density of bombs, bombs and still more bombs . . . to destroy the Earth n-times over as if to assure not the least roach existence. Why the simultaneous attempt to re-code the chromosomes and the neural system?

Why if not to define a truly capitalist BEING, in a purely capitalist plasm and a final purely capitalist sequence of work events. Weightless, formless neuro systems unwebbed and ready for infinite rewebbing.

Why if not a search for a being unprogrammed by millenia shifting at the bottom of a ton of oxygen luging all this weight around, this gravity against work.

Space is ultimately the obstacle of Time . . . Bergson got it wrong . . . Luckacs too . . . capitalism is not the spatialization of Time but rather the temporalization of Space, the dissolving of distance, of the Just-Thereness of where we come from.

«Outer space» is not Space as we know it, but a final merging with the relations of time. It is lusted for not because of the minerals on Mars – no more than the gold and silver in the rivers of the Caribbean isles was – but what they can do to you on Mars when they get you there.

This is why the working class is so archaic, such a malfunctioning machine. The early Hobbesians were only partly right: Humans are not Machines but only poor copies of them. Their desires are too limited and then again too wide. They have a desperation for a housework built on a million years of non-capitalist pleasures and pains and a revulsion of their own archaicness that is too arbitrary.

The Lebensraum of Hitler was really an Arbeitsraum that required an immense destruction of «leben» to achieve and then finally failed. So too with porcelain tiles glued on, computers in a soap opera of «You don’t understand me»: the return of the space shuttle is heralded with a desperation that you wonder at this desire for a biologically pure realm, freed from the seasonal, diurnal and lunar cycles, airless, weightless and open to infinite reductions.

This has always been capital’s fatal attraction: its indifference to Space. For the Here-Now disappears when your essential problem is not what I need, desire and want now but what another needs, desires or wants of what I need, desire or want. The Here vanishes in an abstracted There-Here-There.

You can see capital from its space stations looking down . . . «Those poor, slightly crazed machines! Their needs have been so thoughtlessly defined, their sexuality is inconsiderate, and their desires are fixed by biochemical cycles so local that they make you want to cry! When will we finally be able to rid ourselves of these Bodies?»

If one tried to define the Zeitgeist breathing through the New Right today one would be confronted with a seemingly undecipherable puzzle. On the one side these are the spokesmen for a scientific and technological revolution that a few years ago would have smacked of science fiction: gene-splicing, DNA computers, time-compression techniques, space colonies. At the same time the circles of the New Right have witnessed a revival of religious tendencies and moral conservatism that one would have thought was buried once and for all with «our» Puritan Founding Fathers. Falwell’s Moral Majority is the most vocal of this return to the values of Calvin and Cotton Mather, but by far not the only one. Wherever you turn, Godfearing, Satan-minded groups, detemmined to reshape the country on the model of the Puritan colonies, are sprawling like mushrooms: Christian Voice, Pro-Family Forum, National Prayer Campaign, Eagle Forum, Right to Life Commission, Fund to Restore an Educated Electorate, Institute for Christian Economics. Seen in its general contours, then, the body of the New Right seems stretching in two opposite directions, attempting at once a bold leap into the past and an equally bold leap into the future.

The puzzle increases when we realize that these are not separate sects, but in more than one way they involve the same people and the same money. Despite a few petty squabbles and a few pathetic contortions to keep up the «pluralism» facade, the hand that sends the shuttle into orbit or recombines mice and rabbits is the same that is fretfully pushing for gays to be sent to the stake and is drawing a big cross not just through the 20th, but the l9th and 18th centuries, too.

To what extent the Moral Majority and Co. and the science futurologists are one soul, one mission, is best seen, if not in the lives of their individual spokesmen (though the image of the «electronic minister» and of a President who in the same breath blesses God and calls for stepped up nerve-gas production and the neutron bomb are good evidence of this marriage}, then in the harmony of intent they display when confronted with the «key issues» of the time. When it comes to economic and political matters, all shreds of difference drop off and both souls of the New Right pull money and resources towards their common goals. Free-Market, laissez-faire economics (for business, of course), the militarization of the country (what is called «building a strong military defense»), bolstering «intemal security,» i.e., giving the FBI and CIA free rein to police our daily life, cutting all social spending except that devoted to building prisons and ensuring that thousands will fill them; in a word, asserting U.S. capital’s ownership of the world and setting «America» to work at the minimum wage (or below) are goals for which all the New Right would swear on the Bible.

A clue to understanding the double soul of the New Right is to realise that its mixture of reactionary social policies and scientific boldness is not a novelty in the history of capitalism. If we look at the beginning of capital – the 16th and 17th century to which the Moral Majority would so happily return – we see a similar situation in the countries of the «take off.» At the very time when Galileo was pointing his telescope to the moon, and Francis Bacon was laying the foundations of scientific rationality, women and gays by the thousands were burnt on the stake throughout Europe, with the universal blessing of the modernizing (sic) European intelligentsia.

A sudden craze? An inexplicable fall into barbarism? In reality, the witch hunt was part and parcel of that attempt at «human perfectibility» that is commonly acknowledged as the dream of the fathers of modem rationalism. For the thrust of the emerging capitalist class towards the domination and exploitation of nature would have remained a dead letter without the concomitant creation of a new type of individual whose behavior would be as regular, predictable and controllable as that of the newly discovered natural laws. To achieve this purpose one had to destroy that magical conception of the world that, e.g., make the Indians in the overseas colonies believe that it was a sacrilege to mine the earth, or in the heart of Europe assured the proletariat that people could fly, be in two places at the same time, divine the future and (most important) that on some «unlucky days» all enterprise had to be carefully avoided. The witch hunt, moreover, ensured the control over the main source of labor, the woman’s body, by criminalizing abortion and all forms of contraception as a crime against the state. Finally, the witch hunt was functional to the reorganization of family life, i.e., the restructuring of reproduction that accompanied the reorganization of work on a capitalistic basis. On the stake died the adulteress, the woman of «ill repute,» the lesbian, the woman who lived alone, or lacked «maternal spirit» or had illegitimate children. On the stake ended many beggars, who had impudently launched their curses against the refusal of some «ale and bread.» For in the «transition» to capitalism it was primarily the woman, especially the woman in rebellion, (destined to depend on a man for her survival) who became pauperised. The fathers of modem rationalism approved; some even complained that the state did not go far enough. Notoriously, Bodin insisted that the witches should not be «mercifully» strangled before being given to the flames.

