Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Originally published on September 16, 1999

I did not reply to Joseph, but will make a point of it here. To quote Joseph:

As Blake says in "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," opposition is true friendship. Certainly some of these ideas we have encountered are painful—and problematic—but they do have their value, especially the ideas of Althusser. Your response reminds me of Zizek's book "The Sublime Object of Ideology," in which he (following Althusser and Lacan) emphasizes the invisibility of ideology. He claims that while we believe we are outside of ideology, that we understand our own positioning, we understand only an illusion, a fantasy, that the cynical (or, better, Kynicial (a borrowed term from Sloterdijk)) distance we create between ourselves and the ideology that we think engulfs (informs) us blinds us from the Real. We say things like "work sucks. Work has always sucked," and think that they are true—yet these statements perpetuate the system we live in, make the "suckiness" of work a transcendent truth that cannot be overcome—so why try? That is what the ISA wants (excuse the personification—but it is useful) us to believe. Slavoj Zizek provides an interesting example of how the supposed "objective" analysis of an ideological system from within only rationalizes that ideology.

Let me close with that lengthy section: "In the Germany of the late 1930s, what would be the result of such a non-ideological, objective approach? Probably something like: "The Nazis are condemning the Jews too hastily, without proper argument, so let us take a cool, sober look and see if they are really guilty or not, let us seee if there is some truth in the accusations against them." Is it really necessary to add that such an approach would merely confirm our so-called "unconscious prejudices" with additional rationalizations? The proper answer to anti-Semitism is therefore not "Jews are really not like that " but "the anti-Semitic idea of Jew has nothing to do with Jews; the ideological figure of a Jew is a way to stitch up the inconsistency of our own ideological system." The idea that "work has always sucked," stitches up an inconsistency in our own ideological system: we value freedom, but in order to provide for ourselves, we must "freely" sell our labor—enslaving ourselves to capital (and turning ourselves into commodities.) Thus we forgive this system of enslavement by constructing a notion of work that necessarily involves the property of "suckiness."

I find that Joseph's approach using what appears to be the standard either/or solution is much the same ditch I can often fall into, as Kubhlai is wont to point out. I for one believe that nearly every damning and uplifting stereotype (although liberals say uplifting s-types are equally damaging in serving up impossible dreams, yeah gotta have the cake and eat it too) has, or had at some point in history, a grounding in relative truth, however perverted the mechanism or circumstances of how, when, and by whom that "relative truth" was first observed, or remains in place.

But today we classify such statements as unredeemable bigotry and absolutely false, and tis better to utter a lie (to continue with his own example of Jewry), by saying that Jews resolutely DO NOT CONTROL Hollywood, rather than to dare suggest with a non-sensical over-generalized bigotry, alias a well-worn sterotype which soapbox liberals and hardshell Jewish apologists themselves will both translate to mean that the speaker infers that every Jew in the world has conspired to lock out the OTHER from the lucre of said Hollywood. In fact it is damned dangerous to utter anything about any person anymore without appearing to be soaked in bigotry, unless of course minority status (often a misnomer in itself) casts an emperor's new cloak of immunity on the vitriolic in question.

Where is the "common sense" in that? Let me rephrase, where is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH in that?

Notice how the Bulworth character in Warren Beatty's recent flick of the same name danced past those flames about big money in Hollywood by first uttering the stereotypic language, then retracting it in mock liberal honesty, then again roaring back to ask if 4 out of 5 powerful money figures in the room are Jewish then where is the hell resides the untruth of his remarks. . .

Joseph's "correct" response of "the anti-Semitic idea of [the] Jew has nothing to do with Jews" reads soothing at first glance, but as anyone who crawls in on hands and elbows, keen eyes and ears seeking fresh avenues of learning, to enter these vivacious worlds of the OTHER, whether they be of the Jew, the Negro, the White Man, the Southern Man, the Homosexual, the Feminist, the Revolutionary et cetera, soon discover that political correctness and its aim to eradicate all generalizations except the ones deemed to support its own multicultural aims, whatever the cost, denies or excuses every sliver of statistical evidence those generalizations form as social signposts, which are rather obvious to every group within itself, but are ruthlessly untolerated putside the group, especially in a political context. Every yawn becomes a vicious attack. Every assault a hate crime. Every position of comraderie a sneaky attempt at infiltration where one does not belong. Whilst within each group the same accusations and petty habits are hurled at each other and implicitedly acknowledged as simple observable facts of daily life.

Fact one according to Gabriel, the OTHER breeds fear and suspicion. This is the natural result of experience with self-protection. Fact two according to Gabriel, the OTHER breeds fascination and admiration. Man is a social animal. Inquisitive man seeks to refresh himself at the font of others he presumes are inheritors of a healthy measure of similarity as well as diversity. Synthesis of these two facts before other consideratons manifest themselves?

I believe it is a mark of INDIVIDUAL character that each of us is expected to CHOOSE one or the other of these FACTS to exploit given the specific circumstances of a confrontation, and chances are, each OTHER is tempered by the host of contributing traits which fall under the domain calculating those ratios of power, beauty, and exchange feasibility which legislate any integration or cooperation desired at the social level. Such a belief is common sense, but on the contemporary political and philosophical circuit, pure dynamite.

After all, as a self-professed specimen fingered across racial lines as poor white trash myself, I wonder how many folks on this list can escape conjuring up stereotypical imagery of that one example of unavoidable access to the language of bigotry, thus justifying my critical departure from several points Joseph made.

I suppose Joseph's make or break hypothesis is that while "work" may or may not have "sucked" in the past, that this distinction is irrelevant to the issue of "work" in the post-industrial age today. But I'm not sure. Anybody wish a shot at parcing Joesph’s words before I attempt a response to Joe on the forum Crash offered up as fodder to our aims? I do know that Bob Black, Len Bracken, and those of similar ilk, have no problem embracing that particular idea.

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