This exceedingly liberal idea that everyone is an artist –irrespective of the fact whether they’ve produced any artwork – has never sat well with me, personally. If art is the process of arresting creativity with production that is shared with others, then only a select few qualify as artists. In other words: only the actual is genuine, not the potential. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Posts Tagged ‘politics’
Why isn’t politics germane to good conversation? Why is it a dangerous topic to discuss in public? The answer lies with what conversation is for and what distinguishes harmless, approving subjects from the more important and yet contentious ones.
Conversation makes up a large percentage of communication, and remains the source we seek approval of the others. But what has changed is the nature of conversation itself. It used to be solely between family members, whereas nowadays it is done between competitive peers in society. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
This is a controversial question, and affirmed by Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Jefferson, Plato, and many, many others.
The current state of the American government is doubly damning because people do get the government they deserve. Because not everyone is alike, there are people who want to rule and there are others who prefer to be ruled. And the latter – a majority – want someone else to rule, do the work, so they can focus their energies on other pursuits.
In other words, there are no victims. Permit me this analogy: whenever someone is conned out of his money, it is because he is stupid, or because he wasn’t being prudent. There are actually people who want to be conned. Yes, this analogy implies that people in a tyranny are complicit in the political process, likely unconsciously. The notion that people are passive victims who are injured by an evil cabal that runs Washington is a convenient myth that hides the ugly reality of neoliberalism.
Whenever some lefty denounces America or the Reagan/Bush administrations, he is saying that only the powers that be are actively n consciously oppressing the majority of people, from the top down. Thus, they are innocent victims, either brainwashed by American hegemony or Stepford clones designed for self-oppression.
Bollocks, I say. This overlooks the “sheep,” who are actually apathetic and indifferent to politics, all too satisfied with economic comfort while disregarding how that came about. A con artist doesn’t prey upon innocent lambs because suckers are a dime a dozen. They want to be conned. The con artist and the sucker both are in collusion because they need each other.
It was so easy to blame the evil Karl Rove or dirty republicans for stealing the presidential elections, but that’s only letting the democrat party off the hook for running inept campaigns (gore, kerry). These democrats self-destructed due to their own incompetence. People participate in their own defeats.
Far too many people today subscribe to the myth that there is an evil cabal of politicians who pushed a neo-conservative agenda that enforced American interests in a hostile world. This grand narrative is rather comforting, and offers a simple solution: just replace the evil cabal with honest, fiscally-responsible and environmentally-conscious politicians tolerant of all differences among people.
This is all fiction because the American public is completly complicit due to their ideology: the government is responsible for much but not its citizens. This neoliberalism has been in effect since 1980, and contains several earmarks: tax reduction, discipline in fiscal and monetary policy, and light regulation of private sector.
Skepticism of the government’s role and the effectiveness of its policies is fundamental to neoliberalism, which shrunk politics. No policies that could harm the status quo could survive, and that made politicians incapable of demanding anything from the public. See the micropolicies of Clinton where great ideas came at little cost.
When we invaded Iraq, we were told that it would not tax our resources, that it would be a cakewalk. They were wrong on the latter, but not the former. The war on terror is small. Although defense expenditures did increase about 40% under President Bush, it came from a low base. Five years after 9/11, the defense expenditure of gross domestic product (GDP) was only 3.8%, while it was at 6.8% for the past 50 years. Moreover, only 0.6% of the adult population of the United States are employed in active military duty – which has not been that low since 1941. We had more military personnel in Japan 10 years after WWII, more in Germany at the end of 1989, and twice as many were deployed to Korea. And so on.
Bottom line? Americans deserve the government they have!
I’m currently working on a story that focuses on the politics of war in a hyperliberal society where its members are expected to promote democratic values (be fair to all, fit in, cooperate). Whoever doesn’t conform (acts out, be combative and aggro) loses popularity points and is scorned/scapegoated. This society reinforces its values (harmony, cooperation) through overt and covert means (performances, entertainment, the appearances of the esteemed and respected) but in doing so it hides the reality of constant strife, conflict, and increasing competition in politics and art.
In a hyperliberal society, battles are waged between those on the same side. Some seem to play well with others by appearing friendly and agreeable but subvert others and use the group to sanction their own agenda. Others are even more shrewd (passive aggressive behavior, guilt trips). This dynamic of conflict lies everywhere, even within families and relationships.
Personally, I’m a realist about war, in which I think ethics (moral concepts such as justice) has no place. In this link on a major character, I mention that conflict is where problems are solved and differences are resolved. I wanted to point out how war should not be perceived as some alien wholly foreign to modern society. One can detect the trends in society in war (unconventional and dirty strategies, i.e., guerrilla warfare, terrorism).
Neither is war some barbaric relic of the violent past of humankind, a roadblock of progress, for there will always be aggressive people in society. The values of civilization will not progress if people allowed the sneaky and the strong to take advantage of them. Even the great nonviolence advocate Gandhi wasn’t a pacifist for the sake of pacifism. His sole goal in his later years was the emancipation of India from British rule. In order for nonviolence to work, it had to correctly apply to the circumstances. Therefore it is but a strategy of war, not a fundamental doctrine.
War is not some male deviant behavior or the pursuit of the elite, for that would only perpetuate ignorance and maintain the power of the elite and repressive institutions. In the early days of civilization, war and strategy was the business of a very small group of elites. Soldiers were not trained (not exactly a good idea to arm them with practical knowledge that could eventually bite those in power on the ass), and neither were the indigenous folk in the colonies of Europe.