That today we find a similar situation prevailing in the USA is an indication of the depth of capital’s crisis. Always – in its beginning as, we would hope, in its end – when uncertain of its foundations, capital goes down to basics. At present this means attempting a bold technological leap which on one side (at the developing pole of production) concentrates capital and automates work to an unprecedented degree and, on the other, consigns millions of workers to either wagelessness (unemployment) or to employment in intensive-labor types of jobs, paid at minimum rates, on the model of the much acclaimed «workforce.» This involves, however, a reorganization of the process whereby labor is reproduced – a project in which women are expected to play a most crucial role.

The institutionalization of repression and self-discipline along the line of the Moral Majority and the New Christian right is today required for both ends of the working class spectrum: For those who are destined to temporary, part-time subsistence level of wages (accompanied by long hours of work or a perennial quest for jobs) as well as for those who are elected to a «meaningful wage» working with the most sophisticated equipment capital’s technologists are now able to produce. That the holy trinity of God/Work/ Family is always crucial in times of repression is a well-tested truth capital has never forgotten. What could be more productive than a life of isolation, where the only relations we have with each other are relations of reciprocal discipline: Daddy controlling Mommy, Mommy teaching the children that life is hard and survival problematic, neighbors getting together to keep the neighborhood «clean,» sociality shrinking to those occasions that help us find or keep a job? And if life is pain there is always God, in whose name you can even justify nuclear war against the infidels who, like the rebellious Sodomites, deserve to be wiped out from the face of the earth (even if a few of the righteous get wiped out too). And you can even justify a nuclear war that will wipe out yourself too: after all, what’s the big deal about life if you have already accepted to bargain cancer for a wage, renounce all your desires and postpone your fulfillment to another world?

Let us not be mistaken. Weinberger needs Jerry Falwell, as does Reagan. From Wall Street to the Army, all capital’s utopias are predicated on an infinitesimal micropolitics at the level of the body, curbing our animal spirits and redefining the meaning of that famous Pursuit of Happiness that (so far at least) has been the biggest of all constitutional lies. And Jerry Falwell is even more needed for the development of the high-tech (computer, information, energy, genetic) worker who – unlike those at the lower echelons of the working class – cannot be run by the stick (in case God failed); for the damage he can do (should he slip in his duty) is infinitely greater, because the machines he works with are infinitely more costly.

What the launching of high-tech industry needs mostly today is a technological leap in the human machine – a big evolutionary step creating a new type of worker to match capital’s investment needs. What are the faculties required by the new being our futurologists advocate? A look at the debate on space colonies is revealing in this respect. All agree, first of all, that the main impediment today to the development of human colonies in space is bio-social rather than technological, i.e., you may be able to glue the space shuttle’s tiles together but gluing the right space worker-technician is a project that even the present genetic breathroughs are far from having solved. An individual is needed who can:

  • endure social isolation and sensory deprivation for long periods of time without breaking down,
  • perform «perfectly» in an extremely hostile/alien and artificial environment and under enormous stress,
  • achieve a superb control of his bodily functions (consider: it takes an hour to shit in space!) and psychological reactions (anger, hate, indecisiveness), our all-too-human frailties which can be disastrous in the fragile, vulnerable world of life in space,
  • demonstrates total obedience, conformity and receptivity to commands, for there can be little tolerance for social deviations and disagreements when the most minute act of sabotage can have catastrophic consequences to the very costly, complex and powerful equipment entrusted in their hands.

Indeed, not only will the space technician have a quasi-religious relation to his machine but he himself must become more and more machine-like, achieving a perfect symbiosis with his computer which, in the long nights of space, is often his only and always his most reliable guide, his companion, his buddy, his friend.

The space worker, then, must be a highly ascetic type, pure in body and soul, perfect in his performance, obedient like a well-wound clock and extremely fetishistic in his mental modes. Where is this gem most likely bred? In a fundamentalist type religious sect. To put it in the words of biologist Garrett Harding:

What group would be most suitable to this most recent Brave New World (the space colony)? Probably a religious group. There must be unity of thought and the acceptance of discipline. But the colonists couldn’t be a bunch of Unitarians or Quakers, for these people regard the individual conscience as the best guide to action. space colonies’ existence would require something more like the Hutterites or the Mormons for its inhabitants . . . integration could not be risked on this delicate vessel, for fear of sabotage and terrorism. Only «purification» would do.

Not surprisingly, a few days after landing, the first space shuttle astronauts were greeted by Elder Neal Maxwell at the Mormon Tabernacle. ‘We honor tonight men who have seen God in all his majesty and power,’ he said and the 6000 member congregation responded, «Amen.»

The fight between creationism and evolutionism is just an internal capitalist squabble as to what are the most adequate means of control. Until our social biologists and genetic engineers – the heros of today’s scientific breakthrough – have found the means to create a perfect robot, the whip will do, particularly in an age still infected with the anarchic ideologies of the ’60s, when a lot of bad germs have already been implanted in children and parents alike.

Moreover, the asceticism, self-control, the flight from the earth and the body which is the substance of puritan teaching is the best soil in which capital’s scientific and economic plans can flourish. Indeed, today, more consciously than ever, in its attempt to relocate itself on safer shores, capital is embracing the dream of all religion: the overcoming of all physical boundaries, the reduction of the individual human being to an angel-like creature, all soul and will. In the creation of the electronic/space worker, the priest of scientific exploration-exploitation of the universe, capital is fighting once again its historic battle against matter, attempting to break at once both the boundaries of the earth and the boundaries of «human nature» which, in its present form, present irreducible limits that must be overcome.

The thrust to the organization of industries in space and the dematerialization of the body go together. For the former cannot be accomplished without the remolding of a whole nexus of needs, wishes, desires, that are the product of billions of years of material evolution on the planet and which up to now have been the material conditions of bio-social reproduction – the blues, the greens, the nipple, the balls, the hair of the anus, the texture of oranges, beef, carrots, the wind and sea smell, the day light, the need for physical contact, SEX!!!

