Friday, March 10, 2006

Critique as Lack/Critique as Judgment

I think that the aim of the "third enlightenment" is to create a power of thinking which is a radical criticism but one not relying on or requiring a sense or basis in lack; which is not a judgment, and especially not a judgment of the adequacy or inadequacy of forms. This would be a critique which would be revolutionary and not reformist; a critique in action as much as in words.


Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

If it is a critique in actions as well as in words, this is because words are themselves actions (and not merely in the Austinian sense).

But I would nevertheless want to leave open, at least for now, whether critique in the pragmatic-libidinal orientation of the third Enlightenment would be "affirmative" or "transformative."

Nancy Fraser (feminism, pragmatism, critical theory) has argued that critique can be affirmative or transformative. The difference hinges on whether critique aims at ameliorating the results of injustice or at thoroughly overhauling the structures that produce injustice. The former is "affirmative" because it "affirms" the processes precisely by only calling into question the results.

Fraser also distinguishes between two different kind of injustice: failures of economic justice (resolve through redistribution) and failures of cultural justice (resolved through recognition).

The affirmative critique of cultural injustice is multiculturalism; the transformative critique of cultural injustice is the deconstruction of identity.

The affirmative critique of economic injustice is the welfare state; the transformative critique of economic injustice is socialism.

I, for one, find myself genuinely torn between affirmative and transformative critiques. The last thirty years of American (and European?) history have testified to the failure of affirmative critique. On the other hand, the institutions and bureaucracies (powers and principalties!) against which transformative critique must contend are formidable -- perhaps more formidable than they ever have been! -- unless, however, their very formidability is their last illusion.

Whether that is so, it remains to critique to discover. The third Enlightenment has a lot of work to do.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I am only concerned with the conditions for actuating a transformative critique.

I guess this is an interesting difference between our points of view.

It doesn't scare me away that the institutions and bureaucracies are formidable, but I think it is a good idea to keep that in mind. Thanks for the reminder!

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

To what extent do we intend to dodge Marxism here?

I sometimes worry that the move to "criticisms of affect" is a way of ignoring thorny issues of economics that in fact will never go away.

However we decide to proceed, I hope that we don't fall into the trap of pretending that Marx and Marxism never existed... to blithely return to Kant and Hegel as if Marx hadn't mattered at all.

When we ask the questions about desiring of oppression, do we do this remembering Marx, or not? In your earlier comment about the critical theorists, you mentioned that they seemed to just take it for granted that capitalism was flawed. I think that's a true statement, but underlying it was their understanding that Marxism was basically correct.

If commodity fetishism and economic relations based on the commodity as a "thing" are reified, false social relationships, and you know this to be the truth, then you have no problem showing that people who live for and through and with commodities are desiring their own repression.

What is your view here, SpinDroza?

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I am interested to see how, and to what extent, your explorations of the "myth of interiority," will force you to make an " affirmation of exteriority."

I think that the one will commit you to the other... because I do not think you can have one without the other.

If you will be forced to make an "affirmation of exteriority," will it be Marxist?

Can that be avoided? What do you think?

This place is a little boring. I'm disappointed.

7:17 PM  

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