The Politics of the Imperfect: Building A Different World

The Politics of the Imperfect

On Global Politics: Building a Different World

Concrete Needs, Concrete Situations and Concrete Actions

James Luchte

Untitled, Chinese painter, unknown.

The Global Context and Poly-Centric Perspectives – Taking Sides

I am speaking of global governance as a complex organisation which cannot be merely wished away. Getting from A to Z when you are at H requires that one go to I, J, and K, before X, Y, and Z. There have been movements to build a world government before, but that cannot even be an issue until America is reigned in – we are at a more preliminary phase of history, where even a weak institutional world federation would be a mammoth step forward in a world which cannot even have an effective United Nations. If we jump too far ahead in our thinking, we will become merely talkers and not actors of real history. We need to deal with the concrete and specific conditions of the world as it is evolving now.

Every single person upon this earth has a story to tell and a life to live.

Every single person is also radically finite, mortal, thrown upon the topography of the earth, and inhabiting an ultimately makeshift world.

Each in his or her way is also ‘eternal’ not only with respect to having been there, as a fact, or phenomenon, but also as a free and creative being engaged in his or her situation.

No one, no word, act or omission, no silence is every truly forgotten.

One tries to listen to all the stories, all the voices from across the world, but each is limited – there is only so much each of us can experience or know. One sifts through the material and makes a rough sketch of the evolving state of the planet.

Beyond the facticity of cosmopolitan life, each also seeks to speak with others, make connections, and create relations that transgress our own routine limited perspectives. Such relations are finite as each is finite, but this transgression of accomplices will have its ‘eternal’ impact in collective action.

It is upon this expanded topography that one begins to express strong instincts and suspicions in the context of a ‘we’, a relation. Experience and knowledge, experiencing and knowing, are collective as well as individual endeavours.

At the same time, however, life is not merely about ‘experience’ and ‘knowledge’, as it would be if one were merely a tourist of life, but life is primarily lived, and lived in very similar and basic manner by everyone – but in widely divergent avenues in terms of the quality of life. In this light, life is therefore about struggle, action, imagination, creativity, disappointment, patience, joy, sorrow, love and hate.

The tragic drama of life takes place upon a common earth, yet this place where we inexplicably live, ‘our world’, remains divided on so many grounds into an indefinite typology of territories, relations of subordination, servitude, hunger, violence, intimidation and outright murder or forced starvation.

Capital plays itself out as the global ‘gangster’ on this theatrical stage of a permanently militaristic political economy, democracy as McDonald’s-ization, franchises of KFC, Burger King, human trafficking – corruption, theft and chaos. Stock brokers snort cocaine off the bellies of corporate sponsored escorts while millions die of starvation, lack of access to clean water, to medicine, where the very principles of capital forbid the fulfilment of basic so-called ‘human rights’ (a thoroughly politicised and over-determined notion, rendered nearly meaningless via political and legal nihilism), and under the cynical cloak of ‘intellectual property,’ litigiously prevents the production (and distribution) of more affordable generic versions of food or drugs for the sake the poor.

To read the rest of the essay, please visit The Politics of the Imperfect

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Fatal Repetition – Badiou and the ‘Age of the Poets’ with Appendix: ‘A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou’

BadiouBadiou, in his Manifesto for Philosophy[1], asserts that the ‘Age of the Poets’- a time-span begun with Hölderlin and completed with Celan – is no more.

This ‘Age’ – ‘period’ – inaugurated by Hölderlin, was first articulated philosophically by Nietzsche – and has been reproduced by all those who still remember and work in the philosophies from Kant to Derrida.

His solution is a pseudo-mathematicisation of philosophy[2] – his target is the trajectory of philosophy from the ‘subjectivist’ turn of Kant to the implosion of subjectivism in post-structuralism (even Wittgenstein falls under his hammer as the new sophistry) – and the philosophers along the way, from the romantics, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger – these ‘philosophers’ give us the words of their texts, poetic memoirs of their own subjective experience, but not the ‘Truth’ –

The paradigm for this turn from language and a problematic subjectivity to ‘truth’ is the definition of philosophy of Badiou’s Plato. The disciplinary strategy is the establishment of a mathematical aristocracy as the gatekeeper of philosophy, as François Laruelle argues, in his Anti-Badiou.[3]  Indeed, in light of the fact that Badiou criticises analytic philosophy, in his ‘Philosophy and Desire’[4] for privileging a scientific and mathematical language that is inaccessible to the majority of the people of the world, why on earth would he privilege ‘set theory’ and the matheme in the way that he does? It seems to be a glaring contradiction.

The purpose of this essay is to place Badiou into question and to resist those who would wish Continental philosophy to acquiesce to the coronation of a rather derivative thinker who is merely an analytical philosopher in drag.

To read the rest, click Fatal Repetition: Badiou and the Age of the Poets