The dangers of sexuality are emblematic of the obstacles capital encounters in the attempt to create a totally self-controlled being, capable of spending nights and nights alone, talking just to his computer, with his mind focused on nothing but the screen. Can you afford to be homy or lonely in space? Can you afford to be jealous or have a marital breakdown??

What’s the right attitude in this respect is indicated by a report on the South Pole Station in Antarctica that ostensibly was set up to study meteorological, astronomical and geographical conditions at the pole, but in reality is a big center for human experimentation: the study of human beings in conditions approaching that of space (isolation for many months, lack of sensuous contact, etc.). This report states:

As for sexual relations . . . all candidates were warned of the «dangers» of sexual liaisons under the supercharged conditions here. Celibacy was the best course… men think of nothing but sex for the first few weeks, then it is submerged until nearly the end of the winter. One worker reported, «You just basically put it out of your mind. You are working all the time; there is no privacy.»

Celibacy, AIDS, abstinence: it is the last step in a long process whereby increasingly capital has decreased the sensuous-sexual content of our lives and encounters with people, substituting the mental image for the physical touch. Centuries of capitalist discipline have gone a long way toward producing individuals who shrink from others for fear of touch. (See the way we live our social spaces: buses, trains, each passenger closed in its own space, its own body, keeping well-defined, though invisible boundaries; each person its own castle.) This physical as well as emotional isolation from each other is the essence of capitalist cooperation. But it – as well as the dematerialization of all forms of our life – finds culmination in the inhabitant of the future space colony whose success depends on his ability to become a pure, totally purified angel – who does not fuck, does not require the sensuous stimulations which are our daily nourishment on earth, but can live by solely feeding on its self-sufficient, self-centered will power.

Increasing the abstractness of the enemy body, reducing the person you destroy to a blip on a video machine: this is another essential element of death production which is likely to be the central product of space industrialization. Indeed, electronic war can become so abstract that unless your image is put into the video screen you’re likely to forget that you can be destroyed yourself. The abstractness of the object of aggression is the essence of the lesson that is being taught to fundamentalist youth, who from an early age are told that all «deviants» are the same – perfectly interchangeable – as equal expressions of the abstract powers of evil.

Communism = Homosexuality = Drugs = Promiscuousness = Subversion = Terrorism = Lesbianism = . . . = Satan. From this point of view, all questions of «who,» «what,» «where» and «when» become irrelevant: a good practice for a politics of repression, and an excellent one for a policy of massive nuclear destruction, which requires building a type of being who can accept the destruction of millions of bodies as an unpleasant, perhaps, but nevertheless necessary goal to cleanse the earth from all social deviation and struggle – a pollution much worse in the eyes of the fundamentalist than strontium 90.

To achieve this, a strategy of systematic isolation is necessary: breaking all bonds between ourselves and others and distancing ourselves even from our own body. The electronic church completely dematerializes the healer, who becomes a cool image duplicated on thousands of screens or a «personal» comment in a letter written by a computer. One’s main «feedback’ with the preacher is the monetary one: you send your money and he begins to pray for you. If you fall back on the payments, the prayers begin to lose their fervor until they end with the «final notice.»

With the electronic preacher, social relations become so abstract that they are virtually substituted by an image: the radio-TV sermon serves the same function as the home computer for the high tech family: reproducing for you, in a purified-disembodied form, the relations/experiences of which you have been deprived in day-to-day life. They substitute dangerous – because unpredictable – human encounters with a gadget produced sociality that can be turned off and shut down at will. It goes directly to the soul without passing through the body: clean, efficient, infinitely available at all hours of day and night. (In fact it can be recorded and replayed whenever you want – time, too, not only space, is won!!!)

Living with the machine, becoming like a machine: a desexualized angel, moving in the interstices of the engine, perfectly integrating work-space and life space as in the astronauts’ pod, infinitely weightless because purified of the force of gravity, of all human desires/temptations – the ancient refusal of work finally negated. Capital’s old dream of «human perfectibility» that loomed so prominent in the 16th and 17th century utopias, from Bacon to Descartes, seems ready at hand. Not only can we now answer the famous Puritan question, «What do the angels do in heaven?» but we even know how they feel. Here it’s Wally Shirra talking:

Feeling weightless … I don’t know, it’s so many things together. A feeling of pride, of healthy solitude, of dignified freedom from everything that’s dirty, sticky. You feel exquisitely comfortable, that’s the word for it, exquisitely . . . You feel comfortable and you feel you have so much energy, such an urge to do things, such an ability to do things. And you work well, yes, you think well, you move well, without sweat, without difficulty, as if the biblical curse In the sweat of thy face and in sorrow no longer exists. As if you’ve been born again.

How petty life on earth seems from such heights . . . No wonder capital is so careless with our earthly home, so eager to destroy it – the big bang of nuclear explosion – destroying in one second millions of tons of matter – the perfect embodiment of the victory of the spirit over the earth-matter – as creative as the first act of God! Big Bang Big Phallus . reduced to its pure, power-hungry essence, fucking this rotting Earth in its god-like aspiration to be free from all constraints. Faust in an angel/astronaut/spaceworker face, a superman who does not need any-body, neither his own nor another’s, to have his will, not just on earth but in the universe as well.

A society of angels, ruled by God, and motivated by purely spiritual-religious-patriotic concerns. The adventure of space colonization will not be a «New America» in the sense of being the dumping ground of castaways, misfits and slaves. The need for total identification with the work-project, total obedience, total self-discipline and self-control, is so high that, according to NASA, even the old forms of reward should be immediately ruled out:

High monetary incentive should not be used for space colonization recruiting because it attracts the wrong people. Furthermore, it would be unhealthy for the community as well as for the individuals concerned to make efforts to retain ‘misfits’ in the extraterrestrial community. It would be healthier to return them to Earth, even though this might seem more expensive.

Work without a wage. It is the essential capitalist utopia where the work and repression becomes its own reward, and all the refusers are cast out into the cold stellar night. We have finally reached their limit.