I hope to indirectly teach readers through my graphic novel the virtues of rational warfare where the anarchist is a rational mastermind after the mold of the great generals of history (alexander the great, hannibal, genghis khan) and the great strategists (sun-tzu, clausewitz, etc).
Against war it can be said: it makes the victor stupid, the defeated malicious. In favor of war: through producing these two effects in barbarizes and therefore makes more natural; it is the winter or hibernation time of culture, mankind emerges from it stronger for good and evil – Fritz
Without war human beings stagnate in comfort and affluence and lose the capacity for great thoughts and feelings, they become cynical and subside into barbarism. – Dostoyevsky
If knowledge is merely the formal guise of power, and this power is that which makes right “right” then war must be politics by other means (von Clausewitz)
If you interpret this blog entry to be claiming that war includes all types of conflict, then that is not my intent. It would be a poor argument when one term has become so universal and its contrary loses all meaning. Let me explain why war is not necessarily identical to conflict. Life is thoroughly soaked with hostility, and conflict is inescapable. Peace is but an ideal, an impossible one. So, rather than hope that the upcoming clashes can be avoided, it is better to prepare for their inevitability. The more skilled political players know how to avoid from fighting others directly, they disarm them and turn them into allies. Kindness, generosity, and charm are strategies that take the fight out of others.
Everyday someone is trying to persuade you about something () or nudge you in a certain direction, bend you to their will, sell you their product, advocate a just case, charm your pants off, etc., etc. The world is a constant shifting playing field where the name of the game is power, and the players’ outfit barely disguise their aggression.
Moreover, Piaget the psychologist pointed to conflict as the most important part of mental development in the child. They learn how to adapt to the world in their struggles with parents, other children, other adults, and they invent strategies to make their lives better.
As for war, following Clausewitz, by “continuation of politics by other means” I mean all countries are goal-oriented (well-being, prosperity, security) and they pursue such goals in politics. Now, when an external force, another country or internal force endangers their goals, then war is the natural outcome. It is not only the victory of a battle or the conquest of land. It is the pursuit of policy that cannot be brought about without force.
There’s an anti-aesthetic movement, an undercurrent of skepticism of art, in academia. Recent developments in literary studies claim the aesthetic is only a tool of ideology, a complicit institution that reinforces the modern capitalist state.
This is also where “formalism” has been transformed into a disreputable word, charged as something insidious as a political befuddlement or conservativism. Even deconstructionists got in on the act when they denounced the romantic aesthetic notion of symbolic embodiment as something that enabled totalitarian ideology.
The anti-aesthetic song and dance starts with sheer skepticism of the concept of aesthetic value, saying objective value is impossible, and then crediting the rise of the aesthetic value with the rise of the economic value. Second, more fundamentally, their attack focused on the very criteria of aesthetics, how a piece of art is defined, and demolished it as something bogus. This means the criteria (disinterest, autonomous form) is actually class based, or part and parcel of the class distinctions of the middle class society.
When a critic says the aesthetic experience that a certain writer describes is dependent on, or in accordance to, the preferences of a specific class, they are not saying that the experience does not exist. For example, when Pierre Bordieu says a taste for autonomous and non-utilitarian art is limited to the upper class, he is not saying that this taste is just an ideological delusion. He is actually saying that,
because they represent the value of a specific class, there is no transcendent value.
One can object by pointing out that even if an aesthetic value or experience does play a part in class distinction, it doesn’t necessarily prove that the value or experience does not exist on its own terms. For one thing, even if the experience protects class distinction, this pleasure may be real and worth having too, and for another, an experience we all may recognize as particularly aesthetic does not disprove that the experience doesn’t have “cultural capital.” Therefore, aesthetic experience both exists and serve ideological ends. Art can be universally valuable, even if it is limited in its availability due to contingent social arrangements. Just because there are many forms of values that are associated with class distinctions doesn’t mean that aesthetic experience cannot ever establish anything definite about art or that it shows the independence of art from ideology.
The value of aesthetic criteria as autonomous form, disinterest, anesthetic, and embodiment were put forward by folks like Kant, Shaftesbury, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.
“My philosophy aims at an ordering of rank, not at an individualistic morality” Will to Power, 287
Nietzsche’s political thinking remains a source of confusion as well as embarrassment for most scholars seeking to appropriate conceptual tooks, largely because they tend to be incongruous with the standard liberal ways of thinking about politics, which have prevailed for the past 200 years. In polical thought, Nietzsche departs from liberalism in a number of ways:
- He does not regard the human being as inviolable, that human life is sacrosanct.
- Neither does he believe that all persons should be treated with equal respect as moral beings.
Much like liberalism, Nietzsche’s conception of politics is instrmental, but it differs radically from the liberal in his valuation of human life. Whereas for liberalism politics is a means towards peaceful coexistence of individual agents, for Fritz it is a means for human greatness. Fritz is committed to ‘perpertual self overcoming’ and the ‘enhancement of man.’ This enhancement does not consist of improving of the conditions of life for the majority of people, but in the generation of few striking superlatively vital ‘highest exemplars’ of the human species. The production of magnificient specimens is possible only in a society politically organized along strict hierarchial lines.