SEMIOTEXT[E] USA

 

Socrates defines ‘Love’ by telling what he once learned from Diotima:

From Plato’s Symposium

And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love which I heard from Diotima of Mantineia, a woman wise in this and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love, and I shall repeat to you what she said to me, beginning with the admissions made by Agathon, which are nearly if not quite the same which I made to the wise woman when she questioned me-I think that this will be the easiest way, and I shall take both parts myself as well as I can. As you, Agathon, suggested, I must speak first of the being and nature of Love, and then of his works. First I said to her in nearly the same words which he used to me, that Love was a mighty god, and likewise fair and she proved to me as I proved to him that, by my own showing, Love was neither fair nor good.

«What do you mean, Diotima,» I said, «is love then evil and foul?» «Hush,» she cried; «must that be foul which is not fair?» «Certainly,» I said. «And is that which is not wise, ignorant? do you not see that there is a mean between wisdom and ignorance?» «And what may that be?» I said. «Right opinion,» she replied; «which, as you know, being incapable of giving a reason, is not knowledge (for how can knowledge be devoid of reason? nor again, ignorance, for neither can ignorance attain the truth), but is clearly something which is a mean between ignorance and wisdom.» «Quite true,» I replied. «Do not then insist,» she said, «that what is not fair is of necessity foul, or what is not good evil; or infer that because love is not fair and good he is therefore foul and evil; for he is in a mean between them.»

«Well,» I said, «Love is surely admitted by all to be a great god.» «By those who know or by those who do not know?» «By all.» «And how, Socrates,» she said with a smile, «can Love be acknowledged to be a great god by those who say that he is not a god at all?» «And who are they?» I said. «You and I are two of them,» she replied. «How can that be?» I said. «It is quite intelligible,» she replied; «for you yourself would acknowledge that the gods are happy and fair of course you would-would to say that any god was not?»

«Certainly not,» I replied. «And you mean by the happy, those who are the possessors of things good or fair?» «Yes.» «And you admitted that Love, because he was in want, desires those good and fair things of which he is in want?» «Yes, I did.» «But how can he be a god who has no portion in what is either good or fair?» «Impossible.» «Then you see that you also deny the divinity of Love.»

«What then is Love?» I asked; «Is he mortal?» «No.» «What then?» «As in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a mean between the two.» «What is he, Diotima?» «He is a great spirit (daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal.» «And what,» I said, «is his power?»

«He interprets,» she replied, «between gods and men, conveying and taking across to the gods the prayers and sacrifices of men, and to men the commands and replies of the gods; he is the mediator who spans the chasm which divides them, and therefore in him all is bound together, and through him the arts of the prophet and the priest, their sacrifices and mysteries and charms, and all, prophecy and incantation, find their way. For God mingles not with man; but through Love. all the intercourse, and converse of god with man, whether awake or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts, is mean and vulgar. Now these spirits or intermediate powers are many and diverse, and one of them is Love.

«And who,» I said, «was his father, and who his mother?» «The tale,» she said, «will take time; nevertheless I will tell you. On the birthday of Aphrodite there was a feast of the gods, at which
the god Poros or Plenty, who is the son of Metis or Discretion, was one of the guests. When the feast was over, Penia or Poverty, as the manner is on such occasions, came about the doors to beg. Now Plenty who was the worse for nectar (there was no wine in those days), went into the garden of Zeus and fell into a heavy sleep, and Poverty considering her own straitened circumstances, plotted to have a child by him, and accordingly she lay down at his side and conceived love, who partly because he is naturally a lover of the beautiful, and because Aphrodite
is herself beautiful, and also because he was born on her birthday, is her follower and attendant. And as his parentage is, so also are his fortunes. In the first place he is always poor, and anything but tender and fair, as the many imagine him; and he is rough and squalid, and has no shoes, nor a house to dwell in; on the bare earth exposed he lies under the open heaven, in-the streets, or at the doors of houses, taking his rest; and like his mother he is always in distress.
«Like his father too, whom he also partly resembles, he is always plotting against the fair and good; he is bold, enterprising, strong, a mighty hunter, always weaving some intrigue or other, keen in the pursuit of wisdom, fertile in resources; a philosopher at all times, terrible as an enchanter, sorcerer, sophist. He is by nature neither mortal nor immortal, but alive and flourishing at one moment when he is in plenty, and dead at another moment, and again alive by reason of his father’s nature. But that which is always flowing in is always flowing out, and so he is never in want and never in wealth; and, further, he is in a mean between ignorance and knowledge.
«The truth of the matter is this: No god is a philosopher. or seeker after wisdom, for he is wise already; nor does any man who is wise seek after wisdom. Neither do the ignorant seek after Wisdom. For herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no want.»

«But-who then, Diotima,» I said, «are the lovers of wisdom, if they are neither the wise nor the foolish?» «A child may answer that question,» she replied; «they are those who are in a mean between the two; Love is one of them. For wisdom is a most beautiful thing, and Love is of the beautiful; and therefore Love is also a philosopher: or lover of wisdom, and being a lover of wisdom is in a mean between the wise and the ignorant. And of this too his birth is the cause;
for his father is wealthy and wise, and his mother poor and foolish. Such, my dear Socrates, is the nature of the spirit Love. The error in your conception of him was very natural, and as I imagine from what you say, has arisen out of a confusion of love and the beloved, which made you think that love was all beautiful. For the beloved is the truly beautiful, and delicate, and perfect, and blessed; but the principle of love is of another nature, and is such as I have described.»

I said, «O thou stranger woman, thou sayest well; but, assuming Love to be such as you say, what is the use of him to men?» «That, Socrates,» she replied, «I will attempt to unfold: of his nature and birth I have already spoken; and you acknowledge that love is of the beautiful. But some one will say: Of the beautiful in what, Socrates and Diotima?-or rather let me put the question more dearly, and ask: When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?» I answered her «That the beautiful
may be his.» «Still,» she said, «the answer suggests a further question: What is given by the possession of beauty?»

«To what you have asked,» I replied, «I have no answer ready.» «Then,» she said, «Let me put the word ‘good’ in the place of the beautiful, and repeat the question once more: If he who loves good, what is it then that he loves? «The possession of the good,» I said. «And what does he gain who possesses the good?» «Happiness,» I replied; «there is less difficulty in answering that question.» «Yes,» she said, «the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things. Nor is there any need to ask why a man desires happiness; the answer is already final.»

«You are right.» I said. «And is this wish and this desire common to all? and do all men always desire their own good, or only some men?-what say you?» «All men,» I replied; «the desire is common to all.» «Why, then,» she rejoined, «are not all men, Socrates, said to love, but only some them? whereas you say that all men are always loving the same things.»
«I myself wonder,» I said,-why this is.» «There is nothing to wonder at,» she replied; «the reason is that one part of love is separated off and receives the name of the whole, but the other parts have other names.» «Give an illustration,» I said. She answered me as follows: «There is poetry, which, as you know, is complex; and manifold. All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and the processes of all art are creative; and the masters of arts are all poets or makers.» «Very true.» «Still,» she said, «you know that they are not called poets, but have other names; only that portion of the art which is separated off from the rest, and is concerned with music and metre, is termed poetry, and they who possess poetry in this sense of the word are called poets.»

«Very true,» I said. «And the same holds of love. For you may say generally that all desire of good and happiness is only the great and subtle power of love; but they who are drawn towards him by any other path, whether the path of money-making or gymnastics or philosophy, are not called lovers -the name of the whole is appropriated to those whose affection takes one form only-they alone are said to love, or to be lovers.» «I dare say,» I replied, «that you are right.»

«Yes,» she added, «and you hear people say that lovers are seeking for their other half; but I say that they are seeking neither for the half of themselves, nor for the whole, unless the half or the whole be also a good. And they will cut off their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they are evil; for they love not what is their own, unless perchance there be some one who calls what belongs to him the good, and what belongs to another the evil. For there is nothing which men love but the good. Is there anything?» «Certainly, I should say, that there is nothing.»

«Then,» she said, «the simple truth is, that men love the good.» «Yes,» I said. «To which must be added that they love the possession of the good? «Yes, that must be added.» «And not only the possession, but the everlasting possession of the good?» «That must be added too.» «Then love,» she said, «may be described generally as the love of the everlasting possession of the good?» «That is most true.»

«Then if this be the nature of love, can you tell me further,» she said, «what is the manner of the pursuit? what are they doing who show all this eagerness and heat which is called love? and what is the object which they have in view? Answer me.» «Nay, Diotima,» I replied, «if I had known, I should not have wondered at your wisdom, neither should I have come to learn from you about this very matter.»

«Well,» she said, «I will teach you:-The object which they have in view is birth in beauty, whether of body or, soul.» «I do not understand you,» I said; «the oracle requires an explanation.» «I will make my meaning dearer,» she replied. «I mean to say, that all men are bringing to the birth in their bodies and in their souls. There is a certain age at which human nature is desirous of procreation – procreation which must be in beauty and not in deformity; and this procreation is the union of man and woman, and is a divine thing; for conception and generation are an immortal principle in the mortal creature, and in the inharmonious they can never be. But the deformed is always unharmonious with the divine, and the beautiful harmonious.
«Beauty, then, is the destiny or goddess of parturition who presides at birth, and therefore, when approaching beauty, the conceiving power is propitious, and diffusive, and benign, and begets and bears fruit: at the sight of ugliness she frowns and contracts and has a sense of pain, and turns away, and shrivels up, and not without a pang refrains from conception. And this is the reason why, when the hour of conception arrives, and the teeming nature is full, there is such a flutter and ecstasy about beauty whose approach is the alleviation of the pain of travail. For love, Socrates, is not, as you imagine, the love of the beautiful only.» «What then?» «The love of generation and of birth in beauty.» «Yes,» I said. «Yes, indeed,» she replied. «But why of generation?»

«Because to the mortal creature, generation is a sort of eternity and immortality,» she replied; «and if, as has been already admitted, love is of the everlasting possession of the good, all men will necessarily desire immortality together with good: Wherefore love is of immortality.»

All this she taught me at various times when she spoke of love. And I remember her once saying to me, «What is the cause, Socrates, of love, and the attendant desire? See you not how all animals, birds, as well as beasts, in their desire of procreation, are in agony when they take the infection of love, which begins with the desire of union; whereto is added the care of offspring, on whose behalf the weakest are ready to battle against the strongest even to the uttermost, and to die for them, and will, let themselves be tormented with hunger or suffer anything in order to maintain their young. Man may be supposed to act thus from reason; but why should animals have these passionate
feelings? Can you tell me why?»

Again I replied that I did not know. She said to me: «And do you expect ever to become a master in the art of love, if you do not know this?» «But I have told you already, Diotima, that my ignorance is the reason why I come to you; for I am conscious that I want a teacher; tell me then the cause of this and of the other mysteries of love.»

«Marvel not,» she said, «if you believe that love is of the immortal, as we have several times acknowledged; for here again, and on the same principle too, the mortal nature is seeking as far as is possible to be everlasting and immortal: and this is only to be attained by generation, because generation always leaves behind a new existence in the place of the old. Nay even in the life, of the same individual there is succession and not absolute unity: a man is called the same, and yet in the short interval which elapses between youth and age, and in which every animal is said to have life and identity, he is undergoing a perpetual process of loss and reparation-hair, flesh, bones, blood, and the whole body are always changing. Which is true not only of the body, but also of the soul, whose habits, tempers, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, fears, never remain the same in any one of us, but are always coming and going; and equally true of knowledge, and what is still more surprising to us mortals, not only do the sciences in general spring up and decay, so that in respect of them we are never the same; but each of them individually experiences a like change.
«For what is implied in the word ‘recollection,’ but the departure of knowledge, which is ever being forgotten, and is renewed and preserved by recollection, and appears to be the same although in reality new, according to that law of succession by which all mortal things are reserved, not absolutely the same, but by substitution, the old worn-out mortality leaving another new and similar existence behind unlike the divine, which is always the same and not another? And in this way, Socrates, the mortal body, or mortal anything, partakes of immortality; but the immortal in another way. Marvel not then at the love which all men have of their offspring; for that universal love and interest is for the sake of immortality.»

I was astonished at her words, and said: «Is this really true, O thou wise Diotima?» And she answered with all the authority of an accomplished sophist: «Of that, Socrates, you may be assured;-think only of the ambition of men, and you will wonder at the senselessness of their
ways, unless you consider how they are stirred by the love of an immortality of fame. They are ready to run all risks greater far than they would have for their children, and to spend money and undergo any sort of toil, and even to die, for the sake of leaving behind them a name which shall be eternal. Do you imagine that Alcestis would have died to save Admetus, or Achilles to avenge Patroclus, or your own Codrus in order to preserve the kingdom for his sons, if they had not imagined that the memory of their virtues, which still survives among us, would be immortal? Nay,» she said, «I am persuaded that all men do all things, and the better they are the more they do them, in hope of the glorious fame of immortal virtue; for they desire the immortal.
«Those who are pregnant in the body only, betake themselves to women and beget children-this is the character of their love; their offspring, as they hope, will preserve their memory and giving them the blessedness and immortality which they desire in the future. But souls which are pregnant-for there certainly are men who are more creative in their souls than in their bodies conceive that which is proper for the soul to conceive or contain. And what are these conceptions?-wisdom and virtue in general. And such creators are poets and all artists who are deserving of the name inventor. But the greatest and fairest sort of wisdom by far is that which is concerned with the ordering of states and families, and which is called temperance and justice. And he who in youth has the seed of these implanted in him and is himself inspired, when he comes to maturity desires to beget and generate.
«He wanders about seeking beauty that he may beget offspring-for in deformity he will beget nothing-and naturally embraces the beautiful rather than the deformed body; above all when he finds fair and noble and well-nurtured soul, he embraces the two in one person, and to such an one he is full of speech about virtue and the nature and pursuits of a good man; and he tries to educate him; and at the touch of the beautiful which is ever present to his memory, even when absent, he brings forth that which he had conceived long before, and in company with him tends that which he brings forth; and they are married by a far nearer tie and have a closer friendship than those who beget mortal children, for the children who are their common offspring are fairer and more immortal.
«Who, when he thinks of Homer and Hesiod and other great poets, would not rather have their children than ordinary human ones? Who would not emulate them in the creation of children
such as theirs, which have preserved their memory and given them everlasting glory? Or who would not have such children as Lycurgus left behind him to be the saviours, not only of Lacedaemon, but of Hellas, as one may say? There is Solon, too, who is the revered father of Athenian laws; and many others there are in many other places, both among hellenes and barbarians, who have given to the world many noble works, and have been the parents of virtue of every kind; and many temples have been raised in their honour for the sake of children such as theirs; which were never raised in honour of any one, for the sake of his mortal children.
«These are the lesser mysteries of love, into which even you, Socrates, may enter; to the greater and more hidden ones which are the crown of these, and to which, if you pursue them in a right spirit, they will lead, I know not whether you will be able to attain. But I will do my utmost to inform you, and do you follow if you can. For he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be guided by his instructor aright, to love one such form only-out of that he should create fair thoughts; and soon he will of himself perceive that the beauty of one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of form in general
is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is and the same! And when he perceives this he will abate his violent love of the one, which he will despise and deem a small thing, and will become a lover of all beautiful forms; in the next stage he will consider that the beauty of the mind is more honourable than the beauty of the outward form.
«So that if a virtuous soul have but a little comeliness, he will be content to love and tend him, and will search out and bring to the birth thoughts which may improve the young, until he is compelled to contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded, but drawing towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty, he will create many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless love of wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere. To this I will proceed; please to give me your very best attention:
«He who has been instructed thus far in the things of love, and who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty (and this, Socrates, is the final cause of all our former toils)-a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another place foul, as if fair to some and-foul to others, or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being, as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any other place; but beauty absolute, separate, simple, and everlasting, which without diminution and without increase, or any change, is imparted to the ever-growing and perishing beauties of all other things.
«He who from these ascending under the influence of true love, begins to perceive that beauty, is not far from the end. And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.
«This, my dear Socrates,» said the stranger of Mantineia, «is that life above all others which man should live, in the contemplation of beauty absolute; a beauty which if you once beheld, you would see not to be after the measure of gold, and garments, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if that were possible-you only want to look at them and to be with them. But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty-the divine beauty, I mean, pure and dear and unalloyed, not clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human life-thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple and divine? Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. Would that be an ignoble life?»
http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/anthony/Classics/Diotima.htm

Epicurus on desire

Vain desire leads to short satisfaction

Zack asks:
«Why does satisfaction last such a short amount of time?»

Because the desire satisfied was non-natural.

The nature of a vain desire is such that it cannot ever be truly fulfilled, unlike the necessary or natural desires. Therefore the desire returns quickly.

If you suffer from short satisfactions, you need to evaluate those desires thoroughly. What would happen if you didn’t satisfy this desire?

If the desire is a vain one, nothing bad will happen. You can safely and painlessly discard such desires to seek more stable satisfaction.

If the desire is a natural one, there might be some initial discomfort, but the positive results out-weigh the negatives. You can discard these desires, too, or you can occasionally indulge, but only carefully. These are dangerous desires, easy to over-indulge in…

It might turn out that the desire is a necessary one. Necessary for comfort, Happiness, or even to Life itself. In this case something is seriously wrong! You’ll need to seek expert advice. For example, if you’re always thirsty, and water doesn’t satisfy you, no matter the amount, you should go to the doctor. You might be sick.

Evaluation of one’s desires is a difficult task, but a necessary one. Without it we’d be at the mercy of our whimsies and vain opinions, and never truly Happy. But then again, nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Capitalism and Nazism

The next time someone tells you the Nazis were anti-capitalist, show them this graph.

Commenters on my blog claim the graph tells us nothing about the Nazis and capitalism; it only tells us that the economy improved under the Nazis. As it did in the United States under FDR. So maybe the graph plotting capital’s return under Nazism just shows general improvement in the economy in the 1930s, an improvement widely shared throughout the industrial world?

Luckily, Suresh Naidu, the kick-ass economist at Columbia, supplied me with the following graphs.

This first one, which comes from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, compares the share of national income that went to capital in the US and in Germany between 1929 and 1938. Suresh tells me that the share roughly tracks capital’s rate of return.

Long story short: capital was doing better under the Nazis than under FDR. Not because of overall increases in economic performance in one country versus another, but because of the economic policies of the regime. Or so Suresh tells me. (Usually academics are supposed to acknowledge their debts to their friends and readers but own all errors as their own: in this case, I’m blaming everything on Suresh.)

germanuscapitalshares-2

The second graph — which comes from this fascinating article by Thomas Ferguson and Hans-Joachim Voth, “Betting on Hitler: The Value of Political Connections in Nazi Germany“ — tracks the stock market’s performance in Britain, US, France, and Germany, from January 1930 to November 1933. As you can see, in the early months that Hitler came to power, Germany’s stock market performance was quite strong, outstripping all the others; it’s not until July that it even crosses paths with Britain’s, the second best performer.

voth-43-21

On Twitter, Justin Paulson brought this fascinating article from the Journal of Economic Perspectives to my attention. It’s called “The Coining of ‘Privatization’ and Germany’s National Socialist Party.” Apparently, the first use of the word “privatization” (or “reprivatization”) in English occurred in the 1930s, in the context of explaining economic policy in the Third Reich. Indeed, the English word was formulated as a translation of the German word “Reprivatisierung,” which had itself been newly minted under the Third Reich.

After I sent him this article, Phil Mirowski also sent me this piece by Germà Bell, “Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in the 1930s,” from the Economic History Review. This article also has some fascinating findings. From the abstract:

In the mid-1930s, the Nazi regime transferred public ownership to the private sector. In doing so, they went against the mainstream trends in western capitalistic countries, none of which systematically reprivatized firms during the 1930s.


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What is Capitalism? By Peter Staudenmaier

14.03.2014

In ancient myths of paradise, people lived in boundless plenty without work or want. The fruits of the earth were freely available to all and no labor was necessary. If life under capitalism is a far cry from paradise, it is nonetheless beholden to its own myths of work, prosperity, and progress. Understanding what the world was like before the rise of capitalism, and envisioning a different world beyond the capitalist reality we live in today, calls for an examination of its myths and the structures on which those myths are built.

Capitalism usually presents itself as an economic system, a way of organizing the production and distribution of goods and services, of wealth and welfare, of material gain and loss. But capitalism is more than an economic system, it is a form of society: A form of society in which the economic has taken precedence over the social. Under capitalism, economic necessities become more important than basic social relationships – finding a job and keeping it can be more pressing than creating a fulfilling life together with friends and companions and loved ones; figuring out how to pay the rent or maintain the mortgage or make sure there’s food on the table wins out over exploring what we have in common; worrying about who’ll take care of us when we’re too old to work gets in the way of taking care of each other here and now. What is best for me individually becomes more vital than what is best for the communities I am part of, than what is best for all of us.

When we find ourselves thinking this way, it is not because we are inherently selfish beings. That notion of natural self-interest and acquisitiveness is one of the major myths of modern capitalism. Human societies have evolved myriad ways of arranging their economic interactions, many of them based squarely on communal rather than individual standards of wellbeing. They aren’t always liberatory, of course, but they do indicate that capitalism’s peculiar preoccupation with concern for oneself over others is not built in to human nature. And most people don’t get all that far under capitalism, economically speaking, no matter how much we focus on our own needs and wants. Though the free market continually holds out the promise of a better life for all, the promise generally becomes reality for only a few.

Viewed in this context, capitalism is by no means historically inevitable. It isn’t part of the fabric of the universe and it isn’t a consequence of the laws of physics. It is not an innate attribute of human existence. It is not, as it pretends to be, the natural state of economic affairs. Capitalism is a social artifact, something created and maintained by people, by our actions and inactions, whether deliberate or inadvertent, whether malevolent or well-meaning. It arose in particular places at specific times under distinctive conditions. It has a history, though admirers of capitalism sometimes like to portray it as timeless. Like everything historical, it has both beginnings and an end. If we made it, we can unmake it.

That means understanding how it functions. To do this we can draw on both theory and practice, incorporating the lessons learned from critical analyses of the basic structures of capitalism as well as the legacies of organized opposition to those structures. We can make use of the insights generated by radical social movements throughout the long history of emancipatory struggles against capitalism. Many of these struggles were led by workers in class-based movements resisting the growing power of capital. Others were made up of peasants or artisans, and some were community-based movements defending popular institutions from encroachment by an advancing capitalist system. The participants in these struggles disagreed about how to make sense of the seemingly senseless society formed by the development of capitalism, but we can distill a series of key concepts from their experiences.

From the perspective of these oppositional movements and their assessment of a world transformed according to capitalist imperatives, the core features of capitalism as an economic system and as a society can be characterized as follows:

Commodity production and exchange. Commodities are the fundamental unit of capitalist societies, as the cell is the fundamental unit of the body. Under full-fledged capitalism a commodity can be just about anything – something useful and necessary, something harmful and pointless, something rare or common, something intangible and ephemeral. What makes an item or an idea or an action a commodity is not some intrinsic quality of the thing itself, but its status as an object of exchange. In its simplest form, a commodity is a good or a service that is produced in order to be exchanged. It is valuable not primarily for what it is but for what price it can fetch when bought or sold, what can be gained by exchanging it for other commodities.

Markets. The mechanism through which commodities are exchanged is the market, a forum in which buyers and sellers compete for advantage. Historically markets were subject to social constraints: typically located in circumscribed areas, limited to certain times of the day or week or year, tempered by ethical stipulations. Many human societies assigned markets a deliberately subordinate position in communal life and delineated clear boundaries within which markets were allowed to operate. This changed with the ascendance of capitalism. In an ideal capitalist world, markets and their competitive dynamic no longer heed social limitations but are ubiquitous and unfettered; they are everywhere all the time. Though championed for their supposed efficiency, markets are frequently models of extraordinary waste and inefficiency. In their capitalist form markets have a tendency to permeate all relationships and all dimensions of social life, extending far beyond the immediate economic realm and turning neighbors into rivals, colleagues into competitors, allies into adversaries.

Property as private investment. Through the processes of commodity production and market exchange, more and more aspects of human life and the natural world are reduced to assets that can and must be owned. Wealth comes from the earth and its creatures and from the work of human hands and minds, and there are countless forms in which it can be created, discovered, and shared. Capitalism imposes one form as paramount: private ownership of resources. In contemporary industrial capitalist societies this type of private property can take the shape of entrepreneurs who own a business, shareholders or investors who own a corporation, landlords who own real estate, speculators who own stock or trade debt and credit and abstract commodities existing only in notional form. The driving force behind this kind of ownership is profit.

Wage labor. Most people in capitalist contexts don’t own assets that earn profit, and have to sell their time and effort to others in order to make a living. Selling your ability to work in exchange for a paycheck is known as wage labor, the component of capitalism with which most of us are intimately familiar. A division of labor between groups of people doing different tasks is not peculiar to capitalism, but in combination with commodity production, the predominance of the market, and private ownership of economic resources, wage labor means that the people who actually produce the goods and services that keep the system running have little say in how the things they produce are made and distributed. Those decisions are normally the prerogative of owners, executives, and managers, whose directives are supposed to be carried out by workers. When the system works the way it is designed, products end up in the hands of consumers divorced from any connection with or knowledge of the producers or their conditions of work, from mass manufacturing to the provision of services.

On the basis of these intertwined core features, capitalism has achieved remarkable levels of economic innovation and equally remarkable levels of ecological and social destructiveness. What drives both its accomplishments and its devastation is a constant requirement for accumulation, for increasing returns on investment, for profits that can be put back into circulation in order to yield even greater profit. Ever-expanding material reward is the carrot that entices capitalist ambitions, accompanied by the stick of potential economic ruin. While its operations are baroquely complex and often inscrutable, its underlying principles are starkly straightforward. This accounts for capitalism’s conspicuous flexibility, the capacity to accommodate itself to widely different social and cultural contexts. It also accounts for the profoundly alienated relationships at the heart of capitalist society.

Because capitalism is built around recurrent crises, economic and otherwise, it has always sparked dissatisfaction and resistance. From anarchists to marxists, from cooperative movements to anti-colonial struggles, diverse groups and individuals have contested the regime of capital for generations. For those of us fundamentally opposed to capitalism, it is crucial to keep in mind the political ambivalence of discontent with capitalist norms. History is littered with false alternatives to an inhumane and unsustainable system. Stalinism, to choose one all too recognizable example, is not a compelling replacement for free market nostrums. Many populists and fascists also oppose capitalism, based often enough on the alluring but deceptive paradigm of hardworking producers versus parasitic financiers. There are numerous authoritarian and right-wing versions of anti-capitalist sentiment. We need to remember this if we don’t want to end up in a future that is even worse than the capitalist present. The challenge is to come up with a comprehensive critical analysis of what is wrong with capitalism and a plausible array of alternative social institutions that could supplant it.

A helpful step toward that goal is to ask questions without easy answers. What is it about capitalism that we oppose? Its outsize impact on our lives, our character, our bodies, our planet? Its privileging of multinational corporations and millionaires? Its cosmopolitanism and its corrosive effect on traditional mores? Or is it alienation and exploitation that we reject? And what are we working toward? A more smoothly functioning liberal state that will provide for all? Local self-sufficiency and regional autarky? Planning bureaucracies and legislated equality? Environmental enterprise and reduced consumption? Neighborhood markets and family farms and mom and pop stores? Or do we want a genuinely anti-capitalist alternative, structurally antagonistic to hierarchy and domination, to profit and property, whatever their scale or scope?

Beyond decisive questions like these, there are many other problems to be thought through and worked out. Capitalism is not as all-encompassing as it appears; non-capitalist relationships exist within and alongside the dominant economy and society. And as central as production is to economic endeavors, reproduction and care are what make our lives possible, while the pleasure of personal and collective creation for its own sake, regardless of utility, can make our lives worth living. Indeed the very notion of «the economy» as a separate sphere of social life is itself a legacy of the historical emergence of capitalism. Today’s shifting affiliations linking capitalism to white supremacy, to patriarchy, to racial and gender and other hierarchies are not an implacable constant but always in flux, with oppressive as well as subversive potentials. The crushing weight of capital distorts any image of a life after capitalism, but the possibilities of transcending its bitter strictures are entirely real. They are ours to explore, ours to construct, and ours to share.

http://new-compass.net/articles/what-capitalism

Συνέχεια ανάγνωσης

Dardot-Laval, Για το νεοφιλελεύθερο υποκείμενο (συνέντευξη+κείμενο)

 Η κατασκευή ενός νεοφιλελεύθερου ατόμου 

sυνέντευξη του Πιερ Νταρντό και του Κριστιάν Λαβάλ

μετάφραση: Νικόλας Σεβαστάκης

Φράνσις Μπέικον, «Δεύτερη εκδοχή του ‘Πίνακα 1946′», 1971

Ισχυρίζεστε ότι ο νεοφιλελευθερισμός «πριν να είναι μια ιδεολογία ή μια οικονομική πολιτική είναι κυρίως και θεμελιωδώς μια ορθολογικότητα». Τι αποκαλείτε «ορθολογικότητα»;
Πιερ Νταρντό: Ο Φουκώ ορίζει την ορθολογικότητα της διακυβέρνησης ως μια κανονιστική λογική η οποία πρυτανεύει στη δραστηριότητα του κυβερνάν, με την έννοια της άμεσης αλλά επίσης της έμμεσης κυβέρνησης των ανθρώπων: της καθοδήγησής τους ώστε να φέρονται με ένα συγκεκριμένο τρόπο. Η ορθολογικότητα δεν είναι η άσκηση ενός εξαναγκασμού, μιας καταπίεσης. Από αυτή την άποψη, ο νεοφιλελευθερισμός δεν θα έπρεπε να ανάγεται μόνο στον τομέα της οικονομικής πολιτικής (οι ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, η απορρύθμιση), ούτε σε ένα καθορισμένο δόγμα (Φρήντμαν, Χάγιεκ) ούτε βεβαίως στους ηγέτες οι οποίοι προσηλυτίστηκαν στο δόγμα προς τα τέλη της δεκαετίας του ’70 (Ρήγκαν, Θάτσερ). Η νεοφιλελεύθερη ορθολογικότητα την οποία μελετούμε έχει μια πολύ ευρύτερη εμβέλεια και μπόρεσε να τεθεί σε εφαρμογή από κυβερνήσεις που ισχυρίζονται ότι είναι αριστερές. Συνέχεια ανάγνωσης